I once got into an exchange on Facebook that was troubling to me: not because of the content as much as due to the fact that the conversation made me realize that I had never expressed to this particular friend what are my specific beliefs. Now the context of that conversation is far too much to post here, but I thought it might be prudent to answer the question here for you.
So, here are some bullet points. These, for me, are essentials.
- There is one God, the Father and Creator, eternally existent in three persons – though One in nature – that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is His only begotten Son – conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary – who lived a sinless life yet died a sinner’s death on the cross. This is a true historical event and not a metaphor or myth.
This is a lot to unpack. I won’t get anywhere close to exhaustive here, but there are some salient points here.
- God, the Father, created… – I believe that once, in our understanding of time and history, there was nothing. God spoke, and everything that is came into being.
- God exists in three distinct persons who are all truly God.
- Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father – John 3:16, you know?
- Jesus was conceived when the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High “overshadowed” the Virgin Mary
- Jesus’ life was sinless.
- Jesus died on the Cross.
You’ve probably seen the art that was used to explain this on a Led Zeppelin album (or as a tattoo on a hipster’s body somewhere)… It looks like this:
This is a triquetra. It was originally used to explain the nature of the trinity like this:
This picture shows that, for example, the Father is God, but is NOT the Son or the Holy Spirit. Distinct, yet equal.
Jesus was born of a virgin. Whether or not she stayed a virgin (yes, there are disagreements within the Church) is wholly irrelevant to me.
I will not speculate as to HOW Jesus was able to live a sinless life. For me, it is enough that He did.
He didn’t swoon. He didn’t fall into a temporary coma. He died. He did so, because the sacrifice for sin had to die.
There is a difference between the “Church” and the “church.” “James, those are the same word… What’s the difference?” I get this question quite a lot. The difference is all about the “C.” When I refer to the “Church,” I’m talking about the Universal Body of Christ; that collection of believers that transcend language, ethnicity, culture, time… all of that. I am a part of the Church.
I’m also a part of a local body of believers, who are called to do specific work in a local “church.”
Were I to go on about all the things I believe, I would be writing for quite a while and I would probably have to go back and tweak some of what I wrote because I would be convinced that I could maybe explain it more clearly… Such is a writer’s life, I guess. At any rate, these, as I said, are essentials. (That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that one must be baptised to be saved. Water baptism is not essential in that sense.)
To close, here’s an edited version of the Facebook post I mentioned earlier:
[callout]MyFriend: I know some devout Christians. Well, okay, I know one. And I actually like James Marler. But I do have to ignore the fact that he thinks I’m going to hell. (I think he’s fond of me anyway.)
April 16 at 3:15pm · Like
Me: I am fond of you, T******. Truly.
April 16 at 3:16pm · Like · 2
MyFriend: Thought so. (Notice him not denying that he thinks I will go to hell.)
April 16 at 3:18pm · Like · 2
Me: I was trying to not hijack the thread… But since you pressed… Here’s what I believe:
Genesis 18:25 – You surely wouldn’t let them be killed when you destroy the evil ones. You are the judge of all the earth, and you do what is right.” (Particularly: “You are the judge of all the earth, and you do what is right.”)
John Chapter 3 – I can’t highlight… just that whole thing.
Acts 16:30-31 – After he had led them out of the jail, he asked, “What must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Have faith in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved! This is also true for everyone who lives in your home.”
Romans 8 – Again, I can’t highlight. It’s that whole chapter.
Just a highlight here: Genesis 18:25 is really important here. For me it means that, regardless of what I believe, God, the good Judge of all the Earth will do right. It might not be what I think is right, but it will be right.
April 16 at 3:23pm · Edited · Like · Remove Preview
MyFriend: Wow. You’ve never actually linked me to something and gone “It’s this, T******.”* Do I want to read it? Is it going to make me wish you weren’t fond of me? #*!**@*#!! I like that you’re fond of me!
April 16 at 3:23pm · Edited · Like · 1
Me: I am absolutely fond of you. Always have been.
April 16 at 3:23pm · Like · 1
MyFriend: It’s entirely mutual.
April 16 at 3:23pm · Like · 1
* – This is why this post exists.[/callout]
[reminder]If you have any questions about these things, or other topics, don’t hesitate to ask.[/reminder]