(Read Part 7)
What would you say to a young new leader who told you that the traditions of the previous generation were no longer valid?
In this series, we are evaluating nine troubling ideas that are sweeping through the Bible-believing church today. They represent a paradigm shift in terms of our practical approach to ministry. Yet their net affect is a negative influence not only upon our methodology, but also upon our theology.
The fact of matter is that this shift will touch everyone who is reading. How will you respond when this paradigm shift comes to visit your local church?
Hopefully, the articles in this series have helped you to prepare yourself for this onslaught when it affects you.
Nine Troubling Ideas
This paradigm shift taking place throughout many churches includes the following propositions. The latest, number seven, is the topic of this article:
There is a tendency to reach the youth at the expense of the truth.
There is no longer an emphasis on Bible prophecy.
There is a shift away from—and a redefinition of—“the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, NKJV).
Old Testament teachings are no longer seen as relevant for the life of the church today.
There is a new idea that all that is really important is the big idea.
Reading or teaching through the text is now called idolatry.
A movement’s founders are marginalized or even held up to derision.
As we think about a movement’s founders and the way that they have ministered to us in the past, the word that may come to our minds is tradition.
We previously thought along a similar line in part five of this series. Is it wrong to pass down a good tradition?
We are programmed to think there is something wrong when we hear the word tradition.
Mark 7:13 states:
Thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.
Notice that, in this case, tradition is bad because it invalidates the Word of God. But what if you have been handed a tradition that upholds the Word of God? Is that tradition, in and of itself, bad? Is it wrong simply because it is tradition? I do not think that it is bad.
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. (1 Cor. 11:2)
Here Paul actually commends the Corinthians for following tradition. And he speaks similarly to the church at Thessalonica when he states:
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. (2 Thess. 2:15)
I have noticed something as I have watched how various types of entities develop over a period of time. So often when an heir takes over a business or a ministry, I sense that they want to remove all influence of the founder. Perhaps they just want to promote their own ways of doing things.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of the traditions that have been handed down to us may not be good. Those need to go. But the Scriptures are telling us that other good traditions need to be upheld.
We should not have a visceral reaction against something just because it is a tradition.The question is, does it honor the Scripture? We must hold to anything that honors Scripture.
Thus says the Lord,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jer. 6:16)
Intimidated by Institutions?
Are institutions inherently bad?
An institution is a good thing if it is a God-honoring thing. If the institution is committed to teaching the Word of God verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter, book-by-book, that is a good institution. Why would we not honor that tradition?
When change is desired in an institution, the strategy may be to, first of all, criticize its past leadership. The movement’s founders are marginalized, and sometimes held up to derision.
Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Therefore, it is important to study and note how institutions have functioned throughout church history and how they have been modified as new generations have come into leadership.
We need to understand this. Anytime someone wants to bring sweeping change into an organization, or a school—may I even be so bold as to say, a nation—the first thing they do is they take the founders and they begin to either ridicule them or marginalize them.
I have faced this in the realm of higher theological education—hearing comments from younger scholars who looked down upon people that I have respected and venerated.
Lewis Sperry Chafer is criticized, for instance, because he did not know Greek. Others—who cannot be criticized for their scholarship—are the recipients of more subtle attacks. They are called the old guard. People might say things like, “They were good for their generation. Things have changed now.”
In hindsight, the younger men were saying these things because they had a hold new agenda that they were trying to push and promote.
This is how progressivism operates within our country. If you want to promote socialism, Marxism or even just big government, you will want to take the limited government Founding Fathers and portray them as fools. We have seen this on a grand scale coming from national leaders.
Anything bad that they did, you magnify. Anything good that they did, you de-emphasize.
I also see this in the theological realm in the debate regarding the pretribulational rapture. People will take people who promoted the pretribulational rapture, like John Nelson Darby or C.I. Scofield, and will attempt to find and magnify any negative aspects of their backgrounds.
The fact of the matter is that if you look into my background, or anyone’s background, you will find something wrong. God does not use perfect people. That is because there are not any of them.
I hold to the pre-trib rapture because it is in the Scripture.
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (Heb. 13:7)
Editor’s Note: This blog was compiled with the assistance of Paul J. Scharf,
editor in chief of Dispensational Publishing House,
and is taken from the video that you can watch in its entirety below.
(Read Part 9)
Dr. Andy Woods is a prolific author and speaks nationally on Bible prophecy and related issues. He is senior pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church in Sugar Land, Texas, and the new president of Chafer Theological Seminary in Albuquerque, N.M. We greatly value the opportunity to work with him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.
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Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®.
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