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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Essence of Christianity

As a type of follow-up to my Essentials: Identifying Beliefs series I wanted to clarify a few things about these identifying beliefs in this post. Having already declared that I am leery about formulating any essentials (or fundamentals) because it tends to end in a type of structured legalism; I should add that when asserting essentials (or fundamentals) one can also be left with a mere set of doctrinal propositions.

While I see importance in the essentials I have listed, they are more than merely doctrinal propositions. In other words, what ought to stem from these doctrines are, in fact, practices. What I mean by this is granting these doctrines as essential, we should, as Christians, now ask ourselves how these are applicable to our lives. This is I believe the essence of Christianity.

As Paul clearly points out in the 13th chapter of his first epistle to the Church at Corinth, what good is it if we have all knowledge, or the gift of prophecy, or all faith so as to remove mountains, but we do not have love? One could also ask what good is it if we have essential doctrines but we do not have love. Better yet, what we should be learning as we progress in our Christian lives and thought is that these essentials should actually cause us to love. How could one not have love for another in need granting and knowing that Christ, the divine Son of God, gave His life for us all and demonstrated the ultimate act of love within His death and His resurrection?

In the epistle of James the author emphasizes that we are to be doers of the word and not merely hearers. The essentials I listed in my posts should spur us to act as Christians, to love one another, to look after widows, orphans, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. This is the essence of Christianity; not a mere set of propositions which, if one embraces and believes, that one could be called a Christian. There is so much more here than simply these essentials. They have life and meaning beyond being a set of doctrines (or propositions).

Therefore, understanding and embracing these essentials is one thing, while living them out in our daily lives is another. However, the two go hand in hand, and with that we know, embrace, and practice the essence of what it means to be a Christian.


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