Meaning of "Tradition"
The term "tradition" comes from the Latin tradition, but the Greek term is paradosis and the verb is paradido. In theological terms it means any teaching or practice which has been transmitted from generation to generation throughout the life of the Church. More exactly, paradosis is the very life of the Holy Trinity as it has been revealed by Christ Himself and testified by the Holy Spirit.
Theologians call this teaching of the Scriptures "the Apostolic Tradition." It encompasses what the Apostles lived, saw, witnessed and later recorded in the books of the new Testament. The bishops and presbyters, whom the Apostles appointed as their successors, followed their teaching to the letter. Those who deviated from this apostolic teaching were cut off from the Church. They were considered heretics and schismatics, for they believed differently from the Apostles and their successors, thus separating themselves from the Church. This brings into focus the Church as the center of unity of all Christians. This is the ecclesiastical or ecclesiological characteristic of Tradition. The Church is the image and reflection of the Holy Trinity since the three persons of the Holy Trinity live, indwell, and act in the Church. The Father offers His love, the Son offers His obedience, the Holy Spirit His comfort. Only in the historical Church can we see, feel, and live the presence of the Holy Trinity in the World.
More on Tradition
Traditions are the integral parts of the life of the Church and they express the totality of the Christian way of life which leads to salvation. The doctrine of incarnation, the historical truth of the crucifixion and resurrection, the Eucharist, the sign of the cross, the threefold immersion in the baptismal font, the honor and respect due to the Virgin Mary and to the saints of the Church, are all important for the Christian, who wants to find himself in the "perimeter" of salvation in Christ. This is what the Church has taught through the centuries. "Therefore we must consider the Tradition of the Church trustworthy," St. John Chrysostom writes, "it is Tradition, seek no more"
The clergy and the laity are both responsible for the preservation of the authentic and genuine Holy Tradition in and through the life of the Church. In this context, particularly, the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, and more generally, the Local Councils of the Church are of great importance. The first Council Synod of the Church was the Apostolic Synod, which took place in Jerusalem in 51 A.D. Later, bishops used to meet either locally, or on the "ecumenical" or universal, the all-encompassing level of the universal Christian empire, the oikoumene, in order to discuss and solve serious dogmatic and canonical issues which had arisen.
The Orthodox Church accepts the following seven Ecumenical Councils:
The Council of Nicea in 325, which discussed and condemned Arianism.
The Council of Constantinople in 381 which principally condemned Apollinarianism.
The Council of Ephesus in 431, which condemned Nestorianism.
The Council of Chalcedon in 451, which condemned Monophysitism.
The Second Council of Constantinople, in 553, which condemned Origen and other heretics.
The Third Council of Constantinople in 680-81, which condemned Monothelitism.
The Second Council of Nicea, in 787, which condemned Iconoclasm.