7 Jul 2010

Things I Do NOT Believe: My Anti-Creed

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bobby's World, Church, Faith, Kingdom, Ministry, Preaching, Restoration History, Sectarianism, Unity
Some times people will attempt to write a short summary of what they believe and hold dear. This summary is often called a creed. Because I am feeling cranky right now 🙂 Not really!! But there is tremendous pressure in Churches of Christ right now to “line up” or be excluded.
So I am saving everyone the trouble of asking how I line up. I have composed a short Anti-Creed. That is a statement of things I do not believe. In so doing perhaps it will highlight what I really do believe.

1. I do not believe in a distant God. Rather God is deeply involved in the world working to redeem his good creation.

2. I do not believe that God’s Spirit works only through the written word, the Bible. Rather I believe that the Spirit indwells the Christian for the purpose of fellowship and spiritual guidance.

3. I do not believe that salvation is a co-operative effort where God does 50% and humans do 50%. That is I do not believe that salvation is through both God’s grace and human works. Rather I believe salvation is by God’s grace and is received through faith apart from works of righteousness unto good works.

4. I do not believe that Jesus and the early church can be understood apart from Judaism and the long history of redemption revealed in the Hebrew Bible. Rather I believe that the Hebrew Bible and “Second Temple” Judaism is essential for hearing the New Testament. The story of Israel, the people of God, is essential for understanding Christian faith.

5. I do not believe that salvation is individualistic; that I can be a Christian/disciple all alone. Rather salvation is wholistic for mind, body and soul. Salvation is for all things that have been devastated by the fall of humanity. Salvation is communal and I must be in the community of God.

6. I do not believe that ministry to the poor (benevolence work some call it) is a “non-spiritual” activity. Rather care for the poor and taking care of needs is, in light of Jesus’ ministry, a profoundly Godly, spiritual activity. It is part of the work of salvation.

7. I do not believe that the church and the kingdom of God are one and the same thing. Rather I believe the kingdom is where ever the Reign of God is manifest. The church is the beach head of the kingdom in the present age … it is the future on display in the present.

8. I do not believe that God made a mistake when he created the world or when he gave humanity a body. Rather I believe that life as the Bible defines it cannot be simply “spirit” but body and spirit joined together.

9. I do not believe that Yahweh is a technical God and thus reject salvation by “precision” obedience.

10. I do not believe that any one nation is especially God’s favorite nation in the world. Rather I believe that all nation states fundamentally are self-serving rather than God-serving.

11. I do not believe that scholarship threatens or endangers faith. Rather I believe that our faith is deepened and enriched through study.

12. I do not believe everyone has to agree with me. Rather I believe all should study and ask for the Spirit’s guidance and come to a firm faith they believe. Unity and fellowship are not conditioned upon adhering to any creedal position on contentious issues in the the brotherhood. Rather unity and fellowship are an act of God’s Spirit.

Finally, I believe the church is a witness to the fallen age of what God intends creation to look like. Church is the place where God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Here we serve and obey. Here we love and sacrifice for one another. Here we honor our promises and keep our word. Here there are no outcasts but all are welcome. I guess the church is heaven on earth … or that is what God intends … and through his indwelling Spirit we are becoming more of that each and every day. That is the goal.

Shalom,
Bobby Valentine

16 Responses to “Things I Do NOT Believe: My Anti-Creed”

  1. Toni Fincher Says:

    Well stated …

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Amen to this one:

    “I do not believe that Jesus and the early church can be understood apart from Judaism and the long history of redemption revealed in the Hebrew Bible. Rather I believe that the Hebrew Bible and “Second Temple” Judaism is essential for hearing the New Testament.”

    Your thoughts are a big reason why we’ve had a class on the Apocrypha and one on how the intertestamental period affects how we read the time of Jesus.

    GW

  3. Mark Says:

    Bobby,

    This is one of my favorite things you’ve ever written on here. I am with you 100%.

    Blessings,
    Mark

  4. Dee Andrews Says:

    Bobby –

    This is a fantastic(!) post. Thanks SO much.

    Question: As to what you said “Salvation is communal and I must be in the community of God.”

    Do you think that we Christian bloggers and FB Christian friends are a (or can be) part of that “community of God?”

    I ask this because I have certainly grown very close to many Christian brothers and sisters “in community of God” (including you) through my blogging, and now on FB.

    I understand it is not the “same” as physical one on one, but for many of us, who feel like expatriates who cannot find or abide the “local” choices of (lack of) community in the cofC, in particular, our online Christian friendships have come to have very deep meanings and sources of great encouragement and uplifting in our daily lives. We pray together and “commune” together on Sundays and live in a vibrant community that even reaches out in ministry to others outside our faith, or who need – and seek – redemption and fellowship.

    Your thoughts . . ..

    I’d like to see a whole blog post on this question and subject. What say ye?!

    Dee

  5. konastephen Says:

    Well, I believe then that we do not believe the same things. Wait, I mean, we believe not the same things. No—I think we disbelieve the same things. Okay, better stated, I agree with what you wrote. Excellent post!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    If caring for the poor is part of the works of salvation,(#6), that seems to contradict #3.

  7. John Says:

    Hi Bobby

    Feel the earthquake? Apparently they had one in LA today.

    #3 – I see what you are saying and basically agree. However, how much did the early gentiles know about Judaism?

    #9 – Why did you put precision in quotes and what is your basis for this statement?

  8. Dell kimberly Says:

    Awesome thoughts! Look forward to meeting you at prescott.

  9. Gregory Alan Tidwell Says:

    Bobby;

    Not to quibble, but two items in your anti-creed give me pause.

    9) Your puerile rant against “precision” obedience always leaves me with the same question: How much of the will of God are you willing to disregard?

    11)As to scholarship, it is like the gold plundered from Egypt. Used correctly it appointed the fixtures of the Tabernacle. Used incorrectly and it formed the idolatrous calf.

    -Greg

  10. ben overby Says:

    I don’t believe in the restoration movement. It employs language that is reactionary and elitist.

    I don’t believe our beliefs are as much about knowledge as they are about feeling. We know more than we believe (trust), which is why obedience will never be precise. It is sloppy and slow. Obedience is not the sum of the right equation. It is the organ of trust, and trust comes with relational experience, not as the result of a good class and eloquent sermon, or half a dozen logical tracts.

    I don’t believe instrumental music in worship offends God. In fact, he’s revealed in scripture that He’s quite happy with it.

    I don’t believe salvation is a 5 step plan, but part of the story of deliverance from the ancient curse, reversed more or less in the person trusting Jesus, but fully realized only in the resurrection.

    And I don’t believe we will live forever in heaven as ghostly spirits. God will not give an inch of his creation to Satan, but will recreate heaven and earth, brining them together in one whole, where all will be in Christ.

    I don’t believe I have it all figured out.

  11. george mearns Says:

    Neither liberal or conservative, traditional or progressive. Just so…..Biblical. How could you be that way Bobby? A big AMEN!

  12. kingdomseeking Says:

    I kept waiting for something shocking to be said but that never happend. Any ways…good post!

    Grace and peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  13. thetimehascome Says:

    Maybe I’m just equally cranky (ha), but I’m saying, “Amen!” a full 12 points. Well said, Bobby.

  14. ~~Just Me in T~~ Says:

    It is amazing how many people say there is a God – out there somewhere perhaps! I believe in a very personal God… and wanted to share that with you:

    Bette Midler in her 1985 song tells us: God is watching us from a distance.
    When I pondered on the words to this well known song, it kind of intimated that God is like some giant, All Seeing Eye in The Sky!
    I just want to share with you my joy in knowing that God is NOT a BIG EYE in the SKY watching over all of humanity from a distance.
    http://justmeintchristian.blogspot.com/2010/07/is-god-watching-us-from-outer-space.html

  15. Matthew Says:

    All good stuff, you are always deep in your thoughts.

  16. Gardner Hall Says:

    Strongly agree with some, probably agree on others but would need to define some terminology and not sure about a few. However, all is thought provoking. Thanks

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