I had not really intended to write a third part to this series. In fact, when I initially sat down to write any of it, it wasn’t supposed to be a series at all. I was venting some pent-up frustrations and thinking out loud (as it were) and things started to go a bit long. So I broke up the post into some bite-sized chunks.
My wife read through part 2 and we had a good conversation about it. It seemed like there were some clarifications that needed to be made, so here they are.
- I believe in the truth and infallibility of the original words of scripture. The Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts that make up this book we call the “Bible” is God’s word to man, His special revelation. While it clearly does not provide specific answers to all of life’s questions (there are clearly specific topics, like the Internet, that are not addressed directly), it’s precepts and principles are complete.
- Consequently, I believe the events described in the Bible are true. As unbelievable as any of the events may seem (kings living like cows, walls collapsing due to yelling, the plagues, the crossing of waters), they did actually happen. They should be considered to be actual history until shown otherwise.
- I believe that any Bible, translated in good faith to be a translation (and not a paraphrase) is a sufficient text from which to study the Word, for I do not believe that man can, by his own efforts, understand the spiritual matters contained within. It is only by the Spirit’s aid that we can comprehend any of it.
- I believe that God did create the world out of nothing, by the power of His word, and that it took 7 literal days. However, this is not a central tenet of my faith, nor am I at all passionate about it. It does not affect my day-to-day faith nor do I feel compelled to enter the arena of discussion. I’m relatively glad there are people who want to (as long as they come off as intelligent and not crazy anti-science crackpots).
- I believe doctrine is important and crucial. I care about the difference between “imparted” and “imputed” righteousness. I care about understanding the culture that surrounded Jesus of Nazareth and how that helps us understand the full weight of what He said (and how he said it). Same goes for Paul and Peter and all the other New Testament authors.
- I believe that knowledge without action is pointless though.
- I believe we must firmly establish the difference between doctrinal issues and preferences. We must be prepared to defend our faith, yet be ready to re-address any long-held beliefs to make sure we approach them correctly.
- I believe we must reduce apparent barriers to people entering the church, whether it has to do with the type of Bible they carry, the way they dress, the TV they watch or whatever. The Spirit will continue the sanctifying work and mature them to a point they can recognize if a habit or preference is potentially unprofitable (even if it is permissible). People should not have to have it all together before they walk through the front door of a church.
That number 8 is really the crux of the whole series here, and is something I feel like the evangelical church can struggle with and I hope that’s the spirit in which everything I’ve written can be taken.