Last week I talked about being careful about how we define the Gospel and what we believe. It is better to quote Scripture than theologians. This is true for several reasons:
Theologians are human and can be wrong; the Bible is God-breathed and is truth.
Theologians use big words to sound smart and right; the Bible just explains stuff without trying to impress.
Theologians make money by saying new things; the Bible was freely given and freely received.
Theologians often build off what other theologians said rather than off the Scripture; the Bible was revealed and approved as given and is our solid ground.
Theologians evolve theology; the Scripture is based on God’s revelation and does not change.
Many get upset when you push-back against church doctrines too much. You will be accused of being arrogant and on a slippery slope to heresy. Church tradition is upheld as a valid source of doctrinal belief.
As much as I believe the Body of Christ contained many people through the years who wrote brilliantly about the Bible, I still don’t think we need Church Tradition to have sound doctrine.
Read some Church History and observe Church Tradition and how ugly, confusing, and wrong it was over the years. Whose church is it that has this magic tradition we should adhere to? Why do we not listen to Church Traditions of churches we disagree with that are older than ours?
Again, I’m not bashing those who have come before us, nor am I saying I have it all right so who needs anyone else. What I am saying is that I have no more faith in myself than I do anyone else!
What I do have faith in is God and His Word. My attempt is to study His Word, to use it rightly so I will mature in the faith.
Verses get thrown around at this point trying to prove from Scripture that we need to listen to Church Tradition (again, I think Church Tradition can be helpful, but I do not view it as a source of authority on what to believe).
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
See, right there! Paul says to stick with the church tradition you were taught! True, but is he referring to Church Tradition as we understand it?
Timothy was taught by the Apostles, people who wrote the Epistles. There was no Church Tradition at this early stage of the Church! Paul is saying to stick with the Apostle’s teaching. He wants us to do that too. Guess where you can find the Apostle’s teaching? In some fabricated apostolic succession theory? Nope. You find it in the writings of the Apostles found in your Bible.
Any of the verses used to say that someone should stick with what they were taught are talking about apostolic revelation, not Church Tradition. Don’t let people fool you on that one. There was no Church Tradition when the Bible was written.
Instead, base your doctrine on the Word of God. One thing the Bible warns us about is getting sucked into following humanly devised doctrines.
Ephesians 4 says we need to be hooked up with a local body of believers in order to grow into Christ so that
we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
We need other believers to keep us in check, to preach the Word, and grow us into Christ so that we don’t get tricked into following people!
I think that’s cool. We need spiritually gifted people to keep us from falling for spiritually deceptive people.
Eyes that can see by the Holy Spirit will be able, with diligence, to understand the Scriptures. When you are taught by the Spirit and the Scriptures, you can then teach others what the Scripture says by the Spirit. This protects people from fleshly deception.
Spiritually gifted people are not interested in getting followers of their doctrine; they are interested in getting people to know Jesus Christ. Watch out for people who talk more about their theologian and their pet doctrines than biblically pointing people to Christ.
We need the Bible. Use the Bible. Memorize the Bible. Get your doctrine from the Bible. Define your doctrine with Bible verses, and not just scripture references tacked on in parenthesis that may or may not say what you said, but I mean actually quote scripture to define what you believe.
People in the Church can help you, but none are infallible. You don’t win points with God by believing what some guy said. Read the Bible. Figure it out. Use all the helps that are available. Use the gifted people in the Body of Christ. Pray for illumination from the Spirit and get to work!