"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Things you are but won't admit

About once a month, I will use one of the following five terms and someone will argue that:

1. They are not that term
2. You should not be that term
3. That term may be coming between you and your personallordandsaviorjesuschrist.

Well, Christians are (or should be) all of these terms whether they like it or not:

Confessional – No, this does not mean you confess your sins to a clergyman or anyone else, though that wouldn’t hurt you either. This means the heart of Christianity involves that act of confessing the faith. Confessing means to acknowledge, own, or affirm. This did not start with Constantine oppressing the Church at Nicea but is the common practice of New Testament Christians such as


John 1:49 Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"


Matt 16:16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."


John 20:28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

Creedal – creeds are the contents of what is believed. Creed comes from the latin that means to believe, and a creed merely answers what is believed. One of the most ignorant things one can say is “no creed but Christ.” This is asinine because first, that very statement is a creed – a statement of belief. And second, that statement in a non-answer. It merely tries to be clever in not answering Christ’s most important question: “Who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20) What is a ‘Christ’? Is that all that is necessary? Does Paul add too much to ask that “confess with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ” (Romans 10:9) or has Paul added too much creedalism in asking one to believe Jesus is Lord? Paul goes further in adding content to what is to be believed:

1Cor 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Paul says much more than that Jesus is Christ. Who do you say that Jesus is? What you say is your belief or creed. In saying it, you are confessing a creed. Now, I don’t like to say silly things about Jesus, so I like to say those things Scripture said. So did the early church in constructing the earliest creeds like the Apostles Creed. It is a “ready answer for the hope you have”

Denominational – denominate means to give measure or to name. To call something “non-denominational” is to name something “unnamed” and give the measure of something as non-measured. You may not have a name for something, but you must at least have some confession to what you believe, unless everyone merely comes to your church to chant to themselves in non-language. The minute you have a confession, you denominate yourself. The minute you answer your denomination as nondenominational, you have denominated yourself. Again, our answer to questions of belief should clarify, not confuse in non-answers.

Liturgical – this word denotes the established order for worship. Do you usually sing songs before a sermon? There you go, that’s your liturgy. Do you have an invitation from Scripture, some hymns a prayer and a sermon? That’s a bit of a better liturgy. Are there prayers, creeds, read Scripture, a sermon and the Lord’s Supper? Now that’s a great liturgy, but a liturgy no more or less so than the others. The choice is not between liturgy and no liturgy, but what is included in the liturgy and how much thought is given to the content and purpose of it.

Sacramental – Sacraments are “means of grace.” Now you know you don’t have those! Although, Paul did comment about preaching:

Rom 10:14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

There, Paul does give preaching a status as a means by which God accomplishes salvation. So, perhaps preaching may be seen as a “means of grace” if by means of grace what is meant is a set form by which it is acknowledged that grace is figured and offered to the person who accepts by faith. There may be more tangable ways the word is offered, such as if you have an alter call that offers restitution, or a prayer prayed with heads bowed and eyes closed that offers salvation, then you have sacraments. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are preferred by some since they are ordained by God in Scripture (as a means of grace by the word – Ephesians 5:26, 1 Cor 11:26), but everyone has sacraments in the eyes of the congregation, the difference is whether they are Scriptural ones or the ones we replace them with.

So are you Confessional, Creedal, Liturgical, Denominational and Sacramental? If you are Christian you are. So, don’t disparage one who uses the terms for which all Christians actually believe, whether they know it or not.


Ryan G. Smith said...

nice post...enjoyed the cartoon at the top

Andrew said...

The Cartoon was good but I have to say I absolutely loved this post. You are saying all the things I try to say to evangelicals every day. Everyone should have to read this. Thanks.

Matthew Lush said...

I would agree with Andrew on every point he made, I truly try and explain the same thing to Evangelicals every day.

Great post Jared really well put.

Jared Nelson said...

Thanks guys. I think I stole that comic from Renewing the Mind. I can't remember for sure though.

And I enjoy reading all three of y'all's (is that a word?...maybe just in Texas) blogs too.

Aaron said...
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Aaron said...
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steve martin said...

Excellent post!

Yhese Mega-Barn Non-Denominational (so-called) churches out here in Southern Orange County, CA have redefined Christian orthodoxy.

They look at us 'Mainline' churches like we are the incarnation of the devil. They are prideful and self-righteous.

Their piety drips off them like a sickening sweet goo.

Many of them wouldn't know the gospel if it hit them in the face.

But...they have very high production values, big screens, latte's and rock bands. And they don't look "religious" (when in fact they are very!)

...other than that they are ok...