Intro and Course Overview
Series 1 Episode 0
This is a class on Basic Christian Doctrine and for the most part it’s for people that believe in Jesus but want a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis attempts to do something similar in his book Mere Christianity but unlike C.S. Lewis we won’t begin by attempting to defend the faith or reason why it is that belief in God makes sense.
I clearly remember being in Sunday school class at a Lutheran church and then later being in a high school youth ministry called YoungLife and on separate occasions thinking, “Is this really all there is to Christianity?”
When I pursued ministry and went to college I was pleasantly surprised to find the wealth of knowledge that the history of Christianity has to offer. Early Christians wrestled with the very same questions that we ask today and they shed wonderful light on issues of doctrine and belief that we might experience today.
My faith was absolutely strengthened by learning at the feet of the Church. And so here’s my hope for our class:
I hope that we grow in unity (Jesus prayed for unity for future Christians and I believe that good doctrine should grow Christians closer together, not further apart.)
I hope that we grow in holiness (I believe that the God we worship is the God we seek to imitate. We become what we worship. As we learn more about who God is, we’ll be able to become more like him.)
I hope that we grow in faith (It was refreshing and life giving for me to explore doctrine and learn that there was more to Christianity than what I had been introduced to for the first 18 years of my life. Christian theology is thoughtful and beautiful and rich and truth is satisfying).
Here’s the plan:
In this class we’re going to take the Apostle’s Creed and we’ll go through it point by point and we’ll discover what we mean confess these truths.
Here’s the Apostle’s Creed.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ his only son our lord who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin mary, crucified under Pontius pilate, died and was buried. On the third day he rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in The Holy Spirit
The holy catholic church
The communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body and life everlasting amen.
We’re going to divide this into three series and 6 sessions per series.
So for the first series we’ll talk about the first third of the apostles creed – “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” It’s definitely not a third of the words of the creed but for our sake it’s a third of the content of the creed. This series will be divided into six sessions.
What is doctrine
How do we discern it?
What is God?
What are the attributes of God?
Who is the Father?
What is Creation?
Those are the six sessions of the first series.
The second class will be on Christology and the third will be on the Holy Spirit and the Church.
To give you an idea of the process – we’re not so much interested in teaching about a specific flavor of Christianity. What I want to do along the way is share with you spectrums of belief on certain doctrines, show you where the majority of Christianity has fallen on that spectrum, show you what positions on that spectrum have traditionally been rejected by Christianity and then allow you to make you own decision about what sounds best to you.
I used to teach my friends that we’re all heretics. That’s the unfortunate truth of it. There’s not one person on the earth that has every doctrine perfectly understood. So we need to approach theology from this humble and teachable viewpoint that isn’t concerned with being right as much as we are concerned with finding truth.
Early Christians were early adopters. They were people who were quick to say, “What we thought was true isn’t the whole truth.”
I once heard that the thing that made Abraham Lincoln a good president was his ability to change his mind. He didn’t start his campaign fully convinced that slavery must be abolished but throughout the course of his presidency his mind changed and he was resolved to end slavery regardless of the cost.
So here’s what I would say: Keep an open mind and keep your guard up.
Take a 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 approach
"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil."
Don’t reject anything simply because it’s different from what you’ve heard but test it all. Give it a fair shot. Don’t let your guard down and accept everything I say as universal truth – test it. Hold on to what is good and reject every kind of evil.