Posts Tagged ‘ Doctrine ’

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – My Hymns & Songs – 11/18/2018 – Joy of the Creed

We are back at it looking at songs and hymns that made an impact on my spiritual life! I took last week off from posting songs.  Part of it was not being able to get access to the songs I wanted to use in a usable format (because the band broke up just as YouTube was becoming a thing, and I currently only have access to ripped copies of the CD’s now stored on the cloud.) Part of it was being Veterans Day. Also, as many of you probably understand all to well, there was stress and issues to deal with in life away from the blog.

But this week’s song is a biggie (you know … to me, at least.) It helped me realize the importance of the historical church. Also, when a modern ascetic Christian who made great music thinks it is important, I think it is good to pay attention!

Creed

Lyrics

I believe in god the father
Almighty maker of heaven
and maker of earth
And in Jesus Christ his only begotten son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried

[Chorus]
And I believe what I believe
is what makes me what I am
I did not make it,
no it is making me
It is the very truth of god
and not the invention of any man

I believe that he who suffered
was crucified, buried, and dead
He descended into hell and
on the third day, rose again
He ascended into heaven
where he sits at God’s mighty right hand
I believe that he’s returning
To judge the quick and the dead of the sons of men

[Chorus]

I believe it, I believe it
I believe it
I believe it, I believe it

I believe in god the father
Almighty maker of heaven
and maker of earth
And in Jesus Christ his only
begotten son, our Lord
I believe in the holy spirit
One holy church
The communion of saints
The forgiveness of sin
I believe in the resurrection
I believe in a life that never ends

And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
I did not make it, no it is making me
I said I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of god and not the invention of any man

I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe it
I believe it, I believe it
I believe it, I believe it
I believe it

A few thoughts …

Some do not care for the old creeds. “No creed but Christ,” many of them say. The irony of that credo is … well … as I just said, it is a creed.

What many may fail to realize is that the creeds are not meant to replace Scripture, but they help to clarify what we believe God has revealed to us through Scripture. The creeds help to dispel heresy, false teachings, and misunderstandings.

Rich Mullins based this song off of The Apostles Creed, an ancient, early creed of the Church.


I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

You probably see the similarities. This song is a strong reminder not to “move the ancient boundaries.” (Proverbs 23:10)  Too many people these days are so quick to forget the past with the intention of focusing on loving people. But to ignore the creeds and 2000 years of church history is not the answer. This leads to various problems, as evidenced by the vast number of individuals, groups, churches, and denominations that are abandoning Scriptural truth for modern, “enlightened” teachings.

Instead, we should focus on the sound doctrines and teachings found in the Bible and illuminated by the Church throughout history. These illuminations and teachings should always be measured by the text of Scripture to ensure it is not being twisted. (This is a great definition of “Sola Scriptura” – Scripture Alone.)

VerseD: 1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10, ESV

When we are focused on Christ, everything else becomes relatively unimportant. We may disagree on some things, but we should agree on the foundational beliefs of Christ.

“They will know you by your love for one another.”

Trinitarian Elements of Doctor Who!

Find wisdom in unlikely places, such as through the thoughts of a rag-tag group of pastors, lay-leaders, and a young woman at Proverbial Thought!

If you have followed by blog for a reasonable amount of time, you may have learned I am a Whovian, a fan of the British sci-fi television show Doctor Who. The Doctor is a time-travelling alien who looks human, but he is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He is able to escape death by regenerating (all Time Lords can do this), but this has the side-effect of changing his appearance and personality while still being in essence himself.

The topic at hand, however, is one of his companions. He picks up companions frequently, usually from Earth but not always. For the show, companions act as a sort-of stand-in for the audience to ask the questions we might ask … or to simply help move the plot along.

Before I continue, however, I must warn of possible spoilers, specifically about an episode from Spring of 2013, The Name of the Doctor. If you do not wish to have anything spoiled as you watch through the series, you may wish to stop reading now!

How the Trinity Works Its Way into Doctor Who

In the above mentioned episode Clara Oswald helps the Doctor in a big way.

It must first be known that she is called “The Impossible Girl” because she was first seen earlier in the season in an episode in humanity’s future in which she saved the Doctor and his companions. In that season’s Christmas special, she saved the Doctor in Earth’s past.

This is the episode in which we find out how she could have existed hundreds or thousands of years in the past or future and exist in the present.

Clara “Oswin” Oswald, to save the Doctor from being torn from Time/Space by an enemy, jumps into the Doctor’s personal Time-stream. In doing so, copies of her are seeded throughout his lifetime to help him at important junctures in life and thus help him retain his Time-memory and not cease to exist. (Yes, it is very complicated. Just know that she was able to help him in every regeneration the Doctor has had.)

Recently, I have read some articles critiquing newer episodes, especially in connection with Clara’s personality and memory of these other events.

A friend and I noticed how religious some fans get over this show, and how like Christians they act over “dogma” and ideas they have but do not fully understand about the show and its characters.

How Clara Is Like the Trinity

In this similarity, Christians do not understand things such as the Trinity, and this misunderstanding throws off other elements of their theology.

The Doctrine of the Trinity is simply that God exists as three distinct Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) yet is a single Being. The word “trinity” never appears in Scripture, but it has been deduced from Scripture (e.g. see Matthew 3:16-17 which has all three Persons present simultaneously).

Clara helps demonstrate this (and, please remember from here on out that nothing can adequately explain/compare to the concept of the Trinity. Our finite brains will always struggle with this concept) in that while she was interjected into various points along the Doctor’s timeline, each “incarnation” experienced birth, life, and death in each context. Therefore, while each and every “Clara” is, was, and will be Clara, they are never exactly the Clara who is the current companion of the Doctor.

In a sense, she is one being who has been many persons in the Doctor’s life.

It is no wonder, then, that so many people, many of whom are not necessarily Christians if not agnostics/atheists, struggle with this concept of Clara.

If Christians have been arguing about this concept for two thousand years, why should we expect anyone to grasp a fictional adaptation (that was not intended as such by the writers of the show)?

A Simple Look at the Trinity

Look at the wisdom available at Proverbial Thought!

There is an objection to Christianity, or even within Christianity, which may be raised: the Doctrine of the Trinity.

There are various sources of this argument: Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, Muslims, Jews, and many other sources including some people from church who may have doubts.

The biggest reason is that the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible. The Trinity is the belief that God is one Being with three distinct Persons (not simply personalities): God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.

This is true, but there are many things that are believed by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and various cults and belief systems that are not found in scriptures. They are inferred from readings. (One example could be “falling in love with Jesus”. Not in the Bible, but the phrase conveys the need to discover the truth, grace, and love of God that can change your life.)

However, the title says this is a simple look at the Trinity. Therefore, I will merely give a mental exercise which can also be used as a form of apologetics:

To the objection that there is no Trinity and Christians worship three gods:

Look at this man (any man, really). He is a father. There is his child. Do you dispute he is a father?

Look at this same man. Here is his father. Is this man also a son? How can he be two different people.

Look at this same man. He has a license to heal the sick and prescribe medicine. Is this man also a doctor? How can he be three different people.

Obviously I must be talking about three different men, right?

Please remember, there is no perfect analogy for describing/explaining God. This is not me trying to say I understand God. This is merely a tool to help us understand a little better how God can be three and one at the same time.

It is my prayer that this may help you in understanding your faith in a better way or in sharing your faith with others.

If you are not a Christian as you read this, I pray you may understand better what Christians truly believe. Naturally, I hope you would also come to believe as I do in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world!

Bad Teacher

First of all, do not forget to get some wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

Today’s post is not about a movie starring Cameron Diaz. Rather, true to this blog, today’s post is about theology.

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience(and a sincere faith.Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
1 Timothy 1:5-7

To tell you the truth, this passage scares me.

I am a big believer in God speaking through dreams (but not all dreams). I am big believer in God speaking through visions. I believe prophecy still happens.

I have had dreams and visions in which I speak to a large audience (perhaps blogging will be that realization?). I have had others (both Christians and non-Christians) say or speak over me (either specifically as prophetic or “in passing”) that they see me one day leading ministries and/or a congregation (or congregations) or speaking to large groups.

This scares me simply because I know my past and how I have treated theology and teaching. What if God eventually calls me to be a pastor/priest over First Church of Hometown, USA?

I hate to break it to you (tongue-in-cheek), but there are many teachers and preachers today who simply should not be. These are men and women who replace love of God and/or people with a love of money, power, influence, or popularity. These are men and women who either do not have or have lost a pure heart and good conscience. These are men and women may or may not have a sincere faith, but the question becomes where that sincerity or where that faith truly lies.

I may step on some toes and perhaps offend here, but here are some examples of things people teach and confidently affirm without really knowing what they are talking about:

  • God wants you happy and financially rich in this life. There is never a biblical guarantee that all godly people will have both or either of these in this life. In fact, there are promises of the opposite for the believer in Christ.
  • There is no Trinity. Quite frankly, Christianity falls apart without the Trinity. My Catholic brother Richard has begun covering this over at CatholicBoyRichard.
  • Women have no place in ministry. Let me just say that people who believe this are complete idiots. They may be very intelligent, but they really stupid.
  • Jesus sinned. The faith falls apart if this is true. I cannot express enough how important this is and how false and straight from the pits of Hell this is.
  • God hates ... This one is taken specifically from Westboro Baptist Church, the people who say “God hates fags” along with many other people. It is this kind of “christian” (not just those who blatantly call for the destruction of others, but also those who promote hatred through favoritism, indifference, and bigotry [misunderstanding mixed with fear]) who gives the Church the bad name we seem to see and hear about today.

There is a long, long list, and I know I have been guilty of at least all of these at one time or another. Paul listed a few others to Timothy:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith.The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Timothy 1:3-11

How can we – how can I – know we are staying true to good teaching? How can we know our teachers and preachers are staying true to good teaching?

The simple answer:

We must continue studying together. We must not give up on the traditions from Church history (and before some complain, where do you think our Bible and even most of our liturgy, keeping in mind I currently attend and serve in a non-denominational church, came from? Why do we know many of the facts we know about the early Church? From what did Christianity arise?). We must always strive to express the love of God to all people.

Black Mark

There is the belief among most Christians that since Adam and Eve all of humanity is under the curse of sin. Many argue that it is inherited through birth. Many others argue that it comes through our own decisions in life. Many others still do not care enough or feel they are not smart enough to grasp the concept; it is enough for them to know that the Bible says we are sinful (see Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20; Romans 3:9-12) and in need of a Savior.

How could it be possible to carry forward sin?

Is it not as though God is condemning everyone for the fault of two?

Consider:

A woman does drugs for years. In a time of desperation, she has sex with a dealer to get her drugs, and this act led to pregnancy. The woman is so dependent on drugs that she continues abusing them throughout her pregnancy. Her baby is then born addicted to those drugs. The child did nothing wrong, but must suffer for the sins of the mother. It was passed along.

A man acquires AIDS through his promiscuity, but he does not realize it until he is married. He and his wife now have AIDS and then have a child. This child is also born with AIDS, again at no personal fault. It was passed along.

A single dad plays the lottery with the dream of making the life of his family better. He squanders his money on lottery tickets to the point of neglecting bills. He dies as his child comes of legal age. The child inherits the father’s debt and follows the example given and gambles to attempt to raise the money needed. The child did not create the financial mess. It was passed along … as well as the behavior that created the mess.

Is sin something that is genetically passed on? Quite frankly, I do not know. However, we can see evidence that a sinful nature is present early on in the way our children only think of themselves. Granted, they cannot help it too much. Children are born rather powerless to change their situation and require a lot of help.

A friend of mine shared a story a few years ago. His family runs a business making plastics. People have to help the system along and inspect the final product. Part of the process is to move some containers from one part of the machine to another, but they have to be careful to not touch them with their hands otherwise a black mark appears on the plastic. It is also possible that touching part of the machine that handles the plastics can cause each of the containers to get identical black marks. Another part of the process is for the inspectors to watch for damaged, misshapen, or tarnished items and pull them off the line. If they miss one, it ends up going out on the market where someone buys it, takes it home, and discovers the problem. The only way to remove the stain or fix the impurities is to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of cleaning the machine and sending the product back to be melted down, refined, and sent through the process again.

Our actions always have consequences. Sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are bad. Our ancestors took an action that they technically knew was bad. Ever since, we are all stained with a black mark. It is as though they took God’s creation, us, and handled it improperly. Their fingerprint stained us.

God, however, inspects every single one of us. He was not content to let us remain with that stain. He sent His Son to show just how rough the remaking process would be. He took the time and paid the price. His blood cleansed the dirt. Our part is to let Him work us through the furnace that removes that black mark we carry, to let Him reshape us in the image of His Son.

One in Heart and Mind

There is a lot going on in the world today. There always has, but there are definitely more ways in which everything can happen.

Also, we often have almost instantaneous access to the news about almost everything.

We are also able to say what we think about everything almost instantly. Sometimes mistakes are made (such as John Piper bidding a “Farewell, Rob Bell” to the wrong Rob Bell), and sometimes toes are stepped on (such as Rob Bell’s, as of late).

Rachel Held Evans talked about this very thing in relation to the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed. I completely, 100% agree with what she said.

She also is encouraging some fun and togetherness. Rachel was inspired by our nation’s two favorite “news authorities” – Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert – to declare this week the “Rally to Restore Unity” for Christianity. We are even trying to help our world’s water needs with Charity: Water. I have failed to make a sign, but here is my contribution to the blogging part:

D.O.C.T.R.I.N.E.

People have a tendency to forego reason if for only a moment to voice their opinion. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are wrong. Sometimes they think they are right for one reason that is actually wrong even though they are right. Sometimes … we just can not know.

Sometimes there are good reasons for coming to the reached conclusions. Sometimes conclusions are reached simply to go against what is commonly held. It is never a good idea to disregard history. Many Protestants have done this in the last five centuries, often to their – and our – detriment, but of course not always.

Hank Hanegraaff came up with an idea for agreeing on church doctrines that should work in unifying believers. I have modified it slightly, but you can find the original article here (subscription required). Using the letters of doctrine, he made an acrostic:

  • Deity of Christ
  • Original sin
  • Canon
  • Trinity
  • Resurrection
  • Incarnation
  • New creation
  • Eschatology

Basically, we should all agree that Jesus is God (John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, Revelation 1), all humans are sinful (Romans 3:23), we have divinely inspired scriptures on which to base our understanding of God and ourselves (2 Timothy 3:16), being one God is also three (1 Corinthians 8:6, Hebrews 1:8, Acts 5:3-4), Jesus died and rose again and will resurrect believers (1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), God became man – fully God and fully man (John 1:1, 14), we are a new creation and all things will one day be made new (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 8:18-25, Revelation 21), and this world will one day cease to exist as it is – even non-Christians believe this, we just hold that God shall renew it (mentioned in Resurrection and New creation).

We might disagree over what sin is, what “divinely inspired” means, what exactly “canon” and “scripture” entails, or how and when this world comes to an end; but that should be secondary. The only thing that comes from arguing about these meanings is division. The only arguments that are valid are those that bolster truth and unity. If we resort to declaring all angels have wings and only 144,000 people get into heaven and blue carpeting is better than beige (for a couple examples out of countless others) and declare it as ultimate truth, we are saying we fully understand God how His plan works. This is blasphemy and unscriptural (yes, I declared an absolute truth that can offend, and we should not dare to presume we understand God. See also here and here). The first believers were Jews who could not agree on whether or not the scriptures should be read in the original Hebrew/Aramaic or Greek, yet the Bible says that in Christ they were united in one heart and mind.

We should agree our God loves us. Everyone, even Osama bin Laden, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush. Even you. Even me.

We should agree God is God and we are not.

We should agree that we need God.

We should agree that we need each other.

We should agree that only God knows what is truly happening and will happen.

We should stop bickering and fighting: Jesus said so. Paul reminded us. At least twice more.

Love one another. Please, for Christ’s sake. Literally.