I am starting this article out with some tough and serious questions, questions that need to be pondered and answered.
Could it be that wolves have been in the doctrine henhouse of our churches and we haven't realized it? Could it be that even the strongest Bible believers miss the key doctrines? What doctrines should we hold to?
Jude, the brother of Jesus, addressed this when he said, "I had an obligation to write you, encouraging you to compete for the trust that was once turned over to the sacred people. You see, certain people sneaked in undetected (who previously had been written about a long time ago into this judgment: they are godless) transferring our God's generosity into indulgent activity and denying the only Owner and our Master, Jesus, the Anointed King. (Jude 3b-4 - BV)
There is a certain body of information that God expects people to hold to. This body of information is what Jesus taught during His life. At the end of His life He turned it over to His apostles and disciples.
Let's take a closer look at what Jesus' brother said about this information.
This information was turned over once. The information at that time is the information people should hold to.
This information is not the entirety of what the Bible teaches. It is not what tradition has handed down. It is not what teachers and preachers teach today. It is what Jesus taught. It is nothing more and nothing less.
Not only should Christians know this information, they should struggle for it. When people say something else, they should point them back to the words of Jesus. When they find themselves heading off in a different direction, they should pull themselves back.
Yet the sad reality is that Christ's teachings were set off to the side a long time ago. Christians know His teachings. They have read them. But they are just childhood stories to them. They are not important. They do not understand them. They do not practice them. Their churches do not have them in their doctrinal statements. And they definitely do not struggle for them.
Jude calls this body of information, the trust (the faith). What Jesus taught has to do with trust: what to trust, how to trust, how trust works, etc.
The reason for this is that the spiritual world is invisible. We cannot see it. God is in the spiritual world and we cannot see Him. We cannot see the Spirit. We cannot see angels. We cannot see the kingdom of God. We cannot see what Jesus is doing for us. Jesus told us about these things. We must trust what He said and live as if it were true because it is. This is trust.
But there is a problem. Wolves have been in the henhouse. Godless people sneaked in. They said they were Christians. They said they were teaching God's Word, but they were godless. They became our church leaders and great spiritual men, but they were godless. God was not god of their lives. Self was the god they listened to. So when they came up with a new doctrine or idea, they did not compare it to God's body of information, the trust. They did not struggle with it to see if their new idea agreed with God. They just slapped tape over God's mouth and hung their idea on it.
For almost two thousand years this has gone on, godless people have sneaked in and changed the trust. They have done so in every area of Christianity: in contemporary churches, in traditional churches, in children's classrooms, in adult classrooms, in the denominations, in the non-denominations, in colleges, and in books.
The body of information that Christians trust today is not the teachings of Jesus because godless people have given them new teachings to trust.
Consider the area of prayer.
Jesus taught that when a person prays, he should find a private place and pray to God in private. He should not "pray standing in the synagogue" (Mark 6:5-6). Yet every church I know does the "pray standing in the synagogue" thing. That is how they do prayer. When a prayer is said in church, someone stands up and prays out loud as others listen. This is a direct violation of what Jesus taught.
How did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed in private places by himself (Matthew 14:23; 26:36-44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 11:1). He did this often. He did not pray in public or lead people in prayer. When the crowds gathered to hear Him teach, He did not begin or end with prayer. He just taught. Prayer was not a public thing to Jesus. It was private.
But two thousand years of tradition has changed the way prayer is practiced. In the Middle Ages prayers were read by the priests in Latin. No one understood what was being said but they were called prayers so they had to be beneficial. Today priests still read off prayers for their parishioners. How can people think that a prayer read out loud from a prayer book can replace the private conversation Christians are supposed to have with God? Yet, churches copy priests by having someone pray for everyone. For some Christians it is the only prayer they experience. But it is prayer that Jesus forbids.
I have confrounted Christians with this contradiction but most prefer to ignore Jesus' teaching so that they can continue praying the way they have always prayed.
They choose tradition over Jesus. They prefer to hold to doctrines handed down to them through hundreds of years of tradition. They see their friends, pastors, their denomination, and the thousands of people who have preceded them holding to these traditions and they assure themselves that they are right. Refusing to let go of their traditions forces them to ignore God's Word. "Terminating God's message with your tradition that you gave out. You are doing many things resembling these types of things." (Mark 7:13 BV).
How can Christians ignore Jesus' teaching and call themselves Christians? The Bible teaches over and over again that Jesus' teachings should hold a superior position with Christians.
Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13). He is God's message to us. Martin Luther was not called the Word of God. John Calvin was not the Word of God. The councils held after the time of the Bible to determine church doctrine were not called the Word of God. Only Jesus is the Word of God and as the Word of God His teachings should take a superior place in our doctrine.
The message of God does not change. It is more permanent than everything in this world (1 Peter 1:23-25). It is the same as what Jesus taught and it is still good today.
Christians call Jesus their Lord (master) and Christ (Anointed King). Yet if he really is their master and king, they will put the things He taught in a higher position above all else. They will throw out the things He did not teach.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). His sheep listen to His voice (John 10:27). Those who stay in Jesus' message are His disciples (John 8:31). Christians should keep His words (John 14:23-24). Jesus' words are to stay inside of Christians (John 15:7). The Holy Spirit will testify of Jesus (John 15:26). God speaks through His Son (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus is the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20; Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17). All of these points drive home the fact that Jesus' teachings should hold a superior position with Christians.
Doesn't every Christian know these points? Why don't churches and Christians follow the teachings of Jesus?
You don't see the problem, do you? You insist that your doctrines are the doctrines of Jesus.
Let's see if that is true. Take the doctrine that you talk about most. Or take one point in your church's doctrinal statement. Now ask yourself this question, Did Jesus teach it? I think that is simple enough. Did Jesus teach it?
The question is not whether Jesus mentioned parts of your doctrine. Did He teach it?
Jesus went around teaching lessons. The lessons are doctrines. A doctrine is a teaching. Just because Jesus said something does not make it a teaching. Every sentence and every verse that Jesus spoke has a context. If the context is something that Jesus is teaching then it is His teaching. The verse alone or the verse taken out of context is not His teaching.
Anyone can go through the articles that I write, take out points and facts, then put them together and teach something completely different than what I taught. That is something they teach, not me. I taught what I taught.
Jesus taught what He taught. What do you teach? Is what you teach the same thing as what He taught? Is it?
Let's take the doctrine of the trinity as an example. Did Jesus teach about the trinity? No, He did not. In fact, none of the people of the Bible taught about it. Yes, Jesus did say things that support the doctrine of the trinity, like, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) and "...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). But He did not teach that God is a trinity and what that trinity is.
Who taught it? The word, trinity, was first used in reference to God by Theophilus of Antioch in the late second century. After that others added to his teaching and the doctrine was fully developed by the end of the fourth century.
I do not disagree with the doctrine of the trinity but it is not Jesus' teaching. I don't know why Jesus did not teach it, but He didn't.
I have to assume that one reason why Jesus did not teach about the trinity is because it is not as important as the things He did teach. Yet most churches would rank the doctrine of the trinity as more important. And that is the problem.
How many times have you run into people who treat Jesus and the Father as if they are the same thing? When they talk about Jesus, they are also talking about the Father, and vice versa. They see them as one and the same. This is wrong (even the doctrine of the trinity teaches that they are two different persons). Yet preachers do this and laymen do it. Why? Because of the doctrine of the trinity. If they had stayed with what Jesus said, they would not think that way.
But the problem with believing what Jesus said is that the person believing it must read and study the Bible to see what He said. Doctrines on the other hand are shortcuts. It is easier to say that the trinity is three in one (which it is) and then go off on paths of thought that are in contradition to what the Bible teaches. That is exactly what happens in churches every Sunday.
If you look at most church doctrinal statements, they basically describe who God is, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is, what Man is, what salvation is, and etc. They may even have Bible verses to support each point. But Jesus never sat down and said, "Our lesson today is about God and who He is. Tomorrow we will cover me and who I am, and the next day I will explain what the Holy Spirit is." Those are doctrines of our churches, not doctrines of Jesus.
Jesus' doctrines are much different. Some are about how to behave. Some have to do with trusting Jesus. Some explain what the kingdom of heaven is like. The content of Jesus' doctrines is much different than doctrines taught today.
Jesus' doctrines are in the four Gospels, not in books written since then. Like them or not, understand them or not, they are what Christians should hold to.
We know what we teach. We know what is taught in our churches. We know what the doctrines of our churches are. But the question is, what did Jesus teach? Can we go back to that? That is what is important.
Two thousand years of wolves in the henhouse, godless people wanting to "better" the Bible, have left quite a mess for the church today.
Have you been living in this mess? If so, do you value Jesus and His teachings enough to throw your post-Christ doctrines out? Will you move your denominational beliefs out of the center and replace them with Jesus' teachings? Will you build a new doctrinal statement of just Jesus' teachings?
It's time we went back to and struggled for "the trust that was once turned over to the sacred people".