Scripture v Tradition: (Chapter 2 Verses 1-10)
If, as we have said, the Church is a living entity, an organism, rather than just an institution, a stationery local club. If the Church is this dynamic, progressive community of people in partnership with the Holy Spirit, how does this fit with our scene today? Is this our brand of Church? Would it be fair to say that our thinking about Church life is less than Biblical? Are our definitions, our methods, our practices submitted to a real Biblical interpretation. An interpretation which sees Jesus in all the Scriptures? If our teaching and practice was filtered through the incarnate Christ wouldn’t it remove much of what hinders, spoils Church growth. Is everything we do permeated with prayer and a worship which engenders the flow of, and an ethos charged with the Spirit of the living God? The Church is not just an institution, but it is that in part, therefore still needs structures, all life does. If there is no form life is sick and dies. But are the structures we have authentic? New wine must be placed in new wine-skins (Matthew 9.17). The Church as well as individual Christians needs to be renewed, constantly so. If we are truly coming from the spirit of the Reformers then our attitude will always be as theirs was, ‘is this Biblical’? They started the Reformation, our task is to carry that work on.
The Church in infancy was given detailed instruction, ‘rule on rule’ (Isaiah 28.10), but it had to grow up (1Corinthians 13.11). Now in its adulthood God as a wise Father gives his children more freedom. But with that freedom of course comes responsibility. He does not give us detailed, pedantic rules and regulations, explicit instructions regards structures. The word of God gives a clear profile of what Church should be, and an abundant freedom to express the same within a given culture, even cultural variety, think of the cultural mix in the New Testament? But of course it must fit with what we are doing. Protecting the gospel truth, from the world and corrupt and defiled religion (Galatians 5.2-6). Protecting the basis for fellowship in Jesus against community based on wealth, social standing, and religious tradition, all of which breaks God’s commands (James 2.1-13; Galatians 2.11-21; Matthew 15.6). Any definition, method or practice which contradicts the excellencies of the God who called us from darkness, and whose gospel saved us, must be abolished. Yet the Church is riddled with the rigid traditions of men. Renew us Lord!
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)