Last night I was talking with Pam about some thing I have been thinking of for a while, and especially after finishing the book “Practicing Theology“, a collections of essays editted by Miroslav Volf. I often feel like theology is treated like something ethereal and other worldly that has nothing to do with real life. Christians often have little ideological “check boxes” that you need to say the correct thing concerning, which are then once they are checked they are promptly disregarded as having nothing to do with real life.
“Do you believe in the Trinity?” “Are you Calvinist or Arminian?” “Please explain your understanding of salvation?” “Okay, now that we have gotten through that stuff let’s talk about practical things.”
But our big beliefs are really what define how we live. If you say you belief in one thing and then you consistently do the other, even when confronted by a realization that you big belief says otherwise, then there is a really good chance that you don’t actually believe what you say you believe. That’s why they are called foundational beliefs. Everything else, from further beliefs to daily practices, are based off of these foundational beliefs. The big things are the most practical, not the least practical.
For example, one Christian practice is the practice of hospitality. This isn’t begin good at throwing parties, actually when done wrong parties could very well be the exact opposite of the definition of hospitality found within the Bible. We understand biblical hospitality through understanding the foundational beliefs of Christianity. our understanding of the Trinity, as the God Who is community in and of Himself and invites others into His community, should lead our understanding of biblical hospitality. If you just invite people over for big, fancy, controlled gatherings is that really representative of a God Who invites us into His real self? Our understanding of salvation also affects how we live out hospitality. If we understand salvation to be a free, gracious gift that is unearned and we aren’t worthy of receiving on our own, how does that change the ones we invite into our lives? If you and I only invite the worthy into our lives, do we really believe that salvation is the grace of God, or do we secretly believe we are chosen because we are worthy?
For those of us who are believers our foundational believes are/should be the most important thing in directing how we follow Christ. A.W. Tozer put it this way:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
I would put it this way:
For good or bad our real foundational believes are the most practical things in our lives.
So for a while on Thursdays I am going to be posting about various foundational Christian beliefs and how I believe them to be incredibly important for our daily lives, rather than just theological “checkboxes” to be checked and then forgotten. I’m not saying that i will do this every week, but I will do it consistently till I have covered the ones that I believe are foundational. In other words, I will pretty much cover the beliefs that are covered in the Apostles’ Creed. For those who don’t know it, her is the Apostles’ 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 Holy Spirit,born of the Virgin Mary,suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified, died, and was buried;he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again;he ascended into heaven,he is seated at the right hand of the Father,and he will come 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 the life everlasting.
So I was talking with Pam about this while we netflix binged on episodes of the Blacklist and I told her I was thinking about doing a weekly blog about this. When I get passionate about something I have a tendency to start talking pretty fast and raise the pitch of my voice a little. I’m sure I was doing this when I was talking with Pam because this is important to me (just ask Mindy at Emy J’s who I talked with concerning this earlier today as she was pouring my coffee). Pam started smiling as I was talking and I was sure it was because she recognized the brilliance of this idea. Instead she said through her smile “You should call it ‘Theology Thursdays’!” I tried to convince her that Theology Wednesdays would be better because of the fun of the dissonance of people thinking “He should have done this on Thursdays because it would sound better.” Since one of my foundational beliefs is that Pam is among the smartest people in the world I figure I should listen to her. Therefore, Theology Thursdays begin next week with the Trinity.
- If you have ever been to a baptism at a Tapestry worship gathering the Creed will sound familiar, since it forms the questions that I ask of anyone being baptized.