Let me tell you a little story. This story is not true, it did not happen, but if you listen to this story while you read it and think about it, you will find a truth within this story, for the same thing that happened in this story has been happening all over the world over many thousands of years. After you have read the story we will have a short discussion about it.
A man (we will call him Mr. A) who lived 300 years after the Apostle Sam died, stood up in an assembly and declared that The Apostle Sam ate Corn Flakes for breakfast. This was the first time that anyone in the assembly had ever heard this. Now in the assembly at that time was a writer who wrote in a book what Mr. A had said, and embellished it just a little. The writer wrote "The Apostle Sam ate Corn Flakes every morning for breakfast." Soon other writers began quoting the first writer in their books, and most everyone who read it said that it must be true because the books were written by such great writers of the times. It was not long before other writers embellished the statement more and more, adding that the Apostle Sam ate the Corn Flakes out of a golden bowl. Then the golden bowl became covered with jewels, etc. etc. Then the Corn Flakes that the Apostle Sam ate every morning gave him miraculous powers. Soon most everyone accepted it as the absolute truth. If anyone dared to say that it was not true, they were immediately declared to be Heretics, and were attacked by all the leaders, banished from the kingdom if they recanted or put to death if they did not. After 1500 more years had passed it was declared by the great leaders that this story was absolutely true and therefore the Apostle Sam should be worshipped because he ate great bowls of Corn Flakes.
By now you should be able to see the true story within this story. You may not believe it. You might have to give up your favorite belief in order to accept that this has been happening to your favorite belief, from inside every church, and from long before the time of Jesus right down to the present day. Jesus accused the Pharisees of this very thing. They twisted God's Laws and added to the Law their own doctrines. (Mt. 15:1- 9) Verse 9 says "But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." And in Mt. 15:14 "they be blind leaders of the blind." And again in Mt. 16:6 "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." Mt. 16:12 explains the leaven as being their doctrines.
This is a warning to check out and test every doctrine taught in our churches. There is tradition to be followed as well as the Bible which is God's Word. But not all tradition is from God. Just as the Pharisees taught the twisted ideas of men as being sanctioned or commanded by God, when it was not, so do some of our church leaders today.
When you truly seek after the truth from God, the truth will be made known to you. However you must sometimes work for that truth by studying God's Word.
Have you ever tried to track down a rumor or lie?? As you ask each one in the chain of the rumor, from who, or where, did you hear it. You will soon reach a point where you can not establish where it started, or find any documentation to prove what was said. You will hear "they said" but no one knows who "they" are. Or you hear "everyone knows", which you know is not true. You may track it part way, but never all the way to it's source.
In tracking down the truth, you will find that if it is true, there will be a trail that will lead directly to the first person who said it, and they can say or have written, "I saw it happen" or "I heard him say" and "you can check with these other people for they saw or heard it also."(1 Co. 15:6) What a difference, that from the time that something happened that it was documented all the way down to us today. First by witnesses, then by written word of those who lived at the time and were witnesses. Before the Gospels were written, the Apostles and the Deciples of Jesus spread the word to the known world by saying "I saw what Jesus did", and "I heard Jesus say this." And "You can check on what I say because there are many others who witnessed these events and they are still alive today." 1 Co. 15:6 (as Paul said)
First you must ask, is what is being taught in conflict with what the Bible teaches? Is what is being taught based on a twisting or misrepresenting of Scripture? If so, it is a false doctrine.
Second, if the teaching is based on tradition and writings outside of the Bible, can you trace it back to someone who witnessed it, that is, there should be more than one witness to establish truth. (John 8:17; 5:31-32)
With this in mind, let us go back to the story. If you tried to track down the doctrine of the Corn Flakes, you could not track it back any farther than Mr. A. Who made a statement. If the other Apostles and Deciples who lived and worked with Apostle Sam didn't write about Apostle Sam and Corn Flakes, and or, anyone else who lived at the time that Apostle Sam lived also did not write about Apostle Sam eating Corn Flakes, then How could Mr. A have possibly known this to be true since he lived 300 years after Apostle Sam died, and no one else in those 300 years had ever known of, or heard of, Apostle Sam having any connection to Corn Flakes? It becomes clear that either Mr. A was a little flaky or else he just wanted to believe what he should have known was not true.
Now remember, I said that this story was not true and did not happen, but I did say that in this story is a truth. By now, you should be seeing that truth clearly. (And no, I am not pushing corn flakes) Any teaching by any church or church leader (or anyone else) that can not be traced back to more than one person who witnessed whatever it was that was suppose to have happened, at the time that it happened, can not be true!!
As we see in all stories about Jesus, that every story can, and has been, traced back to many witnesses who lived at the time of Jesus. And that is why, within a few short years, that the entire known world at that time heard about Jesus. They didn't all believe, but they all heard. This is in stark contrast to false doctrines and teachings that came to light, that is started to be taught, only after hundred of years AFTER the event supposedly took place.
It is up to each of you to search for the truth and not to blindly believe all that you are told. And I do include here what I teach. You are to test my words as much or more than you would test someone else's words. (1 Th. 5:21; Ro. 12:2) Search for God's Truth and God will reveal it truth to you.
Just because we would like to believe something does not make it true. Just because we have been taught something all of our lives does not make it true. If you doubt that, you have only to pick up a book on science that was printed 300-500 years ago to see how people of those times were taught what we now know was wrong. It is only God's Word that has not changed in thousands of years or from the time that God said the Words. It is only God's word that we can believe as absolutely true and unchangeable. And it is while we read and study God's word that God's truth will be made known to us who worship Jesus.
For your consideration I include the following: (Bold, italics, and underline are added by me)
From "The Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers" series 2, volume 9, pages 40-41, St. Hillary of Poitiers. (Born 300 AD, died 367 AD. The following writing was probably written between 356 - 367 AD.)
on men who change the word.
He bids the Emperor call back to his mind the Faith which (so he says) Constantius is longing in vain to hear from his bishops. Those whose duty is to proclaim the Faith of God are employed, instead, in composing faiths of their own, and so they revolve in an endless circle of error and strife. The sense of human infirmity ought to have made them content to hold the Faith in the same form of words in which they received it. At their baptism they had professed and sworn their faith, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; doubt or change are equally unlawful. Yet men were using the sacred words while they dishonestly assigned to them another meaning, or even were daring to depart from them. Thus to some the three sacred Names were empty terms. Hence innovations in the statement of Faith; the search for novelties took the place of loyalty to ancient truth, and the creed of the year displaced the creed of the Gospels. Every one framed his confession according to his own desire of his own character; while creeds were multiplying, the one Faith was perishing. Since the Council of Nicaea there had been no end of this writing of creeds. So busily were men wrangling over words, seeking novelties, debating knotty points, forming factions and pursuing ambitions, refusing to agree and hurling anathema's at one another, that almost all had drifted away from Christ.
The confusion was such that none could either teach or learn in safety. Within the last year no less than four contradictory creeds had been promulgated. There was no single point of the Faith which they or their fathers had held upon which violent hands had not been laid. And the pitiful creed which for the moment held the field was that the son is 'like the Father'; whether this likeness were perfect or imperfect was left in obscurity. The result of constant change and ceaseless dispute was self-contradiction and mutual destruction.
This search for a faith involved the assumption that the true Faith was not ready to the believer's hand. They would have it in writing, as though the heart were not its place. Baptism implied the Faith and was useless without its acceptance; to teach a new Christ after Baptism, or to alter the Faith then declared, was sin against the Holy Ghost.
The chief cause of the continuance of the present blasphemy was the love of applause; men invented grandiloquent paraphrases in place of the Apostle's Creed, to delude the vulgar, to conceal their aberrations, to effect a compromise with other forms of error. They would do anything rather than confess that they had been wrong.
But the little telescope of Galileo still swept the heavens, and another revelation was announced - the mountains and valleys in the moon. This brought on another attack. It was declared that this, and the statement that the moon shines by light reflected from the sun, directly contradict the statement in Genesis that the moon is "a great light." To make the matter worse, a painter, placing the moon in a religious picture in its usual position beneath the feet of the Blessed Virgin, outlined on its surface mountains and valleys; this was denounced as a sacrilege logically resulting from the astronomer's heresy.