Prefatory Letter to King Francis: Part VI (The Institutes for Kids)

Custom is no substitute for truth

If men were foolproof, we’d be okay. But they’re not. The church has a big pile of the church father’s teachings and called it ‘custom.’ Now there’re hot-lies in the pile and it’s threatening to burn the house down. Yet some of you would rather preserve and honour the whole pile than save the house!

Listen: I’m not saying that “custom” is bad, but that bad custom is.

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True church and false church

We’re not a new church just because we don’t like that whole burning pile. And, we don’t think we’ve picked a fight with a true church.

Since some insist the church must always be visible, and the Roman church is the most glittery, they conclude that that must be the church. But that ox won’t plow.

Listen to how Hilary put it: “I urge you, beware of Antichrist. You look no further than the walls, seeking God’s church in beautiful buildings, thinking that they enclose within them the fellowship of believers. Can we doubt that this is where Antichrist has his seat? I consider mountains, woods, lakes, dungeons and deserts to be safer and more trustworthy. For the prophets who hid in them prophesied.”

It’s like their best argument is: he with the biggest church, wins.

But that’s not God’s way. He’s always been preserving and hiding his people, even though outside it appears they’re not there. Remember Elijah feeling like he was all alone (1 Kings 19:10)? The temple-people were evil evil. But hidden among Israel were seven thousand faithful people (19:18), without a glimmer of outward glory.

They say, pastors of the church can’t err. Wha?! What about that whole Aaron-and-the-golden-calf-thing (Ex. 32:4)? Were Ahab’s four hundred prophets insiders or outsiders (1 Kings 22:6)? What about the priests, teachers and religious leaders of Jesus’ day–were they correct to plot against Jesus because they had the temple–the most visible church (John 11:47)?

Shall I bring up how you once had two popes at the same time? Ya, let’s go there. Which one of them was the real schismatic? Is the true church just the side that wins?

Your beliefs about the church are as rotten as your lives.

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