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