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

A Theology of Sexuality

Gender and Sexuality are uncontroversially linked. The contribution that a man and a woman made to sexuality had always been straight-forward. Yet, of late, a very odd controversy has arisen around the novel idea that people are born with a sexuality beyond the designation of either male or female. It is asserted that there are now at least seven gender options with corresponding varieties of sexuality.

Initially, those defending what the Bible teaches about sexuality were ridiculed as “out of date”, “out of touch”, “prudish”, or even “fundamentalist”. But lately, the criticisms toward those who still promote an understanding of Biblical sexuality are coming from those who identify themselves as ‘Christians’. I’m not the first one to point out that the discussion regarding sexuality from the Biblical perspective has thus often been an exchange of vitriolic name-calling. The adage, “Ridicule is not an argument” seems to be pertinent. There are people on both sides of this debate who seem more interested in shouting than listening – let alone giving reasoned cases. This article in no way seeks to vilify anyone and does not endorse any acts of hatred.

The 5 Pillars Of Christianity

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…

Is Tithing For Today?

The vast majority of Evangelical churches encourage the practise of “tithing” and claim to do so because the New Testament teaches it. But does it? What are the believer’s obligations when it comes to endorsing or challenging tithing? What are the local church’s obligations when it comes to teaching, receiving, or addressing tithing for today? How we answer these questions has a huge impact on how believers and churches function as stewards of both finance and God’s Word!

There seems to be a growing challenge to the teaching of “the New Testament tithe”. There are entire internet sites dedicated to the issue. There are chatrooms where believers can discuss it. There are new books being written about it. In our local regional newspaper someone obviously feels so strongly about it that they have taken out provocative advertisements in the Church Notices section condemning any church that endorses tithing as being “a part of the Harlot church of Babylon”. This has become a heated issue…

I Doubt, Part 2

We are divinely designed to doubt! Doubt should be a normal healthy human response to an unsubstantiated claim. Doubt says, I won’t believe this unless I have good reasons to. When it comes to belief in God, more and more people have moved from doubt to cynicism largely because they believe there are no reasons or evidences for the existence of the God of the Bible. All too often those who do believe in God promote the incorrect idea that belief in God is a solely a matter of faith – without any need for rational evidence. Little wonder then many doubters in God have become convinced there is no God. There are some good reasons to doubt God’s existence, but some even better reasons to doubt these doubts!

I Doubt, Part 1

The fact that we all doubt to some extent suggests that each of us shares in the universal human craving to not be deceived and that we all intuitively want to know the truth. Even when it comes to Biblical spirituality, rather than seeing doubt as spiritually negative, it can actually be a positive. After all, appropriate doubt can protect us from injury and even galvanise our worthy convictions. Doubt is not incompatible with Christianity.

Solving Our 5 Biggest Global Problems

The world is increasingly becoming a global village. We now have entire media networks dedicated to potentially delivering news as it happens from anywhere in the world. Sadly, those of us in the more affluent parts of the world usually don’t get the most important news offered to us. Instead, we often get dished a diet of celebrity appearances, entertainment updates, political scandals, media commentary and sporting match results. To quote Neil Postman, despite the potential of our News media to inform us and even call us to action, we are “amusing ourselves to death.”

How Should We Think About Same-Sex Marriage

How should we think about “Same-Sex” Marriage? This public debate is as much about the role of language as it is about marriage. The emotionalism involved from both sides of the argument is intense which often leads to the actual issues being lost in the jungle of irrational verbiage. How we settle this issue as a society says a lot about what kind of society we are. Confucius is reported to have said- “When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.”

What Makes Racial Discrimination Unique

Those supportive of a “Gay” lifestyle like to argue that their case is the same kind of unfair discrimination experienced by African Americans up until the 1960s. By doing this, they make their case sound ‘obviously’ unfair. It’s worth noting that this has outraged many in the Black community who can immediately and clearly see that there is just no comparison between the two issues.

Racial discrimination is insidious! It demeans a human being on the basis of their ethnicity, skin colour, or even nationality by considering them less than human. Demeaning another human as being less than human – on the basis of gender, race, status, professional, ability, is intolerable! Christians were at the forefront of confronting this in England during the campaign of William Wilberforce M.P., and the American Civil Rights Movement of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. But for the LGBT (Lesbian / Gay / Bi-Sexual / Trans-gendered) activists to claim that their campaign is exactly same “human rights” “discrimination” violation as that which the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King was involved in confronting is going too far and has caused many to realise that the LGBT’s campaign for “sexual-anarchy” has nothing to do with the Civil Rights movement.

Circling Around The Marriage Square

Critiquing the arguments for “Same Sex” “marriage” feels like arguing against square-circles. Yet this is what we are being asked to do. This can be done in three ways. Firstly, we can reiterate why marriage is between a man and a woman. This is like being asked to defend the roundness of circles. Secondly, we can argue from nature that marriage is naturally between a man and a woman. This is like arguing that round things are circular. Thirdly, we can argue that two people of the same gender cannot ever be considered “married”. This is like arguing that even though a square claims to be a circle its claims are hampered because it has four sides.

We Are Not Your Enemies

We all need acceptance, love and respect. We all have a right to be treated with equality. This is why I totally get why so many people are in favour of same-sex marriage. It’s why so many people who identify themselves as part of the same-sex attracted communities are fighting so passionately for the laws in Australia to be changed to provide for same-sex marriage. As a Christian, I want for these people what they want – because I think everybody needs acceptance, love and respect, and equality. But I don’t think that same-sex marriage is the way to get it and it seems that 90% of the LGBTQ communities agree.

The Brooklyn psychologist, Professor Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970), wrote the book Motivation And Personality (1954) in which he argues that all psychologically healthy human beings have a ‘hierarchy of needs’.

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