Doctrine

Lesson 31: How God Operates Through Words

Lesson 31: How God Operates Through Words

I was going to demonstrate what I believe is the essential message God speaks in the Bible. I decided yesterday’s sermon does that for me. So here it is, a little longer than the usual lesson, but… When Jesus was baptized the writers report the heavens were torn apart, God’s Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, […]

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Lesson 32: How Do We Determine God’s Word?

Lesson 32: How Do We Determine God’s Word?

Throughout our history the Church has determined what it accepts as the Word of God by balancing many elements of tradition: charisma, canon, creed, clergy, ceremony, custom, and community. She is constantly correcting the problems that develop when one or more of these gets out of balance. For instance, the Reformation attacked the Roman Church’s […]

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Lesson 33: How Do We Determine the Word of God – Charisma

Lesson 33: How Do We Determine the Word of God – Charisma

Paul includes the “utterance” of wisdom and knowledge among the gifts of the Spirit or charismas (I Corinthians 12: 4-11). Over the years these have been described as just about any kind of direct inspiration- from a person feeling something inside her is saying to take a certain action- to a television preacher claiming he […]

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Lesson 34: How Do We Determine the Word of God – Canon

Lesson 34: How Do We Determine the Word of God – Canon

The early church’s most obvious standard for controlling charisma is the canon or Bible. She approved certain sacred writings as norms for judging other versions of God’s Word. When I read how much the excluded gospels move from the fantastic to the bizarre, I appreciate her wisdom. Most people seem to believe the books of […]

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Lesson 35: How Do We Determine God’s Word – Creed

Lesson 35: How Do We Determine God’s Word – Creed

With all the focus on the Bible (canon) we often pass over how the creeds go even further in determining what is and what is not the Word of God. In some ways the canon is like the Constitution and the creeds like the Bill of Rights. The early Church kept adding phrases to the […]

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Lesson 36: How Do We Determine the Word of God – Custom

Lesson 36: How Do We Determine the Word of God – Custom

Bob and Juan’s comments have led me to change my schedule for examining how we determine if our inspirations are worthy to be judged God’s Word. Bob continues to remind us there is always going to be differences of opinion, especially in our time of radical democracy. Juan, representing thoughtful evangelicals who are pretty much […]

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Lesson 37:  How Do We Determine God – Ceremony

Lesson 37: How Do We Determine God – Ceremony

We often overlook how ceremony determines what we regard as God’s Word. We learn a great deal of our Christianity by using the liturgy every week and reliving the Church Year annually. This ritual establishes the habits of the heart by which Christians live, sometimes unconsciously; and comes to serve as one of the standards […]

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Lesson 38 – How Do We Determine God’s Word – Clergy

Lesson 38 – How Do We Determine God’s Word – Clergy

Christians often check their inspiration with clergy. I was always being asked questions such as “Is it all right to cremate?” or “Will the Lutheran Church support my conscientious objection to the war?” At the beginning of my ministry people were seeking continuity with tradition they regarded as the wisdom of the past. I was […]

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Lesson 39: How Do We Determine God’s Word – Community 1

Lesson 39: How Do We Determine God’s Word – Community 1

Finding myself on vacation, I plan to be more anecdotal in the next couple weeks. Well, perhaps it has to do with more than my vacation. I think we have come to where we truly live our lives. That means speaking of experience more than theology. When I want to check whether an inspiration is […]

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Lesson 40: How Do We Determine God’s Word – Community 2

Lesson 40: How Do We Determine God’s Word – Community 2

As Juan observes about history not being objective fact but a story continuously retold to make sense of our present and future, so too custom is an ever-changing guide to the Christian life. The community is continuously retelling it to find both the continuity and the creativity she needs. I find the best model for […]

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