How’s your personal statement of beliefs?

Monday Musings for June 24, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

There are many things that I do not understand about Christianity that still find their way into my statement of beliefs — and yes… I have a personal statement of beliefs.

Now, you may be used to an organization (like a church) having a statement of beliefs… but you may not be aware that every individual believer also has a statement of beliefs… it’s just that it’s personal… and it’s probably not written down. So, here’s today’s challenge: write yours down.

If you went ahead and did that — and I mean honestly and from the heart (… and with no copying from your church’s statement of beliefs) — it’s likely that you’d come up with a few surprises about what you believe.

“If you can’t write it, you don’t really know it.”… a mentor said to me — and I’ll pass that along to you — but if you do it, don’t be surprised by the gaps in your knowledge. There’s plenty we only think we know about the things we believe.

Also, there’s a good chance that not all of your personal beliefs will be the same as your church’s beliefs. Many Evangelical churches I’ve looked into — including my own — have statements on secondary issues with which I don’t agree. But since none of these challenges the core of my faith — what CS Lewis called “mere Christianity” — I haven’t been tossed out in the snow.

In my opinion, testing our beliefs is a healthy process. In fact, I think we should be in a constant process of challenging everything we believe! This way, we won’t fall to pieces when a sharpshooter destroys one of our pet doctrines. Instead, we dig in and study — and hopefully — we grow and change as we increase in knowledge.

For instance, I affirm that Jesus Christ is God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16, AV). But, when I affirm this, it feels more like I am reciting a creed than I am stating something that I genuinely understand. So today, my knowledge gap is showing. But that’s okay. That’s how I grow!

Now, the Trinity is a tough topic… but it’s also definitive of Christianity — so, we want to get our doctrinal statements right. The problem is, different branches of Christianity have different ideas about how the Trinity works… and these differing views on the begottenness of the Son and the procession of the Holy Spirit may or may not show up in a statement of beliefs.

But today, we’re focusing on the Son because our questioner wants to know how Jesus could be both begotten and eternal — and that’s a fair question… but it’s also one of the more difficult questions to parse. How is anyone — even Jesus! — eternally begotten if begotten means born? That’s a good question!

But, the field of play is the Godhead… and things happen within its trinitarian structure that cannot happen anywhere else. So, don’t be surprised when God reveals something about himself — and we can’t figure out how he pulls it off! … yet we affirm it… and the eternal begetting of Jesus Christ is certainly one of those.

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