Saturday, July 12, 2008

the lowercase has moved!

i first started a blog in the summer of 2005 during one of my recurring bouts of insomnia.

3 years, 200 posts, and over 20,000 visits later, i have moved from over to wordpress.
for various reasons, all of which i am sure you do not care about, i think this will be a better fit.

so please change any bookmarks, feeds, links, etc. to reflect the new address:

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

sbc-southern baptist christian

continuing the discussion from yesterday- there are distinctives that are necessary to be a christian, and there are others that make one a particular demographic of christian. none of these "denominational" (for lack of a better word) distinctives undermine or contradict the primary christian distinctives.

at the blog between the times, nathan finn, professor of church history at southeastern seminary in wake forest, north carolina, highlights what beliefs make southern baptists christian, and also what makes these christians "baptist".

an excerpt:

Because our Christian identity is essential to our Baptist identity, we share a number of convictions with the wider catholic tradition, whether in its Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant forms:

1. Baptists believe in the Triune God who exists
eternallyas Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

2. Baptists believe that this Triune God created
the world good,but that his good world has been
corrupted because of the sin ofthe first human beings.

3. Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is the unique
God-Man, theincarnate Son of God, the second person
of the Trinity, both trulydivine and genuinely human.

4. Baptists believe that God is redeeming the world
and rescuinglost sinners through the person and work
of Jesus Christ.

5. Baptists believe that every human being will spend
eternity in eitherHeaven or Hell, and each person’s eternal
destination is based upon howthat person responds to God’s
revelation in Christ.

6. Most Baptists believe that all Christians everywhere are
adopted into God’s family and are part of his universal church,
a groupwhich includes all presently living believers as well
as all the redeemedof all the ages.

7. Baptists believe that all of these truths are taught in the
Bible, whichis God’s authoritative written word to humanity.

he continues...

Because of our historic milieu, Baptists embrace a number
ofconvictions that are embraced by most other Protestant

1. Baptists believe that salvation comes by grace
through faithand that sinners are justified by faith
rather than by good works.

2. Baptists believe in the supreme authority of Scripture,
arguingthat the Bible is the ultimate norm for faith and
practice and is thusof a greater authority than traditions,
creeds, confessions, and individual opinions.

3. Most Baptists believe in only two ordinances (or sacraments),
baptismand the Lord’s Supper, and reject a sacerdotal understanding
of salvation.

4. Baptists believe in the priesthood of all believers,
claiming that everybeliever has direct access to God as
a result of the high priestly ministryof Jesus Christ.

5. Baptists argue against the existence of a special
priestly class of Christians,arguing that all believers are
spiritually equipped for the work of the gospel
ministry within their unique vocations.

Baptists are Christians. Even more specifically, Baptists are a type of Protestant Christian. The vast majority of our beliefs are not unique to Baptists, which is a good thing; when too many of your beliefs are different from other Christians, what you have is likely an alternative to Christianity.

Having established that most of our beliefs are shared with other types of Christians, I want to briefly consider those beliefs that are typically associated with Baptist Christians. There are at least five distinctives that are uniquely emphasized by Baptists:

1. Regenerate church membership
2. Believer’s baptism
by immersion
3. Congregational church polity
4. Local church autonomy
5. Liberty of conscience

i highly encourage you (especially any baptists) to read this whole article.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

i believe...

my last few posts, and a recurring theme here at the lowercase has been on the issue of orthodoxy.

webster's defines orthodox as "conforming to established doctrine especially in religion". when someone says they are a christian, what they should mean is that they believe and affirm the most basic tenents of the christian faith as historically recognized by christians. obviously there are differences among christians. baptists, methodists, presbyterians, anglicans, etc. can all legitimately be true christians, despite their differences in certain areas. (baptism, church structure, etc.)

but certain things are not negotiable. there are some things that one cannot deny, or must affirm in order to be a christian.

one such summary of non-negotiable christian beliefs is the nicene creed. affirmed by the council of nicea in 325 a.d. , this document affirmed the core beliefs of christianity in an effort to combat the heresies of that day. in doing so, the council has recorded for us a very succinct record of non-negotiable affirmations of the christian faith.

two quick notes.
1) creeds have no authority of their own. they are only accurate insofar as they accurately reflect the teachings of scripture. having said that, creeds and confessions of faith can be very helpful in helping us learn and retain what scripture teaches.

2) the nicene creed speaks of "one holy catholic and apostolic church". the use of the word "catholic" is not a reference to roman catholicism-but rather the church universal.

the nicene creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of
God,begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our
salvation came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the
Virgin Mary,and was made man; and was
crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;and the third day he rose again
according to the Scriptures,and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,to judge both
the quick and the dead;whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.

And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

when the truth hurts...

i can't think of a better way to celebrate the 200th post at the lowercase than to post a sermon, that, the first time i heard it, ripped me to the core.

this video is a of a sermon given by paul washer at a 2002 youth conference. if you have ever been to a youth conference, you know how seriously most youth do *not* take what they hear. i was one of them. i went to one almost every year between 7th grade and my senior year of high school. i was the youth minister's son. i was a christian. but the sermons were my (and all of my friends) least favorite part... and a lot of ungodly behavior took place (secretly and in public)while on those trips. i know i never heard a sermon like this... but i sure wish i had.

incidentally, washer was not invited back. the truth will do that sometimes.

get an hour to yourself and watch this hour long sermon. if you do watch it, you will not be the same afterward.