T H E S I S # 13
Each is responsible to evaluate customs and teachings by Bible standards. The person, group or organization one refuses to examine by Bible standards are idols.
If you could somehow go church hopping throughout evangelical church history, visiting local churches in different countries and different ages, you would see mistakes of various magnitude rooted in evangelicalism. Some of those blunders could be categorized as trifle, but many as severely damaging.
Your church hopping would reveal an assortment of comical evangelical peculiarities: preposterous buildings, ‘bishops’ wearing funny vestments, men on one side of the church and women on the other, evangelicals shunning cars and choosing the horse and buggy, women in head coverings, and many etceteras.
And then there are some not-so-comical traits: forbiddance of preaching outside church buildings, evangelicals giving homage to evangelicals, outlawing preaching by non-ordained laity, leadership usurping authority of the dad as head of the family, a glut of intellectualism, forbidding speaking in tongues and prophesying, ‘apostolic succession’, liturgical services, and many etceteras.
You could find yourself in an 18th century congregation that believes God preordains some to go to heaven and all others to go to hell, regardless of their choices. God was the invisible manipulator, and each person the puppet on His strings with no ability to resist His will. (Calvinism is still alive and well in some quarters of evangelicalism.)
In every era evangelicals have coerced evangelicals to compromise their dependence on Christ alone. Controllers have convinced the controlled to pay them homage (and pay them a salary). They imply, You need our God-given discernment, you can’t do christianity without our shepherding. Blah, blah, blah.
A shipwrecked evangelical washed ashore on an uninhabited tropical island with only his Bible would spiritually prosper, more so than the evangelical pew and pulpit person. Christ really is sufficient. We have become so unnecessarily complex.
Lord Jesus: Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. (Luke 18:17)
Children are tricky people. For them, entrance into the kingdom comes easier than for adults. Kids are heart people; adults are head people. Since we became “sons of the kingdom” by becoming childlike, it should be obvious remaining childlike will bring further benefits.
In christianity, simplicity works.
An elderly circuit rider, way back in the 18th century, asked a young man….
“Are you a slave?”
“No, Suh. Used to be. Mastah freed me.”
“Where were you born?”
“Fayetteville, North Carolina.”
“Do you like to preach?”
“Yes, Suh. God called me to preach and that’s what I does!”
“Study a lot?”
“No, Suh! Ain’t never learned to read. But I prays a lot!”
The young man soon became more popular than the elderly gentleman. (See note # 1.)
Samuel Morris (1872-1893), a black teen, escaped cruel tribal enemies in the western forest of the Ivory Coast. After conversion to the Lord Jesus in a missionary camp Samuel worked his passage to New York. Before arrival of the ship into New York harbor the cruel captain and most of the renegade crew were converted to Christ. (See note # 2.)
In christianity, simplicity works.
There is no need for evangelical oversight. Don’t need the reverends, the bishops, the superintendents, the board of elders, the buildings, the crowds. Didn’t need them when Christ walked among men and don’t need them now. No need to be grounded in most of the issues christian intellectuals use to impressive each other. We only need to be knit to our Lord Jesus Christ and to a few brothers and sisters of like mind. Yes, we make mistakes, but so do the reverends; they have proved that sufficiently. Leaning on them is evidence of not leaning on Him, the Lord Jesus.
Sitting in an evangelical pew somewhere in history, you might conclude all those pew and pulpit guys are victims of their spiritual times, misguided innocents.
Not so. Not so yesterday, not so today.
Lord Jesus: But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.
Lord Jesus: He dwells with you and will be in you.
No person submissive to the governance of the Holy Spirit will walk into error. We are misguided when we ‘turn off’ the Holy Spirit. To our harm we switch channels. Most have been guilty of man-gazing, which leads to man-worship, which leads to submission to man, which leads to embracing man’s ways.
Refusing to examine evangelicalism under Bible light is an indication evangelicalism has attained first place, the Bible having become secondary. This is, and always has been, a common crisis.
The heart gone astray is in constant danger.
When evangelicals give themselves over to ‘churchianity’ (christians being the focus of christians, church societal life having preeminence over the “head of the church”, approval of each other of more value than God’s approval, unity of “the brethren” of higher priority than “the unity of the Spirit”), they have done themselves dirt. Serious regret is forthcoming.
1 John 5:21: Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Note # 1: Francis Asbury: God’s Circuit Rider, Charles Ludwig
Note # 2: Google: Samuel Kaboo Morris