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Christian tradition is a collection of "traditions consisting of practices or beliefs associated with "Christianity. These "ecclesiastical traditions have more or less authority based on the nature of the practices or beliefs and on the group in question.
Many churches have traditional practices, such as particular patterns of worship or rites, that developed over time. Deviations from such patterns are sometimes considered unacceptable or "heretical. Similarly, traditions can be stories or history that are or were widely accepted without being part of "Christian doctrine, e.g., the "crucifixion of "Saint Peter or the "evangelistic activity of "Thomas the Apostle in "India, which are widely believed to have happened but are not recorded in scripture. Similarly the names of the "Magi who visited Jesus at his birth are thought to have been invented much later than the events; they are not considered authentic or obligatory, but can be considered a tradition.
Tradition also includes historic teaching of the recognized church authorities, such as "Church Councils and ecclesiastical officials (e.g., the "Pope, "Patriarch of Constantinople, "Archbishop of Canterbury, etc.), and includes the teaching of significant individuals like the "Church Fathers, the "Protestant Reformers, and founders of movements like "John Wesley. Many "creeds, confessions of faith, and "catechisms generated by these bodies, and individuals are also part of the traditions of various bodies.
The "Catholic, "Eastern Orthodox, "Oriental Orthodox and "Anglican churches distinguish between what is called Apostolic Tradition or "sacred tradition and ecclesiastical traditions. In the course of time ecclesial traditions develop in theology, discipline, "liturgy, and devotions. These the Church may retain, modify or even abandon. Apostolic Tradition, on the other hand, is the teaching that was handed down by the "Apostles by word of mouth, by their example and "by the institutions they established", among which is the "apostolic succession of the "bishops: "this living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition". "And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God, which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit."
In his book, James F. Keenan reports studies by some Catholic academics. A study by Bernard Hoose states that claims to a continuous teaching by the Church on matters of sexuality, life and death and crime and punishment are "simply not true". After examining seven medieval text about homosexuality, Mark Jordan argues that, "far from being consistent, any attempt to make a connection among the texts proved impossible". He calls the tradition's teaching of the Church "incoherent". Karl-Wilhelm Merks considers that "tradition itself is "not the truth guarantor of any particular teaching." Keenan, however, says that studies of "manualists" such as "John T. Noonan Jr. has demonstrated that, "despite claims to the contrary, manualists were co-operators in the necessary historical development of the moral tradition." Noonan, according to Keenan, has provided a new way of viewing at "areas where the Church not only changed, but shamefully did not".
Among the "main groups of Christianity, there are Catholics, Orthodox, and "Protestants. In the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy, "sacred tradition, but not "ecclesial traditions", is considered official doctrine and of equal authoritative weight to the Bible. Among conservative "Protestants, the "Bible itself is the only final authority (see "sola scriptura and "prima scriptura), but tradition still plays an important supporting role. All three groups generally accept the traditional developments on the doctrine of the "Trinity, for instance, and set bounds of orthodoxy and heresy based on that tradition. They also have developed creedal and confessional statements which summarize and develop their understanding of biblical teaching.