Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Biblical Defence Of The 5 Pillars (Part 1)

In my previous series, "The Anatomy of the Gospel", I broke down the Gospel message into five basic components (as an attempt at constructing a helpful witnessing framework) and called them the "Five Pillars of the Gospel". I have recently received correspondence concerning this series of posts questioning what basis I have for defining the Gospel message as something that should contain:

PILLAR 1 – THE HOLINESS OF GOD
PILLAR 2 – THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN
PILLAR 3 – THE NECESSITY OF JUDGMENT
PILLAR 4 – THE WORK OF CHRIST
PILLAR 5 – THE RESPONSE IT DEMANDS

I can only commend people for being Bereans and testing what I have to say. "The Bottom Line" is a blog which regularly puts "Christian teaching" under the blowtorch scrutiny of Scripture. Therefore it would be inconsistent, were I not willing to subject myself to the same scrutiny. So what follows is my biblical defence of the use of these five pillars as the critical core elements of Gospel proclamation.

First up consider these two important passages of Scripture:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

It is important to remember that 1 Corinthians 15 is meant as a defence of the resurrection, hence it has a major emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and briefly deals with the other issues when defining the Gospel. Nonetheless I can still make my case for defending my "five pillars" from 1 Corinthians 15. Additionally, it is worth paying close attention to Galatians 1:8-9. It is here that Paul goes on to say that there is only one Gospel, it is the Gospel that Paul preached, and preaching any other gospel is a damnable offence. Purity is, quite clearly, extremely important with the Gospel - it is life or death, heaven or hell! We must get it right.

We must also remember this simple rule of hermeneutics:
Scripture cannot contradict itself - therefore in understanding 1 Corinthians 15 rightly, it must harmonize with the rest of Scripture.

DEFENDING PILLAR 1 – THE HOLINESS OF GOD

In 1 Corinthians 15:3 we see the two characters of pillars 1 (The Holiness Of God)and 2 (The Depravity Of Man) - God (as Christ) and man (our sins) are presented in the roles of redeemer and criminal respectively. We also see that this message submits to "accordance with the Scriptures". In other words, Paul's terms of reference ("Christ" and "our sins") can be safely defined within the entire counsel of Scripture. We can know that God's Holiness, His character, and His nature, must be understood rightly because 1 John 2:22-23 teaches:

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).

This stresses the importance of knowing God rightly and defining Him rightly. That is why we call Mormonism a cult - because even though they name the name of Jesus, they define Him not as fully God but as a brother of Satan (among other things). So the God Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15 must be understood and presented rightly (as Scripture does) in order for a sinner to be rightly saved. I am not suggesting that to be saved you must understand and know every attribute of God - we cannot do that. After all, who can fathom the Trinity? But conversely, it is damnable to consciously deny God as He is presented in Scripture - which Bishop TD Jakes does, for example, when he denies the three distinct Persons of the Trinity by describing them as three manifestations (http://www.thepottershouse.org/v2/content/view/18/32/). This is a heresy that was denounced in the fourth century AD by the Athanasian Creed (http://www.ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html). TD Jakes' modalist presentation of God is clearly not the God of Scripture and therefore an idol.

The Christ Who dies for our sins in 1 Corinthians 15 is God incarnate, "the Holy one of God" (John 6:69). The God of the Bible is Holy and unlike anything in the universe. He is the creator and sustainer of all things (John 1:3). He is so powerful that He spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1). He is so huge that he measures the entire universe with the span of His Hand (Isaiah 40:12). He is so detailed that he numbers the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). He is so just and righteous that He must punish all sin against Him (Genesis 18:25, Isaiah 13:11). He is so loving and merciful that He withholds his judgment giving us time to repent (2 Peter 3:9). Many people and religions use the Name of God, but in defining Him differently they commit the sin of idolatry.

On Friday I will continue with a biblical defence of PILLAR 2 – THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN.

Go On To Part 2
Go To "The Anatomy Of The Gospel" Series

6 comments:

Mormons Are Christian said...

•Mormons Are New Testament Christians, not Creedal Christians
The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in the 4th Century Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion. This post helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity's theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ, and His Grace and Atonement.

Baptism:

Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them.

The Trinity:

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed’s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one." Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. . Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. For example, it was an emperor (Constantine) . who introduced a term, homousious, which defined the Son as “consubstantial” (one being) with the Father. Neither term or anything like it is in the New Testament. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” Furthermore, 11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were non-Trinitarian Christians The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts and the Founders.

Theosis

Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: “we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods” Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: “all men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods,’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest” Clement of Alexandria explained “Saints . . pure in heart . . are destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior.” The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: "He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him," (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) For further information on this subject, refer to NewTestamentTempleRitual blogspot. The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) agrees with Early Christian church leaders regarding theosis.

Cameron Buettel said...

Other than the fact that Mormons and Christians have a different God, a different Savior, a Different Bible, and a different gospel we are actually quite similar.

Heath The Blogless said...

@Mormons aren’t Christian.
Wow that was a long way to say that Mormons aren’t Christians at all. I agree with Cam if you don't have the same God, same Savoir, and hold the book of Mormon above the Bible, how can you be a Christian.
When it comes to your explanation of the Trinity, you did not explain that there is one true God and many false gods, so if this is true you are saying that Jesus is not God at all and that he is either a false god or some lesser divine being. I am interested in what your definition of “divine being” is though. From my understanding the word has generally meant "of or pertaining to a god". Hence my point about there being only one true God.

Apeleutheros said...

@Mormons aren't Christians

Christ is of the same essence and nature as both the Father and the Holy Spirit, and I don't base that on the Nicene creed.

I would like to ask you sir, as a Mormon, how do you get saved?

Hamman Samuel said...

I haven't read this article, but I find the wording of the title disturbing. This is because the "Five pillars" is a term used in Islam. Aside from that, I can't comment on the article itself until I have prayerfully read it.

Cameron Buettel said...

Fair point Hamman, one of my friends pointed this out to me earlier. I just didn't realize that Muslims use this term. Please set that aside and read the article based on its biblical merit.