The Liturgical Christianity Portal

Bringing liturgical Christians together

No, These Weren’t Yours to Begin With

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem2982

One of the more interesting exchanges I had on my other blog started off innocently enough with me stating why I didn’t believe God sanctioned polygamy for Christians. Online discussions being what they are, it soon devolved into my being accused of being “no student of Scripture” for not agreeing with one commentator about their assertion that Christians were to follow the Levitical law.

In short, I had pointed out that polygamy was something that the Bible did not specifically condemn because of the cultural context, but was not sanctioned as an example to follow either, and pointed out a couple of examples of other practices that are no longer accepted within Christianity. The commentator took exception to this, asserting that Christians were still to follow the Law.

I think it’s easy for some to get caught up on Jesus’ statement that he did not intend the abolish the Law (Matthew 5:17-20), without considering his fulfillment and what it meant. What does that really mean for us?

  • Jesus did not invalidate the Law during his earthly ministry, however, he did institute a covenant of grace (Romans 6:13-14)
  • Jewish teachers in both Biblical times and today never saw the Law as being for Gentiles. In fact, many believe that only the laws given to Noah are applicable for non-Jews. (Gen. 9:8-17)
  • Early Christians leaders did not impose the Law on Christians (Acts 15)

We are under the law of grace – thanks be to God!

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April 20, 2016 Posted by | Apologetics, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Defending the Faith – Not As Easy As It Sounds

1 Timothy 6 makes one of the biggest calls for apologetics that you’ll find in the Bible. Although what often passes for apologetics these days is more about defending a denomination or school of thought, it is more than that. The faith once delivered to the saints isn’t as complicated as we make it.

Sometimes, it seems like the biggest challenges to Christianity isn’t outside ‘threats” so much as the divisions we’ve allowed over the years. Disagreeing without being disagreeable is something we must all strive to do. However, as a faith, we’ve missed the mark on so many ocassions.

One of the issues where we all need to find balance is sorting out which issues are essential to the faith and which are differences in opionion. I’d guess that many of the things Christians bicker about the most fall into the latter category. It’s one thing, for example, to want to defend Christ’s full divinity. However, it’s another thing to feel the need to admonish someone because they disagree about asking for the prayers of the saints, prefer to worship on a different day, or have a differing interpretation of Scriptures concerning women’s involvement.

One sad thing I’ve seen is that many Christians are so tired on in-fighting and bickering amongst other believers that they shy away from participation in multi-denominational settings, like online forums. While time constraints might restrict how much people participate in such activities, no one should ever feel cast out because of disagreements. Were we to stick to the essentials like Christ becoming incarnate, dying for us, and rising again; one universal church that encompasses those who believe and act on that faith; the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, we might find we aren’t as far apart from each other as it seems.

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Apologetics | | Leave a comment

An Excellent Witness

Bibbia con rosa

Today, the Western Church remembers St. Jerome (d. 420). Those of us who have worked in libraries (or maybe have something that resembles one in our homes!) know that he’s the patron saint of librarians. However, why is this so, and what can it teach us today?

Jerome is remembered for translating Scripture into Latin, which was then the language of the Church. As such, he was a type of librarian who oversaw a collection of books. Remember, the Bible isn’t a single book in the way that your favorite novel is – it is a collection of books that contain God’s words that were written down by many people as a witness.

So much dissention in Christianity today involves squabbles over differing interpretations. Much of this could be avoided if we were to remember that it didn’t, in fact, drop down from the sky in a single volume complete with concordances and notes. Rather, the various writings that make up the Scriptures as we have them today came about as ordinary people put their interactions with God into words. We would benefit from keeping Paul’s words in mind about what Scripture IS for: teaching us what we need to know about salvation, helping us receive correction when wrong, and equipping us to be better disciples.

September 30, 2015 Posted by | Apologetics | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the End of the World

Ask an Anglican: The End of the World

A good look at how Anglicans (and many other Christians) interpret the end times

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Apologetics | | Leave a comment

You’d Think We’d Be Past This…

Romans 14:1-12

Two of the quarrels that affected the early Church seem to still go on today. The main difference is that the circumstances have changed slightly. Some people today abstain from meat and sometimes other animal products for idealogical reasons and also try to make it into a spiritual issue. We may have changed from the days when food disputes were mainly over whether the meat was sacrificed to idols before being sold, but judgmental attitudes haven’t.

Another dispute that arises all too commonly is what holidays we do or don’t keep and whether we should worship on Saturday or Sunday. Some honest disagreement and discussion is one thing, but accusing fellow Christians of practicing paganism or having denominational splits over it is another. Agreeing to disagree on some matters goes a long way.

One thing we ought to remember in any dispute over beliefs is that it is God we’re accountable to, not fellow sinners passing judgement. You won’t have any greater standing with God for turning down that steak, nor will you have less for putting up a Christmas tree. At some point, I think we need to step back and realize that we aren’t the judge of peoples’ souls. Let’s leave that up to the One who has that right, shall we?

September 14, 2014 Posted by | Apologetics | , , | 4 Comments

Is Baptismal Regeneration a False Doctrine?

Baptismal regeneration is one of the oldest doctrines in Christianity. It’s also one of the most commonly debated, disputed, and, in my belief, misunderstood beliefs in Christianity. Many Christians, often former members of abusive sects that taught a distortion of this doctrine, dismiss baptismal regeneration out of hand. Should an entire doctrine with Scriptural support and a long history within Christianity be dismissed in this way?

It should be kept in mind that not all groups that believe in baptismal regeneration have the same beliefs about it. Most baptize people of all ages, while a few will only baptize those old enough to choose for themselves. Some have no preference regarding the mode of baptism, while others only recognize an immersion. A few groups that teach baptismal regeneration insist on baptizing in the Name of Jesus. Some Christians believe in original sin while others don’t. Most importantly, not all groups that teach baptismal regeneration believe that anyone who dies unbaptized is consigned to hell. The rest of this article will focus mainly on groups that support the historic orthodox teaching on baptism.

The historic view of baptism drew a comparison between baptism and circumcision. Baptism was seen as a means of entering into the New Testament’s covenant of grace, just as circumcision was a means of entering into the covenant made in the Jewish Scriptures. Baptism is one of the many ways in which God imparts grace to us. Baptism makes us a part of the whole Church, not just a member of a local congregation. Romans 6:3-10 is a good passage of Scripture to study regarding covenants from a New Testament perspective.

Acts 2:38-39 are two verses of Scripture that stress the importance of baptism. Though often twisted to support a theology that demands baptism specifically in the Name of Jesus as a prerequisite for salvation, this passage has a more important significance. It ties together the act of baptism, the reception of the Holy Spirit, and the fact that baptism is freely available to those willing to receive it in faith. When we repent of our sins, we are free to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the case of an unbaptized adult, they are able to join the Church through baptism. Those baptized as infants can later repent of their sins and make an adult commitment to Christ in confirmation. Baptism does allow God to work in a person in a unique way, see Colossians 2:12.

Historic orthodox Christianity rightfully recognizes salvation by grace. While baptism is seen as being generally necessary to the Christian life, it’s also understood that God’s grace can save someone who was unable to be baptized through no fault of their own. In Anglicanism, those who die unbaptized after making a commitment to Christ are still counted among the faithful departed. Catholicism recognizes the faith of those who die without baptism in similar circumstances, including martyrdom.

Not all baptismal regeneration doctrines are cut from the same cloth. Instead of dismissing all of them as “works salvation”, inquirers should examine the claims in light of Scripture.

July 26, 2014 Posted by | Apologetics | | Leave a comment

Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

http://youtu.be/cv85tvudi7Y

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Apologetics | , | Leave a comment

Reaching Out to Former Cult Members

Former members of abusive religious groups, especially ones that place a high emphasis on emotionalism and outward signs of the Spirit, often find solace in liturgical churches.  This often provides a safe place to reconnect, without being exposed to hurtful “triggers”.

Some abusive churches teach baptismal remission, which is a doctrine related to baptismal regeneration. Because of the twisted version of this teaching that’s used in some abusive churches, many former cult members are leery of any church that connects baptism and salvation. Others may find communion to be a struggle, while others may be concerned about private confession, which is optional in many churches. How do you help seekers from abusive backgrounds see such issues in a new light?

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Apologetics | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Eternal Sonship of Christ-Essential, or Not?

Many Christians tend to take the doctrine of eternal sonship for granted. A majority of Christians have held to the view that Jesus has always existed as the Son. However, in modern times, groups that teach a Oneness view of the nature of God, as well as some Trinitarian evangelicals, have taught that Jesus only became the Son at the Incarnation.

In addition to the wealth of historical information supporting the doctrine, there is solid Scriptural evidence for the eternal sonship. Some examples include Colossians 1:13-16 and Galatians 4:4-6, which imply that Jesus was the Son at the time of creation and “sent forth” at the time of the Incarnation, respectively. Those who believe Incarnational sonship mostly affirm that they do believe in Christ’s full divinity, even though this diverges from the historic understanding.

What do you think? Can a person deny the eternal sonship, without denying Jesus’ full divinity and/or the doctrine of the Trinity?

 

August 13, 2011 Posted by | Apologetics | , , , | Leave a comment

Defining Catholicism-Random Thoughts

I recently read an interesting exchange online that I hoped others may be interested in weighing in on. As many know, there are sometimes considered to be two definitions of the term Catholic. Definition 1, which most people are more familiar with, refers to those who are members of the churches in full communion with the Vatican. The second definition, usually distinguished with a lowercase “c”, is sometimes used to refer to Christian churches not in communion with Rome, but who retain certain Catholic traditions, such as three-fold orders of ministry and seven sacraments.

I think this is an important distinction to remember when discussing the liturgical Christian tradition as a whole. On the one hand, many modern churches still retain historic Catholic traditions. On the other hand, I do think that, while acknowledging these common roots, we should also realize that Anglicanism and Orthodoxy have also brought much to Christian tradition, and this distinctiveness should be acknowledged.

Do you think that the terms “catholic”, “apostolic” and “liturgical” can all equally apply to the same types of churches?

July 26, 2011 Posted by | Apologetics | Leave a comment