Thursday, February 8, 2018

As one grows older, the expression, “Do you remember when . . .” becomes the topic of discussion.  Do you remember when gasoline was $.19 a gallon?  Do you remember someone saying, “If gasoline goes over $.59 a gallon, no one will be able to afford to drive”?  If you are sixty and older, you can remember when mowing your lawn on Sunday was frowned upon!  Does anyone remember what the “Blue Laws” were all about?  Culture comes and goes.

We are the product of our culture.  When culture begins changing, the innovators are usually criticized for that introduction.  Most do not appreciate change, whether good or bad.  After it happens, almost everyone becomes acclimated to it.  The problem is during that period of change!  When our culture makes a change into a rule of faith and forces it upon others, it usually develops into a serious problem (Matthew 15:9)!  Rules and doctrines are created from practiced preferences rather than the Bible!

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, pulpits demanded that a woman’s place was in the home.  In the thirties and forties, preachers condemned movie attendance.  In the forties and fifties, segregation was preached as God’s law.  In the sixties and seventies long hair on men was condemned, especially if ear rings were added.  That time period’s culture was preached as God’s truth and change was sinful.  With time, most realized it wasn’t “a thus saith the Lord” topic.  If our great-grandparents could be transferred to 2018, they would probably die from shock.   Perhaps their theme would be, “Those folks have lost their mind and soul!”

Every generation has had its problems in separating culture from a “thus saith the Lord.”  In Jesus’s day, society’s Biblically trained were confronted by the Lord with, “In vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Matthew 15:9 NKJV).  That practice has not diminished!

Man assumes something is God’s word because he feels comfortable believing it.  Assumptions are made, but regardless of how much they are elevated, either by majority or culture, they are not God’s standard!  “Inferences” or “expedients” may be useful, but their originator is man, not God!   When that origin is forgotten, trouble appears. One brother wrote, “When we let our doctrinal belief determine what a passage of scripture can, or cannot say, we are on dangerous ground and it is not the Bible that is our authority, regardless of what we claim.”  Some may not understand that statement, but it describes the religious history of mankind!

The Jerusalem church refused to convert Gentiles and were guilty of disobeying Jesus’ command to preach to “every creature.”  There were some who misinterpreted scripture by demanding that all male Gentile believers be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15:1, 6).  Peter preached to the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile converts, despite some in the church questioning his actions.  Later in Antioch, fear of that same group stopped him from fellowshipping with Gentile Christians (Galatians 2:11-14)!  Despite biblical truth, his culture took precedence over that truth!  Such did not cease with the first century.

There is a difference between “What does culture believe” and “What do the scriptures teach.”  We need to understand the difference!