Lakeside Fellowship Blog

Theology 1 Session 5: Categories of Theology

by Administrator 21. February 2017 07:24
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session: 5 Christian Epistemology, Adam McClain shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #2: Reread the postmodernist objections to Christianity. Which objections have you heard the most? Which objections do you find the most difficult? Why? I like this question because it makes me think about the tools I need to develop and keep in order to be a good ambassador for Christ. These questions are not comfortable to think about, but they are good practice for the real world discussions that will indeed happen as we spread the Gospel. There was also a question about modernist objections to Christianity, but the postmodernist view is more prevalent in today’s society so I thought it more relevant. Through our studies, we have learned that postmodernist society focuses on fairness, relationships, and emotion. It stresses “feeling” and can often be identified by the “I feel like…” statement to try to validate that everyone’s truth is subjective to them. Our lesson had a list of 10 postmodernist objections to Christianity. Of those ten, I have heard these the most: “If God exists, why is there evil?” I have also heard this worded as “If God is all good and all powerful, why would he let there be evil?” My best response to this is that God is also all-knowing and ever-present. Only He can know how everything will work out, and it is impossible for us to understand. I am especially interested to hear others’ comments on this one. “Christianity is a way to God, but not the only way.”This one is a really good example of the postmodernist view that truth is relative. The belief is that what may be true for you may not be true for me. While this may the case with some things, like the ideal temperature of a room, those are not really absolute truths. It would be comforting to think that everyone could get to God in their own way as long as they are good people. But it is a dangerous way to believe because there is only one true way to God. The Word of God in Scripture is truth. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”Ok, I have to admit that this is one I have really struggled with. Who hasn’t asked “why me?” at one point or another in their lives? The important thing to remember is that God has a plan for everyone, and we cannot always understand how it will play out. Personally, I went through a lot of struggles in the last 5-10 years and asked “why me?” or a version of that many, many times. At the time, it seemed impossible that there could be some master plan in motion. But now, looking back, I realize that God was challenging me and giving me the experience necessary to help others in my life who now face similar challenges. Without His guidance and pushing me in the right direction, I would not be where I am today in my relationship with Jesus and would not be saved. Of the list of 10 postmodernist objections, this is the one I find the most difficult: “What about those who have never heard?”This one really tugs at my heartstrings and I it challenges my sense of fairness and justice. I mean, how could it be right that an otherwise innocent person, through no fault or action of their own, would be condemned to an eternity in Hell? Do they deserve the same eternal fate as someone who was consciously evil, like Adolph Hitler and the perpetrators of the Holocaust? In my eyes, of course, they don’t deserve it (and I am aware that is my “postmodernist” view). However, I have to remember that the Bible is the Word of God and the ultimate truth, and according to that truth the only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ. There are some things we as humans cannot understand, and this is one that I am sure I will continue to struggle with. But I do believe in the Word, so I know it to be true.

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Theology

Theology 1 Session 4: Categories of Theology

by Administrator 21. February 2017 07:11
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session: 4 Postmodern Epistemology, Dan Jones shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #9: Explain how was your thinking most challenged by the lesson. I will focus this blog on postmodernism as it pertains to the United States. I believe this will provide a current example of the degradation of the Church, as postmodern thinking has had a very visible effect on Christianity in the West. The best and most relevant definition of postmodern thinking is this: feelings, fairness, and subjectivity replace fact, logic, and objectivity. In other words, postmodern thinking suggests that truth can be anything you wish it to be; therefore, there are no absolute, objective truths. Recent examples of this line of thinking have made rounds on the news cycle multiple times. A male, wishing himself to be female, declares to the world that he now “identifies” as a female, and demands to be treated as such. A large number of people reason that a “fetus” is not a life, but a bundle of cells that can be disposed of at leisure at any time in the pregnancy. Postmodern fairness couples with relative truth to attempt to force these examples to be acceptable to our society. It would not be uncommon to be branded with an undesirable moniker if one spoke contrary to these positions. These are just two examples of societal moral decay brought about by postmodern ideology. What is the Church supposed to do in a society that currently demonizes any opinion that is contrary to postmodern ideals of fairness and feelings? Now enters the decay of the Church brought about by moral decay of society. In recent years there have been some denominations and congregations that wholeheartedly embrace a “change with the times” type of message. Some embrace and permit homosexual relationships, transgenderism, abortion, and preach a social justice “gospel”, with no attempt to declare the sinful and unbiblical nature of these activities. Instead, they are presented with a false gospel that falls far short of salvation. These types of congregations provide for a “feel-good” church experience. For the postmodern, there can be no judgment, no objectively right or wrong action (sin), and no prospect of punishment. These things are all relative to the individual. This leaves sin open to interpretation. They are presented with all of the good things of Christianity, but none of the “bad things”. The wrath of God is overlooked, as that implies that there are objective truths about sin and morality. The postmodern idea that man is generally good (not fully depraved) provides an element of universalism to the issue of salvation. There are many that follow this goodness-based system, which doesn’t necessarily stress faith in God, but rather, faith in self. This problem is perpetuated by congregations that wish everyone to feel welcome and included, but err by promoting falsehoods and overlooking the truth of Scripture. In essence, they are enabling the situation that 2 Timothy 4:3-4 warns us about: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Again, how does the Church react to such societal changes? By enduring the change and upholding the truths of Scripture without compromise. Congregations should welcome all who come through the doors but must, without exception, vigorously preach biblical truths that are only found in God’s word. The ideology of the postmodern age is not the first stumbling block the Church has had to deal with, and certainly won’t be the last. Christ’s true Church will always endure any persecution or societal paradigm shift.

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Theology

Session 7: Traditions in Christian Theology

by Administrator 28. November 2015 16:24
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session: 7 Traditions in Christian Theology, Jesse Vonbehren shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #5: Do you think the Gospel is preserved in the Protestant Church today? Why or why not? When looking at whether I think the Gospel is preserved in the Protestant Church today I think it is important to define “preserved”. According to Google to preserve something means to: maintain (something) in its original or existing state. retain (a condition or state of affairs). maintain or keep alive. When thinking about this question I looked back at my church upbringing at a Lutheran church. I feel fortunate to be raised in a home that had Christian principles and traditions. Every Sunday when attending church we would go through the Lord’s Prayer, Nicene, Apostle’s, and/or Athanasian Creed, an old testament reading, a new testament reading and a gospel message (which is what the sermon was mostly about). I believe all churches think they are preserving the gospel however, in my opinion I think the majority of them skew it for their own benefit.   I was given a great Christian  foundation, but as I continue to learn more and more from God’s word,  I realize how each church affiliation “tweaks” the Word through their separate interpretation. Several years ago during my Christian journey I was yearning for more so I started looking for something other than a feel good sermon from a pastor that attempted to relate the gospel message to modern day life.  I wanted to know what God’s word truly said, not what someone thought it said and how they thought it related to today. As we have learned in theology class, tradition is important but should not be the at the forefront of a church’s stage of truth. The traditions we kept at the Lutheran church were comfortable because we knew what to expect, but it seemed to be done as a mindless routine not spoken from the heart. Thankfully I was introduced to Lakeside. It is here that my journey with the Lord continues and I am challenged daily because of the weekly message that comes directly from the Word. Ironically, I think the combination of the mind numbing traditions and sermons that may sugar coat the truth are hurting the attendance at some protestant churches.  Overall, I think many churches are fooling themselves by thinking they are using the Gospel for its intended purpose.  I can only go from my personal experience, but the sermons from my previous church seemed to be very watered down and only give the feel good part of the story and not always the real truth.  It seemed to me that pastors were getting more and more afraid of offending people rather than sharing the Word in its most basic form. Churches are more concerned about the number of people in church than what the message is. Pastor Dave uses the phrase, “highly religious but totally lost.” When having a discussion about this with friends and family they tend to be very defensive. Which I get, and am not trying to attack their denomination or Christian affiliation; I just want to challenge them to research and look at the Word to see if what they are practicing does truly come from scripture.

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Theology

Session 5: Christian Epistemology

by Administrator 27. October 2015 07:29
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session: 5 Christian Epistemology, Steve Sloan shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #8: To be perspicuous means “plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation” (Webster’s). Name some teachings of Scripture that are plain to the understanding. Before we get to the teachings let’s see if we can’t come to a wee bit better understanding of perspicuous and epistemology. So here we go. One of the biggest challenges in the Introduction to Theology class is to learn and understand the meaning of some new (to some of us students at least), heavy words that most of us usually do not hear in church or anywhere else for that matter. As the meaning of these new words becomes clearer to us through our studies, understanding of some of our long held beliefs and ideas can become clearer or better understood. This is in part the meaning of the word perspicuous, one of those heavy new words mentioned and defined above. Epistemology is another one of those heavy words and is a fairly recent word as far as the age of words goes; only formed in English (from the Greek) around 1856, and means – study or theory of knowledge. So, Christian Epistemology would be the study or theory of Christian knowledge, and combining that with perspicuous would mean a plain, clear presentation of Christian knowledge. Now that sounds nice and easy on the surface, but who determines what Christian knowledge is and what does clear mean. Something might be clear to you but not so clear to me. Sort of like my neighbor’s son who thinks his pink Mohawk haircut looks really good but to me that goodness is not so clear. Proverbs 12:17 seems to me to be about as plain as can be. It says, “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies”. That seems to be a pretty clear bit of Christian knowledge. Truthful equals honest, false denotes lying. John 14:6 is another teaching from scripture that seems pretty plain and understandable. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus told Thomas, in no uncertain or unclear terms, that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ himself. Paul says in his letter to the Romans in Chapter 6 verse 23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So plainly, if we sin, we die. Pretty simple, except that God forgives us through Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to say in his letter to Titus 1:1-2, “the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time”. Quite clearly and simply God does not lie, and it would be hard to state things any clearer than that. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Pretty plain, pretty simple. The teachings from the above scriptures that seem to be very clear and plain are that God does not lie and we should not either. We are all sinners and that the price of our sin is our death, but the good news is that we can get back to God and live in his grace forever through Jesus Christ. We have now just experienced an example of perspicuous Christian epistemology.

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Theology

Session 4: Postmodern Epistemology

by Administrator 27. October 2015 07:19
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session: 4 Postmodern Epistemology, John Feldman shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #8: In what ways would having a subjective or relative worldview cause you despair? Simply stated, a relative worldview is one in which truth is defined by some group; in a subjective worldview, the individual defines his or her own truth. My Christian worldview is that there is one God and Creator who is all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful, holy, righteous, just, and unchanging. I am a child of the one God and my future is settled and secured by Jesus’ finished work on the cross. He loved me so much that He sent his only Son so that through believing in Him, I am saved. The result of my worldview is the opposite of despair – it gives me peace, joy, love, comfort, satisfaction, and confidence. I have to admit, it is difficult to imagine living in a world (view) where truth is defined by some group of flawed humans. Groups of humans are usually pretty dysfunctional. United Nations, Congress, legislatures, city councils, church boards, committees, families, and groups of friends or neighbors all have one thing in common - they are made up of humans. These are flawed individuals with their own agendas, transient opinions, and less than perfect communications. Trying to stay current with and adapt to the ever-changing truth defined by some group of flawed individuals would be a tiring and ultimately impossible challenge. Yesterday’s “truth” is now passé and might actually be offensive to the group today. But I should have known that, right? My group’s truth is different than your group’s truth. See any trouble there? Maybe it would be easier living in a world (view) defined by my own version of truth. There may be a few problems to overcome. Sometimes, I have a hard time making decisions (defining truth). I am usually a fair person – except early mornings when I’m pretty self-centered. I am pretty wise; I have fewer lapses in judgment than I did 30 years ago. I’m fairly holy except in some areas I don’t often talk about. Would I want to rely on the truth determined by me or by the Designer and Creator of the universe? I will stick with letting Him define truth – He will anyway, regardless of what I think.

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Theology

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