Daily D – Mark 7:8
Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.
MARK 7:8 (CSB)
A preacher with a good theological education and a thorough philosophical indoctrination expressed recently that a person cannot hear and understand God through any means other than his doctrinal and philosophical presuppositions.
This says two things that make me uncomfortable. First, only one so theologically educated and philosophically indoctrinated as himself can properly understand and communicate the Bible.
Second, only one so theologically educated and philosophically indoctrinated can know and experience God with intimacy and accuracy.
These two ideas crash headlong into two key biblical understandings emphasized in the Reformation. Soul competency teaches that we are individually and personally accountable to God. We are competent to relate to God without the intermediation of another human or an institution.
We do not have to be, in other words, theologically educated and philosophically indoctrinated to relate to God. We can read and understand the Bible for ourselves and understand it as God means for us to understand it.
The priesthood of all believers teaches us that we do not require an intermediary to get to God. Our Great High Priest, Jesus, makes it possible for us to come into God’s presence “with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).
If we were to reword priesthood of all believers to pastorhood of all believers, we would likely have a better understanding of the meaning of this idea for today. Rather than a pastor or priest serving as the anointed and appointed person to serve God on behalf of the church, we are all the church with the anointing and appointing to minister God’s grace wherever we are according to the need of the moment.
These are big ideas. They are liberating ideas. They make world change possible. The problem is that we give preference to learning theological systems and philosophical worldviews to relating to God as our Father. It is easier to know about God and the rules of our traditions than to know God and to submit our hearts, minds, and wills to him.
Our Father never leads anyone falsely (Psalm 23:3). Earnest hearts who seek him find him (Jeremiah 29:13). You and I are quite capable of hearing God speak through the Bible and knowing what to do in response. Not only are we capable, but we are responsible to do so.
We find ourselves often in the same situation Jesus was in this chapter of Mark’s Gospel. There were men who knew God’s written word well. However, they lived according to their theological interpretation and philosophical worldview rather than what God actually said and meant. This led them to reject Jesus, God With Us.
Let the reader understand: If your theological education and philosophical worldview lead you to disagree with Jesus, you are doing it wrong.
In Mark 1:22; 12:27, and Matthew 7:28, 29, we are told that common people heard Jesus with delight because he spoke with authority. You and I have the delight of reading and understanding the Bible for ourselves. You and I have the joy of doing what it says in our homes, our schools, our businesses, and our communities.
Let us read and respond. Let us seek God with all of our hearts and serve God with all of our might. Let us ignore those who tell us we cannot do either unless we do it their way and only their way.
I will seek God and serve God as he intended and as he makes possible.
Our Father, thank you for loving Pharisees. Thank you for giving us educational institutions that help us think more clearly. Thank you for giving us a worldview that liberates and guides. Thank you that each one of us can come to you with sincerity and find you, know you, hear you, and respond to you. You have given us your words of truth and life. Teach us from them day by day. Empower us in every moment these truths to obey. Lead us by your Spirit every step of the way. Amen.
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Luke 8:24, 25 They came and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” (CSB)