Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I Believe... in Creeds

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth."
- The Apostles Creed

To confess objective truth is not a bad thing.

Some weeks ago, I came across a man who didn't believe in any creeds.  Ironically, he didn't deem it contradictory that his commitment to confess this to me was in itself a creed.

That being said, doctrines and creeds are not destructive by nature, but constructive.  Taken as objective truth, creeds and doctrines drive a person to ponder about a plethora of swatches to consider.  Whether it would be cosmology, or even applying truth to a daily event.

Doctrines and creeds fall under the category of philosophy known as "a priori".  In other words, those are things which exist prior to engagement.  They are beliefs.  Belief is part of life, whether you like it or not.

Beliefs help formulate the intellectual scaffolding which constructs who it is we are.

By nature, belief is also discriminatory.  That's something which people don't want to accept, but it's true.  However, discrimination in this case is not the typical bigotry you would think (though at times it may manifest itself as such).  I doubt anyone would call the aforementioned person discriminatory.  To preclude however, that all creeds and doctrines should not be trusted is discriminatory in every bit as to say that if you don't believe in Jesus divine justice shall be delivered to you upon death.

Doctrines and creeds though are simple statements which sum up the confession of a believer.  In other words, they are meant to help summarize and concisely delineate that which a person believes.

It's not anything new.  Doctrines and creeds in Christianity have been around since the beginning.

In fact, without such doctrines and creeds we would not have any measure of agreement upon that which is Christian orthodoxy.  It helps to state what we believe to give a groundwork to define who we are as people.

Confession of these doctrines and creeds also aid with internalizing what the faith is.  There is a long distance between saying you're a Christian and being able to tell me what that is.

Some Christians would venture to say that these creeds and doctrines would take out the spiritual nature of their faith.  Untrue.  Rather, it is the flawed perception by those who don't realize that articulating your faith should stimulate and deepen spiritual vigor.  That's because in the process of confessing with your mouth the Spirit is further etching and sculpting your spiritual identity upon your hearts.

I love doctrines and creeds.  They're as precious to me as many of the praise songs I grew up with and as equally spiritually tactile to my heart.

This is in part, why evangelism is a big elephant in the room for Christians.  We believe, we wish to obey, but it scares us to share what we believe.

To this I say a few things:

  1. Confess your shortcomings to God, and confess that which you believe to yourself first.  This kind of practical application bolsters and challenges your knowledge and acknowledgement of who God is.
  2. Acknowledge that it is God who saves, not you.  However, He has called you.  Romans 10: 17 tells us that faith is through hearing.  How will people hear unless it is said?  Who will speak?  Christian, what does it mean to be saved if not to recognize that you didn't, couldn't, and didn't ask for the great love of Christ to take upon your sins?
  3. Take your lumps in stride.  You're going to fail.  You can't save anyone, but it is better to say something than nothing if the gospel really is THE good news.  
  4. Know thyself.  Probably some of the best advice I got in seminary.  Knowing who you are in Christ is to ponder upon your true identity.  It's not about world culture, color, or sex.  It's about your core a priori self.  For the Christian it should be shaped by the construct of who God tells us we are.  
  5. Be prayerful.  It's simple.  It's often tacked on as a "catch all".  However, it's not so simple or a catch all.  Prayer is an important part of the faith because the unchanging God is working on our hearts and minds through prayer.  We are in process.  Insofar as we need God to save us we need God to shape us.  Prayer is a powerful way to do that and another process of confession.
As a side recommendation, I'd say that you should ask a pastor you know and trust for a simple book to introduce you to what it is that you believe.  Or ask to sit down with them and discuss what doctrines make up Christianity.  Or even have a Bible study on the Apostles' Creed.

Monday, June 29, 2015

God is More...

In recent memory it seems that there are many out there who easily claim that "God is love"... and that's enough.
The statement in itself is true, but we forget that the context of that statement is made when the concept was new. In other words, it isn't the be all end all of God.
If anything we should come with the starting point in today's society that God is MORE than love. Though love is prominent on the cross, so is justice, mercy, hope, holiness, omnipotent, etc.
To think of God any less is to belittle the complex and wonderful incomprehensibility of God. God is more than we often want to see Him be.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Response to the Esperanza "Jackie Chan" Incident

When I saw this story on CBS I had a flashback to an incident almost 20 years ago at Buena High School. Our volleyball teams had gone and knocked off a very good team. Our varsity was shaking hands when the large Caucasian player from Buena pushed our smallest Asian player on the team.
Being young comes with many great benefits and a few of which is hubris. Whether it is in the mob of the student body or even at times the student athlete, we've all had it one time or another. Trust me, we were no angels when it came to trash talking in practice.
Racism isn't a new thing. In fact, if you think this is bad college sports is much worse. Jeremy Lin 林書豪 endured much worse than being called "Jackie Chan", I'm sure of it. But more so it reminds me also of Oscar Robertson, whose professional career was rife full of incidents of racism which still affect him today.
Esperanza's motto is "Where Excellence is a Tradition". Excellence is a great tradition to have. However, excellence cannot be achieved without learning one thing... the proper response to failure.
Failure is a fact of life. So long as we live in this world we have to endure with one another and our own imperfections. However, being able to confess those failures and move forward in avoiding the same failures is what the learning process is for. It's also what schools are for.
I hope Esperanza takes the opportunity to teach their students this. I hope the coach would personally call the student to apologize. I hope the administration makes an effort to be more proactive in guiding their students through this failure. I hope the students understand why it's wrong to berate someone simply because of race. 
Maybe this is one of the reasons why I believe the world needs the gospel of Christ so dearly.  After all, we need a better hope in this world for true change to come at the End.