Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

History Repeats Itself

I think the Religion of the Pharisees of Jesus day started with the relationship that God had initiated with them but over the years they added so many layers of other stuff that the relationship was suffering. We can see Jesus, Paul and others challenging the Pharisees to abandon the traditions and laws of their religion that were holding them back from the grace and love of a relationship with God.

So Jesus comes to restore His relationship with his children. His followers actually had God's Spirit living in them. Their selfish ways would die, and they would be guided instead by the will of their Father.

But I'm afraid we've added stuff to this. Just like the Pharisees, over time we've slowly accumulated additional beliefs, laws, and traditions. Are some of these things hindering the relationship that Jesus came to restore?
  • Special buildings for places of worship
  • The distinction between clergy and laity
  • Sermons preached to a passive audience sitting in rows
  • Thinking Church is a Sunday morning event, a building, or an organization/corporation
  • The Lords Supper or communion as a small sip and bite instead of a full meal
  • Little room for spontaneity at the Sunday morning event
  • Having large time gaps between conversion and baptisms, or placing participation in some classes as a prerequisite to baptism
  • Christian academic education instead of apprenticeship styled discipleship
  • Focus on serving church programs instead of a focus on serving one another
  • Viewing the Bible as the final authority of our faith
  • Acceptance of denominations and divisions
Anything else?

I won't even attempt to list all the doctrines and/or values that different 'church' traditions would list as essentials. The lists would differ from 'church' to 'church', and most would be longer than the Apostle's creed, and highlight more recent divisions and distinctives.

Am I wrong, but has the Christian church repeated the errors of the religious Pharisees?

Many of these traditions are not wrong in themselves. However I think it is important to first recognize that certain things we do are extras.

I pray we can find a way to restore our faith to be one centered on the relationship our Lord desires to have with each of us personally, and with His body communally.

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norma j hill said...

re "anything else?" ...

certain church and state/political relationships...

Jonathan said...

Thanks Norma,

Yes, the early church didn't have much say in the politics of their day... then a few centuries later the relationship between church and state started.

And we still have some of that today.