Someone said to me once, "If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs would he have?" This is one time I bit the dog. I answered, "five." After the laughter had subsided and I felt utterly ridiculous, I was reminded it does not matter what you call a dog's tail, it will always be a tail. I learned a good lesson from that incident, a lesson everyone needs to learn.
I suppose there is no area where people are guilty of calling a thing something it is not, more than in religious circles. I have observed a number of things practiced in religion which are not what they are said to be. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to mention a few of them.
One of the more familiar cases of this is the denominational practice of sprinkling and pouring which they call "baptism." Does calling sprinkling and pouring "baptism" make them such? Not at all. Paul says, "we are buried with him by baptism" (Rom.6:4). Baptism is a burial. Sprinkling nor pouring fit into this meaning, and to call them "baptism" does not make it so. Sprinkling is still sprinkling, and pouring is still pouring, and baptism is still baptism (a burial).
Most religious bodies today call Sunday "the Sabbath Day," but that does not make it so. The Sabbath was the seventh day of the week (Ex.20:8-11), and Sunday is the first day of the week. To call the first day "the Sabbath" will not change it in the least.
The Catholic counts his beads and calls it "prayer;" the Morman uses water in the Lord's Supper and calls it "the fruit of the vine;" the Holiness jabber and call it "speaking in tongues;" they lay their hands on the sick and pray, and call it "divine healing;" and nearly all of the denominational churches use mechanical instruments and call it "singing." Why not call it what it is? Or, are we afraid we cannot find scriptural authority for our practices if we call them what they really are?
Brethren are not immune to the use of this type of justification for their practices. They attend one hour of services a week and call it "faithful;" some take a little drink now and then and call it "being sociable;" and some dance and let their children dance, and call it "being graceful." Many congregations have built places to eat and to play with the Lord's money, and they call it "fellowship;" and they have built and maintained Super Organizations for the purpose of doing the work of the church and called them "methods." Brethren, it makes no difference what we call these things for which we have no Bible authority. To call them something other than what they are will not change them from what they are. A dog's tail is still a tail regardless of what you call it. Call it what it is, and you will not be deceived by it.
The apostles Paul said of those who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, that "God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess.2:10-12). "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal.6:7,8). Call it what it is. If you don't, the Lord will (Matt.7:21-23).
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This page was last updated on Wednesday, November 04, 1998.