It Ain't Necessarily So - When Scripture and Tradition Collide

A line from the song "It Ain't Necessarily So," from the Gershwin brothers' play "Porgy and Bess," tells us that "the things that you're liable to read in the Bible, it ain't necessarily so." While we would like to take issue with that comment, this book, of the same title as the song, explores the validity of such a seemingly heretical statement. But it isn't what we read, so much as how we interpret those words that "ain't necessarily so." While the words are accurate, sometimes our understanding can be a bit off-track.

In this work, Pastor Austin challenges the reader to explore the relationship between Scripture and Tradition in our lives and in our faith formation. Much of what we claim to believe about the Scriptures is actually based more on our Traditions than we wish to acknowledge. We have been taught by previous generations what the Scriptures are saying to us. This becomes a significant part of our individual Tradition-the sum total of what we believe the Scriptures to say and how they compel us to act. Because we trust those ancestors not to lead us astray, we don't question this Tradition. Perhaps we should.

One of the primary assertions of this work is that "Tradition trumps Truth." We don't intend for it to be so, but often what we think we are reading in the Scriptures is tainted by years of Tradition and the teaching of the Church. We don't question what we've been taught; it is the Truth. Sometimes, however, that "truth" is slightly skewed by our life experiences and teachings. When this happens, Scripture often yields to our own Tradition, without our awareness that this is happening.

This book explores the possibility that when "Tradition trumps Truth," there might be more than one way of understanding the Scriptures, particularly when we recognize how our truth has been compromised by years of tradition and practice. This is not to say that we have been wrong for all of these years. But these chapters are written in the hopes of spurring further discussion into the many layers in which the Scriptures are given to us, and perhaps lead us to gaining new insights and appreciation for the depths of our faith, not to replace our previous convictions, unless necessary, but to augment them.


--Dale E. Austin