Sunday, July 10, 2016

Wesleyan Reflections on Christian Theology (entire series)

Introduction to Christian Theology
1. What is Christian theology?
2. Start with the faith you have.
3. All truth is God's truth.
4. God has revealed himself in nature.
5. God reveals himself in events apart from nature.
6. There is a spectrum of Christian thinking on many issues.

Part I: God and Creation
The Doctrine of God (theology proper)
1. God didn't need to create. (God's self-sufficiency)
2. God isn't literally a guy.
3. God has the power to do anything. (God's omnipotence)
4. God is present in all places and all times. (God's omnipresence)
5. God knows every possible thing to know.
6. God knows every actual thing to know. (God's omniscience)
7. God can do whatever he wants. (God's sovereignty)
8. God loves everything he has created. (God is love)
9. God's justice fits within the context of his love. (God is just)
10. To say God is holy is to say God is God. (God is holy)
11. There is only one God, but God is three persons. (God is a Trinity)

The Doctrine of Creation (cosmology)
1. God created everything that exists out of nothing.
2. Everything God created was good.
3. God is in control of everything that happens.
4. There are good and evil spiritual beings at work in the world.
5. Human beings were created in the image of God.
6. God intended us to live forever.
7. All humanity is of equal value to God.

The Doctrine of Sin (hamartiology)
1. Evil is a matter of choice, intention, and desire.
2. God created the possibility of evil choices.
3. Suffering in itself is not evil.
4. The current bent of humanity is toward evil.
5. All have sinned.
6. There is such a thing as corporate and structural sin.

Part II: Christ and Salvation
The Doctrine of Christ (Christology)
1. Christ has been the Son of God from eternity past.
2. Jesus is "God with us," God's Word become flesh.
3. Jesus on earth was a prophet of the kingdom of God.
4. In his death, Jesus became the priest of all humanity and creation.
5. In his resurrection, Jesus became the king of all humanity and creation.

The Doctrine of Atonement 
1. God chose Christ's death as the means to reconcile the world to himself.
2. In his death, Jesus showed us the love of God.
3. In his death, Jesus satisfied the order of things.
4. In his death, Jesus took humanity's place.
5. In his death, Jesus defeated the power of death.

The Doctrine of Salvation (soteriology)
1. Jesus saves.
2. Saving us is part of God's plan.
3. God was reaching out for us long before we knew it.
4. God used Israel to prepare the way for Christ.
5. God justifies us in response to our repentance and faith.
6. God fills us with his Holy Spirit as a seal of ownership.
7. God adopts us as his children: we are born to new life.
8. The power of the Spirit breaks the power of Sin.
9. The dead in Christ will rise.
10. Christ will come again to save his people and judge the world.
11. God will restore the world and we will enjoy him forever.

Part III: The Holy Spirit and the Church
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (pneumatology)
1. The Holy Spirit is a distinct person, but one in substance with the Father and Son.
2. The Holy Spirit enacts the will of the Father and Son in the world.
3. The Spirit sanctifies the Church.
4. The Spirit sanctifies the believer.

The Doctrine of the Church (ecclesiology)
1. In Christ, the Spirit creates the Church.
2. The true Church is an "invisible" church.
3. The invisible Church meets in visible churches.
4. The Church is one body, although it has many members.
5. There is no one, correct form of church governance.
6. There are likely elements to church governance.
7. The Church is in the world, but not of the world.
8. The Church has worship as its central and most important task.
9. The Church participates in God's mission to the world.
10. The Church disciples and nurtures God's people.

Christian Sacraments
1. A sacrament is a divinely appointed means of grace.
2. Baptism is a sacrament of inclusion into the people of God.
3. Christians have varying perspectives on baptism.
4. Communion is a sacrament of re-empowerment.
5. Christians vary some in their perspectives on communion.
6. The Scriptures are a sacrament of God's transformation.
7. Christians vary somewhat in their conceptions of Scripture.
8. The Bible is inspired, infallible, and inerrant.
9. God uses all sorts of instruments of grace to transform his people.

Part IV: Christian Ethics
1. The Christian ethic is, at its base, a virtue ethic.
2. The foundational value of a Christian ethic is love.

3. We must not let any other thing take God's place in our life.

(for III, see IX below)

4. God calls us to respect authority in honor of his authority.
5. God calls us to respect our governments.
6. God calls us to respect our parents and spouses.

7. Thou shalt not murder.
8. War should only be conducted under extreme circumstances.
9. Capital punishment should be reserved for extreme circumstances, if used at all.
10. Force against an offender can sometimes be justified.
11. There is a time to die, although we should not play God with human life.
12. God values life in the womb, and we should preserve it.

13. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
14. Divorce is usually hostile to God's fundamental values.
15. God's ideal is an equal partnership in marriage.
16. Sex should be kept within a marriage relationship.
17. The Bible prohibits homosexual sex and several other types of sex act.

18. Thou shalt not steal.
19. The Bible views hoarding wealth as a sin against God and neighbor.
20. The economic structures of society can be more or less loving.

21. Thou shalt not bear false witness or swear falsely in court. (includes III)
22. Truthtelling is almost always the loving thing to do.

23. Thou shalt not covet.

Disputed Issues
24. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
25. Many issues are a matter of individual or corporate conscience.

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