Monday, July 13, 2009

If I have to be labeled...........

Ladies and Gentlemen: As I continue to write about the issue of truth, I am reminded that one particular person came up to me distraught asking why we have all these religions if there is only one way to Christ and heaven. What if we are wrong? and Why do these religions bash each other? What if they are wrong? A set of questions that required very much deep thought and ones that should be wrestled with. As I pondered about this and came up with discussion to help provoke their thought process, I came up with a simple conclusion.......

It is the credibility and belief in the Bible. Is the Bible reliable as a source? Lee Stroebel has done a wonderful job in the Case for Christ explaining his evidence after he was searching for answers and researched the Bible and why we have it today. Where did it come from and how are we expected to believe it? His quest answers alot of questions we all wonder from time to time.

I find it Interesting that there are divisions to how one would approach belief in the Bible. Just as we have Democrats, Independents and Republicans, I am afraid that American Christians have divided themselves also. We have those who believe in liberal theology, mainstream, and conservative fundamentalism.

Got defines Liberal Theology well in my opinion:
In “liberal Christian” teaching, which is not Christian at all, man’s reason is stressed and is treated as the final authority. Liberal theologians seek to reconcile Christianity with secular science and “modern thinking.” In doing so, they treat science as all-knowing and the Bible as fable-laden and false. Genesis’ early chapters are reduced to poetry or fantasy, having a message, but not to be taken literally (in spite of Jesus’ having spoken of those early chapters in literal terms).

They believe that the Bible is "with error" and written by man, not of God. So that means the virgin birth may have been a myth or story as well as Christ's teachings and so on.

The mainstream mindset comes from those in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches today. It is somewhat liturgical but it is simple. The Creed they hold dear is the Nicene Creed of 325 AD.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; 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; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

The quote within this creed that stands out is "according to the Scriptures". Mainstream folk believe in the Scriptures but also believe in the Apostolic Church. This means that the Pope is a direct descendant of Peter and the apostolic tradition continues which includes that only those who are under this apostolic tradition....priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and Pope can interpret and truly teach the Scripture. They have wrote an extensive statement of faith throughout history with their catechism of the church. So men do not have the freedom to interpret Scripture in mainstream Christianity. It must be interpreted for you according to apostolic tradition.

Wikipedia says it best: Through apostolic succession, the Church believes itself to be the continuation of the Christian community founded by Jesus in his consecration of Saint Peter, a view shared by many historians. It has defined its doctrines through various ecumenical councils, following the example set by the first Apostles in the Council of Jerusalem. On the basis of promises made by Jesus to his apostles, described in the Gospels, the Church believes that it is guided by the Holy Spirit and thereby protected from falling into doctrinal error.

Catholic beliefs are based on the deposit of Faith (containing both the Holy Bible and Sacred Tradition) handed down from the time of theApostles, which are interpreted by the Church's teaching authority. Those beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed and formally detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

So the reliance is not on the Bible alone, it is also included Sacred Traditions that have been interpreted by Church leaders of the past.

Fundamentalism: (defined from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Website
1 a
often capitalized : a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching b: the beliefs of this movement c: adherence to such beliefs2: a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles

Here is where the hardliners (some Protestant and mainly Baptist)come in with their belief of Scripture:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. (2000 Baptist Faith and Message...Southern Baptist Convention)

This statement is made to clarify and sum up the belief in Scripture and how it effects those who are conservative fundamentalists. Points to notice: "God's revelation to man" and "It is without error" and "supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried." If you believe in this statement as I highlight these past few viewpoints, then you are definitely a conservative fundamentalist. Long name huh?

There are definite lines in the sand. I am bringing out a few of the many viewpoints, but I am going somewhere with this. I am going to pick on the conservative fundamentalists because I belong there. Which do you affiliate yourself with? Do you truly believe in the Bible and with how much depth? Amazing that this issue has divided "religion" so much throughout the years. But wait, we as a nation are trying to get rid of it altogeher. Until next time!!!


Anonymous said...

I'm such a multifaceted gem but...
I have no problem being labeled a fundamentalist.
fundamentals are the building blocks - the very foundation - on which so much of our lives are (or should be) built.
whether you are building math skills or speaking skills, spelling or batting, the fundamentals are important. And how much more so are those that pertain to eternity.

I like what a friend said about denomination: I'm a Christian who happens to attend a Baptist church. As long as the Bible is being studied/taught, I'll have less to say about someone.

But, brother, it's up to me to know enough of my Lord and Savior to know when a word is not the truth and when to call it out. I still try to encourage all to spend time with Him daily, and not just in prayer. He talks to us through the Bible. That's where more of us need to be.

Gene Pool said...

LIBERAL THEOLOGYL-- “man’s reason is stressed and is treated as the final authority...the Bible...not to be taken literally”

Hmmm. Pastor Brian, it’s been observed that a large portion of Baptist churchgoers claim to be conservative fundamentalists and have actually deluded themselves into believing they are. But in real life their own reasoning is authority, not Scripture. When Scripture conflicts with tradition, what seems to be right, or a lifetime of errant teaching, it gets rationalized and reasoned away. And unfortunately, all too often they end up being church leaders.

No wonder people, especially young people and new believers are distraught with doubt and confusion. They read one thing in Scripture, then witness the opposite in their congregation, including their congregational leadership.

Gene Pool