in the past several days, we’ve introduced our basics series at the WayWard follower. the stated purpose has been to articulate for my readers where i stand on certain theological tenet, declaring a ‘water-line’ of sorts for future conversations.
and now we’re getting into the good stuff.
this list of my non-negotiable doctrines has grown smaller over time, yet i have grown increasingly more secure in those which have remained.
my hope is that in my desire to honor the history and practical outworking of the christian faith i would maintain a teachable spirit- that i might enter into dialogue and discourse with humility, even where others may disagree.
the following outlines are my theological non-negotiables in my current understanding of orthodoxy – the essentials for understanding the foundation of my christian faith.
it is not a lengthy apologetic on all that i believe; rather, it is a snapshot of what i consider most important, as i seek to be informed by scripture, history and the voices of other believers – past and present ::
i believe that the scriptures teach that God is the creator of all things. this creation is attributed to the triune Godhead :: to the father, the son, and the holy spirit. God created the whole of the universe, the heavens and the earth and everything in them.
i believe that God’s creation is good in intention, design and essence – and that God created humanity in his own image and for his own purpose. both men and women together reflect God’s image. we are therefore both privileged and responsible.
as image bearers, we bear a special relationship to God and have a specific role in restoring and reconciling creation to its harmonious relationship with its Creator God.
this role as an ambassador of reconciliation is at the heart of my understanding of the good news – the gospel.
i believe jesus christ is the eternal son of God, conceived by the holy spirit and born of the virgin mary. he is, in other words, simultaneously fully human and fully divine in both his nature and being.
the scriptures teach that God ‘became flesh and moved into the neighborhood’ of humanity in the person of jesus christ – and that in so doing, jesus made himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant and being made in human likeness – and for all appearances, as a man.
the bible claims that the fullness of God found in jesus is the image of the invisible God and the exact representation of the divine being. he is the ultimate reconciler between God and man, as is evidenced by his death on the cross and his victory over sin and death.
he invites all of humanity to participate with him in this new way of relating to the father, made possible by his atonement.
even in the name ‘immanuel’ (God with us), the triune God communicates the distance between creation and the creator has been reconciled in the very act of the incarnation of jesus christ. in the incarnation, jesus signifies God’s solidarity with all of humanity in the midst of their (our) brokenness. ‘while we were yet sinners…’
what is quite possibly the best known verse in the bible lays the foundation of salvation through faith :: ‘whoever believes in him shall not perish but has eternal life.’
yet that’s not the whole story.
such belief is effective because of the undeserved love of God – that is grace. receiving something not earned, worked for or deserved. the very definition of grace magnifies this truth :: literally, unmerited favor.
the apostle paul expands upon this idea in his letters to the various churches. in his epistle to the romans, for example, he clearly states that righteousness comes by grace through faith and that no one deserves or earns it, but rather attains it only through and by (and even because of) the sacrifice of jesus christ.
the term trinity designates one God in three persons. throughout the scriptures we find the father, jesus (the son) and the holy spirit each referred to as God; yet again and again the authors of the sacred text describe God as one, single and unique.
we find glimpses of the trinity in the old testament, in the genesis narrative of the creation account, and in select passages in the new testament. acknowledgment and celebration of the triune God is also found in the earliest creeds of the christian church.
perhaps the most important aspect of God as trinity is the interdependent , communal choreography of God in relationship. it is in this very core of trinity that we are pointed back most clearly to the imago dei in each of us – created in and for relationship with others.
i believe the bible (the hebrew scriptures or ‘old testament’ and the greek ‘new testament’), to be the inspired and authoritative words of God, which reveals his will, ways, purposes and character through recorded conversations among people – individuals and communities – with God.
the biblical library is a carefully selected group of ancient documents of paramount importance for people who want to understand and belong to the community of people who seek to understand God. i believe the bible is complete and reliable as it relates to matters of christian faith and life, and divinely inspired through the personalities and expressions within the context, language and culture of the original authors.
i believe the most valuable aspect of the scriptures is that they illuminate the very logos of God – jesus christ. for more on my thoughts on the scriptures :: their inspiration, purpose and use for today, see this series.
belief in the literal physical resurrection of jesus from the dead is a basic tenet of the christian faith and an essential belief in orthodoxy. all four gospel accounts describe jesus’ resurrection, and it is also affirmed in the early creeds of the christian church. the apostle paul writes to the corinthians that without the resurrection, our faith is empty and worthless.
in outlining these essentials, my desire is not to divide; rather, it is to seek solidarity in the unifying mission of those who would dare to call themselves WayWard followers of jesus – to live as agents of reconciliation on behalf of God.
if you affirm these basic theological non-negotiables, would you join me in furthering discussion here?
would you help me inspire thoughtful conversation and intentional movement, helping others find and follow christ?
consider this your official invitation in the journey. i want you to join me. let us together serve as agents of reconciliation, helping one another follow what our savior said is most important :: to love God, and love people.
let’s dare to discover what that looks like.
what do you think? are you in?