The traditions of men and the teachings of men (creeds, confessions, catechisms, Sunday sermons) have had their grip on the masses for centuries.
They have had their grip, even in spite of Jesus’ repeated warnings over and over again of the dangers of following men.
“And He answered and said to them, Why do YOU also transgress the commandment of God because of YOUR tradition? For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother and he that speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death. But YOU say……"
“And you annulled the commandment of God on account of YOUR tradition.”
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you saying, ‘This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and with their lips honor Me, but their heart is far from me. But in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the ordinances of men.”
Does this concern you?
Is your heart burdened by the great divide that exists between what is said in the Scriptures and what comes forth from many pulpits across the land?
There are many churches that are not interested in Truth, but rather in their traditions, confessions, and catechisms of men.
We first create our “own laws” of defining the Scriptures, “laws” which we now enshrine on a pedestal. We then ascribe a name to these laws as creeds, confessions, and catechisms. But we always tend to forget that these “laws” did not come from God's revelation; we invented them!
By almost reverencing these creeds, confessions, and catechisms, we understand "truths." By mingling in a mountain of "human wisdom, reasoning, good and necessary inferences," we transform these "truths" into "God's Laws," and then, bind them on fellow Christians.
As a result, these "laws of God” have now become nothing more than the traditions of men.
As was just stated, Jesus had to contend with them in His day. Time and again He challenged the Pharisees and scribes with respect to their traditions, charging them with making "void the word of God because of your tradition" (Matt. 15:6).
The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus' day guarded their traditions, their creeds, their confessions, with a fervent zeal, and defended them with a "righteous indignation." These "teachers of the Law" were willing to do most anything to protect that which had been passed on to them by their forefathers.
They would resort to treachery, hypocrisy, slander and the spreading of malicious lies, all in the name of God's service, and, finally, would put to death God's Son before they would give up their "sacred idols."
As someone has said, "We may think we are walking in the 'old paths' when we're only standing in a rut!"
Is it any wonder why some Christians end up with the conclusions they get? They filter what comes in, and low and behold, out pops the expected verdict! It’s absolutely amazing how many times a Scripture is read in church that completely contradicts one of their main teachings and no one ever comments about the contradiction.
There was a time when perhaps they asked those hard questions, but when they were rebuked, or ridiculed for asking questions that caused division, they learned not to question anymore. They learned to go along with the crowd.
The scales over the eyes are so thick that everything, including our concept of God Himself, becomes gross darkness. But they do not know it is darkness on account of the fact that they have been seeing that way for quite some time now.
The truth of the matter is that much of what “the church” has defined as "God's Law" rests upon the fallen, fallible and frivolous wisdom of man. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 16:25).
If the church establishment, along with its religious leaders of Christ’s time could invalidate the Holy Scriptures for the sake of their traditions and confessions and catechisms, is it not possible today?
Absolutely! Is the church today somehow immune?
There are some Christians who have not fully thought through the serious implications of this. Searching and quoting the S-C-R-I-P-T-U-R-E-S is of a lesser value to some Christians as opposed to searching and quoting from their favorite author or confession or catechism or creed or church constitution.
In a recent editing of a book entitled True Confessions – Baptist Documents in the Reformed Family, Dr. James Renihan says this in regards to “True Confessions”:
Question: Historically, have Confessions and catechisms been important to Evangelical and Baptist churches?
“Yes…. And this is demonstrated in several ways, reaching all the way back to the Fathers. As heresies began to invade the church, it was deemed best to express the Christian Faith by way of creeds, confessions and catechisms. The creeds and confessions functioned in essentially the same way–they gave definition to the church’s beliefs; catechisms served to teach doctrine…”
“…As the centuries passed, this practice was continued. Philip Shaff’s great work ‘The Creeds of Christendom’ demonstrates how the true church has always adopted and used creeds, confessions and catechisms. More particularly for our own history, there have been a regular succession of creeds, confessions and catechisms produced by the Baptists and other baptistic groups such as the 16th century Anabaptists of Europe. There is a long history of the use of these documents in the church of Christ."
Is it no wonder we’re in such a mess today?
Do you blame Martin Luther when he said:
"Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God." ?
But just like they were in the church of Luther's day, there are many in the church today who accept the authority of councils, their creeds and traditions, their church constitution, their pastors’ and teachers’ words as the gospel itself!
We are in desperate need of reformation within the Church today, just as desperate as in Luther's day, perhaps even more so!
We need to understand that "orthodoxy" is not truth as compared with falsehood. It is only the majority opinion,… and it can be wrong. You cannot hold on to a set a beliefs or interpretations only because the majority that went before us had worked through these issues and developed what they have passed down to us as orthodoxy ... the "majority opinion."
What if they were wrong?
When you read about the history of the church, along with its many ecclesiastical assemblies that decided matters of doctrine, teachings, interpretations, and practices, especially those in the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries,... persecution, manipulation and impure motives abounded. This is when many of our current beliefs were decided for us, and when "orthodoxy" was born. The church was not perfect then either. But today, many of us very readily run to the theological thinking they packaged for us as "orthodoxy," and cling to it as if it were unquestionable truth.
Yes, we need reformation in the church today! We need to seek truth only from the Word of God; always studying, always thinking, always questioning, always searching and always discussing what God's Word is telling us. Are there any Bereans left today?
Instead, what we see today and what we have today is a so-called "Orthodoxy" that is always viewed as a safeguard against heresy. But what if this "majority" is wrong, and what if “orthodoxy” now prevents us from rooting error out of the false practices that are prevailing in the church?
Think about it. When in Scripture was the majority right?
Today if one challenges the viewpoints of their church or the pastor, they are asked to leave the congregation to keep the unity. This allows for no honest discussion or study. If one strays from the positions that have been determined to be correct, he is cast out, receiving the right foot of fellowship ... and the prevailing system remains intact and unchallenged.
This is true of individual churches, seminaries, Christian colleges, Christian associations ... where thinking and Bible interpretation has already been done, and members are simply handed a package of beliefs and where there is no way to present individual viewpoints and bring correction when error is present. This is not Biblical Christianity. This is not Christianity.
This is not the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Does anyone really imagine that God sees these types of "churches" as His representative on earth?
Reformation is needed within the Church today.
There are many Calvinists for example, and other "reformed" folk today, who read nothing but Reformed titles and are always referring to their confessions, their creeds, "their men"; hence these brethren seldom learn new perspectives.
There’re locked in their own little “system.” In fact, they are continually reaffirming their own "theological correctness."
Such authors as A. W. Pink, the Puritans, John Murray, the 1689 confession, etc., etc., and such publishing companies as Banner of Truth become the sole staple for many.
To stray into a different area of thought is almost unthinkable for many of them. Yea, rather it is viewed as tantamount to heresy!
So the continued effort of:
always reading from the same material;
always listening to the same men of your own persuasion;
always singing from the same song book;
always going to the same conferences where your “already pre-formed perspective” is sure to be presented, all of these efforts (requirements) will certainly fortify you in your belief system.
I say without intending offense that such exclusiveness differs little from that of Jehovah's Witnesses or any other authoritarian groups.
So the next time you start to deride these poor folk, why not try looking into the mirror first!
What’s the clearest mark of the church today?
Institutionalism is the clearest mark of the church today – a church that is utterly smothered with creeds and confessions and catechisms of men.
Whenever you will find an emphasis on the church as an institution/organization instead of an organism, you will invariably find a church structure that puts all of the power in the hands of a "spiritual elite."
You may not find the "leaders" being called "father," but you will find a Roman Catholic mentality of church authority.
This is an evil that must be resisted at any cost. It equates your system, your “leaders,” your books, your creeds, your confessions, your constitution, your traditions of men with the words inspired by God Himself. It makes popes out of church "leaders" and bobble-head dolls out of those who follow them.
The evils so clearly and forcefully exhibited in unbiblical authoritarianism and spiritual abuse are the direct result of this man-made, man-centered, church structure.
Many in "church leadership" positions today, as well as many members sitting in the pew, need to wake up and take a good look around and see what is happening. Something is terribly wrong!
One brother jokingly remarked to me recently saying, "Since when does the Church need Scripture to support ANYTHING they teach?"
I began to think, "Hmmm. Has it already arrived to this point?" I'll let you decide.