Origin of Christian Beliefs

Kris Oliver

Why Do You Believe Jesus is the Son of God?
Impact on People / World Creation Secular History

Young Marrieds

Faith The Bible / Prophecy / Miracles

47%
Personal Experience / Holy Spirit / Answered Prayers

Impact on People / World Creation

Pacesetters
The Bible / Prophecy / Miracles

Friends / Family

Secular History

42%
Faith

Personal Experience / Holy Spirit / Answered Prayers

Friends / Family

Traditional CofC Views on Bible

inspired perfect

written by God, through Men ultimate authority

cohesive “literally” true

complete

Writing of the Books of the Bible
Compiled from other writings and oral traditions
Example: Proverbs

Edited based on prior work
Example: Isaiah

Authored as a complete work
Example: Ruth

► In ancient Israel, there was a lot of emphasis on oral tradition ► From around 800 BC, Israel was a highly literate society with scribes

documenting culture and history

Canonization: Writings Becoming Scripture
Oral Traditions Fragments Sayings Previous Writings Edited Works Books Citations

Compiled Works Date Written Author

Meaning

Relevance

Gradual Cultural Process of Determining What is Sacred

Universality

Consistency

Canon: These works are scripture and no others

Setting the Old Testament Canon
Canonization: process of setting certain writings apart as holy scripture

► Not so much a legislative process as a gradual cultural process ► Old Testament (Tanakh) canon was fairly established by the time of Jesus ► Divided into three sections:
► ► ►

Torah: first five books, also known as Pentateuch Nevi’im: The Prophets Kethuvim: other writings

► Jewish assembly in 100 AD officially defined the canon of Jewish scripture ► However, discussions of which books belong in the canon continue through today ► Catholic version of OT contains books not found in Protestant Bibles ► The intent of the authors / compilers was not to create an exhaustive

history of Israel, but to capture the significant events in the relationship between God and Israel

Old Testament Translation to Greek
► In centuries before Jesus: ► Jews were spread around geographically and knowledge of Hebrew was on the decline ► Alexander the Great had succeeded in establishing Greek as language of the world ► In the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, the Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt

created a Greek translation of the Tanakh
► Traditionally, created by 72 men, therefore called the Septuagint ► Some idiosyncrasies of Greek prevented perfectly accurate translation from

Hebrew

► The Septuagint was widely available in the early church

Septuagint Fragment From 4th Century AD Psalm 89: 4-7

Writing of New Testament
► Early Christianity was a communal, fragmented structure – large number of

small groups meeting in homes
► Just as the Jewish people had Septuagint widely available… ► Early Christians recognized the need for documentation of events and doctrine

► Earliest writings are Paul’s letters: AD 40-50 ► The Gospels ► Not clear they were written by person to whom they are attributed (most scholars think they were not); this was a common practice at the time ► Matthew, Mark and Luke (The Synoptic Gospels) appear to be based on much of the same work; John has more of a spiritual focus ► Each Gospel began as the authoritative account for a certain church:
► ► ► ►

Mark: earliest Gospel, written in AD 70 – church in Rome Matthew: written AD 90 – church in Syria (mostly Jewish) Luke: written AD 90 – church in Asia Minor John: church in Ephesus; very different from other gospels

► Four gospels already held in high esteem by AD 150 ► Great deal of discussion in early church about whether there should be four

different accounts or just one

Setting the New Testament Canon
► Much more legislative process than for Old Testament ► This was necessary due to differences in opinion regarding doctrine and

books of questionable authenticity floating around
► Some people objected to Hebrews, 2 Peter, Jude, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation ► Some wanted Epistle of Barnabas, Epistles of Clement and The Shepherd of

Hermas to be included ► Gnostic gospels

► Also, leaders such as Marcion were rejecting certain books and liberally

editing others to support their unique stance (hated Jews) ► In 367 Bishop Athanasius issued his annual Easter Letter and listed 27 books as being the canon of NT scripture; this is the same list in your Bible today
► Using Nicene Creed as guide as what was orthodox

From Canon to Codex
► Prior to 1st century, each book in
5th Century AD Codex; Mark 1:1-7

the canon of scripture was written on a separate scroll ► The codex was invented in the 1st century AD; enabled the recording of large amounts of information in compact, portable book form ► Codices of the canon of OT and NT scripture were produced, and over time were combined into a single book ► With the combination of all books into a single codex, the view of God as the single author of the Bible began to emerge
► Resulted in church doctrine of

inerrancy and infallibility of The Bible in 15th century

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Fundamental Questions: Authority and Literality
► If we are to use the Bible as justification for our faith, we have to address

these basic questions…

Should the Bible Be Taken Seriously? Why? Should the Bible Be Taken Literally?

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Biblical Authority
Divine Product Created by Men In Response to God Human Product

► God directly

► Writers were

► Purely human

inspired the writers ► Since divine, has to be perfect ► Prescriptive – doctrinal, black and white

inspired by God ► Writers expressed ideas in their own way, influenced by context and perspective ► Descriptive – illustrative, helpful Believe it because it changed my life

invention

Believe it because God wrote it

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Biblical Authority
► Acknowledging that people played a large role in the writing and

compilation of the Bible begs certain questions:
► Did the writers realize they were writing “scripture”? ► Did they intend the specific teachings to be applicable to all places and

all times? ► Have we, as a church, been consistent in our doctrine on this

matter?

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The Bible

► “Conflict about how to see and read the Bible is

the single greatest issue dividing Christians in North America today.”
►Marcus Borg, Reading the Bible Again for the First

Time

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Bible Literality

So, you really believe Noah had dinosaurs on the Ark?

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Additional Noah’s Ark Questions
► How did Noah collect all 350,000 species of Beetle? ► Where did they get the eucalyptus leaves for the koalas? How did the koalas and ► ► ► ► ► ► ►

kangaroos get back to Australia? Where did they get fresh nectar for the 640 hummingbirds? How did they dispose of the waste? How did Noah and his family breathe at 30,000 feet? Where did the water come from to fall at a rate of 6 inches per minute for 40 days? Where did the water go? Why didn’t the fresh water dilute the ocean and kill the sea creatures? How did polar bears and penguins get back to polar regions? Why is there no geological record of a global flood?

“The maintenance of modern creationism and Flood geology not only is useless apologetically, it is harmful. It could even be a hindrance to the gospel.”
► Davis Young: The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church’s Response

to Extrabiblical Evidence

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Biblical Literality
Not Factual, Therefore Not True Not Factual But True Factual, Therefore True

► In the Modern Age, we tend to equate truth with factuality (scientific

mindset) ► For Old Testament literature, there was a third option – something could be “true” without being factual
► Also, it was perfectly acceptable to mix together factual history and myth;

inclusion of myths did not invalidate factual elements ► This is an early view of the church, as documented by Origen around 200 AD; distinguished between “spiritual” and “bodily” portions of the Bible

► New Testament literature was written in more narrative style and much

closer to time of actual events, so its literality is easier to support

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Biblical Inerrancy

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I Kings 7:23
► “Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim,

circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.”

Diameter of 10 Cubits

Circumference of Circle = Diameter x pi (3.14) 10 x 3.14 = 31.4 Cubits

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Conclusions
► The Bible… ► Was written and compiled with great care, diligence and scrutiny ► Is widely regarded as a significant literary and historical work ► Has been upheld in many respects by secular history and science ► Has been held as sacred by millions of people for thousands of years ► Conveys the great truths of Christianity ► Because of the involvement of men in the writing and compilation of the

Bible, it has limitations that we can never fully explain away ► There is room for both myth and historical fact in the Bible – the presence of myth or metaphor does not invalidate the historical facts

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Conclusions
I am saying that we mustn’t belittle scripture by bringing the world’s models of authority into it. We must let scripture be itself, and that is a hard task. Scripture contains many things that I don’t know, and that you don’t know; many things we are waiting to discover; passages which are lying dormant waiting for us to dig them out. Awaken them. We must then make sure that the church, armed in this way, is challenging the world’s view of authority. So that, we must determine—corporately as well as individually—to become in a true sense, people of the book. Not people of the book in the Islamic sense, where this book just drops down and crushes people and you say it’s the will of Allah, and I don’t understand it, and I can’t do anything about it. But, people of the book in the Christian sense; people who are being remade, judged and remolded by the Spirit through scripture. N. T. Wright The Laing Lecture, 1989

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Jesus’ World: 1st Century Judea
► Jews had been living in Israel since return from Babylonian exile in 6th ► ► ► ►

Century BC Fell under Greek rule during the reign of Alexander the Great Conquered by Romans in 63 BC Rome established Herod the Great as ruler over Judea Herod the Great
► Initiated a massive improvement program, including the re-building of the temple ► When he died around the time Jesus was born, Judea was divided amongst

three sons

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1st Century Judea
Antipas Philip

Archelaus

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1st Century Judea: Social and Political Climate
► Economy was growing rapidly, due to Herod’s building program and large

Roman investment
► Judea was important both economically and militarily

► Complex system of patronage – vast majority of wealth was in the hands of

very few people Ruler & Governors
(50% of land)

Priests
(15% of land)

Merchants, Farmers

Artisans, Beggars, Prostitutes

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1st Century Judea: Social and Political Climate
► In addition to earnings that had to be shared with patron (landowner),

taxation was extremely high
► Herod: 1/3 of all grain, ½ of all fruit ► Roman taxes ► Temple taxes

► Large number of choices in religion ► Judaism ► Roman / Greek paganism ► Egyptian cults ► Persian religions such as Mithraism ► Tremendous social tension on a number of levels ► Resentment for Roman rulers and Roman / Greek influence on their culture and religion ► Huge gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” ► Disagreement between the ruling class (“temple elite”) and other religious groups such as the Essenes

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1st Century Judaism
► Defining characteristics ► Monotheism: there is one God ► Election: we are his chosen people ► Eschatology: God will intervene in human affairs to set things straight; definitely included the concept of a Messiah ► Because of the increasing influence of other cultures, striving to maintain

sense of independence and identity; focused on portions of law that dealt with their uniqueness:
► Circumcision ► Sabbath ► Food

► Despite agreement on the importance of these things, there was a great

deal of diversity in Judaism at this time

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1st Century Judaism: Major Factions
Sadducees ► Priests, upper class, Sanhedrin ► Only viewed the Torah as scripture ► No belief in concepts that came from other areas of scripture (resurrection) ► Very conciliatory with Rome ► No eschatological worldview Pharisees ► School of interpretation of biblical text ► Viewed oral traditions and other scripture as holy ► Strong emphasis on strict adherence to Torah and purity laws ► Believed in availability of purity to all Essenes Insurrectionists ► Very concerned ► Believed in with purity actively trying to bring about re► Believed temple establishment was corrupt of Israel; ► Lived in revolutionaries wilderness under monastic ► Zealots conditions ► Believed to be authors of Dead Sea Scrolls

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Jesus’ World
► Spent most of life and ministry in Galilee ► Hotbed of political activity; strong tradition of political autonomy ► Major industry: fishing ► Major cities: Sepphoris and Tiberius ► “Galilean” came to be synonymous with “outsider” or “rebellious” ► Grew up in Nazareth
► Small village of 200 people only four miles from Sepphoris ► Sepphoris was built during Jesus’ youth, so possible that his family was involved

in construction there

► Typical Jewish upbringing ► Spoke Aramaic; maybe some Hebrew and Greek ► Taught scriptures and oral traditions; Recited the Shema daily ► Attended major religious festivals in Jerusalem

Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles

► 95-97% of Jewish population was illiterate

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Jesus’ World: Conclusions
► Judea in Jesus’ time was explosive; a place with a lot of tension and a lot

of expectation
► Social and religious issues very intertwined

► The eschatological worldview held by most Jews meant that they were

constantly looking for signs of someone who would deliver them from their Roman overlords
► However, there were many different ideas about the shape that deliverance

should take

► It was a time of great social injustice ► System of patronage ► The temple was simultaneously a source of unity and division ► Battle for the soul of Judaism

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The Nicene Creed: One God, The Father

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.* With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

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“One God, the Father”
► Creed begins like the Shema of Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4) ► “Hear O Israel – the Lord Your God is One.” ► Distinguishing themselves from polytheism of the day ► Associating Christianity with the God of Israel ► Emphasis shifted from God as God of Israel to sovereign of all people ► Romans 6:28-30: “We hold that a person is made righteous by faith apart from works of the law. Is he not the God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one! And he will make the circumcised righteous on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through the same faith.” ► Belief in one God creates the problem of explaining evil
► Paganism used polytheism to explain evil ► Marcion developed another explanation for Christianity

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Marcion
► Born in Sinope, Asia Minor c. 85 AD; son of a Christian bishop ► Became wealthy merchant and shipowner ► Excommunicated by church in Sinope and moved to Rome in 135 AD;

gave large financial gift to Roman church to ensure acceptance ► Fell under influence of Gnostic teacher Cedro and developed his own brand of Christianity ► Marcionism:
► Sought to downplay Christianity’s Jewish roots, resulting in rejection of Old

Testament and redaction of New Testament ► There are two “Gods”
► ►

The Old Testament God, which created the physical world and was “harsh, cruel and incompetent” The New Testament God, superior to OT God and only concerned with the spiritual, not the physical; Jesus was the Son of this God

► Jesus appeared human or physical, but was really only spirit ► There would be no judgment, no resurrection, no second coming; Jesus only

came to release man from bondage of OT God

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Refuting Marcionism There is only one God: The God of Israel
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

God created all things spiritual and physical

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One Lord, Jesus Christ

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.* With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made.

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God or Man?
Man
Jewish Sects ► Jesus was not God at all Justin Arius ► Jesus was both ► Only one God, God and man so Jesus was human ► Developed ► As close to God concept of “trinity” as possible

God
Gnostics ► Jesus was totally divine ► He was never truly flesh

► Arius (256 – 336 AD) was a popular preacher from Libya; taught by Lucian ► Believed that the Father alone is God, therefore Jesus must be a created

being (trying to defend monotheism)
► Jesus was created by God and was closer to God than any other human

► Opposed by Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria and eventually deposed ► Arian controversy was a driving force behind the Council at Nicea ► Supporters of Arius that refused to sign creed were condemned by

Constantine

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Divinity of Jesus
► No disputing the fact that belief in Jesus as the Son of God was widely

held in early church
► Oldest writings of Christianity – Paul’s letters – mention the Lordship of Jesus

constantly ► Oldest liturgical prayer recorded in I Corinthians 8:6: “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” ► Also passages such as Romans 8:3: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” ► Supported by later writings of Justin, Polycarp, Irenaeus and others

► Where did the early Christians get this idea that

Jesus was the Son of God?

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Rationale of Lordship of Jesus
► Why would the early Christians have concluded so quickly that

Jesus is Lord?
► Remember that Messiah did not mean Lord; Moses was not God ► Miracles ► Resurrection ► Jesus said so: ► John 8:58: “Before Abraham was born, I am.”

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Divinity Claims of Jesus
► Most of the direct claims of Lordship by Jesus occur in the Gospel of John ► All of the “I am” claims: ► Bread of life (6:35) ► Light of the world (8:12) ► Gate (10:9) ► Good shepherd (10:11) ► Resurrection and the life (11:25) ► Way, truth and the life (14:6) ► Vine (15:1) ► While extremely rich spiritually, many Biblical scholars question the

historicity of portions of John
► Written around end of first century; 70 years after death of Jesus ► Very different from Synoptic gospels in a number of ways – chronology,

geography, message and style of teaching

Most significant difference is the way which Jesus spoke about himself

► Most scholars believe the book was influenced by the way which Jesus was

perceived by the time it was written

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Two Views on Origins of Jesus’ Divinity
Marcus Borg
Professor of Religion & Culture Oregon State University
► Jesus did not make any claim to

N. T. Wright
Bishop of Durham Church of England
► Does not place much stock in

be God or the Son of God (does not view John as historical) ► His followers came to see Jesus in this way after his resurrection ► The Son of God title was intended to refer to closeness to God (title also used to refer to Israel, King of Israel) and twisted in meaning to mean something more

John as historical ► However, emphasizes that this was a very early belief in the life of the church ► Must have been claimed and preached by Jesus, validated by his actions; they could not have developed such a theology on their own in such a short period of time

Source: The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions

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Nicene Conclusions on Jesus’ Divinity
► Had to establish that Jesus was God because of belief that salvation could

only come from God, not from a human ► Also wanted to refute claims of Gnostics that Jesus was only a spirit, not flesh and blood ► Embraced concepts of trinity and duality ► Drew language from scripture to make their point:
► “Lord Jesus Christ” – language used frequently by Paul ► “Son of God” – Paul’s language; most popular title for Jesus in the early church ► “eternally begotten from the Father” – based on two passages from John (1:14

and 3:16) ► “not made” – specifically refuting Arianism

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For Our Salvation

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.* With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

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Salvation
► In this section, the Council at Nicea clearly communicates the importance

of what we are talking about; our salvation is at stake ► Again, it was important to continue reinforcing the divinity of Jesus since salvation could only come from God
► If only needed to correct some mistaken ideas, a good teacher would do

(Moses) ► If only needed to address some social issues, a good prophet would do (Amos or Isaiah)

► What does “salvation” mean to you?

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What Did Salvation Mean to the Jews?
► Expectation was restoration of physical nation of Israel, not the future ► ► ► ►

enjoyment of a non-physical, spiritual bliss Rescue from national enemies (Romans) Restoration of the national symbols (The Temple) State of shalom (peace), in which everyone could enjoy the free use of their land Constant debate regarding who would be vindicated when God finally acted to liberate Israel
► What are the badges of membership that mark out one in the group that is to be

saved? ► Pharisees – intensification of Torah ► Essenes – Communal rules and loyalty to Teacher ► Zealots – loyalty to a particular agenda

► Those who had died in advance of the renewal would be raised

(resurrected) in order to share in it (except the Sadducees)

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What Did Salvation Mean to the Early Christians?
► Christian and Jewish views of salvation were very similar; major difference

was that the Christians believed the deed had already been done ► The Gospel of the early church, of Paul, was that the promises of the Jewish scriptures had come true in Jesus’ resurrection ► In Jesus’ death, he had taken the exile as far as it could go and in his resurrection he had inaugurated the real return from that exile ► This salvation was available to all creation, not just the Jews

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Salvation to Early Church
► The early church described their salvation in terms of what they were

experiencing – a new way of living:
► Forgiveness – removal of everything that prevents reconciliation (Acts 10:43) ► Promise of eternal life – I John 5:13, John 3:16 ► Power – I Corinthians 1:18 ► Freedom – from Rome, from the law, from sin (2 Corinthians 3:17) ► Spiritual transformation – Romans 12:2

► And their salvation was occurring at that present time…NOW; look at these

statements from Romans:
► Now God’s righteousness is being revealed (3:21) ► Now they have been made righteous (5:9) ► Now they have been reconciled to God (5:11) ► Now they have been freed from sin (6:22) ► Now they are discharged from the law (7:6) ► Now there is no condemnation for God’s people (8:1) ► Now the mystery of God is being revealed (16:26)

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What is Salvation?
► Is it just forgiveness? Fire insurance? ► Does the gospel have more to offer for our daily lives? ► We cannot turn the message of the kingdom into a “gospel of sin

management”; Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
► “History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to

be essentially concerned only with how to deal with sin. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message. Transformation of life and character is no part of the redemptive message.” ► “But we get a totally different picture of salvation, faith and forgiveness if we regard having life from the kingdom now as the target. The words and acts of Jesus naturally suggest that this is indeed salvation – with discipleship, forgiveness and heaven to come as natural parts.”

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Virgin Birth
► Based on stories in Matthew and Luke ► Not believed to be important part of early Christian teachings (not

mentioned in Paul’s writings) Marcus Borg
Professor of Religion & Culture Oregon State University

N. T. Wright
Bishop of Durham Church of England

► Does not believe it is historically

► Believes it has become a test case

factual since:
► Story was developed late in First

Century ► Not mentioned by Paul

► Major differences in Matthew and

Luke’s accounts ► Believes the stories were composed to fit the message each writer was trying to deliver

for literality, but that it is not essential to salvation ► No problem with differences in facts – just happens when recording history ► Believes because:
► Belief in resurrection opens door to

other miracles ► No Jewish tradition that Messiah would be born of a virgin ► Not enough time for it to be so widely accepted if it were made up

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For Our Sake He Was Crucified

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.* With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures

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Criticality of Resurrection

I Corinthians 15:14: And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
► The Resurrection: ► Validates Jesus as Messiah (Romans 1:4) ► Demonstrates that sin has been dealt with

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Historicity of Crucifixion / Resurrection
► No question that crucifixion actually happened ► Very uniformly described throughout New Testament ► Mentioned by secular writers Tacitus, Josephus and Lucian ► “Suffered” – again reinforcing the humanity of Jesus ► I Corinthians 15 – earliest record we have of what early Christians believed

about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection; verses 1-8:
► Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you

received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

► Notice that Paul describes very matter-of-factly, not going to great lengths

to prove (no references to prophecy)

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Jewish Views of Resurrection
► By 2nd Century BC, there was widespread belief in resurrection among

Jews ► Jewish belief was based on references from prophetic literature – Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel ► Spectrum of beliefs:
► Sadducees: no resurrection since not taught in Torah ► Mainstream belief was there was life after death, but only as a spirit or angel

(nothing happened to your physical body); bodily resurrection would occur when Israel was restored ► Pharisees: believed in bodily resurrection, but transformation into a new creature

► Mainstream belief was that all of the righteous dead would be resurrected

(not just one person)

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Christian View of Resurrection

So, how do we account for the early Christian church, all of whom were Jewish, using resurrection language to describe what happened to Jesus after his death and burial?

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Two Views on Resurrection
Marcus Borg
Professor of Religion & Culture Oregon State University
► Resurrection represented entry into a

N. T. Wright
Bishop of Durham Church of England
► Church meant Christ was “well and

new kind of existence, not reanimation of a body (a corpse was not required) ► What Paul describes in I Cor 15 is apparitions, or Jesus’ spirit (not a flesh and bones body) ► Paul’s description of resurrection in I Cor 15 seems to be saying that the resurrected body is entirely different from the physical body (spiritual); lot of controversy about how to translate the Greek used in these verses

► ►

truly dead and was now well and truly alive” If they were referring to some spiritual existence, the resurrection language would not have been appropriate If it were merely experiencing his presence, they would not have described the appearances as something that “stopped” Totally different from the world view that Jews held at the time Strong evidence from early writings

Source: The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions

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He Ascended into Heaven

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.* With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.

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Ascension
► There are a number of ways the New Testament described the life that

Jesus entered into after his resurrection
► Sharing royal power with the Father ► “at God’s right hand” (Matt 27:29) ► exaltation (Acts 2:31) ► entering glory (Luke 24:26) ► Ascension or “lifting up”

► Story of Ascension appears in Mark, Luke and Acts ► Belief in ascension appears throughout New Testament ► From a scholarly perspective, the stories are problematic ► First is very short and appears in “longer ending” of Mark (16:9-20) ► Some differences between Luke and Acts accounts ► Many parallels between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and Old

Testament characters
► Jesus on earth for 40 days after resurrection, then ascended ► Moses on Mount Sinai for 40 days, myth at this time about ascension of Moses

(recorded by Josephus) ► Elijah on Mt. Horeb for 40 days, ascended in chariot of fire

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Jesus as Judge
► That Jesus would play a role in the judgment of mankind is a very early

view of the church
► 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,

that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” ► John 5:22-23: “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

► While there was general agreement that Jesus would come back to judge,

their was wide speculation about the specifics
► Paul: discussed second coming in both letters to Thessalonians; did not discuss

judgment specifically but mentions punishment of opponents and gave signs to watch for ► Mark / Luke: uses apocalyptic language (Son of Man in clouds with glory); does not focus on judgment but salvation ► Matthew: strongest source for belief in Jesus as judge ► Revelation: apocalyptic language; presents image of “Book of Life”

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The Kingdom
► Proclamation of the Kingdom of God was the central theme of Jesus’

message
► Mark: 18 times ► Matthew: 49 times ► Luke: 40 times

► What is the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of Heaven”? ► Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: ► “God’s own kingdom or rule is the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done. The person of God himself and the action of his will are the organizing principles of his kingdom, but everything that obeys those principles, whether by nature or by choice, is within his kingdom.” ► Jesus was not announcing the establishment of God’s Kingdom, but the free accessibility of it ► “No End”: specifically placed in creed to refute Arius’ usage of I

Corinthians 15: 20-28 as proof that Jesus was just a man

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We Believe in the Holy Spirit

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.* With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

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Development of Belief in Holy Spirit
► The language about the Holy Spirit in the Nicene Creed is a major

departure from previous creeds (e.g., the Apostles’ Creed) ► The expanded language was required to clarify the church’s position in response to a number of controversies, including Arianism
► If the Spirit is a creature and not God, then Jesus is not God either since it was

the Spirit acting through Jesus

► Church’s doctrine about the Holy Spirit is not self-evident from scripture ► More than other area, the church’s understanding grew over time

50’s Power

70’s – 90’s Mentioned Alongside Father / Son

200’s Tertullian: Trinity Origen: All members Are eternal

300’s Athanasius: Trinity all God

351-89 Nicea: Lord, Worshipped

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Trinity
► Trinity not specifically mentioned in Bible, but doctrine based on passages

in New Testament:
► Matthew 28:19: “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and

of the Holy Spirit” ► 2 Corinthians 13:14: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”

► Earliest recorded thinking on the idea of the trinity came from Tertullian,

who coined the phrase
► Tertullian did not, however, believe that all members of Trinity were equal

► Origen expanded on Tertullian’s ideas and developed idea that all

members of Trinity are God and therefore eternal ► Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, further developed the doctrine of the Trinity and was responsible for language in Nicene Creed

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Holy Spirit in Early Church
► The New Testament language describing the Holy Spirit is varied and

vague at times ► Most references describe a “power” at work in humans ► Gospels
► Holy Spirit is power which comes on Jesus at His baptism ► Paraclete: John 14:16-17 (comforter or advocate) ► Matthew 28:20: mentioned in same company as God and Jesus

► Paul described the Holy Spirit as: ► Power that dwells in Christians and gives them life as a first-fruits or seal or pledge of a future glory ► Person: Being led by the Spirit, the Spirit bearing witness, coming to assistance, praying, showing love, searching, knowing, sharing fellowship, teaching, giving gifts, deciding, providing a word of wisdom, speaking ► Basically, the experience of the early church was that they were

transformed in their own spirits; their capacity for knowing and loving was greatly increased

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Filioque
► Original Nicene Creed Language: ► We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father ► Alludes to John 15:26
► “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit

of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me”

► Used “proceeds from” language to refute Arianism (not created) ► Revision in 589 in response to teachings of St. Augustine: ► We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son ► Source of division between Roman Catholic church and Eastern Orthodox

Church
► Not just doctrinal, also a response to the arrogance and insensitivity of the

Roman church

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Evolution of Holy Spirit Doctrine
► Movement in 2nd Century called Montanism ► Montanists also called Phrygians ► Founded by Montanus and two female prophets, Maximillia and Priscilla ► Emphasized present work of the Holy Spirit – continued prophetic revelation ► Had an immediate expectation of Judgment Day ► Encouraged strict asceticism ► Came to view themselves as having superior authority to leaders of Catholic church ► Response of the Catholic church was to denounce Montanism and

formulate doctrine that the workings of the Holy Spirit were different in the post-Apostolic age
► “Cessationism”

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Development of Cessationism
► Cessationism: the view that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, such

as tongues, prophecy and healing, ceased being practiced early on in Church history ► Origen: argued that the “signs” of the Apostolic age were temporary and that no contemporary Christian practiced the gifts (200 AD) ► Chrysostom: Discussed gifts in I Corinthians; said “used to occur but now no longer take place” (350 AD) ► Augustine (400 AD):
► “That thing (the gifts) was done for a betokening, and it passed away” ► “other such things as were then done, are now manifestly ceased”

► Jonathan Edwards (1740): “Since the canon of the Scripture has been

completed, and the Christian Church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased.”

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One Church, One Baptism

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.* With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN

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One Baptism for Forgiveness of Sins
► Connection between baptism and forgiveness of sins is clearly drawn in

New Testament
► Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus

Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”

► Language in Creed echoes Paul from Ephesians 4:4-5: ► “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism” ► Also, confirming that no further baptism was required (e.g., baptism of the

Holy Spirit), which was taught by some groups

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Resurrection of the Dead
► Lot of speculation about the expectations of the early church regarding the

return of Jesus and resurrection
► I Corinthians 15:51-52 seems to indicate they expected it very soon: “Behold, I

tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” ► II Peter defends belief in the second coming against scoffers ► Paul’s statements of expectation could have been referring to other events such as the fall of Jerusalem

► Paul and other Jews had expected the kingdom to be ushered in all at

once; Jesus’ resurrection forced them to divide the end into two moments
► Jesus’ resurrection is a deposit, a guarantee of the future

► Christians at the end of the 2nd century were not apologizing or expressing

embarrassment that the second coming had not occurred

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The Church
► The church is a critical theological concept; it is the continuation of the

incarnation – a model for the world to see ► In scripture, salvation is understood in communal terms – God seeks the salvation of “a people” ► Whole story of Bible is God’s efforts to shape a distinctive people

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What Marks the Church?
Nicene Creed: We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
► One ► Connotes uniqueness ► Can cause unity or disunity depending on how you interpret ► Holy
► Means “other” or “set apart” ► The church must embody a difference from the world that is visible ► Lots of debate through the ages about what makes the church “holy”; typically

identified with some practice

► Catholic ► Means “universal and inclusive” ► Apostolic
► Reinforcing the uniqueness of the church by association with the apostles ► Important to refute movements such as Gnosticism and Montanism that were

teaching they had a new and improved revelation

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Church Development After Nicea
► In the thousand years after the creed was written, the Catholic church

became very political and worldly ► A number of factors contributed to growing discontent with the Catholic church:
► Decadence – large building program led church to accept cash for indulgences ► Growing literacy across Europe ► Rise of city/states and breakdown of traditional medieval societal structures

► This discontent led to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century,

spearheaded by Martin Luther
► Luther posted his “95 Theses” on the door of the Wittenburg castle church in

1517 ► Emphasized forgiveness received through simple faith of the believer – not through demands of any law or religious system ► Movement swept across Europe, resulting in the creation of numerous denominations of “Protestant” religion ► Made its way to England where it was transported to America

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Restoration Movement
► Religious reform movement born in the US in the early 1800’s ► Sought to renew the whole Christian church: ► on the pattern set forth in the New Testament ► without regard to the creeds developed over time in Catholicism or Protestantism, which allegedly kept Christianity divided ► Founders of the movement were influenced by Enlightenment thinkers

such as John Locke and Francis Bacon
► Emphasized denying of denominational labels and acceptance of a diversity of

ideas ► Slogan was “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

► Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell were leaders of different

Restoration movements that merged together in 1832 to form the “Church of Christ” movement (aka the Stone-Campbell Movement)
► Emphasis on autonomous “non-denominational” church structure

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Church of Christ History
► By the 1850’s the congregational autonomy that existed with the CofC had

produced a number of variances within the movement
► Example: Spiritualist leanings of Jesse Ferguson at the Nashville CofC

► Following Alexander Campbell’s death in 1866, conservatives within the

movement, led by David Lipscomb and Tolbert Fanning, advocated an increased unity in doctrine
► The “in non-essentials, liberty” clause became subjugated to the “in essentials,

unity” clause

► This emphasis on unity of doctrine led to a number of schisms: ► 1906 - Formal division from Disciples of Christ over instrumental music (primarily) ► 1920’s – Usage of one cup for communion ► 1920’s – Non-Sunday School movement ► 1930’s – Premellianalism controversy focused on teachings of Robert Henry Boll ► 1940’s to 1960’s – non-institutional movement ► 1970’s to 1980’s – Crossroads Movement, Boston Movement

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“Mainstream” Churches of Christ Today
► Practice of youth and adult baptism as a requirement for remission of sins ► Autonomous non-denominational congregational organization with

oversight by male-only elders ► Weekly observance of communion ► A capella congregational singing ► No creeds other than the Bible itself (?)

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Religion’s Contributions to Mankind
► "I believe that religion, generally

speaking, has been a curse to mankind—that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking."
► H. L. Mencken, New York

Times Magazine, 9/11/55

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Religious Fundamentalism / Extremism
Fundamentalism is a religious position typically characterized by a rigid adherence to what are perceived to be the most basic and traditional principles and beliefs of that religion.
► religious idealism is used as a foundation for personal and communal ► ► ► ► ► ► ►

identity; members are part of a cosmic struggle; historical events are reinterpreted in light of their cosmic struggle; opposition is demonized (because the opposition is on the opposite side of the cosmic struggle); what parts of their tradition and heritage are stressed are chosen selectively; men almost always control positions of power; the erosion of religion and its proper role in society is normally presented as their primary concern; absolutism and inerrancy in their sources of revelation is stressed;
Source: Center for Fundamentalism Research

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Religion in Press / Literature

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Reaction to Religious Fundamentalism
► “Fundamentalist religion is hell-bent on ruining the scientific education of

countless thousands of innocent, well-meaning, eager young minds. Nonfundamentalist, ‘sensible’ religion may not be doing that. But it is making the world safe for fundamentalism by teaching children, from their earliest years, that unquestioning faith is a virtue.”
► Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

► “It is not an accident that scientific discourse has produced an

extraordinary convergence of opinion and remarkable results. What has interfaith dialogue produced? Meetings between representatives of the world's major religions yield little more than platitudinous calls for peace and a willingness to ignore what many participants strongly believe -- that every other party to the conversation will probably spend eternity in hell for his misconceptions about God. The differences between scientific and religious discourse should tell us something about where to place our hopes for an undivided world.”
► Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

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The Church of Christ
► Are we fundamentalist / extremist? ► Do we try to be the “light of the world” or the “right of the world” ► Do we recognize the difference between tradition and biblical doctrine? ► Do we live by “no creed other than the Bible”?

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The Christian Affirmation
► Appeared in May 2005 edition of The Christian Chronicle ► Authored and signed by 24 teachers / leaders from within the Church of

Christ ► Primary points:
► “The path to substantive Christian unity is found in returning to the clear

teachings of Scripture and practices of the early church, commonly acknowledged and respected by all Christian traditions.” ► Essentiality of Baptism: “God does not save individuals apart from the body of Christ; he saves us by making us members of Christ’s body through baptism and transforming us into his likeness (Rom. 8:29, 30).” ► Weekly Observance of Lord’s Supper on Sunday: “Baptized believers gather each week around the table of the Lord.” ► A Capella Music in Worship: “The practice of a cappella singing recovers both the “original design” of the early church and the common practice of the whole church for centuries.” It is widely practiced in the Eastern Orthodox church today.

Full text available at www.christianaffirmation.org

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Closing Thoughts
► In the coming age of skepticism regarding fundamentalist religion, we must

focus on being light, not “right”
► Deeds, not creeds

► We need to articulate how we are different from the world, not other

religions
► Stop majoring in the minors

► We don’t have to be afraid of examining or discussing our faith rationally,

however…
► We can never fully explain everything; ultimately, faith is a miracle ► No matter how solid our theology is, without love it is dead

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