Holy Spirit History, Batman!

There is a lot of history behind beliefs of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit. Way more than I could really fit into one blog. Therefore, I will keep this short.

One of the big controversies started (or became famous) with Arius around the beginning of the 4th Century, and some people still hold to some of his teachings today. His teachings – known as Arianism – stated that Jesus Christ was born in eternity and that He and the Father created the Holy Spirit. If this is true, then worship of and prayers to the Holy Spirit would be wrong since they are going to a created being. This is idolatry.

However, a man by the name of Constantine became a Christian early in the 4th Century. In 323 he became Emperor of the Roman Empire. In 325 he called together the Council of Nicaea to help dispel any disagreements and even heresies (as well as help unite the Empire). It was at this council that we got the beginnings of what is known as the Nicene Creed, which basically took the Apostles’ Creed and expounded on it. It was not until the Council of Constantinople in 381 that it was completed. This Creed is still used in almost all churches in the world. There is one part in particular that we are going to read:

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

It sure seems we should worship (and maybe even pray to) the Holy Spirit.

New (old) information is fun! After reading the last post and now this one, what thoughts do we have? (The next post I will put out some views of my own)

O, Holy Spirit, we beseech Thee!

Holy SpiritSeveral things have happened in recent weeks that kind of rocked my brain a bit.
One was hearing a dear friend suddenly exclaim “You do not worship or pray to the Holy Spirit!”
One was the topic coming up in my classes.
One was my remembering thinking about it several times over the past decade and having some random person online ask me about the role of the Holy Spirit.

Can we or should we worship and/or pray to the Holy Spirit?

I have heard arguments on both sides for years. One extreme is saying the Holy Spirit does not work anymore, the other extreme is that we need to focus primarily on the workings of the Holy Spirit. In the last couple of weeks, I have read that these issues have been debated and even fought over throughout the last two milennia on several occasions. That is one reason we have some of the Creeds.
But the question remains: Should we?
A few of the arguments I have heard are listed below, and just so we are clear these are arguments I have heard/read and not necessarily what I believe. As a list of pro’s and cons:

Pro’s (Why we should)
Con’s (Why we should not)
Connects us to God in Heaven
Is still with us here on Earth, not in Heaven
Is Jesus Christ within us
Pushes us towards faith in Jesus Christ
Is God helping us to do good works or doing works through us
Is merely a guide (Counselor)
Any thoughts? Throw me some feedback! Maybe we can get a good conversation going!

We Are Called

I wrote a poem this past week, and I thought I would share it. Think If We Are the Body by Casting Crowns:

We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.
We must remember that they reached out to heal hurts.
We must remember that they carried the good news.
We must remember that they touched the lepers.
We must remember that they went to the cross.
We must remember that they took nails for sinners.

We are called to be the Body of Christ.
We must remember that it embodied grace.
We must remember that it held the sick and dead.
We must remember that it loved through our hate.
We must remember that it removed all our sin.
We must remember that it took our place.

We are called to be ambassadors of Christ.
If His hands and feet were pierced on the cross,
If He touched the unclean and destitute,
If He showed love and grace to each of us,
If He gave His life to show this to the world,
Then are we portraying the true Jesus?

I just started thinking about “Jesus’ hands, feet, and body were bruised and scarred; so how come so many in the West rarely show their scars and bruises?” The poem just kind of flowed out.

If you like, I can keep posting poetry I write. Just let me know. It will take a few Facebook likes and comments here and on Facebook for me to consider it, though!

Grace and Peace!

©

Love the Sinner, Acknowledge the Sin

Jesus loves everyone!

Love the sinner, hate the sin!

That is a slogan we are used to hearing. I have used it myself.

Would it be better to say “Love the sinner, acknowledge the sin”?

I can already hear some people saying “But you can’t call people sinners! It is too offensive!”

My response: “I get offended the way some feminists say “man” or “men”. I get offended when black/dark-skinned-Americans (because, seriously, YOU WERE NOT BORN IN AFRICA! I am not a “European-American” and you are not an “African-American”! Most of your families have been in the United States for generations! I guess this is another offense. “Asian-“, “Mexican-“, “African-“, and any other “whatever-Americans” are those who have immigrated here and earned citizenship. If you are born here, you are AMERICAN.) … anyway, I get offended when blacks call each other (for those who are too sensitive, I will censor myself this time) “the n-word” but get upset when someone says it – even when quoting someone. I get offended the way some people say “Christian”. I get offended by the way some Christians say … a lot of things Christians say!

Therefore, perhaps it is not the word that is offensive, just the way it is said or used or perceived. I know I did not like being called a sinner when I heard “those Christians” say it before I became a believer. When I started going to church, however, it was presented as “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (see Romans 3:23, if you are wondering), and informed every single person who has lived (short of Jesus, but He is also God!) is a sinner. They explained why we are all sinners.

Get over yourself.

Back to the point …

Maybe we should just learn to love others. “But they party all the time!” “But he’s gay!” “But she had a baby outside of marriage!”

What did you do? Who are you?

“But God  demonstrates  His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,  Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NASB)

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:7-9, NLT)

I am pretty sure love is important (not mushy feelings, the willful decision to care).

We might also want to tread carefully if a something is the central focus of a person’s life. Homosexuality is not an act, it is a way of life. Alcoholism is not an act, it is either a mental disorder, a way to deal with life, or simply all that is known by them. This also goes for many addictions, habits, and lifestyles. I grew up gossiping, angry, and violent. It was what I saw all around me, it was all I knew, and it took a while to change.

I am not saying homosexuality and alcoholism are the same thing. Read my last post! Perhaps people really can be born a certain way! We do know some alcoholics are born lacking a chemical that alcohol (and sometimes drugs) fill (I read it in an AA booklet from a friend and have seen medical reports on it … I wish I could remember the name!) There are also women in India (I forget what the name is) who have very masculine features (and are considered holy).

Can I get some feedback?! (think black preacher voice for that question: “Can I get a witness?!”-style. I really enjoy their enthusiasm and the way their voices sound!) What are some thoughts? Let’s get some conversations started!

Undercover Outcast

Some Christians are gayI have been reading a lot of blogs recently all asking many similar questions and treading on dangerous theological grounds.

My turn!

Born a certain way

We hear the common argument for lifestyles, behaviors, and other issues that are attributed to sin or not wanting to do something of “But I was born this way.” The most vocal people using this argument right now are homosexuals. Can we accept this argument? We do not see any genetic reason that this is true (but maybe we could?). If we are born into sin, then is it not possible to be born gay? I do not agree that trans-gendered individuals or cross-dressers can use this argument. The claim then becomes “God made a mistake with me, so I am getting back into His will.”

I am sorry, but if God made a mistake about that opens up the possibility nothing is really true. If that is true, then Jesus’ words (“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”) are not true and Scripture is wrong. To claim to believe that God made a mistake with you contradicts God’s word.

But what about homosexuality or addictions or various sinful behaviors?

Sinners’ Prayers are not answered

One thing I have heard frequently in my life is that God does not listen to the prayers of sinners (meaning those who have not “accepted Christ” or something like that). My theological world has been rocked many times in the past year, and one area where this has happened is with this very issue.

I know someone who “prayed the prayer of salvation” years ago. This person was baptized. A couple years after being baptized, this person went off to college and began dating people … wait for it … of the SAME gender! I was sure this loved one was now on a sure road to Hell.

This past summer (2010), this person was in desperate need and prayed to God for help.

He answered that prayer. That prayer was answered in amazing ways. How can this be?

Calvinist Elect or God’s Grace?

I have never been a full-fledged Calvinist. In fact, I learned over the past few years that I was more Arminian than Calvinist. One thing I have always believed is that God’s grace is greater than anything I can understand.

Why were these prayers answered? Is this person one of God’s elect? What does that even mean?

This event did remind me of something else, however.

This Christian Sinner was redeemed

A few years back I was in a relationship that I allowed to come between God and me. I became more of a sinner than I was before Christ found me. (There is a sentence full of theological conversation starters!) I broke promises I had made to myself and God and others. My fruit was decidedly not of the Spirit. I have stories that almost embarrass me today.

But God brought be back. He answered many of my prayers during that period of my life.

If He listened to me, why not others?

Is homosexuality a bad enough sin that it can separate someone who believes from contact with God? What about gambling, drunkenness, promiscuity, being a politician, vegetarianism, pornography, or whatever?

1 John – and even Galatians 5 – talks about not having God in us or missing out on the Kingdom if we keep on sinning. It can be quite confusing.

Any thoughts on this? Am I getting to heretical, or is it entirely possible that God will still save those of us who adopt different lifestyles and sins?

I Love Temptation!

TemptingAre you finding yourself desiring things or people or whatever it is you find yourself not having? Do you want to do things that others say you probably should avoid? Do you enjoy lying, cheating, stealing, or otherwise not being honest with others?

If you answered yes to any of these (or all), then have I got news for you!

You are either a really vile person or a really great person!

What do I mean by that? Well, am I ever glad you asked.

Is it possible that the majority of humanity is never tempted by the Devil (or lesser known demons)?

There is a bumper sticker I have seen multiple times (as well as various other places other than stickers) which says something to the effect of “Lead me not into temptation. I already live there.” Perhaps this little quip actually says something.

What if the demonic realm leaves most humanity alone? What if their main focus is on those most likely to do good? Not just any good, but the good done to glorify God?

Peter did tell us that “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV).

This is a warning to believers. And, anyway, I have a real point:

I like temptation because it tells me that someone [Satan and his ilk] is scared and jealous of what we can do for God. If we are not being tempted, are we honestly following God?

Birthing Controversy

Just a word of warning, some of today’s material may not be suitable for the younguns. It is up to your discretionFamily Planning storefront.

I thought it would be a funny good follow-up to a Valentine’s Day series about love to talk about birth control!

One of the passages I think is among the most misused and misquoted is from Genesis 38 (Taken from the NIV):

Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

This passage is frequently quoted as proof that we should not masturbate or use birth control.

My thoughts on this passage: Do not use selfish motives! Seriously, Onan was not struck dead for masturbating, he just did not want to father a child who was not his. To help us understand, it is like a couple who cannot have children asking friends to donate sperm and/or eggs for in vitro fertilization (making babies with science, not sex). The friends do not want to help out because they would not get to be the parent of the child even though the child would have their DNA. The difference here is instead of politely declining it would be like they donated the necessary goods and then had the doctors mess up/destroy the so-called goods. Then they blamed the doctors for why this couple did not have children.

Before I get into texts that could argue against birth control, I will argue for it!

We have several medical and technological thingies which (unless you are from a denomination/sect/religion/cult [and I am not equating any of those with others, merely grouping!] which says avoid them) we are okay with using or even say something along the lines of “God has given us the ability to create/do these things that improve our lives, including the miracle of medicine!”

[Disclaimer: I am not suddenly endorsing sex outside of marriage! Take everything I say within the context of marriage!]

How come when it comes to condoms or medicine (The Pill) and other such things, it is wrong? Do these things cause physical harm to people?

Actually, many “contraceptives” are actually things which affect the chemistry of your body, maybe even your emotions, and in many cases are nothing more than abortion pills or whatever. Chemicals can harm the body and mind, and abortions do harm women (let alone the “fetus”). This is not a message about abortion, so I will move on from that for now, but these things actually do have the possibility of harming living things (whether a baby/fertilized egg – to be momentarily PC – or the woman herself).

What about condoms? They are a piece of rubbery plastic material (actually, they are usually latex) a person wears (there are male and female versions) with the primary intention of stopping sperm from getting to eggs. Some do use spermicide to accomplish this, which I think is a bad idea just in case it harms us in some way. There is also a debate about whether or not condoms can protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) (do an internet search to see, such as that lower quality condoms can have holes up to 100 times bigger than the HIV virus). I will just point out, condoms are not 100% effective against preventing diseases or pregnancy (Ask my mom’s parents).

Quite honestly, the safest way to avoid “an accident” that will literally change your life forever is to not have sex. If married, we can argue that if the device or medicine used has no physical side effects and does not induce an abortion it is okay to use it. God has given us the ability to create these, so why not? (Also, this argument can not and should not be used for weapons, pornography, or anything else. The argument I am presenting is for things which do not harm others or go against God’s word.) We are merely utilizing a resource God has provided.

Now for the part where I mention reasons why we might not want to use contraception!

There are arguments flying around that “It is a woman’s body, so it is her choice” about having sex, getting an abortion, inserting things or ingesting/injecting stuff that prevents or stops pregnancies. Well, guess what the Bible talks about? Yep, this very subject:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything . . . . Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20, NIV)

Okay. Obviously we should not have sex outside of marriage. It seems we should also treat our bodies with respect, so it would be best to avoid those things which can harm the body.

If you are someone who denies the Bible has any authority, if you just demand physical proof that abortions are bad, start here. There are way more sources to consult, as well. (I stopped supporting abortions before I believed Jesus is the Son of God, before I was sure God was real, and before I attended church. I also did not want to have sex outside of marriage for two reasons: I did not want to get a disease or have to “deal with” a baby. Again, before following Christ.)

What about condoms and other “safe” options?

Other than what I have already mentioned about the chances that they can fail, I think there are two good arguments.

One is that God can do what He wants. If you are meant to get pregnant, your birth control will fail. If you do not like that little nugget, I am sorry but … well … deal.

Two is that it could very well be argued that we are giving into temptation. What temptation, you ask? The same sin that has plagued humanity from the beginning: To be like God. We want to have control, so this is one area we can take some control. How about this little quote from Jesus and Deuteronomy:

“Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

I guess it comes down to you. I have listed arguments for both sides and statistics. Any thoughts? Where do you stand?