In my days in Methodism, there was a term used called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. This described scripture, reason, tradition and experience. This was named poorly as it gives the impression that there are four sides that may be equal or two sides and so on. It kind of leaves it up in the air as to what type of quadrilateral it is. They will say that scripture is the most important but the other three also play a major role. One person said, “it recognizes the primacy and authority of Scripture as understood through the light of tradition, reason and experience.” “We believe neither more nor less than what is manifestly contained in, and provable by, the Holy Scriptures.” Our theology is grounded in sound biblical teaching. We embrace the best interpretive practices of exegesis to arrive at sound understanding. Questions arise, however, over interpretation. Scripture alone rarely settles controverted points of doctrine or practice.” What is left out is the Holy Spirit. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Romans 8:14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Notice this line, “scripture alone rarely settles controverted points of doctrine or practice.” There is the problem, when scripture does not line up with doctrines and everyone’s doctrines are different, do the doctrines change or is the bible set aside for the doctrines.

        As we talked about yesterday, the church attributes much of their understanding to the wisdom of man. Scripture also tells us there are doctrines of demons. 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” And we are told that people want their ears scratched. 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Not only do we have satan at work, but people will also not put up with sound doctrine. That sound doctrine is the gospel not what men and women distort about the gospel. Each distinctive traces their theology back to men and even women such as Calvin, Luther, Wesley and more. They use reason, tradition and experience to justify their beliefs. Meanwhile scripture doesn’t always line up, so scripture is set aside even though each group will say their teaching is grounded in solid biblical teaching. The bible is interpreted in light of those theological distinctives even if scripture states otherwise. Each distinctive believes themselves to be right yet each is often radically different from each other. As John said the Holy Spirit will guide into all truth. Since this did not happen, it is obvious God has turned His face from the church and instead of there being one way, there are many ways. The lack of power shows that the many ways are wrong. Ezekiel said Ezekiel 33:11 “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ 17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. 18 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it. 19 And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so. 20 Yet you Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.”

        Today scripture is often not even equal to tradition, experience and reason and at times even removed. As we have talked about, every denomination has their additional book of their distinct beliefs and way of doing things. You have cults like the Mormons who have the book of Mormon, but churches have also done the same. The Catholics have even taken it a step further. On the Catholic Answers website, they said “Catholics recognize that the true “rule of faith”—as expressed in the Bible itself—is Scripture plus apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly. It does not say the Bible is all we need for salvation, much less that the Bible is all we need for theology; nor does it say the Bible is even necessary to believe in Christ. After all, the earliest Christians had no New Testament to which they could appeal; they learned from oral, rather than written, instruction.” The early church became the New Testament and they had letters that were passed along with the oral. If those are the answers, that is messed up. If the Catholics were right, they would have power from on High and they would not be so corrupt and have so much abuse within them. They are not the only ones who do this, as most churches have their own separate rules and regulations. 

        Then take a subject like homosexuality. The bible makes it clear this is an abomination but doesn’t just say it is an abomination but provides a way of healing. You can’t just say it is wrong without providing a way out. Paul said 1 Corinthians 6:9 “do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is the power of God to say that is what some of you were. The bible is clear on this subject in both the Old and New Testament. It is not even one of those difficult passages, but the world sees it differently. Many churches now have agreed with the world on the subject. James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” They have rejected the bible and their tradition, reason and experience says homosexuality is okay and reject God’s word.

        There are many doctrines in the church and much debate about them but there is no power in the church and people seem more interested in the debate than the lack of power. Churches agree to disagree but none of them believe the other is right. Non-charismatics spar with charismatics but neither have the power as described in scripture. There is probably countless books written on any subject, yet the bible has all the answers because the bible is God’s living word. You have to ask does tradition, reason and experience lead you to repentance or continue on in the wrong direction. In most case it is in the wrong direction, just look at the Reformation. The church is still splitting to this day but not getting closer to the truth and there is no power. Much emphasis is placed on reason and is partially the cause for the desolation of the church today. 1 Corinthians 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” Even though Paul reasoned, he reasoned with the gospel and he also had power. Acts 17:2 “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” One letter was to be passed to the Laodiceans.  Colossians 4:16 “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” Obviously, they did not read it as we see in Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

        Traditions can be dangerous and tend to lose the meaning. Look at what happened to Christmas and Easter and how commercialized they are. Mark 7:6 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” Paul said Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. 20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” As we saw with the Catholics, you have to be really careful here. Traditions have been added to as the years go by but Paul was talking about ones at that time not continually adding them and equating them to scripture. 1 Corinthians 11:2 “I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.”

        The problem with experience is that people have not experienced what the bible is teaching so they set scripture aside. When someone says God doesn’t heal or cast out demons through His disciples anymore, people believe what they hear because they have never experienced it. It is a very strange mentality as there are many things we have not experienced but doesn’t mean they are not real. I have never been in a tsunami, but they are real. Healing and casting out demons by disciples are real because the bible tells us it is. Not believing means you have rejected God’s word and replaced it with your lack of experience. Many people have turned away from God because they had a bad experience in a church. Yes, that is bound to happen in the desolate manmade church but don’t turn your back on God by rejecting His word.

        This week we are going to look at the suffixes ism and ian and we will see the damage isms have done in the church. When we get away from ism and return to ian the church can change. God said, Revelation 22:8 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” If tradition, experience and reason do not line up with scripture, they need to change, not scripture.