Theology - Primary Discussion Question

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Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by Admin on Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:30 am

There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?

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Response

Post by Alicia.O. on Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:45 am

As Michael F. Bird mentions, tradition plays a big role in interpreting the Bible. The way I viewed the world before ever adding God to be a part of my world view is going to lead me to think certain ways about what I read in the Bible. I am not one to take pride in my denomination or theology because where my confidence comes from is the God I know through relationship. How do I know God answers prayer? Because I've seen it. How do I know He loves me? Because He shows it. How do I know baptism in the Holy Spirit is real? Because I experienced it before I ever knew what it was. The Bible affirms the God I see at work in my life. If we know that all scripture is God breathed (2 Tim 3:16) then we can trust that these Holy Spirit inspired texts are all working in harmony. I think our human pride has led to these disagreements, not the Bible. The Bible strongly discourages these disagreements among the Church.

2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Philippians 2:2
make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

1 Corinthians 1:10
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

The Bible is such a CRUCIAL piece of literature the brings us back to the Truth. I had a Muslim who would talk about how Allah craves to love her and be near to her but nowhere in the Quran could she show me that's true. Without the Bible and discernment from the Holy Spirit God can be whomever we make him up to be.
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by ZachAmick on Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:33 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


That is a doozy of a question which probably has as many different answers as there are different beliefs built around the Bible!

Bird does a terrific job at providing a framework from which one can give a reason for holding fast to what a particular denomination believes as biblical truth in opposition to others. He does this through identifying four sources of theology and briefly speaking toward their relation and ability to work together. He identifies the four sources of theology as scripture, tradition, nature, and experience.

I agree with much of what he has to say, especially in regard to scripture being the supreme authority to which we base and test our theology. Personal experiences are necessary for a person to experience anything (duh), so this must be included as one of the building blocks by which we determine truth. How we interpret these experiences is shaped both by our understanding of nature (the culture/worldview in which God has called us), and by the Christian tradition we receive from the brothers and sisters in Christ who are influential in our conversion and walk. It is at this point when an experience is being interpreted through a preexisting worldview and an inherited tradition that a belief starts to take shape, and for true conviction to occur it must be tested against the authoritative word of God and confirmed. Now you go into the rabbit hole of tradition, nature, and experience all having a complicated and reciprocating effect on your evolving understanding of scripture by which you are trying to test your understanding and then suddenly out of the hole jumps a rabbit of theology and that is why the Pope wears a funny hat (to hide his rabbit ears).
I am afraid I may have gone astray somewhere up there ^.

While certainly these four categories that Bird identifies are helpful and indeed necessary to gaining a confident understanding of God, I venture to suggest he missed or merely brushed against the most important source of confident theology. True conviction and the true source of accurate theology comes from God himself. Matthew 16:17 says, "Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven."" If the true confession of Peter recognizing Jesus as the promised Son elicited this response then it ought to be fair for us to hold that as our standard of conviction and confidence in our faith. Scripture further provides more for us to be confident in our convictions in the face of competing theology because of the work of the Holy Spirit with verses like John 14:26 and 1 Cor. 2:10 among many others.

So ultimately, I would say that it is God who saves us from the rabbit hole of self-reflection and constant testing of beliefs, so we can have confidence in our theology and avoid strange things like a rabbit eared Pope.
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Primary Theology Question Response

Post by Bethany Hutson on Wed Aug 22, 2018 8:48 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


In 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) it says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” In other words, the Scripture carries a strong testimony that we can have confidence in. Since the Word of God is “God-breathed” and inspired by God we have the confidence that God will reveal Himself to us through it. For example, Ephesians 1:17 says, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” The Lord desires relationship with us and through the Scriptures we are able to grow in our relationship as He is being revealed to us. Bird emphasizes that in this verse the Lord wants us to know Him better. In knowing God better, we can have confidence in who He is as our heavenly Father.

Bird does a great job of explaining that the Bible is the Word of God because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. I believe that we have to have strong roots in the Word of God and in the Gospel so that when there are disagreements in the church we do not lose confidence in our relationship in God and fall away from God. The Gospel Truth should be at the center of who we are.
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by Caleb Nally on Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:19 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


The first distinction that needs to be made is what is inspired by God and what is inspired by man. Bird speaks on theology and gives four sources to how a theological belief gains authority which is: scripture, tradition, nature and experience. Three of these are inspired by man and only one is inspired by God. In the different denominations the disagreements stem from tradition, nature and experience. While these three sources can be rooted in the Bible and have scriptural roots they are often different for each person and groups of people which is where the disagreements can come from. But we can confidently believe in what is inspired by God which is the scriptures. In the Old Testament there are many passages that give reference to God being the inspiration to what is being said. (Isa. 1:10, Jer. 1:11) This is translated into the New Testament where Paul writes that what he is writing is a "command of the Lord". (1 Cor. 14:37)

This opens up the question of how can we trust the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles and Bird also gives an insight into this by saying that the Holy Spirit convicts us that the words we are reading are not merely human words but instead words of God. (pg. 63.) John 16:13 speaks on this "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth..."

I can believe in God because I know that the Scriptures are inspired by God and that his words were given to us to help us better understand him.


Last edited by Caleb Nally on Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by Marie Hugershoff on Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:46 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?

Michael Bird writes in Evangelical Theology that there are 4 sources of theology, scripture, tradition, nature and experience. For me personally I am confident in what I believe about God because I believe what is said about God in scripture is absolute truth. I have also experienced God because I have an intimate relationship with Jesus. I can be confident in what I know about God because what I read about God in scripture confirms what I have experienced of him and vice versa.

Bird explains that "Theology first emerges from our encounter with God through the gospel" (pg 62). And as believes who have experienced the gospel we can attest to who God is and His character. Bird continues by stating that scripture is the authority for theology, and that different doctrines come from what we believe God is speaking to us through the scripture. Proverbs 4:5-7 says "Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." Knowing the gospel is what is most important, because through that you will truly know God, but it is also important to seek wisdom through scripture in order to know God better. Though it causes disagreements, if someone is truly seeking wisdom from God, He will reveal truth to them.
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Primary Discussion Question Response

Post by Brenton Malnofski on Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:56 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


When I read the Bible, I don't see any particular slant towards any denomination. Rather, I just remain confident that what the Word is telling me is authentic, and that I can trust that it comes from God. Nowhere does the Bible condemn or praise anything resembling the idea of denominations. 2 Timothy 3 explicitly states that “all Scripture is God-breathed”. Therefore, I don’t believe that any denomination can claim to be more accurate than others. Denominations by nature can be divisive. In Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians, he pleads to the divided leaders to let there be no divisions amongst them. He is responding to them arguing over how to interpret his teachings. But then, he reminds them that they should be looking to God, not him, for the guidance. Baptisms were not performed in the name of Paul, nor are they performed in the name of any denomination. Rather, they are in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Ultimately, denominations cannot dictate what the Scripture actually means. Disagreements over interpretations won’t change Scripture itself.
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by hstrelow on Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:43 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


In Evangelical Theology, Michael Bird directly address this issue when he discusses the importance of pursuing theology. What is incredible about his response is that he divides doctrines based on their necessity. He finds evidence of this in Romans 14 and 15 when Paul is addressing the different perceptions people have about what is permissible in the faith. In this text, we can see that Paul distinguishes between what is a matter of conscience and what should be held uniformly by the church.

When looking at an array of denominations in the Christian faith, we can have confidence in God because they all hold the core pieces tightly: God created the earth, but we rebelled against Him, so Jesus (God in the flesh), came to earth, lived a perfect life, was killed, and raised to life by the power of God. With the Gospel being the center of the belief system, all other things are trivial. Thus our confidence is not held in whether all of the small details line up, but whether the overarching story lines up repeatedly.
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by ryanelliff on Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:27 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


I think to properly answer this question you have to ask yourself, “What is the source of your belief?” Do you believe in God because the church told you to, or is it because God has revealed Himself to you in a real and personal way? For me the latter is true.

My belief in God has been formed in the same way Michael Bird points out as the sources of Theology – scripture, tradition, nature, experience, and culture. My belief is rooted first and foremost in scripture. The Bible is the infallible, complete word of God (2 Tim 3:15-17) and I believe every word to be true. Built upon a foundation of scripture, I have looked to traditions, personal life experiences and observation of creation to further my understanding of who God is and become more aware of His character. Also, I have had the privilege to live in several different countries and experience a variety of cultures.

All of these experiences have helped me to see through the disagreements of the church and focus on the truth – God is the creator of everything, Jesus is the savior of everyone and the Holy Spirit is imparted unto all those that believe.
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by Carson Bledsoe on Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:41 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


The basis of belief in scripture must come from scripture itself. According to Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is God-breathed…”Because of this we must trust that the scripture handed down to us in the present age is the exact scripture God inspired and designated for us to receive. This of course becomes problematic when one realizes the Bible many Evangelical Christians use was not handwritten by God but penned by humans. Thus, we must rely on scripture itself and turn to 2 Timothy 3:16 in order to understand that we can rest in the fact that the Bible we have been handed was inspired by God. I can confidently believe what I do about God because of a trust in the scripture he has given us. I believe he inspired the Bible we have today and because of this trust I can believe in what the Bible has to say about God.


Beyond this, Bird proposes three other places theology may come from; nature, experience, and tradition. It is my belief that many divisions between denominations find their differences within one of these three areas. While these three areas can be where some of our theology comes from, it is important to relate all of it back to scripture, particularly the Gospel. If our theology does not agree with the Gospel, divisions are surely going to arise.


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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by Amanda Middleton on Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:15 am

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


While there are many denominations, most agree that the Word of God is authoritative and inspired by God. Scriptures can be interpreted differently; this makes drawing conclusions from the Bible difficult at times.
In testing arguments, the first priority is to find supporting evidence in the Bible. If an argument does not fit within the parameters of the Gospel, it can be believed that it is not true (2 Tim 3:15-17). Some theologies are weighted differently than others. Many denominations feel differently about baptism, but in the foundation of these arguments is the idea that baptism is important.
We can confidently believe truths about God when they are supported by scripture. Some of these ideas may seem to contradict each other, but when looking at their foundations they confirm the Gospel.

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Primary Discussion Question

Post by Marlou Peters on Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:45 am

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


According to Michael Bird there are different sources of Theology. There is scripture, tradition, nature, experience and culture.

I think it is important for us to really experience God. Personally, I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and my own country / culture doesn’t belief that there is a God or refuses to believe so. I didn’t get exposed to God and its church. So personally, I would say how I confidently believe in God is because of experience. I hear God and I can feel God in my heart. When I pray, I know God is speaking and will answer my prayer. No one can take experience away because it is what I experienced myself.

Like I said back home people don’t believe in Jesus, so the first time I heard/ read scripture I didn’t really believe it nor did I want to. But once I experienced God that changed everything. So now as a believer I believe that Scripture is very important as a part of theology. All of the sources are important though. Scripture is the Word of God, so we should believe scripture.

I believe what I believe because of experience and the scriptures.
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Question 1 Reponse

Post by cjgalyen on Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:38 am

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?

The center part of this question is the difference between the traditions of different denominations of the Christian faith. Each denomination has their traditions (even those that claim to be "tradition-less") that influence their interpretation of Scripture in some way. Tradition is unavoidable, because Scripture is commonly taught and those teachings (whether they are through an individual teacher or a church doctrine) are influenced in some way like individual life experience, church doctrine, and so on. Bird states that "...All churches, even evangelical churches, approach Scripture through the grid of their own traditions and histories. Ultimately what unites Christian canon and Christian tradition together is the testimony to Jesus Christ emitted in their discourse and the creative work of the Holy Spirit in the binding both together" (page 69). Bird highlights the regula fidei (or the "rule of faith") in the text. The "rule of faith" is what can be used to declare the Christian beliefs in the second century Church. It outlines the Scriptures and gives a summary and an account of the Christian faith. This, along with Creeds like the Apostles Creed, is something that Christians can use to find a confident belief in God since the beginning of the church and regardless of denomination.

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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by Katie A on Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:05 am

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?

In his book, "Evangelical Theology," Michael F. Bird mentions that there are four (actually five) sources to consider when developing theology: Scripture, tradition, nature, experience, and culture (Bird 62). One of the five major sources used to develop theology is Experience. Experience is, in this case, defined by Bird as, "the acquisition of knowledge and relational intimacy through an encounter with the living God" (Bird 72). In part, much of my relationship with God has been based upon my experience and encounters with the Holy Spirit. There have been times in my life when divine opportunities and miracles have been presented to me, undoubtedly by God himself, for no other explanation could have sufficed. No form of worldly or secular logic could have served to explain some of the experiences that I have had, however the experiences tended to line up pretty well with scripture and with the council that I had received from other Christians. As confirmed by Bird in his book, when experience is consistent with Scripture, it is considered a "validating norm" in theology (Bird 73).
It is one thing to read something in scripture, interpret it a certain way, and then argue with someone about it, however it is another thing to read scripture and experience it in a tangible and meaningful way. This is how I am to confidently believe what I believe about God.
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by S.h.ave on Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:47 am

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?

As Michael Bird states on page 66, "The Word of God created the church; the church did not create the Word." Bird asserts here that the church is subject to the Word of God, the writings that make up the Old and New Testaments, since the latter created the former. In this dichotomy, the Bible takes precedent over what different denominations might say or disagree upon. Due to the authority of the written Word, in which God makes his purpose of growing His Kingdom known, one can elevate Scripture over the beliefs held by certain traditions. Scripture attests to its own authority in 2 Timothy 3:16:
"All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Due to the Scripture's divine nature, one can safely search them to believe truths about God. Then, having Scripture as an appropriate foundation, tradition can come and influence one's own interpretation.
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Re: Theology - Primary Discussion Question

Post by Jessica Rodriguez on Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:23 pm

Admin wrote:There are thousands of different denominations out there, all reading the same Bible. In the midst of so many disagreements in the church how can you confidently believe anything about God?


Despite all the disagreements in the church, we can use theology, which we process through reading the Scripture, looking back at tradition, viewing nature, and considering our experience with God, to discern which beliefs are weightier than others and to know which beliefs to adhere to as truth versus heresy. This allows us to know that some beliefs rely on personal conviction, while others, like the core of Christianity, the Gospel, are true for all. With sound theology, we may also understand how our beliefs connect through apostolic tradition and the order and connection of Scripture. Moreover, the basic tenants of the Gospel allow us to connect across most of the different Christian denominations, since we all believe in the Gospel. Because Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit, we are not doing all of this in our own strength. If we rely on the Holy Spirit while deepening our knowledge and understanding of God through theology, then the Holy Spirit will lead us to conviction.
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