Several years, ago, my family attended a very small church. After awhile we became concerned about some of the teachings and practices of the church. Eventually we left. Our time at this church was painful, but it was also very interesting, and it is responsible for us going down an unexpected road. I think that just because things are difficult, it doesn’t mean they are bad.
I believe that most of the problematic teachings and practices in this church are present in most other churches–at least, the churches/denominations I am familiar with–but in larger churches they can get covered up and overlooked. The church we attended was so small that teachings and practices were brought into sharp focus, like the few simple lines of a caricature emphasize features that are lost in a more elaborate drawing. Because of this, we were able to see things we hadn’t fully seen before, and we began to struggle and wrestle with them, and we ended up changing some of the beliefs we had held. (I’m not talking about core beliefs. Read my “What I Believe” page if you are interested in know what I believe.)
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
People have quoted the above verses and say that we need to study the Scriptures to see if what is taught is true, but my experience is that very few actually want anyone to question or challenge them. Sorry if this sounds cynical, but I think it’s a human tendency to feel more comfortable with people who believe the same as we do. I think many people equate questions as challenges to their authority and power–or even to the value of their beliefs and life. Most people just want others to shut up and conform, and they see people who question as troublemakers.
I believe that Truth is not so fragile that it can’t stand scrutiny. We ought to honestly question and investigate a teaching. If it’s True, it will stand up under our scrutiny and we can hold to it. If its not True, then we ought to let it go. But most people study, if they study at all, in order to hammer “facts” into fitting their own beliefs. Few investigate because they want to find the TRUTH.
In the next few posts, I will share the questions we struggled with at the church. I hope readers will at least consider our questions and findings instead of dismiss them because they aren’t what you believe. Feel free to investigate these questions on your own.