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How did Christian doctrines come about?

Thought Leaders Series: 2018

Did they fall from heaven? Were they passed on by Jesus?

By way of context let us examine some building blocks. First, systematic theology. This term which sounds like something out of an engineering lab, is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith.

In other words, rather like a jigsaw puzzle, systematic theology tries to bring pieces together from the Christian bible to justify or qualify the superiority of the faith over other faiths or beliefs.

The problem however, is that unlike a jigsaw puzzle the pieces do not fit together. Hence the need for revision of doctrines overtime in light of new truths.

This problem is not unique to Christianity, it is also a problem with all written or coded religious Texts. Hence the reason why we have various sects, groups or denominations in the Abrahamic faiths for example.

In Christianity for instance, it is rather perplexing that The Binding of Isaac (the Genesis 22 story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac) was used as a argument for the formula of the Christian doctrine of Atonement.

Most ancient and modern Jewish scholars and thinkers agree that the story was used as a deterrent from child sacrifice, which was a common practise of Semitic people at the time.

In fact, the original folklore (the oral tradition before the story was coded in text after the Exile) had it that Abraham sacrificed Isaac to enact the Covenant. However, reformers like Ezra decided to remove the notion of a God who requires human sacrifice to stop the practise, by redacting the story after the Exile.

So, how do we justify a God that refused the sacrifice of Isaac, providing a substitute instead, with a God that later demands the sacrifice of his son as a substitute for Adam’s sin?

An all powerful, all knowing, all present, and all loving God would have no need to hold a grudge against his creation.

Perhaps a better idea of Atonement (if ever there is a need for one) could be found, not in the blood sacrifice of Jesus, but in the life and teaching of Jesus, for example, in John 14:9, Acts 10:38.

The implication of a God who seeks the blood of his incarnate son to forgive humanity, does not show the loving father that Jesus teaches about, for example, in Matthew 7:9-11.

If anything, it demonstrates a wrathful and vengeful God who holds malice against his creation. A God who requires ‘justice’ or “an eye for an eye” (Ex. 21:24) if you please, the very premise that Jesus challenges in Matthew 5:38-42.

In fact, when we take a step back in the sequence of the doctrinal chain, we arrive at the origin: The Fall (Gen. 3). The Fall is a doctrine closely related to the doctrine of Original, or Ancestral sin by one of the Church Fathers, Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyon). This doctrine itself is fraught with many gaps which I can not delve into for the sake of brevity.

Perhaps it goes to show that the Bible is not infallible, but rather, a task in theology. A quest to understand the dynamics of this world.

In fairness, these thinkers did their best with the knowledge at their disposal. But sadly we have pitched our tents where they stopped, instead of examining their writings, and addressing the ethical gaps in light of human development.

Human Capital Development: Healingsprings fellowship

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

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An interview with Angela Middleton (Group Chair and Founder, MiddletonMurray)

Thought Leaders Series: 2018

Following the launch of our TED-Ed Club which kicks of in Sept this year, I received requests for information about Healingsprings fellowship and my background.

This podcast is part of a series of interviews with politicians, business leaders, and professionals on their career journey by Group Chair and founder of MiddletonMurray, Angela Middleton.

Angela ran a 20mins interview with me on my career, and work at Healingsprings fellowship in 2017.

It is also a brilliant resource for educators, leaders, and parents in helping young people with their career aspirations.

Click to listen: https://audioboom.com/posts/6568635-pastor-clement-akran

Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Reachout | Revive | Recover

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A Moral Critique of the Book of Exodus

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

Last week I noted that the Book of Exodus is problematic. And that it promotes a sense of entitlement which byproducts include: nationalism, colonialism, slavery, unfair trade, exploitation, genocide, and religious wars.

No matter which angle we treat the Text from, we are still faced with these problems. Hence Prior argues that,

[a]ny association of God with the destruction of people must be subjected to an ethical analysis. (p. 2).

This is one of many challenges facing religion today, hence the need for critical studies. Sadly, no critical studies are handled in churches or seminaries. In fact the latter is designed to ‘inseminate’ (hence the term seminary, meaning to plant a seed) students with traditional doctrines.

As a result we have a faith which fails miserable in addressing the challenges facing humanity.

So, how do we reconcile the message of universal love and kindness taught and preached by Jesus as recorded in the New Testament, when we are presented with an angry God that will not let go until he sees the brutal death and blood of his son as a ‘sacrifice’ or ‘atonement’.

Even if we go with the idea that a transition took place from the Old to the New Testament

  • how do we then reconcile the fact that even with the death of Jesus as an ‘atonement’ for sin we are still faced with the possibility of punishment here on earth (by God or/and the Devil) for non-compliance, and eternal judgement in hell fire after death?

These doctrines are grossly contradictory. It will seem that if humanity relied on Christianity it is destined to doom.

To this end there are issues with the idea of the Bible being ‘infallible’, because the writings and doctrines it presents are largely disjointed, as such, they offer contradictory angles on major moral and social issues, which breeds fundamentalism.

These Texts were written by people trying to make sense of their world through the lenses of their religious framework. Some of their ideas are useful, others pose major problems, especially on human rights and morality.

Hence new coverts to Christianity were called to faith almost as a crash course amidst persecution, owing to the complexity of trying to teach Judaism as foundations, before moving to the revisions of doctrines carried out by Jesus.

In similar vein the notion that Christianity is cast in stone is dangerous, it leaves no room for advancement – which is clearly what Jesus was doing with similar doctrines in Judaism.

Hence the call today for revision of Christian doctrines, hence the call for theological education through the instrument of tertiary institutions, not seminaries, especially for those called to lead churches and parachurch organisations.

Join us at 3pm today for the series: From Order to Chaos: a study on Exodus

St John the Evangelist Hall, Church Rd, Sidcup DA14 6BX

Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Reachout | Revive | Recover