Q: As a church you seem to emphasize theology; but doesn’t theology divide churches and denominations, not unify them?
A: The sad truth is that over the years theology has divided churches, but it shouldn’t as much as it does. We view all doctrines in one of three ways: they are either fundamental, supplemental or incidental doctrines.
The fundamental tenets of our faith are what Christ clearly taught and what the early church died for. They are summarized best in the Apostles Creed. These doctrines are what define us as Christians; take one of them away and we can’t really claim to be Christians. In these fundamental doctrines we adhere most fiercely and in them there is no compromise.
Supplemental doctrines were also taught by Christ but not with the same detail as the essential doctrines that he taught. Supplemental doctrines are important to the church, but in them we can have different interpretations and still be the body of Christ. Examples would be baptism or communion… we may disagree as to how and when we conduct these sacraments, but these disagreements do not change our identity as believers.
Incidental doctrines are minor doctrines and should never be a source of disputes among believers; but unfortunately it is in the incidental doctrines that most churches separate. The problem over the years is that too many people have taken incidental doctrines and given them authority that Scriptures themselves do not give them. Speaking in tongues is a good example. Clearly the Scriptures address the matter of speaking in tongues but some would argue that they are essential to being a Christian… a belief that cannot be supported in scripture. These kinds of doctrines should never be the source of disunity among believers because in them we are to exercise grace instead.
John 1:17: The law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Truth is found in the fundamental doctrines. However in all other doctrines the believer must respect the Christian liberty of others and offer grace in all matters non-essential.
Perhaps our position here is best summarized by a statement that came out of the 16th century Reformation: IN ESSENTIALS UNITY, IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY, IN ALL THINGS CHARITY.
Q: Is the Bible Believable?
A. Yes. " I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eye-witnesses during the life-time of other eye-witnesses. They report to us supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are devine rather than human in origin." by Voddie Baucham.
The Bible was written by eyewitnesses, which “changes everything,” Baucham says. Many of the documents of the New Testament were written during the lifetime of eyewitnesses to the resurrection. “When you do the math,” Baucham says, “when First Corinthians was written, there were at least 300 witnesses to the resurrection who were still alive.”
The witnesses report supernatural events (2 Peter 1:18), and that the events took place in the fulfillment of specific prophecies (2 Peter 1:19-20). The witnesses also claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin (2 Peter 1:21).
Baucham notes that the Bible is made up of 66 different books written on three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) in three languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic) by more than 40 authors, most of whom never met one another because they wrote over a period of about 1,500 years. He also notes that the accuracy of historical events presented in the Bible is supported by the findings of more than 23,000 archeological digs.
It is impossible to understand Voddie's approach to the Bible without first understanding the path he has walked. Raised in a non-Christian, single-parent home, Voddie did not hear the gospel until he was in college. His journey to faith was a very unusual and intellectual one. Consequently, he understands what it means to be a skeptic, and knows what it's like to try to figure out the Christian life without relying on the traditions of men.
Dr. Voddie Baucham is the Dean of the Seminary at African Christian University (ACU) in Lusaka, Zambia. Previously he served as the Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas and an adjunct professor at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Houston. He has authored numerous books including Family Shepherds and Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors. He graduated from Houston Baptist University with a B.A. in Christianity and Sociology, a master's degree from Southwestern Seminary, and a Doctorate from Southeastern Seminary, plus he has done additional Post-graduate study at the University of Oxford, England. Voddie and his wife, Bridget, have nine children.
Q. Some laws in the Bible seem out of date/non-applicable for today. How do I know which laws in the Old and New Testaments to follow?
A. By understanding there are three different kinds of laws found in the first 5 books (Pentateuch) of the Bible… here they are.
Civil Law: God gave Israel the civil law to teach them how to live together as his people. The civil law included civil/governance/day to day regulations that taught Israel how to live as a people. Remember Israel had been slaves for 400 years and they always were told what to do and how to behave…so God gave Israel laws by which to live now that she was no longer in Egypt. These included food restriction laws as well… like don’t eat shellfish… and the like. The Civil Law was given specifically to Israel and for Israel… as such we are not obligated to follow it today… for example Israel did not have the cooking technology we have today which makes eating things like shellfish safe… so we are free to eat shellfish while Israel was not.
Moral Law: The moral law was given to Israel to govern her behavior. A good example of this would be the 10 Commandments, and in Leviticus 19 where we are told to love our neighbor as our self. We are obligated to the moral law still today and are required to obey it. Jesus himself said he came to fulfill the Law, not to do away with it… So yes we must obey the moral law.
Ceremonial law: These laws were given to Israel to show them three things: How to worship a holy God, how to be distinctive from other nations, and most importantly they always pointed to the saving work of Jesus Christ who was to come. The ceremonial law was really an object lesson for Israel…These laws covered the Religious Festivals like Passover, and also the sacrificial laws that governed the various sacrifices.
As New Testament believers we are prohibited from observing the Ceremonial laws. Think about it this way… if we were to do an animal sacrifice on Sunday, what would that say about the sufficiency of Christ’s death to take away our sins? In the same way if we were to observe and celebrate the Passover that too would say that we do not believe Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to save us from our sins. That is why we are not to observe the ceremonial laws today.
In that case, should we even be reading them if we are forbidden from following them? Yes we should. The ceremonial laws more than anything else reveal to us the heart of God, and the plan of God, to save his people from their sins. When you understand how the sacrificial system was so ineffective in dealing with our sinfulness… it makes what Christ even more amazing and helps us understand his sacrifice more… and helps us to understand the depth of his love all the more. So yes these are good to read and study…understanding that Christ did away with the ceremonial law through his one death and resurrection.