Monday, June 28, 2010

If You Love Me, You Will Keep My Commands

In my previous post, I spoke of rules and regulations in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. As I wrote it, it struck me that in the Old Testament, there are many specific commands given for God's people to follow. In the New Testament, there really aren't that many. Yes, there are a few, but not nearly as many as most of us think there is.

Instead, we've used our logic and common sense and have taken this verse and jigsaw-puzzled it together with that verse to come to a conclusion that we then label as a "command of Jesus". But if we're to be absolutely honest, those are not commands given by Jesus, but rather commandments of men that we make into doctrines.

Don't believe me? Give it a try. Give me the book/chapter/verse containing a command (not a logic-derived conclusion) for each of the doctrines below:

- no hand-raising in worship

- must attend church every time the elders have established for regular meetings

- there must be a multiplicity of elders in each local congregation

- singing in worship must be a cappella

- the main purpose of assembling is to worship God

- you must not drink alcohol or you sin

- you must give money to the church every Sunday

- you must take the Lord's Supper every Sunday

- you must attend church on Sunday

- you must add "in Jesus' name" to every prayer (preferably at the end)

- you must dress up for Sunday church

- you must have a sermon during church

- you must not applaud/clap during church

- you must bow your head and close your eyes during prayers

- you must use Elizabethan English in your songs and prayers

- you must limit "worship" to the specified times of worship

- you must not do anything beyond the "five acts of worship" during worship

- the fruit of the vine in the Lord's Supper can only be grape juice

Please don't think I'm trying to change any of these things (okay, a few of them I'd do away with - the Elizabethan English I think does harm). I'm just pointing out that much of what passes as "commands" in our thinking are not commands. They may be correct conclusions (since the Fall, our logic is not to be trusted completely), but logic-derived conclusions are not commands.

Careful; it might shake up your paradigm if you think about this too much. Keep the commands of Jesus, yes, but don't make the mistake of believing a non-command is a command.


Shepherd's Ewe said...

You have issues about Elizabethan English. :)

Chyntt said...

Yep :-)

Firstly, I think antiquated English gets in the way.

Paul said he'd rather speak five clearly-intelligible words in the assembly than ten-thousand in a tongue.

Also, God recorded the New Testament in "street Greek", not the formalized scholarly Greek usually used for books at the time.

The implication of these two things is that the Message should be clearly understandable. Nowadays, to insist that a non-churched person read the King James Bible would require him to learn a "foreign" language first, before he could even begin working on the actual concepts of the Bible. (Just pick a 5-verse or so passage out of the KJV Bible at random and have your non-churched neighbor read it and tell you what it says. He may be able to read it and understand it, but not without thinking about it and making mental translations and putting in effort to understand the language which robs him of the effort he could be putting into understanding the concept behind the language.)

Secondly, not only is there the issue of understandability, there's also the issue of compartmentalization. Christianity should be a 24-7 way of life, but if we use everyday English in part of our lives and antiquated English in the religious part of our lives, have we not compartmentalized the two? We've made a subconscious distinction between the part of our lives that belongs to God and the part that belongs to us. This ought not to be so.

Thirdly, it's not Biblical. God does not require us to "do church" in a special "church language". This is strictly a human-devised tradition.

Fourthly, it's not even historically accurate. The "thee" and "thine" used to address God in the King James era specified a singular "you" (as opposed to a plural "y'all"), and had nothing to do with reverence or respect. We've morphed it into being a sign of respect, which has nothing to do with the way the language was used in the KJ Bible. So again, we've added a human-devised tradition to the mix, which has no Biblical or historical support.

I believe the use of antiquated English in church matters is non-Biblical, historically inaccurate, and harmful.