Monday, October 20, 2014

Tradition! It's How We keep Our Balance

Honestly, this topic for today is one that I am surprised I haven't mentioned before. It is something that has been a concern of mine for a couple of years that I believe I have probably kept silent about for far too long.

There are certain practices within the church that do not have Biblical support that people will claim as necessary for the church. Now, I will be quick to point out that most of these practices are not denied by Scripture, but that doesn't change the fact that they are ultimately man-made traditions that are not essential for the proper functioning of the church. 

I speak of traditions such as the altar call, a particular form of music, tithing through offering plates, hymnals, having church on Sunday as opposed to another day, celebrating Christmas, or prescribing to only one translation of the Bible at all costs. 

These traditions are great tools (with the exception of the one translation tradition; that's just showing a lack of faith), but they are not essential for the proper functioning of the church. 

I don't feel I need to do much to support the idea that something that man has made within a church structure is not an integral part of the church's worship of the Lord. This is after all one of the many reasons why I would never become part of the Catholic church (the whole sacraments as a means of grace, and works to supply salvation thing would be the major ones of course). 

So to illustrate my point, we shall look at only one passage from the book of Matthew. Matthew 15:1-20 details a tie in which the Pharisees question Jesus on the fact that he doesn't have his disciples not wash their hands before they eat. This was a tradition within the Jewish religion at that time, which of course the Pharisees supported very thoroughly. 

It is important to note that there is absolutely nothing heinous about washing your hands before you eat. It's actually a rather healthy thing to do. But it will in no way harm your relationship with the Lord to do these things. Yet it is a tradition that is not necessary to actually please the Lord. 

To respond, Jesus points out another tradition that is contrary to the law of the Lord to illustrate more generally that the Law is just sort of more important than those man-made doctrines. He finishes by quoting Isaiah in Matthew 15:7-9,
"Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

So here we have some pretty strong language in relation to teaching as doctrines that which were the creation of men. Or to apply that to our current context to treat as absolute Biblical truth the man-made traditions of a particular denomination.

Just in case there's any doubt that the Lord doesn't ultimately care about the traditions that are mentioned above as long as they don't actually deny the Lord, look to his words in Matthew 15;16-20,
"And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."

So essentially, I'm making a fairly simple point here. Traditions are man-made tools that do not have divine sanction. Don't teach as doctrines the commandments of men.

Apologies for the lateness of this post. Had a debate tournament, got in at 2, woke up at 11, and it spaced my mind entirely. 

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