These talks demonstrate how much Christian belief and practice, especially in regards to church life, structure and government (or ecclesiology, as the theologians like to call it), is not actually based on the Bible at all, but rather on traditions handed down through the ages which originated from wrong teaching given by the leaders of the early church in the years following the death of the original Apostles.
Controversial subjects are thereby here tackled head on, but we believe it to be vitally important that it be done. Although these studies contain a fair bit of technical and historical material, along with some conclusions that may cause some offence, Beresford passes it all on in his usual humorous, interesting and easy to follow way.
The Tradition of the Elders TR 1
This first talk establishes from the Bible the two kinds of traditions there are, and shows which, as Christians, we should, and should not be accepting. The background to the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders in Israel is shown to have been something that scripture calls the tradition of the elders, and the origination and development of this is traced, and the damage it was doing to the Jews as the people of God demonstrated. The varying names by which it was called are also explained and its root problem, that it denies that the Word of God alone is sufficient for establishing belief and practice, is clearly revealed.
Jesus and the Tradition of the Elders TR 2
Having seen what this tradition of the elders actually is we now move on to find out what Jesus thought about it. And what we discover is that far from being neutral, or somehow accepting of it, Jesus' reaction was actually one of complete non-acceptance and total and open antagonism! In fact, He absolutely hated it and declared war against it, and some of the ways in which He did this are actually rather amusing. And something quite fascinating emerges as Beresford shows how Jesus proved that He was Israel's Messiah not only according to the Old Testament and its teachings, but according to their beloved tradition of the elders as well. Beresford also quite clearly demonstrates from the Word of God that the Jewish religious leaders actually sought Jesus' death in the full knowledge that He was the promised Messiah.
The Tradition of the Early Church Fathers - Part 1 TR 3
These studies now move uncomfortably close to home as, having demonstrated the serious error of Israel's tradition of the elders, Beresford proceeds to show how Christian version emerged. We are introduced to the Early Church Fathers through their own writings, and the uniqueness of their position, that they did not then have the fully compiled New Testament as did the church later on, is explained. Quite understandably in such circumstances wrong teachings began to appear, but the real problem was that they were not corrected once the church did have the entire New Testament at its disposal. And it is precisely those teachings which the Early Church Fathers got wrong that are such a big problem today, because rather than being phased out not only were they retained, they were actually given authoritative and inspired status to boot. By testing the writings of the Fathers against the New Testament, Beresford reveals and explains their foundational error which inevitably became the seed-bed in which their other errors naturally grew.
The Tradition of the Early Church Fathers - Part 2 TR 4
Beresford now demonstrates, again by comparing the actual writings of the Early Church Fathers with the New Testament, the other false teachings which sprang up from their foundational one. He also demonstrates how Bible-believing scholarship is unanimous in its understanding of the fact that these traditions and practices are not what the Bible teaches, but are rather just what the Fathers handed down to us. However, Beresford puts himself at variance with these scholars, and with most other believers as well, by arguing the simple point that such practises should therefore be totally renounced and rejected, and that Christian churches should be completely re-formed to hold only such beliefs and practises which accord with the actual teaching of Scripture, and to therefore return to being how the churches we see in the New Testament were. A controversial position to hold indeed!
A Summation TR 5
Beresford chose to call this talk a 'Summation' as opposed to a 'Summary' due to the fact that it is an American legal term denoting the concluding statements made by opposing counsel in a court case. And this nicely sums up his contention, here outlined, that the Christian church is actually well and truly in the dock' over these issues, and somewhat without excuse regarding them too. And although fun was had by all during this talk it is not really what one would call a fun subject. We truly are convinced that the issues dealt with in this series, and summed up in this talk, are among the most important that churches face today. God is crying out through His Word for a people who are in obedience to His every known and understood directive, and Beresford therefore pulls no punches in communicating that fact here. Nothing, however sacred it may be considered to be, is here spared from the process of being held up to the light of the truth of the Bible in order to be declared either as being of God, or a deception that must be renounced in obedience to the Lord.
Question and Answer Session TR 6
Various questions from the floor are here answered and Beresford clarifies issues surrounding what churches should actually be like in practical terms. He describes in detail the life and practice of the church here in Chigwell, and deals with the vitally important questions concerning leadership, church government and the relationship of itinerant/apostolic ministries to the individual churches they work with. A fascinating and practical end to this most important of series.