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Theology and Daily Christian Living

Posted by frieda lara on August 22, 2020 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Theology and Christian Daily Living

 

It is not strange that theology is commonly and quickly regarded as an abstract discipline and nothing about it as practical. Those in secular fields like business, law and other professions view theology as something even largely irrelevant to them. Even Christian men and women among those in secular fields assume that it is confined or reserved to the clergy. The rift created by secularism and withdrew theology from the world of secular involvements is responsible for this perception. It is bolstered by the position of biblical scholars themselves who impress upon the lay Christian that those not trained in their methods can understand the Bible. And everyday realities and concerns supplant this perception in every aspect of life. It does appear that the study of the Bible, theological discourse, prayer and mounting secular concerns and interest simply do not align.

Puritan William Perkins offered another definition of theology as the “science of living blessedly forever (Stevens, 1995).” J. I. Packer contributes another definition as that of “achieving God’s glory, honor and praise and mankind’s good through every life activity.” If these definitions carry the Biblical approach to theological education, then that is the only genuine Christian theology. It is the only applied theology. The direction of Bible thought is always from “the indicative to the imperative, from doctrine to duty, from theology to ethics and from revealed truth to exemplary living.” St. Francis of Assisi remarked that mankind “has as much knowledge as it has executed.” What one really knows is what he lives (Stevens).”

There are three lenses through which the connection of life and theology can be viewed and established. These are orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthopathy. Orthodoxy means conformity to an approved doctrine. A person who lives by an orthodox doctrine aligns his life with Scripture. In so doing, he becomes a blessing to every life. At the same time, he blesses and thanks God in life itself. Every Christian has the wonderful prospect of living the great doctrines. Observing the doctrine of the Trinity leads the creature to form relationships. Those who proclaim that God is love is also assumed to be included in the life-love link of God and become lovers themselves. Faith in God the Creator is an implied acceptance of God’s stewardship of the earth. The incarnation of Jesus Christ greatly modifies or reverses long-standing attitude towards things and promotes a radical Christian materials. Christ’s atonement for the sins of mankind leads the Christian to bond with others in people-hood. Eschatology teaches the Christian to value time as a definite gift of God instead of as a resource that must be managed. Rather than darken thought, the Bible invites all “to love God with all their minds … by thinking comprehensively, critically and devotedly whereby every thought submits to Christ. The person who does this is without doubt a blessing to everyone every day. The fruit of this kind of thinking will necessary transform him or her into an everyday blessing to those around him or her. And “thinking Christianity” is part of that science of living in blessings forever. The goal of Biblical theological education is to make people love God more while making us more human. This is why schools must partner with the Church and the market place. Real-life ministry and life situations work as a built-in reality check tool needed by all. People can learn to love the Church as Christ does by first being in Christ and in the church siultaneously. Loving cannot be done in absentia. The congregation or community is needed in training and forming people who are the next generation worshippers who will also preach, examine a balance sheet, prepare family meals and perform other activities with the community or congregation. Paul writes to the Ephesians that the purpose of congregation and life-based education is for saints to live in praise of God’s glory, i.e., doxologically. The great doctrines of faith, therefore, urge for application. In praise of God, these bless everyday life. It directs everyone to a simultaneous worship of God and a genuine human existence.

Orthopraxy literally translates as right or straight practice . It is frank, plain and true Christian action, free of mental reservations, appearances and second thoughts. The only thought is that he does it for God and He does this for him. He is veritably spontaneous and free enough to love someone in need because Jesus lives in his heart. He does so not in search of approval or benefit for God or people. It is action that aligns with God’s purposes and the result is the discovery of God and His truth. It is not confined to the clerics. The doer can be a pastor or a dishwasher, a cobbler or an apostle. The deed is done to please God. Neither is there a measure of it, whether by excellence, efficiency or character. It is measured only by the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. It requires the cultivation of the heart, not only the outside of it.

The third lens is orthopathy, which literally means “right passion,” as coined by Dr. Richard Mouw. Jewish author Abraham Heschel also wrote and hinted at it by saying that the prophets were an embodiment of what God cares for, or divine pathos. It is the cultivation of the heart, which is the total or holistic way of knowing. The Biblical response to the postmodernism concept is not an abandonment of reason but opening up to God’s evangelizing action in the heart and the head simultaneously. This is what God cares for.

The pursuit of orthopathy is not solely the school’s. The academy, the home, the congregation and the marketplace are all linkages of learning. The home is the first school and nothing takes its place. The academy does not seem to need support from the other three, but all three can only be poor substitutes to the home in the task of educating the heart. The ultimate objective of the education of the heart is to cultivate a passion for God. Orthopathy is best illustrated in the case of Job. He derived learning from life itself. He was a man after God’s own heart. He went through a series of tests in the pursuit of the friendship of God, not anything else. This was why his speeches were directed to Him as he inquired of God, challenged God, demanded of God and confronting God with holy persistence [Jas.5:11].

Orthopathy also works in the interest of other people as neighbors. In this link, the neighbor is accepted and taken seriously as a neighbor rather than as a means of grace. A Christian deals with the poor, the stranger or the enemy not out of a cold theory or principle but as a neighbor. It is in this context that a Christian is invited to live the faith life. It is in the spontaneous and uncontrollable circumstances that God is found and God finds the Christian (Stevens).

These three lenses together point to the connection between theology and the everyday life of a Christian. That connection becomes evident in the habit of praise or orthodoxy, spontaneous practice or orthopraxy, and passion or orthopathy. .What perhaps accounts for the most virulent heresy in the church today is the incongruity of being theologically approved but living like “practical atheists .”

 

Theology and Christian Education

Posted by frieda lara on August 9, 2020 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Theology and Christian Education

The uneasiness between evangelical Christians and theological schools has taken different forms that range from of simple caution and hesitation in sponsoring seminary education to outright hostility (Bamalyi, 2005). Theological colleges today are seen as failing in what they are teaching and how they are teaching it. Their mission continues to be questioned. Those who would venture into graduate theological training must study the background of Christian education (Bamalyi).

After the fall of Rome in the 5th century, the central power was in the hands of the Catholic Church. Church and state were united and this union tended to overturn moral standard as it eliminated any difference between believers and unbelievers (Bamalyi, 2005). Ecclesiastical power in Rome attempted to Christianize even barbaric tribes. In the meantime, Christian education largely deteriorated. In response to the condition, European rulers like Charles the Great and Alfred of England tried introducing educational reforms. A popular theology surfaced from a combined Christian doctrines and superstitions. As states gained secular power, the struggle between them and the Church arose for ultimate authority. In the 11th century, scholasticism flourished. It advocated for the use of reason in determining the truth in Scriptures and, more essentially, on the content of faith. The trend is attributed to St. Anselm, who attempted to prove the existence of God through purely rational means. Abelard also utilized this approach in resolving universal questions in the 12th century. Augustine and other early Church fathers incorporated Plato’s doctrines and neo-Platonic thinking into Christian theology. The works of Aristotle were most influential during the 13th century but Thomas Aquinas retains the distinction as the greatest achiever of the scholastic age and for the triumphant Christianizing of Aristotle. An overemphasis on reason dealt a heavy blow on Christian education (Bamalyi).

The Renaissance period at the latter part of the 13th century introduced and enforced the concept of natural science (Bamalyi, 2005). This induced the down fall of scholastic metaphysics. Scholasticism, however, persisted in the area of politics and laws and the proclamation and adoption of Aquinas’ system by Pope Leo XIII as the official Catholic philosophy. The Renaissance laid the grounds for the humanistic trend in education. It focused and extolled the person and revived ancient languages and classical literature from Greece and Rome. It was a secular culture, which emphasized joys in living, the ideal of liberty and freedom from moral restraints among those who wanted to be relieved of the rigors of Christian morality (Barmalyi).

The authoritativeness of Scripture or revelation from God was discredited by human insight (Barmalyi, 2005). This 19th century religious thought was advocated by Louise Berkhof. The new concept stopped accepting the knowledge of God as something that comes from Scripture. It insisted that reason should be used along with Scriptures. This drift evolved into postmodernism with John Dewey as major proponent It holds that the decision to believe in an absolute truth is the choice of the person. This position is a clear deviation from the teaching of the Bible. Secular educational theory and practice were thus launched. The theory reduced philosophy to an education theory and did away with theology, which it perceived as an obstruction to education. And in the first quarter of the 20th century, liberal and neo-orthodox theologies asserted the strongest influence on Christian education. Their negating influence can be felt in seminaries, public colleges and even in the church (Bamalyi).

Teaching Christian faith in a mechanistic or humanistic psychology defeats the precise purpose of Christian education (Bamalyi, 2005). Christian education is an absolute calling and electing and is not reducible to a technique. It is not the church or the school that calls but God Himself and He calls whom He chooses. The Christian educator should not apply secular methods and techniques in his work in tracing their origin from mere behavioral sciences like anthropology, sociology or psychology. Secular theories operate only from naturalistic and humanistic assumptions, which ignore and denigrate the word of God and human responsibility. The greater emphasis should be placed on the word of God. The direction should be Christian education as maser and not as servant of Revelation or the Bible. Revelation or the Bible sets the direction instead. It determines the task, sets the goals and guides the process of achieving the goal or goals. The Bible is the primary source and the long errant criterion for truth. It is the filtering standard for all presumptions and opinions. The Christian curriculum must derive its foundation and contents from the Bible. Christian educators should be extremely careful about borrowing secular teachings in training pastors in Bible institutes in order to gain precise results. The results depend on God Who alone can save the world. Methods from the secular world can be borrowed and applied into Christian education to help churches gather clients who have no knowledge of salvation. Preaching and teaching should be emphasized. It is doubtful that psychology will be helpful in pastoral training or Christian counseling. Only the word of God can ever prepare a person for Him. For a real exegetical understanding of the Scripture, exposure to the teaching ministry, personal study, application to daily life, mentoring and the Holy Spirit for pastoral training or Christian education. Emphasis should be on the word of God rather than the methods used. When the early Church preached and taught the Gospel of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord rewarded them with souls (Acts 2:47) (Bamalyi).

Theology and Christian Daily Living

 

It is not strange that theology is commonly and quickly regarded as an abstract discipline and nothing about it as practical (Stevens, 1995). Those in secular fields like business, law and other professions view theology as something even largely irrelevant to them. Even Christian men and women among those in secular fields assume that it is confined or reserved to the clergy. The rift created by secularism and withdrew theology from the world of secular involvements is responsible for this perception. It is bolstered by the position of biblical scholars themselves who impress upon the lay Christian that those not trained in their methods can understand the Bible. And everyday realities and concerns supplant this perception in every aspect of life. It does appear that the study of the Bible, theological discourse, prayer and mounting secular concerns and interest simply do not align (Stevens).

Puritan William Perkins offered another definition of theology as the “science of living blessedly forever (Stevens, 1995).” J. I. Packer contributes another definition as that of “achieving God’s glory, honor and praise and mankind’s good through every life activity.” If these definitions carry the Biblical approach to theological education, then that is the only genuine Christian theology. It is the only applied theology. The direction of Bible thought is always from “the indicative to the imperative, from doctrine to duty, from theology to ethics and from revealed truth to exemplary living.” St. Francis of Assisi remarked that mankind “has as much knowledge as it has executed.” What one really knows is what he lives (Stevens).”

There are three lenses through which the connection of life and theology can be viewed and established (Stevens, 1995). These are orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthopathy. Orthodoxy means conformity to an approved doctrine. A person who lives by an orthodox doctrine aligns his life with Scripture. In so doing, he becomes a blessing to every life. At the same time, he blesses and thanks God in life itself. Every Christian has the wonderful prospect of living the great doctrines. Observing the doctrine of the Trinity leads the creature to form relationships. Those who proclaim that God is love is also assumed to be included in the life-love link of God and become lovers themselves. Faith in God the Creator is an implied acceptance of God’s stewardship of the earth. The incarnation of Jesus Christ greatly modifies or reverses long-standing attitude towards things and promotes a radical Christian materials. Christ’s atonement for the sins of mankind leads the Christian to bond with others in people-hood. Eschatology teaches the Christian to value time as a definite gift of God instead of as a resource that must be managed. Rather than darken thought, the Bible invites all “to love God with all their minds … by thinking comprehensively, critically and devotedly whereby every thought submits to Christ. The person who does this is without doubt a blessing to everyone every day. The fruit of this kind of thinking will necessary transform him or her into an everyday blessing to those around him or her. And “thinking Christianity” is part of that science of living in blessings forever. The goal of Biblical theological education is to make people love God more while making us more human. This is why schools must partner with the Church and the market place. Real-life ministry and life situations work as a built-in reality check tool needed by all. People can learn to love the Church as Christ does by first being in Christ and in the church siultaneously. Loving cannot be done in absentia. The congregation or community is needed in training and forming people who are the next generation worshippers who will also preach, examine a balance sheet, prepare family meals and perform other activities with the community or congregation. Paul writes to the Ephesians that the purpose of congregation and life-based education is for saints to live in praise of God’s glory, i.e., doxologically. The great doctrines of faith, therefore, urge for application. In praise of God, these bless everyday life. It directs everyone to a simultaneous worship of God and a genuine human existence (Stevens).

Orthopraxy literally translates as right or straight practice (Stevens, 1995). It is frank, plain and true Christian action, free of mental reservations, appearances and second thoughts. The only thought is that he does it for God and He does this for him. He is veritably spontaneous and free enough to love someone in need because Jesus lives in his heart. He does so not in search of approval or benefit for God or people. It is action that aligns with God’s purposes and the result is the discovery of God and His truth. It is not confined to the clerics. The doer can be a pastor or a dishwasher, a cobbler or an apostle. The deed is done to please God. Neither is there a measure of it, whether by excellence, efficiency or character. It is measured only by the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. It requires the cultivation of the heart, not only the outside of it (Stevens).

The third lens is orthopathy, which literally means “right passion,” as coined by Dr. Richard Mouw (Stevens, 1995). Jewish author Abraham Heschel also wrote and hinted at it by saying that the prophets were an embodiment of what God cares for, or divine pathos. It is the cultivation of the heart, which is the total or holistic way of knowing. The Biblical response to the postmodernism concept is not an abandonment of reason but opening up to God’s evangelizing action in the heart and the head simultaneously. This is what God cares for (Stevens).

The pursuit of orthopathy is not solely the school’s (Stevens, 1995). The academy, the home, the congregation and the marketplace are all linkages of learning. The home is the first school and nothing takes its place. The academy does not seem to need support from the other three, but all three can only be poor substitutes to the home in the task of educating the heart. The ultimate objective of the education of the heart is to cultivate a passion for God. Orthopathy is best illustrated in the case of Job. He derived learning from life itself. He was a man after God’s own heart. He went through a series of tests in the pursuit of the friendship of God, not anything else. This was why his speeches were directed to Him as he inquired of God, challenged God, demanded of God and confronting God with holy persistence [Jas.5:11] (Stevens).

Orthopathy also works in the interest of other people as neighbors (Stevens, 1995). In this link, the neighbor is accepted and taken seriously as a neighbor rather than as a means of grace. A Christian deals with the poor, the stranger or the enemy not out of a cold theory or principle but as a neighbor. It is in this context that a Christian is invited to live the faith life. It is in the spontaneous and uncontrollable circumstances that God is found and God finds the Christian (Stevens).

These three lenses together point to the connection between theology and the everyday life of a Christian (Stevens, 1995). That connection becomes evident in the habit of praise or orthodoxy, spontaneous practice or orthopraxy, and passion or orthopathy. .What perhaps accounts for the most virulent heresy in the church today is the incongruity of being theologically approved but living like “practical atheists (Stevens).”

 

Mary! Hear my cry...

Posted by Maria Concordia "Connie" I. Ko on August 5, 2020 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

(PLEASE MAKE YOUR PRAYER REQUEST HERE.) : For me and my wife to reconcile our marriage and to be filled with Christ's love for each other. I pray to Mary that she hear my cry's and bring them to her sons feet and to prevent us from getting a divorce.

 

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An Analysis of the Scriptures for a Better Understanding of Christian Doctrine

Posted by frieda lara on August 3, 2020 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I. Critical Literature Review

 

History of Biblical Theology

 

The beginnings of biblical theory are often attributed to the Protestant Reformation, J. P. Gabler’s 1797 Address, the first use of the term in the early 1600s or even earlier when initial attempts to merge OT and NT Scriptures were made. Some hold that bible theology begins from the Bible itself, from the continuity of the summaries of both the OT and the NT on God’s dealings with His chosen people. The Gospels, Paul’s epistles and other Christian writings and the Hebrew Scriptures were merged to form the NT in the process of formulating church beliefs and in counteracting false teaching. Issues on unity and diversity characterized these early efforts. Influenced by Origen, the church eventually opted for the use allegories for its method of interpretation. Allegories achieved uniformity but eluded historical meaning, which in turn, necessitated referencing of later doctrines to the corresponding text. Scriptures during the medieval times assumed four viewpoints or senses, namely literal or historical, allegorical, moral and anagogical or spiritual. The historical sense was preferred and championed by Victorines of the 12th century and, more especially, by Thomas Aquinas. Among the Reformers, on the other hand, Luther favored the literal approach, advocated for justification by faith as the solution to the diversity issue and his hermeneutics and gave greater emphasis on books, which show Christ. But it was John Calvin who pointed to Scripture as the supreme authority on Christian belief. With this dogmatism, Calvin is regarded as the initiator of true biblical theology. These events were followed by the formation of rigid dogmatic systems during the period of Protestant Orthodoxy. Biblical theology evolved as a more distinct discipline as a result of three major trends in the 17th and 18th centuries. These were the flourishing of collegia biblica of collegium collection, pietism, and the rise of new critical methods of literary and historical research. In his 1787 inaugural address, J. P. Gabler defined true biblical theology as the historical study of the OT and the NT, their authors and contexts of their time. Biblical theology was thus viewed as purely historical, descriptive and objective and separate from interpretation concerns.

 

Rationalist scholars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries produced their own biblical theologies with the use of the historical method mainly to discredit orthodox theology. With very little of the supernatural in their theology, they understandably insisted on the superiority of reason to revelation. The use of the historical approach, however, more strongly revealed the diversity problem, more especially the distinction between the OT and the NT and their respective original historical settings. The possibility of a biblical theology then became questionable in itself. The OT and the NT evolved separately in the first half of the 20th century. The influence of Hegel and liberals like H. J. Holtzmann was particularly strong in the evolution of NT theology. OT theologies, on the other hand, evolved from conservatives like J. C. F. Steudel, H. A. C. Fldvernick and G. F. Oehler. But archeological discoveries during that period came up with findings on the Near East and the Greco-Roman world, which questioned the faith. It viewed the Bible not as a source of doctrine but merely a record of the lives and experiences of communities and the early church in Israel. What was thought of as NT theology was an early Christian religion that should be studied objectively and separated from dogma or systematic theology.

 

The golden age of OT revival is considered to have occurred in the 1930s with the particular influence of W. Eichrodt.. The NT revival occurred later with the work of R. Bultmann. In the search for structure, authors first used the standard topics of systematic theology. With the introduction of the historical-critical approach in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the theologies of both OT and NT assumed a chronological structure. Soon, dissatisfaction towards both formats drove scholars to adopt themes or topics of their choice or a multi-thematic format. A more recent option is an emphasis on the dialectical nature of biblical theology. Newer approaches in the last decades depart from the historical-critical method. One substitute was the literary approach, which builds on the biblical narratives. Other trends were the unexpected interest in the canon of Scripture, the sociological approach to Scripture, and the liberation theologies. In recent years, however, there have been signs and attempts of connecting OT and NT studies and reconstructing some form of biblical theology. One was that of German scholars H. Gese and P. Stuhlmacher and their use of “history of traditions.” Other indications were the Fortress Press series in the 1980s and 1990s on a renewed interest in biblical theology and the invigorating scholarly debate on the place of the law in the OT and the NT. The present conflict between the academy and the community of believers seems to rule out the creation of an “all-biblical theology” at the moment.

 

Biblical and Historical Development of Christian Doctrines

 

In his 1891 essay , John Henry Cardinal Newman avers that doctrines would naturally develop because of the human mind’s natural inability to assimilate information. Even modern psychologists agree to this. Only aspects or views can be taught and these are not identical to the object or concept being taught. Newman then says that writers and interpreters after the Apostolic era were not as inspired as the Apostles themselves. In his mind, God did not provide important doctrines in the inspired Scripture as it was His intention that it should be completed by doctrinal development as revealed truths should be. Another source for doctrine would be the interaction of Christian truth with the different cultures. Christianity is a universal religion and should then reflect and become applicable to all places and at all times while its relations and dealings with the world may change. Development work on the doctrines continues to the present time. No doctrines of the Christian faith have been fully developed as the NT in a completed form. To this day, Christian doctrine is subject to formal, legitimate and genuine development as contemplated and intended by its Divine Author.

 

Both Protestants and Catholics admit that Christian doctrine developed over centuries. Even the most thorough Protestant adherents to the exact teachings of the Apostolic church recognize two major developments to this effect. One is the absence of any canon of the NT in the Apostolic era. It had to evolve and be developed over time. The other is major Christian doctrines, such as the Trinity, are outcomes of discussions by Church fathers over hundreds of years. They finally attained form through various Councils. They are expressed in words but not literally copied from the Bible. Newman’s title is not supposed to imply that God or His truth changes, but that He did not reveal all His truth all at once. It seems to be His intention that His creatures should gradually attain clear understanding of His truth as the human mind is not capable of immediate and total comprehension of it. Newman believes that it is the nature of human mind to take time to achieve full comprehension and perfection of great ideas. His essay offers the solution to the difficulty in using and making sense of the expansive testimony gathered from 18 hundred years of Christianity.

 

The Importance of the Canon of Scriptures to Theologians

 

The term “canon” means rule or norm and refers to books that came to be regarded as authoritative for the churches by the middle of the fourth century AD. The proper use of the term has in itself not been settled by scholars. According to some of them, the dominant element before the fourth century was not the text but its content. Christians in the time of Irenaeus freely handled the apostolic texts, which were not yet considered unchangeable at the time. Answers given to questions concerning the canon affect the theologian and his task. The exegete or interpreter who considers the canon as a mere historical creation will resort to Sachkritik in managing historical and theological matters. Sachkritik means evaluating each part of Scripture in the light of the main message, which is the gospel of justification. The canon of the Scripture is the product of humn effort, by nature fallible and thus subject to evaluation and revision. The exegete who recognizes the canon as the inspired word of God will look for solutions to historical problems by connecting and harmonizing differences in it and by highlighting and seeking the fundamental unity of Scripture. The theologian, scholar or church leader, on the other hand, who perceives the canon as irrelevant, will have a problem establishing authority in matters of faith and practice. If “inspiration” is considered only a theological theory instead of a historical process, which guides the writing of Scripture and the building of the canon, the weight of authority moves away from the Scripture text. Historical criticism can damage or destroy the theological value of any Biblical material or statement, it can be eliminated or omitted in discussing matters of faith and practice.

 

The new source of authority can be the history of tradition behind Scripture, the many levels of redactional historical development, the final canonical context, ecclesiastical tradition, the community’s faith experience or the continued hermeneutical effort at verifying Scripture material. The choice is a subjective one, based on his ability to reconstruct reliable data as well as on his retention of respected views and habits, his realizing the working of God and his skill in relating his method or methods to the text.

 

The choice depends on the subjectivity of the interpreter, his ability to reconstruct the verities of tradition history, the retention of time-honored and venerated views and habits, his realization the workings of God or his capability in relating his method to the text. The pastor or evangelist takes the suggestion of those who do away with the canon, he must consider the Didache or a sermon of Luther or Wesley as relevant as the Epistle to the Ephesians or 1 Peter. If he has no time or interest in reviewing historical arguments and commentaries, monographs and essays, he must rely on interpretations from consensus for that truth or the specific outlook used in his student days. But because objective truth has become a problematic philosophical concept, he needs to turn to standard creed formulation without the needed inner conviction. Or he takes recourse to the power generated by movements, which promise spiritual effectiveness. Otherwise, he searches for relevance in social-political or psychological theories. The result is an insecure feeling among Christians. Even non-Christians soon deplore the lack of distinctive message from the representatives of the church themselves. They liken these supposed spokesmen and women to political commentators. But if he stands on the conviction and position that the prophetic and apostolic canon of Scripture is the revealed word of God and is reliable in all its assertions, the church can be confident that they have a dependable foundation by which to proclaim the Gospel. The canon of Scripture is not a ready-made preparation, which fell from heaven. Rather, it evolved from a lengthy and tedious process, which reflects the nature of Scripture. It is a merger of the human record of Israel, the Apostles’ experience and the divinely-inspired expression of God’s will and message. As such, it proceeds from human appreciation and evaluation of basic documents and God’s sovereign will.

 

The Use of Scriptures to Shape Christian Doctrines

 

God’s word has been preserved because the Bible has survived. This is not an abstract theological declaration but the statement of a historic and tangible fact. The tangible, visible and readable Bible today has been handed down to this time from generations. Whatever its form, language, version or translation, the content has remained virtually the same. The differences are, in different cases, insignificant or crucial but it has retained its reliability and trustworthiness.

 

What one believes must be verified by what the Bible says about what one believes. Doctrinal pronouncements by churches, what theologians teach, findings of studies and experiments, translations and Fundamentalist teaching and preaching can all help prevent a fall into error. But Scriptures must confirm the claim or pronouncement. The early church sought to recognize the canon of inspired writings and the doctrinal expression of what those documents taught. It exerted greater effort in checking the teachings out against the truth contained in the surviving text that on the accuracy of the documents. The very survival of the documents satisfactorily attests to their preservation. Many believe that God handed down His word inerrantly or free from error. They also believe what Scripture teaches that His word will not pass until everything He has said is fulfilled. This “everything” is contained and taught in Scripture. He also revealed how He gives His word and to whom. Select persons as agents are moved by Him or reborn by His Spirit. Among these selected by God to reveal His word or message are those who record that Word or message in writing. The doctrine of inspiration enables one of them to present and interpret the content of such statements or pronouncements. But relating or explaining how an inspired, inerrant, un-inscribed revelation is transmitted is different and more complex.

 

Evangelical and fundamental Christians believe that the Bible is the absolute authority over, and concerning, life and eternal destiny. It is the only source and standard of absolute moral principles needed by all to live and for society to function properly and to survive. It is the only source of information, which explains the existence of evil as well as protection and deliverance from it. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul writes: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work. This is an authoritative message to Christians who have preserved it for generations.

 

The Scripture consists of 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. About 40 authors collaborated in writing it in three languages, namely Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, but internally consistent throughout the text. It took them 1,600 years of collaborative work. It was intended for use in Africa, Asia and Europe for prophets, priests, cupbearers, kings, judges, fishermen and others. It is 98% textually pure in that it has only 1½% error probability in copying of the manuscripts. This margin of error does not affect doctrine. The Scripture is without question inspired by God. Inspiration means that God, through Holy Spirit, led the writers to record His accurate and authoritative revelations (Slick2013). The original manuscripts contain no error and are thus absolutely reliable and true concerning the matters discussed. The inspiration of the Scripture produced the basic doctrines of belief accepted by every true Christian (Slick).

 

The writers of Scripture are, nevertheless, not mechanized tools who were merely moved by the Holy Spirit (Boettner 2013). In performing their sublime task, they remained themselves in thought, will and consciousness. Readers can even chance upon the peculiar mannerisms of some of these writers. They also wrote in their own language: if they spoke Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek according to their nationality. If they were educated, their writings reflect their culture. If they were not educated, their writings would give this away as to style and manner of handling. The divine and the human were not separate but were, instead, in perfect harmony in every word of Scripture. Yet the primary influence was always the divine and human influence was only secondary. In this collaboration, they were not originators but only receivers and announcers of inspiration (Boettner)

 

The doctrine of inspiration, however, does not mean that Scripture writers ceased to be erring creatures(Boettner 2013). Moses himself who wrote much about the history of Israel and is acknowledged as the greatest prophet in the OT committed an offense at Meribah for which he was banned from entering the promised land. Balaam, Saul and Peter were great spokesmen of the Lord but they committed blunders. Peter’s personal flaw led Paul to resist him for it. But their personal faults did not interfere with what they had to do. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit allowed for personality characteristics in them. What they wrote or spoke is not to be taken as something separate from the pure Word of God and not worth heeding. Their writings and speech express not only something they themselves thought out, inferred, hoped or feared. These were also something given or transmitted to them. Some of these inspired messages were not welcomed but forced upon them. In any case, they could neither say more or less than what was revealed to them. Neither did inspiration make the prophets who wrote Scripture omniscient. The inspiration was confined only to the particular revelation or message given to them. Each inspiration was highly specific and limited to itself. In other matters or concerns, they were at par with their contemporaries (Boettner).

 

The Basic Biblical Theology and the Canon of Scriptures

 

Simply defined and understood, theology is the science of God (Faith Bible Church, 2013). It comes from the Greek words “theos” or God and “logos” or study or science. It is the study of God, His Word and His works. It is true theology when based on the Word of God. Simply understood, it is a serious study of the Holy Bible. Biblical theology is thus the study of God from the individual parts and authors of the Bible. Each of these parts or books has a separate and distinctive contribution to the Bible. All the parts complement one another without contradiction. It is also a narration and documentation on the chronological development and progression of God’s revelation and work in human history, which peak in Jesus Christ (Faith Bible Church).

 

“Canon” also comes from a Greek word, kanon, which means “measuring instrument,” and later came to mean “rule of action (Ryrie, 1999).” It pertained to the creeds at the time of the early church. It was adopted for use in the Bible, such as for the listing of accepted books, recognized as a would-be component of the Bible. Canon refers to two things: as this list of books, which passed tests and rules that determined their authoritativeness and canonical-ness and as the collection of canonical books, which contain the rule of Christian life (Ryrie).

 

The OT of the Bible that Christians know is Tanakh to the Jews up to this time (Ryrie, 1999). Tanakh is an acronym for three distinct part of the Hebrew Scriptures, namely the Torah or Law, the Nevim or Prophets and the Kethvim or Writings. It is common belief that Moses wrote much of the Torah, the first five books of the Tanakh, when the Israelites camped at Mt. Sinai. They immediately accepted as true what he wrote and gave them on the basis of his being a prophet and as one who was endowed with special revelation from God. Moses’ writings and special revelation would constitute four out of the five books of the Torah. The Nevim was also accepted as God’s direct revelation to His chosen people. The Nevim contained the works of both major and minor prophets and those of Joshua and the Judges. These were immediately accepted and revered as if written right at the throne of God. The Hebrews regarded these early Scriptures as holy even during apostate times in Israel (Ryrie).

 

The Torah and the Neviim, or “the Law and the Prophets,” were accepted and obeyed as canon centuries before the time of Christ (Ryrie, 1999). It was a different case with the Psalms, the Proverbs, the Book of Daniel and the other books, although they were long established and used, especially during specific celebrations or events. The Council at Jamnia in the year 90 formally adopted them as canonical Hebrew Scripture. Then the Council declared that the Tanakh was complete with the addition of the revelation. The Bible, however, is self-authenticating or canonical from their time of writing because they were breathed out by God. The investigation, ascertainment or declaration of any Council is not necessary for these to become acceptable. They were inherently canonical by virtue of their having come from God Himself (Ryrie).

 

The Church regarded NT documents, though a separate collection, as parts of Scripture and put them together (Ryrie, 1999). These included the four Gospels, and Paul’s letters, which were copied and circulated for teaching. They have been regarded as equally important as the Jewish Scriptures, or more important as some consider them. The identification of the documents was the very same process by which the New Testament canon developed (Ryrie).

 

About 110 years after the death of Jesus, a certain teacher of Christianity named Marcion was uncomfortable with the view of a wrathful God of the OT as incompatible with the loving God of the NT (Ryrie, 1999). He rejected the OT view and published a canon from edited versions of select documents, such as the Gospel of Luke and 10 of Paul’s epistles. His initiative called the Church’s attention to the need of selecting and using only truly canonical or authoritative documents to establish and defend church doctrines. Mancion was not credited for initiating the process of forming the canon but for stirring the controversy, which led to or accelerated and solidified the development of the current process. At that time, the four Gospels and the Pauline corpus were already gathered and circulated. The four Gospels were referred to as The Gospel. The Pauline corpus was the collection of Paul’s letters. Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch in 115 AD named each of these documents as Scripture. General letters by Peter, John, James and Jude were later excluded. These used to be part of the Acts of the Apostles. By the year 200, most of the New Testament was already composed. The Muratorian Fragment identifies Luke as the third Gospel then John, Paul’s 13 epistles, Jude, two epistles by John and the Book of Revelation as constitution Scripture. Origen in the early 300 lists the four Gospels, Paul’s 13 letters, Peter and John’s and the Revelation. He mentions that some documents were subjected to debate, such as Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James ad Jude. Eusebius’ list consisted of all the documents except James, Jude, 2 Peter and 2 and 3 John. These were also under dispute by some although accepted by most (Ryrie).

 

In the year 357, Athanasius, Jerome and Augustine listed 27 of the NT documents aone (Ryrie, 1999). The church in the west approved these 27 documents at the councils of Hippo Regius in 393 and Carthage in 397. Farther east, the inclusion of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John and the Revelation was made only in the year 508 in a version of the Syriac Bible. And by the year 397, the Christian Church considered the canon of the Bible as complete and closed it. It means that no more books or documents could be discovered or written for inclusion. The canon cannot be reopened for any addition to the 66. Even one more epistle of Paul would not be considered canonical. It would not be unlikely that Paul wrote more than the 13 already officially recognized as canonical. But even those were not included in the canon (Ryrie).

  

(more follows) 

none is good but God

Posted by frieda lara on July 25, 2020 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

it is only by the grace of God that a human being can do anything good. Christ Himself says, "None is good but God." So let us not congratulate ourselves for merely cooperating with God and His grace when we do even what we think is a great act of goodness. All glory belongs to Him. A changed person only gives God that glory when he displays works of goodness that are truly only God's. A person with a renewed mind is an abode to God and he does only those that God will do in his place. A human being needs God's Spirit even to train and bend his will to cooperate with God's grace. Salvation itself is only His gift freely given as something won by His Son and shared with those who will accept Jesus' offer by following His commands and living as He lived on earth. The terms of agreement are unconditional and irrevocable. We owe everything to Him, even our very energy to offend Him!

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we cannot do anything without God's grace, not even to pray to Him on own un-aided

Posted by frieda lara on July 25, 2020 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (0)

fallen nature has no power to change itself, e.g. turn away from any kind of sin. It is not subject to our weak will, which is inclined to sinning, being fallen, in the first place. That cures vanity entirely. Only God has the option to renew us but He needs our accepting His grace, not just to avoid pornography but to turn into new creatures that we are meant and destined to be. When God reads the desires of our hearts to obey His command, He responds by sending His Spirit to renew our minds and we begin to live in the reverse of our fallen nature, i.e., we develop a spiritual instinct to repulse all sin, not only pornography.. We begin to love what Go loves and hate what He hates. None of it is to our credit. It is more than deliverance by another human being. It must be God's very action.

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not to get picked for jury duty

Posted by Maria Concordia "Connie" I. Ko on January 29, 2020 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Please pray for me not to get picked for jury duty. I can't afford to be off work, I'm struggling to get my bills paid even working. Thank you, I appreciate it!

(ANONYMOUS WEBPRAYZE PRAYER REQUEST FORM SUBMISSION)

stop doing witchcraft to my dad

Posted by Maria Concordia "Connie" I. Ko on January 29, 2020 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (3)

Please pray for nicola f to stop doing witchcraft to my dad, pray that she would be pointed into a different direction away from all of us. Thank You!

(ANONYMOUS WEBPRAYZE PRAYER REQUEST FORM SUBMISSION)

Prayer for healing from throat cancer

Posted by Maria Concordia "Connie" I. Ko on January 29, 2020 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

We ask our entire webprayze family--Members, visitors, prayze Angels & Principal Prayer Advocates (Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, Cistercians & various other orders of monks/nuns & prayer warriors/ groups/communities) see Prayze Angels--to come together & pray for this Anonymous Unpublished Prayer Request.

I have stage 3 lung cancer...(but) I still believe in miracles

Posted by Maria Concordia "Connie" I. Ko on January 29, 2020 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (1)

My name is Ora. I have stage 3 lung cancer of the left lung also am in jeopardy of losing my left arm due to the cancer. I also have kidney disease. Will you please add me to your prayer list. Will you please pray for a miracle for me to be healed. I still believe in miracles and need one desperately. Thank you all for your prayers

(WEBPRAYZE PRAYER REQUEST FORM SUBMISSION)


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