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Switch to Forum Live View Basic Christian Beliefs
3 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2012 - 8:57PM #1
Goyboy
Posts: 232
I am probably going to open a can of worms with this post (and I don't even have a fishing license). So be it. What is a debate if everybody agrees on everything?


So, here it is.   

If Christians are going to debate one another about things pertaining to Christianity, then it would be helpful if we were to spell out the basic Christian beliefs. So, what are they? 

During the last 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to study the doctrines of all branches of the universal Church, with those branches being members of messianic Jewish synagogues, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the various Protestant churches.

Although the members of these various branches disagree on certain issues pertaining to Bible interpretation, nevertheless, they are in agreement about certain basic beliefs.  These beliefs unite all Christians and messianic Jews. A rejection of these shared basic beliefs is considered a rejection of the Christian (or messianic Jewish) faith.


About God


Christians are united in their belief that only one deity exists, that only one deity has ever existed, that only one deity will ever exist. This belief conforms to what God said through the prophet Isaiah:


“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:6-8)


This belief in the existence of only one deity is what unites Christians, messianic Jews and non-messianic Jews.  According to the Tanakh (a.k.a. Old Testament), the ancient Israelites were separated from other ethnic groups by the Israelites’ belief that the God of Israel was the only deity in existence.


So, at no time have Christians believed in the existence of more than one deity. They believe in the existence of various supernatural beings, such as angels and demons, including Satan. Yet, Christians believe that angels and demons are not deities, but instead are created beings. All Christians acknowledge that Satan is a created supernatural being who has fallen, not an offspring of God.


About Jesus


Because Christians believe that only one deity exists, Christians believe that Jesus is the God of Genesis 1:1 who took on flesh and lived among humanity for a short period of time. In Christian theology, Jesus is described as being a co-equal partner in the triune Godhead, the one and only son of God the Father (John 3:16).


Because Christians believe that only one deity exists, they do not believe that Jesus has any spirit siblings.  Christians believe that Jesus is the only offspring of the Heavenly Father.  Although Christians do not fully understand how God could be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit at the same time, they acknowledge that nothing is impossible for God, and that Christians can never fully understand God’s ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).


Also, Christians do not believe that Jesus is a created being such as an archangel. Instead, Christians believe that Jesus is the deity who created the archangels. In other words, in Christianity, Jesus is Jehovah, El Elyon, and Elohim.


About Scripture


Christians throughout the world debate about the proper way to interpret the Scriptures, but they are in agreement about the identity of the Scriptures. In Christianity, the only Scriptures are those writings contained within the pages of the Holy Bible. Granted, the different branches of the universal Church disagree on which books belong in the Bible, but they agree that any book outside of the Bible is not Scripture.


About the Resurrection


Christians fully agree with each other about the nature of the resurrection of Jesus. Christians believe that the death, burial and physical resurrection of Jesus are historical facts.


About the label “Christian”


Because nobody owns a copyright to the label “Christian”, any people can call themselves Christians, even if they contradict the above-mentioned Christian beliefs. People can claim to worship Jesus, and yet they can be worshipping a “Jesus” who is not the Jesus of the Bible.


About Prophets


Anyone can claim to be a prophet of God, but a prophet of God will not contradict the teachings of the Bible.  A prophet of God will not claim that writings outside of the Bible are Scripture. A prophet of God bases his theology on the Bible alone.


In the New Testament we are warned that false prophets will appear and lead people astray, while proclaiming a false gospel. The Apostle Paul said to the Christians in Galatia, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)


Christians cannot prevent a false gospel from being spread, but they can confront a false gospel whenever it is presented. That is why I have written these things, because Christians need to know their united beliefs if they are to speak against the spread of false gospels.


I am certain that someone outside of the Christian faith will dispute what I have said. Well, so be it. Let’s see if someone is able to make a counter-argument using only the Bible as a source of scriptural data.


By the way, please note that I have not mentioned any religious group that Christians believe to be outside of the universal Church. I am not interested in their specific beliefs. I am only interested in the beliefs of the universal Church, consisting of  members of messianic Jewish synagogues, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the various Protestant churches.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2012 - 10:50PM #2
Ironhold
Posts: 11,587

Sources for any of that?



You're probably not going to like hearing this, but a lot of the people who try to define what "Christian" is and means often put up requirements or stipulations that can be turned right back on whoever's speaking.


It gets even worse when they try to argue who is and isn't part of a "cult".

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2012 - 5:49AM #3
jesusfreakgal
Posts: 938

One thing I dislike is when one denomination claims they are the one true church, and that only adherents of that denomination are true Christians. Part of my problem with that idea is that the idea says that there is one denomination that has it all right, and knows just EXACTLY what God says and wants and such, which isn`t true. No Christian is perfect, and neither is any denomination. I won`t break it up the way you did (original poster) but here are some basics for me:<


There is only one God. Jesus is God. One only gets to heaven though Jesus Christ (putting their faith/ trust/ belief in Christ and his sacrificial death and resurrection, and ask him into their life), the bible IS the word of God to man, and is very important.


In my opinion, there are quite a few things that are essential to being a Christian, things that (IMO) if we don't believe them, we are most likely not really a Christian. There are also many things that are not so essential, that it doesn't matter that much which what we believe about them (to a degree).


JFG

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2012 - 11:41AM #4
smcisaac
Posts: 8,064

There are Christians who believe that Jesus is the means by which a loving, forgiving God reconciles fallen humanity to himself, but who do not believe that God is triune or that Jesus himself is divine.  That is a heterodox, but still Christian and Biblical, view of God and Christ. 


Similarly, the view that Jesus and God are identical is an equally heterodox view.  Orthodox Trinitarianism sees the totality of God to exist in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together; each one is a contributing component of the whole, but not the whole thing all by itself.  To limit one's devotion to Jesus alone is to ignore two-thirds of the God of orthodox Christianity.


Not all Christians believe that the Resurrection was necessarily a literal, physical event.  It might have been the resurrection of a spirit rather than the physical human body.  It might describe the intangible presence of Jesus's spirit among his friends and followers, rather than the presence of a visible, distinctly human, physical or spectral form.


There are Christians who believe that the Bible is human testimony, not divine revelation.  There are Christians who believe that the scriptural canon closed only because the human Church became too fractured to be able to sustain a human consensus on the inspiration of later witnesses, not because the Holy Spirit ceased to inspire later witnesses.  There are Christians who believe that continuing inspration and revelation continues to shed ever-brighter light to guide our human understanding, and that older, dimmer inspiration needs to be understood in the clearer light of newer insights.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 14, 2012 - 7:06PM #5
birwin4
Posts: 583

simsaac, of course, would define 'Christian' as anyone who claims the title, whereas the Op would define 'Christian' as one who adheres to the tradition as stated in the Bible and subsequent creeds.


Thus it is impossible to bring the two together for meaningful discussion.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 14, 2012 - 9:39PM #6
smcisaac
Posts: 8,064

Mar 14, 2012 -- 7:06PM, birwin4 wrote:


simsaac, of course, would define 'Christian' as anyone who claims the title, whereas the Op would define 'Christian' as one who adheres to the tradition as stated in the Bible and subsequent creeds.


Thus it is impossible to bring the two together for meaningful discussion.




I don't think that's a fair summary of my position, birwin.


It's not difficult to define a prevailing orthodox standard of Christianity, or at least several prevailing alternative orthodoxies, all of which share some common tenets.  But it's difficult to find any individual "Christian" who confesses every jot and tittle of those orthodox tenets without reservation or qualification, or at least some degree of ignorance or misunderstanding.    (I don't think the Christology that JFG describes in her OP is quite orthodox, for instance: it seems to lean a bit more more toward monarchial modalism than orthodox Trinitariansm.) "Christianity" is a scatter diagram with a central tendency, not a uniform set of identical observations. For me, the interesting question is how far away from the strict orthodox center, and in what directions, is it permissible to stray and still remain within the Church Universal.


I do not think that boundary between "in" and "out" remains fixed in one place over time. It seems to expand and contract with the concerns of the era. For example, you and most orthodox Christians today would probably deny the Arian assertion that "there was a time when the Son was not", but Constantine on his deathbed affirmed it by receiving baptism from an Arian bishop, and few Christians today would deny his Christianity.  On the other hand, nobody can deny that there was a time when Martin Luther was excommunicated for heresy, even if many Christians today embrace his theology.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 15, 2012 - 9:02AM #7
Openup
Posts: 1

I think this starts from the false presumption that Christians are / could be united in their beliefs. What Jesus taught was not mostly what to believe, but what to do


So a more productive starting point might be to ask what are the basic Christian practices?


If we all sought to do what Jesus said to do, we would probably debate less and certainly would debate much more lovingly. We might even show all people that we are his disciples by loving each other.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 15, 2012 - 9:24AM #8
Ironhold
Posts: 11,587

Apr 15, 2012 -- 9:02AM, Openup wrote:


I think this starts from the false presumption that Christians are / could be united in their beliefs. What Jesus taught was not mostly what to believe, but what to do


So a more productive starting point might be to ask what are the basic Christian practices?


If we all sought to do what Jesus said to do, we would probably debate less and certainly would debate much more lovingly. We might even show all people that we are his disciples by loving each other.




Thank you.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2012 - 9:12PM #9
Beautiful_Dreamer
Posts: 5,167

Debating might not be a bad thing in and of itself, but I think it can become divisive when the conversation ends up like this:


-I'm right, you're wrong!


-No, *I'm* right, *you're wrong*!


-You don't believe XYZ the same way I do, so you're going to Hell.


-I'm rubber, you're glue...


You get the idea...basically when it becomes more important to be 'right' than to be loving, to 'best' the other person, it's time to step away. Sometimes I find myself getting so annoyed at certain comments or people that I find myself forgetting that they are also children of God in whom He delights. We don't have to agree on everything or stand by silent if we think that there is something someone else needs to hear, but being able to agree to disagree and to trust God to deal with each person as He will is something IMO Christians should strive to do...when I find it hard to do this, I have to step away for a time, at least from a particular person. It's really hard sometimes, though.


Sorry if this didn't add too much to the discussion...I'd like to get the board talking civilly again, but I have been distracted with side projects and just don't know what else to say.


More where that came from...

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Beliefnet Community Host - Christian Faith and Life, Christian to Christian Debate
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 27, 2012 - 11:41PM #10
Theo
Posts: 4,691

Personally, I liked the opening post... as well as agreed with it. 


There is a discernable consensis of faith among Bible believers, be they traditional Christians, Mainstream Protestants, or Evangelical Bible thumpers. Of course, I am fully aware that one's starting point can greatly affect one's discernment regarding this consensis. A Sant Mat disciple certainly thinks of himself as a Christian, but he is going to have a hard time finding an consensis of faith with other Christians. 


~ Theophilus

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