When Jesus was being questioned by Pilate in John 18:37, he told him, Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. Pilate’s answer was an important question because he asked, What is truth? This brief interchange brings us to similar questions. How do we know that we are people of the truth? Do the groups we follow, be they centuries old denominations or newer Christian sects, hold to the “truth” Jesus spoke of? How much of what we are being taught is based on biblical truth versus denominational tradition, and how much is just plain opinion? And to pile on further, at the end of the day, does any of this even matter?
Truth does matter. Jesus spoke of knowing the truth and the truth setting us free. As Christians, understanding where to find that truth is a subjective search. What denomination do you belong to? What belief system do you follow? Answering these questions will reveal what sources you go to in order to find truth. The challenge here should be evident. If you are a member of a major, centuries-old denomination and I follow an independent Christian group, our sources will be different.
Does tradition bring us truth?
Although the centuries-old approach has longevity on its side, its potential issues stem from that very thing. Centuries bring the comfort of tradition, and it is easy to assume that tradition is the bedrock of truth. However, if we are brave enough to examine the history of Christianity, we will see that far too many traditions have led to far too much despicable and thoroughly unchristian behavior. All done in the name of Christ.
Newer, more independent-thinking Christians also have serious issues to contend with regarding truth. The primary challenge on this end is independent thinking, ideas and interpretations can easily bend the truth of the gospel to what I prefer it to read. If we’re not careful, the throwing off tradition can become a major trap of pride and personal agenda instead of a sincere search for truth.
So, what do we do?
We go back to the beginning. We go back to the Bible and the Bible alone. Long before there were the traditions of the churches, and long before we had to opportunity and temptation to interpret the gospel to our own liking, we had the sure word of God. We had the Old Testament in place, and we had the New Testament focusing on Jesus and being lived and written by those who knew him.
Check out our October 11,2021 podcast, “Are My Christian Beliefs Based on Truth or Error?” for more. We examine the biblical record concerning the inspiration of Scripture versus the coupling of tradition and Scripture. Looking at Christian practices, we found some seem to assume more authority than the Bible allows. We also investigate women teaching in the church and how our churches are organized, all through the lens of Scripture. What we find is surprising and enlightening.