I’m reading a book that has many quotes from the many pillars of the Christian faith, one of them being John Wesley who was the founder of the Methodist denomination, which also gave birth to the Wesleyan denomination as well. Wesley was a great man of faith who could deliver a sermon or write an essay as well as anyone who has ever lived. It is such a shame that the Methodist church he founded has fallen so far away from the true faith.
But what I want to ponder is a saying that Wesley is famous for, one that I feel is pretty much ignored by denominations that think that they are smarter than he was. This saying is, “Enjoin nothing that the Bible does not clearly enjoin. Forbid nothing that it does not clearly forbid.” In other words, when it comes to spiritual and moral matters, obey the Bible; don’t add to, nor take away from, what it says.
So many people, Christian or not, add to the Bible things that it does not say. For example, the Baptists (I was raised in a Southern Baptist church) say dancing is a sin, drinking alcohol is a sin and going to movies is a sin. None of those actions are forbidden in the Bible! Yet the Southern Baptists think that they are holier than God by adding those restrictions to their followers.
The Bible clearly shows that Jesus drank wine, yes real wine, David and others danced, and movies; well there were no movies then so we aren’t forbidden to see them. I will say that a Christian should not go to movies that show nudity, sexual situations and cussing, but there are plenty of rated-G movies for the family.
So here are several examples of what the church adds to the Bible, but what does it take away? Plenty! The Bible clearly says that women are not allowed to teach or preach, yet almost every denomination allows this. The Bible says that men are not to have long hair or women are not to have short hair, it even calls this a shame; but we all probably see this all the time. The Bible also says that we are to dress modestly, yet I see just as many cleavages and short skirts in church as out. I could go on but we all know what a lot of churches allow that would cause heart attacks to the early church fathers.
Non-Christians have followed suit, I see how people I speak with, and the media, mention things that Christians are doing that he Bible does not condemn as if it does. When asked to show me where the Bible says “that”, they of course can’t. But they do learn these things from the church.
We Christians need to learn that the Bible is our guide; we cannot be pharisaical and demand more of the followers of Christ than Jesus Himself demands. We cannot put undue burdens on Christians, Jesus condemns this.
John Wesley had it right and we should listen to him: “Enjoin nothing that the Bible does not clearly enjoin. Forbid nothing that it does not clearly forbid.”