In the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Modern Reformation Charlie Mallie comments on the necessity of the Scriptures to form not only the doctrine but the practices of the church as well. He reflects on his own coversion to Christ and his struggle to find a place in the church.
As an adult convert I can say that my first hundred or so encounters with Christians or with various churches didn't impress me much. When I had courage enough to darken the doorway of some assembly, often I found the teachings shallow and gimmicky. There was so very little of the Word, if at all. I remember one mega-thon in Southern California where the "youth dude" was standing in for the main pastor one particular Sunday. When it came time to "do the supper," he had us all bow our heads and "in our hearts intensely remember Jesus," and then he looked up and yelled, "Here's to Jesus," as if toasting the skylight with the little plastic cup filled with Welch's. That was the last church I walked out of with five-thousand-plus people watching. So began the years of my church fast--and my struggle to find genuine biblical Christianity, one that was saturated through and through with the Word of God.Mallie goes on to explain the dangers of a church bereft of the Word of God.
It occurred to me back then (now over fifteen years ago) that the very aspect of what pulled me with great velocity out of those churches seems to be what draws so many others to them. The emphasis on marketing rather than teaching, offering choices, rather than calling for commitment, entertainment rather than substance flows like a chapter out of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. If you look at it from 40,000 feet, regardless of the individual manifestations of the malady, the source is always the same: a lack of teaching founded on the whole counsel of God or at the very least an inoculation against such teaching.
How dangerous is it to have a church that isn't completely shaped by the Holy Word of God in doctrine and in practice? What's the big deal? Can't we just form a group of Christians based on whatever we feel will best serve our needs?...
Maybe not...Somewhere in your background the Word of God came to you. Some pastor preached on a given text and it took root. You read your Bible and the Word was implanted. That living and active Word, the vehicle of the Holy Spirit, was buried in the soil of your heart and it grew...Because of that gift of being taught by the Holy Spirit through his Word, you can look at such silly assertions and say, "I think not."
But that's really the key, ins't it? The Word. It all turns on the Word of God. Not just a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, but the very means that guard our steps as we walk with Christ who is the Way, the Truth, the Life. The Word, the Word, the Word!...
Without the Word, we are sitting ducks for all sorts of trouble. If it is true that the devil roams about like a lion seeking to devour whomever he will and that the only weapon we are given is the Word of God--that double-edged sword of the Spirit that proceeds from the mouth of Christ--then without the Word we are truly vulnerable. Worse than that, we are helpless against whatever wind of doctrine blows through the doors. But I can only know such things from the Word. I will not come to the conclusion of such things by a careful contemplation of the starry sky--sorry, Mr. Kant. Without the transcendent enteral Word dropping down from the lofty realm of the neumena confusion, heresy, even apostasy becomes commonplace and talk of absolutes degrades into discussions of preference. Without a raft of revelation to sail me through this sea of doubt, there is no distilling ought-ness from is-ness.