Christian Essentials
as compiled by Ray L. Winstead

   
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    Apostles' Creed
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    Nicene Creed
    "True Christian" Controversies

    Galileo Analogy

 

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Christian Essentials
My Conclusion - What's yours?

“What are the essential, core Christian beliefs?” - or - “Who is a Christian?” – or - “How do you become a Christian?” 

Based on the biblical evidence, my answer becomes:

A Christian must:

     a)  LOVE
            (I believe everything in the Bible is meant to be interpreted within the context of what Jesus said about Love, i.e., I believe in a "Love First Theology.")

           Mark 12:28-31  "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?  The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these. (NIV)

           Romans 13:8-10  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  Love does no harm to its neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (NIV)

     b)  REPENT of his/her sins

   Mark 1:15 - Jesus said “The kingdom of God is near. 
          Repent and believe the good news!”  (NIV)

          A dictionary says that “repent” means to feel sorrow, remorse, or regret for one’s

 past conduct.

 The author of Belief Matters (Charles Yrigoyen) says that repentance is “a complete turning to God and

 the reorientation of our lives around God’s presence and will.”

 Sin means the departure of an individual from God’s will.

     c)  BELIEVE and ACCEPT the essential, core beliefs expressed in the combination of the

 Apostles’ Creed, the Korean Creed, and the Nicene Creed as summary

 expressions of Biblical truth. 

 

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that

whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  NIV

(See creeds below.)
 

     d)  DO the will of God as an expression of, and within the context of, faith

          (recognizing that works outside of faith have no spiritual value or importance).

          Matthew 7:21 – Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me,
          ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he
          who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (NIV)

          Micah 6:8 – “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And
          what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love
          mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)

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Apostles' Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.
 

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Korean Creed

Minister:
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the one true Church, apostolic and universal, whose holy faith let us now declare:
Minister and People:
    
We believe in the one God, maker and ruler of all things, Father of all men, the source of all goodness and beauty, all truth and love.
     We believe in Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, our teacher, example, and Redeemer, the Savior of the world.
     We believe in the Holy Spirit, God present with us for guidance, for comfort, and for strength.
     We believe in the forgiveness of sins, in the life of love and prayer, and in grace equal to every need.
     We believe in the Word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments as the sufficient rule both of faith and of practice.
     We believe in the Church as the fellowship for worship and for service of all who are united to the living Lord.
     We believe in the kingdom of God as the divine rule in human society, and in the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God.
     We believe in the final triumph of righteousness, and in the life everlasting.     Amen.
 

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Nicene Creed

     We believe in one God,
     the Father, the Almighty,
     maker of heaven and earth,
     of all that is, seen and unseen. 
     We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
     the only Son of God,
     eternally begotten of the Father,
     God from God, Light from Light,
     true God from true God,
     begotten, not made,
     of one Being with the Father.
     Through him all things were made.
     For us and for our salvation
     he came down from heaven:
     by the power of the Holy Spirit
     he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
     and was made man.
     For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
     he suffered death and was buried.
     On the third day he rose again
     in accordance with the Scriptures;
     he ascended into heaven
     and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
     He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
     and his kingdom will have no end. 
     We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
     who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
     With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
     He has spoken through the Prophets.
     We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
     We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
     We look for the resurrection of the dead,
     and the life of the world to come. Amen. 

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Controversial opinions as to who is a “true Christian."

Are some of the controversies given below unnecessary divisions within the church? 
(by Ray L. Winstead)

            Acknowledging a set of essential, core Christian beliefs implies that there may be other beliefs that are less important - at least are not important enough to be in the core and not important ENOUGH to automatically exclude someone from being a Christian.  This is where John Wesley says we should “Think and let think.”  This means that we should acknowledge that another person who also believes in the essential, core Christian beliefs, but disagrees on one of these other relatively minor points, is also a brother or sister in Christ.  Below is a set of paired beliefs and opinions.  For each of the paired beliefs and opinions below consider the following questions.  The purpose of this is to encourage all of us to think more clearly about our own beliefs and how they relate to the beliefs of others.

a) Does one of the pair actually belong in the core and should be stated as such? - That is, a Christian must believe one of these – and a belief in the other automatically excludes the person as a member of the Christian church, even though the person does believe in the rest of the essential, core beliefs.  What do you think the response of Jesus would be to your opinion and judgment of excluding such a person?

b) If we believe one of the pair belongs in the core, is it possible that it is our own personal arrogance to even try to judge another person’s heart and commitment as a true Christian based on the essential, core set of beliefs?

c) Regardless of your own strong personal views on the subject and specific agreement and disagreement for the opinions expressed in the pairs, do you acknowledge that a person with the opposite opinion could also be a Christian? (i.e., back to the idea that one view actually belongs in the core.)

d) Does the concept of being less of a Christian or a “bad Christian,” rather than not being a Christian at all apply here?  That is, instead of having to choose only between a person either being a Christian or not a Christian based on this one issue, is a third category of less of a Christian or “bad Christian,” appropriate?

e) What do you think the response of Jesus would be for each opinion?

f) If you consider one of the pair a sin, the departure of an individual from God’s will, does sinning exclude a person from being a Christian?  (RLW: Your answer has enormous implications!)

g) What other pairs of points are controversial and tend to divide the Christian church (unnecessarily?).

 

PAIRS:

  1) smokes cigarettes / does not smoke
(I remember hearing my grandfather say that he thought smoking was a sin.  However, my father tells me that he still accepted smokers as Christians.)

  2) drinks alcohol occasionally / drinks no alcohol

  3) traditional church music / contemporary church music

  4) traditional church format / contemporary church format

  5) Democrat / Republican

  6) for capital punishment / against capital punishment

  7) for abortion “pro choice” / against abortion “pro life”

  8) interpret the Bible literally (which version? Details are just as important as the point of the message.) / interpret the Bible seriously (What’s the point of the passage?)

  9) believes it is OK for women to be pastors / not OK for women to be pastors

10) Catholic / not a Catholic       (or some other denominational dichotomy)

11) creationism (God created all species instantaneously) / evolution (God created different species using evolution as the process.)

12) heterosexual / homosexual

13) speaking in tongues / not speaking in tongues

14) Jesus is God / Jesus is not God      (RLW: I believe "Jesus is God" is part of the essential, Christian core, but I hear that this is controversial in some churches.)

15) Baptism by immersion / baptism not by immersion

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The Sun Revolves Around the Earth ...and that's all there is to it.

(The following article is from http://www.entrypoints.com/LogicPage/Galileo'sRebuttal.html and I believe is analogous to the current, creationism / evolution controversy.  You can see my own editorial about this topic below and at  http://thisibelieve.org/essay/41512/

The bare assertion fallacy is, to put it simply, a fallacy of reasoning in which the user gives no reasons at all for his position other than the fact that he says so.  It is the treasured fallacy of every parent who has ever told his child, "You want to know why you're not going?  I'll tell you why:  Because I said so."

This reasoning is spotted by almost everyone as illogical but it remains powerful because it relies on a power difference between the two arguers.  Imagine a child using the same strategy on his parent:  "Now you listen to me:  you'll buy me that go-kart right now...BECAUSE I'M THE KID AND YOU'LL DO AS I SAY."  Bold, to be sure, but laughable.

So status is the key.  Now here's a question:  who has the greatest status in the universe?  No, not Michael Jordan.  Nor is it Larry King.  The answer I'm seeking is GOD.  Surely a God who calls Himself "I am that I am" is one who has ultimate status.  (Modern response:  You da God.")

So when God says, "That's the way it is simply because I said so," there isn't a whole lot a God-fearing world can do except say, "Okay."

And that was the basic scene back in 1600 when a scientist named Galileo was advancing his theories that the earth revolved around the sun.  He was not the originator of these theories:  Copernicus had been advancing them for several years and some thinkers a millennium prior had speculated as much.  But Galileo was the man who put his theories into an argument against the church of his day.  And the Catholic church, still stinging from Luther's revolt, was in no mind to have further erosion come from the fledgling scientific community.

The church's position was as follows: 

The Bible was the inerrant word of God.

It contained verses which showed that the earth was anchored while the sun moved.

It was also the general consensus that the earth was the center of God's plan.

Therefore, the sun couldn't revolve around the earth.

And the natural response is:  Why not?

To which the answer would have to be:  Because God said so.

To which a serious arguer would've followed up with:  show me the money (verses).

To which a papal commission would've said:  "Try these on for size."

Ecclesiastes 1:4 and 5:  One generation goeth, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to its place where it ariseth.

Psalms 92: "He has made the world firm, not to be moved."

Psalms 103: "You fixed the earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever."

And how about in Joshua 10:12: "Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon."

To which any God-fearing person would've likely responded, "Touche."

But not Galileo.  He had a new telescope he had invented and he had seen proof, lots of proof.  And he was bound and determined to overthrow this logical fallacy.  Some historians say he went out of his way to pick a fight with the church over this issue.

Well, it came to a head first in 1616.  Pope Paul V had a group of experts consider the basic tenets of this "Copernican doctrine" and determined it was "foolish and absurd philosophically and formally heretical inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the doctrine of Holy Scripture in many passages."

In other words, God said so.  Forget science.  Forget evidence.  It went against what God said directly in the scriptures.  End of argument.

Galileo was publicly chastised by the church and warned  "to abstain altogether from teaching or defending this opinion and doctrine, and even from discussing it."

Well, Galileo was not one for bare assertions.  Actually, there are two layers of bare assertions here:  one from God, the other from the church.  The one from God Galileo had no trouble dealing with.  He too believed in the inerrancy of the scriptures.  The problem, he asserted, was with the way the church interpreted the Bible.  Their idea of inerrancy was absolute literalness.  He was quick to point out many figurative passages in the Bible which even they accepted as figurative.  He also reminded them that the Bible needed to be understood in its historical context.

No, Galileo wasn't refuting God's fallacy for he saw none there; he was refuting the fallacy of the church being able to state categorically something as true based on their interpretation, something which was obviously (to him, anyway) not true.

So Galileo pressed on, arguing his case.  In 1633 with a new pope (Urban) at the helm, Galileo's taunts could be tolerated no longer.  The church inquisitioned him again and this time censured him.  He was finally condemned by the Holy Office as "vehemently suspected of heresy" and forced to live out his life (which was diminishing rapidly) in a kind of house arrest.  It wasn't really all that bad; he continued writing and lived in modest comfort.  But the church had the last word, the party of superior status got its way.

Many people mark this as the beginning of the strife between science and religion, between reason and faith.  But that isn't altogether fair.  Before we all jump on the bandwagon (another kind of fallacy) and start cursing the church too loudly, we should keep in mind that many others of Galileo's day, including Luther and much of academia, also disagreed with his views. 

But there is a difference.  These others didn't have the power to put an end to the argument and thus they weren't able to make use of one of the grandest of logical fallacies, the Bare Assertion.

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http://thisibelieve.org/essay/41512/ :

Recommended:


Established by Francis Collins
"BioLogos invites the church and the world
to see the harmony between science and biblical faith
as we present an evolutionary understanding of God's creation.

Also

Francis Collins Presentation on YouTube:
Francis Collins - The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence of Belief
(Long but worthwhile)

 


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