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Foley: Comfort, tradition cause churches to lose focus, purpose

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–How do you lose a Bible in the middle of a church?

By laying it down and letting tradition trump the role of Scripture, said Mark Foley, president of the University of Mobile.

Just like the ancient Israelites, many churches today have lost the Word of God among the weeds of tradition and method, Foley said during a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel service on Sept. 4, in preaching on the story of young King Josiah’s rediscovery of the Word of God and the revival it caused from 2 Kings 22-23.

The Bible is lost, Foley said, “when practice takes precedence over purpose.”

“The things of God were lost in that nation. How does that happen?” Foley said.

Foley, who has been the president of the University of Mobile since 1998, said every organization tends toward “homeostasis,” a level of greatest comfort.

For churches, that level of greatest comfort is a level where the original purpose — reaching the lost for Christ — has been overshadowed by an emphasis on church governance and tradition.

In many churches, Foley said, “breaking that law is a capital offense and ministers have been hung for breaking the law.”

How do churches keep that from happening?

“You bring a man or woman whose heart is right toward God … into contact with God’s Word, and then you’ve got a fire,” Foley said. “The work of the kingdom of God is not about practice. It is about purpose.”

The ultimate purpose, Foley said, is making disciples. Everything else, he said, is secondary to that purpose. Ministers and churches must constantly evaluate themselves and their ministries, he said, by the light of God’s Word and in light of how effective they are in disciple-making.

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  • Jason Hall