Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Joel's excellent series of posts on "Jesus is not a Religion" reminded me of something I wanted to share.

We were having a discussion in Sunday school, this past Sunday, about religion and tradition. It was my turn to lead the class, so I got to steer the class in a direction to talk about some things that were on my mind. I didn't steer it too far off topic as we were discussing what "good works" meant in Ephesians 2:10.

We were wondering what church would look like if you removed all of the man-made traditions and trappings of religion that have been injected over the years. Note that I am not saying those things are necessarily bad, but what would happen in your typical church, for example, if you threw the order of worship out the window and worshipped and shared from your heart.

What a wonderful thing it must have been, when He walked the earth, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him teach and share the heart of the Father. The good part is that we still have that same privilege today, but how much of our Sunday is spent running around like Martha?


Joel Brueseke said...

" sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him teach and share the heart of the Father."

Amen, how wonderful a thing! And indeed, we can still do the same thing today. May the church receive this revelation and walk, um, sit, in it, :), and really get to know the Father's heart.

Judah Himango said...

Ephesians 2 is a tricky one. The NIV translation makes it appear as though Messiah abolished the Law -- something Messiah specifically stated he would not do! So it's a tough one to really grok.

It's really hard to think what church would look like without traditions, isn't it? Almost everything we do today is a tradition of some form or another.

A sermon is a tradition.

Formal praise & worship music is a tradition.

We've just removed the 2 critical parts of "church". :-)

Of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church, many of which have been inherited by Protestants, at least 4 traditions were not present in Messiah's day:

Holy Orders

Some other things that come to mind that are traditions that wouldn't have been present in Jesus' day:

Communion (essentially Catholic Eucharist)
Sunrise services
Easter services
Christmas services
Prayer books
Song books
Stained glass windows
Church on Sunday
Church the building

Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Removing these traditions would be more than radical!

Like you said, not all of these traditions are necessarily bad. I look at them like I look at the Talmud: traditions of men with good intentions and wise guidelines but must be taken with a grain of salt and should always take a back seat to things straight from God.

Joel Brueseke said...

"Ephesians 2 is a tricky one."

It's only tricky if you don't take into context the rest of scripture. :)

"The NIV translation makes it appear as though Messiah abolished the Law"

So does the NKJV, the KJV, the ASV, the NASB, the RSV, and just about all the other versions on my computer Bible. :) Well, technically, it doesn't make it appear as if Messiah abolished it...

"-- something Messiah specifically stated he would not do! So it's a tough one to really grok.

...Indeed Jesus said He didn't come to abolish the Law. He said He came to fulfill it. This He did.

And then... as we see in Ephesians 2, as well as Colossians 2 God (the Father) made us "alive together with Him (Jesus), having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

We also find via scriptures such as Romans 7 and Galatians 2:19 that we had to die to the law in order to be married to Messiah. If you simply stop at Jesus' words that He didn't come to abolish the Law, then indeed a lot of the New Testament scriptures will be tricky. But if we look at the full counsel of scripture, we get a different picture.

Joel Brueseke said...

It's been during a period of 2,000 years that the church has added these various traditions. Frank Viola and George Barna research and document many of these traditions that have been added by man, many of which have pagan origins. It would indeed be "radical" to many people to give up these traditions, but radical can be a good thing. :)

Pagan Christianity

Judah Himango said...

Joel, yes and I think the difference between fulfill and abolish is lost on most folks.

Anyways, I don't mean to hijack Gary's thread and induce him to stop posting his excellent posts, so I'll just leave it at that! :-)

Gary Kirkham said...


Don't worry about hijacking threads, feel free to speak your mind...your comments are welcome. I like your point of view, even if I don't always agree with it. You could never induce me to stop posting. :) Only God can do that.

Also, I hope you take my recent comment on your blog in the spirit it was offered...oneness in Christ.

In Christ,

Gary Kirkham said...


That looks like an interesting book, I think I will try to get me a copy.


Joel Brueseke said...


I came across the book a couple of months ago, basically from seeing a few online reviews. I posted a blog about it, asking if anyone had read it. No one had read it at the time, but since then a few people have gone on to buy it and have posted their own reviews as well as some excerpts from the book on their own blogs, and some interesting conversations have come out of it. I've also joined a Yahoo group that is discussing the book. All of this added up, I like what I have seen so far, and the book is on my list of books to get.

Marc said...

It is unfortunate that the gnostics were stamped out of existence, as their approach to Sunday service (to use a modern term) was that every person in the community had the opportunity to preach from his/her heart. I much prefer that than sitting in a pew for 50 minutes as a passive observer.


Gary Kirkham said...


I think that most of us like to be passive observers...we want to be served and entertained. In the Baptist church a bunch of deacons bring the Lord's Supper to the congregation instead of the congregation going to receive it. Many would rather sit and listen to someone sing, than to stand sing. I'm like you; I would rather not sit idle for 45-50 minutes and listen. But on the flip side, I don't think that church should be a free-for-all where everyone is off doing their own thing.

We also tend to look down on people who don't worship the same way we do. The hand clappers wish the quiet people would loosen up and the solemn folks don't understand why those "attention seekers" have their hands raised to the ceiling.

I think that everyone comes to worship in different ways and they all should be encouraged to worship as they feel led. Sometimes it would be better to skip the sermon and the singing and have a time of prayer. When was the last time you saw a church do that on Sunday morning?

In Christ,