You may have watched the Disney musical, Mary Poppins. In the movie, Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews sing the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." The song has a part that goes, "Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious if you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious." I thought this perfectly describes how Christian leaders have distorted and added to the original message Jesus commanded His disciples to preach.
When Jesus sent His disciples out into the world, He didn't leave them a mountain of directives on how to operate the newly formed Christian religion. Nor did Jesus tell his disciples to involve themselves with the process of developing a cumbersome system of religious jargons and ceremonies.
Jesus' instructions were very simple: he told his disciples to preach the "good news" (Mat 11:5), the "glad tidings" (Mark 1:14), and to simply be his "witnesses" (Acts 1:8). Paul was equally simplistic in his description of the gospel. Paul referred to the "blessed hope" in Titus 2:13 and in 1 Cor 1:23 he summed up his whole ministry in two words; his mission was to preach "Christ crucified."
In the world today, there are thousands of other religions competing against Christianity. Very few of these can match the gospel's simplicity. If you were to check into the salvation plan of some of these other belief systems, most would give you a mumbo jumbo spiel that might go something like: To find the ultimate state of consciousness you need to achieve complete symmetry between the celestial and physical plains of existence.
You don't need to go through a twenty-step program to become a Christian. All a person needs to do is realize his sinful state, ask Jesus to be his Savior, and then follow Jesus' examples of pure living. I can make this process even simpler. On all American currency there are the words: "In God We Trust." If you were to personalize this statement in everything you do saying, "In God I Trust" you would not go wrong.
I've noticed three main areas where man has Supercalifragilisticexpialidociousized the Christian message: Words, Rituals, and Traditions.
How can any Christian expect to reach the common man with words like: exegesis, hagiography, examologesis, hydroparastatae, soteriology, or anthropomorphism?
Sometimes we use big words to get people's attention. I entitled this web page Supercalifragilisticexpialidociousism to do just that. Also, at other times, complex words can be used to inject humor. I know of one well-known prophecy speaker who, just for laughs, has a favorite tongue twister he likes to pitch to his audience. He will get up and say, "Well friends, today we're going to think anew about the contemporaneous implications of psychophysical monism."
Unfortunately, humor and attention-getting aren't always the goal of some Christian speakers who use big words. I remember one situation concerning a preacher who wasn't joking with his audience. This minister would constantly use 10-dollar words whenever he spoke. For example: Instead of saying “prophecy,” he would say “eschatology”; instead of using the word “gospel,” he would use “exegesis”; or it wasn't “Jesus” he was studying, it was “Christology.”
I'm familiar with the host of a local cable program that frequently had this preacher on his show as a guest speaker. The host, who's name was Joe, said that he received a number of complaints from viewers about his guest's choice of vocabulary. After telling the preacher to tone down his talk and not getting any compliance, Joe finally decided not to have him on the show anymore. I also learned from Joe that some people who went to the minister's church stopped going because he was annoyingly using graduate level words.
You might be wondering, "Why was this joker shooting himself in the foot?" The reason the minister was using the big words was simply pride. He wanted to appear to be a know-it-all. In the end, his smart talk only ended up making him look foolish.
The original purpose of Christian rituals was to symbolize or represent a certain aspect of the faith. What has happened, in many cases, is that rituals have become a substitute for true Christianity.
One good example of how rituals have replaced God's original intent is the idea that being baptized in water means you're saved. Instead of relying on the blood of Jesus to wash them clean, some folks are of the belief that a dunking in earthly water has the power to make them ready for the heavenly world to come. I've met many people who live in total opposition to the gospel message, yet because they were baptized in water, they believe they have guaranteed their salvation. I once worked with a woman who wants her baptismal certificate placed in her hand when she dies.
So far in my life, I've been baptized on three different occasions. I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; in the name of Jesus; and while on a tour of the Holy Land, I was baptized in the Jordan River.
None of these baptisms has any power to save my eternal soul. After being baptized so many times, I should be able to freely rob banks and still be saved. Anyone who holds to the sole requirement of water baptism for salvation should ponder the situation with the thief on the cross.
Rituals cannot save us from our sins; they only act to hide them. You can put a priestly robe on pornography king Larry Flynt, have Charles Manson do the rosary, or have Bill Clinton recite the Lord's Prayer in Latin and change nothing. If you fail to reach the heart of a man, any changes you make on his outside are meaningless.
From the very beginning, men's traditions have been a continuous threat to the gospel message. In most cases, where some group is adding a tradition to the Word of God, they have absolutely no concrete scripture to make their alteration. If it's not in the Bible, then it's not valid. This should be every Christian's motto.
The teaching of purgatory is an example. Where did this come from? You can look from Genesis to Revelation and you will not find any hint that teaches there's a halfway place for those who need to suffer or pray their way to heaven or to wait for their family members to give enough money that their dearly departed can get out of purgatory.
While searching through a library, I found a book on purgatory. I read through it to find out where people got this teaching. The first evidence the book presented was the fact that purgatory was traditionally taught. The second evidence was a quote from what is called the lost books. In 2 Maccabees 12:46 it says we should "pray for the dead." The third reason cited was the fact that the Council of Trent said purgatory exists. The fourth explanation was a vision claimed by St. Frances of Rome. Through divine revelation, she claimed to have gotten a peek at this place, informing us that purgatory has an upper and lower level.
None of these explanations for the existence of a purgatory had anything to do with the Holy Bible. Before the "church fathers" dreamed up the concept of purgatory, they should have read (Revelation 22:18). For I testify unto every man that hearth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things God will add to him the plagues written in this book.
In recent years, I've noticed that several traditions of men have been creeping into the Church. Some of these are: environmentalism, liberation theology, politics, psychology, and self-esteem. These are all add-ons that only work to choke true Christian doctrine.
Paul warns believes to be wary of strange new doctrines: "As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:9).
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