Thursday, December 28, 2006

BEDROCK BELIEFS LESSON ONE

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.

010407: updated 2 Peter and Psalm 119 passage references

PROLEGOMENA AND BIBLIOLOGY

Prepare for the first lesson.

Read chapters 1-2 in the Reader.

Read the passages for days 1-5:
Bring three questions you would like this course to answer.

[more later...]

BEDROCK BELIEFS READER

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.

The e-version of the Reader is not available at this time.
The Bedrock Beliefs posts contain most of the text.
The Reader will be available again in summer 2007.

Friday, November 10, 2006

BEDROCK BELIEFS: SOTERIOLOGY, ECCLESIOLOGY, AND ESCHATOLOGY

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.


Christianity is defined by certain beliefs and practices. Bedrock Beliefs summarizes some of the beliefs that define Christianity. These beliefs, also known as “theology,” are an important part of following Christ, because our theology (what we believe about God, his work, and his world) shapes our worldview. Our worldview determines our attitudes and actions. Theology is about who we know and why we live how we live.

SOTERIOLOGY, ECCLESIOLOGY, AND ESCHATOLOGY: SALVATION, CHURCH, AND END TIMES

GOD’S ULTIMATE SOLUTION

Thank God, he has not left us hopeless. On our own, we are utterly infected with sin and unable to solve our problem. God’s solution is ultimate; it goes beyond the individual human and beyond time. It forms a people of his own who will live forever in a willing love relationship with him. The solution is seen in soteriology (salvation), ecclesiology (church), and eschatology (end times).

SALVATION

Several terms refer to different aspects of salvation: regeneration, conversion, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification.

Regeneration is the imparting of life. On their own, individual humans are disconnected from God by their sin. Disconnection is death. Connection is life (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Conversion is the human act of turning away from trusting/following self and turning toward trusting/following God. It is an act of faith (trust) and repentance (obedient following).

Forgiveness is the gracious, humanward act of God removing the guilt resulting from our sin nature and our individual choices to sin (Colossians 2:13-14).

Justification is the gracious humanward act of God declaring righteous the person who trusts Christ.

Sanctification is the process that begins to make our salvation complete. The Spirit works in and with our spirits to teach us to do and to be Christ’s righteousness.

Perseverance is the absolute assurance that the ones God saves stay saved (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:7; 4:30; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

Glorification is the finalization (consummation) of our salvation. It happens when a believer finally sees Christ face to face (1 John 2:1) and is made physically and spiritually perfect and fit for an eternal, willing love relationship with God. We finally become fully human as God intended in his design.

CHURCH

The church is made up of all those who trust Christ. Three important characteristics are unity, holiness, and catholicity. Unity means there is only one true church, not many. Holiness means that the church is separated out for God’s purposes, not for human purposes. Catholicity (universality) means the church goes across culture and time.

The church has two primary tasks in God’s work: disciple-making and representing the reign of God.

Disciple-making is the task of making more Christ-followers and better Christ-followers.

Representing the reign of God means being what we are: a community of human beings in an eternal, willing love relationship with God. Our message and behavior point to God. Worship is in all we do and all we say.

END TIMES

When humanity chose to disobey God and trust self, humanity chose death. Spiritual death (disconnection from God) was immediate. Physical death (the disconnection of the body from the soul) was assured. Salvation makes believers to be new creatures, but physical death remains as a consequence of sin. Physical death is inevitable, not natural. It is also not the end.

Trust determines what happens after physical death. Those who trust themselves have chosen to live without God forever. Eternity (forever life) without God is called Hell. Hell is the complete absence of God and the complete presence of sin and sin’s effects.

Those who have chosen to trust Christ have chosen to live with God forever. Eternity with God is called Heaven. Heaven is the complete absence of sin and the effects of sin and the complete presence of God.



WANT TO LEARN MORE?

If you would like to learn more about theology, worldview, and how these shape Christ-following, sign up for the January 2007 TFB Academy course:

Bedrock Beliefs
Sundays in January 2007, 4:30 pm
Instructor: Laura Springer, M.Div.
Tentative course outline available online

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

BEDROCK BELIEFS: ANTHROPOLOGY AND HAMARTIOLOGY

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.

Christianity is defined by certain beliefs and practices. Bedrock Beliefs summarizes some of the beliefs that define Christianity. These beliefs, also known as “theology,” are an important part of following Christ, because our theology (what we believe about God, his work, and his world) shapes our worldview. Our worldview determines our attitudes and actions. Theology is about who we know and why we live how we live.

ANTHROPOLOGY AND HAMARTIOLOGY: HUMANITY AND SIN

WHO ARE WE AND WHY ARE WE LIKE THIS?

Thumb through the morning paper and you will find ample evidence that humanity is both amazingly good and incredibly sinful. How can we be both? The answer to this question takes us back to the beginning. In Genesis 1:26, God determines to create humanity in his image. In Genesis 3, humanity decides to disobey the Creator. By design, humanity is good. By choice, humanity is sinful.

HUMANITY BY DESIGN

Image of God. By design, humanity is very good. We were declared so by our Creator (Genesis 1:31). By design we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Two aspects of the image of God seem fairly clear: personhood and attributes.

Personhood. Persons are self-conscious. We know we exist and can observe ourselves from the outside. We show this self-consciousness when we ask ourselves how we feel about something or why we made a certain decision. We are self-determined. We can make decisions that do not rely on instinct and are not under compulsion.

Attributes. Because we are created in the image of God we share limited versions of his communicable attributes.

Composition. Humanity is composed of both material and immaterial substances, of both physical and spiritual stuff (Genesis 2:7). The material substance (our physical bodies) began as dust. God took the dust of the ground and formed a human. The immaterial substance (our spirit/soul) was formed by the breath of God. (See A BIT OF THEOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY for more on humanity as material and immaterial.)

HUMANITY BY CHOICE

As we discovered earlier, an important part of personhood is self-determination—the ability to make real choices. It is to humanity’s first BIG choice that we now turn.

After God finished creating everything, he declared humanity and all of creation to be very good. God had planted a lavish garden for humanity and gave them all its fruit for food, except the fruit of two special trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, decided to take matters into their own hands and disobey God’s direct command and make themselves like God (Genesis 3:5). Sin entered humanity through our choice to disobey God and to make ourselves like God.

What is sin and how bad is the problem? Sin is guilt. Humanity has made itself guilty by overstepping God’s righteous standard (Romans 4:15), by missing the mark of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), and by rebelling against God (1 John 3:4).

Sin is also pollution. This pollution is commonly referred to as the sin nature (Romans 7:14-18) and humans carry it from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5).

How bad is the problem? The guilt and pollution of sin has infected every human born of man and woman. Each act, thought, intention, and motivation is infected, even when they appear to be good. This means that it is impossible for any human to win points with God.

The guilt and pollution of sin have corrupted the image of God and distorted human attributes. Every part of our being is affected.

How can humanity be amazingly good and incredibly sinful? Humanity is amazingly good because we are created by a good God in his image. Humanity is incredibly sinful because we chose to disobey God’s direct command. On our own we are left in a completely hopeless situation.



WANT TO LEARN MORE?

If you would like to learn more about theology, worldview, and how these shape Christ-following, sign up for the January 2007 TFB Academy course:

Bedrock Beliefs
Sundays in January 2007, 4:30 pm
Instructor: Laura Springer, M.Div.
Tentative course outline available online

Thursday, September 07, 2006

BEDROCK BELIEFS: THEOLOGY PROPER

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.

Christianity is defined by certain beliefs and practices. Bedrock Beliefs summarizes some of the beliefs that define Christianity. These beliefs, also known as “theology,” are an important part of following Christ, because our theology (what we believe about God, his work, and his world) shapes our worldview. Our worldview determines our attitudes and actions. Theology is about who we know and why we live how we live.

THEOLOGY PROPER, CHRISTOLOGY, PNEUMATOLOGY: FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT

WHAT GOD IS LIKE

God has certain traits (attributes). He shares some with humanity (communicable attributes), while others belong to God and God alone (incommunicable attributes): aseity, immutability, infinity, simplicity, and trinity.

Aseity is God’s self-existence. He depends on nothing and no one for his existence.

Immutability is God’s unchangeableness. God does not change in his being, his attributes, his purposes, or in his understandings.

Infinity is God’s unlimitedness. He is not subject to the limits of being, time, and space. He is absolutely perfect (complete) and unlimited in his attributes.

Simplicity is God’s unity. He is not composed of parts. There is only one God and there is no other like him (Exodus 15:11).

Trinity is God’s three-in-oneness. He is one God eternally present in three persons. Each person of the Trinity is wholly God and wholly himself.

God shares his communicable attributes with humans: knowledge, wisdom, goodness, love, grace, mercy, holiness, righteousness, veracity, and sovereignty.

Knowledge: God knows himself and all things possible and actual. His knowledge is an essential part of his nature.

Wisdom: God chooses both ends and means that are worthy. Wisdom is God’s knowledge in action according to his character.

Love: God eternally gives himself to the other. His love is a decided act toward the good of another. He expresses his love within the Trinity and toward his creation and humanity.

Grace: God gives his goodness to those who deserve only punishment. He gives because he decides, not because we deserve.

Mercy: God is kind to those in misery and distress. He helps us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Holiness: God is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor. He will not allow his glory to be given to another and acts for the sake of his own honor (Isaiah 48:10).

Righteousness: God always does what it right and he is the measure of what is right. It is unimaginable that God should act unrighteously (Genesis 18:25).

Veracity: God is true in himself, in his revelations, and in his relationships. His words and works are true and can be trusted (Romans 3:3-4). He is true in his relationships and his promises can be trusted (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Sovereignty: God’s will and power are sure. God in charge (Job 42:2), and has the power to accomplish what he decides (Jeremiah 32:27; Matthew 26:53-54).

WORK OF THE TRINITY

While the Trinity is admittedly confusing, it is nonetheless important to our understanding of God. God is one God eternally present in three persons. Each person has his own work.

The Father initiates; all things are out of the Father. The Son mediates; all things are through the Son. The Spirit completes; all things are brought to completion by means of the Spirit.

Our understanding of the structure of the Trinity and the work of the three divine persons is limited because we are human. The idea of three-in-oneness is beyond anything we know and all our explanations and illustrations fall short of the reality.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

If you would like to learn more about theology, worldview, and how these shape Christ-following, sign up for the January 2007 TFB Academy course:

Bedrock Beliefs
Sundays in January 2007, 4:30 pm
Instructor: Laura Springer, M.Div.
Tentative course outline available

Monday, August 21, 2006

BEDROCK BELIEFS COURSE OUTLINE

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.
-tentative and subject to change-
-updated 122106-

Course Description
Bedrock Beliefs introduces some essentials of Christian theology through readings and in-class discussion. Topics include the bible, God, humanity, sin, salvation, church, and last things. Special attention is given to worshipful theological reflection and the place of theology and worldview in forming Christ-followers.

Learning Objectives

Cognitive--Knowledge
1. Define key theological terms.
2. Explain how theology relates to godly living and thinking.
3. Describe the components of a worldview and theology’s contribution to that worldview.

Affective--Values
1. Practice worshipful theological reflection.
2. Explain the importance of theology in the life of the believer.

Behavioral--Actions and Skills
1. Meditate on key passages and journal theological reflections.
2. Create a devotional notebook that combines theological reflection, key Scripture readings, and prayers of praise and request.

Learning Activities
1. Read assigned chapters in the Theology Reader in preparation for each class discussion (see the assignment schedule).
2. Meditate on the assigned Scripture Readings in preparation for each class discussion (see the assignment schedule).
3. Keep a journal of theological reflections, questions, insights, and prayers.
4. Create a devotional notebook. For each category (prolegomena, bibliology, theology proper, Christology, pneumatology, anthropology, hamartiology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology) the notebook should include:
a. Definitions of key terms/Explanations of key ideas
b. At least one pertinent Scripture reading
c. A prayer of request and/or praise

Schedule

Jan 7
Prolegomena: First Things
Worldview
Bibliology: the Bible

Jan 14
Theology Proper: Father
Christology: Jesus
Pneumatology: Holy Spirit

Jan 21
Anthropology: Humanity
Hamartiology: Sin

Jan 28
Soteriology: Salvation
Ecclesiology: Church
Eschatology: Last Things
Developing a Christian Worldview

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

BEDROCK BELIEFS--BIBLIOLOGY: BIBLE BASICS

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.

Christianity is defined by certain beliefs and practices. Bedrock Beliefs summarizes some of the beliefs that define Christianity. These beliefs—also known as “theology”—are an important part of following Christ, for our theology—what we believe about God, his work, and his world—shapes our worldview. Our worldview determines our attitudes and actions. Theology is about who we know and why we live how we live.

BIBLIOLOGY: BIBLE BASICS

THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WRITTEN WORD

As a divine book, the bible has certain characteristics: inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and authority.

Inspiration means that the words of the Bible are “God-breathed” or “God-spoken.” The Holy Spirit worked through the human writers so that while freely writing according to their own style and personality, the result was the Word of God.

Inerrancy means that the original manuscripts do not say anything contrary to fact. This includes not only statements about theology, but also statements about history, geography, and the like.

Infallibility means that the Bible will not lead us in the wrong way when it comes to the content and practice of faith. It can be trusted as a guide to salvation and to Christ-following, for it is the revelation of God in words.

Authority means that to disbelieve and disobey the Bible is to disbelieve and disobey God. The Bible is master, not servant. It is the source and measure of the content and practice of faith.

If the Bible truly is inspired, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative, then how should we respond? The Bible must be handled with respect. Even odd stories and genealogies are God’s Word.

The Bible must be allowed to speak for itself. Commentaries, bible study guides, and even preachers are useful, but their words do not determine what the Bible says. The Bible determines what they say.

The Bible must be obeyed. If our reading and study of God’s Word does not result in obedient behavior then we have not treated the Bible as the Word of God.

THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WRITTEN WORD.

While the Bible is a divine book, it is also a human book. The Holy Spirit used the style and personality of the human authors to communicate his Word. To understand the Bible we must consider culture, history, genre, style, and occasion.

Culture is the worldview of the writer and the intended readers. The Bible was written over a span of about 1,500 years, in three ancient languages (none of which is English), and in a number of nations (none of which is the USA). Culture is crucial.

History includes the significant events happening at the time of the writing and at the time of the story.

Genre is the type of literature as shown in style, form, or content. There are a great number of genres in the Bible: for example, narrative, poetry, apocalypse, and letter.

Style is the author’s distinct manner of expression. Different authors choose to use different words, different levels of complexity, different grammatical structures, and different moods.

Occasion is the situation that prompted the writing. In a few rare cases, the situation is specified. Most of the time, we must look at clues in the biblical book and then make our best guess.

RESOURCES

to be added later...

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

If you would like to learn more about theology, worldview, and how these shape Christ-following, sign up for the January 2007 TFB Academy course:

Bedrock Beliefs
Sundays in January 2007, 4:30 pm
2118 Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501
310-328-5030
Instructor: Laura Springer, M.Div.

Monday, August 07, 2006

THIS IS NOT A BLOG

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Honest... this is an learning place for Torrance First Baptist. Starting in late August 2006, we will be introducing the first TFB Academy course: Bedrock Beliefs. The course will take place in January at TFB, 2118 Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501 (dates and times TBA). If you are interested in either the online or the in-class versions, leave a comment and I'll get back to you.