I am probably the worst person to attend your church if you are a preacher. I analyze everything you say. I research everything you teach. When I disagree with you, you are going to know, especially if it’s a Bible issue. I also cannot hide my thoughts on what you are saying well (my face shows if I think you are crazy). I have received many an elbow from my sweet wife when my displeasure with someone’s statements becomes too visible. I like to think this comes from preaching/teaching/studying for so long, and being so very wise (sometimes I am just a jerk to be honest). I have a low tolerance for deviation what I think is Scriptural. Some think this is bad, but I think it is actually a good thing, and one I want to encourage people to engage in.
I believe that much of what we believe about Christianity is based on other people’s opinions of what Christianity is. Those people are often parents, mentors, small group leaders/members, and primarily pastors. We trust these people, and their opinions on the Faith matter to us. For most believers, this is the bedrock of what they believe. Unfortunately, this can often lead us astray, especially when the opinions of the people we trust are based on other people’s opinions, which may or may not be based on Scripture. We can quickly build a regress of thought, which we think is great; but is based on nothing more than conjecture by some old guy a few hundred years ago. As Christians, we should desire all our beliefs to be Biblically sourced.
We believe in the Trinity, for example, because someone told us it was true, threw some Bible verses at us, and made it sound good (maybe they threw in the word Orthodox as well). Most of us are probably unaware that the word “trinity” does not appear in the Scripture, nor are we aware of two guys who made a big deal about it (Athanasius and Arius) a few hundred years after Jesus’ death. Many of us don’t know that until 325 AD no formal declaration of Christ’s deity was stated by the church, and that it wasn’t until the Council of Constantinople, 60ish years later, that the formal doctrine of the Trinity existed (though the Trinitarian understanding existed very early in church history). We take it for granted, which is great, but we have lost hold of it somehow due to a lack of personal investment in learning it for ourselves.
I was in church not too long ago, and a worship song was sung that talked about how God created Jesus, which most theologians would define as anti-Trinitarian Arianism. People sang this song, got their worship on, and never gave thought to the idea that they were promulgating an ancient heresy condemned by the church for 1700ish years. I am reasonably sure that all in attendance would say they believed in the trinity, but it was not grasped enough to know what it meant. If so, the emotional investment and enjoyment of this song would have been replaced by revulsion. Pastors, leaders, teachers, and regular old church people demoted Jesus in a single phrase. Granted the Trinity is hard to understand, and I don’t believe any of us will fully grasp it this side of heaven, but we SHOULD know that Jesus exists eternally (Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed). We are not Christian if we do not know that. This is the problem with unstudied beliefs. We don’t really know them, and because we do not, it is easy to be led astray.
The Bible is the source and authority for belief in the Christian faith. We should only believe what it says, not what our pastor thinks it says, or you think it says, or even what I think it says. Many of us accept the words of people over the Word of God because we are too lazy to do the reading and the studying, so we can do the grasping and internalizing. I want to encourage you to analyze and study the teachings that you hear from the Bible. Do not accept the old line “the Bible says” without researching what the Bible actually says. This leads to people who say they believe a lot of things, but live like they believe very little of them. This will take work, if you are going to do it right; but at the end of the day you will KNOW what you believe, and grasp it. The grasping is where action will follow belief, because you have become convinced by the Truth.