I will begin by saying that I belong to the Baptist denomination, roughly similar to the Southern Evangelical denomination of the United States. However, I believe in unity over division and thus attempt to see the benefits of all Christian traditions, nor do I reject any denomination on the basis of certain doctrines. I am not a liberal Christian, yet would not describe myself as fundamentalist, at least in the sense that society uses the word.
Basic doctrinal beliefs:
I hold to all major doctrines accepted by Protestant denominations, and indeed the church as a whole. Virgin birth, the existence of the miraculous, the humanity and divinity of Christ, atonement. Being Baptist, I disagree with ideas such as Transubstantiation. While the history of the church is important, I do not hold tradition to be on equal footing with Scripture.
I do believe in the infallibility of Scripture, that is, I believe that all Scripture is “God-breathed.” However, I also understand that Scripture was written in a different time and place, by certain people, for certain people. Context is the most important word in Scriptural reading, it’s why you won’t find me condoning the killing and slavery of peoples. I’m NOT running away from the nasty things in the Bible, I’m merely understanding them in context.
I do not hold to Marcionite understandings of the Bible, i.e. I do not reject the Old Testament, nor the view of God in the OT. Nor do I necessarily hold the NT to be “above” the OT, as Jesus himself used and revered the OT (not that the NT existed at the time, of course).
I believe in hell, though what that looks like I cannot say. My current interpretation/understanding is similar to the notion in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. I am not a universalist, but I am not willing to say who will or will not go to hell, because I am not God (sounds like a cop out, but it is the obvious truth).
I believe in the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection, if I were not convinced of the resurrection, I’d probably be a Jew (assuming I was still religious).
Basic Social beliefs:
I am a staunch pro-life advocate. I find that it is easier to argue from life at conception, because it removes any grey area in the debate. Obviously though I believe in the right of the mother to determine whether to continue the pregnancy, and would not make any move to force her to make a decision. However, excepting cases of rape and teen pregnancies, I tend not to be overly sympathetic towards abortions.
I AM NOT A HOMOPHOBE. Just wanted to make that absolutely clear. 5 years ago I would have given a thoroughly conservative answer towards the question of homosexuality. Now, having come to understand the phenomenon of same sex attraction, I am far more guarded. With regards to SSM, I think Christians should define between “Christian” marriage and “secular” marriage. My reason being that Christians do not have, and never have had, a monopoly on marriage. The fact is (at least in Australia) that unless one is registered with the state, they cannot celebrate a marriage, the state in effect controls the institution. This is not taking into account the fact that all other religions and people have heir own ideas and views on marriage. If two homosexuals wish to be married, let them do so. We can still hold to our own definition of marriage. What this means for homosexual Christians, I am not quite sure, as obviously they would want a Christian wedding… this is something for me to think about.
As to whether homosexuality is a sin- I have come to the opinion that mere attraction is not so. This is based on the assumption that sin the result of a choice, to do our own will rather than God’s. Is one sinful simply for being attracted to a member of the same sex, when s/he has no ability to control that attraction? Or to choose to be attracted? I may be wrong, but I cannot see attraction as wrong when one has no choice in the matter. Homosexual acts are another matter, these are spoken against numerous times in the Bible. However, I am rather sympathetic on the issue, as it seems unfair to say that one is allowed to be attracted to the same sex, but not to act out on that, certainly not love. (BTW I HATE that saying, “Love is Love”. But anyway). In closing, while it may be a sin, so is greed, lust, envy, selfishness, adultery. “Let him who is without sin be the first to cast the stone.”
- I am wary of Christians being involved in government- not opposed to it, but aware of the fact that power can corrupt. I think that the Edict of Milan (313) was one of the worst things that could have happened to Christianity. For while it could be argued that it would not have had the influence it so enjoys today, from a religious perspective it may be said that Christianity became institutionalised and forgot its roots, oppressing those who had oppressed it. I do believe that as the church is pushed out of power in the west, and is slowly marginalise, it will return to its roots and rediscover Jesus’ teachings in another way.
I think that’s enough for now, I’ll post more as people add ideas.