- Religion: I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and a devout Christian. By this, I mean that I believe in the gospel as both spiritual and historical truth, and live out my life according to its implications. Though I believe that there do exist multiple legitimate expressions of Christian faith, and I believe there exists enough human error in the understanding of God to allow differences in opinions in even crucial doctrinal points, I also believe that Christianity is the only legitimate understanding of the nature of the world and reality, and it is only through the truth of the Christian gospel that salvation, redemption, predestination, happiness, and eternal life can be found.
- God: There is only one God, who is the supreme mover and ruler of the cosmos. This God has revealed Himself to humankind as three persons. Here person is not understood as a separate sentient being, but is understood as a real distinct aspect of the one God through which He interacts with reality and relates with us. The three persons of God are the Father, the Son or Word, and the Spirit.
- Cosmology: I believe that God created the whole of the cosmos out of nothing. Furthermore, I believe that He brought life into being on this planet through a special creation as recorded in Genesis 1, and not through the means of Darwinian evolution, though a small measure of biological evolution most certainly has operated since. Whether or not the Genesis 1 account demands a universe which is only a few thousand years old is something upon which I remain undecided.
- Christology: Christ is the Word of God. Word refers to revelation, and understanding. It is through Christ that we see God and understand who He is. God has revealed Himself in Christ, for Christ is God incarnate (Jn 1:14). Because of this, we say that Christ is a singular person (Christ's actions, relations, and decisions are one) but has two distinct natures, human and divine. Some aspects of these natures are completely contradictory, such as ignorance and omniscience, reliance and omnipotence, locality and omnipresence. Furthermore, Christ possessed two sources of understanding and two distinct wills. However, all of these opposing forces within Christ were settled, for Christ's humanity was in perfect submission to the Father, and as such, the human and the divine perfectly acted as one in Christ. Therefore, though Christ's possesses incredibly different opposing forces within Himself, He is able to act and be as one.
- Soteriology: I am an Arminian. An Arminian is someone who believes that
- Human kind is in a state of complete inability to do good of any kind, and cannot approach God without God first approaching them.
- That God, in His gracious and unnecessary desire to save the whole world, sent the Son into the world, to die on the cross for the sins of each and every person.
- That God has decided to only apply this atonement to those who have faith in His Son.
- Because humanity cannot generate faith on their own (see A), God has given a measure of grace to each and every person to enable to them to come to saving faith if they so chose. This same grace also gives them the opportunity and ability to reject God's gracious offer of redemption.
- That it is impossible for any spiritual, physical, or social force to over power God and pull us away from Him after we have accepted His Son. However, I confess that God still has the right to forsake us if we turn our backs on Him and the Son.
- Pneumatology: On the day of Pentecost, God sent His Holy Spirit to all of His people to empower them to do the work of the church, and to guide them in their personal lives. Through the Spirit, we are currently being perfected and reformed into the image of Christ, and possess the perfect guide to life.
- Supernatural: I believe that it is illogical to believe that He who is omnipotent and has invested the very life of His Son into this world, would cease to act within it. I further believe that it is illogical to think that those movements of God that were needed in the first century church are unnecessary now. Therefore, I believe that the Spirit of God moves and acts in powerful and supernatural signs among those who possess faith in those signs, for the empowering of His saints to proclaim the good news of our Lord.
- Revelation: It is impossible to say or know anything definite about God without God revealing it. Therefore, God has provided a witness of His revelation of Himself to mankind throughout the ages, as recorded in the canon of Holy Scriptures: what we call the Bible. This is the infallible witness of who God is, and what God's goals and plans are. We also refer to this as "specific revelation" for it is given to a specific people, the Church. But God also reveals Himself through all by what we call "general revelation" which is the testimony of God in nature, and the inner workings of the heart by the Spirit of God in all. However, only the Bible can provide definitive statements about God and His purposes.
- Hermeneutics: I believe in the basic assumption that all of Scripture is intended to teach us the correct world view. Therefore, I believe that the proper way of approaching a biblical theology is to construct a world view out of the Old Testament text, and then allow the Christ Event as recorded in the four Gospels to invade, challenge, and reshape that world view, with the testimony of the apostles as a guide. I believe in taking in the Bible as a full and continuous witness, and not as a collection of aphorisms.
- Language: I have a deep passion for language. Language is the medium of thought, and the more mastery of language one possesses, the higher one's thoughts can become. I am also concerned with rhetoric, for the Christian Church has something very important to say, and it is therefore imperative that we learn to say it well.
- Ecclesiology: The Church is God's chosen people. It is a body set apart from the rest of the world to be God's voice, hands and feet. The Church is not a collection of individual persons who happen to believe in the same thing, but is an entity unto itself. Believers join the Church to join Christ, and when you join Christ, you join the Church. One cannot be a Christian and remain away from His body, anymore than a finger can exist apart from its body.
There is the true Church, which is the spiritual people of God, which is not defined structures, rules, or systems. Instead it is defined by Christ, and all those who are connected to Him. There is also the Church manifested, which is the structures, rules and systems which we can see and touch. This is a mere reflection of the true Church, and one can belong to one without belonging to another.
- Tradition: I am paleo-orthodox, following the proposals of Thomas Oden. To that affect, I except only the Bible as an infallible witness to the Almighty God, but I submit myself to the tested wiser saints who have come before me as fallible guides to understanding that witness. The goal of theology is to consider the full history and expression of God's people, and attempt to search for God where those expressions collide.
- Sacramentology: Though I believe that God moves in power through particular actions, I do not believe it is because of the actions themselves that God grants them power, but because of the faith of the participants. I believe that there exist three particular acts which God has ordained to display His will and nature to the Church, and through which He has intended to act:
- Baptism: where one who has confessed Christ both in his/her heart and by his/her word is fully immersed into a body of water, symbolizing the death of the old, and the birth of the new through cleansing water. It is by this act the God intended persons to be initiated into His church, and in this act, when done in faith, God will grant a person a blessing of protection by His Holy Spirit.
- Communion: which is a simplified version of Christ's final celebration of the Passover Festival. The regular consumption of the cup and the bread serve as a memorial for the sacrifice of Christ for believers, and when taken in faith, provides spiritual sustenance for the believer.
- Marriage: which is a institution for one man and one woman, created by God to demonstrate His love and commitment to His people. It is through a wedding that God enters into a marriage and perfects the union of two imperfect persons, for the provision of godly offspring, and for the edification of each other. Though the persons remain imperfect, the union is perfect as long as it remains centered on Him.
- The Social and Moral Responsibilities of the Church: The Church possesses two primary responsibilities: providing for those who cannot provide from themselves and bringing salvation to those who are currently walking the path to destruction. First, a Christian who is not concerned about helping the poor and needy is a Christian who has abandoned the heart and confession of God.
Second, considering the truth of the nature of the gospel, it is immoral for any Christian to withhold its saving power to those around him/her.
Third, it is important for a Christian to keep evangelism as a higher mental priority than social justice, for what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, but forfeit his soul? Furthermore, because social justice can also be an avenue for evangelism, keeping evangelism as a higher mental priority will keep the two equal in action.
- Relation of Church and State: I believe that we are to be in the world and not of the world. Therefore, the Church's interaction with the state should be predicated on the nature of the state within which she is found. Considering current America, it is not the role of the Church to pass laws having Americans behave like Christians, but to confess Christ within this country to generate (or regenerate ;-))Americans who want those laws. The policies of this nation are not determined by truth or righteousness, but by the mindset of its people. Therefore, first we convince the people of truth and righteousness, and then truth and righteousness shall be expressed through the law.
Furthermore, it is wrong for the Church to rely upon and entrust her responsibilities to the government. Though the Church can take advantage of the government's hospitality, it is ultimately impossible for the state to accomplish what the Church was commissioned to do, and when the Church begins to believe otherwise, she becomes lazy.
- Politics: I am a federalist in the literal sense of the world. By this, I mean that this nation was designed to be a federation, now consisting of 50 independent governments, united under a common army and federal power. It is the role of the states to rule over the people, and it is the role of the federal government to rule over the states (and the states only). Economically I am a Capitalist, not because I believe it to be a good or moral system, but because I believe it to be the only system which actually works due to humanity's fallen state.
- Culture: Human beings are designed to be shaped by their relationships. This is for the purpose of having us build each other up, and for us to be shaped by our relationship with God. But in our fallen state, this beautiful aspect of our design has been used to oppress one another, and to keep each other bound to a depraved mind. Therefore, God has set aside a holy people, within which He can build a different culture to shape the worldview and morality of His people, and to act as His voice in a fallen world. The Church must always be counter-cultural, for part of its purpose is to act as a different culture.
- Gender: I believe that there are very real and innate differences between men and women. These differences are there to provide balance within human society and especially within the home. However, these are differences in personalities, not powers and abilities. Therefore, it is improper to deny any occupation, activity, or role to either male or female based upon gender. Instead, we need to base it upon gifts, for if the Spirit gives someone a gift for a ministry, we are not to question the Spirit's wisdom.
- Abortion: Though I do not know exactly at what point a fetus becomes a human being, I do believe that it is more important to ensure that no human being is allowed to die without just cause. For this reason, I believe that the only presently moral approach to abortion is to only allow it in cases where the mother's very life is also in danger of being lost. In those situations, the fetus should still be treated as a human being, and one should allow the Hippocratic oath to determine the appropriate course of action.
- Homosexuality: I believe that according to the Bible, the act of having physical intimate relations of someone of the same gender is considered sin. Furthermore, I agree with Paul's belief as expressed in I Corinthians 6:9-11 that homosexuality is among those actions which is both redeemable and can be repented, but is still considered a sin. Though I am aware that there exist those who are drawn to the action, I believe that through the power of God that drawing can be overcome.
August 13, 2008
I'll keep this simple and go right into the list. I'll use some big terms. Sorry.
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