Sean Scott's Blog

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Traditions of men….Are they all wrong?

with 24 comments

This is pretty much a copy of a comment I left on Ian’s Blog regarding the traditions of men.  It can be easy for us who are not part of a traditional institutional church to make a blanket statement that all the traditions of men are wrong.  I know I’ve done it in the past.  But if we look at the passage of scripture where Jesus speaks about the “traditions of men”, we find that the issue is not as clear cut as just condemning all practices/traditions of men.

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My Comments:

If you look at the passage where Jesus rebukes the traditions of men, it is not a blanket statement condemning all the traditions of men, even in a religious setting.  Here’s one of the passage:

“And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. “For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
(Mar 7:6-13)

What is Jesus condemning?

1) “teaching as DOCTRINES the precepts of men”
2) “NEGLECTING the COMMANDMENTS of God and keeping and holding the traditions instead – as a higher rule of law the invalidates the commands of God.
3) “invalidating the word of God by man made traditions”.

So the issue at hand when discussing a “tradition/practice” of men is whether or not it’s taught as a doctrine and whether it violates and nullifies the commandments of the Lord. There are going to be traditions and practices that believers do that will and will not do these things.

To make a blanket statement and forbids all practices because we cannot find them in the scripture is to do the same thing that the Pharisee’s did, which was to make commands that God never made. So in someones righteous zeal to do only what the word of God says, they can be a Pharisee in their actions and end up forbidding things that God never forbid.

Here is a tradition or practice of man that is acceptable and does not violate the word of God, yet is condemned by some as evil because it’s a “tradition of man”.

Let’s say our fellowship wants to write down a statement of faith, specifically as the Lord brings us together in unity regarding what we believe regarding both essential and non-essentials. We don’t make it a doctrine/teaching that every believer or fellowship must have a statement of faith.  And the statement of faith does not violate or nullify any command of God. This tradition/practice of man is acceptable and does not fall under the condemnation of Jesus words as spoke in Mark 7:6-13.

So the way I see it, we are not simply to judge a person or fellowship because they have a “tradition or practice” of man, but we are to judge the tradition or practice of man to see if it is taught as a doctrine, if it causes people to neglect the commands of God, and if the tradition invalidates the word of God.

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Written by Sean Scott

August 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

24 Responses

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  1. Hi, brother. Hope you are doing well.

    Pretty much in agreement concerning your exegesis, brother, on Christ’s charge against the scribes and Pharisees. Here is what I wrote on this same passage of scripture several weeks ago. Notice, my #2 and #3 are the same as yours:

    1) They did not personally obey the truth they taught.
    2) They introduced self-invented teachings and practices as spiritual truth:
    3) They forced the people to honor their own traditions above the commands of God: … making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye (Mark 7:6-13). Jesus clearly taught that we cannot claim to love God while rejecting His wisdom in favor of our own: “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,” (Matthew 15:8-9).

    As you say, a “tradition” in the context of how this passage defines it, is a false teaching, something invented by man but taught as a spiritual truth.

    I agree that there is no prohibition against writing down true things, even if we call these things “a statement of faith.” [I’ve done it before on a website.]

    I quit doing it because I felt that other believers should discover what I believe by sharing their lives with me.

    As you rightly say, it is not always what we do or don’t do, but the Spirit in which we do it.

    Peace, bro.

    Mark

    P.S. I want to talk to you about something the Lord told me to do and get your input on it, sometime. [Nothing urgent]

    Mark Bryan Finger

    August 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

    • “As you rightly say, it is not always what we do or don’t do, but the Spirit in which we do it.”

      Yea, I think that is the real issue with most of the things that are not clearly outlined in scripture.

      Let me know when you can talk. I’d love to hear what the Lord is leading you to do. God bless…

      Sean Scott

      August 18, 2013 at 3:15 am

  2. Hello Sean. I like your thoughts here and I’d like to add a couple of things. I don’t need you to post this if you prefer not to.
    First, a tradition is synonymous with a teaching, it is not simply any given “practice” a group of Christians prefers to implement or live out. For example, women wearing head coverings is both a biblical tradition and a practice among Christians. Although I don’t care to discuss this topic here, the practice was and some still believe is mandatory among the saints. It is not a preference such as what we find in Romans 14.

    Secondly, the verses you quote don’t limit the traditions of men to those three things you listed. The verses you quote don’t state that.

    Third, the very words “traditions of men” states where the origin of the traditions originate- with men. A religious teaching that originates with men, any TEACHING will ALWAYS conflict with God and His commandments. Any individual person, parent or any authority always teaches what they believe is true and valid for others to believe and follow. Who teaches what they don’t believe or trust to be factual? People teach what they want or require others to follow. See any given local church.

    A custom or practice among Chinese Christians may be for them to wear Chinese clothes or to rise at 4:00am. Such a “practice” will not be considered a tradition unless it is mandated for all other Christians to follow- then it becomes a formal teaching. That formal teaching conflicts with God’s commands. As a practice it is acceptable, as a teaching it is not.

    I believe the example you gave is a tradition of men. Here’s why:
    The individual people within a or “our fellowship” want to write down a statement of faith. That statement of faith is authored by one or more individuals within “your fellowship” and describes what “you” believe. Even if “your” statement is wholly accurate and 100% scriptural, it still originates with “YOUR FELLOWSHIP” and therefore fails to discern the larger corporate body of Christ. Who gave you or I the right to draw a line around ourselves (separate from the corporate body) and state what “we” believe. That is a failure to discern the body rightly which is a command of God. Furthermore, it breeds all sorts of sectarianism and division every time people do that. Is this acceptable or permissible to God?

    As you know, I have an internet site and a blog where I often write. My site even has “tenets of the faith” which I believe to be scriptural doctrines which I believe are scripturally accurate. Here’s the difference: I am one man writing out what I believe and encouraging people to follow Jesus. I am not and will not start a ministry, organization or group of Christians who define ourselves by “tenets of the faith.” That would automatically be dividing ourselves from others who don’t believe those tenets- even one of them or parts of them. There’s a list a mile long of problems associated with a formal doctrinal statement, not the least of which is the pressure for new converts or visitors to conform to the status quo- especially if they desire to take upon themselves any responsibility. This is the opposite of searching the scriptures themselves and learning to form their own convictions.

    It might be wise to ask “ourselves” why “we” want a doctrinal statement and what purpose it might serve amongst all those who may desire fellowship among us.

    We certainly should not “condemn all practices” not found in the scriptures as the traditions of men, nor should we minimize what God has written in scripture as essential and non-essential. Some truths may carry more weight than others, but no scripture in non-essential. That kind of talk is nonsense and suited for those who don’t believe 1 Corinthians 1:10 is possible.

    Yes, I understand the statement didn’t originate with you Sean.
    The truth is, scriptural traditions (what Paul calls his ways ) are essential, traditions of men are not.

    among the forgotten

    August 18, 2013 at 1:13 am

    • Hi Michael,

      I appreciate what you wrote. Let me ask some questions and share some thoughts about what you wrote. I’m just gonna number them to make it easier.

      1) “Secondly, the verses you quote don’t limit the traditions of men to those three things you listed. The verses you quote don’t state that.”

      If the traditions of men that Jesus condemns are not confined to what he said, then are we not left to make them into whatever we feel they should be? If the bible is our guide on this subject and is the revealed mind and will of God on the matter, then wouldn’t it most certainly be confined to how Jesus describes traditions of men?

      I was thinking about the tradition of men today and thought about the Jewish Synagogues of Jesus time. If anything would be considered a tradition of man, it most certainly would have been the synagogue. Yet Jesus attended the synagogue pretty much all his life, even taught in them during his ministry, and never condemned them openly.

      And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. (Luk 4:16)

      And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. (Luk 13:10)

      And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Mat 4:23)

      I find it interesting that Jesus taught in these man made synagogues. He didn’t not teach against them while he was there, as far as we know, he taught about the kingdom of God and healed people. It’s interesting that he was able to teach people about God’s kingdom in these man made institutions. What are your thoughts on that?

      2) “Even if “your” statement is wholly accurate and 100% scriptural, it still originates with “YOUR FELLOWSHIP” and therefore fails to discern the larger corporate body of Christ. Who gave you or I the right to draw a line around ourselves (separate from the corporate body) and state what “we” believe. That is a failure to discern the body rightly which is a command of God.”

      I’m still thinking about this statement, but I’m pretty sure I disagree with it. Here’s why. Saying a statement of faith is wrong because it originates with a person or fellowship seems rather odd. If you come and teach at our fellowship on Sunday, and teach biblical truth, does not that biblical truth originate with you? If someone ask you what you believe on a subject will you not tell them what you believe the scriptures teach on the subject in question? By teaching something as absolutely true are you then drawing a line around yourself by stating what you believe? Would you be guilty of failing to discern the body of Christ?

      Also, cannot those who have statements of faith interact and fellowship with those who hold to the same faith they have even if they all don’t agree on every point? And if they do fellowship with others who don’t believe exactly as they do, how can they fail to be discerning the body of Christ?

      When I read the passage in 1 Cor 11 about failing to discern the Lord’s body, I see that it is in relation to how the Corinthians are treating each other. In their local assembly, the believers where acting in a selfish way and not treating each other with the love and compassion that the body of Christ should. Nor were many coming to the Lord’s supper with the right heart/spirit and having the supper together as unto the Lord. I fail to see how a statement of faith falls into the category of of failing to discern the body rightly. I recognize that whether we write down what we believe as a local fellowship or not, that we differ in our beliefs from a great many other of God’s children. How would having a statement of faith put one into the category of failing to discern the Lord’s body, while everyone agreeing together and vocalizing those beliefs wouldn’t ?

      3) ” Here’s the difference: I am one man writing out what I believe and encouraging people to follow Jesus. I am not and will not start a ministry, organization or group of Christians who define ourselves by “tenets of the faith.” That would automatically be dividing ourselves from others who don’t believe those tenets- even one of them or parts of them.”

      Yes, you are one man who is encouraging people to follow Jesus, yet you still, at least I think you do, have certain beliefs that will keep you from having fellowship or doing ministry with others who believe differently. Am I correct? I’m making an assumption here, but I think I’m right (if I’m not, let me know). You’re probably not gonna call a man a brother who rejects the virgin birth or who doesn’t believe in the deity of Christ, or someone who says the new birth doesn’t happen in this life, Right? You’re probably not going to do ministry with a pastor who promotes institutionalized churches, tithing, etc, right? So whether you write your core beliefs down or not, you will have beliefs that you will divide over. And, at least right now, I’m not of the opinion that a statement of faith automatically divides believes from other believers. I’ve had fellowship with believers who are all over the theological spectrum regarding certain Christian doctrines. And lets take this even further. If you are an elder in a fellowship, along with other elders, are you not supposed to all be teaching the same things, and have the same mind in Christ? And as elders, are you not going to guard the fellowship and watch over the flock against those who seek to bring in contrary teachings that go against the word of God and against what the elders agree is right – especially regarding essential non-negotiable truths? And if that is how elders are to function, what is wrong with them having what they believe written down ahead of time?

      4) ” not the least of which is the pressure for new converts or visitors to conform to the status quo- especially if they desire to take upon themselves any responsibility.This is the opposite of searching the scriptures themselves and learning to form their own convictions.”

      I actually don’t think that is altogether wrong. We have a couple that literally seem to be on the verge of being born again. While I am and will continue to teach them how to search the scriptures, I will also teach them what the scriptures teach on different subject. I have no problem teaching them what the scriptures say about baptism, the fruits of the spirit, participatory meetings (1 Cor 14:26), prayer, the eternal nature of the Son of God, the nature of the resurrection from the dead and our glorified bodies etc. I may not be understanding your point here because I don’t necessarily see how helping new converts to understand basic Christian doctrine is wrong.

      5) “It might be wise to ask “ourselves” why “we” want a doctrinal statement and what purpose it might serve amongst all those who may desire fellowship among us.”

      I for one typically like to read statements of faith because it lets me know where a group of believes stands on different issues. Unless it’s just flat out heretical, it won’t keep me from having fellowship with a group of believers, but will give me insight into what they understand the scriptures to be saying on certain subjects. I don’t see it as a barrier to fellowship. Now, as far as the benefits of a doctrinal statement… I think there are some. Let’s say I have either a personal or ministry/fellowship related website, and I do a lot of ministry in the city that I live in, and people are directed to the site through various ways. So I have all different kinds of people coming to the site and possibly looking to come to fellowship. We live in a day and age where all kinds of people call themselves Christians. Or, more accurately, we live in a day and age where all kinds of people say they believe in Jesus, but they have all kinds of weird beliefs associate with Him. I would much rather prefer that people who go to the site have some understanding of what the group believes before they come and unload all their garbage (crazy beliefs) on everyone. (which is also why I prefer to meet new people first before introducing them to the fellowship) More or less, it’s another small way for the elders to help guard and watch over the flock. I’ve seen the fruit of some online fellowships and forums that have no statements of faith. They usually fill up will all kinds of out of church Christians that have some of the most off the wall beliefs, stuff far crazier that what you hear of in institutionalized Christianity. The whole things becomes an utter mess.

      6) “nor should we minimize what God has written in scripture as essential and non-essential. Some truths may carry more weight than others, but no scripture in non-essential. That kind of talk is nonsense and suited for those who don’t believe 1 Corinthians 1:10 is possible.”

      I think you might be carrying the term essential and non-essential to a place that I’m not when I say it. There are essential beliefs in the Christian faith that are essential to fellowship. There are other beliefs, while important and essential in God’s eyes, that are not essential for believers to have the same understand on for them to have fellowship. There is room for disagreement and growth. As far as 1 Cor 1:10, I do believe it is possible for local fellowships to think and believe the same things (it was written to a local fellowship). As far as Christianity at large, I believe there will always be believers and fellowship who have differing opinions on different Christian doctrines and that this will go away when Christ returns (evident by the fact that in Revelation people are still commanded to “come out of her my people” Rev 18:4). Until then, believers all around the world are at different places in their spiritual growth and understanding.

      Michael, I do appreciate what you wrote and I hope that you’ll let me know what you think about what I’ve written. I do value these conversations and think it’s worth the effort to help see how we see these issues relating to what the scriptures teach. I guess in closing, I think that there are some things that are not essential that oftentimes are or may be beneficial.

      Sean Scott

      August 18, 2013 at 3:11 am

  3. Well said brother. And my caveat is what would The Lord have us/you/someone do or not do by the leading of the Holy Spirit. If they had the Holy Spirit lead them in matters as seemingly small as who to appoint to “wait tables” (& even mention/record it in scripture), then I think allowing the Holy Spirit to lead in matters such as these is good, acceptable, & preferable as well. My added 2 cents. Well stated though brother, for sure. God Bless, Jeff

    Sent from my iPhone

    Jeff Marshall

    August 18, 2013 at 2:55 am

  4. “I may not be understanding your point here because I don’t necessarily see how helping new converts to understand basic Christian doctrine is
    wrong.”

    Recently the Lord reminded me of how I was forced to pick and choose so many doctrines as a young believer – rapture,calvinism,free will, etc. Of course I was coerced into wrong choices usually and my beliefs were just mental, not truly spiritual. This often happens when young converts are introduced into the religious machine. This is the result of there being no true relationships or discipling from the elders to the younger saints. It used to be a couple thousand years ago that men like Paul imparted their lives to God’s people and their doctrine was much different than what doctrine is considered today. Their doctrine was their life combined with the truths they preached.

    They didn’t hand the young converts a sheet of paper and say here is a list of doctrines we believe on rapture, etc. In fact, when Paul is making lists it more often a list of character/behavior and conformity to Christ. I think the four Gospels, along with the apostles lives and letters are the best doctrinal statements. Some may say “everyone claims to believe those though and they don’t agree so obviously we need more detailed statements”. At the same time there are many divisions even in denominations where different sub-groups understand the doctrinal statements different and so they branch off into sub-groups with slightly different doctrinal statements and pretty soon you have 30,000 denominations.

    Where there is imparted life from the older to the younger, brother to brother, sister to sister, there is far less need for a doctrinal statement then when the religious machine is just “plugging people in” to their system. I think with you guys having close fellowship you can use the Bible as your doctrinal statement, the gifts of the Spirit as the interpreter, and avoid the pitfalls that often come with what easily turns from simple lists into dogmatic creeds. I think they fall into the category of ultimately having more pitfalls associated with them then advantages though I don’t see them as impermissible. I do agree with you that they are a good way to out cultic beliefs right away and that is one benefit.

    Here are some thoughts from Ian on the subject: http://ianvincent.wordpress.com/why-i-dont-have-a-statement-of-belief/

    Here is a short writing from that old brother Rolfe Barnard on the matter (we probably both agree with it 90% – but disagree on the 10% we are against).

    He says:

    In Acts, Chapter 2, one finds divine order and the church in action, but none of her practices were the center of their faith. The ordinances were valuable expressions of faith but not the center. The New Testament preachers and writers sought to explain their faith, not produce creeds (for example Paul). It needs to be noticed, however, that today one might understand his explanation of his faith but have no fellowship with the Lord. The former must not be taken for the latter.

    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=27037&forum=34&0

    God bless you brothers, these discussions are really good when done in charity even when disagreeing.

    In Christ -Jim

    fleebabylon

    August 18, 2013 at 4:24 am

    • I understand that many churches don’t practice imparting one’s life to another, but I don’t think that really has anything to do with statements of faiths.

      “At the same time there are many divisions even in denominations where different sub-groups understand the doctrinal statements different and so they branch off into sub-groups with slightly different doctrinal statements and pretty soon you have 30,000 denominations.”

      That’s a pretty good point. So do you think that if the statements of faiths were eliminated, that it would greatly reduce some of the division? Or do you think that believers would still divide and primarily fellowship with those that most closely believe as they do?

      Sean Scott

      August 18, 2013 at 5:47 am

      • If there were not denominations organized around particular beliefs [creeds and points of scriptural emphasis and beliefs (right or wrong)], saints would mix more freely and converse about these things more. This would give the Holy Spirit a context for dealing with these things and bringing unity.

        Mark Bryan Finger

        August 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

  5. Preface: if anyone disagrees with what follows, just chalk it up to ‘the old, fat boy is crazy.’ Disclaimer: What follows is my personal testimony of what God has shown me; I am not trying to hold anyone else to my convictions.

    I should be severely rebuked, even flogged [no kidding].

    The issue is what leads to life as authored by the Spirit, and what stems from the soul, as another well-intended act of man.

    Real love is founded in truth, and as truth is revealed to us, we need to walk in it, regardless of what anyone else thinks or not.

    Here’s the Ian I remember [quoted from his site]: “Which comes back to the Wisdom of God for His Church : if He had desired that His people recite creeds, He would have said so in Scripture and it would be clear in the foundational work of the Apostles. If it wasn’t God’s wisdom then, it’s not now.”

    That’s what I think, which is why I wrote on my earlier comment that “I quit doing it [statements of faith] because I felt that other believers should discover what I believe by sharing their lives with me.” [Also, because statements of faith don’t really solve problems, as they fall woefully short of being sound counsel for the myriad issues that arise within an assembly; easier to just trust the work of the Holy Spirit and use the Bible.]

    Now, just insert the words “name fellowships” in place of “recite creeds” in Ian’s words and you have my notion on that as well.

    How things change …

    Ian’s words agree with one of the points I was trying to make earlier: apostolic authority is conveyed on the basis of how they lived, what they said [wrote], and by what can be clearly inferred on the basis of what they said and did.

    However, we must remember that the Holy Spirit is the Worker: we can’t just force other believers to see what only God has revealed to us [and can reveal], any more than they can do the same for us.

    Therefore, when any practical issue arises within an assembly, we shouldn’t be seeking agreement; we should be speaking on the basis of what God has already revealed to us. If He hasn’t revealed anything to us yet, we should be seeking God! By seeking God first, we all come to the same place, eventually.

    We should never give into human secular notions of what love is and compromise what God has clearly revealed to us just to make happy faces with one another or avoid someone being upset because we disagreed with them.

    That’s the real danger.

    I have never had to compromise the truth to follow Jesus and obey His commands.

    E-V-E-R

    P.S. Generally, I agree with Scott’s exegesis, but have no interest in statements of faith. My response really wasn’t so much to his topic, but to the issue of how we live our lives in general.

    Thanks for allowing me to be real on your blog, Sean. I appreciate it, brother.

    Mark Bryan Finger

    August 18, 2013 at 6:35 am

  6. I appreciate Sean’s reasons for having a statement of faith. It’s another non-essential thing. From my point of view any statement of faith should concentrate on the most essential truths of the Bible citing the appropriate references.

    Some false prophets and teachers, i think, often just copy and paste their statement of faith from a legitimate source without probably even understanding it.

    What i’ve said to people is that if they really need to know what i believe about any teaching of the Bible then they can ask me.

    ian vincent

    August 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    • One thing we should probably mention, Sean, is this: a lot of practices have a way of becoming laws. For example, look at what people, including most saints, believe about what church is and how IT operates. No one mandates on their statements of faith that believers must have a named fellowship, a building, a pastor, a denominational connection, etc.: however, people are uncomfortable practicing their faith today when these things are not involved because they believe that this is what GOD HAS DONE. The consequence is that they end up PUTTING THEIR FAITH FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS in things like regular church attendance, instead of the blood of Jesus.

      Mark Bryan Finger

      August 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      • And that can be true even for practices that are not violating a command of God: so the issue is always, where our we placing our faith.

        Mark Bryan Finger

        August 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

  7. There I go again not communicating too well……
    Great questions Sean. I’ll just make some general comments as some of these would take me hours to properly address.

    1. I wasn’t saying that religious traditions couldn’t be limited to these three, only that the verses don’t state that. I think God allowed the Jews to build synagogues and that was allowed in that time although He obviously had something greater in mind- John 4:21-24. Jesus ushered in an altogether better covenant and His earthly life was primarily about revealing this to mankind. That’s why I think He never condemned the synagogues or those who frequented them. I think the scriptures are plain that He condemns them today as calls people out from among what man has done. That’s what matters to me now.
    My thoughts on this are thus: He was going to those sheep who were without a true shepherd much like we would today. If one is courageous enough, church parking lots are awesome harvest grounds!

    2. I don’t see how an individual can fail to discern the body by sharing what they believe God has revealed to them. It’s the difference between this is what the Bible teaches (I believe) and this is who we are (defined by our statement). One is an individual expression the other a corporate expression of a particular spiritual body that falls short of the scriptural truth of the one body.

    Yes, those who define themselves with statements of faith can fellowship with others who don’t. But remember, people gather around statements of faith just like they do around names and those creations aren’t as static as they appear. They draw adherents just as much or more as does Jesus Himself- see Calvanism and Arminianism. These “statements” compete with Jesus for attention and promotion. By the way, I agree that this passage in 1st Corinthians is addressing a local assembly though I don’t believe the context limits it to that. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about that in a previous post.

    3. What is wrong with them (truths of God) being written down ahead of time? Nothing. What’s wrong is that people in general have come to associate church as the norm and everything that goes with it. To me it becomes wrong when it becomes “ours” or defines “us.” I see no wrong with handing someone a piece of paper that simply states various scriptural truths. That would likely be helpful to many people.

    4. I do not believe the scriptures are opposed to sharing what we believe with believers or unbelievers. Although we all know the Spirit of God must be the one bringing the conviction over sin and the truth in revelation, I believe we have a part and God can use us as we aim to teach others the truth. We teach through the scriptural record and as Mark and Jim said by sharing our very lives. Some see this teaching as futile, I personally believe we receive the truth intellectually and then spiritually as the Holy Spirit reveals that through and in us toward others. Reconciliation isn’t just about having a restored relationship with God, it’s also about restored relationships with others through Him. Sharing the gospel and our lives…..

    5. I do not disagree with the benefits you shared, though I still think they are unnecessary. I want to be inclusive, not exclusive in my relationship to other Christians. One of the reasons so many of these problems exist is because the goal of some fellowships, forums, ministries etc is to garner people and resources for their own aims. That is why most have an open door policy. That is both foolish and unwise and is not consistent with the scriptural record. I can think of one site now that emphasizes “free and open spirit-led fellowship” as the all in all. All comments are approved and the author has no problem with this. This may sound loving but in fact fails to both defend the truth and confront the sin and error in others. I want no part of any of that.
    I think where a NT ekklesia has been established and properly working, none of these issues are difficult to address.

    6. I don’t like the words essential and non-essential. To me that paints a picture that is not accurate. I understand what Ian and you are saying by using it, although I disagree with Ian on many of the things he considers to be non-essential. Non-essential sounds too much like like non-important.

    To close I want to say these few things:

    I will fellowship with anyone who is a genuine born again Christian and can prove that with their words and actions and is not living in unrepentant sin. I do not have the right to reject any believer God Himself has accepted regardless of the “issues” they may have. This having been said, many of these people are still walking with the barnacles of their former or religious lives upon them and need to be cleaned up. Some are and some are not willing to be aided along these lines. If they refuse to change and become leaven, the weight of the assembly must be levied against them in the interest of all. Those who do change prove their faith, sincerity and devotion to moving forward with God and one another.

    I have discovered that the only people who desire to fellowship with me are those who are entirely devoted to what the scriptures actually teach. Why is this? Anyone can hangout with a group of Christians who simply want to talk about what they believe without putting their words into action. Anyone can show up at religious meetings and go through the motions. Anyone can feign being religious and even pretend to care by performing various duties and/or service. But there are some things many professing Christians say they will do but in reality never will. I’m one person who long ago counted the cost of discipleship and those who haven’t want no part of me or what I’m doing. So it is within every fellowship that LIVES Jesus and Him Crucified one to another. If a fellowship lives in the light, darkness must flee before it. That’s the normal Christian life is it not? The real problem is this- we don’t really know each other well enough to know what’s going on in each other, nor do we have the courage to confront the sin in others even if we do. There’s no going forward with that kind of shallow superficial luv one for another.

    To be honest, I haven’t thought that much about this “doctrinal statement” issue as I really don’t care about it. I haven’t studied it that closely and probably won’t. I just don’t see much value in it. That said, I’ve spent years thinking, praying and writing about “names,” and I view this as an affront to the finished work of Christ and the result of choosing to separate oneself from the one body. To me, that is obviously sin. I don’t and won’t walk nor fellowship with those returning to Egypt or walking in fellowship with any part of Babylon.

    Lastly, I apologize for such brief superficial answers to your questions Sean. I could have made this 10 pages easily. As I said before to you, I have no desire to convince you of anything, the Spirit of God is more than capable to reveal the truth to each of us in His appointed times and seasons.

    I’m going forward to my heavenly destination. The question to me has never been, “What is permissible?” but rather, “What can I do without?” You might sum up my life towards others like this:

    “But take care that this liberty of yours does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.

    And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food (or names, or doctrinal statements or anything questionable- even good things) causes my brother to stumble, I will never do _______ again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” [1 Corinthians 8:9-13]

    I know a few friends who meet on Sunday nights online.

    among the forgotten

    August 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm

  8. “Here is a tradition or practice of man that is acceptable and does not violate the word of God, yet is condemned by some as evil because it’s a “tradition of man”.”

    Sean-

    Does the word of God condemn me putting up pictures of the virgin mary all over my house?

    In Christ -Jim

    fleebabylon

    August 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm

  9. You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
    (Exodus 20:4-5)

    Re: statement of faith. One thing to consider is that whenever we have the privilege of teaching new believers what we are actually doing is taking them thru a “statement of faith” by teaching them the essential truths of the Word of God: Like God is one, then citing the texts. God is three in One (cite the texts). Jesus is the only begotten, eternal Son of God (cite the texts). Justification by faith (cite the texts) etc…

    ian vincent

    August 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm

  10. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto maturity; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
    (Heb 6:1-2)

    These are foundational truths (not exhaustive) of the principles of the doctrine of Christ, that which can’t be bypassed before going on to maturity, to all the counsel of God.

    Any one who has been given a responsibility by God to teach new believers will have to approach these foundational truths in an orderly way. If someone recorded us teaching this then you could say this is our “statement of faith” for that is the faith we teach.

    ian vincent

    August 19, 2013 at 12:03 am

  11. “Does the word of God condemn me putting up pictures of the virgin mary all over my house?”

    PS – I am doing this to cover up holes in the wall, just practical, not to worship them or anything.

    fleebabylon

    August 19, 2013 at 1:13 am

    • Technically speaking, Mary ceased being a virgin some time after the birth of the Lord Jesus, and the pictures which are supposed to be her are not her. It would be like putting up pictures of Obama and saying, there’s Jim! 🙂 Of course, it’s not a joke as people actually believe the imaginary pictures are really of her, or of Jesus.

      ian vincent

      August 19, 2013 at 2:31 am

    • If I’m a poor homeless Christian and I go to a homeless shelter because it’s cold and raining, and I have no shirt, and they give me a shirt with Metalica logo’s on both sides (because that’s what was donated to them)…..can I wear it to keep myself warm?

      What’s the point of your question Jim?

      Sean Scott

      August 19, 2013 at 2:37 am

      • Yes, inside out of course!

        among the forgotten

        August 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      • Ha, love you bro. My only point was that in my case, I would be doing something that by all appearance promoted idolatry based on my vague interest in first century art and need to cover some holes.

        There’s probably some wisdom that I could use to make a better choice (as opposed to the homeless brother). That is my only point with all of this, that although some things may be lawful they may have huge pitfalls that shouldn’t be ignored or brushed off.

        In Christ -Jim

        fleebabylon

        August 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm

  12. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

    –1 Corinthians 10:23-24

    The Lord brought this verse to mind concerning this conversation.

    I am not making any warrants [claims] concerning it!

    I am just sharing what the Lord brought to mind …

    Peace!

    Mark Bryan Finger

    August 20, 2013 at 3:37 am

  13. Re: the subject

    Our heart motivation is everything to Him who weighs and examines the very deepest of thoughts and intents of the heart.

    If the scenario is about Christians trying to figure out what they can “legally get away with”, or to ascertain the bare minimum acceptable to God, then that would be a bizarre scenario, for such people have the wrong heart motive.

    Like, if Sean is trying to “get away with” having a statement of faith, that is a different paradigm than having a good reason to do it to help others understand and build bridges.

    Same with us in Shillong: Are we trying to test out the limits of what is acceptable to God or do we have a strong undefiled conscience concerning some things which we believe aid the Gospel rather than hinder it?

    If the scenario is about seeking the wealth of the other, if that is the motive, then that is an altogether different paradigm.

    ian vincent

    August 22, 2013 at 2:18 am

    • PS

      If the heart is self-seeking then it will read the Bible looking for what is permissible. If we were seeking something for ourselves then we would search for a loophole or a clause in the Scriptures which appear to make what we selfishly seek permissible. Firstly, the self seeking is wrong and then looking for Scriptural support for it only compounds the problem.

      ian vincent

      August 22, 2013 at 3:31 am


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