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Boundaries of Belief

Last week we discussed how the Bible establishes the foundations for our beliefs. The Bible provides clear information about the fundamentals of our faith and practice. There are things that we, as Christians, can be confident about and sure of in our faith. However, the Bible does not provide us with all the information that we would sometimes want. It's clear on what matters most, but outside of those things the Bible often presents us with information without necessarily putting it all together for us. After all the Bible states that the purpose of scripture is to teach, rebuke, correct, build up, and equip. (2 Timothy 3:16) What the Bible does do is establish boundaries for these discussions and topics. The foundations are laid clearly and the Bible then provides boundaries to keep us from straying off the foundation into heresy and error. Within these boundaries, however, there is room for dialogue and even some disagreement. Let's take one of the fundamentals I looked at
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Foundations of Belief

Last week I introduced the idea that the Bible, while not an answer handbook, does lay the foundations for our beliefs and provide boundaries for our discussions. Today we look at the foundations. This I think is the easy part of the discussion, since most of us would agree with this. The Bible provides us with clear foundations on which our worldview and beliefs are built. The primary question that we have to grapple with is what is considered foundational? Here I think we run into a problem. Often times I think that we have made things that are not foundational to the faith cornerstones. One chief example of this is acapella worship. In the Churches of Christ, which I and most of my readers are a part of, this has been a fight to the death issue for years. This is, in my humble opinion, ridiculous. We have made the style of worship essential to being a Christian. I have seen, with my own eyes, churches get more upset about the mention of guitars than the suggestion from members that

Foundations and Boundaries

The Bible is a magnificent book full of wonder, poetry, and epic stories that doesn't shy away from what the world is really like. It is a complex work written by many different authors over hundreds of years, unified in one overarching narrative and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is a gift from God, help in time of trouble, and the chief revelation of Jesus Christ. Everything I just said is true, but the problem is I don't always want it to be true. While at times I can admire the complexity of scripture I would mostly prefer it to be simple and straightforward. I want something that will tell me what to do, believe, and what to avoid. I want a quick moral reference handbook or a systematic theology encyclopedia that I can easily reference on the go.  That isn't what the Bible is. I think many Christians feel the same way I do. It can be nice to admire the Bible's complexity and variety from afar, but when it comes down to it we want something simple. We want a

Justice

Our view of justice is narrow and limited. Typically when we, as Christians, talk about justice we are really only referring to punishing wrongdoers for their crimes. While that is certainly a part of justice that isn't the only thing. In the Bible justice consists of much more. Consider the book of Amos, one of the minor prophets and therefore a book that most Christians barely touch. Amos is announcing judgment against the nation of Israel for their infidelity to their covenant with God. What do you think is the most repeated indictment against Israel? Interestingly it's not idolatry, sexual immorality, or war although these things are mentioned. The primary sin of in Amos is Israel's neglect of the poor and their oppression of the needy. Over and over again Amos declares that judgment is coming to Israel because of their treatment of those less fortunate. The poor are trampled and the needy are crushed. There is no justice in the land. Biblical justice includes both crim

Called to Faithfulness

"God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful." - Mother Teresa The one thing we prioritize above all else in our culture is effectiveness. If something is not effective at what it's doing we replace it with something that is more effective. This is true with tools, equipment, ads, structures, and even people. It is foolish for a company to continue paying an ineffective employee when they could be replaced with someone far more effective. Everything in our culture revolves around effectiveness. We rarely support political candidates for their ideals anymore, merely their effectiveness at pursuing agendas. We continually upgrade our technology and discard the older and therefore less effective models. We want things to work and work well. This is true even in churches. We want our ministries to be effective. We want our ministers, elders, deacons, and other leaders to be effective. We want our outreach programs, VBS programs, food pantries, and

Christ is Risen

This is the manuscript of a sermon I preached on Easter Sunday, 2021. All around the world people of every tribe, nation, and tongue gather to celebrate the pinnacle of history. Almost two thousand years ago to the day everything changed for the human race and indeed the cosmos. The word went out that death had been broken because Christ is Risen. Blessed by Providence we gather here today to celebrate the triumph of life over the powers of death and darkness. We gather to participate in the Resurrection Body of our Lord. We gather to behold the beauty of God displayed in the trampling of death by death on the cross, a victory of which we can be assured because Christ is Risen. Glory to the Father, glory to the Son, and glory to the Holy Spirit. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts overflow with adoration and praise for our Almighty God. We can rest assured in the comfort of his grace because Christ is Risen. Dear brothers and sisters if Easter Sunday is about

Bringing the Four Views Together

Over the as several weeks we have been examining different views on what it means to be made in God's Image. Each of them, I think, is valid and speaks to the truth of the situation. Ultimately I think a more robust view is one that incorporates all of them into one. Here is a brief summary of each to refresh our memory. Functional View - This view holds that being made in the Image of God refers to our calling or vocation here on the earth. We are called to be God's image in his cosmic temple, which means being conduits of praise up to God and conduits of blessing down from God. This primarily focuses on our function or purpose in creation. Structural View - This view holds that being made in the Image of God is about our design, or structure, of being both physical and spiritual beings. Every human being is both physical and spiritual. This uniqueness makes us made in God's Image in this world as we alone of all the creatures of the world are truly spiritual and in touch