When we read Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees in Mark 7:9, we tend to nod our heads vigorously, wondering how the Jewish leaders of Jesus day could have been such doofuses. We would never do that, of course! We’re the people who love Jesus and who love the Bible. We are more careful than most…
And yet, I must propose we are just as guilty. We have many traditions that have been handed down to us that have no basis in the Scripture.
And the answer to this problem is to open ourselves to careful observation. If we don’t see what it says, we’ll always struggle to understand what it means.
For this reason, a few years ago, I began keeping a list of things that most Protestants assume are in the Bible, but really are not. If you thought God regularly walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, or that the resurrected Jesus walked through walls, or even that Jesus’ ministry lasted for 3 years, you need to read it again and observe more carefully!
And I must confess I’m as guilty as anyone. This past week, I came across an article blowing up an idea that I always took for granted: that God changed Saul’s name to Paul at his conversion. In “No…’Saul the Persecutor’ Did Not Become ‘Paul the Apostle,'” Greg Lanier does a terrific job observing the biblical data to show that this idea is merely a false tradition not based in the text of Scripture. If you’re willing to reconsider your assumptions and truly let God’s word shape your thinking, I encourage you to check out Lanier’s article. It delights me when I see people taking the word so seriously and helping us learn to read it well.