The Gospel Rules
We are apt to impose rules on other Christians that one does not find in the Scriptures, nor are they historically endorsed by the Church. Even when we recognize this about our rules, we still impose them for practical reasons, for the good of body and soul. Over the years, these prescriptions tend to harden into faith-tenets. I have heard it argued in the case of certain ones that they should be kept in place because the practical reasons for them haven't gone away, and removing them would disrupt the churches where they have in fact become part of the faith.
The problem with this is three-fold. First, we didn't have the right under God to impose these rules in the first place; second, they invidiously and unnecessarily divide Christians into those who are morally committed to something extraneous to the faith and those who are not; and third—and most serious—what amounts to teaching as doctrine the precepts of men adulterates and misrepresents the faith that we wish others to follow, justifying them in rejecting it, at least as we present it. How many cases of "rejection of Christ" are in fact rejections of our distortions of him, and how shall we who teach them escape judgment for this?
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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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