Why Do We Do What We Do in Our Faith Practices?
I have a compulsion that irritates people, especially in religious circles. I ask, “Why?” I need to know why we do the things we do. What reason is behind them? Is there a biblical justification? Or is it a manmade tradition that has become meaningless ritual?
For example, in 52 Churches, I witnessed many services that began by lighting two candles. I’m still trying to figure this one out. Why do they light candles in the first place? Is there biblical support for it? And why two? Three would represent the Trinity, but two? If there’s a symbolic reason for two – or even lighting candles for that matter—then we need to know what it is so we can celebrate it. Else we should eliminate it as a practice without purpose.
Candles and the number two, however, are minor considerations. Whether or not we light two candles is of little consequence—as long as we don’t attach spiritual significance to it. However, there are bigger issues, much bigger issues, that have permeated our faith practices. Let me be bold and assert we’ve messed up most of what we do, elevating tradition over biblical command.
Consider the process of becoming a Christian. This is rife with manmade ideas that aren’t in the Bible. Yet many have elevated these processes as nonnegotiable faith requirements, superseding what Jesus taught. I think that makes them heresy. Yes, I said many churches practice heresy. I talk about this in How Big Is Your Tent?
(So you know I’m not making this up, the origins of our religious ways are researched in the mind-blowing book, Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna. So many of our practices are not rooted in scripture and several emanate from secular culture; that is, their origin is pagan.)
I encourage you to boldly examine your faith practices. Eliminate all that lack biblical support. What remains will be a purer, more God-honoring spirituality.
Join me in asking, “Why?”
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.