In hanging on the cross, Jesus was our substitute. He was without sin. We are not. It is sin that deserves the punishment of death (Romans 6:23). Jesus took on our sin and died in our place – substituting His own body in place of ours. This concept is important because Jesus is the only man (of course He is God too) whose perfect, sinless life was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. The good news is that He did it and that God’s righteous judgment is still intact because His just demands have been met.
This concept is clear throughout Scripture:
Isaiah 53 – But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
Matthew 20:28 – . . .the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
I Timothy 2:6a – who gave himself as a ransom for all men. . .
Galatians 3:13a – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. . .
2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Peter 3:18a – For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. . .
How does this concept impact my life? In every way. I live because Christ died in my place. He took on my sin – it is no longer my burden. It has been paid for by Jesus’ own blood. He has conquered death and brought me into the family of God. In this life and beyond I will enjoy the favor of a Father who is God. It’s a classic statement, but appropriate here – Because He died for me, I choose to live for Him! I’ll never be able to substitute myself for Him, but He has called me to try – to work on becoming like Him and to then represent Him to the world. It’s an incredible privilege that I’m honored to be a part of.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 323)
This is the term used to describe Jesus’ humanity and His divinity. The idea that he is both God and man at the same time is strange. When Jesus came to earth from heaven as a human, he also took on a new nature (human nature) which he had not experienced before. These two natures are united together perfectly in Jesus, but they still maintain their separate identities. Jesus (the God-man) is fully human, but he is fully God at the same time. How this works is one of the mysteries of God that has stumped mankind for many generations. He is one man, but has two natures. Whoa! This concept is important to us too – here’s why – Jesus had to be God so He could live perfectly without sin and could become the “perfect sacrifice: for our sins. He also had to be human so that God could die. By becoming a man, Jesus also became the ultimate priest. By being God, He was able to properly act as a Mediator between God and man.
How does this impact my life? In every way. It’s only because the Word was made flesh that I have been saved. Jesus’ death and resurrection (pictures of His humanity and divinity) secure my new life. It is in serving this man, that I find myself serving God. Cool stuff.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 227-229)
This is a paper I had to write for my class. It’s a bit more interesting than some of my other posts lately.
It was 1977. I was eight years old and my dad was taking my younger brother and I to the movies. Just going to the movies at all was a rare treat, but this was a special day. I had been waiting for what seemed like forever to a young boy, for this day to arrive. I had heard about the hype and commotion over this film, and there was something in me that just longed for adventure. Maybe it’s something God placed within me – maybe it’s just my sinful self wanting for something more – but either way, that day would not be a disappointment. I remember leaving the theater that day with such excitement – feeling like something had changed – like nothing would ever be the same. What I felt was a sense of something larger, like the world wasn’t just about me anymore. There was more to it. My little corner of the universe was just that. . . little. What I was feeling – what I had experienced was just a microcosm of what the world was celebrating. Star Wars mania hit with resounding blows. Every friend I had was collecting Star Wars cards and action figures and quoting lines from the films to each other – and it wasn’t just the little kids like me either, it was universal. It was huge. It was larger than life. It was Star Wars! Today the Star Wars kingdom has exploded into so much more. There are on-line communities who explore the “expanded universe” (including books, video games, etc. which were not a part of the films) together and even argue over the finer details of the films. There are an ever-increasing number of action figures and Star Wars merchandise on the shelves at stores and even television shows that parody the films.
As I look back on those days, I ask myself, “What was it about Star Wars that resonated in such deep ways with people all over the world?” I believe that the answer to that question can be found in how the themes of the films line up with the longings of the human heart which God placed within each of us. Although the writer, George Lucas was simply trying to tell a good story, these films actually point to God. (Maybe that speaks of the longings of Lucas’ heart too.) Speaking of his intentions with Star Wars in an interview, Lucas said, “I wanted it to be a traditional moral study, to have some sort of palpable precepts in it that children could understand.” He continued, “There is always a lesson to be learned. . .Traditionally, we get them from church, family, art and in the modern world, we get them from the media – – from movies.” Later on in his career, Lucas said, “The Force evolved out of various developments of character and plot. I wanted a concept of religion based on the premise that there is a God and there is good and evil. . . . . I believe in God and I believe in right and wrong. I also believe that there are basic tenets which through history have developed into certainties, such as ‘thou shalt not kill.’ I don’t want to hurt other people. ‘Do unto others…’ is the philosophy that permeates my work.”
It becomes evident that Lucas wasn’t specifically writing about the God of the Bible, but I intend to point out many of the places where his Methodist upbringing reveals itself. Although there are many illustrations from each of the six films, I will limit myself to Episode IV, “A New Hope” which was the first film to be made.
In the beginning of Episode IV, we meet Luke Skywalker. He is a young man who feels trapped by his circumstances. He senses that there is more to life than the crops and equipment repairs that he has learned under his uncle Owen. Luke, like every Christian, has a calling on his life. He’s not sure what it is, but feels an unrest and restlessness, until he finds rest in seeking the ways of the Jedi. This longing, this calling is described by C.S. Lewis, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. [So] I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This longing is also described by Blaise Pascal as a “God-shaped vacuum” or in Ecclesiastes 3:11, God says that He has “set eternity in their hearts.” God is calling each of us into relationship with Himself even in the way He created us. Like us, Luke would not find rest until he found it in his calling.
It’s also interesting to note that Luke was tired of the normal life he had been leading. John Eldridge says, “In the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” I believe that this is true – little boys play and imagine their future as warrior heroes, firemen, and athletes who’s lives are filled with one adventure after another. How many little boys dream of being office desk jockeys? If this is true, then Luke was given an opportunity to chase those desires in ways that every man longs for. Eldridge continues, “If we believe that man is made in the image of God, then we would do well to remember that ‘the Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name'(Ex. 15:3).”
In one scene, Luke, with light saber in hand, is concentrating on a silver sphere which hovers in the air. Without warning, the sphere lunges forward and emits a small electric bolt hitting Luke in the hip. Han Solo laughs saying that no light saber can compare to a good blaster. Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi and new friend of Luke’s just smiles on as Han rants about his doubts concerning the “Force.” Obi-Wan places a helmet on Luke’s head with the blast shield down and encourages him to try again. Luke complains that he can’t see anything, but Obi-Wan continues to encourage him saying, “This time let go of your conscience self and act on instinct.” He continues, “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.” Luke gets hit again, but then settles in and concentrates. He moves quickly without hesitation, and blocks the sphere three times in a row. “You see,” said Obi-Wan, “You can do it.”
Luke replies, “You know I did feel something. I could almost see the remote!”
“That’s good.” Obi-Wan smiles, “You have taken your first step into a larger world.”
A larger world. Isn’t that exactly what Luke had been looking for? Are we any different? It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, young people want to be somewhere else – somewhere unknown – someplace new – someplace different. We all long for more – for adventure. I can’t help but notice that what it took for him to take his first step into this new world was a little faith. Faith that he could hit the sphere without his eyes. Just as Obi-Wan led Luke into this kind of life-changing faith, Jesus came to lead us there too. What is faith? Well, according to Star Wars, it’s trust in yourself, your “instinct.” As Christians we can’t ascribe to that, but at least they got the trust part right. For us, it’s trust in Jesus. Luke had to trust Obi-Wan’s leadership and he had to “let go of his conscience self.”
This part we can agree with. Letting go of ourselves, we must trust Jesus. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Another place that we see clear spiritual implications in Star Wars is with the systems of the Jedi Council. According to Genesis, man was created in the image of God, and as such, we are not loners – we need each other. In the same way, God Himself is a community – Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The structures of the Jedi reflect this. According to Timothy Paul Jones, “Every Jedi needs guidance and no Jedi stands alone. Every youngling has a teacher, every Padawan has a guide. Not only do the Jedi draw wisdom from living mentors, but they also absorb the teachings of past masters.” This echoes the rabbinical educational systems of the Bible. Ancient Jews knew community in ways that we have lost over the years. A young man who sought to be educated would go to a Rabbi and begin to live under his “yoke” (teaching). In a very real sense, it was the rabbi’s job to train this young man in the way of the masters. Not unlike the Jedi, the rabbis themselves had been trained by learned men and continued to seek and “absorb the teachings of past masters“by studying the Scriptures. I personally believe that this helps to explain the popularity Star Wars. We all long for this kind of community and the Jedi council seems to be a form of family that is healthy. Jones continues saying, “Every part of a Jedi’s existence is inherently communal, a matter of doing life together.” I wonder how the Christian community would be different if we truly sought this kind of existence. If we each were involved in small groups who were honest about their lives, encouraged one another, gave advise to one another, held each
other accountable to the Scriptural guidelines we claim to hold so high? What kind of group would it take for us to find a true community that we respected enough to actually seek their counsel? At one point in Episode 6, (I know. . . I am limiting my argument to Episode 4, but please allow me this indulgence.) Emperor Palpatine tells Luke that his weakness is his “faith in your friends.” I long to be accused of being that kind of friend. It’s no wonder we all relate to Luke so well – he’s the kind of guy we all wish to be and to have as a friend.
Another scene in “A New Hope” also stands out for me for its’ spiritual implications. Han Solo, Chewy, Luke, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are in the Millennium Falcon and chasing a small fighter when they come across a “small moon.” As they approach they realize, “That’s no moon,” but it’s a space station. We know it now as the “Death Star.” As they approach they get caught in its’ “tractor beam” (also called a grappling ray) and cannot fight against it. The only way to escape is for Obi-Wan to make his way to the main reactor (where the tractor beam drew its power) and shut down one of its’ seven links. The “Death Star” is without a doubt a clear representation of the power of evil. As Christians, it always amazes me at how Satan seeks us out to “steal, kill, and destroy us.” Much like the tractor beam, when we’ve come too close, he draws us in and seeks to turn us to the “dark side.” Without the aid of Jesus (a spiritual Master similar to Obi-Wan) we could never get out of Satan’s clenches. There are many other comparisons between Obi-Wan and Jesus, but I’ll stick with just two: (1) Luke Skywalker’s life is completely changed when he meets Obi-Wan and begins his Jedi training. In the same way, Jesus transforms us and trains us in the proper ways to live. (2) It’s also interesting to note that Obi-Wan dies in Episode IV and is actually stronger in death than even in life. Much like the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent after His death/resurrection, Obi-Wan appears as a spirit to Luke and speaks to him to give him strength and guidance during the rebel’s trench attack on the Death Star.
Darth Vader is still another clear representation of evil or Satan. Throughout the film, he recognizes the potential in Skywalker, and seeks to turn him to the “dark side.” Satan works in similar ways trying to position himself in such a way that we would respond to him favorably. Douglas LeBlanc says, “This is realistic filmmaking, for few of us merely stumble into doing evil. Often because of fear, pain or a sense of helplessness we lash out.” Dick Staub adds another dimension saying, “Darth Vader was persistent in his pursuit of Luke Skywalker, desiring to turn him from a potentially powerful foe to a deceived ally, a relationship that parallels the dark side’s hounding of the Jedi Christian. . . There is Hope. Julian of Norwich warned, ‘Jesus said not: thou shalt not be troubled, thou shalt not be tempted, nor thou shalt not be mistreated. But he said: thou shalt not be overcome.’“
One of the enjoyable aspects of Star Wars is the clear distinction between good and evil. It’s not difficult to realize that Darth Vader and all of the Empire are the “bad guys” and that Luke, the rebel alliance, and the Jedi are the “good guys.” This also aids in the appeal of these films. It’s easy to imagine yourself in the struggle when the battle lines are drawn so clearly. Unfortunately, the world we live in has a difficult time with making these distinctions because Satan has attempted to redraw those lines. Through our daily news, we witness parents who abuse their children, preachers who cheat on their wives, and all sorts of other contradictions. It’s not as hard as Satan wants us to think though. Like Star Wars, Paul spells it out pretty clearly saying, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” With the battle lines drawn so clearly, I find myself wanting to join the rebel alliance against the evil forces of sin in this world. Would you join me in my struggle?
There are so many more examples of Christian theology in the Star Wars films, but I will not tackle any more for now. Notice the implications of some of these quotes from the other films:
Luke: “I don’t. . .I don’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.” (Episode V)
Luke: “I’ll give it a try.”
Yoda: “No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” (Episode V)
Qui-Gon Jinn: “Our meeting was not a coincidence. Nothing happens by
accident.” (Episode I)
Qui-Gon Jinn: “Nothing happens by accident. . .Finding [Anakin] was the will of
the Force.” (Episode I)
Anakin Skywalker: “I’ve become more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed
of.” (Episode III)
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “You have made a commitment to the Jedi Order, Anakin. A
commitment not easily broken.” (Episode II)
Yoda: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” (Episode
Yoda: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to
hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Episode I)
Luke: “Father, please. Help me.” (Episode VI)
Luke: “But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: “You will know. When you are calm, at peace.” (Episode V)
To summarize, let’s do a quick overview. It seems that “Star Wars” resonated with people because of the deep desires that God has placed within us as humans. George Lucas himself has those longings and therefore, Star Wars reflects them. Those longings are personified in Luke Skywalker who dreams of a life of adventure and purpose. As he learns to trust Obi-Wan Kenobi, he steps into a larger world and begins his journey to becoming a Jedi. Christians must also take these steps into a new life by trusting in Jesus and beginning their journey to becoming a disciple. Like God Himself, the Jedi Council and educational structures are practiced in community. We Christians must also find community for encouragement, accountability, and strength. Satan’s pursuit and power are personified in Darth Vader and the Death Star, but we find hope in overcoming them in Christ. As Obi-Wan made the way for our heroes to escape, Jesus has made our escape from sin possible by his work on the cross. As Obi-Wan’s death led to greater strength in a spiritual form, so Christ’s death and resurrection have brought about the gift of the Holy Spirit, empowering us to live as Christian Jedi Masters.
“Star Wars” was an epic film which inspired people all over the world to imagine and dream! As they watched, they believed in the heroes and rooted them on. The battle between good and evil is an epic battle! Will you join the forces with me in the struggle? Will you believe in the hero (Jesus) and root Him on? It’s an adventure that we all live. My prayer is that you’ll live it on my side of the battle line, ’cause in the end. . . . . . JESUS WINS!!!!!
Lordship Salvation is the idea that in order to be saved, one must receive Jesus as both Savior and Lord. Belief in Christ is not enough, but good works are required. The guys who ascribe to this view would describe saving faith as repentance (turning from sin) plus faith (turning to God). They also say that to receive Christ, means to receive His whole person, which includes His roles as both Savior and Lord. John Stott says, “The call of God in the gospel is not just to receive Jesus Christ, but to belong to Him, not just to believe in Him, but to obey Him.”
Now, the guys who oppose this view are called “Free Grace” guys. They point to the Scriptures that speak of salvation as a “gift.” There is nothing one must do to earn it. No “good works” are required. They point to Acts 2:38 which says that we must only “repent” before we can be baptized and brought into the fellowship.
My own opinion actually finds its’ strength in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul speaks of the “carnal” man. It’s clear that this man is saved, but also that he is not living with Christ as “Lord” of his life. Now, if he is saved but Christ isn’t Lord of his life then, “saving faith” must not require “Lordship.” There is no such thing as a “Carnal Christian” if Lordship Salvation is true.
When we went over this in class, our professor also described a 3rd view which he called “soft Lordship.” This view says that once a man is saved (by repentance alone), the Holy Spirit would begin to work on him and there would be “good works” or fruit to being to appear. It may be as small as a feeling of conviction which he never had before, but it’s still fruit. The idea is that Christ would begin to become “Lord” from that day forward.
Free Grace: Faith = Salvation and works/fruit may or may not follow.
Soft Lordship: Faith = Salvation and works/fruit will follow.
I think I’d have to put myself in the “soft Lordship” category. I believe that a “Carnal Christian” is just one who’s “works” have not had time to start showing up on the outside. In regards to the “Free Grace” view, I have a hard time believing that the Holy Spirit’s presence doesn’t make any difference.
How does this make a difference in my life?
There’s a part of me that is really comforted by knowing that the Holy Spirit’s work in us, might not be very evident to the onlooker. In my years of youth ministry, I
have seen many kids “walk the aisle” to receive Christ and then go for years with no evidence that it made any difference. Sometimes I watch them make decisions which clearly would not honor God. Jesus is definitely not “Lord” for them. It’s comforting to know that faith alone is sufficient. I will continue to teach and encourage His Lordship, but will also seek out the small, subtle things that the Holy Spirit might be doing within them. I think that this understanding of grace, makes me more gracious.
(Info from “Must Christ be Lord to Be Savior” by Everett Harrison and John Stott – also from “How Faith Works” by S. Lewis Johnson Jr., and “A Critique of Lordship Salvation Debate” by Charles E. Powell)
Although there seems to be lots of arguments about this issue in churches today, it seems like a pretty clear-cut case to me when you consider Scripture. The traditional view stresses the woman’s duty to
“submit” to the authority of men and that they should not “teach” men. Scriptures used include:
Ephesians 5:22 – Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
I Corinthians 14:33-35 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
I Timothy 2:11-14 – A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
I Corinthians 11:3 – Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Now, let’s consider the Scriptures that point to women being involved:
Gen 1:27-28 – Women were created in God’s image as well as man
Exodus 38:8 – Women served at the Temple entrance.
Exodus 15:20 – Miriam was a prophetess.
Micah 6:4 – Miriam led alongside Aaron and Moses.
Judges 4-5 – Deborah was a judge.
2 Kings 22:8-20 – Huldah was a prophetess.
I Chronicles 25:5-7 – Women sang in the temple choirs.
Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-18 – Women will prophesy.
Luke 2:36-38 – Anna was a prophetess.
John 4:7-26 – Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman in particular.
Mark 1:29-31; 5:25-34 – Jesus cared equally for the sicknesses of women.
Luke 10:42 – Jesus allowed a woman to sit at His feet.
Matthew 19:9-10; Mark 10:11-12 – Jesus reinterpreted issues which were against women
Mark 16:6-8 – Women carried the news of the resurrection even though a woman’s testimony was not considered valid.
Acts 2:1-4 – Holy Spirit fell on both men and women.
Acts 1:14 – Women prayed with men.
Acts 9:36; 12:12; 16:14-15 – Women served in lots of ministries.
Acts 18:26-28 – Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos understand his faith.
Acts 21:8-9 – Philip’s 4 daughters were prophetesses.
Galatians 3:28 – In Christ there is no male or female.
Romans 8:9b – Women and men are indwelt equally by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 11:4-5 – Women have access to God in prayer just as men.
1 Corinthians 11:5; 14:26 – Women are allowed to speak in church.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 27-31; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter
4:10-11 – Women are given Spiritual gifts just as men.
Philippians 4:2-3 – Euodia and Syntyche were co-workers with Paul.
Romans 16; 1 Corinthians 9:5 – 10 out of 29 people commended for service are women.
Romans 16:1 – Phoebe is called a “deacon.”
Romans 16:7 – Andronicus and Junia are said to be “outstanding among the apostles.”
OK – so here’s my take on it all:
With all of the Scripture that affirms women’s involvement in the church, it seems
pretty clear that God approves. Each of the verses which are used to hinder
their involvement can be explained as problems within specific communities/churches or as issues of order. Voddie Bachaum uses an illustration that may be helpful. – An all-pro lineman submits to the authority of a rookie quarterback because the team is stronger when it’s structure/order is upheld. It’s not that the rookie is more valuable – but it’s an issue of order, not worth.
Now, there’s one catch in my opinion. There is only one role which Scripture has no example of women holding – elder or Sr. Pastor. I believe that women can and should function in all roles in the church except Sr. Pastor. Teaching is a spiritual
gift, not an office and so those roles should be open to anyone (male or female) who has that spiritual gift.
Now as to why I don’t think a woman should be a Sr. Pastor. . . .there are three
reasons. One is valid and others are simply my opinion.
(1) the valid one – because we don’t see a Scriptural example.
(2) my opinion – If we ask men to be the “head of household” and for women “to submit” to them at home, we are sending a mixed messages to our men when it comes to their role at church. Again, it’s not a matter of value or worth, but only of order.
(3) I also think that culturally, here in the Bible belt, it’s difficult for men to respect a woman’s leadership in such a way that a healthy situation can be accomplished. As long as there is a Male Sr. Pastor, you also have a situation where this “order” can still be established and women can exercise their gifts in all areas of ministry.
How will this impact my life? I hope to be involved in a church plant one day, so this will have a very direct impact on how it all comes together.
According to Chafer, Systematic Theology is the “collecting, scientifically arranging, comparing, exhibiting, and defending all the facts from any and every source concerning God and His works.” Hodge would agree, but would limit these facts to those coming from the Bible alone. Erickson says that a theology must be (1) Biblical, (2) Systematic, (3) Relevant, (4) Contemporary, and (4) Practical.
While Biblical theology starts with the Scriptures and determines what they say about God, Systematic theology stars with a topic and try to figure out what all of Scripture has to say about it. This method helps to arrange all the Scriptural truths in a way that enables us to have a clear understanding of the emphasis of the entire Bible. It also helps us when it comes to defending our beliefs in a logical way. Our understanding of the truths of Scripture reflect our maturity in Christ.
As far as how this will change my life – I’m thinking I might need to be more intentional about the teaching that I give our students in our youth ministry. I need to make sure that there are certain doctrinal ideas that get covered during their time in our group. In reading Hebrews the other day, I noticed certain doctrines which Paul considered foundational.
Check it out: Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
I plan on making sure that these concepts are taught to our students.
By the way, I also think that this series of journal entries is helping me to systematize my own theological ideas.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg
I hope I don’t offend any of my Catholic friends, but I just read about some of their beliefs and it jut seems crazy. It seems like their view of Scripture has just kind of watered down things and confused them over the years. Here are some of the things they believe:
1. Authority comes from the Scriptures (which include some extra Apocryphal books), but tradition is also considered authoritative as well as the popes. The Popes are able to interpret the Scriptures however they’d like and the people are to obey – the difficult thing is that one pope may interpret things one way, and then a few years later, another pope can come and and say that he was wrong. To me it just doesn’t seem like that represents the unchanging God very well.
2. Salvation can only come to those who are members of the Roman Catholic Church. According to Paul Enns, it is considered the “only ark of salvation and anyone who does not enter it must sink in the flood.”
So salvation is – to believe in Jesus Christ and join their church? I guess Jesus’ death and resurrection wasn’t enough to save me? His grace isn’t enough according to them.
3. Mary – Jesus’ mother is worshipped by Catholics. She is considered to have “perpetual virginity” and to be “sinless.” (How did she have any other children and still be a “perpetual virgin?) According to Enns, they also believe that no one can come to Jesus unless he/she goes through the Mother. This is why they pray to her. Another interesting point is that they believe her body did not decompose when she died, but that she was resurrected with her same earthly body. I guess that she could keep that body in heaven since it was sinless.
4. Purgatory – When you die, you go to heaven, hell, or purgatory. Purgatory is like a jail for people who have sin which has not been paid for. (Since Jesus’ death wasn’t enough.) You can stay there for varying amounts of time depending on your degree of sinfulness. But the good news is that your living relatives can pray and do good works to shorten your stay. None of this is Scriptural by our standards, but by using their extra books, they find validation.
5. Communion – Catholics believe in a concept called “transubstantiation” in which the bread and wine actually become Jesus’ flesh and blood when the priest blesses them. Yuck!!! I don’t know about you, but I don’t wanna eat anybody’s flesh – even Jesus’. I also don’t think He asked us to do anything but remember His sacrifice symbolically. At the Lord’s supper, Jesus used bread and wine.
Well, these are just a few of the ideas from Catholic Theology. It’s sad to me that so many people could be led astray simply because the Scriptures have not been upheld. By putting man’s (popes) opinions in as high a position as the Scriptures, they have confused their theology. God’s word has been mixed with man’s opinion and it has hurt them tremendously whether they realize it or not.
How does this change my life? With this understanding, I find myself with a bit more compassion for my Catholic friends. I understand what to pray for a bit more now, and if given the opportunity, I know what kinds of questions to ask to lead them into conversations about faith.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 527-539)
OK – So dispensationalism is the method of theology that I would subscribe to. Here are some the basics for this ideaology:
1. A consistently literal interpretation of the Scriptures.
2. A definite difference between Israel and the church. (Covenant theologians say that the church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.)
3. The main theme of the Bible is God’s glory. (Covenant theologians say it’s salvation of man.) I don’t understand how anyone could really think the world revolves around man instead of it being about God. I mean, does the watchmaker make the watch for Himself or for the sake of the watch?
Here’s how it works:
From the beginning of history God has been showing off His glory. One way He has done that is by saving man. That salvation has always been by grace through faith, but it has looked a little different throughout the ages. Each of these eras is called a dispensation. This is the most popular way of dividing up the dispensations:
1. Innocence – Before Adam’s fall. (Gen 1:28-3:6)
2. Conscience – Roman’s 2:15 shows that God dealt with man through his conscience after the fall. Man was to respond in faith based upon the convictions of his conscience. (Gen 4:1-8:14)
3. Government – Noahic covenant comes in here. God dealt with man by a government which included animals’ fear of man and capital punishment. (Gen 8:15-11:9)
4. Promise – God dealt with man (the patriarchs) by making promises to them and expecting them to respond in faith (Gen 11:10 – Ex 18:27)
5. Mosaic Law – God dealt with man by instituting the sacrificial system in which man was to respond in faith to God through the sacrifice. (Ex 19:1 – Acts 1:26)
6. Grace – This current dispensation is sometimes called the “church age.” God has dealt with man through a special grace offered to him through Jesus Christ. Man expresses faith by responding appropriately to the substitutionary death of Christ. (Acts 2:1 – Rev 19:21)
7. Millennium – God will deal more directly with man during the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth. (Rev 20:4-6)
Notice that man is asked to express faith in each dispensation. (It just may be a different way of expressing it from one dispensation to the next.) Salvation is always by grace through faith.
Just because a dispensation is over, does not mean that everything has changed. Some requirements found in an older dispensation may still be in effect – others may be abandoned or modified.
It’s also interesting to note that history of the dispensations is pretty cyclical. First, God sets up a dispensation and tests man’s obedience to it. Second, man fails. Third, God judges man, and eventually He arranges for a new plan/dispensation. The picture is one of stewardship. God (in His authority) gives man a duty which he is responsible for carrying it out. When and if he fails, the Master has the right to judge man and hold him accountable for his actions.
Anyway, there you have it – Dispensationalism all rolled up into one page.
My life will be lived differently in regards to how I relate to Israel. I can maintain a genuine respect and love for them as God’s chosen people. I will continue to share the gospel with them, but knowing that God has a plan for them beyond this dispensation helps me to be more appreciative of their stance in holding on to the promises of God.
This one is a really a tough argument because both sides can be argued with integrity from the Scriptures. My best guess is that this particular issue is much like Brian McLaren describes in “A New Kind of Christian.” (I don’t agree with him all the time, but I like this illustration.) In his book, one of the characters was describing how men pick differing points on a line to argue their stances/viewpoints. He then wondered if God was not on the line at all, but hovering somewhere over the line in another dimension. I think that must be the way it is with this particular argument. The truth (God) is not on our line of predestination or freewill at all, but hovering somewhere over our imaginations – beyond our understanding. As the Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Here are the differences:
1. Total Depravity – Before they are saved, men are completely dead in their sins and unable to even come to God without His intervention.
2. Unconditional Election – God chooses who he will save.
3. Limited Atonement – Jesus died to save the elect.
4. Irresistible Grace – God gives a special saving grace to the elect that they will not be able to reject.
5. Preservation of the Saints – Once saved, always saved.
1. Depraved – Before they are saved, men are depraved in every area of their lives, but still able to choose good/God.
2. Conditional Election – God chooses who He will save based upon his foreknowledge of their choices.
3. Unlimited Atonement – Jesus died to save everyone/the world.
4. Resistible Grace – God offers a special saving grace to all men, but he can resist.
5. No preservation – Man can lose his salvation.
I would consider myself a 4 point Moderate Calvinist: Here what I mean:
I agree with points 1, 2, 4, and 5 of Calvinism, but completely disagree with 3 (Limited atonement) and number 1 needs an explanation. Let me explain each one for me:
1. Total Depravity – If one is completely dead, he cannot even choose God. This would mean that the work of salvation is completely God’s work. This is called “monergism.” Scripture seems clear that it is a complete work of God, but it’s also pretty clear that man’s decision matters somehow. This view is called a “synergism” of God’s work with man’s decision. This is the difference in a Dutch Calvinist (hardcore) and a Moderate/Princeton Calvinist who believes that man does still have some responsibility in it all. The moderate would say that “God woos men” to Himself, but that man still chooses. Here’s the summary of the depravity issue:
Arminian – Man chooses God.
Moderate Calvinist – God woos man.
Dutch Calvinist – God rapes man. (God chooses man in spite of his decision or opinion.)
I’m a moderate.
2. Unconditional Election – It is completely God’s choice who he will save. There are no conditions or works that man must accomplish.
3. Unlimited Atonement – This is where I completely disagree with the Calvinist view. This is also the most popular point in which people disagree. Scripture seems clear that Jesus died for everyone.
4. Irresistible Grace – This is not to say that God doesn’t give grace to everyone – He clearly does – Rain falls on the crops of the saved and the unsaved. All are given breath, and life, etc. This is speaking only of the saving grace which God chooses to give to the elect. They may reject it for a while, but since God’s plan can not be frustrated, he will eventually respond properly to His offer. If God could be resisted, then he must not be sovereign, because he couldn’t accomplish His own plan.
5. Preservation of the Saints – This is the once saved, always saved idea. You cannot lose your salvation, because that would mean that salvation was not God’s work. Your works/lifestyle can not make you lose your salvation, because they had nothing to do with it in the first place. You were saved because God chose to save you, and He doesn’t change his mind. He knew what He was doing when He chose to save you.
There you go. I’m sure there are all kinds of flaws in my logic and understanding ’cause I just don’t have a really good grasp on it all, but this is just where I find myself at this point in my life.
How is my life different because of this concept? I’m not sure. It certainly affects my view of Christianity and also of the world, but in trying to live out my faith, it doesn’t change much on a daily basis. My wife and I disagree on this issue and have chosen not to speak of it, because it just causes division between us. I hope that sometime we can really work to come to a solution, but the truth is that it really doesn’t come up very often, and it hasn’t affected our relationship too much. I do believe it’s gonna be an issue as we raise Kasen. (He’s due Oct 30th). By the time he starts asking those kinds of question, it’s my prayer that we can have a united common view regarding this issue.
(Info from “Man’s Destiny:Free or Forced” by Norman Geisler, also from “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White, Also from “Arminianism or Calvinism” by Steele and Thomas)
All Christians proudly affirm the statement that we are created in the image of God, but what does it mean? What kind of impact does our understanding of this concept have on the way we live? or on our theology?
It’s from Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
There are about 5 major lines of thinking about what it means to be created in the image of God:
1. Content – We reflect God’s image in our personalities, intellect, emotions, ability to make judgments, etc.
2. Dominion – We reflect God’s image by the simple fact that we have been given dominion over the earth. The idea of stewardship is big with this one – because we are to take care of that which is His. (Notice the “dominion” context within the verse.)
3. Community – We reflect God’s image because we are social beings. This one focuses on the “our” part of the verse. Let “us” make man in “our” image. Since God is a communal God – three in one – a relational God – we are in His image as we relate to one another.
4. Representation – Now this one is a bit different and you’ve gotta understand something about the Bible. In the original language (Hebrew), the word translated “in” is the same preposition which can be also translated “as.” Usually the context of the passage makes it clear which is the proper translation. In this case however, it works both ways. The interpretation could just as well be “Let us make man as our image. . .” So anyway, the idea is that we are supposed to represent God to the world. We are literally the image of God as we reflect what He is like to everyone around us.
5. Holism – This one is a combination of all of the ideas presented here. Representation is the foundational idea and Content, Dominion, and Community are the ways that we represent Him.
Pretty cool stuff huh? I guess I’d be a Holist if I were asked to pick a position.
How will this change my life? Well, first of all I plan on making a video (link below) similar to the Nooma videos for the youth in my church covering this topic. I think it’s a cool way to teach these verses and also relate it to the issue of self-esteem which so many of them are struggling with. I’ll probably post it on here on my website once I get it finished. I also think this understanding will be an encouragement to “represent” Christ more fully.
Here’s the link to the video I put together to explain this idea: Image