Voices in Religion

By Olen Holderby

The reader is ask at this point to stop and read the first nine verses of Genesis chapter eleven. If you have now done that, you will realize the confusion that must have been present when the Lord confounded their language. Imagine going to work one morning and not being able to understand a word that is said to you. Is there a lesson in this story for us? I believe so!

There are many voices in religion today, all of which add up to a lot of confusion. Let us notice a few of them.

The Voice of the Pope 

Catholics consider the pope infallible. He was declared to be so by the Catholic Council of 1870. Seven hundred sixty-four Catholic officials were in this meeting. When the vote was taken, 232 were absent, so that 532 men decided that their pope was infallible, and two of them voted “no.” The fact that many fail to understand Catholic doctrine is, within itself, a source of much confusion.

In contrast with the claims for the pope, the Bible says, “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16) and that we are given, therein, all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). Further, Jesus declared that all authority had been given unto him in both heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18); this leaves absolutely none for the pope. It appears, then, that God’s word, the gospel, is the only infallible guide in religion. And, following this infallible guide is the only way to avoid confusion.

The Voice of Creeds 

With over 250 different religious denominations in the U.S. alone, and each with their distinctive creeds, what would one have if he put all these creeds together? That’s right, confusion at its worse! What is the remedy for all this confusion? The answer is, do away with all the creeds. We often hear, “What does your church say about this?” Nothing! The New Testament church does what the Lord has already said and is recorded in the gospel. “Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jas. 1:25).

Instead then of looking into the creeds, look “into the perfect law of liberty.” The New Testament gives the doctrine of Christ, and we are told, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). Doing this would avoid an awful lot of confusion.

Voice of the Family 

This often adds confusion, but it ought not. Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). It is nice to be able to please our loved ones, but listen to Paul, “For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

The Voice of Conscience 

Here is a source of no little amount of confusion. Solomon said, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov. 28:26). In spite of this stated fact, many continue to follow their conscience in religion. In Acts 23:1, Paul said, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Yet, a part of his life was spent in persecuting and putting to death Christians. He had a good conscience but he was not right. When he found out that he was wrong, he changed. 

The conscience must be trained right in order to be right, and to be right, it must be trained by the gospel of Jesus Christ. In some countries women have been known to toss their infants to the crocodiles in an effort to appease the wrath of an angry god. They had a good conscience in this, but they obviously were not right. One ancient idol god was Moloch, with outstretched arms he was hollow inside. A fire would be built inside and sacrifices would be placed in his arms. Often these sacrifices would be small or infant children. The conscience of these heathen people was good, but the act was wrong.

The Voice of Prestige and Honor 

It is obvious that many, especially the young, listen to this voice and this is done in spite of what God’s word may say. “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). This voice often comes to us through our peers; we must make the choice as to whether we shall listen.

The Voice of Worldly Gain 

“Thou shall not covet” appears to be a very difficult command to obey. “The love of money is the root of all evil” was Paul’s summation. From the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:22), we learn that “the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.” O, how much we want it, but how so very dangerous it is! The confusion really rolls in when we began to find excuses to get it.

The Voice of Preachers 

In the one body of Christ, the church, this has become a lively source of confusion. When preachers do not speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11), or do not practice what they preach (1 Tim. 4:12), such can be an endless source of confusion. I have personally heard people express deep dismay at the disagreements of preachers on various Bible subjects, i.e., divorce and remarriage, deity of Christ, fellowship, and many others. Some one (or ones) is teaching falsehood! Who is it? Heads begin to shake!

Preachers are told to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2), and they are to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). They are to hold fast the form of “sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13). Was God able to give us a gospel which we can understand? Did he give us a gospel that we can understand? If he did (and he did) then we must listen to that gospel. Preachers who preach less or more, or a perverted gospel, are the enemies of the cross of Christ. They add or cause much confusion in the religious world in general and in the church of the Lord in particular.

The Voice of God 

“All scripture is given by the inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). This is the voice to whom we must listen. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

My friend, when you listen to the Scripture, you are listening to the voice of God. God’s word does not cause confusion, rather it will lead us out of the same. May God help us all to heed his voice and only his voice.

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Truth Magazine Vol. XLV: 7  p8  April 5, 2001