I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.
AKA, "What I Believe"
I had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:
Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying
To which I replied:
Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?
My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂
Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.
So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-))
I hope some day to provide posts that "back up" everything I state below, but for now it is what it is. Also, although I have given some biblical references below, almost never does a single quote prove a doctrine. "Proof texting" is dangerous.
I Believe (order does not imply importance)…
- That there is truth; truth can be known; that truth does not contradict truth; and that we don’t have to understand something completely for it to be truth.
- That I have been wrong about some things in the past; that I am wrong about some things right now; that I will be wrong about some things in the future.
- In God—in the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (one God, one nature, three persons). (That is, I believe in the Trinity.)
- That God is omniscient (knows everything), omnipotent (all powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere at once). Omniscience includes foreknowledge (knowing everything about the future).
- That time itself was created by God, so God is outside it.
- That God, except in the person of Jesus, does not have a physical body.
- That Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, lived among men, died on a cross, was buried in a tomb, and was resurrected on the third day.
- In the Second Coming, where Jesus will return to gather the saved in the clouds (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) and then take us to a place He has prepared for us in heaven (see John 14:2-3).
- That Jesus is God (see John 1:1).
- That salvation comes only through Jesus Christ (see John 14:6).
- That although the Lord finds a way to give all a chance to choose Him, every religion other than Christianity (including atheism) leads away from salvation, not to it. (That is, I am an inclusivist with exclusivist leanings…please see here and here.)
- That God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) and does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked and would prefer they turn and live (see Ezekiel 18:23, 32). Yes, my Calvinistic friends, I believe all in 1 Timothy 2:4 refers to every human, not just the elect. 🙂
- That we do have a choice (we are not forced to follow or reject Christ). (That is, I believe in free will.) However, that choice is not a “work” since, just as we cannot “choose” to love someone (at some point, for instance, my fondness for my wife turned to love without me “forcing” it), we cannot “choose” to love God. (Having said that, I do believe we can choose not to love—to put obstacles in the way of our salvation.
- That most people will not choose wisely (that is, will not choose God). See Matthew 7:13-14.
- That we are totally depraved—if it weren’t for God actively working on our hearts none of us would choose Him.
- That the Bible (in its original manuscripts) is inerrant and infallible for that which God purposed it and that the correct way to interpret Scripture begins with understanding the original authors’ meaning. (I do believe that the Bible could be incorrect when it mentions historical or scientific facts in passing, but know of no cases where it is. I believe many Christians make a more strict inerrancy claim for Scripture than Scripture claims for itself.)
- That the Bible was not, as a whole, written to dissect it the way we often do (as if it is a chemistry book where H2O always means the exact same thing everywhere and where you can break a molecule down to it’s individual atoms…or even subatomic particles). Instead, we’d frequently be better served by trying to answer the questions, "What is God trying to tell us here?" and "What does this tell us about God?"
- That there is no Christian "Sabbath," Saturday or Sunday. I believe early Christians initially met on Saturday (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) because of Christianity’s Jewish roots, but moved with time to Sunday. God will accept worship whatever day you choose to give it (see Colossians 2:16).
- That we are supposed to attend church regularly (see Hebrews 10:25).
- That both the saved and the wicked will be resurrected, the former to eternal life and the latter to eternal damnation.
- That we are not immortal (see 1 Timothy 6:16); the wicked will ultimately be destroyed. (That is, I am an annihilationist.) I do not see God actively exterminating the lost. When He gives them what they want—and removes His spirit—they die (because no creature can live without the breath of God).
- In hell, but not as conscious never-ending torment (instead as destruction that lasts an eternity).
- That we sleep in the grave until we are resurrected (although I see valid arguments for us going straight to heaven). (That is, I believe in “soul sleep.”)
- That there will be a judgement. However, this judgment is really just God acknowledging the reality of each individual’s state; we condemn ourselves.
- In the substitutionary atonement of Christ, but with an eye to the fact that the problem all along was with us, not God. I believe there is more to substitutionary atonement than most Christians believe (it is a limited metaphor for an infinite act).
- That Christians have only two ordinances: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I believe in baptizing immediately upon repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior—and having Communion with every service. I do not believe either is a sacrament—that somehow they lead to God providing us with additional grace. (Although I do not believe in infant baptism, I do not have as great concern about the practice as others.)
- In a literal 6-day creation. I can accept the potential of a longer creation period—but see no reason not to accept the natural reading of Genesis. I do not see the same flexibility in Adam and Eve—they were our first parents who brought sin upon us all when they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- That in sinning, Adam and Eve ceded control of this earth to Satan. If it weren’t for God limiting the Devil, things would be much worse than they are. This, at some level, is the answer to why bad things happen to good people.
- That we humans have a habit of focusing on one attribute of God at the expense of others.
- That God is ultimately in control.
- That we should allow other Christians leeway in how they worship as long as it does not clearly contradict Scripture. When in Rome do as the Romans.
- That we are saved by faith, not by works (but that a saving faith will lead to works).
- That it’s not about us, it’s about God.
- That once you accept one biblical miracle it makes absolutely no sense to reject any others Scripture records.
- That, pragmatically, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased. However, I do not believe you can biblically prove they are gone, and suspect that God still uses them where they are especially meaningful (e.g. mainly outside “modern” countries). (The gifts do not “pass away” until “the perfect comes”…and the “perfect” is Jesus. See 1 Corinthians 13:8-11.) I am very skeptical of a gift that is easy to fake and near impossible to disprove—tongues.
- That practicing homosexuality is a sin. However, nobody is “better” than anyone else. We are all afflicted with the same disease and need to repent of our sins and to turn to the same Savior. God can (and will) change the hearts of everyone who turns to Him.
- That abortion is murder. However, please see the caveat directly above.
- That although the United States was formed on Christian principles it is not a “Christian nation.”
- That, in God’s eyes, marriage is only between a man and a woman. I’m of two minds when it comes to government’s involvement—ultimately it seems to me their interest should only be contractual, but I also believe that society should be allowed to define what marriage is and not have courts force a definition on them. Since I do think homosexuality is a sin, I am especially concerned about the effect of same-sex marriage on children.
- That, as a whole, politics and religion do not mix (basically, that you have to choose which will be your priority). Having said that, I do not question that politicians can be Christians, or that God might call someone to involvement in politics. Tread carefully.
- That where something cannot be objectively decided, all opinions are of equal value (that they should not be discounted because someone has religious reasons). Let each one be given an even chance to convince the public.
- That all human laws are moral pronouncements (and thus subjective).
- That the only absolute authority is God. His moral “laws” are statements of facts, not subjective (or arbitrary) decrees.
- That God is not the way His enemies have made him out to be. (Sadly, He is often not the way Christians have made him out to be either.)
- In the 5 Solas.
How is that for a start?
What may be obvious from the list is that I don’t fit completely within any church beyond the “catholic” (universal) one of all believers. Many of the ministries I most appreciate might not consider me a Christian—might even call me a heretic. But belief, like love, cannot be forced—and I won’t lie to you. I believe what I believe.