Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men
There is a way to draw near to God in word only. It’s easy to do.
As Anselm of Canterbury shows in the Proslogion, there is a difference between that which is signified, and that which signifies. Our words are symbols that stand in for concepts or ideas we can think about in our imaginations or recognize in reality.
It is possible to say the words, “Jesus is Lord over all in my life,” and simultaneously hold in my heart the concept, “Jesus is Lord over everything but… and I alone retain the sovereignty over that part of my life.”
Christians do this all the time when they substitute pure and simple biblical truth for burdensome and inconsistent extra-biblical tradition (i.e., some, while chiding their neighbors for not not practicing their church’s tradition, were simultaneously teaching it wasn’t wrong to give money ear-marked for the unseen and mundane task of caring for their elderly parents, as long as the money was given to a more worthy cause, like the church’s building project—the kind where you get your name inscribed somewhere conspicuous for giving X-amount of dollars. Matthew 15:1-9)
“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8–9, KJV 1900)
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He shares valuable tips on writing and teaching, rich insights into theology and literature, and meaningful perspective on living a life of significance. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.