Plenty has been written about Buzzfeed’s viral video featuring people who address all the ways they believe Christians have been unfairly stereotyped. As much as I appreciate the spirit behind their attempt, I’m not as thrilled with every aspect of it. Though there are some solid observations, there are also a number of claims that reveal a fair amount of confusion about what it means to be a follower of the person and teaching of Jesus. [Read more…]
[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
Often, skeptics and anti-theists will purport that Christianity is an invalid worldview due to the fact that many denominational variants exist. To the chagrin of such skeptics, all orthodox denominations adhere to the same common core beliefs. Ecumenical apologetics finds the central theses that comprise basic Christianity. Ecumenism is defined as the “attempt to seek a worldwide unity and cooperation among all churches that confess Jesus Christ as Lord” (Grenz et. al. 1999, 43).
Unity was sought early in the movement of the Church as controversies sought to divide. The Nicene Creed was provided in order to offer the core fundamentals of the faith. Often, the Nicene Creed is used as a standard to provide the basis for the foundational similarities between Christians from different walks even today. As noted by Cross and Livingstone, the Nicene Creed was “issued in 325 by the Council of Nicaea and known to scholars as N” (Cross and Livingstone 2005, 1152). Some have contended that ecumenical movements often distort or drift away from fundamental characteristics of the faith. For instance, legendary pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon pulled out of the Baptist Union in the late 1800s due to a drift towards liberalism.
Nevertheless, many have argued that ecumenism stems from a solid evangelism. John H. Y. Briggs denotes that “we need to remind ourselves that this unity is both a gift and goal and we need to enjoy the gift of the unity we already possess whilst ever striving for richer and deeper relationships” (Briggs 2005, 17). Many organizations have been able to successfully demonstrate such a unity. For instance, since 1965 the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has met semiannually to provide unity amongst Orthodox and Catholic believers. The late Chuck Colson started a movement called the Manhattan Declaration which unites Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians under the auspices of “life, marriage, and religious liberty.”
The CAA maintains an ecumenical stance pertaining to the central truths of Christendom and thereby does not necessarily support or endorse any particular denominational stance. Thereby, the CAA makes the rational defense of the theistic Christian worldview its primary emphasis and therefore does not engage in denominational differences and disputes. The CAA stands by the statement “in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas,” (i.e. “in essentials unity, in differences liberty, but in all things charity”); believed to have first been used by Marco Antonio de Dominis in 1617.
Scripture for YouVersion:
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
Briggs, John H Y. “Baptists and the Ecumenical Movement.” Journal Of European Baptist Studies 6, 1 (September 1, 2005): 11-17. Accessed June 11, 2015. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
Cross, F.L., and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Grenz, Stanley, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.
Schaff, Philip. The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds. Volume 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1878.
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In part 1, I talked about how skeptics and atheists often complain when I (or another apologist) make the comment that such-and-so Christian is wrong. The skeptic usually says it means I have found “True Christianity™” and every other Christian who disagrees is going to go to hell.
In part 2, I discussed degrees of wrong, using a traffic light as a guide. Green light is 99% of Christianity; just denominations hashing out some differences of procedure. Yellow light redefines core doctrines. Red light denies core doctrines and is strongly associated with a central figure who receives his own divine revelations.
Paul talks about agreeing to disagree, to welcome everyone and to not make the work of God void over what we should eat and drink. So can we ever fight for the faith?
Answer: It depends on the situation. [Read more…]
In the book Isn’t Religion Weird? Quotations for Atheists by Dave Lane, an anonymous quote reads: “Why does God punish us with suffering throughout life and an eternity in hell afterwards? Because we are born evil and depraved! But why are we born evil and depraved? Because God makes us that way. So God makes us a certain way and then punishes us for being that way!”
In my last post, I said that we should bow to the weaker brother and let him have his ritual. If he thinks that we must be baptized by triune immersion in a lake, then let him get baptized that way. If he thinks all Christians should abstain from alcohol, then don’t crack open an ice-cold Corona with a lime wedge in front of him.
In the non-essentials of faith, let the weaker brother abstain. Don’t try to talk him out of it. Don’t insist on giving him a glass of wine, stay clear of it in front of him as well. Don’t force him to use a baptismal, offer to drive him to a lake yourself.
But, there are times when you have to come after fellow Christians and tell them they are wrong. For example, in my extended review of John Shelby Spong’s Sins of Scripture, I fought for the traditional deposit of faith, above Spong’s redefinition of all the terms.
So, when does a Christian let the weaker brother have his way, and when does he call error what it is? I think there are three categories of theological error. Let’s discuss them.