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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.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Essentials: Identifying Beliefs (Conclusion)

When I began this series, in the first post, I quoted this from Ben Myers, “there’s no question of trying to impose certain beliefs on others or of turning certain doctrines into laws that must be obeyed, but only of describing those beliefs that distinctively mark out Christian communities and traditions from other communities and traditions. So what are the “identifying beliefs” of Christian faith? It seems to me that there are two related ones: Christian faith is identified both by its christological character and by its trinitarian character. And at the core of both of these identifying characteristics is a single, central belief: a belief in the unity between Jesus Christ and God.”

I agree with Ben in the quote above and have tried to formulate a list of identifying beliefs around his premise of the two related characteristics and the unity between Jesus Christ and God. The results are these identifying beliefs:

  • The gospel proclamation
  • The deity - or better yet - divinity of Christ
  • The resurrection
  • The Trinity

There are, I think several issues or doctrines (or practices) which stem from these essentials above (e.g. worship, love, community/church, scriptures, etc.), but based on the starting premise, I think these are the essential identifying beliefs of the Christian faith.

Obviously there are several doctrines which many might think belong on a list of essentials but are not on mine. For instance, unlike the actual list of Fundamentals (from the late 19th, early 20th century) I did not include the inerrancy of the Bible. Without going into too much detail, this idea, the idea of inerrancy, is simply wrought with problems, and is, in all reality not identifiable to Christianity only (Islam believes and teaches that the Qur’an is inerrant). I will save my views on inerrancy for another post. However, I do think the scripture are authoritative and I do hold to a high view of inspiration. Where the essential doctrines listed above are delineated in the scriptures (especially where the apostolic deposit of the gospel is given) the Bible is critically important, but we, as Christians and the Christian community, would still have these doctrines if they were never written down. Thus, I see scripture as very important in so far as its contents direct us to these essentials.

Lastly, the virgin birth (which is also on the original list of Fundamentals) is not on my list. This is so for several reasons. First, I am actually “fence sitting” at this time in my thinking on this doctrine. The issue, I think, is very crucial in so far as it relates to the person Jesus (His divinity/nature/and original sin). However, as one of my professors (who disagreed with the Fundamentalist on this issue) at seminary asked us in class – are you saved by that doctrine? While I see the point of this professor, it still seems to play a pretty important role in the overall thought of not only Jesus but our thinking about Mary as well (which is especially true for Catholics). Second, until my thinking is more fully developed on the issue I leave it off (although this might change in my theology later). I would certainly like to hear any of your thoughts on the virgin birth within the framework which I am working. Also, Chris Tilling as a thought provoking post which started some good discussion on this very issue and you can read it here.

It should probably be pointed out that I am very leery of formulating any essentials (or fundamentals) at all. The reason is when one begins to formulate essentials (i.e. fundamentals) then one usually ends with a type of structured legalism; as is the case with the actual fundamentalist groups which have their roots in the Fundamentals of the late 19th early 20th centuries. That is certainly not the intent here. However, I do think there are several identifying beliefs which are essential to the Christian faith and those I have tried to delineate in this series.


Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Pity I haven't been around for these posts - I've got some catching up to do I see.

I like your choices very much, btw.

Hope you are well,

4:02 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Chris,

It's been awhile, good to hear from you, hope your trip is going well. Thanks for the comments, any are appreciated.

4:23 PM, April 23, 2006  

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