Moving Into History

TRADITION
paradosis (3862), “a handing down or on” (akin to paradidomi, “to hand over, deliver”), denotes “a tradition,” and hence, by metonymy, (a) “the teachings of the rabbis,” interpretations of the Law, which was thereby made void in practice, Matt. 15:2, 3, 6; Mark 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13; Gal. 1:14; Col. 2:8; (b) of “apostolic teaching,” 1 Cor. 11:2, rv, “traditions” (kjv, “ordinances”), of instructions concerning the gatherings of believers (instructions of wider scope than ordinances in the limited sense); in 2 Thess. 2:15, of Christian doctrine in general, where the apostle’s use of the word constitutes a denial that what he preached originated with himself, and a claim for its divine authority (cf. paralambano, “to receive,” 1 Cor. 11:23; 15:3); in 2 Thess. 3:6, it is used of instructions concerning everyday conduct.¶
W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

Jesus our Heritage and Future
People are constantly asking, “What’s so special about Jesus? Why is He the only way that someone can know God?”
Along with the problem of the heathen, there is no question asked more often than this one. We are accused of being narrow-minded because we assert there is no other way to get to God.
The first point to make is that we did not invent the claim of Jesus being the only way. This is not our claim; it is His. We are merely relating His claim, and the claim of the writers of the New Testament.
Jesus said, John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. and, John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. The apostle Peter echoed these words, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, KJV).

St. Paul concurred, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… . ”(I Timothy 2:5, KJV). It is therefore the united testimony of the New Testament that no one can know God the Father except through the person of Jesus Christ.

To understand why this is so, we must go back to the beginning. An infinite-personal God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) and man in his own image (Genesis 1:26). When He had finished creating, everything was good (Genesis 1:31).
Man and woman were placed in a perfect environment, with all their needs taken care of. They were given only one prohibition; they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lest they die (Genesis 2:17).
Unfortunately, they did eat of the tree (Genesis 3), and the result was a fall in four different areas. The relationship between God and man was now broken, as can be seen from Adam’s and Eve’s attempting to hide from God (Genesis 3:8).
The relationship between man and his fellow man was severed, with both Adam and Eve arguing and trying to pass the blame to someone else (Genesis 3:12, 13).
The bond between man and nature also was broken, with the ground producing thorns and thistles and the animal world no longer being benevolent (Genesis 3:17, 18). Man also became separated from himself, with a feeling of emptiness and incompleteness, something he had not experienced before the fall.
However, God promised to make all these things right and gave His word that He would send a Saviour, or Messiah, who would deliver the entire creation from the bondage of sin (Genesis 3:15). The Old Testament kept repeating the theme that some day this person would come into the world and set mankind free.
God’s Word did indeed come true. God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 29). Jesus eventually died in our place in order that we could enjoy again a right relationship with God. The Bible says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” and “he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:19, 21, KJV).
Jesus has paved the way! God has done it all, and our responsibility is to accept that fact. We can do nothing to add to the work of Jesus; it has all been done for us.
If mankind could have reached God any other way, then Jesus would not have had to die. His death illustrates the fact that there is no other way. Therefore, no other religion or religious leader can bring someone to the knowledge of the one true God.
But the death of Jesus is not the end of the story. Let us illustrate why we prefer Jesus over other religious leaders. Suppose a group of us are taking a hike in a very dense forest. As we get deeper into the forest, we become lost.
Realizing that taking the wrong path now might mean we will lose our lives, we begin to be afraid. However, we soon notice that ahead in the distance where the trail splits, there are two human forms at the fork in the road.
Running up to these people, we notice that one has on a park ranger uniform, and he is standing there perfectly healthy and alive, while the other person is lying face down, dead. Now which of these two are we going to ask about the way out? Obviously, the one who is living.
When it comes to eternal matters, we are going to ask the one who is alive the way out of the predicament. This is not Mohammed, not Confucius, but Jesus Christ. Jesus is unique. He came back from the dead. This demonstrates He is the one whom He claimed to be (Romans 1:4), the unique Son of God and the only way by which a person can have a personal relationship with the true and living God.
Josh McDowell, Answers to tough questions: Skeptics ask about the Christian faith [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1993 by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart.


Moving into History:

As we move forward into the future, we must build on the basic of what is considered Christianity. From the first fundamentalist who claimed the Earth must be square, because Christ said take the gospel to all the corners of it, through Galileo’s treatment at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition to Darwin’s "Origin of the Species", the religious foundations have been decaying. However, with each new generation, even shallow religionist, the basic character of religion remains unshaken.

History is defined in being described as the area and subject it covers and be narrow in it’s description. Religion ought to be descriptive. It should build a narrative within which to understand our lives. A lot of the narrative is a description of the past, but needs to be understood as a narrative definition, because simply the wise King Solomon said, "there is a way that seems right and the end is destruction.

However, when religions start looking like sciences, they should be judged on a scientific basis. Because the things which religion should describe are abstract, there may be even more room for a number of images to be consistent than in science.

How do we judge religious truth? As with science and even medicine, without a foundation, then there could never be any relative truth for advancement.

Traditions and customs in which America is accustomed should never abandon their ties to what has made America great, which is our freedoms and freedom of religion is of foremost importance to our constitution rights.

Asking one to turn our back on our heritage, which our forefathers carved out with many sacrificing their lives for the faith would be forfeiting our basic right to worship in Spirit and Truth, is as trying to prepare for the future without a foundation. Which would seem as building a home without an foundation for the structure.

(Please note: In AD 1147, because of Henry of Toulouse, deemed their most eminent preacher, they were called Henericians; and as they would not admit of any proofs relative to religion, but what could be deduced from the Scriptures themselves, the popish party gave them the name of apostolics. At length, Peter Waldo, or Valdo, a native of Lyons, eminent for his piety and learning, became a strenuous opposer of popery; and from him the reformed, at that time, received the appellation of Waldenses or Waldoys.
—Fox's Book of Martyrs)

 

If our Heritage is not correct, then how will we know that our future is right?
A question we hear often is, “Does it really matter what I believe as long as I believe in something?” Or, “As long as your belief helps you, isn’t that all that matters?”
The idea behind statements such as these is that there is no absolute truth to believe in, and thus the act of believing is all there is. We all believe in something, as Edgar Sheffield Brightman states, “A thinker cannot divest himself of real convictions, and it is futile to pose as having none” (E.S. Brightman in H.N. Wieman, B.E. Meland (eds.), American Philosophies of Religion, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1936).
The idea of finding any truth or meaning to life has escaped modern man. This statement reflects the inability to conceive of something outside of one’s self: “There are no rules by means of which we would discover a purpose or a meaning of the universe” (Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, p. 301).
Even though we live in a day in which we all have definite beliefs about things, the climate seems to be the act of belief rather than any real object of belief. “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact,” states pragmatist William James.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Belief will not create fact. Truth is independent of belief. No matter how hard I may try, believing something will not make it true. For example, I may believe with all my heart that I want it to snow tomorrow, but this will not guarantee snow. Or I may believe that my run-down old car is really a new Rolls Royce, but my belief won’t change the fact.
Belief is only as good as the object in which we put our trust. Someone may come to me and say, “Hey, let’s go for a ride in my new plane!” If I come to find out that his plane hardly runs at all and he does not even have a pilot’s license, then my faith, no matter how much I have, is not well-founded.
My faith won’t create a great pilot out of my friend once we are in the sky! However, if another friend of mine comes along and makes the same offer, but he is a certified pilot with a new plane, then my trust has a much more solid base. So it does matter what I believe, for my believing it does not make it true.
The Bible also emphasizes the fact that it is vital what one believes. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24, MLB). We are also told, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, KJV).
Thus, the stress of the Scriptures is not so much on the act of belief as on the object of belief. What is emphasized is not so much the one trusting, but rather the one trusted. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6, KJV).
People today are believing whatever they wish to believe, but this will lead to their ultimate destruction. The famous classroom story of the philosopher, Georg Hegel, illustrates the type of faith many people display, which is entirely unbiblical. Hegel, as the story goes, was expounding on his philosophy of history with reference to a particular series of events when one of his students objected to Hegel’s view and replied, “But, Herr Professor, the facts are otherwise.”
“So much worse for the facts,” was Hegel’s answer.
One of the darkest periods in the history of Israel occurred in the time of the kings. During this time, there was a contest between the Lord God and Baal, a highly regarded cult deity.
An altar of wood was built, with pieces of an oxen laid upon it as a sacrifice. The god who answered by fire and consumed the sacrifice would be acknowledged as the true god in Israel. Baal went first.
If anyone could start a fire from the sky, it was Baal—the great nature god who controlled the weather (e.g., rain, thunderstorms, lightning). The priests of Baal paraded around the altar all morning and until late afternoon, beseeching Baal to respond.
These false priests jumped all over the altar, cut themselves with swords, danced into a frenzy, raved and pleaded all day. Yet nothing happened. No one can say they were not sincere or did not believe.
After they were finished and the altar was rebuilt, the Lord God answered with fire from heaven and consumed the altar and sacrifice. The false prophets of Baal were then slain.
If sincerity and belief saved, then these prophets should have been spared. But they do not. These prophets had their trust in the wrong object. They had never chosen to investigate the truth. God requires man to put his faith in Jesus Christ; nothing less will satisfy either them or Him.
Josh McDowell, Answers to tough questions: Skeptics ask about the Christian faith [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1993 by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart.

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