I come at the content of the creeds from a different angle. Of Christ we
have birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, nothing between birth
and crucifixion. The birth is that of the incarnate deity, the only being
whose crucifixion produces salvation. You noted correctly that esteeming
Jesus as a great teacher adds nothing, though no end of people from
various cultures admire him as such, while rejecting the content of the
creeds. Admiring his teaching, affirming "I try to follow his teaching"
is not salvific, though it should follow faith. What would adding "He
went about doing good" add? "I try to follow his benevolent example
without being a Christian"? One of the common ideas is that doing good is
the key to entering heaven. It seems to me that "great teacher" and
"doing good" have similar effects apart from the crucial matters
presented in the creeds. It seems to me that the minimal statements have
special benefits. How one acts because of faith in Christ is a different
On Fri, 26 Dec 2008 08:23:21 -0500 "George Murphy" <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
The question you raise of the extent to which the Christian message
should focus on the life of Jesus as well as on the cross--resurrection
event, is one that's gotten a good deal of attention recently. You
certainly have a point - what happened on Calvary was not simply the
crucifixion of some someone about whom we know nothing further but of a
man of Israel who proclaimed the nearness of the kingdom of God and the
forgiveness, lived out of complete trust in & obedience to God as his
Father and who showed unqualified love and care for those in need. He
was killed because of that kind of life, and the eschatological
significance of the resurrection means that that kind of life gives us a
glimpse of God's purpose for creation. It's unfortunate (though
understandable in view of the process of their formation) that the creeds
jump immediately from "born of the Virgin Mary" to "crucified under
Pontius Pilate," vital as both those confessions are. It would have been
better to include some brief phrase summarizing Jesus' life like the one
in Peter's sermon in Acts 10:38, "he went about doing good." (I'm not
proposing a formal amendment of the ecumenical creeds.)
At the same time we have to be aware that some folks who want to give
more emphasis to Jesus' life and teachings do so because they don't think
that his death had any redemptive effect. (In addition of course the
resurrection, in anything like the sense that Christians have believed,
may be denied.) Jesus can't be allowed to be made simply a member of the
Great Teachers Club. While Jesus' teachings and actions during his life
should be examples and motivations for the lives of Christians, the
reason that we are Christians stems from the faith that the one who
taught and did those things was crucified and raised.
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Walley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2008 10:12 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Saving Christianity WAS Appeasing TE?
> I hope your son pulls through with his ankle.
> After some additional thought, I know you were echoing George's idea
that all our understanding of God's revelation to us including His
creation has to be focused on the cross and this goes for our apologetics
as well. I agree and have come to see the wisdom of this and appreciate
it now but I think we should refine it a bit more.
> Your earlier comment about what saves Christianity was the redeeming
work of Christ on the cross and I agree it comes down to that, but that
still seems a little too narrow to me. I am eternally grateful that Jesus
died for me and all mankind but it wasn't only his death that mattered.
His life should count too. He could have gone straight from being a
carpenter to the cross but He didn't. He went around teaching and
preaching for three years before he did so and it was for a reason and we
need to keep that in mind.
> If we expanded the essence of Christianity to be both the life and
death of Jesus Christ instead of just His death, then I think we would
include the aspects of truth that concern me and also preserve the
important aspects of His death that you highlighted. So I would venture
to suggest that maybe this expanded focus should be the basis for our
apologetics as well to include these truth matters.
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Received on Fri Dec 26 16:33:24 2008
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