Mainstream Christianity and the Bible: Do They Add Up?
When the doctrines of mainstream Christian churches are compared to the Bible, serious differences can be found. Do modern churches and individuals have the right to reinterpret the Bible?
History documents that not long after Christ and the death of the last of the original apostles, Christianity went through a staggering change. As time separated Christianity from its Founder and His original followers, many Christians began to adopt more and more doctrines that conflicted with the teachings of the New Testament.
Presented with that fact, many will claim that as long as you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can worship and believe any way you choose. So, millions of people, members of multitudes of different denominations, believe divergent doctrines yet accept each other as “fellow Christians.”
Have nonbiblical doctrines been accepted in your church? You might be very surprised!
Adding and taking away
Are people free to add to or take away from the teachings of the Bible—as long as they still generally accept Jesus Christ? From early in the Old Testament to the last chapter in the New Testament, the command to diligently preserve the Bible’s original words and teaching is consistent. In the Old Testament we are told: “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2, emphasis added throughout).
Late in the New Testament, the exact same principle is upheld and reinforced by Jesus Christ: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19). Can we grasp the fact that God commands no changes whatsoever within His Word?
Jesus Christ was very clear that He did not want “the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9) added to the religion He led or to have His law subtracted from (Matthew 5:18).
Examples of additions and subtractions from God’s Word
Subtracted: the Sabbath
Earlier we read two scriptures where God gave stern warnings about additions to and subtractions from His Word. Where did the keeping of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath come from? The Bible is very clear that God expects His people to worship Him on the seventh day—Saturday (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 12:16; 20:10). Both Jesus and the apostle Paul obeyed this, setting us an example (Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2; 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Sunday—Day of the Sun—was the day ancient pagans worshipped the sun god. A false Christianity added Sunday and took away the teaching of the true Sabbath of the New Testament. The Church led by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:23) has always worshipped on the God-given, seventh-day Sabbath—the same day on which Jesus Christ, the apostles and the New Testament Church worshipped. Read “When and How Did the Change in Worship From Saturday to Sunday Occur?” to learn more about how the change occurred.
An example of an addition to New Testament doctrine is the annual holiday of Christmas. Mainstream Christian churches teach that Dec. 25 represents the birthday of Jesus and is to be celebrated. But it is well documented in secular (and even religious) historical sources that Dec. 25 was an ancient pagan festival. Different ancient cultures used the winter solstice at the end of December to worship associated pagan deities. The Roman Church integrated Dec. 25 into the Christian calendar as it absorbed converts from paganism in Europe. This was done with clear disregard for the many verses we covered earlier in this blog post about not adding the doctrines of men to the Bible. For more information on why you should rethink celebrating Christmas, read “Christmas: Should Christians Celebrate It?”
There are many other examples of additions to and subtractions from the teachings of the Bible found in today’s churches. Here are just a few examples:
- The idea that you go to heaven or hell when you die.
- The abandonment of the biblical festivals.
- Not observing the biblical laws of clean and unclean meats.
The above represent just a sampling of cases. Continue reading Life, Hope & Truth to understand more about how the beliefs of popular churches often contradict the Bible.
If you are serious about learning and practicing the true Christianity found in the pages of the Bible, consider the admonition of the apostle Paul: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We encourage you to fulfill Paul’s words to “test all things” by studying the teachings of the Bible. Then, once you have learned it, “hold fast” to it!
Don’t ever allow yourself to add to or subtract from the Bible!