“Ism’s, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an ‘ism,’
he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: ‘I don't believe in Beatles.
I just believe in me.’ A good point there.”
~ Ferris Bueller
This comes from one of the greatest movie monologues of all time: the “How to Fake Out Parents and Avoid School” discourse from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Now, I don’t take much stock in anything John Lennon believed in, but I’ve always been in one accord with him and Ferris on their stance on isms. I’m not an ism guy.
First let me clarify something. I’m against a certain kind of isms, not words spelled with i-s-m. For example, prisms are nice. Once upon a time, I gave my wife one in the form of a diamond engagement ring. Schisms, well, maybe that’s not the best example, but I’m sure if you do your homework you’ll see that some good has come of them.
So what is an ism? Well, a definition might be best. Have a look.
***Actually, –ism (suffix) and ism (noun) are two different things. Feast your eyes.
The latter is the one that Bueller, Lennon, and me believe is not good, but I’m coming at it with a Christian worldview. Now you might say, “What about Calvinism or Arminianism? You must believe in one or the other if you are a good Christian.” My answer is this: Ism’s, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an ism. Before you burn me in effigy, hear me.
The Bible is the revelation of God to people, and a great deal of it requires that you have the Holy Spirit residing in you to understand it. That means anyone, given they are regenerated, can understand anything the Bible has to say by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. No degree necessary.
On the other hand, Christian isms are the constructs of men to simplify the Bible. They sum it up, and make things nice and neat. They are meant for good – to teach sound doctrine. But the unregenerate are capable of fully understanding these systems and arguing them until they are blue in the face every bit as much as a Christian is. It turns what God gave us into something man made.
It’s like this: God gave us what we are supposed to know about him in a treasure chest called the Bible. It takes effort to get to know him. Then smart men simplified the treasure chest down into a basket – but they came up with different looking baskets. The problem is that you have believers looking in one basket or another for treasure, and that’s not what God intended. He gave us the treasure chest. I'll say it again. A person should not believe in an ism.
A person should believe THE WORD. No matter what this person or that person says, you don’t need an ism. You'll be just fine without an ism. Generally speaking, the -ists are usually the ones pushing their isms anyway. They will argue it will keep you from heresy. Hogwash. Heresy from believing the other guy's ism maybe. I’ll take the guidance of the Holy Spirit over an ism any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
To sum it up, isms, in my opinion, are not good. Leave the isms to the ists, and bury your nose in The Word. Let the Holy Spirit teach you. God gave you a treasure chest. Don’t settle for a basket.