Personal The Gospel Theology

For the Record: “I Believe…”

So many theological, social and political debates rage on all around us and it’s so easy to get sucked into unnecessary arguments. The Church, tragically, is notorious for drawing unnecessary lines in the sand, splitting hairs and dividing over nonessential doctrines, political viewpoints, cultural debates and so on.  Once in a while it’s refreshing to remember the core beliefs upon which the Christian faith rests and for which the martyrs were willing to shed their blood.

Here is what I believe to be the essentials…

  • I believe there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • I believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
  • I believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his virgin birth, in his sinless life, in his miracles, in his vicarious atonement through his shed blood, in his bodily resurrection, in his ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in his personal and visible return in power and glory.
  • I believe that man was created in the image of God, that he was tempted by Satan and fell, and that, because of the exceeding sinfulness of human nature, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for salvation.
  • I believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life, and by whom the church is empowered to carry out Christ’s great commission.
  • I believe in the bodily resurrection of both the saved and the lost; those who are saved unto the resurrection of life and those who are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

What’s missing?

You’ll notice no mention of my understanding of God’s foreknowledge, my position on the evolution debate, the eternal security debate, my personal view of Hell, my political views, the age of the earth, my view of the End Times and a thousand other secondary, non-essentials.  Let’s keep the main things the main things and strive for unity around the things that truly matter.  Grace and peace.

Dr. Jeremy Berg is the founding and Lead Pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Minnetonka Beach, MN, where he has served since 2010. He an Adjunct Professor of Theology at North Central University (Minneapolis) and Professor of Bible & Theology at Solid Rock Discipleship School. Jeremy earned a doctorate in New Testament Context under Dr. Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary. He and his wife, Kjerstin, have three kids, Peter, Isaak and Abigail.

2 comments on “For the Record: “I Believe…”

  1. Nic Johnson

    I think Matthew 7:12 is the most important core belief a Christian can hold. All else is useless metaphysic speculation.

    • Hi Nic. How’s college?

      Certainly it is more fashionable these days to create our own version of Christianity that is simply about “Loving our neighbor as ourselves.” It is even more alluring for some to make sure our “spirituality” doesn’t have the inconvenience of a higher Creator being to whom the human race is accountable. Of course, this is not Christianity.

      One who begins with the presupposition that God does not exist and therefore has not revealed himself to human beings will agree with you that this is all “useless metaphysical speculation”. But for those who do not rule out the possibility of God’s existence a priori, and for those of us (like myself) who believe the best historical, philosophical, moral, scientific and existential evidence points toward a Creator who is actively guiding history towards his wise and purposeful ends, this is neither useless nor metaphysical speculation.

      Christians don’t base their beliefs on metaphysical ponderings. Rather, they base it on a historical case for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the grave some 2,000 years ago which the best historical evidence supports. A strong case can be made that Jesus lived, claimed to be sent from God and to be one with God, declared to be the fulfillment of all the prophecies foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures, died to bring God’s redemptive purposes to fruition and was raised from the dead on the third day as the final proof of his divinity and authenticity.

      So, again, my faith in Christ as the heaven-sent Son of God and savior of the human race is hardly an exercise in metaphysical speculation. Whether or not God has eyebrows, exists outside of time, can create a rock too heavy to lift, etc. are metaphysical speculations. That he exists and has entered history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to reveal the invisible Creator is something altogether different. The basis of Christianity is rooted in an historical event, and must be debunked on those grounds — not metaphysical speculation.

      “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (Apostle Paul, 1 Cor 15).

      Thus, while Matt 7:12 may be the most important action for Christians to live out in response to what Christ has done for us, it is certainly not the most important core belief to hold. I would suggest some of the following: Mark 10:45, John 3:16, Rom 5:1-11, 1 Cor 15:3-4, etc.

      Referring to himself Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Jesus). It seems many today are interested in inventing a Jesus who came to serve others in love, but want to ignore his self-proclaimed purpose for coming to serve and love — “to give his life as a ransom for many” for atonement of human sin and to reconcile us to a holy God. Either we take Jesus at his word (all of them!) or we admit we’d rather follow a Jesus made in our own image.

      For some Holiday Break reading I recommend the book “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. Would love to know your thoughts on his case.

      As always, I wish you peace my friend.

      Jeremy

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