finding truth matters

The 5 Pillars Of Christianity

by | Sep 6, 2017 | Theology | 0 comments

PART 1…SOLA SCRIPTURA

Many Church denominations are generally waning in this “post-modern” era. Along with the rise of non-denominationally aligned churches has been a growing doctrinal vacuum as preachers become life-coaches and the emphasis is on making the Bible a “How to…” book. A casual reading of some of these churches doctrinal statements reveals some glaring departures with historic Christianity, which should cause us to wonder how or why they differ so much with the 5 Pillars of Biblical Christianity…

 

SOLA SCRIPTURA

Biblical Christianity commences with the authority of Scripture. Some might say that it commences with Christ. But without the revelation of Scripture we wouldn’t know that! Against the backdrop of a Papal Church usurping authority to lord it over those who would follow Christ, the Reformers protested that such usurping was contrary to what the Scriptures permitted. When confronted with the option of obeying God’s Word or the contradictory commands of men, the early apostles said-

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts 5:29

William Tyndale was one of the first reformers to defy the Papal church leadership and teach that the Bible was a higher authority than the Pope. For this stand he paid a terrible price (being burned alive at the stake). Not only did he teach this doctrine of Sola Scriptura he trained lay preachers (derogatively referred to as “Lollards” ’empty heads‘) to preach it across England. He then worked on translating the Scriptures into the common language of the people and was able to do something that Wyclif over a hundred years earlier was unable to do: he published his English Bible by means of the newly invented printing press. Tyndale died to make the English Bible available to the Spiritually hungry. I wonder what mixed emotions he would feel today if he could see the number of Bibles in the homes of Christians today and how little they were actually read! (Research shows that only 2% of Christians have read the entire Bible.),

Sola Scriptura means that God has given us no higher revelation of His Will, Ways and Word than the Bible. We don’t worship the Bible, but we heed its message that God alone deserves worship. Neither does Sola Scriptura mean that God has not given us other reliable revelations of His truth. The Scriptures make it plain that God has revealed His righteousness through ‘the heavens’, stars and planets, (Psalm 97:6); and that God has revealed His glory also through the heavens (Psalm 19:1); and according to Romans 1:20, through everything that He has created. The Belgic Confession refers to this as God’s “Two Books” – the record of Scripture and the record of Nature.

Therefore, Sola Scriptura is not saying that Scripture is the only way of knowing the truth, but it is saying that Scripture is the highest authority of the truth. It was Thomas Aquinas who reasonably argued based on these Scripture passages that the truth of God is communicated via the created order (apprehended by ‘reason’) and the Scriptures (apprehended by ‘revelation’).

An artist’s portrayal of Thomas Aquinas

But while reason and revelation are two distinct sources of truths, the truths are not contradictory; for in the last resort they rest on one absolute truth – they come from the one source of knowledge, God, the Absolute One.
Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274)

It was Clement of Alexandria (ca.160 – ca. 215AD) who is credited with saying something similar to this first when he said, All truth is God’s truth wherever it may be found. But Sola Scriptura declares that Scripture has a unique authority for the truth. Therefore, while Scriptural revelation does not need to be established by the testimony of nature, its authority is most certainly confirmed by it. This means that archaeology does not “prove” Scripture’s authority, it merely confirms it. The same can be said for physical science. For example, cosmologists observe that the universe is moving (expanding) from a central starting point. The Scripture spoke of God doing this when He created the universe by “stretching out the heavens” (eg. Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2) which is precisely what cosmologists now observe.

But Charismatic Pentecostals generally don’t subscribe to Sola Scriptura. While the Scripture itself tells us not to despise prophecy (1Thess. 5:20), and that prophecy is a vital gift of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:10), too many charismatic Pentecostals have attributed personal prophecy to the status of Scripture. Most don’t realise they are even doing this. Yet when a person prophesies that God is about to pour out His Revival Spirit, how many people realise this is counter to what the Scripture says?

The Reformers reacted strongly to the Roman Catholic claim that Church tradition as decreed by Popes, was equal in authority to Scripture. Even today, many Roman Catholics claim that it was the authority of the (Catholic) Church that recognised the Canon of Scripture. Therefore, they reason, Scripture would have no authority at all if it wasn’t for the authority of the Church. But this is not a valid argument. If asked: How is it that we know that Christ authorised the Church? We are told: “The Scriptures reveal that Christ has established the authority of the Church.” The circular reasoning becomes obvious. If the authority of the Scriptures was not established until the Church recognised the Canon of Scripture, then prior to that happening it presumably had no authority to establish the authority of the Church. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church did not recognise the Canon of Scripture until the Council of Trent in 1546!

When looking to define a doctrinal position for Biblical Christianity we concur with the Reformers who commenced with Sola Scriptura. This presumes infallibility and inerrancy. It also logically leads to an acceptance of divine preservation (God preserves His Word). Considering the price that the Reformers paid to champion this position it is perhaps remarkable how little it is read or heeded today. May God grant you and me a greater passion for His Word- to read it and heed it.

Amen.

Dr. Andrew Corbett, June 20th 2006

Next…PART 2, Solo Christo

Impossible Faith

Some people find faith in God to be impossible. These people have reasons for their impossible faith. Their objections may be intellectual, moral, or emotional. There are three well-known figures who each exemplify each of these objections to faith in God. Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy and Bob Hawke each respectively held these particular objections to Christianity.

The Reliability of The Bible and How Best To Interpret It

The Bible is the most influential book of all time. It’s contents have changed the course of history. It’s story has formed the pattern for all the great literary classics. It also makes the astounding claim that it is the uniquely authoritative revelation from God and therefore has the authority to command our moral behaviour. But if the Bible is not reliable, then its claims are indefensible and Christianity is without foundation! Yet despite this glaring vulnerability, the Bible has withstood rigorous scrutiny and repeated attempts to refute it. Here’s why it is indeed reliable.

What Is Heaven Like?

I honestly used to think that Christianity was all about having the assurance of going to Heaven. But as I learned more about the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth I became curious about the relative scarcity of references to Heaven in the Bible. Yet, while my understanding of the place of Heaven in my Gospel proclamation has been refined, some God-Channel evangelists have headed in the other direction and made Heaven central to their Gospel. Some of these evangelists now even claim to have the spiritual power to make repeated visits there!

Presumably God, the Supreme Being, has a supremely beautiful home, in a supremely magnificent neighbourhood. Amazingly, God invites mankind to move into His neighbourhood- for eternity! But what is Heaven like? Is it possible, as some are now claiming, that we can visit Heaven? While I am going to lead readers to conclude that Heaven is not the Gospel’s focus, if it is the only reason someone is motivated to convert to Christ, then we should rejoice!

The Tragedy of Suicide – And How We Can Help

Suicide hurts. It is motivated by pain, but causes much greater pain. For those affected by suicide the guilt and anguish it produces is almost unbearable. But since suicide is in the Bible, how can we know that it is wrong? How should we regard the sinfulness of suicide? Is it unforgiveable? How can we help avoid suicide? What should those affected by it know after its happened?

The funeral celebrant rang me to warn me. He was used to dealing with sensitive situations but this one had a few extra layers of complexity. He decided to get me involved. He outlined the story to me and then told me the purpose of his call. When a loved one dies there is often a measure of guilt for those left behind. But when the death is caused by suicide that guilt is compounded. Suicide hurts. The funeral celebrant told me that a young man with a diagnosed mental illness, who had professed Christianity, had taken his own life and his devout mother (who we will call “Betty”) was devastated. The celebrant told me that Betty would ring because her guilt was beyond his expertise due to her Biblical understanding of suicide.

True For You But Not True For Me

Have you ever heard someone say, “That may be true for you but it’s not true for me!” It’s the kind of sentiment which might be appropriately limited to our experiences and our emotional responses to them, but it can not be true about those issues which effect us all, known as universals. These include what we consider to be morally right or wrong, whether a fact is true or false,  or whether we should regard something as either good or bad. For example, one of the universal laws that is not subject to personal opinion is gravity. Someone may disagree with it, but their disagreement doesn’t change its reality.

The kind of judgment needed to distinguish right from wrong, true from false, or good from bad, must allow for those things which are universal and thus common to all. This kind of truth, what Francis Schaeffer called ‘true truth’ is also not subject to context, circumstances, popularity, or fashion (Beckworth & Koukl 1998, 20). Neither is it restricted to a time or place. Thus, what can be known as true has generally been acknowledged as such down through the ages by various peoples located in different parts of the world. Philosophers refer to this kind of truth as…

How To Handle A Crisis

The definition of a crisis is a calamity or event which disrupts a person’s sense of well- being and lifestyle. It is generally short term and requires immediate action in order to restore balance and control in the person’s life.  The results of crisis are: anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, desperation, anger, helplessness and even apathy. There is an increased sense of dependency upon others, a sense of urgency, and decreased efficiency in decision making and performance. The account of Judah being sieged by the Assyrians in Second Chronicles 32, involves all the aspects of a crisis. The major distinctive is that it involves a nation of people rather than just one person. The “helper” in this instance was their leader – King Hezekiah.

Roman Catholicism Compared With Christianity

Any discussion about religious wars, clergy violations, or child abuse, and it won’t be long before the The Roman Catholic Church unfortunately features. But I want to have a different discussion. And unlike most of the ‘discussions’ of this nature, I’m not on a mission to attack, ridicule, or mock anyone. Rather, I want to look at what the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches and asserts and compare it with the Bible’s teaching.

I’ve been a denominational minister for over two decades, so I know that it is possible to be a part of an organisation with which you disagree on some points.  I understand that this is certainly the case with the Roman Catholic Church as there are many priests who do agree with all that their Church asserts. For the purposes of this discussion, I have chosen to take the official Catholic positions on the matters I am comparing with the Biblical data. It is my hope that my Roman Catholic audience will acknowledge that I have represented their views fairly – but it is also my hope that I can appropriately demonstrate how these core views compare with the Biblical prescriptions.

Soli Deo Gloria

The final statement in The Five Pillars of Biblical Christianity is Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone! The reason we are saved is so that we can glorify God. In one sense it is true that reason Christ died for us was to save us from our sins and the just wrath of God for our sin. But the main reason Christ died to redeem us was for the glory of God.

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44

The glory that comes from God is when we give God glory. One of Christ’s last prayers was that His disciples would see His glory (John 17:24). Therefore God’s glory, His radiant magnificence, is visible and apprehendable. God’s glory is described several times in Scripture. In this sense, God’s glory is a visible reality (a noun). God’s glory is variously described as being like a cloud (Exodus 16:10), a devouring and consuming fire (Exodus 24:17), fire and smoke-like cloud (2Chronicles 7:1), and a brightly glowing cloud (Ezekiel 10:4).

Where Are The Dead?

Sitting across from me in my office was an older middle-aged man who had just read my draft commentary on the Book of Revelation. He had come from Queensland to visit friends in Tasmania and while in the neighbourhood, dropped in to see me to have chat and get a later edition of my book. He asked a lot of theoretical questions and we discussed the implications of what we discussed. Not until he returned to Queensland did I get an email regarding the chapter on the Resurrection. It was at this point that he confided in me that he was in the advanced stages of cancer and that his query was far more than theoretical.
The ancients believed that death was merely a change of location for the soul of a person. The place of the dead was called “Sheol”. When Jacob thought his son Joseph was dead: “All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.” (Gen. 37:35 ). When the judgment of God came upon Korah and his rebellion.

TULIP, The Essence of The Reformation

Jesus Christ taught that following Him was only possible through the miracle of conversion. He taught that for someone to authentically claim to be a Christian they needed a spiritual encounter that changed their heart and mind. Without such a miracle, known Biblically as ‘regeneration’, no one could merely decide to be a Christian.
It’s important to appreciate the geo-socio-politico conditions at the time of the Reformation. This was the time when John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and others dared to defend the Biblical revelation against a militant Papal Church which had previously executed similar voices (Wyclif, Tyndale, Savonarola, to name a few) for daring to defy the teaching of the Papacy. One of the central claims of the Papacy was “Universalism”, the doctrine which taught that Christ’s sacrificial death was repeated over and over through the celebration of the Mass and was effective in saving all those in communion with the Roman Catholic Church (thus, universal salvation was activated by works). Since Salvation was universal (everyone is automatically saved), the Papal Church was more concerned about administering this salvation through having people in communion with it, or alternatively, disfellowshipping (or, ex-communicating) those who it disliked. Calvin on the other hand saw that Scripture did not teach universalism, but conversely- that not everyone would be saved.

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- April 22, 2018, 12:04 pm

RT @DrFWBoreham: Read Dr.F.W. Boreham’s essay, ‘Sister Kathleen’ written in 1918 - https://t.co/6Bzvci8SBq https://t.co/j0JAdAD8Q8
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- April 21, 2018, 11:57 am

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- April 20, 2018, 5:24 am

Christians claim that the Bible is divinely inspired and without error! But just reliable is the Bible really? Chec… https://t.co/yMSPikQMHD
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- April 19, 2018, 7:15 pm

How could a good, loving, forgiving, all-powerful God send anyone to Hell for eternity? https://t.co/VZuTBfi2Tjhttps://t.co/TnjaanPXDQ
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- April 18, 2018, 6:15 pm

How can there be a good, loving, all-powerful God if there are natural disasters which kill thousands of innocent v… https://t.co/8tQVr0XS49
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Dr. Andrew Corbett

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