Thought Leaders Series: 2018
There are three major areas in Christianity: God (a large part of our understanding of this concept emerges from the Text we commonly refer to as the Old Testament), Jesus (sources include the Gospels and writings, mostly in the Texts we commonly refer to as the New Testament), and the Doctrines (the agreed teaching of church through history).
In simple terms, these doctrines are designed to help followers lead a ‘Christian’ life, in the hope that after death they end up in heaven. Therefore these doctrines are reinforced through sacraments, teaching, preaching, rituals, actions and festivities. Doctrines are also important because it is what those who do not follow the faith witness or experience about a Christian.
In terms of origins, these doctrines were agreed after decades of debates by Bishops (church fathers), underpinned by pretty much the kind of politics we see with Brexit today. The most influential faction won the debate, the doctrines were ratified, and its core elements are encapsulated in the Apostles’ Creed.
Interestingly most Christians, especially those of pentecostal or evangelical traditions have no idea what doctrines they believe in, let alone how the doctrines came about.
As such, when they use words like ‘the Sovereignty of God’ (most times as a means of discrediting the contribution of non-Christians to human progress), you find that they lack the ideological and philosophical underpinnings, or implication of such statements. They fail to understand that they are in fact inferring that God has simply used and dumped such individuals. And not until they become ‘Christians’ such good deed amounts to nothing, let alone a place in heaven.
The reason behind such mindsets is because of a lack of sound theological education. As well as other areas, a theological education explores and even critiques doctrinal positions in light of human progress. Most importantly, it explores the origins of these doctrines, offering scholars the opportunity to analyse them.
Christian doctrines are not cast in stone, they were agreed by the church fathers in response to the sociopolitical challenges of their era. As such they can be reviewed today in light of social progress and challenges.
This was exactly what Jesus was doing with Judaism when he challenged doctrines like the sabbath, giving, relationship with gentiles (non-Jews) etc; ultimately leading to his death. He saw that the faith was both unnatural and socially alienating.
So, instead of assumptions which oftentimes lack credibility – hence the need for ‘faith’, I strongly believe that this tradition of critical analysis is one we should embrace and continue in the church.
Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development
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