It is I believe, a truth self-evident, stemming from the nature of Christianity…
…that you can neither see the richness of Christianity as a religion, nor enjoy its benefits, nor be covered by the depths of its grace, if you only hold to a few of its principles in a loose and random fashion, and to do so separately from the whole of it.
Further, it bears to reason, that if you do not consider each of Christianity’s components, or the components you are examining within the context of the whole system of truth, you will have no self-checking, self-correcting guide to keep your considerations from veering off the narrow path of the truth as God has given it. For we see that religion, by its very definition, forms a system which is complete as a body of coherent doctrines, closely connected, perfect in harmony, and absolute in its teachings.
To be sure, as pastor James Saurin has pointed out, “Nothing better proves the divinity of religion, than the connection, harmony, and agreement of its component parts.”
Consistent to this proposition; is this fashion of non-regulative theological formulations that many of the newer, “New,” and “New Age” denominations have veered off into believing. For in their obstinacy of opinion, that they have founded “new brands” of Christianity that are non-biblical in character. For by holding tightly to certain ill-shaped doctrines, prophecies, etc., many of these so-called “Christian” denominations have viewed specious systems of thought singularly, alone, as unto themselves, that is to say, to the exclusion of the Bible’s main teachings and its central “grand truths.” And in doing so, whatever their protestations, they have by practice committed heresy, all the while proclaiming commitment to Christ and loyalty to scripture.
Originally, Heresy did not mean flagrant dissent or deviation from a dominant doctrine opinion, practice, or dogma. Rather, it was simply a slight turning, a slight shading of truth, and a gradual veering away from what was considered biblical orthodoxy. In essence it was a small adding to and slight twisting of a body of truth.
As Spurgeon once said, “The root of every heresy in history is adding something of our own to the work of Christ.”
Today’s Christian student can readily see how that down throughout the Christian era, men have wantonly contrived chains of theological systems to please themselves. If we were to cut to the chase, we can see that in the final analysis they have, for their own purposes and convictions, substituted doctrines of their own imagination and preferences, into teachings that have skewed the systematic body of doctrine which God has given us in holy scriptures.
Understanding why and how these groups formulate theology is important to understanding their unrepentant obstinacy, especially in their maintaining, and advancing such unwholesome religions. For of all obstinate people, none excel more in these dreadful kind expositions, than those who are prejudiced in favor of their own self-contrivances.
A person or a group prepossessed with self-contrived imaginary systems of theology is seldom teachable. Why? Because he knows, that if one link be taken away, his chain falls to pieces; and that there is no removing a single stone from his building without destroying the whole edifice. On the other hand, if infatuation with self-contrived doctrinal systems has occasioned so many disorders in the church, the opposite disposition, I mean, the obstinate rejection of all orthodoxy, or the careless composition of some parts of it, has been equally hurtful: for it is no less dangerous, in the system of Christian religion, to omit what really belongs to it, than it is to incorporate anything foreign into it.
Therefore, one can see that in the Christian religion, which has its doctrines in such harmony and in such connection, and which has its body of doctrine so systematic, so symmetrical, compact, and united, ought not to be taken apart by bits and pieces, without a consistent and repeated evaluation and application to the whole.
Once again, as Saurin points out,
“Apply this to spiritual things. In a compact system, in a coherent body of doctrine, there is nothing useless, nothing which ought not to occupy the very place that the genius who composed the whole hath given it. What will become of religion if we consider any of its doctrines separately? What becomes of religion if we consider the holiness of God without his justice, or his justice without his mercy?”
To acquire a complete knowledge of Christian truths and doctrines, one cannot study them by one’s self amid silence; we must converse with others who study them also. And we must also understand the bible and its doctrines as it was seen and understood from other great Christians of the church, who together with solemn unity have spoken down throughout the ages to the truths which were “once for all, handed down to the saints.”