Below are summary statements on key points of Christian thought and practice. I ride the Protestant river in a Wesleyan-Holiness canoe, striving for purity of doctrine, consistency of practice and teachability of spirit in all of these areas.
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Triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
God is not impassible. Scripture records that He does have emotions. He is not, however, controlled by them.
The Old and New Testament Scriptures are an authentic, Divinely-inspired and reliable record of events, people, places, etc.. Collectively known as the Bible, these Scriptures contain nothing but truth. They are without error. They teach all that is necessary to faith and Christian living.
God made everything and everyone ex nihilo. That is the point of the creation account, not the mechanisms He used in making everything and everyone. The “days” of Genesis 1 & 2 do not have to be interpreted in a strictly literal sense in order to maintain Christian faith (i.e. they may not have been seven 24-hour periods), which means that so-called “Old Earth” or “Progressive” creationists are not heterodox in their beliefs, nor are they promoting or accepting materialistic, Darwinian evolutionary theory. (This is my position). Additionally, Genesis 1-12 should not be read with the assumption that events follow one another in an immediate fashion; it is reasonable to believe that there were stretches of time that we know nothing about.
MAN AND WOMAN
In the making of everything and everyone, God made man and woman, both of whom reflect His image. Man and woman are entirely equal.
Man and woman are also complementary to each other. Each has strengths and weaknesses and needs the other in all areas: physical, mental, emotional. Men are not to dominate. Women are not to dominate.
To sin is to violate God’s law. It is to say, in essence, that God is not in charge.
Humanity is sinful. All are born with a fallen nature and possess a drive to rebel against God. While the image of God within humanity was not fully erased upon the introduction of sin into the world, we must think of ourselves as being fundamentally warped. Without the redemptive action of God in our lives, we will lead lives that are marked by selfish, rebellious and evil patterns.
Sin separates man from God. Man cannot bridge this gap. Therefore, God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, to live perfectly (or “fulfill the Law”) and offer Himself as a sacrifice. He was crucified, buried for three days and rose again.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is offered to the whole of humanity, regardless of race, sex, gender, class, ethnicity or past. Anyone may come to God through Jesus.
Though salvation is offered to all, the atoning work of Christ is sufficient only for those who repent and submit to Him. Salvation is not universal.
Due to the sinful nature of man, it is impossible to choose God without Him granting us the ability to do so. The loving action of the Holy Spirit known as prevenient grace, or the grace that goes before, prepares and enables the sinner to choose God.
Repentance is required for a restored relationship with God. To repent is turn away from something. In doing so, we acknowledge the depth of our depravity and ask Jesus to apply His actions in the Cross and Resurrection to our lives. We submit to His rule over every aspect of our lives. We commit to rejecting sin and obeying God.
When we submit to Him in faith, believing that Jesus died and rose again, we are made right before God.
Upon justification, one is regenerated, or made new in Christ.
The Holy Spirit dwells within believers and speaks to them to convict, guide and comfort; as such, there is room for nothing and nobody else. Believers cannot be demon-possessed.
Believers are enabled by God to have victory over sin. We do not have to live defeated lives and should not continue in willful sin if we are in relationship with Christ. We are to be submitted to Him, recognizing that He has the authority to create the boundaries and define the way. This, of course, does not mean that we will never sin again. It does, however, mean that the overall pattern and habit of our lives is to be one one of obedience to the Lord.
Our faith in shown in our works, or how we live. Thus the Christian life should be marked by growth in grace and love toward all, a firm commitment to sharing the truth of the Good News and the eschewing of sin.
Christians are called to speak for the voiceless, defend the oppressed and care for the widow and the orphaned. This is to be done in the context of spreading the Gospel message, never apart from it.
Christian faith should lead the individual to commit to peace. Violence and the taking of human life is contradictory to the Gospel.
Note: While this is my firm conviction and I do not understand how others draw a different conclusion, I fully respect and do not question the faith of men and women who choose to serve in the military or on the police force.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Music, dance, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, writing, acting, comedy, etc. are to be celebrated, enjoyed (always with Philippians 4:8 in mind) and used in worship.
Men and women of all ages and backgrounds are called and gifted by God to serve Him as He wills and pleases. It is not wrong for women to pursue higher education, work outside the home or serve in pastoral roles.
MARRIAGE AND SEXUALITY
Sex, within the bounds of marriage, is a good gift. Sexual development as part of the maturing process is a good gift. Christians must get over squeamishness about sex and discuss it in an open, healthy way.
The only legitimate marital relationship, as defined in Scripture, is between one man and one woman.
Scripture condemns heterosexual promiscuity, polygamy, homosexuality, adultery, rape, incest, bestiality and pedophilia. This does not mean that those with such inclinations or attractions cannot be saved, but it does mean that those with these desires who claim to follow Christ must submit these desires to Him and live in obedience to His code of sexual ethics.
Members of the Body should faithfully surround these brothers and sisters in order to encourage and support them both in their walk with Christ and in practical aspects, such as providing care for them when ill.
Children are a blessing, not a requirement. Though the normative marital relationship will result in the procreation of children, the infertile and those couples who choose to not have children are not condemned by God. There is no commandment regarding family size or the use of birth control in Scripture. Such decisions are between the couple and God.
Abortion-on-demand is clearly wrong. Men and women should accept responsibility for the creation of life. The practice should be heavily regulated and limited to cases involving danger to the mother’s life. Women who have suffered the violation of rape or the abuse of incest should have immediate access to emergency contraception, i.e. the “morning after” pill, when such violations have occurred. (Please see this statement from Feminists for Life).
The fact remains that many children are born out of wedlock. A pro-life culture cannot be concerned only with the nine months within the womb. Christians must surround and uplift parents and their children. We must provide a culture of support. Instead of condemning and judging, we must show people the love and grace of God. We must open our homes and our hearts to those who clearly need us. We must provide alternatives to abortion and be willing to help.
Marriage is not required for salvation. Single Christians have a vital and unique role to play within the community of faith.
God can and does heal miraculously. He also heals through medical treatment, nutrition and exercise. If healing does not come, if that is not part of His plan, then He will be faithful to pour out peace, patience and strength upon the suffering. It is wrong to believe that the sick are being punished for sin. It is equally wrong to assert that medical treatment and vaccinations are contrary to Christian faith.
Christians need to study Scripture in order to avoid being deceived. This should not take place apart from the community of faith. It is important to receive the input of other believers, both within our own congregations and the long history of Christianity itself, to aid in a proper understanding and application of the text.
All translations, in any language, published and supported by orthodox Christians will guide the reader to salvation and life, despite differences in translation philosophy (i.e. “word for word” or “thought for thought”).
The church does not replace Israel. There is one plan of salvation, but that does not mean God has abandoned His covenant. He has shown and will continue to show Himself faithful on behalf of Israel. Christians should support both the state and Jews everywhere.
Those who have repented of their sin and come under the authority of God will live eternally with Him in Heaven, which is a real place.
Those who do not repent and acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior will be eternally separated from Him in Hell, which is a real place. God does not “send people” to Hell. Those who spend eternity there do so because they freely chose to reject God’s saving hand.
The Lord will one day return, the dead will be raised and the final judgment will take place.