Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Blast from the Past on God

"All existence originates from the Father. In Christ and through Christ, God is the source of everything. In contrast to everything else, He is completely self-existent. ... He is infinite, for nothing can contain Him. ... He is eternally prior to time, for time is His creation. Imagine what you think might be God's farthest limit, and you will find Him present there. ... Words will fail you, but His being will not be restrained. ... Exercise your intellect to comprehend Him as a whole, but He will eluse you. ... Therefore, since no one knows the Father but the Son, let our thoughts of the Father be one with the thoughts of the Son. He is the only faithful Witness who reveals God to us."

— Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bible Links

420 Tips on How to Use Bible Commentaries

"It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. ... A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences" (CH Spurgeon).

4The Sweep of the Bible in Two Weeks

"If a freshman in college or stay-at-home mom or aspiring deacon or friend from work or anyone else asked me how they might get a rough grasp of the macro-storyline of the Bible in a few weeks, I'd send them not to any secondary resource but to the Bible itself for a reading plan that might look something like this."

4Seven Common Fallacies of Biblical Interpretation

Seven ways we all too easily go astray.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Believe

Can you sum up what you believe succinctly?

I was asked for a "statement of faith," and that gave me some pause; I've never really thought about it in those terms. What should I say? What should I put in or leave out.

Then I realized the answer was very simple:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence 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.
The Church has had to answer the question "what do we believe" many times throughout its history. There are lots of things Christians debate among themselves. We've split every hair, sometimes two or three times, but there are some basics — things that you have to believe to be "Christian." You can be a disciple of Jesus and disagree with these things, but the word Christian means something.

Specifically, all Christians believe what is contained in the Apostles' Creed (above) or the Nicene Creed, which fleshes it out a bit more — especially the deity of Christ, which becomes:

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of His Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father,
by whom all things were made;

If you don't agree with everything there, you want to go into it with your eyes open. What do you disagree with? Why? They certainly knew why they put it in.

(I have a problem with that "descended into hell" bit. I know where it comes from, and I know why I disagree. I can live with hanging an asterisk on it, noting that "descended into hell" doesn't necessarily mean that Christ suffered in hell, but I wish it wasn't there.)

Christianity is a personal relationship. It's also a community. And even though I appreciate, and occasionally use, the freedom to disagree with anyone and everyone, I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to invent the wheel on this thing. As the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants, our fathers in the faith who struggled with the big questions long before we were born.