Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Week in Review

Are you a Coat Maker (part 6)?

South Suburban Church of God
May 17, 2009

The Coat Maker

The coat maker, I stood and watched one day,
He looked as if his hands were positioned to pray.

He spoke out loud and said, I wondered how much fabric it would take,
If red ones, blue ones and yellow coats I would make?

Oh the benefit I can receive from my gifted hands this day,
But then he said, what about those that cannot pay?

So he decided to make some to protect from the wind,
I will not charge, he said but quietly to others he would send.

He made some bright and colorful to add to ones cheer,
I could see it chasing away depression and all fear.

Some he made warm and soft against bruised skin,
The touch of gentleness stopping hurts from coming again.

With each coat given, another stood waiting to receive,
Oh how many are in need, I could not even believe.

The coat maker forgot about the benefit he would receive that day,
He spoke out, surely when I was in need, neither could I pay.

That day he gave freely to the task of making coats for others,
Each representing his sisters and brothers.

I learned that day, that silver and gold would never replace,
The joy received by the coat maker as he was filled with God’s grace.

The Week in Review

Challenges of Christian Theology (Part 3)

Written by Minister Jewel D. Williams

Having a sound theological understanding helps an individual face some of the questions the culture will bring. One of those challenges as stated by Wade is, “All religions really teach the same thing…Ours teaches that Jesus is God in flesh; other religions say that He isn’t. A logical principle called the law of non-contradiction says that Jesus can’t both be God and not be God” (Wade, 3). Another challenge is stated this way, “I can’t believe in Christ. Look at all the terrible things Christians have done through the centuries…If part of the gospel message was that once a person becomes a Christian that person absolutely will never sin again, the objector would have grounds for questioning the truth of the faith. But the Bible doesn’t say that. We can agree that Christians shouldn’t do terrible things to other people, but what people did in fourteenth-century Europe or in twentieth-century America in the name of Jesus can’t change the reality of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ.” (Wade, 3).

There are many other challenges that come from the present day culture; like Christians are elitists or the belief in things being relative and the God of the Bible is the same god of the Muslims. Whatever the culture brings, theology can help the believer present a sound, well thought out answer to those challenges first for their own lives and then to help others. “In making a case for the faith we seek to present a sound argument which will be persuasive for a particular listener. On the one hand, this consideration frees us from the responsibility of having an argument which will convince everyone; on the other hand, it means that we must not depend upon ‘one-size’fits-all’ arguments” (Wade, 5). Theology also has the duty of making sure that individuals understand that we serve an active God at work in the lives of people. “Christianity is not just a system of beliefs, but rather the message of the One who is truth. This is an especially pertinent point today, given the mentality of the younger generations” (Wade 5).

The last challenge to be examined is unbelief in the Bible as the accurate word of God. Some believe that the Bible is a book like any other book and not the true word of God. This belief leads individuals not only to discount the accuracy of the Bible but also to discount the importance of God and who he shows himself to be through the word. In the book, Understanding the Trinity, the author Alister E. McGrath states, “Anyhow, it’s important to realize that there’s a difference between constructing a totally watertight argument for the existence of God and being convinced that God exists. Many of the world’s greatest philosophers think that God’s existence can be proved without any real difficulty, but ultimately God’s existence doesn’t depend upon these agreements. Being convinced that God exists may come about through a variety of factors – such as personal religious experience, reading Scripture, or reflection upon the resurrection – of which rational argument is only one” (19). While one cannot make another believe in the Bible as the divine revelation of God, theology can help an individual present the evidence needed for another to make a choice based on fact. “We might only be able to convince the non-believer that Christianity is plausible or believable. But that’s a good start; often it takes many steps for a person to come to faith. Our job is to provide a solid intellectual foundation to make those steps sure.” (Wade, 5). While theology will help present the information needed for a person to make a well thought out decision, it still all rests on God’s intervention into their heart. “God will outlive his morticians, Freudian and Marxist alike. God then, has taken something of a battering, in the last two centuries or so. But, in the words of William Cullen Bryant ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’…Christian doesn’t believe in God because someone has argued him into believing that he’s there, but because he has experienced, has encountered, the reality of the living God” (McGrath, 27).

Theology then has the enormous task of helping believers today to see the relevance of truth. It is more than learning the facts, but using them to live according to what these principles teach us about God. Theology faces challenges not only in our time, but also throughout history. Even Paul, as he taught in the book of Romans, addressed the different beliefs of his time, to show the Jewish people it was not by their name (because they were a people chosen by God), or their work (being circumcised) but by their faith in Jesus that they would be saved. Paul taught that all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The one point that seems to be an overarching theme in each of the writings is that one must tailor the teaching (or in this case theology) to the understanding of the times without changing the truth of the message. If theology is a discourse (conversation or discussion) about God, then it’s purpose is to affirm the biblical account of God as he revealed it to mankind. I think William M. Greathouse and H. Ray Dunning put it best in their book, An Introduction To Wesleyan Theology, where they state, “The theologians of the church have worked at this task from the very beginning of the Christian era. The results of their work constitute the history of Christian thought. Each age has attempted to express the biblical truth in terms of its own day and age, to bring the resources in the Scripture to bear on its particular problems. This is still the work of the theologians today; and in doing this, he draws not only on scripture as his authoritative Source but also upon the work of his predecessors for guidance, although he is constantly bringing their conclusions to the scripture for final validation” (15).

Work Cited

Foster, Charles R. (1994). The Future of Christian Education – Educating Congregations. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Greathouse, William M & H. Ray Dunning. (1989). An Introduction to Wesleyan Theology. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press.

Lunginbill, Dr. Robert D. (2004). Read Your Bible: Protection against Cults – A Basic Christian Right and Responsibility. 18 October 2006.

McGrath, Alister E. (2001). Christian Theology – An Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

McGrath, Alister E. Understanding the Trinity. (1988). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Pollard, Nick. Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult. (1997). Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press.

Wade, Rick. (1997). Probe Ministries: Christian Apologetics An Introduction. 18 October 2006.