Not so long ago, local priests used to charge money to get people out of hell. The people may or may not have believed it, but they often paid the money! After all, what did they know? And what right did they have to argue? The priest's word was GOD to them. This happened all over Europe, in the 1400's, until someone found a weapon stronger than the priests...
They found the Bible! (This is NOT where the story gets better...)
Guttenberg printed a few Bibles around 1454, in Latin of course, one of which made it's way down to Saxony, Germany, where a monk named Martin started to read it! In its pages, he found statements he thought would rebuke the priests. And so, armed with his hours of careful study and arguments, Mister Luther took on the establishment - and won!
(Again, this is NOT where the story gets better...)
A scary thing happened that century. Men all over Europe realized that studying and quoting the Bible would give them authority in the eyes of those who had not done so for themselves. (Please stop and read that sentence again.)
This is the Horrible Side-Effect of the Protestant Reformation!
As a matter of fact, almost all of the common folk could NOT read, nor even dream of paying the King's Ransom it would have cost them to get a copy of Guttenberg's Bible... or Tyndale's in English (which were all being burned) or Luther's in German. The common folk were STILL at the mercies of the powerful men who had resources and time enough to buy, read and study their Bibles!
Sadly, it's not very different today.
Every day, men use the Bible as an means of gaining control over others. People say, "The Bible says" and then say "so therefore you've got to!" (It's worse than that, actually - you don't even have to say the second part - everyone just assumes it!) How... sad... is... this? And more importantly, why do some of those men sound as if you don't even need the Lord - but just the Bible?
I want to go on the record: I do NOT believe that ANYONE must "do what the Bible says."
I certainly don't live that way! So how could I ask others to? :)
Do I follow the 623 laws of Moses? (No.) Have I made a list of all the hundreds of things the New Testament seems to be telling us to "do" AND tried to follow it to the letter each day? (No.) Am I part of a church that has "elders" like Ephesus and the Galatian churches did? (No.) Did we have Paul live here for a year and a half before leaving, like Corinth did? (No.) Did we have Luke stay for seven years until Paul appointed elders and then left with Luke, like they did in Philippi? (No.)
I didn't come here because I thought we were "biblical". I came here because I wanted to know the Lord together with all the saints! And that's all I want to do here...
Except, maybe, for one more thing! :)
I'd also like to pass a LAW (!) that says no one's allowed to preach or teach "We must do what the Bible says." BUT since I know I can't control the controllers or keep them from trying to control others, then I suppose - instead - that I'd like to help others be free from that ridiculous burden.
The Bible is NOT here so we can teach others how to "Follow" it. The Bible is here so we can use it to Know Jesus Christ, more and more. Whoever uses it to exert control over others is robbing those people of knowing its true benefit.