I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. Whoa wait now…don’t judge me. From a young age I could remember my grandmother telling my mom “he’s gonna be a preacher some day” because even at 6 and 7 years old I would listen to every word the preacher said and ask questions after. (In those days there wasn’t a thing called “children’s church”. Once you were in first grade you went to church with the adults.)
Of course as a child my biggest question was always “Why?”. I would repeat back what the preacher had said, word for word, then ask my mother or grandparents “Why?”. I think I always got the same answer…”Because the Bible says so”. I would accept that and go on about my business.
As I got older and got exposed to other denominations and beliefs the “Because the Bible says so” answer didn’t cut it any more. I would think “ Well if the Bible says so why do all these people believe different things?”. I would ask my grandfather because he was a Deacon at the church and his response was simply “because they are wrong because they have misinterpreted scripture”.
It was then that I realized Southern Baptists knew all the secrets and had all the correct answers while everybody else was just “wrong because the misinterpreted scripture”! No wait…that can’t be right either because that’s what the Methodists think too. Don’t even get me started on the Catholics and those darn Pentecostals. Come on grandpa! You’re telling me out of all the world the Southern Baptists are the only ones who got it right? No!
Fast forward several years later and I set out to get the answers for myself and came to the conclusion that I had believed all along. Southern Baptists are indeed NOT the center of the religious universe. As a matter of fact nobody was. Each denomination seemed to have a little right and a lot wrong. I prayed and studied and research and everything led me to the same conclusion. God’s churches were preaching tradition and personal feeling rather than truth.
Now don’t get me wrong. Nobody is going to hell over this. None of the traditions that churches are teaching or preaching are heaven or hell issues…for the most part. What they are doing, however, is splitting up God’s children into factions of “I’m right and you are wrong” buildings and pushing people who could be saved further and further away from a personal relationship with God.
For the most part tradition enters churches because someone read a passage and immediately had a gut feeling of what they felt the passage meant and, instead of researching it, went with their gut and called it fact. Now do that over generations and you have today’s churches.
If we kept our personal feelings and traditions out of God’s House and did our research maybe we would not have so many denominations and just be Christians. Maybe then we would see all those people that felt unworthy would suddenly know how worthy they truly are and God’s Kingdom would grow more than we have ever seen.