Showing posts from July, 2011

Exploring the Nicene Creed (#1)

This post is part 1 in an ongoing series that explores the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly called the Nicene Creed ). To read other posts in this series, click on the corresponding number:  2 ,  3 ,  4 , 5 ,  6 , 7 , 8 , 9 ,  10 , 11 , 12 , 13 . This series makes frequent reference to the book  The Trinitarian Faith by theologian Thomsas F. (T.F.) Torrance. Greek philosophy As Torrance notes (p2), the Nicene Creed represents the work of the Greek church fathers in reaching careful expression of crucial points in the Gospel where it had been seriously misunderstood and distorted under the influence of Greek philosophy. This philosophy viewed God as one, perfect, unchangeable and totally unlike physical beings. Such a perfect, unchanging God, they reasoned, would have nothing to do with physical matter, including with flawed human beings. The Arian Controversy Influenced by this Greek (Hellenized) philosophical view of  God, some Christians began to speculate that the

Part 2: How one small church found its ‘worship voice’

This post was contributed by worship leader Mike Hale. Last time we began exploring the concept of God’s singing in the new life of believers as the ‘sound of the spiritual harvest’ (as described in The Sound of the Harvest , by J. Nathan Corbitt) and the need for a gathered group of such people to find th eir own ‘worship voice.’ But many observe there seems to be two completely different church ‘worlds’—there’s ‘big church’ and ‘little church’—and when it comes to music resources, they’re worlds apart. Mega churches have choirs, praise teams, bands, worship directors, staff, and celebrity worship leaders. But for small congregations with quite limited resources, it often means singing along to CDs or videos. So after some years of singing along to CD’s, here’s the story of how one little church prayerfully reevaluated their situation and decided to move in a different direction. The little flock had come to a crossroads of sorts, and needed to address a number of challenges. In s

What is the center of the Christian message?

Bishop Ware The July 2011 issue of Christianity Today features an interview conducted by CT editor-in-chief David Neff with Bishop Kallistos Ware of the Greek Orthodox Church ( click here to read the article, and here  for a video). In answer to Neff's question, What is the center of the Christian message? , Ware states the following: I believe in a God who loves humankind so intensely, so totally, that he chose himself to become human. Therefore, I believe in Jesus Christ as fully and truly God, but also totally and unreservedly one of us, fully human...  The love of God is so great that Christ died for us on the cross. But love is stronger than death, and so the death of Jesus was followed by his resurrection. I am a Christian because I believe in the great love of God that led him to become incarnate, to die, and to rise again. That's my faith. All of this is made immediate to us through the continuing action of the Holy Spirit (p41). Note the Trinitarian framework as

Part 1: Finding our worship voice – the sound of the harvest

This post was contributed by worship leader Mike Hale. When it comes to congregational singing, some of the best advice I've ever heard is that each congregation needs to find it’s own collective ‘worship voice’. In other words, it is important for each unique collection of humanity to discover the music, songs, instrumentation and methods that best enable the offering of thanks, praise, and testimony in that particular setting. Through Christ and the Spirit, the Triune God has entered into creation and the life story and relationships of each individual and group. So, yes, there is unity in Christ. But because of unique individual, family, cultural and congregational relationships and histories, each collective ‘worship voice’ will not sound identical to a ‘worship voice’ in another setting, though each sings the common, yet ever-new song of redeeming love, an echo of the New Song of the Lamb in the heavenly realm. This ‘worship voice’ of gathered humanity is not static, but l

Beware exclusivism!

John Wesley Trinitarian, incarnational theology teaches that God the Father has included all people in his love and life, through the person and work of his incarnate Son Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. How ironic (and sad) if those who embrace this theology of inclusion  would express an attitude of exclusivism ! I was thinking about this (and examining my own attitude), when I watched the movie Wesley . It dramatizes the story of the life and ministry of John Wesley and his brother Charles. John and Charles were highly educated (both grads of Oxford U.). However, part of the genius of their Methodist movement was the ability to recognize that the Holy Spirit is able to further the cause of Christ through common, often uneducated (and sometimes even ill-informed) people serving as teachers and preachers. Though the Wesley's valued and advocated higher education and sound theology, they realized that perfection in these matters is not the end-all and be-all of