Bible Students in the light of so many churches
Some say there is only one Universal Catholic Church, others say you have three main categories, the Catholics, the Orthodox and the Protestants, some find the two groups Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian as one part of Christianity while others are convinced the Non-Trinitarians are no Christians at all. But others will say that all the different denominations are part of the same body of Christ. You perhaps could say that they are alike in some respects but the differences are real enough. People should notice that there is a difference of teaching between one church and another, and that this difference is sometimes very substantial, even fundamental. Even in certain churches people can find different teachings or ideas and practices which contradict each other. Though all those churches say that they follow Jesus Christ, and some of them also say they follow the Bible. But other denominations say that ordinary people cannot study the Bible because they do not have any theological formation. They do seem to forget that Jesus often rebuked the people of his own day — but never did he rebuke them for reading the scriptures, rather he rebuked them for not acting in accordance with what they read. He explained what was written in the Scriptures and told his apostles to go and preach the gospel, so that people would be aware of what God wanted from them. To know what God wants from us, we do best to study the Word of God, the Bible. That there are so many denominations also come by the fact that there are several churches which prefer to keep to human traditions and prefer the teachings of philosophical and theological writers, instead of keeping to the Word itself. History shows us how human scriptures became for some churches more important than the 66 books of the Bible. Therefore to understand why there are so many different churches and to find out which way we have to go it is best to know a little bit of the background or history of the Christian Church. When you look at Christendom you can find many influences in Christianity which become crystal clear when placed in context.
It is important that believers must distinguish between the cultural forms associated with a religious tradition and its “critical edge” which is usually derived from its otherworldly perspective, or from contrasting the ideal life portrayed in its scriptures with the historical practices of different congregations. Allowing for both aspects, religion may be seen as the present day interplay between the past and the future: i.e., between traditional faith and the hope for the future of individuals and their communities. To understand the real value of the differences in the churches we have to look at what happened in the passing of time. History shows how people got influenced by other ways of thinking, other religions, traditions, believes and myths. It shows also how range of practices, organizations and expectations came into existence. History shows also how people grow away from the essence of the Holy Scriptures and why through centuries serious Bible students, Bible Researchers, lay and clerical theologians kept looking for the truth and wanted to go other ways than the most traditional institutional churches.
The essential and central feature of the apostle Peter his writings is that the Scriptures are able to teach men the truth about salvation and that truth is comprehensible by ordinary people. We have to pick up the Word of God, as it is given to us in the Holy Bible and should take it at heart, giving enough time to study it thoroughly. When we read through the Bible we should compare what is written there with what so many churches proclaim and take lessons from that. To come to a good non biased Bible study we should have an open mind and have no preconceived ideas, seeking in its pages support for doctrines already formulated from other sources. We should not be blind to see that doctrines are formed or supported on isolated texts without reference to the general teaching of scripture. Very often doctrines tend to be isolated from each other, like parcels tied up separately, and the final and logical outcome of their teaching is not looked at penetratingly. So the discrepancies and contradictions are not brought to light. Looking at the history of Christianity we can see that certain churches have been dominated by particular doctrines upon which more than usual emphasis has been laid, which has resulted in the neglect of other important teaching. The outcome of this has been a dislocated and unbalanced view of Bible truth leading to false conclusions and a disordered conception of salvation.
Today we live in a world of easiness, of “laisser faire”. Many think that the Christian faith cannot be defined in propositions. It is supposed to be too personal and too mystical for that. It is this point of view which encourages so many to say that it does not matter what you believe or which church you join. But in the New Testament we are clearly warned to be very careful. According to the Nazarene Jesus, Christ the Messiah, the way is not easy to stay on, and the gate to go through is quite narrow. In the New Testament is said that the Church should be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3: 15). There is a solemn duty laid on every believer to ensure that their faith and their church is built on that true foundation, as it is revealed in the Bible.
Looking at the History of Christianity we shall be able to notice that a lot went wrong because people did not stay with the word of God, but looked more at other religions and traditions. The other problem was also that there have always been prominent teachers in Christendom who said people would not be able to understand what is written in the Bible and even worse teachers who denied Bible teaching about God and His purpose. They explained away the reality of Christ’s resurrection, and throwed doubt upon the authority of God’s word, and watered down His commandments.
When we look at the history of Christianity we shall be able to see that we ought not to be too impressed by the credentials of the ‘scholar’. Where scholarship is faithful to God’ s word and helps us to understand it better we ought to be grateful for it, but the Bible never suggests that human cleverness is the passport to divine knowledge. Instead it tells us that the truth unveils most of her face to those who are humble and of a contrite spirit.
We do hope that in these writings on the net we can go together on the quest to the Truth, and that we are able to convince you that it is important to undertake a thorough study of the Bible, and that you yourself are able to become a good “Bible student”.