Last summer, down on Lake Isabella, located in the high desert, an hour east of Bakersfield, CA, some folks, new to boating, were having a problem. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t get their brand new 22 foot boat, going. It was very sluggish in almost every maneuver, no matter how much power they applied. After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted into a nearby marina, thinking someone there may be able to tell them what was wrong. A thorough topside check revealed everything in perfect working condition. The engine ran fine, the out-drive went up and down, and the propeller was the correct size and pitch. So, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath. He came up choking on water, he was laughing so hard. Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer! 

Now, upon reading this and chuckling like everyone else, I stopped to ponder it just a bit more. The boat looked, at the surface level, like it was in fine shape. The engine roared, the gauges showed it to be working fine, but it was a dog anyway. Why? Well, we truly wonder about the basic IQ of anyone who would just drive the boat, replete with trailer, into the water, but the fact of the matter is there are a lot of folks putt-putting around in fine looking theological systems wondering why they won’t go anywhere, and strapped to the underside of their sleek boats is the dead weight of a massive system of tradition, sucking the life out of the ability of the boat to do anything meaningful at all. But it seems tradition hides quite well, and for most, putt-putting around is about as adventurous as they want to get anyway. But I couldn’t help thinking about how our traditions do just what that trailer did: suck the life right out of the power of the Word of God to propel us forward. As I watch much of the formal church in the Western world spin off into either zany evangelical nuttiness (turn on that one TV network, you’ll see) or fracture into all sorts of Rodney King style ecumenical social clubs on the other, I can’t help but long for the time when sola scriptura released its life-changing power, knowing full well that the Word is the same today as it was then. So if your boat is under-performing, do a man-made tradition check. You’ll be amazed at the results!

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