RITUALS OF FALSE BELIEF
Consider these four monumental scriptural statements:
“The Just shall live by faith.”
“What matters is faith working itself out through Love.”
“Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
“Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”
Our occidental mindset likes formulas and precision. Yielding to this western bent, one could rightly combine the four statements above and say (in paraphrase), “Faith with (verified through) works of love is alive = holiness.” This is a robust fact about Christianity. In fact, without this truth in place you do not have Christianity.
Yet, tragically, the universe of churchiosity has substituted rituals of false belief for the essential, scripturally defined holiness. These rituals are aberrant forms of belief because they mix man-made and partial measures with those that are both demanded of faith and reveal genuine faith according to the Word of God. Man-made belief systems should be obvious to all in their deadly characteristics. Partial faith is more subtle, but it is just as lethal. It is akin to partial discipleship which the Gospel writers, especially John, condemn.
Specifically, the Catholic churches, both Latin and Eastern, have substituted man-made rituals of false liturgy for the faith that guarantees eternal life. They have superimposed this doctrine upon the Word of God: One is justified, that is, saved in the sight of God beginning with his water baptism, preferably when he is an infant. He goes on to maintain his eternal life through a life of good works demonstrated in confession of sins, penance, and the indispensable sacrifice of the mass. By literally eating the flesh of Jesus, the Catholic is made righteous before God. Catholicism is honest and is not ashamed to declare that one merits his salvation before God through a life of faith and good works; these good works are essential to meriting salvation.
Protestantism is more subtle, and, in one sense, more dangerous. It stands much closer to the true faith. For it is not guilty of a detailed and essential multi-processed ritual of works like Catholicism maintains as necessary for salvation and it disavows works as necessary to merit salvation. Nevertheless, it has superimposed a different ritual upon the Word of God. It is the ritual of a partial belief system. In this system, the emphasis of salvation is placed upon the personal acknowledgment of the finished work of Christ. After this, importance is placed from one degree to another upon measured interaction with certain things of the scriptures and often such things are subject to a very wide range of interpretations. Sometimes the degree of interaction is very remote and barely active and sometimes it is relatively near and active. What is common to all in this belief system (as in Catholicism) is the lack of full submission to the Lordship of Christ and His Gospel. The confession with the lips that Jesus is Lord is there but the submission of the life to this truth is lacking. Entire paramount areas of the Word of God are not believed, and therefore not practiced, while rituals of periodically asking God for forgiveness for sins are performed. Also, certain deeds of obedience such as tithing, giving, and church attendance are kept as morally expected and vindicating. All of these amount to unacceptable substitution before God. These are the rituals of partial belief that Protestantism adheres to while it decries the obvious and elaborate ones of Catholicism.
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.”