What do we really believe?
I have been doing some thinking today that has taken me back to days of debating the finer points of theology. Recently several people have contacted me, curious to know if we had a statement of faith. Most of these people are looking for a church and rightfully want to connect to a community that believes what they do about the Bible.
Now, I know some people will say “You just have to believe the Bible!” But if it were truly that simple, then the hundreds of documents that have been written in an effort to be faithful to the Bible would be pointless, and the hundreds of different denominations that all correctly believe that “Jesus is the way the truth and the life” would not exist.
The Bible is a story. Sure, there are lots of poems, hymns, short stories, legal specifications, genealogies, letters, visions, and way more within the Bible. But it is, at its best, understood as a story that teaches a great deal of truth. We humans, in seeking to understand the truths of the scripture, have done our very best to put down in our own languages what exactly the bible teaches.
Now let me be clear, none of the statements of faith, creeds, confessions or catechisms that we come up with should ever be placed on an equal footing with Scripture. However, they can and do help us in interpreting scripture and understanding what it is that God has said.
Some of our confessions are hundreds of years old. Some people say this is pointless because it was put together by men that are long dead. I say we stand on the shoulders of giants, and it is by their faithfulness and perseverance that we learn.
There is another side of the issue though. Those old confessions and catechisms have an historical context. They were fighting specific fights, which the creeds are trying to iron out. We have the Nicene creed today because some people were trying to say that Christ wasn’t truly both God and man. Also, sometimes as time and context separates us from the issues, these creeds, while incredibly important, seem unintelligible and difficult to interpret. You might say, “For Pete’s sake, isn’t the Bible enough to understand? Why try to interpret what some dead guys said about it?”
So while we can stand on the shoulders of giants and learn what they have said about Scripture, sometimes it is worthwhile to find a catechism to help understand it, but in general a catechism should not be more difficult than the Bible to read.
So having said all of that, let me direct you first to a statement of faith on our website, and second to a tool that I have recently discovered, and absolutely love. The New City Catechism is a new catechism (so new it has its own Ipad app), that uses the ancient catechisms and puts them literally in the palm of your hand.
Parents – This could be a great tool for a family devotion. You can ask the question, read the answer, read a commentary on the question and even watch a video that helps to make sense of the whole thing. It is a terrific tool for helping to integrate the Biblical faith into our daily lives first because that is what a catechism is supposed to be, but also because it comes to us in the context that we actually live in.