Now these things, brethren I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 1 Corinthians 4.6
From the days of the apostles onward, a tendency has existed among church leaders to drift from the plain teaching of the Word of God into forms of Christian life and ministry that derive from sources other than Scripture. Or that stretch the meaning of Scripture to fit the shape of certain cultural forms.
Columbanus was aware of this tendency, and in his second sermon to novices at his monasteries, he directed himself to this problem, in particular, with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity: “…except for those things that either Law or Prophets or Gospels or Apostles tell, there should be from others a profound silence on the Trinity. For only God’s witness is to be believed about God, that is about Himself, Who has furnished a witness either in the Law or Prophet or Gospel or Apostle, or in the Spirit to each spiritual man about Himself, through Himself or through an angel. But human argument or skill or any vainglorious philosophy, which is unsound even on the nature of the world, cannot be our teacher about God, but is to be regarded as sacrilegious and impious to God” (Columbanus, Sermon II)
Most periods of the Church have featured theologians or pastors who have allowed for the idea that Scripture doesn’t always need to be taken at face value. Times change. Values and priorities change. Things just aren’t the way they were when the Scriptures were being given. We need fresh understandings, more relevant views about things, and more flexibility in how we teach the Good News.
The danger in accepting such claims is that in setting Scripture aside or reinterpreting it according to the temper of the times we actually add to the Bible beyond what the Bible actually teaches. Columbanus insisted that his students not go beyond what is revealed in the Bible when teaching about God or His will, and that they not allow themselves to become beguiled by philosophical eloquence, but to test everything they heard against the revelation in Scripture. They would need a sound framework of historic orthodoxy within which to understand God’s Word (the “analogy of faith”), but ultimately only the Word can teach us how to think and live for Jesus Christ.
Great advice then. Needed advice today.
Resources for revival
We’re offering three resources to help in making revival, renewal, and awakening happen in our day. These books – Restore Us!, Preparing Your Church for Revival, and Revived! – explain what revival is, why it matters, and what our role is in preparing for it. Click here to order your free copies of these books.
From the Celtic Revival
Here’s an excerpt from a recent issue of Crosfigell, our twice-weekly teaching letter featuring insights from the writers of the Celtic Revival:
Growth in holiness must be accompanied by moderation. The monk should strive after holiness with sincerity and joy of heart. His mind should be perpetually attuned to heaven, manifesting a preference for light over darkness.
- The Rule of Cormac Mac Ciolionáin
Sounds like we can be “too holy” – too holy for our own good, perhaps, as when we begin strutting our holiness for all to see. If we keep our mind set on the things that are above, where Christ is seated in heavenly places, that will go a long way to help us grow in proper holiness.
Check out our Celtic Legacy podcast and the other resources that are available on our dedicated Celtic Revival home page.
How do we do that? Can we see Jesus in glory? And if we can, what should we expect to see Him doing? Our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? can help you in being “perpetually attuned to heaven”. Order your free copy by clicking here.
T. M. Moore.
Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.