My Statements of Belief

You know, this is the most important question us Christians look for when we find websites that challenge our faith.  We say, “wait a second, let me see what they believe, and then I can measure how much truth they have.”  I do it.  I know others do it.  So, here, for your perusal, is my statements of belief.  I’ll warn you: You’ll find it kind of boring.

I’m your typical Baptist guy, with typical Baptist orthodox beliefs.  If you pulled out the Apostle’s Creed, I could read it with you…. let’s do that.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of the Father.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Now, that’s a basic Christian creed (in fact the version here is the Lutheran version, which looks very similar to most Protestant versions).

What other kinds of beliefs do I believe as a Baptist:

1.  The Priesthood of the Believer is perhaps the most important Baptist belief you’ve got.  It tells a believer that they are equipped by God to figure out the Bible themselves, to pray and to establish a working relationship with God, to understand the Bible, to hear the Holy Spirit.  All of this happens without a priest or pastor present.  You can do it.  Protestants actually came up with this as an answer to the Catholic Priests early stranglehold on knowledge about the Bible or God, or the belief that God preferred to talk to them instead of the lay person.  God is accessible to all believers, to all the faithful, and we can minister to each other equally.  We don’t have to go through a Priest.  Nor does every belief we carry have to be sanctioned by a Pastor.  We are responsible for our own faith.
This belief doesn’t throw out the idea of preachers or teachers being called or being taught at seminaries.  They can teach you, enlighten you, and help you understand the scriptures too.  It only states that you don’t have to have everything approved by them; they cannot save you.  You must work out your own salvation, and your own beliefs.

2.  You have to want to really walk away from God in order to let go of Christianity, because God won’t let go of you. As long as you are desiring to be with Christ, Christ stays with you.  I grew up believing in two diametrically opposed beliefs: that you couldn’t lose your salvation, and that you could lose your salvation through “grieving the Holy Spirit.”  Well, either all the verses saying you couldn’t lose your salvation are right, or they’re not.  I personally believe that no one can pull us away from God, and that we can’t accidentally, or even through sin, lose God.  But we can purposefully move God out of our lives, if we want.  I think if you have the choice to get into a relationship with God, it makes sense that you have the choice to leave that relationship.  Free will is still free will even after “salvation.”  But you don’t accidentally slip up and “lose your salvation.”  It’s not what I believe.

Calvinists and pre-destinationalists may disagree.  I’m open to the idea that God chooses us first, but I think it opens a big can of worms to put the desire for a relationship entirely on God’s shoulders.

3.  About Sin:  Christians do the best they can. When they sin, they ask for forgiveness.  I sin, you sin, we all sin.  My gayness is not a sin anymore than my green eyes are.  And I’m not sinning if I have sex anymore than you sin when you have sex.  Now, how I use that sex, and how I treat others in sex, do determine if there is sin.  But neither the sexual desire, nor the sexual act, is sin itself.  It becomes sin when it’s used to hurt other people: rape, incest, adultery—these hurt other people.  But sex itself is not a sin.

4.  Who do I read in the field of spiritual writing?:  I like to read Anne Lamott, Philip Yancey, Annie Dillard, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Marilynne Robinson, Donald Miller, Kathleen Norris, Lauren Winner, Diana Butler Bass, Ron Hansen, Eugene Peterson, Scott Cairns,—you know, anyone who would either speak or whose writing would be talked about at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.  These people reflect some of my thoughts on Christianity and living lives of faith.  They supplement the Bible, which I still read.

Posted December 4, 2010 by jstueart

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