Month: January 2010

A Time to Sow … and a Time to Tear

Originally posted by IBD Vice President Matthew J Coombe on mjcoombe.com

What is the demarcation between orthodoxy and heresy? Or that, when believers disagree about various dogma and doctrine at what point does one claim “heresy” and discontinue fellowship? Before answering this question, it must be stated that the idea of dis-fellowship should only be applied to believers. If this standard was applied to unbelievers or people who have no consistent and reliable information about Jesus and the Bible, why would we suppose them to be anything less then heretics? Further, if there was no fellowship with such people, how would they learn and know the truth? Thus, if a unbeliever holds to an errant view of Jesus it should not be faulted on that person, but rather, with meekness and fear correct the view.

The believer is held to a much higher standard. It is difficult in this age to refute errant views of “Christianity” because Christianity has become a a synonym for “theism.” In this, we often hear people say, “well I’m a Christian who believes….” And then they make some horrible exegesis from scripture or emote concerning some current ethical issue. So then, the point of this blog is to answer the question, “to what can the Christian say, ‘I believe…’” and it still correspond with orthodoxy?

The primary, essential credentials for orthodoxy are the fundamentals of the faith. This is minimal Christianity. If one does not hold to these, they are not, by any means, a true born-again Christian. These fundamentals are as follows:

  1. The inerrancy of the Scriptures
  2. The virgin birth of Jesus
  3. The deity of Christ
  4. The bodily resurrection of Jesus
  5. The immanent return of Jesus

Of these, there is only one I have any leniency on and that is inerrancy of Scripture. However, I am only lenient to the point that the other four fundamentals of the faith can still be gleaned and defended. If the Bible becomes so errant that the deity of Christ has become forfeit such a view of Scripture is detrimental. On the other hand, if one feels the Scriptures are completely accurate save a few historical or cultural datum I may not believe that either (although this view also upholds the other 4 points).

Some cults and various man-made religions claim to hold to these, but this is only to maintain the guise and stability of true Christianity. Over the course of the next few days I will be writing on each of the fundamentals, clearly defining them so as to avoid this cultic “bandwagoning.”

As for now, allow me to finish this thought. If anyone does not hold to these fundamentals, I would really question their relative Christianity. Now, as stated before, people often refer to themselves as “Christians” when what they really mean is theist. The reason I make this distinction is that if one claims to be a Christian, they are soldered to very specific views about the Bible, Jesus and the other fundamentals—any strays in these areas cause the erosion of Christianity into finite human religion.

Besides the fundamentals there is also a moral reasons to break bounds. Paul clarifies this when he wrote to the Corinthian Church:

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.”

Paul claims that people professing to be believers who live in immorality give us Biblical grounds to no longer have fellowship with them. However, I’ve seen this taken too far. There are some Christians who won’t have fellowship with non-beleivers because of immorality. We must remember, it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick.

The freedom of Christian choice concerning the morality of actions must be based on the Bible. If someone claims, “I am a Christian who believes it is okay for me to have sex with my boyfriend.” This is beyond the scope of choice given to the believer. It is clear that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. If an act or the idea of it is not forbidden in scripture, and it ultimately leads to the good, one is free to partake in it.

Bottom line, if one does not hold to the fundamentals or is living in immorality they are not in a position to be in proper fellowship.

New Q&A with Dr. Fernandes

This previous July, Dr. Fernandes sat down for a question and answer session. He was asked a series of common “Bible College” questions. These are questions that almost all Christians at one point or another confront, often without a satisfactory conclusion. We hope these answers help.

The questions answered in this Q&A session include:

  • If God is good, why does evil exist?
  • If God is three persons, where is the body?
  • Is there a difference between belief and faith?
  • Calvinism or Arminianism?

Comments are welcome.

Happiness

Originally posted by IDB Vice President, Matthew Coombe on mjcoombe.com

For me its been a rough couple of weeks. In the last month two friends of mine were killed hiking, my brother was in the hospital several times,  my cousin fell down dead of “natural causes,” my girlfriend moved 1,200 miles away, and there are other issues I am not at liberty to discuss. But I tell you this, I have never been so happy in all of my life. Of course I would have to be a sadist to claim that these events made me happy, but herein lies the key. If you allow events and things to make you happy, then you likewise allow them to make you unhappy. I am not intending that we should not feel happy at a wedding or when we receive a gift, or in the company of the one we love, my point is simply, wherein you place your happiness your happiness is affected. Placing happiness in things is not bad, but what happens when things change? Placing happiness in people is not bad, but what happens when people and circumstances change? True happiness and joy is contingent upon the source of focus.

When happiness and pleasure is focused on the LORD your joy and happiness does not fade when the world around you corrodes. Does this mean I have not cried at each of the events I mentioned? In no way! In fact I do not remember a time when I have cried so much. But the difference in my tears and the maintaining of happiness, as the apostle Paul stated mentions, we do not mourn as people without hope. If I placed my sole source of happiness in the unfortunate events that recently occurred I would be in shambles right now. But as it stands, I feel the pleasure and goodness of the LORD, I am influenced by His word, and dedicated to seeking Him.

Consider Job, here is a guy who loses everything. His family, wealth, health, and friends; and he boldly claims, “For He knows the way that I take and when He has tested me I shall come forth as gold.” If Job’s happiness and contentment was in any other source besides the LORD could he have uttered these words? Of course not, but since His everything was directed at the LORD He was able to be confident in his assertion.

I challenge you consider to what you place your hope and trust and happiness in? If it is anything but the LORD, you will find yourself to be most unhappy when events become unfortunate. Happy is he who trusts in the LORD.