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

Introducing Jeremiah The Prophet

Jeremiah is the second of the ‘major’ Prophets after Isaiah. Like Isaiah, he prophesied events which were fulfilled within his lifetime and beyond. Most significantly, Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied about the coming Messiah and the new covenant this Messiah would usher in. From the opening three verses, which may have been written by Jeremiah, or may have been the result of Ezra’s later editing. These verses help us to date when Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry. His ministry would have begun when he was aged between 15 to 20. He would have begun around the time of the discovery of the Law during the thirteenth year of King Josiah’s reign which was around 629BC. This helps us to reckon his birth year as sometime around 649BC or so. We know that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem as Jeremiah had prophesied they would, in 586 BC. This means that Jeremiah ministered around 45 to 50 years. He is particular significant for several reasons…

The Seven Principles For Making A Strong Argument

What makes for a strong argument? By ‘argument’, we don’t mean quarrel or fight, we mean case. Perhaps a court room context is a better way to think of making an argument or case. It becomes very important during election campaigns and public debates to be able to distinguish a strong argument from a weak one. Of course, issues of public debate don’t always involve matters of Public Policy. Strong or weak arguments also happen when people discuss matters matters of history, parenting, religion, or the arts. Here’s some things which might help you to distinguish a strong argument from a weak one.

How Cults Differ From Christianity

From the outset of the founding of the Church there have been direct and indirect assaults against it. Opposing religious ideas have been relatively easy to identify and distinguish from Christianity. What has not been as easy to identify are pseudo-Christian ideas which have been more of an indirect assault against Christianity. This is because they claim to be Christian and even use Biblical and Christian language to state their position. Shortly after Christ delivered and defined the Gospel, there arose those whom the Apostle Paul described as “proclaim(s) another Jesus” and “a different gospel” (2Cor. 11:4). He specifically warned the Galatians about this…

Disappointment With Jesus

Almost immediately after Jesus was resurrected, He joined two of his followers walking along the road to Emmaus. They were shattered. Their hopes were dashed. They had a picture of Jesus that Jesus didn’t live up to. And it seems ever since this time people- both Christ-followers and skeptics alike, have found reason to be disappointed with Jesus. They had “hoped”, we read in Luke 24:21, that Jesus would be the Redeemer of Israel, the One to deliver them from the oppression of the godless, ruthless, pagan Romans. But He didn’t. And therefore all that Moses, the Prophets and the Writings had said about Him was false. Or so they thought.

Hope is a powerful drive. It keeps a person going despite their circumstances. It promises that bad times won’t last and good times are just around the corner. We all need hope. But when it seems that hope is continually without basis it has the affect of making the heart sick (Prov. 13:12).

A Theology of Beauty

Not only is beauty one of the most faith-strengthening gifts of God, it is also one of the most powerful arguments for God. This notion is referred to by theologians as the Argument from Aethestics.  Not generally known for his contribution to Theology, it was the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes who most famously noted the connection between mankind’s appreciation of beauty being an argument for God (whom he called “Providence”).

The Great Conversions Of The Bible

In 2006 a Australian Federal Parliamentarian declared he and his Party should be regarded as truly representing the Christian vote of Australians. He then went on to more or less state that his understanding of Christianity was not the same as that of Evangelicals- who regard conversion as an essential – instead, his idea of Christianity was one of improving social conditions and promoting wealth-equity throughout society. He seemed to be criticising Evangelicals for preaching a Gospel of “conversion”. He wanted to champion a Christianity after the fashion of the great Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Is conversion necessary or not to be an authentic Christian?

Spurgeon’s Battles

He’s known as the “Prince of Preachers”. There was once a time when kings and their princely sons were the first ones into battle with their armies to defend their people. And if this is what is required of princes, then Charles Haddon Spurgeon deserves the royal accolade. For when the Church was under vicious attack in the nineteenth century from both within and without, it was Charles Spurgeon who had the courage to step into the fray at great personal cost. These attacks came in three waves during Spurgeon’s career. While he fought valiantly, he most frequently fought alone and it was this sad aspect of his battles that arguable led to his premature departure.

Faith Statement

Statement Of Faith The Bible is inspired by God and is without error. We base our beliefs upon no other book (2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 1:19-21). There is One God, who has always existed in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matt....

Ethics Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

One of the most controversial debates raging at the moment is about the ethics of embryonic stem cell research. This debate has been curiously pitched as Science versus Religion. Sadly, this unfairly simplistic assessment of the debate has meant that any argument put forward by any Christian from the field of medical-science is instantly dismissed as merely “religious” arguments! Therefore what this argument is supposed to be about is often lost in the false idea that this is about religion versus science…

Earthquakes and Natural Evil

Recent large earthquakes in both New Zealand, Japan, Chile, and Borneo have led many Christians to speculate about what God might be possibly saying through these catastrophes. Other Christians are struggling with interpreting these same events from the perspective of trying to understand how a God of love and power could allow such massive destruction and loss of human life?

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Dr. Andrew Corbett

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