Tuesday, August 31, 2010


In February of 2007 I posted on a subject that bears repeating I think. What do you think?


It was stated in an article I read a few years ago that the greatest "heresy' in the American form of Christianity may well be the "heresy of application." By this the author was conveying the idea that, for many, the "form" [application] became as sacred as the"function" [interpretation] of the text. The author suggested that this may be the case with many "Truths/Doctrines and their application to life. We begin to hold a "way of doing it" to be as sacred as what is "to be done." So we wind up, for example, arguing over the elements of the Lord's supper and who serves it.

Another rather simple, even shallow illustration of this is the function of prayer. To pray, by scriptural definition, is to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit. [This is the only way to pray without ceasing makes any sense. I'm aware that the word 'ceasing' means intermittently like a hacking cough.]

But the next person teaching on prayer suggests that to bow one's head and shut one's eyes will help because you shut out distractions. Good idea. Except the next teacher says that prayer IS bowing your head and closing your eyes in order to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit.

Thus, the form my wife and I enjoy of raising our glasses of water/tea and toasting the lord while both of us are thanking him for the meal and each other with eyes on each other, is NOT real prayer. But by scriptural definitions it is. Application [form] is NOT sacred and binding. You see the problem.

Another illustration, perhaps just as shallow is the use of the Bible. God speaks through His Word. That's the function of scripture. When we read the text He speaks to us. Someone teaches this as..."God speaks through His Word [function] so when you meet Him early in the morning you are putting your focus on Him first." Nice, even a correct statement.

But the next person teaches that since God speaks through His Word and since it's wise to focus on Him first, you are really spiritual when you meet Him early. NB..NB becomes their teaching. "No Bible, no breakfast" if you want to really be spiritual in your walk is their teaching. So if I read my newspaper first or get ready, go to work, and have a time in the Word at lunch, by their definition I'm not spiritual.

Of course, were this really "Truth"then no one could have been really spiritual until the invention of the printing press and the mass distribution of the Bible. The "truth" is God does speak through the text of the scripture and ANYTIME you choose to read He will speak and you ARE spiritual by the Grace of God. Different personalities will choose different times to read the bible.

Prior to his home-going I heard Ron Dunn say many times that with his personality it was NEVER early in the morning. [Of course, he would then add that he was doing it another time to not be prideful since no one brags about a quiet time unless it's early. :)] Thus, the "heresy of application." The "form" [how you do it] becomes as sacred as the "function". [What the scripture says .] It must not be lost on us that much, if not most, of our debating is about the "applications" we make of the truths of scripture.

Brethren..it should not be so. Methods, forms, the way one does things is NOT sacred and must OFTEN change with culture and times to gain a hearing.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...

To this day, the best "grace" said over any meal I've partaken, was a certain breakfast with a fellow senior citizen, in a motel in Arlington Texas. But it's followed quite closely by a lunch at a men's meeting at church, when I sat with the young worship leader and we celebrated His provision, in the same way. The revelation in Texas, to me, was repeated in this young man, who rejoiced over the meal in a manner I'd never seen before.

If I haven't said it before, THANKS.

Paul Burleson said...


That WAS a fun breakfast and a great weekend.

Aussie John said...


I'm glad you republished it. Excellent!

You summed it up well with your final words,"Brethren..it should not be so. Methods, forms, the way one does things is NOT sacred and must OFTEN change with culture and times to gain a hearing."

I must confess I can't handle flippancy, especially during the Lord's Supper and public prayer.

Your article brings back some, not so fond, memories, when, as a much younger fellow I tried to freshen up the methods and forms.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I love this.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J and Debbie,

Two of my favorite bloggers. Continents apart but close in spirit. Thanks for commenting.

Rex Ray said...

This is another of your post that’s going on our church bulletin board.

I like what Aussie John said about “flippancy” while praying.

It rubs me the wrong way if a preacher closes the service by telling God the ‘three points’ of his sermon, or if he says ‘during your early morning quite time’ etc.

I dreamed a group of Muslims demanded if I had prayed that day. I told them the Bible teaches to ‘pray without ceasing’ which meant to be in the presence of mind that you could pray. If you were angry, you would be breaking that command. In the dream, they replied that was interesting.

Bobby Brown said...

I suppose the same is true of Music?

hollidayfamily6 said...

Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I see that forms are very limited in scripture, the only sacred form in scripture is the "form of doctrine (sound teaching)"

great points about forms tho