Many say, “I just believe in God! I don’t need a theology or doctrine.” If this statement encompasses your Christian beliefs then it defines your theology by default. Unfortunately, this statement doesn’t put much separation between you and Satan’s minions (Jam 2:19). You may say, “I just have faith; I don’t need more.” In Christianity, belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Belief as an intellectual exercise (Jam 2:19) or an emotional experience (Jer 17:9) is meaningless. The requirement of obedience means that from the moment you are saved by the grace of God and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, deeds matter (Jam 2:14-25). Your belief system, or theology, determines your deeds.
If you need more detail in your belief system, try the following:
- The Bible is the inspired, infallible and inerrant word of God.
- The one true God exists as three distinct, transcendent, immanent, infinite, eternal, and immutable persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus Christ is God the Son. Jesus Christ is man. Jesus Christ is one person whose divine and human natures cannot be changed, divided, separated or mixed. Jesus Christ was resurrected bodily from the dead. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.
- Every person since Adam and Eve, except Jesus Christ, was born with a sin nature and no person, except Jesus Christ, has lived a sinless life.
- Salvation from the consequences of sin is offered to all persons by the grace of God and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
- The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all persons (Titus 2:11): (a) the requirements of the law are written by God on every heart (Rom. 2:15), (b) Jesus Christ knocks at the door of every heart (Rev. 3:20), (c) the Holy Spirit calls and convicts each person (John 16:8) and (d) God's eternal power and divine nature are evident in the world around us (Rom 1:20). Nevertheless, many resist the grace of God.
- Each person who responds to God's grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience receives the great gift of salvation. Each person who resists God's grace is condemned to everlasting punishment.
- Faith precedes regeneration; faith is an act of human free will responding to the grace of God.
Biblical support and relevant commentary for these 8 items is given in Section 1.3 of Theology Corner under the title "What are the Core Beliefs of Christianity?" These items are necessary and sufficient to explain the nature of intelligent man and his place in the universe. Stand-alone illustrations will be listed in the remainder of this section.
The Christian description of the beginning of the universe is consistent with the scientific description. Science says the universe began at a definite point in time -- the Big Bang. The Bible says the universe began by "ex nihilo" creation (bara) at a definite point in time (Gen 1:1; Heb 11:3).
Substantial evidence supporting the Anthropic Principle suggests the universe was created as a home for man. Copernicus, Brahe, Galileo, Kepler and others disproved that the earth is the geometric center of the universe. But in the 1970's, cosmologists discovered a concept even more powerful; not one of the fundamental properties of the universe could be changed significantly without eliminating the possibility of life. Man is not at the physical center of the universe, but he is at the philosophical center!
The Moral Law is God's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Mat 22:36-40; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14); He wrote His Law on everyone's heart (Rom 1:18-20, 2:14-15). The Moral Law cannot be explained by biological evolution (survival of the fittest) even with the utilization of game theory. Similarly, it cannot be explained as "learned social behavior" passed from adults to children.
First life was created by God. The spontaneous generation of first life from non-living matter (biochemical evolution) cannot be explained by any known scientific process. For example, if life developed spontaneously in a primordial soup of nucleotides, amino acids and nutrients, then either the first complex polynucleotide or the first informed enzyme was formed without the assistance of a pre-existing complex chemical entity. The probability of such an event is virtually zero.
The gradual evolution of complex life from primitive life cannot be explained by survival-of-the-fittest. First, primitive life does not exist; the blueprint for any type of life is incredibly complex. Second, the overall fitness of a creature can neither be measured nor computed since no paradigm exists for reducing the creature to a calculable whole.
The fundamental beliefs of Christianity should be the product of classical logic based on the evidence of Scripture, tradition and personal experience; from cover to cover the Bible encourages us to think! Religious beliefs should never be based on blind faith in some authority figure or simply on a blind leap of faith.
Each man and woman is capable of agape (unconditional) love for others only because each person is created in the image of God and agape love is one of God's attributes. But how can agape love be an attribute of God when, before the creation of heaven and the universe, nothing existed except God? Who would have been the object of God's agape love? The answer is simple for Christians. Each of the distinct, uncreated, eternal and immutable persons comprising the triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) has always loved the other two unconditionally. This quandary becomes unresolvable only for those who believe God exists as one person. The "agape love" dilemma besets non-Christian religions (e.g. Islam) as well as Christian spinoffs (Oneness Pentecostalism).
(See also Sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11 and 3.12 of Theology Corner)