VIII. Of the Creeds.

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164 Responses

  1. I think the creeds are very important. But I get a kick out of those (Baptists & CC among others) who say “I have no creed but the Bible.” But when you ask them to explain the Bible, they give you THEIR creed. (which is usually suspect if not totally wrong.)

  2. I have no creed but the bible.

  3. Papias says:

    Creeds are vital to know what you believe about your faith.

    They didn’t just appear overnight. They were the work of many saints, hammering out what defined the faith versus what errors were trying to also claim themselves as the faith. Yes, they were generally created in reponse to heresy.

    But simply reciting a creed is not the litmus test of orthodoxy. The content of the creed must be believed in order to be saved.

    “No creed but the bible” – thats pretty funny. The Mormons and JWs and other cults say the same thing…. 😉

  4. “The Mormons and JWs and other cults say the same thing….”

    Yep. The baptists are a big old cult. Good catch Papias.

  5. Papias says:

    Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. 🙁

    No, the baptists have Al Mohler to tell them what to think.

  6. “In some groups, statements of belief have the same authority as Scripture. We call this creedalism. Baptists also make statements of belief, but all of them are revisable in light of Scripture. The Bible is the final word.

    Because of this distinction, we are generally more comfortable with the word “confession.” Still, we are “creedal” in the sense that we believe certain things, express those beliefs and order our institutions accordingly. There have always been Baptist limits. And within these limits, there have always been Baptist preferences. ”

    From sbc.net, and I agree 100%.

  7. “No, the baptists have Al Mohler to tell them what to think.”

    I’d say 80% of Southern Baptists have no clue who Al Mohler is. 50% of those who do know who he is totally hate him.

  8. Regarding the scripture the document states that…

    “they should not be read by all, but only by those who with fitting research have inquired into the deep things of the Spirit, and who know in what manner the Divine Scriptures ought to be searched, and taught, and in fine read.”

    So, forsooth, wheretofore shouldst one therein seeketh one so learned as to therein read such and thereby delivereth a truly holy and anointed reading, therein anchoreth the role of clergy over laity, thinkest thorn not?

  9. Papias says:

    “In some groups, statements of belief have the same authority as Scripture. We call this creedalism.”

    Josh – I don’t think that this Anglican point is saying that the creeds are on par with Scripture.

    The creeds merely described the over-arching story of the Scriptures and define some of the more nuanced beliefs that we hold – versus non-orthodox groups.

  10. verily, mine olde English suffereth by the scurvy knave known as “autocorrecteth”

  11. Initial reading, I get the following

    There is a god
    There is a book
    The book tells us about god
    There are those who are entrusted with reading the book correctly and when in doubt they shall read the book to you to end your doubt

    Meh

  12. Are these creeds revisable in light of Scripture?

  13. Another Voice says:

    Why is there one Lord and one faith (Eph 4:5) and three creeds?

  14. steve voigt says:

    go thru eacn one,read it give a history of it andallow us to make the decision for ourselves whether we agree or not.. I guess I am trying to get a free cenentary class and not have to pay.. Ionce had a commentary set called the early church fathers and it was very ineresting

  15. Lutheran says:

    Creeds are helpful BECAUSE they offer a true summary of Holy Scripture. It used to bother me that some folks like Baptists, aren’t ‘creedal’. It doesn’t anymore. They shouldn’t be used as something that judges someone’s faith.

    Creeds help us focus on the ‘majors’ of the Faith. In one of his books, the Lutheran theologian John Warwick Montgomery says they keep us from equating an obscure Bible fact from the OT as having the same weight as Christ’s death and resurrection. The creeds keep churches from majoring on the minors and avoiding a
    strict biblicism.

  16. Lutheran says:

    #12 JTB,

    The ball’s in your court, buddy.

    What specifically would you revise?

  17. #15 – The fact that they aren’t seen as revisable in light of Scripture?

  18. Papias says:

    “Why is there one Lord and one faith (Eph 4:5) and three creeds?”

    Each creed was ratified by a church council(there are 7 of those called ecumenical). Once a council ratifies a creed, they don’t go back to change or modify a creed. The Church realized over time that they needed to add additional statements, to clarify some major theological issues.

    We cannot even begin to discuss what is meant by “One Lord” without also agreeing that we believe in a Trinity.

    One Faith – we needed to define who was in and who was out of the faith – mostly Arians and those would would believe that Jesus was created.

  19. Another Voice says:

    Papias, so each additional creed is an improvement over the one(s) prior….

    So why refer to the (now) “outdated” creed at all – once a new one is developed?

  20. Michael says:

    There are three creeds because both doctrine and heresy developed over the first few centuries of the church.
    The beauty of the creeds is that they declare what the historical church believed and confessed, making it unnecessary to reinvent Christianity every generation and they set the bar for historical orthodoxy.

  21. Michael says:

    I find objections to the creedal statements of the early church to be puzzling to say the least, being polite as I can be.

  22. Another Voice says:

    My questions above are serious in nature.

    Now, as to the ‘no creed but the Bible’ – the thing is that these creeds are meant to summarize Bible teaching. Even the statement above says “for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.”

    Where is the creed that says the Bible is God’s Word? Isn’t that the starting point?

  23. Em says:

    “they should not be read by all, but only by those who with fitting research have inquired into the deep things of the Spirit, and who know in what manner the Divine Scriptures ought to be searched, and taught, and in fine read.”

    this wording does suffer from (whatever the word is for ‘time and place’) – today we suffer from a lack of folk qualified to do that job – science has grabbed the discipline and called it theirs – BUT, me not permitted to read the Bible? heresy alert here – beware of pontificating credalists

    in my humble, muddled opinion

  24. Papias says:

    AV – no creed, once ratified, becomes “outdated”. They are truthful statements about the orthodox Christian faith.

    Really, if you have these questions about the creeds, you should read Church History. Try to find “The Story of Christianity” by Justo Gonzalez. Its a good read, and its still a college textbook.

  25. “I find objections to the creedal statements”

    I don’t object to the statements. I object to making them central to faith.

  26. Papias says:

    “Where is the creed that says the Bible is God’s Word? Isn’t that the starting point?”

    Not when these creeds were developed and in use. Not until Athanasius’s Paschal @ 367 does he give the “complete NT list” of books that Christians considered “NT” Scripture. if you said Scriptures to someone during this time 100- @ 300 AD, they would assume that you meant the OT and other letters being circulated amongst the churches.

    ANd for some reason, I have to copy/paste my new blog address each time? it keeps going back to the old blogspot one. (confused smiley)

  27. Lutheran says:

    I second Papias’s recommendation to read Gonzalez’s book. Actually, I think it’s two books. They are excellent.It’s damn near impossible to discuss the creeds on a blog without knowing the context in which they developed.

  28. Lutheran says:

    JTB,

    What do you mean by “making them central to faith”? What if you could see them as illuminating or complementing Scripture, not competing with it?

  29. Lut, I could just repeat my #6. I don’t believe in “creedalism”. That’s about as far as it goes.

  30. Lutheran says:

    JTB,

    The dictionary definition of creedalism:

    “undue insistence upon traditional statements of belief”

    I don’t think anyone here is arguing for undue insistence. But I’d guess that many of us believe they have a place in the church.

    I think of them as lights on the runway. They help with doctrine — they keep us on the straight and narrow. The early church needed them. So do we.

    They also trump the idea that Christianity was just invented in the last generation. We’re a
    part of something much bigger and something that’s been around much longer than we have. When I recite the creeds on Sunday, it increases my faith. I see that the Church transcends my situation and my locale and that there’s a long train of witnesses that
    have preceded me.

  31. Good Lutheran. I never said the creeds were evil, or should be done away with.

  32. Em says:

    “I think of them as lights on the runway. They help with doctrine — they keep us on the straight and narrow. The early church needed them. So do we.”

    thank you, Lute – i can go peacefully about my day with that …. helps us get our wheels on the ground? makes sense to me

  33. AV, “Why is there one Lord and one faith (Eph 4:5) and three creeds?”

    I noticed that you stopped before “one baptism”. In light of last week’s discussion where you were making a case for multiple baptisms…

  34. Another Voice says:

    if you said Scriptures to someone during this time 100- @ 300 AD, they would assume that you meant the OT and other letters being circulated amongst the churches.
    ————————————
    I take strong issue with this statement (and I don’t think I am a complete novice of church history). Sure there was some debate on a few books here and there (the antilegomena) but the rejected pseudepigrapha books were many with no serious debate for their inclusion, as was the accepted homologoumena, again with no serious debate for their exclusion.

    It is interesting that Nicea concluded without NT canon consensus.

    Like Josh, I’m not debating the content of the creeds, nor their value in church history. Obviously, the early Church’s understanding of issues like the Nature of Christ is crucial – However, that understanding came as God led them in the proper understanding of the Scripture (and as God led them in proper understanding of which books were in fact Scripture).

    More to the point here – we have seen the articles of faith that addressed each of the Three Persons of the Trinity, AND, which addressed the canon of Scripture. My question is how necessary is it today, to have both. I understand a church that might write their statement of faith to say ‘we believe in the creeds’ and leave it at that. Seems like double duty to argue for both a church’s view on the Nature of the Trinity and the Work of Christ, and then also point to the creeds.

    I’m a big ‘statement of faith’ guy – saying what you believe is important for others to know.

  35. Xenia says:

    A few things:

    1. The Confession of Dositheus is a 17th century document written by the Patriarch of Constantinople in response to the writings of a previous Patriarch, Cyril Lucaris, who completely ran off the rails. Cyril Lucaris had studied western theology and had adopted Calvinism, which is completely at odds with Eastern Orthodoxy. Patriarch Dositheus issued this Confession after it was accepted by the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672, in typical Orthodox conciliar fashion.

    2. Michael is right- the creeds got more lengthy and detailed as the direct result of new heresies popping up. It was not that doctrine developed or changed so that new stuff had to be added, it was that new heresies developed and had to be specifically addressed. The same is true of the Ecumenical Councils. They were always called in response to heresies such as Arianism, Nestorianism, etc.

    3. No creed but the Bible. <—- What is really meant is "No creed by my own personal interpretation of the Bible." For "No creed but the Bible" to be true the Holy Spirit would have to have given the same interpretation to everyone who reads the holy scriptures, which does not appear to have happened.

  36. Xenia says:

    Also, notice that in the three major creeds there is no mention of any particular doctrine of the atonement.

  37. I will go out on a limb and say that I think that the creeds are the words of God. – Not Scripture, not THE word of God – but the words of God.

    But then I think that anyone who truly expounds the word of God is speaking God’s words.

    But many today seem to run from such an idea

    So, when I say” I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth” – I believe those are God’s words – he said all of that in one shape or form – but other than the “I believe”, which part is not God’s word?

  38. Another Voice says:

    I noticed that you stopped before “one baptism”. In light of last week’s discussion where you were making a case for multiple baptisms…
    —————————————-
    I left that out because we are talking about the creeds…the creeds as to what is necessary for salvation…the creeds which are totally silent about baptism.

    And the fact that you so grossly misrepresent what I wrote earlier shows the impossibility of discussing the issue with you. I most certainly did not argue for multiple baptisms in light of that verse, I sought to give proper meaning to that verse. I will not talk about baptism anymore in this thread, since it is a thread on the creeds, and (once again) they are silent – as they should be.

  39. Xenia says:

    I agree with MLD in his #35

  40. Another Voice says:

    No creed but the Bible. <—- What is really meant is "No creed by my own personal interpretation of the Bible." For "No creed but the Bible" to be true the Holy Spirit would have to have given the same interpretation to everyone who reads the holy scriptures, which does not appear to have happened.
    —————————————–
    I love it when Xenia speaks for others with such authority.

    So Josh, is Xenia's comment anything close to what you mean? It sure isn't for me.

    Actually, the HOLY SPIRIT has indeed given all Christians the proper understanding of the issues addressed in the creeds. I do not for a moment blame the Holy Spirit for the nonsense Arius was peddling back in the day – or for that matter the nonsense that Joseph Smith peddles in our day.

    Do Christians have disagreements on theology. Yes. Are they the substance of the creeds. No.

  41. Xenia says:

    The Nicene Creed, at least, is not silent about baptism:

    “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”

  42. Another Voice says:

    I will go out on a limb and say that I think that the creeds are the words of God. – Not Scripture, not THE word of God – but the words of God.

    But then I think that anyone who truly expounds the word of God is speaking God’s words.
    ——————————————-
    You’re mixing your genitives.

  43. The funny thing is that we could disagree over the interpretation of the creeds, but apparently that wouldn’t nullify them.

    Xenia’s comment is obviously a misrepresentation of what I think about Scripture.

  44. Another Voice says:

    I stand corrected on the baptism comment.

  45. Michael says:

    I’m glad I have to leave for work… 🙂
    The creeds give us a historical perspective on the things we are to hold in common, the things we confess together with the church both militant and triumphant.

    For me, they are a mark of orthodoxy…if you confess the truths of the creeds you are part of the church despite whatever secondary theological differences we have.

    I would quibble loudly with AV’s view of canon formation, but I’m blessedly out of time.

  46. AV, if you read my statement in the original English, you will find no genitive problem. 😉

  47. Xenia says:

    I was an evangelical for 50 years. Many times in the course of those decades I would gather with my co-religionists for Bible studies. We’d read a verse:

    “What does this verse mean to you?”
    “The Holy Spirit is telling me it means thus-and-so.”
    “Well, the Lord is ministering to ME that it means thus-and-so.”
    “Let’s check a concordance, I have five of them.”
    “Hmmm….. they all say something different.”
    “Well, I think it means this.”
    “And I know in my heart that the Holy Spirit is telling me it means something different.”

    You can say these differences are all about small matters but the proliferation of denominations suggests the differences are serious enough to schism over.

  48. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Wouldn’t the existence of the filoque in the Western version of one creed demonstrate that creeds did get revised (and I know the Eastern Orthodox have objections to that) but I was guessing Josh the Baptist had to have already known that. Even so, it’s a point worthmaking about the statement that the creeds themselves have not been considered subject to revision. In a Western context this is demonstrably not the case.

  49. Xenia says:

    The Roman Catholic Church believes that doctrine develops over time, which is why they are comfortable with the addition of the filioque.

  50. Lutheran says:

    I don’t see why someone who’s a Baptist or such still couldn’t appreciate the creeds even if they don’t subscribe to the “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” The early church practiced infant baptism, of course. But I don’t think baptism has to be a deal breaker when it comes to unity.

  51. @48 – I did not know that, nor did I say the creeds were never changed. I simply asked the question in #12…because I didn’t know.

  52. @51 – I do appreciate the creeds.

  53. Another Voice says:

    I would quibble loudly with AV’s view of canon formation, but I’m blessedly out of time.
    —————————————-
    Don’t know what I said that was so wrong…The quotes of the church fathers, the earliest translations into other languages, even the early lists of canonical books…

    But when you have more time…bring it.

    Being guilty of bibliolatry as commonly accused around here….the formation of the canon is one area of Church History I’ve taken the time to study a little.

    Plus, it actually is relevant in answering questions – which come often – about the books of the Bible and how we got them. (Not sure I have ever been asked a question about a creed, although I’m sure that is directly related to the uncooth riff-raff amongst whom I minister.)

    (and yes, I know about the heretic Marcion and his so-called canon. I didn’t say there were NO debates)

  54. Another Voice says:

    I should have probably included a 🙂 in the last post. Lest my tongue-in-cheek reply be misunderstood.

    And I too do appreciate the creeds.

  55. Shaun Sells says:

    I think the creeds are a good history lesson.

    From the Nicene creed I don’t like the wording “apostolic church” if it implies apostolic succession.

    From the Athanasian creed I would not agree to it at all because you must be Catholic to be saved and believe in the doctrine of the Trinity (which I believe, but don’t think is required for salvation) and accomplish good deeds for salvation. I am unclear on Jesus descent into hell, but not against it.

    Not much against the Apostles creed except that it does not really mention salvation.

    As you all know Calvary Chapels are not credal by nature nor are they against creeds as I know some Calvarys that use the Apostles creed and have that as part of their statement of faith. See example below:

    http://www.calvaryftl.org/about/history-beliefs/our-beliefs/statement-of-faith/

  56. I have said many times that I think that the importance of the creed is the public expression. In our church, when the pastor is done preaching, he says, “Now that we have heard God’s word, let us stand and confess to one another our common belief.” We stand and we say one of the creeds – not only to express our own belief, but to confess and to hear my neighbor confess to me what he believes.

    That was one thing I found interesting in a liturgical church, was to confess to all around you what you believe and have them do the same to me. For years, sitting in non creedal churches, I had no idea what the family sitting next to me believed – I assumed they believed what I believed, but had no way to know for sure.

  57. “I assumed they believed what I believed, but had no way to know for sure.”

    And you still don’t.

  58. Xenia says:

    A choir, practicing singing the Nicene Creed:

  59. Another Voice says:

    I assumed they believed what I believed, but had no way to know for sure.
    ————————————————
    You still don’t. Unless you can guarantee that visitors or others wouldn’t also mouth the words so as not to stand out.

    Looking back to when I was seeking the Lord, if I had visited your church I don’t doubt for a second I would have mouthed the words. Even as a brand new believer, I likely would not believe everything in a given creed, not knowing all that yet – but I definitely know as a believer I would say those words if I visited a Lutheran church (which you recall I actually did visit a Lutheran church when I was looking for a church home right after my salvation). Heck, I took communion there saying “this is the body of Christ” as I did, as a visitor, with no hastle or questions from the pastor and in the ignorance that actually I should not be doing that.

    (You’ve cleared me up on that point, MLD 🙂 )

  60. Lutheran says:

    I ain’t a church historian, but I’m pretty sure when the Athanasian Creed says,
    “This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved”
    it was probably catholic with a small “c.” That definition of catholic just means what the church has always believed at all times and places. Not Roman Catholic. I think this phrase which is at the end of the Creed is referring to the content of the rest of the Creed.

  61. Xenia says:

    I have to agree with Josh and AV that standing next to someone who is reciting the Creed is no guarantee that s/he believes the words. In many liberal Episcopalian parishes it’s possible that the pastor doesn’t even believe the words of the Creed. The only way some of these folks can say the Creed with a straight face is to turn the whole thing into a metaphor.

  62. Lutheran says:

    Whenever it’s Trinity Sunday in liturgical churches, the service goes long because of reciting the Athanasian Creed. I’ve also filled in for my pastor a few times and I’ve led this service. It’s a longie!

  63. Reuben says:

    Hey Lutheran/Shaun

    I may be talking out of school, but my understanding was what Lutheran said. CATHOLIC by definition historically is way different than the Catholic Church.

  64. Xenia says:

    Test: none of my posts are making it through. (Could this be the hand of God?)

  65. Reuben says:

    Catholic in this context means, “one true church”. Of course correct me if I am wrong.

  66. Another Voice says:

    I agree that catholic is speaking of universal – not Rome. Much like we speak of the ‘catholic’ epistles in the New Testament.

    I think it was MLD who once said something important as to the creeds and salvation – it’s not so much that one believes (i.e. knows all about) these doctrines – BUT that one does not reject them.

    I think that is a helpful way to look at the creeds. Of course, they are not written that way which is rather unhelpful and I think cause more confusion than necessary today as a result. One does not have to understand the Trinity to this depth to believe the gospel and be saved. However, if one were to specifically reject what is taught on the Nature of God in the creeds, then one has believed another gospel and it would be indicative of someone who is not a brother/sister in the faith. I say that because if one has truly been born again, then one is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit will affirm the truth about Himself and the Nature of the Trinity. So there would be no rejection.

    Again, the Holy Spirit is never to be blamed for incorrect understanding of God’s Word.

  67. Lutheran says:

    AV,

    I really like what you said in #64. Well done!

  68. Shaun Sells says:

    Could be Lutheran, but then it states specifically what the catholic church believes is necessary for salvation:
    1. “He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity.”
    2. “It is also necessary for eternal salvation that he believes steadfastly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    3. “Those who have done good deeds will go into eternal life; those who have done evil will go into the everlasting fire.”

    “This is the catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly; otherwise He cannot be saved. Amen.”

    My concern is that most believers don’t grasp the first two concepts for a while, and the third is outright false unless it is explained that all the believers evil deeds have been paid for by Christ and our good deeds are made good by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

  69. Tim says:

    @27 – Gonzalez used to be published in two volumes; the most recent time I looked him up on Amazon, it was combined into one text.

    My edition is the two volume edition…which I guess tends to show my age a bit. 🙂

  70. Lutheran says:

    Hi Tim,

    Wondering if Gonzalez covers the “catholic” phrase of the Athanasian Creed? Would love his and your take.

  71. Tim says:

    Hi Lutheran – It’s at my home study (rather than the church office), so I’ll need to look it up a bit later. But I’ll take a look at it to see what he says.

    Offhand, I’d say that “catholic” is a reference to universal. If for no other reason, from the simple fact that the Great Schism had not yet taken place during the periods of the early ecumenical creeds, and there would not have been any thought to a “Roman Catholic” church, though the seeds were starting to be laid for it as Rome started to assert its primacy. Until the breaking between East & West, I don’t know that there was any thought to “catholic” as anything other than “universal.” But I’d have to read up on it again to be certain.

  72. Shaun Sells says:

    AV – #66 – I would agree that the Holy Spirit is never to be blamed for false doctrine, but I would point out that having the Holy Spirit is in no way a guarantee that you have 100% true doctrine which is what you are implying in your comment. Nowhere in scripture do we see a need for understanding trinitarian theology as a basis for salvation. Jesus certainly used “trinitarian language” but never said to be saved your belief in me should square with these twenty four lines of trinitarian thought.

  73. Tim says:

    Rats…I missed the key part of your comment. It’s “catholic” in regards to the Athanasian creed.

    Reading always helps. 😳

    As I recall, the Athanasian creed came about after the time of the Schism, so my earlier theory doesn’t apply here. I’ll see what Gonzalez writes.

  74. Shaun Sells says:

    FYI – I am sure you guys are right on the catholic issue – it would be universal small c catholic not capital C Catholic. My error.

  75. Another Voice says:

    but I would point out that having the Holy Spirit is in no way a guarantee that you have 100% true doctrine which is what you are implying in your comment.
    ————————————

    It was not my intention to imply that at all.

    I certainly was not talking about 100% of all doctrine, and repeatedly declare here (and in my preaching) that believers (who have the Holy Spirit) can disagree on some doctrinal issues.

    However, on the nature of the Trinity – my point stands. No believer is going to reject the truth of the Trinity, once explained. And I specifically noted that one does NOT have to believe this (i.e. The Trinity issues and specifics on the Nature of Christ) to be saved.

  76. Shaun Sells says:

    So, having the indwelling Holy Spirit is a 100% guarantee that you will agree with the doctrine of the Trinity? Sorry AV, I don’t buy it, you are going to have to prove that one…

  77. indwelling H.Sp. and accurate doctrine … i think that AV is correct, but that is predicated on one being in submission as a learner … not to be confused with being innocent and gullible … and mostly that’s what we sheep are (various shades of innocent and gullible); some of us even climb up on stage and bleat to the other sheep … but that truly is not anyone here on the PhxP – except for one person 😎

    #47 – amen and it was/is an abomination – like trying to walk in wet Kansas mud – like living on KFC when Julia Child’s restaurant is around the corner – like … 😆 … be glad i’m too tired to think this afternoon

  78. Xenia says:

    A few of my posts today got stuck and Reuben kindly set them free. Up above I posted a video of a choir practicing the singing of the Nicene Creed which you folks might enjoy.

  79. Another Voice says:

    Well, I guess I should let God be the final arbiter on who is saved (i.e. indwelt by the Holy Spirit).

    How about this then. Rejecting the Trinity is a 100% guarantee one will not be viewed as a believer by any orthodox Christian church – whether for membership, to serve there, to marry and so forth.

    I’m pretty sure we could call the roll around here of the various denominations represented and find agreement with the Trinity as a non-negotiable for membership and other church privileges.

    I don’t know why a saved person might stubbornly resist the witness of the Spirit in refusing to accept the doctrine of the Trinity. Pride maybe? Being smarter than 2000 years of Christendom?

    But I know this, I’m not going to waste any time probing to find out if under that stubborn, rebellious attitude to the truth, there is a real believer. Such a person would never serve at our church, nor be considered in any manner a believer for any purpose (such as letter of reference, marrriage, membership if ever had it).

    I would probe to find out why the attitude. Is there a former religion in their past that is holding them back from the truth? Muslim? Mormon? Jehovah Witness?

    Shaun, I assume you include the Trinity in your statement of faith and assume you require agreement with your statement of faith to serve at your church. However, to be consistent in your argument, shouldn’t you have some other test to determine saving faith and eligibility?

  80. Another Voice says:

    I had a lengthy internet friendship with someone years ago I met on an MSN religion discussion board. Much like the friendships with many of you over the past years.

    This woman was a former Muslim who claimed to be a Christian. She believed Jesus died for her sins and rose again (which is a huge deal for a former Muslim). However, she insisted Jesus was not God incarnate and in fact that the Bible did not teach this.

    I spent months and months in discussions. She was a very sweet person, and had an incredible story how she left the world of Islam. If there is anyone I would want to be saved that I have never actually met face to face, it would be someone like her.

    However, as I showed her various deity verses about Jesus, she always rejected the interpretations understood within Christendom for some explanation of her own. She gave no quarter.

    When I sought to explain the doctrinal issues involved if Jesus was not God, as to how He could die for the sins of the world, there was no acceptance.

    She would not say He was only a human like you or me. She denied His deity though, and I tried to pin her down on what He WAS then…an angel? Some sort of special unique class of being on His own. An alien? She had no real opinion – she just KNEW He was not God.

    Frankly, as nice as she was and even with a great backstory leaving Islam, what she believed is not much different than a Mormon who says Jesus died for his sins. She is a classic example of what Paul said about those who believe “another Jesus”

    I could never allow this person to serve at our church.

  81. Xenia says:

    There’s different kinds of non-Trinitarians, some worse than others. A JW who believes Christ is a created Being is an Arian and outside the faith. A Mormon believes in the deity of Christ but he also believes in his own potential deity and is a polytheist and is outside of the faith. A Oneness Pentecostal… They believe in the deity of Christ and they are monotheists…. Sabellians and modalists… not quite so bad? Still bad enough? I don’t know. In my world you have to affirm the Nicene Creed but God is not willing that any should perish so how wrong do you have to be? I don’t know.

    By the way Reuben, I was working on a class assignment today and right there, smack dab in the middle of my reading assignment, was Decree X from the Confessions of Diostheus which I thought was quite a coincidence!

    I have the Gonzalez books if anybody wants anything looked up.

  82. AV was correct earlier – It was I who said that it’s more important what you deny than what you believe. Somethings you don’t believe because they have not been taught to you. However, to deny something usually takes a bit of knowledge.

    But I don’t know that we are saved by anything we believe – that the only thing that prompts to salvation is the word of God calling you to trust in the work and promises of God – and at the same time God gives you that trust (faith) only through that word.

    When I got saved I didn’t know anything… but I was saved. Some would claim that I still don’t know anything – but too bad because I am still saved.

  83. Another Voice says:

    Can I be clear on something before things go sideways.

    None of us can KNOW that anyone else is saved. Only God has that knowledge. I don’t know if any of you are saved, nor do you know if I am.

    Sure – we can feel confident..but not KNOW with certainty.

    It is essential we can feel confident if we are going to live properly in this world. How can we obey the commands about interaction with believers and unbelievers if we don’t have some reasonable degree of confidence who we are dealing with. Equally yoked and all that is ridiculous without some standards.

    So we have statements of faith. We have the creeds and the work of those who went before us. We have the examination of one’s lifestyle as well. There is a reason Jesus said “But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

    Whether God sees the guy as a heathen or still a saved believer is not the issue. The point is we have to deal with these people in the Church and we are given the authority by Jesus to TREAT/CONSIDER them as unbelievers.

    God will sort out the saved and unsaved. That’s not my concern because it is impossible for me to do so. God does not ask the impossible of us.

  84. Reuben says:

    Sorry, today was outright psycho, and had a hard time keeping up with the comments. I have to underscore and highlight this as one of the best statements ever:

    I was an evangelical for 50 years. Many times in the course of those decades I would gather with my co-religionists for Bible studies. We’d read a verse:

    “What does this verse mean to you?”
    “The Holy Spirit is telling me it means thus-and-so.”
    “Well, the Lord is ministering to ME that it means thus-and-so.”
    “Let’s check a concordance, I have five of them.”
    “Hmmm….. they all say something different.”
    “Well, I think it means this.”
    “And I know in my heart that the Holy Spirit is telling me it means something different.”

    I have been attempting to formulate something for quite some time. I sit on it because I have not quite fully formulated it. But it starts here, with Xenia’s perfectly laid out example. The practice of the evangelical church in preaching is to read a verse, think out loud about it for a while, read another verse, and repeat. Some factions pride themselves on having done this through the entire Bible. Churches that preach topically are even more aligned with this above example, as they do not address things in any historical Biblical context at all. They pick a topic that presumably “The Lord” guided them to, and pick and choose supporting scriptures to capitalize on that topic.

    Folks, I have thousands of hours of sermons just like this on an iPod. I collected them for years. I have some preachers preaching through the entire Bible the same way. Verse, thought about verse, verse, thought about verse, and so on. It is a pattern so predictable that I learned it well, and even became quite proficient at accomplishing it myself. I never really cared about any historical Biblical context, didn’t know what a hermeneutic was, and could really care less what this meant to the people whom it was intended for, or why. My job (or so I assumed) was to “get something from God” and relay that to people in an engaging manner.

    The most shocking realization in my life as a Christian thus far, is simply put, this method is failed. It is why the church fails. It is why teens leave the church. It is why there is abuse in the church. It is why people flock to personalities, and find home where the personality agrees with them the most. Emotionally driven scriptural exegesis with zero regard for the facts, the history, the content and intent, just “speaking for the Lord”.

    I may well be off in lala land, but this is becoming a big deal to me. This is garbage.

    Creeds were developed by huge councils over years and years of toil, painstakingly examining every word, because truth to the Holy Scriptures was of absolute accomplishment, or death. Men slaved over these Creeds. They fought, they wept, the did not sleep. They studied and studied. Not in the back of Starbucks, but by candle, hour after laborious hour. They wanted to build a foundation that stated, “This is the bottom line, and we all agree!”

    I have learned that disregard for such steps leads to flagrant disrespect for the true church. Not the church of “The Lord is really moving this month at First Church of Blank as the Holy Spirit walks us through the series of Sex and Marriage…” but the actual Historical Biblical Church that existed before our grandparent’s grandparents were conceived. Back when people died for defending the Word of God.

    The responses like, “Oh they were all messed in the head to die over the Trinity” carry little to zero weight with me anymore. Why? Because even the most sincere evangelical movements of the day, with millions of followers, are making crap up as they go along. People grin and nod. Fornication and divorce still skyrockets. Children still grow up with zero respect for their elders. “Pastor Mark” still gets all the attention form anybody who is anybody when he says something else asinine. People still flock to see Newsong, but could care less about approaching communion when they just told their neighbor to go to hell. Christians still spend $65,000 on a Lexus, and spend $10 on the toys for poor kids at Christmas. Etc…

    I am formulating a strong opinion that this all stems from Xenia’s old Bible studies example, and the results are so widespread, that I doubt I could write a book on it that would not weigh 50 pounds.

  85. Xenia’s video really plays havoc with my phone – I think it may be too large when posted fully open. I had this trouble last week when someone posted a video like that. Is there anyway to repost it as a link?

  86. Xenia says:

    MLD, I did post the link (I thought) but it displayed it in video form. Let me see what I can do.

    Reuben…. Wow!

  87. Another Voice says:

    Here’s the question, Reuben. A serious one. Where are they learning to teach that way?

    Is it in the home Bible study? Then taken to the pulpit? A lot of churches start as home Bible studies. My first church did (although my home Bible study was me preaching for an hour and I allowed nothing like what Xenia described)

    I certainly doubt it is in any formal educational system. I’ve graduated from two of them – School of Ministry in CC and my MDiv in an evangelical seminary and in both schools there were classes about expository teaching, the inductive method and so forth.

    Does it go back to some of the legends? I can’t stomach some of Spurgeon’s stuff where he takes a verse as a jumping off point and then proceeds….Not that what he says is bad. Usually it is quite good. It just seems to have little to do with the text (on some occasions not all)

    G Campbell Morgan on the other hand would usually stick to a detailed exposition of only one or two verses. I have his entire Westminister Pulpit series.

    So clearly it isn’t the issue of ‘bulk’ of Scripture alone, though I do think it is hard to teach expositionally without actually teaching through an entire paragraph, pericope, parable or whatever at one sitting.

    Your thoughts?

  88. Reuben says:

    Oh, AV, I am going to light a firestorm with this.

    It starts with “What does this verse have to say to me?” rather than, “What does this verse say?”

    The two are entirely different disciplines. They are not even on the same planet.

    If I were asked where it started, I am not a historian, and only starting to learn stuff. I don’t know.

    I follow your gripe with Spurgeon 100%. This was something that dawned on me a few weeks ago. I recalled a number of his sermons and letters, and he kinda just went wherever.

    Oh to have been in the room next to Eutychus listening to Paul.

    Learning to preach this way may be an issue of pride more than anything else. Preachers have something to say. They have their finger on the pulse of the church. They extract what needs extracting to address their issues.

    I dunno.

    Still formulating.

  89. Em says:

    from the pew: i will listen to a preacher rabbit trail after he is beyond … say age 40, after he has ministered, studied and taught diligently for half of those years … by then he just may have some frame of reference built with which to go off topic, but still on target doctrinally … my spirit does lock onto the creeds under discussion … but, how often the creed of choice should be repeated i’m not sure – once a month perhaps?
    one thing about God’s Word (the simple one called Bible with a captal ‘B’) it has just one meaning – one Truth spotlighted; but – to borrow from the resident sage – we will find many applications
    i love Evangelicals … the pericoptic branch of the Faith 🙂

  90. Xenia says:

    I have been a member or an attendee of three Baptist churches plus one Calvary Chapel and this was what most Bible studies consisted of unless they were based on a strict program based on a curriculum.

    I remember once blowing up in a ladies meeting as we were going around the circle speculating on what “the Lord was saying to me” in a particular verse. It was like fortune telling. I finally said, with some heat, that the scripture meant what the author meant it to say and the Bible isn’t a pack of Tarot card (a paraphrase of what I actually said). I understand that people can derive different applications from the same scripture, within reason, but the Bible isn’t everyone’s personal crystal ball.

    AV, maybe as pastor you don’t get to experience this as much as a lay person would. In a Bible study situation, you are the answer man and people probably defer to you.

  91. I understand the problem of people viewing the Bible as their own Magic 8-Ball, but why would that be limited to evangelical churches?

  92. Shaun Sells says:

    #80 – we have a statement of faith we ask people to be in agreement with to serve in the church and it includes the Trinity. So, to serve in our church you need to believe in the Trinity. To determine salvation for baptism I only ask if they have confessed Christ as Lord and if they believe God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). If they can say yes to both of those they are saved and I will baptize them.

  93. Shaun Sells says:

    #85 – Reuben – I have rarely heard “what does this say to me” in a pulpit, but I would agree with Xenia I have heard it in Bible Studies.

    The pulpit proclaims “thus sayeth the Lord.”

    The individual study asks “what would the Lord have me do.”

    Evangelicals have a strong belief that the Holy Spirit (i.e. the teacher) will teach you (see AV’s comments above). We do not believe that only a special group of dead people have a strangle hold on truth – only that they have been able to express some truth, but not all truth. No one here is rejecting the Trinity.

    Allowing people to do the study for themselves and ask the questions is not a crime. Giving them time to learn and be comfortable with the answers is not a crime. It is called learning. Learning takes time. Learning follows mistakes. I am glad you are comfortable with the conclusions of others, but there is nothing wrong with doing the math yourself.

  94. Another Voice says:

    Yeah, I wonder if two things are being mixed here (especially since this started in a discussion about the creeds). There is a big difference between discussing possible personal applications to verses and giving personal opinion on some deity of Christ verse.

    The simple inductive method. 1) What does the text say (observation) 2) What does it mean (interpretation) 3) What does it mean to me (application)

    (Shaun – That’s how I baptize people too. A test on the Trinity is not part of the process. I should have made that clear in talking about ‘church privileges)

  95. papiaslogia says:

    One (correct) interpretation – Many applications.

    I can agree with the “magic 8 ball” sense that it seems some folks come to the Bible with. When a passage or verse is discussed and there are many “I think it means…”. There’s no issue with people applying Scripture to their lives, but the Scripture MUST be interpreted before they can apply it. We should not try to apply Scripture before we interpret Scripture.

    The Scripture means what it means – we then seek to take that meaning and make it apply to our lives.

    The question of interpretation comes down to authority, IMO.

  96. AV,
    I wish I had more time to discuss this;
    “The simple inductive method. 1) What does the text say (observation) 2) What does it mean (interpretation) 3) What does it mean to me (application).”

    I think this is so telling of the difference in the way an evangelical looks at scripture vs the more historical churches.(at least Lutheran) and I don’t think that it is any small issue.

    A Lutheran looks at scriptures and asks;
    1.) What does the text say
    2.) Where do I find Jesus in the text
    3.) How does this apply to His Church today.

    I think that takes a lot of the “me” as in what does the text mean “to me”

    But I will add, Lutherans are not immune from sitting around in a Bible study saying “well, let me tell you what this text means to me.”… but they should be.

  97. Xenia says:

    Probably my last post didn’t really have much to do with the topic, which is about the Creeds. It was more of a stroll down memory lane.

    The Orthodox would look at a passage and ask “What has the Church always taught this means?”

  98. Xenia – Has the Church ever been horribly wrong about anything?

  99. Xenia says:

    I have heard pastors from the pulpit preach “this is what it means to me.” Not the senior pastor so much as guest speakers. I’ve heard stuff that was so bad the whole congregation should have stood up and boo’d.

  100. Another Voice says:

    I have heard pastors from the pulpit preach “this is what it means to me
    ——————————————
    I regularly do this. Not every sermon but quite often. Why? Because there are often two or more legitimate interpretations known and taught out there on many passages and AFTER I explain what they are I then say “This is what I think it is saying”

    I do that with no apology. It is called teaching the word.

  101. Xenia says:

    Josh, your question requires a careful answer and I am about to leave for the morning. The short, unsatisfactory answer is that the Church, headed by Jesus Christ, is never wrong but her people are often wrong, tragically wrong at times.

  102. Another Voice says:

    A Lutheran looks at scriptures and asks;
    1.) What does the text say
    2.) Where do I find Jesus in the text
    ———————————-
    Yeah, and that scares me to death. After observing the actual written details of the text, before looking at what those words actually mean – the jump is to spiritualize and symbolize any clear meaning away.

    You’re right. Two definitely different methods of doing things.

  103. Xenia says:

    Spiritualize? They take the most important passages, those dealing with Baptism and Communion, literally whereas some groups spiritualize them.

  104. Papias says:

    A Lutheran looks at scriptures and asks;
    1.) What does the text say
    2.) Where do I find Jesus in the text

    1. That’s interpretation.
    2. That’s application, IMO.

    Do people sometimes make the mistake of making this an interpretation and trying to force a text into this box? – sure. But this is part/parcel of Christ centered preaching.

  105. AV,
    Funny that you don’t think that the Bible is about Jesus. I know that you think that parts of the Bible are about Jesus, but not the whole thing.

    I learned to “spiritualize” like this from a guy named Jesus when he was talking to the 2 guys on the road to Emmaus.

    But if you insist, I will declare the distinction – Lutherans believe the whole Bible is about Jesus – and evangelicals… not so much. 😉

  106. Another Voice says:

    I thought the term ‘spiritualize’ as to Biblical hermeneutics was well understood. I’ve never been accused of spiritualizing baptism and communion. After all, we do get wet, and we do ingest the table elements.

  107. “But if you insist, I will declare the distinction – Lutherans believe the whole Bible is about Jesus – and evangelicals… not so much”

    Odd. I’ve heard the exact opposite critique (no this web site) about evangelicals: That we try and take every passage and make it say something about Jesus.

  108. Josh, the question isn’t what you have heard… but what you do. Do you find Jesus in every passage like I do?

  109. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

  110. AV,
    ” the jump is to spiritualize and symbolize any clear meaning away.”

    So back to you. Where would you find that I “spiritualize” passages? If I make the statement that the book of Numbers is about Jesus, is that spiritualizing?

    See, if the book is not about Jesus, how can you preach a Christian message from it? I know that if it is not about Jesus, you can preach a good history lesson or at best a good Jewish message.

  111. Another Voice says:

    Example – Habakkuk. What did this book mean to the original audience that received it hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Did THEY understand this book to teach that the Messiah would die for their sins and rise from the dead.

    It is where ‘the just shall live by faith’ originates, a sentence used three times in the New Testament ALL about Christ.

    But the message for the Jew was to live by faith. Of course one can (and should) preach Jesus as part of this book today. Mention the New Testament references. Heck, even go ahead and mention Martin Luther and a little Church history as to the importance of this verse.

    However, the PRIMARY message is that God is in control and we who are justified and trusting in Him must live by faith. Even when what He is doing seems odd to us (like sending a more wicked pagan nation of Babylong to judge God’s people for their wickedness and paganism).

    No matter how bad things get on earth (see 3:17-18) keep trusting in God. He has a plan we can’t understand or even fully know.

    Considering when I teach through Habakkuk (or any book of the Bible) the vast majority of people are trusting in Christ. They know they need the cross, and they have already come to Christ.

    The questions they have are not about the cross. But about why life is so hard if God is really in control. Why they face such difficulty if God really loves them. Why they aren’t experiencing earthly prosperity like they saw promised on TBN the other night, if they are God’s child.

    And Habakkuk answers such questions. He answered them to the Jews 600 years before Christ, and He answers to the Christian today and throughout history.

    If I use Habakkuk as a pretext to give another ‘Christ crucified’ message ONLY, I am not properly exegeting God’s Word.

    Now, don’t get me started about proper exegesis of Song of Solomon 😉

  112. Another Voice says:

    MLD – What you call a “good history lesson” is what I would call ‘God working with His people of the past’

    For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Rom 15:4)

    Our hope is in Christ. The OT Scriptures will give patience and comfort to those who are in Christ, as we study God’s dealings with His people.

    Look MLD, all my stuff (including Numbers) is online for listening. We’re about 45% of the way through the entire Bible. Listen to anything and tell me where I ever fail in giving a “Christian” message.

  113. AV,
    The challenge was not to your teaching. The challenge was to your comment that if I say “we should look to find Jesus in each passage” that I am spiritualizing the scriptures – your charge – “the jump is to spiritualize and symbolize any clear meaning away.”

    Now to your statement “Listen to anything and tell me where I ever fail in giving a “Christian” message.” Well you may give a Christian message, but it can’t be based on the text if the text is not about Jesus. A Christian message is always about Jesus.So, you probably tag your Christian message onto the back end of a non Jesus text.

  114. Em says:

    as a pew sitter who listens to the teachers … IMO there is a danger in declaring to us that ‘Jesus is in each passage’ – it then becomes easy for us pew sitters to *stop* there, satisfied that the Book climaxed at the death and resurrection and there’s nothing else that He has revealed to us of His character, or even of His plan, beyond the fact that He is, He loves us – enough to sacrifice His human life for us (sorry for the little doctrinal difference there) to save us from Eternal damnation …
    not saying that isn’t the “first thing,” but there’s rich, nourishing food for growing our spirits throughout the Book
    yes, the Spirit does bear witness with our spirits when we can quiet our minds and hearts to become learners and yes, we need good scholarly, humble before God serving as teachers/shepherds to guide us – BUT is Jesus in each verse? i’m more inclined to say the plan of God is in each verse and His plan pivots on Calvary – for us at least, it does

  115. Another Voice says:

    Yes, EM. Very well said at #115.

    Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Col 2:6-7)

    There must be life first, the birth, and the gospel brings life. However, form there God wants us to GROW, to MATURE, to not remain babies (which is directly connected to ignorance of the Scriptures beyond the basic foundation).

    Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God (Heb 6:1)

  116. “… bUT is Jesus in each verse?”
    I didn’t say each verse – I said each passage. You need to expand the passage enough to find Jesus

  117. Another Voice says:

    A Christian message is always about Jesus
    ———————————
    I’ve said this before. A Christian message can certainly be about the Holy Spirit – walking in the Spirit, being led and empowered by the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit.

    If I recall correctly, the answer in reply when I mentioned this before is that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same.

    Which is odd coming from someone who likes the creeds so much.

  118. Another Voice says:

    I quoted 2 Bible verses and it went into moderation…

  119. The final answer says:

    Creed broke up. It’s time to let it go. They weren’t that innovative musically anyway.

  120. “If I recall correctly, the answer in reply when I mentioned this before is that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same.”

    Well that would not have come from me. 🙂

  121. Another Voice says:

    You need to expand the passage enough to find Jesus
    ————————————-
    Missler hacked MLD’s account.

    But on the off chance it is still MLD, question for you brother.

    The passages are part of a book, correct? I’m fully with you on the importance of verses being seen as part of a larger paragraph, story or whatever. But the larger paragraphs are also part of something larger – and that is the book itself (as well as the chapter by chapter progression of a book which is also significant).

    While it is a mistake to look too narrowly at one verse without context, it is also a mistake to look at random paragraphs narrowly without a larger picture for understanding.

    If you were in seminary, and asked to go through each book of the Bible and give the theme of the book, you certainly wouldn’t just write Jesus 66 times. And you don’t need a formal written assignment in seminary to be concerned with the question “What is the theme of this book”

    That is also why any serious study of a book MUST begin by reading the entire book first (preferably a few times) before sitting down and trying to dissect the individual paragraphs.

  122. Let me give you an example. In the story of the wilderness wanderings, is the story about the individual people stuck out in the middle of the desert or is it about Jesus being out there with them?

    I have listened to many messages that go into great detail about people and happenings and never mention that Jesus was with them them the whole time – and I don’t mean spiritually.

  123. Xenia says:

    I think Jesus can be found in every verse but it took the coming of the Holy Spirit to make that apparent. Remember the Ethiopian Eunuch who was reading from Isaiah. “Who is the prophet talking about?” “He’s talking about Jesus,” said Philip. And Philip, from that passage, was able to explain the Gospel. I think the Ethiopian could have been reading from any OT passage and Philip could have used it to explain the Gospel. The Ethiopian believed and was right away baptized.

  124. Xenia – very good.

    You always say in 1 post what takes me 10. :-//)

  125. “Jesus was with them them the whole time – and I don’t mean spiritually.”

    Jesus was physically, bodily, with the Israelites between Egypt and Canaan? Is that what you are saying?

  126. The final answer,
    Very good 🙂

  127. Nonnie says:

    This very interesting discussion has made me think of 2 Cor. 1:20

    “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

  128. TFA,
    “Creed broke up. It’s time to let it go. They weren’t that innovative musically anyway.”

    LOL!!!

  129. BrianD says:

    But…but…but Scott Stapp is SAVED!!! And therefore the bestest rock singer EVER!!!

    🙂

  130. Em says:

    those folk who wandered in the wilderness were most definitely in the plan of God, but sometimes i think we are not clear in our minds about Who was there and just how dependent they were on Moses’ plea for grace and mercy (i do subscribe to the teaching that all God’s historic dealings with man have been God the Son) … but is it outside of the possible that it was the Triune God on the mountain? … and … FWIW … those folk brought out of Egypt and wandering in the wilderness didn’t get to the promised land … a picture of the Jewish nation? a warning to the Church of the necessity of walking with God to achieve His goal? for time? or for eternity? … so much to ponder

    #124 interesting ponder … Acts 8:32 “The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
    Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. …..”
    if he’d been reading from some places in the O.T., the passage in Acts be a whole lot longer, recording the dialog between the men in order for it to make sense to us

  131. papiaslogia says:

    Actually, Creed has been back together for a few years. And Scott Stapp now claims he’s a Christian. He’s writing a memoir due to come out in a few weeks.

  132. Another Voice says:

    Remember the Ethiopian Eunuch who was reading from Isaiah. “Who is the prophet talking about?” “He’s talking about Jesus,” said Philip. And Philip, from that passage, was able to explain the Gospel. I think the Ethiopian could have been reading from any OT passage and Philip could have used it to explain the Gospel. The Ethiopian believed and was right away baptized.
    ————————————-
    Wow. “I think” So that is allowed now? 😉

    Any passage would be the same? Obadiah for example? Oh sure, one could get there eventually. Edom was prideful and God judges pride and all men have pride and so God judges all sin and so Jesus came etc. But that is hardly going to answer a question about the text the guy might have had.

    But he wasn’t confused about Obadiah. Rather it was about whether a specific prophecy was about the prophet himself, or some other man. That is what is known in evangelism as “an opening”

    I think there is no doubt that many of the OT prophecies are directly related to the coming of Jesus. And Acts tells us that the Ethiopian was reading just such a prophecy – maybe the clearest of them all from Isaiah 53. Of course, other prophecies are about the destruction of Edom, or the fall of Ninevah, the Babylonian invasion etc.

    But our Ethiopian wasn’t reading those. So rather than say “Now, the Isaiah reference is meaningless here. All that matters is he was reading the Old Testament and any verse there could be used by the Holy Spirit to preach Jesus dying for your sins.”

    I prefer more along the lines of “Isn’t it awesome how God directs our search, gives us the people to answer our questions. Leads the believer to the lost person at a time the lost person’s heart has been prepared by God to hear the word.”

    The Acts detail about the reference to Isaiah is key to the whole passage and not to be so easily dismissed as insignificant to any other possible verses.

  133. MLD, what did you mean that Jesus was with them in the Desert…and not spiritually?

  134. “Obadiah for example? ”

    Well it’s obvious Obadiah couldn’t about Jesus – it must have been about 21st century Israel. 😉

    I wonder when Jesus was going through the scriptures with the 2 guys from Emmaus, if as he was flipping through he was saying “Here, look at this one – it’s about me. Nevermind these next 2 they’re about Israel, hmmm, here is one that’s all about a donkey. Oh wait – now here is another one about me.” 🙂

  135. Another Voice says:

    MLD – you can mock but the point stands that I do not actually do or believe in the manner that you represent.

    I’ve actually given messages like the one you keep referencing, showing Jesus throughout the books of the Old Testament. Of course He is there.

    I’ve never said here or elsewhere that Jesus is somehow foreign to the Old Testament. The Genesis promises, the Passover, the Levitcal offerings, the entrance to the promised land etc.

    I definitely come short of what you keep suggesting, that one has to FIND Jesus in every passage (and expand the passage as big as you need it to be until you do find Him) – to do otherwise is not to teach Christian.

  136. I never mock – I tease… as in your #122 😉

    Also, I don’t speak directly to your teaching.. just the genre I see out there.

  137. I am very curious as to what MLD meant in his # 123.

  138. Josh,
    Jesus was present in the pillar of fire and the cloud during the desert wanderings.

    Paul also describes how Jesus was present in the “spiritual” rock that followed them.

  139. Ok, is there someone denying that? But it’s still kind of spiritual…not flesh and bone Jesus.

  140. I need to run out to WalMart for a minute – anyone need anything?

  141. Bob Sweat says:

    That 50″ Vizio TV they are advertizing.

  142. Josh, I put the GoGo Juice in your fridge

    Bob, the TV is set up in your livingroom for you when you get home. 🙂

  143. Josh,
    I wasn’t saying anyone was denying anything I said. I was giving an example of how you find Jesus in a passage. Here is the point – once I show Jesus in the wilderness with the children of Israel, I make the point that Jesus is the main character of the story and Jesus is doing the action. The other characters are supporting actors.

    But, if you are only doing a study on 5 verses, it’s hard to find Jesus… but you must go look for him (expanding the context), because without Jesus in the story, well it just becomes Jewish fables.

    That was hyperbole AV 😉

  144. Em says:

    hmmm speaking of Jesus in the cloud and in the pillar of fire, could one then say that was God, the same God that was *in* the baby born to Mary – in a similar fashion? God didn’t become a bush or a cloud – trying to ponder the incarnation without a TBN type conclusion to my thots

    i may be oxygen deprived – don’t think so, but right now this valley i live in is surreal – incredible cover of smoke and ash – we look like 19th century London must have looked, except that folks here are going around with white masks

  145. ” the same God that was *in* the baby born to Mary –”
    God wasn’t “in” the baby – God was the baby in Mary

    God did not reside in Jesus.

  146. Em says:

    no, i agree, God did not reside *in* Jesus – BUT that mortal flesh, the incarnation that is so hard to wrap our minds around … the Holy life – was it the flesh God or was He in that flesh? comes under the heading of ponders – ponders skate very close to foolish and unlearned on many occasions

  147. Em says:

    one extra “it” in my above … makes a difference … if it makes a difference … dunno

  148. Xenia says:

    I believe that Calvary Chapel has a fairly stable theology. Except for the occasional bizarre sermon offered up by amateur assistant pastors and crazy guest speakers with books to sell, what I heard from the pulpit was consistent with basic CC doctrines, as taught by Pastor Chuck.

    I had a lot of friends who went to more Pentecostal non-denoms and their pastors made up doctrine all the time. These pastors constantly read a scripture passage and preached their discoveries from the pulpit with a “thus saith the Lord” flourish. And these friends would come to me, all agog with their pastor’s latest insights, most of them heretical. But next week it would all be switched around as their pastor read a little further and got some new info from the Holy Spirit. It was crazy. There are a LOT of churches like this in America, a lot of them.

  149. Reuben says:

    Papias @96 spot on.

  150. Another Voice says:

    The odd thing about your examples MLD, is you pick something that no serious evangelical is going to skip over. I’ve heard a few sermons on the wilderness wanderings and ALWAYS an emphasis is placed on the rock being Christ, the presence in the pillar of fire and the cloud…

    To repeat – nobody is saying Jesus is NOT found in the OT. He is all over the place. Maybe it’s a byproduct of actually teaching these OT books in their entirety – but trying to pigeon-hole Jesus into each and every passage (for me at least) would do an injustice to the text. Therefore, because this still is the word of God, I seek to know what the text meant to the original audience at the time and place it was written, but also how it can resonate to Christians in the current day (or else, why teach it).

    I gave you my example earlier with Habakkuk.

    Anyway, I think we’ve both said our peace and now would only just repeat ourselves…

  151. AV,
    Part of what you are missing is that I am not saying people don’t preach Jesus from the obvious passages. What I did say is once I place Jesus in the wilderness wanderings he is there as the lead character, in this case for the full 40 yrs (that covers several books). So, in a case where it is not so obvious, you can still look, it takes work. (and I will admit that I don’t always find it… but I know as a hermenuetical discipline, he is there)

    How about this for an example – The Balaam story. Since I know Jesus is with the children of Israel throughout their journey, even though it isn’t explicit, I can still find Jesus in those passages.

    My long windedness on this issue was your initial outright refusal to say that even “looking for Jesus” in a passage is somehow correct.

    To bring to remembrance – I said;
    A Lutheran looks at scriptures and asks;
    1.) What does the text say
    2.) Where do I find Jesus in the text
    3.) How does this apply to His Church today.

    And you immediately took exception to trying to find Jesus in a passage – which to me means you don’t look, if it is not obvious. Because to do so, in your words = “the jump is to spiritualize and symbolize any clear meaning away.”

    But you are right, we hashed it over enough – and as my #97 said it is a great divide in how a Lutheran and an evangelical would approach scriptures. Not saying right or wrong – just different.

  152. Another Voice says:

    My long windedness on this issue was your initial outright refusal to say that even “looking for Jesus” in a passage is somehow correct.
    ———————————-
    Well…to be clear. You substituted ‘Where do I find Jesus’ where I had written “What does the text mean”

    Nor do I see in your list any desire to find the meaning of the text in the original setting and audience.

    Whereas I certainly will seek Jesus in the text as relevant for insight and application for today (call it a hybrid between my step 2 and 3). I just won’t force him into the preaching if not something edifying or faithful to the text.

    We agree (with different words) as to step three. How does it apply to us, the Church, today. Sometimes for example I have to show the contrast between OT words and how we respond today. When David prays for the Lord to bust their teeth out and so forth I remind that our Lord instructs the Church to bless your enemies. That sort of contrast.

  153. “We agree (with different words) as to step three. How does it apply to us, the Church, today.”

    Actually we did not agree using different words. You said
    “What does it mean to me (application)” – That is a very singular application.

    Mine was quite different; “How does this apply to His Church today.”

    I think “me” and “his Church” are quite different. In my local community, there are 600 “me”s but there is only one church.

  154. Another Voice says:

    That one church consists of millions of ‘me’s’

    Frankly, if say we are studying a passage on forgiveness, I don’t want to stop at “So, Christians are supposed to forgive. Have a good week”

    Rather “Who personally in your life (singular) would the Lord say you need to forgive. May the Spirit give you that understanding, and the strength to personally forgive out of obedience to your Lord who has forgiven you.”

    Do you understand the dynamic of speaking to a large crowd and yet connecting (at least trying to) personally as if you were speaking to each person privately? That connection is only possible by means of the Holy Spirit. So everyone hears the same words coming out of the pastor’s mouth but the Spirit gives that personal application that (God willing) they go forth and put into practice that week.

    That’s preaching that changes lives, and changes the world for Christ. That is the only preaching I care about trying to accomplish.

  155. Nonnie says:

    MLD and AV, I am truly getting so much out of this discussion. You are both bringing such good points in to this conversation. Bless you!

  156. Your #156 has nothing to do with what we were talking about. I have been trying to stay on point, and you have been doing the 2 step. Go back and pick up the context (the reason for the discussion). Read your 95, my 97 and then your 103.

    Basically, we have 2 very different ways of approaching scriptures – which is fine, we don’t need to be the same, but… then you labeled mine as “spiritualizing” and “symbolizing” the scriptures.

    Now as the conversation has gone on, you are trying to associate more with my position, claiming that has been your position – that we should look for Christ in all scriptures and that application should be for the church – but you don’t want to come out and say it clearly like I did in #97.

    But, we are brothers in the Dodgers and that makes us family… oh and the Holy Spirit also. 😉

  157. Hi Nonnie – happy birthday, I missed it a couple of days ago.

  158. Nonnie says:

    Why, thank you MLD!
    I believe that AV does bring out Jesus in his sermons, and he finds the gospel, and clarifies the good news, l in his teaching each week. It is evident from what he shares here.

    But I have been in SUNDAY services that were going through a book of the OT where Jesus is not even mentioned. It was basically a study on Israel and it’s history. I wondered if there was someone attending the service who didn’t know Christ (was not saved and perhaps not familiar with Christianity) what did they think???? They certainly did not hear the gospel, except maybe in one of the worship songs or hymns. That is something that concerns me.

  159. Nonie,
    That was never my point. What I was saying is how do you approach scripture when you come to a passage?

    AV said his method was “The simple inductive method. 1) What does the text say (observation) 2) What does it mean (interpretation) 3) What does it mean to me ” (application)

    I countered and said that the Lutheran position was;
    1.) What does the text say
    2.) Where do I find Jesus in the text
    3.) How does this apply to His Church today.

    I see this as a very big difference.

    But then AV, in disputing my position said,
    “Yeah, and that scares me to death. After observing the actual written details of the text, before looking at what those words actually mean – the jump is to spiritualize and symbolize any clear meaning away.”

    So, and in later posts AV stated that you cannot find Jesus in every passage, so I made the claim that if Jesus is not in the passage you are preaching, it is not a Christian message – but I gave him that he does preach a Christian message so he must be tacking a Christian message on a text that is not particularly Christian.

    But viva la difference (with a french accent) – and that is my point, that we are different.

  160. Nonnie,
    “They certainly did not hear the gospel, except maybe in one of the worship songs or hymns. That is something that concerns me.”

    I too have sat through many bible studies like that – and mostly from the popular famous guys. But they sneak Jesus in at the very end and finish up saying “Now, would you like to know this Jesus?” I laugh, nothing was said about Jesus, I just learned for an hour about census taking by David.

  161. Em says:

    i agree with Nonnie at her #157 (did i miss a report on your baby grandson, Nonnie?)
    … that said, over a lifetime and through the years i have developed a negative reaction to talking of Christ Jesus with a denomination’s teaching as the final authority – truth be told it’s too easy to produce folk who are Roman Catholic and therefore Christian, Baptist and therefore Christian, Lutheran and therefore Christian, etc.
    i am a Christian and as Paul said: Eph 6:24 Grace [be] with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen
    … sound doctrine wherever it is found

  162. Nonnie says:

    Em,I was waiting for Prayer and Praise on Sunday to update, but since you asked:

    The doctors are taking it very, very slow with Baby Bennet (he will be 1 month old tomorrow) and they are keeping him entubated with the ventilator and oxygen, letting his weak heart and lungs get a bit stronger. His mama says he is very alert and it appears the pneumonia is going away and lungs clearing. They are hoping they can exubate him Monday or Tuesday and then Mama and Daddy will be able to hold him. It is going to be a long haul for him as he faces another open heart surgery at 4 to 5 months old and then another one at 4 or 5 years. So we are all taking it a day at a time and thanking God for small wonders. Thank you so much for praying and caring.
    Anyone on FB can read updates and see photos on a public site called
    Praying for Baby Bennet

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