Soteriology is the study of salvation. Salvation is a hard and fast part of Christianity; Christ died for the sins of mankind and made salvation possible. Without that core fact, the work of this essentially incomprehensible God/Man crucified on the Cross, the Christian faith is worthless and salvation is an empty hope. Yet what does that singular act and all that went before and followed, the Old Testament, the Life of Christ, His Resurrection and Pentecost, mean to us in terms of our faith, both as individuals and a the Body of Christ? How do we go about interpreting life and Scripture in the light of this singular act of God? Who is this Savior and why should I really care?
Today we have a new big word, soteriology, the study of salvation. Fortunately, that is the only time I will say it. Instead I will take a clue from the story of Paul and Silas in jail. In that story, which we find in Acts 16, Paul and Silas have been thrown in jail for preaching Christ. Can you imagine, sitting in a dark, dank dungeon? But Paul and Silas start singing and praising God. As they worship God, there is an earthquake and the jail doors get thrown open, apparently allowing all the prisoners to escape. The jailer assumes of course that is exactly what the prisoners did and figures his only way to escape punishment was to fall on his sword. But Paul cries out to stop him saying everyone was there. The jailer falls to his knees and says “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answers “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (16:29-31).
Ecclesia – Week 5
December 14, 2014
Speaker: Bart Wilkins
Sorting out the details of original sin can be a dicey process. There are, however, foundational truths that remain regardless of each of our unique personal understandings of original sin. It is fundamentally true that through Adam’s sin, sin entered our world. It is also true that each and every one of us falls to sin. Paramount among these truths is the fact that Jesus himself never fell to sin. As we spend time trying to understand original sin, we need to bear these essential truths in mind. These truths will eventually lead us to our proper point of focus. Continue reading
This idea of Original Sin (a.k.a. Harmartiology, the study of sin) has been one that, like most of the other theological concepts we have been looking at, the church has wrestled with from the very beginning. The difference here is that the focus in this study of sin, original or otherwise, is you and I, who are we as human beings? God, to be sure, is reflected in this study and ultimately, His Nature and Character are the result of our musings, but we begin our thinking with who we are rather than who God is. We all, regardless of our theological leanings, understand that there is something fundamentally wrong in the world; something is broken and needs to be fixed. The question at the heart of this question of Original Sin is humankind the root of the issue, are you and I what is broken and the cause of the problems we see? The tension that provides all the conflict is that between wanting to see ourselves as really ‘good persons’ and the knowledge that as ‘good persons’, we can really do some terrible things.
Ecclesia – Week 4
December 7, 2014
Speaker: Adam Julch
Augustine wrote his massive (15 book) examination of the Trinity over a period of two decades. There is a story (created and applied to Augustine many centuries later) that when he had finished his work, he took a walk along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. There he came upon a boy busily digging three holes in the sand. When finished the young lad went down to the water’s edge, filled his little bucket with the water from the sea, and ran back to pour the water into the three holes. Augustine watched him for a while and then asked: “What are you doing?”
The relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church has always been an uneasy one. The tension between the authority needed to establish order within the Church, our own propensity to latch on to ‘tradition’ as an authority of its own and the Holy Spirit as that Authority and His propensity to break down our personal authorities and traditions in creating the new has always basically befuddled the Church, both ancient and modern. Yet, with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), the Age of the Spirit was opened for the people of God with the Spirit becoming the ‘business end’ of the Trinity. This tension between authority and creativity has resulted in near continuous conflict within the Church as we have wrestled with just what it means to be followers of Christ.