Thursday, November 11, 2004

Voting Values?

A big deal has been made of the fact that a great many voters said moral values played a big part in their decisions at the ballot box during the recent election. The implication has been that values are not a legitimate issue for voters and should not be a consideration when voting. Many in the media have gone so far as to suggest that President Bush was carried back into office on the coattails of these "values voters" when he otherwise would have lost but for their participation in the election. The clear intention here is to cast some sort of doubt as to the legitimacy of Bush's win.

Are values a legitimate issue? Should they be a consideration?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Who is in charge?

Today is election day and Christians everywhere are voting and praying. Many pray for guidance in making decisions in voting. Others pray for the election of one candidate over another. All of which begs some questions. To what extent does God govern in the affairs of man? Is this election really up to voters while God awaits the outcome to determine whether or not He will bless America and to what extent? Or, is God utlimately in control of the election, orchestrating the outcome consistent with His perfect will?

How, then, should we pray?

Monday, November 01, 2004

In a Nutshell

In 1 Peter the Bible tells us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”

A primary principle in the study of thideology is this: What you believe about God (theology) should be clearly evident in the way you live your life (ideology). If we, as believers in Christ, look and act no different than the world then we either are ignoring the teachings of Scripture or we are ignorant of the teachings of Scripture.

It is therefore extremely important to take seriously the study of proper theology and apply what we learn to how we live (thideology).

Thideology™ Defined

Thideology™: (noun, combination of “theology” and “ideology”) – 1. The study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially the study of God and of God’s relation to the world combined with the study of the systematic body of concepts about human life or culture and the integrated assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program. 2. The study of authentic, biblical Christianity. 3. Daring to comment on the single, most dreaded of all subjects: politics and religion.

Thideology™ Statement of Beliefs

The Scriptures
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.

There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself, all perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience.

The Trinity
God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.

God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life-not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ-in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.

The Fall of Man
God originally created Man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

The Mediator
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law; suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He ever liveth to make intercession for His people. He is the only Mediator, the Prophet, Priest and King of the Church, and Sovereign of the Universe.

Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone.

Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things.

Saving faith is the belief, on God's authority, of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.

Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who believe in Christ, from all sin, through the satisfaction that Christ has made; not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith.

Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified by God's word and Spirit dwelling in them. This sanctification is progressive through the supply of Divine strength, which all saints seek to obtain, pressing after a heavenly life in cordial obedience to all Christ's commands.

Perseverance of the Saints
Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may fall through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

The Church
The Lord Jesus is the head of the Church, which is composed of all His true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for its government. According to His commandment, Christians are to associate themselves into particular societies or churches; and to each of these churches He hath given needful authority for administering that order, discipline and worship which He hath appointed. The regular officers of a Church are Bishops or Elders, and Deacons.

Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It is prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in the Lord's Supper.

The Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be observed by His churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate His death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond, pledge and renewal of their communion with Him, and of their church fellowship.

The Resurrection
The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits return immediately to God-the righteous to rest with Him; the wicked, to be reserved under darkness to the judgment. At the last day, the bodies of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised.

The Judgment
God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when every one shall receive according to his deeds; the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment; the righteous, into everlasting life.

The Thideology Statement of Beliefs is taken in part from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Abstract of Principles originally established by James Pettigru Boyce, the principle founder, first Chairman of the Faculty, and first President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.

An Overview

Everyone views the world in light of some group of core beliefs – some basic philosophy that forms the foundation upon which they build their entire worldview. Then, whether they realize it or not, every person takes the events they view on a daily basis, runs them through the filter of their worldview, and forms their opinions accordingly. It is this process that, in turn, forms ones opinion on how society should run, what is referred to as an ideology.

For example, an atheist and a Christian may witness the same mugging. The atheist views the mugger in light of a purely scientific, naturalistic worldview. To the atheist the mugger may be someone who has not evolved to the point of being able to exercise the proper rationale necessary to overcome the more base, primal instincts still present in his DNA from the time his ancestors were animals. The Christian, on the other hand, views the event in light of biblical teaching. To the Christian the mugger is a person who is probably a slave to his sinful nature, is acting in accordance with that nature, and is in dire need of the salvation available in Jesus Christ.

Of course, Christianity and atheism are only two of the many worldviews utilized by people. In addition there are also worldviews like agnosticism, humanism, deism, theism, paganism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, etc. These worldviews are similar to each other in some regards and vastly different in others. But the first line of separation is whether or not one believes in a creator god. If not, then the worldviews tend to take on a humanistic flavor. If so, then the question of proper theology comes into play.

Thideology assumes a creator god and is, therefore, the study of proper theology and how it relates to ideology. The best way to live one's life is to do so in accordance with the standards of the One who is the author of life. Understanding who God is and what He expects of us is critical in applying the principles which govern the proper approach to life. Thideology is the pursuit of orthodox theology and the practical application of that theology. More simply put, thideology is the study of politics and religion.

Another Overview

You won’t find the word “thideology” in any dictionary, and for good reason. I made it up. But, inasmuch as this blog is all about thideology I will share with you how I came to be convicted about the importance of this course of study and why.

The word thideology comes from combining the words theology (defined as the study of God) and ideology (defined as concepts about human life and culture). So, the goal of thideology is to take a look at our ideology – the way we view of the world, our beliefs on government, law, culture, and human behavior – and see if it is consistent with orthodox Christian theology. The idea is to hold up our belief system to the scrutiny of Scripture.

I began to consider the combination of these two schools of thought when I looked at the state of the modern church and saw a developing polarization among believers. On one hand there are believers who look at theology as dry, useless theory. They view the study of biblical concepts as a waste of time and those who engage in it as eggheads or bookworms. They often say things like, “Just give me something I can use in my everyday life,” or “I just need the practical application,” or “I don’t want to get bogged down with doctrine, I just want a relationship with God.”

On the other hand there are those who have allowed their love of theology and doctrine to overshadow their love of God. They spend all of their time reading systematic theology books and Gospel harmonies and never take the time to put what they’ve learned into practice. For them the knowledge of God has become an end in itself. They view people who neglect the deeper study of Scripture as lazy and spiritually immature.

The interesting thing is this: both groups are right and both groups are wrong.

The “practical” crowd is correct in placing an emphasis on Christian living. But they are dead wrong for overlooking the study of theology as something dry, boring, or useless. It is anything but. This is where the “theological” crowd gets it right.

Our world – and everything in it – is nothing more than the creation of God. He spoke it into existence. He has also revealed to us in Scripture a great many truths about His nature, our nature, and the nature of the world around us. The study of these things is of vital importance to the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. We best understand creation when we learn about the Creator. It is only after we learn to view God’s world through the lens of His Word that we may have “life, and have it more abundantly.”

The best Christian life is lived when both orthodoxy (correct belief) and orthopraxy (correct practice) are both embraced. It is true that the study of theology is only the first step in the life lived for Christ. But it is an absolutely necessary first step.

Without a sound foundation in solid biblical theology one is in danger of traipsing off into false teaching and heresy in search of something “practical.” Remember, a lot of “practical” lessons can be learned from a lot of religious groups whose theology is not biblical Christianity and will ultimately lead to destruction. Practicality does not save.

Spending time in God’s Word, contemplating the things of God and understanding our place before a Holy God is absolutely vital. But if we stop with study and never “go and make disciples” or minister in Jesus’ name then we have a dead faith. If theology is vital then it is equally vital to put that knowledge to work.

The goal, then, of thideology is to help Christians develop a sound biblical worldview and apply that worldview to their lives so that God may be glorified.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

What does the logo mean?

The sword and the trowel are borrowed from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a 19th century Baptist minister from England. He used the sword and the trowel as the title of a theological journal he published and referred to as “a record of combat with sin and labour for the Lord.” The Latin phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” is considered one of the “five ‘Solas’” of the protestant reformation. In English it means, “for the glory of God alone.”

The Thideology logo is a reminder to the Christian: Our two-fold purpose is to build God’s Kingdom by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples, and to defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and that this is all done for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God.