If John the Baptist is not Elijah, then Jesus cannot be the Messiah

Monday Musings for October 25, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

I often preach to others (but unfortunately, often ignore myself) that there are a lot of different ways to “do” Christianity — but not just “do” it. Do it while maintaining orthodox beliefs. (Remember, “orthodox” with a small “o” merely means straight or correct. This is not a reference to the Eastern Orthodox religion. Some of my readers have been confused by my use of this term.)

The term “orthodox” is the most precise word, though… referring to consensuses about what is or is not correct doctrine. When something is outside of the consensus, we call it un-orthodox… and I’ve found that using the opposite form like this helps clarify what we mean by orthodox.

That being said, “orthodox” does not mean “cardinal.” Christianity has surprisingly few cardinal beliefs. (Cardinal beliefs are the things you must believe to be a Christian.) For example, to be a Christian, you must believe that God exists and that the historical person of Jesus Christ existed.

But, you can be in a saving relationship with Christ and believe that God took the full 13.8 billion years to create the universe rather than six twenty-four-hour days. The cardinal belief is that he is the Creator. Beliefs about how he did this are important points for discussion. But unless those beliefs challenge God as the agent of creation, they do not threaten orthodoxy.

I’m an old-earth creationist (OEC) — and 923 out of 1000 people polled believe that I am a Christian. Now, some people say I can’t be a Christian while maintaining OEC beliefs — and they have a point: superior numbers are not the only factor when testing for orthodoxy. But if the numbers are against you, you’d be a fool not to verify your data, review your analyses and check your conclusions using the standards of logic.

So, here’s the thing: many intelligent people who are not trained in logic do not realize that, although language requires logic to make its syntax work, having correct syntax does not mean that the sentence is logically coherent. It may sound coherent. But that’s the syntax talking.

Admittedly, I’m writing this preamble to defend “my brand.” I see myself as a “thinking Christian.” But I get it. Not everybody is… not in this way, anyway. Every Christian has “thought” about Jesus Christ or they would not be saved. After that, though, we have a watershed. There are two modes of sanctification and one of those has a gradient.

Is your faith characterized by rest? Are you not particularly worried about doctrine? That’s fine. But perhaps your faith is like mine. I’m like a grouchy terrier who won’t be satisfied until he shakes every idea violently in his mouth. The thing is, you get to chose which type to be.

But, if you chose to engage God’s world and God’s word intellectually, you cannot take the next step until you learn how language works — and I’m not talking syntax here. Almost everybody can cast a passable sentence. I’m talking about handling the propositional content. This involves syntax. But your feelings about your sentence and its propositional content are not equal. In fact, they are often at odds. That’s the issue we will explore today.


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