Christian Counseling: Beliefs: What Is Preferential Versus Traditional Versus Biblical

What we believe is critical to how we feel, what we decide, how we behave and our view of all of life. Consciously and unconsciously, from cradle to grave we introject others' beliefs and make them our own, and these from parents, teachers, siblings, friends, TV, radio, published writings, the Holy Spirit, and our own thoughts. Taking a moment to ponder this thought, it does not take long to imagine how many of our so called truths are not completely true and some are not true at all. It is very unfortunate, for the majority of people, that once their ducks of truth are placed in a comfortable row there they remain for life unchallenged and unchanged.


One distinction that is often missed in the development of our beliefs (being "transformed by the renewing of your mind"--Romans 12:2) is the assessment of what is truly Biblical, what is individual preference and what is tradition. We all know a Biblical interpretation of a passage is not always clear cut. Take Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing." Most everyone I know takes this command to mean that anxiety is wrong or sinful and that we should never be worried about anything because we have the truth, God, eternity, etc. People believe that until they search out the Greek and ponder other verses of Scripture. What the verse means is we are not to give ourselves up to over thinking or let a care go to far. It means we will experience many troubled feelings in life, such as anxiety, but we are not to give in to dwelling on them, except through prayer, as the passage goes on to say. I would also add other exceptions that allow for thinking about anxiety and other conflicted emotions, like talking with others or seeking help or taking other types of corrective action. 


A prime example of anxiety is Jesus' experience in the Garden, before His capture and death--"being in agony" (Greek, severe emotional struggle, Luke 22:44) and "my soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death" (Matthew26:38). Hematidrosis is the condition of sweating blood through one's pores due to severe mental stress or anxiety, which happened to Him (Luke 22:44). It was all about what Jesus was thinking and believing that produced that physiological response. His belief was true, He knew what He was about to have to endure--torture, abandonment, humiliation and a brutal death. Yet, Jesus was without sin. He followed Scripture and took His anxious thoughts to God in prayer three times and had the fellowship of God, the comfort of the Spirit and His disciples, at least to some degree, as they fell asleep. He told God exactly what He wanted--"'let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as You will'" (Matthew 26:39). The point here is that a false belief about anxiety always being a sin yields false guilt, which is none-the-less destructive and steals life from those holding to such a belief.


A personal preference to give up, avoid, take on, or do something is about the law of one's conscience and is not meant to be applied to others. These things are about what God and conscience have said to one person only. Take drinking alcohol. In decades past, it was common to hear that drinking spirits was of the devil, flat out wrong and confession was in order if one imbibed. They supported this believe through weak and inaccurate Scripture. Today, there is somewhat a more relaxed attitude about drinking in Christian circles. Why? I believe some Christians have Biblically revisited those imposing beliefs and found that Scripture only says we are not to be drunk, but nothing about abstaining from drinking, unless one's conscience would be violated. We all should consider others' beliefs as possible personal preferences and not just gospel, even if they present their preference as a universal command from the Lord or the Bible.


Lastly, discerning tradition from truth is essential to happy, free living. Tradition is usually a fine thing to hold on to, such as Christmas traditions, other celebrated events and some church liturgy. But tradition is not law. It is founded by and adopted by people and is not mandated by God or Scripture. We are free to follow along in respect or enjoyment or not, especially if we do not find meaning in it or it violates one's conscience. Contemporary American Christianity is ripe with many, many traditions, most of them viewed as truth and law. Consider these questions:


Why do we call others "Father" or "leader" or "teacher" when Scripture clearly states that we have only one Father in heaven and only one Leader and Teacher who is Christ? (Matthew 23:8-10)


Why do we subscribe to the tradition that only an ordained pastor is allowed to offer communion and baptize believers? (1 Corinthians 11:24; Matthew 28:19)


Where in the Bible does it say there has to be one head pastor in every church, that it should be a full-time position and he must be paid a salary for His spiritual gift?


Why do we think that the church must or should conduct worship services, etc. only in a church building? (Acts 5:42)


Must Sunday be the day of rest and worship?


Is how we conduct our relationship with God a matter of personal choice? Do we follow how other people pray, have quiet times, worship, etc., or are we free to develop our own unique relationship with God? (Philippians 2:12; Romans 14:4,5,22,23). 


Can you add to this brief list? How many beliefs that you subscribe to are really only personal preferences or traditions and not commands of God?







What we believe is critical to how we feel, what we decide, how we behave and our view of all of life. Consciously and unconsciously, from cradle to grave we introject others' beliefs and make them our own, and these from parents, teachers, siblings, friends, TV, radio, published writings, the Holy Spirit, and our own thoughts. Taking a moment to ponder this thought, it does not take long to imagine how many of our so called truths are not completely true and some are not true at all. It is very unfortunate, for the majority of people, that once their ducks of truth are placed in a comfortable row there they remain for life unchallenged and unchanged.


One distinction that is often missed in the development of our beliefs (being "transformed by the renewing of your mind"--Romans 12:2) is the assessment of what is truly Bibilical, what is individual preference and what is tradition. We all know, a Biblical interpretation of a passage is not always clear cut. Take Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing." Most everyone I know takes this command to mean that anxiety is wrong or sinful and that we should never be worried about anything because we have the truth, God, eternity, etc. People believe that until they search out the Greek and ponder other verses of Scripture. What the verse means is we are not to give ourselves up to over thinking or let a care go to far. It means we will experience many troubled feelings in life, such as anxiety, but we are not to give in to dwelling on them, except through prayer, as the passage goes on to say. I would also add other exceptions that allow for thinking about anxiety and other conflicted emotions, like talking with others or seeking help or taking other types of corrective action. A prime example of anxiety is Jesus' experience in the Garden, before His capture and death--"being in agony" (Greek, severe emotional struggle, Luke 22:44) and "my soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death" (Matthew26:38). Hematidrosis is the condition of sweating blood through one's pores due to severe mental stress or anxiety, which happened to Him (Luke 22:44). It was all about what Jesus was thinking and believing that produced that physiological response. His belief was true, He knew what He was about to have to endure--torture, abandonment, humiliation and a brutal death. Yet, Jesus was without sin. He followed Scripture and took His anxious thoughts to God in prayer three times and had the fellowship of God, the comfort of the Spirit and His disciples, at least to some degree, as they fell asleep. He told God exactly what He wanted--"'let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as You will'" (Matthew 26:39). The point here being that a false belief about anxiety always being a sin yields false guilt, which is none-the-less destructive and steals life from those holding to such a belief.


A personal preference to give up, avoid, take on, or do something is about the law of one's conscience and is not meant to be applied to others. These things are about what God and conscience have said to one person only. Take drinking alcohol. In decades past, it was common to hear that drinking spirits was of the devil, flat out wrong and confession was in order if one imbibed. They supported this believe through weak and inaccurate Scripture. Today, there is somewhat a more relaxed attitude about drinking in Christian circles.  Why? I believe some Christians have Biblically revisited those imposing beliefs and found that Scripture only says we are not to be drunk, but nothing about abstaining from drinking, unless one's conscience would be violated. We all should consider others' beliefs as possible personal preferences and not just gospel, even if they present their preference as a universal command from the Lord or the Bible. 


Lastly, discerning tradition from truth is essential to happy, free living. Tradition is usually a fine thing to hold on to, such as Christmas traditions, other celebrated events and some church liturgy. But tradition is not law. It is founded by and adopted by people and is not mandated by God or Scripture. We are free to follow along in respect or enjoyment or not, especially if one does not find meaning in it or it violates one's conscience. Contemporary American Christianity is ripe with many, many traditions, most of them viewed as truth and law. Consider these questions: 


Why do we call others "Father" or "leader" or "teacher" when Scripture clearly states that we have only one Father in heaven and only one Leader and Teacher who is Christ? (Matthew 23:8-10) 


Why do we subscribe to the tradition that only an ordained pastor is allowed to offer communion and baptize believers? (1 Corinthians 11:24; Matthew 28:19)   


Where in the Bible does it say there has to be one head pastor in every church, that it should be a full-time position and he must be paid a salary for His spiritual gift? 


Why do we think that the church must or should conduct worship services, etc. only in a church building? (Acts 5:42)


Must Sunday be the day of rest and worship?


Can you add to this brief list? How many beliefs that you subscribe to are really only personal preferences or traditions and not commands of God?


  

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Jeferson wrote:
I find viaidltaon in my therapist s criticism of my mother and working on exorcising her impact from my life. I eagerly grasp on to any hope that I can escape the hell of clinical depression, stress eating, sleeping for 16 hours a day... I just wish parents knew the profound impact of their actions. Or maybe they do and just can t help themselves due to their own dysfunctional parents. I m not sure, but would give almost anything to rid myself of the toll my mother has taken. I just can t seem to shake it and I m almost 48.

02/04/2012 @ 12:45 PM

2. wrote:
Jeferson, Thanks for commenting. Yes, many parents, as others, don't fully realize the impact of their behavior on others. Though healing in this life has limitations, considerable help can be gotten for depression. Don't give up hope!

03/02/2012 @ 11:15 AM

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