I believe in God that Father, who created everything.
How did He create it? I don’t know. But I do know that there are things that can be seen with our eyes, through observation and study. Zoology, biology, geography, anthropology, paleontology, astronomy…. these are things that cannot be ignored in favor of a world view that just throws these things away. God didn’t give us eyes to see and minds to think only to have us ignore the world around us. Does that mean the Bible can’t be trusted? No. Does that mean we need to reject science in favor of the Bible? No. They exist in the same universe. They aren’t opposed to each other. In fact there isn’t “Bible” over here and science over there as so many would have us believe. They can co-exist. The Bible isn’t a science manual and science manuals aren’t the Bible. It’s unfair to make them enemies. Creation and Evolution are part of the same thing.
I believe in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Born of a virgin. Crucified to redeem us. Risen from the dead.
This is one that so many non-Christians trip over. Son of God. Born of a virgin. Risen from the dead. Redeem mankind by allowing Himself to be killed. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around these things. Even for people of faith when they sit and think about it too long. Why was a horrible painful death needed? Why wouldn’t God just ‘fix’ things? Why send his son? And what’s with the Trinity? Is Jesus God? So God killed himself? That’s all so… weird.
And it really is. I could write many blog posts about it and still not have something that would make sense to most people. And I would love to talk to you about it if you’d like, but let me be the first to say that sometimes I don’t get it either. And I will also be the first to say that some things I just can’t explain to perfect satisfaction. “Why believe it if you can’t explain it?” Well… again, that’s for another time. So let’s just focus on Jesus.
The Virgin Birth. Necessary for Jesus to be who He was? I believe so. Crucified? What’s that about? Well, it was a common form of execution in those times. Lots of evidence has been found for that, though the exact methods varied. The cross was probably used the most, though trees and posts and fences were used too. But why?
This is where some people will disagree with me. The most common theology is that Jesus was the Final Sacrifice under the laws of Moses. Under those rules, a lamb was sacrificed to pay for one’s sins. Jesus was The Lamb to redeem everyone. There are issues with this view that make it difficult for me. The view that makes much more sense is the ransom view. A ransom needed to be paid and Jesus’ death paid that price. His resurrection was proof that the price was paid. It’s not a popular view in this day and age, but it is a view that is found in the writings of the early church (writings by church leaders 100–1000 years after the events in the Bible.) Origen, Pelagius, and Saint Athanasius are only a few that wrote about this view.
There is much more that can be said here, but it would take too much time and space to explain it all. So let’s press on.
I believe in the Holy Spirit
The third part of the Trinity. The Holy spirit is that part of God that lives and acts in the hearts of people here on Earth. Not through faith healers on TV, not through speaking in tongues in some weird church service, but through the quiet leading and guiding of people that will let themselves listen. In my opinion, these are the people being arrested for feeding the homeless, the ones opening their doors in cold weather to keep the poor warm. They are the ones visiting prisons, helping those with addictions, holding a sign at a gay pride parade that says “I’m sorry for how others have treated you, you are loved”.
I’m off on a rant. Moving on.
I believe in One Church.
And no, that doesn’t mean MY church is right and YOUR church is wrong. It doesn’t mean that that denomination over there is bad and this other one is good. It means that there is one, and only one church. Not a building, not congregation, not race or any of that. All Christians are one. Together we are the One church, no matter where we live or what our differences are. We are one.. The one Church. And there are differences. But there’s a quote attributed to many different writers that reads “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” No matter the source of this quote, it is as things should be. All of us as Christians can agree on some things that are essential. On the rest we should not be so nit-picky, and at all times we need to practice love and generosity.
I believe in the Bible.
This is where I got into trouble recently. And maybe I should address this as it’s own topic, but it flows from all the rest.
The Bible has become so…. I don’t know. Some people assume we need to take it as it is, word for word, as literal, as actual, as 100% the word of God. Jesus believed the old testament, therefore we should to.
And that’s where I argue. I do believe the Bible is the word of God. BUT, the Bible contains both divine and human communication. The human part can be seen in the letters from Paul that make up much of the New Testament, such as the writings in Titus chapter 3 where Paul writes “When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.” If we are to take every word as literal and divinely inspired, are we therefore waiting for Artemas and Tychicus to come to us so we can then go to Nicopolis to visit Paul who is spending the winter there? That’s ridiculous. Not every word is meant to be a rule or a commandment.
It’s important therefore to figure out what part is meant to lead and guide us in our lives and what part is human communication that can be safely… well, ignored isn’t the best word, but accepted as what it is.
I also don’t think that every word of the Bible can be taken as literal history. For example, the parables of Jesus. Are these actual things that actually happened? Was there literally a man that built his house on the rock and another on the sand? Maybe, but maybe not. Is it less true if it’s not TRUE? Does the fact that it’s a story make it less true? What about the psalms? Like the 23rd. Were there literal green pastures that David laid in? Was there a literal valley of death that he walked through? Is that psalm less inspira
tional if it’s not literal? What about psalm 91? Verse 4 says God will cover you with the feathers of His wings? Does God have literal wings with feathers? Is it less true if it’s figurative rather than literal?
And the book of Genesis. This is the heart of my trouble. I suggested in another post that the stories of the Garden of Eden and Noah’s ark don’t need to be literal to be true. Do I personally think that these events happened? At one time, no. At another, yes. At another, no. I struggle. But I like to think I struggle well. (Anyone that doesn’t struggle with what they believe isn’t doing it right in my opinion.) But regardless, the first few chapters of Genesis don’t have to be taken as 100% historical — in my opinion — to be 100% true and 100% trustworthy. Like the parables of Jesus they don’t have to have literally happened to be literally true.
Some took this to mean that I was saying throw it out. You can’t trust it. That’s not what I said at all. I also suggested that maybe these stories came from an earlier source than Moses. Well, if they are history, they would have to. If Moses wrote Genesis, as most believe, and these things happened long before Moses was born, then SOMEONE had to tell Moses about them. Could God have just told these things to Moses? Well, sure. But it’s equally possible that while living in Pharaoh’s palace as a child Moses could have heard these stories, or read them. Or a visitor from another land brought them and shared them. We don’t really know. Does that make them less trustworthy? No. But does that make them historical? I don’t think it has to. Does that mean we can’t trust them and have to accept the purely scientific view? No.
But in the end, how much does our salvation as Christians rely on the book of Genesis? It doesn’t change who Jesus was or what he did or what he does if Genesis is taken out of the Bible. Or Leviticus. Or Habakkuk.
In every bit of the Bible, we can take comfort that it can be trusted, and thankful that it’s here for us to study, but if we’re going to elevate the Bible to the same level as God Himself, then we’re going to miss out on what God can and will do for us NOW.
There is much more I could put into this personal creed, but these are the essentials. There are other things that lead from this, the concept of sin, the need to repent from it, baptism, the Golden Rule, etc.
And now that I’ve ranted myself out, I’ll be done.