A Better Christianity from Classical Christianity
I was reading about a church leader named Ambrose in the late 300’s. Because of his work showing the reasonableness of Christianity, he was helpful in the conversion of one of the largest theological and philosophical minds in history, Saint Augustine. I so wish we can regain the reasonableness of classic Christianity that Ambrose offered Augustine. Therefore, I am offering a number of correctives for our world based upon the Church’s teaching through the ages.
1. We need to affirm God’s love for all people and His desire that all be saved.
2. We need to affirm the goodness of our reasoning powers. At times our reasoning is flawed, such as when we miscalculate something. But, our reasoning has classically been looked at as one of the major elements of being made in the image of God.
3. We need to affirm the goodness of our physical bodies and stop divorcing physical and spiritual life in such broad ways.
4. We need to affirm that there are good reasons to believe God exists, not just a blind leap of faith.
5. We need to affirm that Scripture, Tradition, and Reason are all trump cards over experience. If someone has an experience and I have a sound reason, then I am closer to the truth.
6. We need to affirm the freedom of the will. ‘Get-rich quick type’ gimmicks abound in various parts of Christianity and sometimes bring in the numbers. But we must seek lasting fruit that allows others their free choice and room for God to work too.
7. We need to affirm that “anointed” preachers and teachers do not get an ‘automatically true’ pass in their teaching and preaching. We have always been told to discern everything.
8. We need to affirm being true to God and his way over and against the endless use of the phrase, ‘be true to yourself.’ Check out N.T. Wrights book “After We Believe” for a more robust look at this concept.
9. We need to affirm both commands and character development as a means to honoring God with our decisions.
10. We need to affirm that God created the heavens and the earth. Classic Christian teaching has always affirmed “that” God created all things, but it has not affirmed “how” God created.
11. We need to affirm that Christians have the right to believe what they think is true regarding the age of the earth and universe without feeling like they betrayed the Faith. Historic Christianity has not ruled on the age of the earth, and therefore we are allowed to search these questions out ourselves with and modern science.
12. We need to affirm that the Bible is not to be read as the same genre in all its books. There are many genre’s and literary devices that control how various books are to be read (literally, historically, religiously, poetically, metaphorically, a mixture, etc).
13. We need to affirm that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, but we should not give in to easy speculations regarding percentages of persons going to heaven or hell. This is God’s domain, and he knows who are seeking him across the world.
14. We need to affirm the mission of the church to preach the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the means of salvation and put our efforts forward to bring the message to our neighbors and world.
15. We need to affirm the real presence of Christ in communion. “How” or in “what way” Christ is present, has been long debated, but that He is present has been long held.We need to affirm the reality of sin. With all the attempts to psychologize sin away, we still should hold that sin separates us from a good and holy God. This is exactly why, for 2000 years the Church has been preaching the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus overcomes the powers of sin.
There is much more to say…but I am sure that is enough to chew on for now.
Yours in Christ,