The Basics: A Readable Review of Essential Christian Faith – Introduction
Christianity is at times like moldy cheese. With the right set of conditions cheese will mold over. Sometimes this is on purpose since the mold imparts strong flavors. Often this moldy condition is accidental, undesired, and unappealing to the point of throwing the cheese away. But, shave away the mold and the cheese underneath is still perfectly good. Over time, religious mold can creep into our new life in Jesus. The purpose of our next Lambchow series is to scrape away the mold and return to the basics of Christian faith.
We’ll cover these basics in a form similar to systematic theology. Don’t let that term scare you away. This is not a textbook or a multivolume Magnus Opus with technical terminology that strains at every jot and tittle. Call this instead applied theology which covers the basic understandings of the Christian faith and how they impact our lives.
It will be a long journey with 65 or so “chapters” (in Lambchow sized bites) which will take most of the year to complete. There are planned breaks along the way for other new articles and our Friday rewinds. When the journey is completed we’ll have visited the attributes of God and humankind, an overview of the Bible, explored Jesus, salvation, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the church.
Our approach will be to discover revealed truths instead of undertaking a “prove it to me” approach. The basic assumptions for this journey are that God is and God reveals. Who is God? What is God like? What has God shown us about these topics and Himself? How has this revelation been given? Those are the questions which will begin our journey.
Why do this? Two observations collided to propel this project. The first is the increasing loss of basic Bible literacy in the western world. Terms and stories commonplace to faith in Christ are no longer generally understood or known. Even simple ideas such as sin, righteousness, and salvation are increasingly becoming covered by the mold of apathy, individualism, and consumerism. The second issue is the lack of accessible, understandable, and applicable works of this kind. There are plenty of published theologies which are either expensive to purchase, difficult to understand unless college trained in theology, and they generally don’t touch how this knowledge affects our lives.
No theology, however, can be totally free of bias or slant. This work will approach these grand themes from an evangelical perspective with Mennonite/Anabaptist roots and Vineyard/Wimber limbs. I am not, however, anti-others. I am pro-God and actively seek the radical middle found the lively tension between the various traditional pillars of historic Christianity.
For some, this will be like drinking milk instead of eating strong meat. What I’m asking of those readers is harder than they may imagine. My encouragement to those mature ones is to take the risk of scraping away the mold of churchiness and Christian identity to rediscover the true depths of our faith.
For others, this will be like exploring a newly discovered continent filled with mystery. The adventure of discovery may generate even more questions. Hang in there, it may be a long process but it will be well worth the effort.
The hope is that all will discover or rediscover the basic revealed truths of Christianity in a way that is accessible, understandable and applicable. But here is where I need your help. If during this journey something is not clear, a word seems technical and unknown, or there is an assumption of previous knowledge please let me know.