What is a “crusty fouler”? Glad you asked.  That is the term many boaters use to describe barnacles that attach to the underside of ships. Here is what the NOAA has to say about barnacles:

“How do barnacles stick to the undersides of vessels, to other sea life, to each other, and to pretty much anything they come in contact with? They secrete a fast-curing cement that is among the most powerful natural glues known, with a tensile strength of 5,000 pounds per square inch and an adhesive strength of 22-60 pounds per square inch. The glue is so strong that researchers are trying to figure out how it can be used commercially.

Barnacles like places with lots of activity, like underwater volcanos and intertidal zones, where they reside on sturdy objects like rocks, pilings, and buoys. Moving objects like boat and ship hulls and whales are particularly vulnerable to the pesky critters. Large barnacle colonies cause ships to drag and burn more fuel, leading to significant economic and environmental costs. The U.S. Navy estimates that heavy barnacle growth on ships increases weight and drag by as much as 60 percent, resulting in as much as a 40 percent increase in fuel consumption!”[i]

So barnacles can be a major problem for boat owners and shipping companies. On vessels that travel across massive oceans, a 40% increase in fuel consumption is a huge expense! When ships come into dry dock, one of the first things that is done is the pressure wash or sand blast the barnacles and associated marine life off of the bottom of the hull. It is a lot of work, and removing them can actually cause some damage because of the strength of their glue.

So how does this apply to the church?  Well, over the years, new doctrines and practices have attached themselves to the sides of the ark of Christ, the church. They seemed innocent enough at first, and many were hardly even noticed. But over the centuries, they have accumulated and obscured the image of the original church. Many are so used to them being there, that they try to argue that they are pretty and belong there like they are part of the ship now.

We cannot afford for our ark to be burdened with foreign “crusty foulers” if we are to complete our voyage to the port of Heaven. But because of the centuries of accumulation, we must refer back to the original blueprints to see what they say so that we can recognize the hull when we see it!  The only reliable blueprint is found in the New Testament where the church that Christ built is described in doctrine and practice. Anything we see that is not on that blueprint must be scraped off, even if breaking that bond of glue (i.e. traditions) is painful to break off. Once they are off, we must be vigilant to spot any future barnacles of manmade practices or doctrines that try to attach themselves.

The effort is worth it, and the ark of Christ will be better off for it!

Mark 7:6-8 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites,as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me.
They worship me in vain,
teaching as doctrines human commands.[a]

Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.”

Trail Reeves

[i] https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/barnacles.html