Following Christ or following man?

10 Oct

WARNING- I get very heated up by this topic.  I try hard to stay calm, but before I know it, my hands are talking as much as my mouth, my heart rate is up, I’m usually standing (even if I was sitting)…. this topic really sparks something in me.  I hope I can do it justice.

Have you ever heard anyone talk about a denomination with “disgust” for the (what they perceive to be) faulty ideals, theology and practices?

Oh come on- get honest. You’re thinking of a denomination right now that you think is teetering “blasphemy” for their wrong interpretation of scripture.

What I find so interesting about this topic is that most people can see the fault in everyone elses religious practices and beliefs, but they think theirs, well theirs is the right one.

Now before I lose every reader I have, I want to make sure I’m very clear about something before I dive in all the way on this topic.  I am NOT saying that if you’re attending a denominational church or EVEN a non-denominational church (as I’ll get to in a moment) that you are sinning and you need to stop going.  PLEASE- it is very important you don’t go at this post with that heart.  The actual point I will be making is that if you’re letting your “Church, Denomination, Conference,  Pastor, or Mentor” decide your theological beliefs, chances are, you’re not letting Christ do it.

I’m not going to tear apart Calvin, but I detest when people call themselves “Calvinists.” Or even more silly, “A 3-point Calvinist.”  It flips the other way too, “I’m an Arminian.”

You’re a what?  How about, you’re a Christian,  and maybe just maybe, you and Calvin agree on some or all of your theological beliefs.  When I said this to someone once, they were extremely agitated by me saying that and said, “well duh, I’m a Christian. You’re being so dogmatic.”  Am I?  Taking a man’s name and calling yourself by his name, is agreeing to be one with him.  This is shown by example in our marriage to Christ as his bride “calling ourselves Christians and in our marriages with women taking their husband’s last name.  To start adding or taking away from that and calling it good,  is scary.

Then there is the big name denominations.  John Wesley- founder of the Methodist denomination. John Knox- founder of the Presbyterian church. Martin Luther- founder of the Lutheran church.  Walter Scott, Thomas and Alexander Campbell, as well as Baron W. Stone – founders of the Church of Christ. Menno Simons – founder of the Mennonite Church.

There are others, obviously, but you get the idea.  I call these “man-made denominations” because that is indeed what they are.  These men created a denomination based on their interpretation of scripture and created a theological beliefs system which they used to start a church.

Some of them even write in a journal their prayers, songs and study notes. I don’t believe for one minute any of those men intended for their journals to become ritualistic, which many have.  I actually believe men who did intend to have themselves worshipped, (like Joseph Smith) are actually the leaders or many cults today.

Maybe one of the founders of one of the big name denominations was/is DEAD right on his theological beliefs! I’m not saying one wasn’t/isn’t.  What I am saying is that they are all different, so they aren’t all right.  Throw in bishops, elders, deacons, conferences, and every other form of leadership (corporate and in the individual church today), and we have “added and taken away” from these original doctrines that were once started and created even more versions of these denominations.

Non-denominational churches run into a different yet equal scenario.  Often times in these churches, pastors are praised.  “Oh pastor so & so is AMAZING!  He is an incredible teacher.  He is SO wise.  I just soak up everything he says!!”  And even though there isn’t a long-standing denominational belief system, the pastor’s words become gold. He may even gather a huge following, that eventually divides or kills a church when he leaves.

I hope I’ve been able to paint the picture that I am definitely NOT picking on anyone personally or on any one denomination or church.  I promise that is not my heart!

What I AM trying to paint a clear picture of is that we, the CHRISTIANS of the world, have stopped reading our Bibles, studying, digging, praying for wisdom, and letting the pages of scripture be unveiled to us.

Instead, we’re “raised” into our beliefs, or we sit back and see who makes the best argument and sounds the most right.  How many times do you hear people say “I need to seek out “so & so” and talk to them. Do you know what they are really saying? My pastor will explain to me why I believe what I believe.

Isn’t it amazing that this problem is ALREADY addressed in scripture for us?! Paul names this exact situation I’m describing and emphasizes the fault.

I Corinthians 1:11-13

11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[a]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into[b] the name of Paul?

(Insert any names above.  One says Calvin, another Wesley, yet another “Pastor’s name.”)

Friends, we’re all gravely deceived if we buy into the notion that someone else has already uncovered theology for us.  We’ll buy into anything they say.  Right or wrong, if we give them the weight of our decision, we are NOT giving it to Christ.  We, church, have no other choice but to OPEN OUR BIBLES and read them ourselves.  God is a big God!  I don’t care what little knowledge anyone thinks they have, scripture says God makes the fool, wise and the wise look foolish! God will reveal and make known to the believer who seeks Him any answer needed.  But, and here is a REALLY REALLY REALLY BIG BUT!!!, only and I do mean only, if the believer is willing to search scripture with a clean heart and mind and NOT to prove right what they already believe.

ANYONE can interpret, twist, and manipulate the words of scripture with fancy talk and “past cultural practices” to make a VERY compelling argument for exactly WHY they are right.

But that doesn’t make them right.  That makes them an incredible debater.

We’ve become so dependent on other people to tell us what we believe.  Sometimes, when we really have a conviction, we can’t even face it because it doesn’t match up with “our beliefs”.

Who are we following?  It isn’t Christ if we aren’t in His word.  It’s a pastor, teacher, denomination, theologian.  The only way to follow Christ is to read God’s Word, and read it MORE than you read anyone one elses interpretations or books.

Follow Christ.  Not someone else.

Practical Application:

Consider how much I’m in God’s Word.

Compare it to the amount of time I’m listening to others “teach me” about God’s Word.

If needed confess and grieve the sin of following someone else over following Christ.

PRAY PRAY PRAY for God to clean my heart AND MIND of beliefs that might not have come directly from scripture and open up the Bible and STUDY God’s Word FOR MYSELF! Trust God that He is big enough and wise enough to teach me.


10 Responses to “Following Christ or following man?”

  1. Valerie Norris October 10, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Thank you for being so bold Kayla! This really helps me today with some of the convictions I’ve been unable to face because of the belief systems that I was raised in!

    • kaylagulick October 10, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      Oh Val- if I could only tell you how much of a wreck I was when the church I started going to challenged SO MANY areas of what “I believed” There were things I uncovered that I told other people were in the Bible because people had told me that, and then when I really had to face it, I actually couldn’t find it in scripture anywhere! It was so humbling and scary what I use to think, believe and follow! Good luck to you dear sister!

  2. The Water Bearer October 10, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    Kayla you are a girl after my own heart! I love you dearly as my sister in Christ!
    In my post
    I have touched on a few of the same things you have only without as much wonderful research as you have given here!
    I hope it encourages you as much as yours did for me. Blessings to you dear Sister! 🙂

    • kaylagulick October 10, 2012 at 7:58 am #

      It is so easy for us and if we’re honest, we’ve all followed someone or something else. It is just naming the fault and walking out the rest of our days after Christ alone!

      Love ya lady!!

      • The Water Bearer October 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

        Yes Kayla, it is so easy to follow that which we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears, rather than seeing with faith and hearing with our heart. Perhaps it is because our emotional hearts have led us astray in the past? I am about to post the story of when I was given a word over me about a prophetic calling and how hard it was for me to begin speaking the truth on behalf of the Lord, and cease being led by misguided “teachers”. It is still a struggle, because I don’t want to disregard a word that may be for me from Him through someone else, and I don’t want to seem disrespectful if I challenge someones claims, so I always have to check back with His word! (I mention this in the post I gave you the link for in my previous comment). I also would like you to know that I have nominated you for the “Readers Appreciation Award” You can collect it at this link –
        Blessings to you, and Keep up the good work! 🙂

      • kaylagulick October 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

        Thank you! Best wishes on your new post. I know it’ll be great!!

  3. time table software for schools October 10, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    I like this nice and valuable post

    • kaylagulick October 10, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      Thank you. I appreciate the feedback!!

  4. ronfurg October 10, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Very well written. One thing I wondered. Did you mean to say Joseph Smith instead of John Smith? Just curious. Irrespective of that, I loved your insight into the wrongness of following any but the God of Scripture.

    • kaylagulick October 10, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      OH YES! Good catch!! Thank you. I am changing that right now!!

      And thanks for the feedback!

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