What is the Statement of Faith for Church History 101?
I cannot speak for the others involved in CH101, but I will state MY personal Statement of Faith...only because I have been asked several times.
Church History 101 was started in 2005. Over the last seven years I have had numerous e-mail discussions with readers, asking me many questions about early church history, the biblical text, doctrine and matters of faith. A few have asked me for my personal statement of faith. Usually statements of faith tend to become statements of dogma, litmus test items:
- Do you believe in the virgin birth?
- Do you believe in the trinity?
With this in mind, my statement of faith is to simply to cite the Apostle's Creed (more comments on this below). Here are a few additional sayings that guide my statement of faith:
Now we see through a mirror in enigma, then we shall see face to face.
St. Paul, 1 Cor 13:12
Our vision is often more obstructed by what we think we know than by our lack of knowledge.
Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles
The universe is change. Life is understanding
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Truth, though truly absolute, seems to change as we change. But we must accept the Truth as we see it.
John S. Gibson, III
on a personal card to me
These quotes were all printed and pinned to my office door when I taught in the university. These statements convey the kernel of an extremely important aspect of my Christian life philosophy - that our knowledge of God and His kingdom is dynamic, always changing as we grow and learn. We must remain learners, never standing still spiritually or intellectually.
After coming to Christian faith at the age of 17, I passionately applied myself to be a committed part of Christ's Church. I did everything I was told...and more, quickly becoming known among my peers and in the community as an ardent believer. Yet much was lacking in my life and understanding.
I used to tell my students:
"When I was in my 20's:
I thought I knew everything. I could answer most any question about God, the Bible, or Christian faith.
In my 30's I started realizing that I had been wrong-headed about some things.
In my 40's I realized the vastness of knowledge out there.
Now, in my 50's I see how little I truly know."
The axiom is true: "the more you know, the more you realize that you do not know."
As I have become more educated I have realized how many things I believed as a young man that I cannot hold too tightly in my hands. This does not mean that I have NO beliefs, but I am not dogmatic about everything as I was as a young man. I remain passionately Christian - I just try to listen more and to avoid being dogmatic (not easy for my Type A personality). I question everything and do not think my Christian faith is vulnerable to being questioned. I see this as part of loving God "with all of my mind."
I taught my two daughters the Apostle's Creed at night while putting them to bed.
As a Christian historian, I am committed to the historic Christian faith. I grew up blithely reciting this creed in the United Methodist Church. I remember going back to such a church after having come to faith - I remember being filled with awe and wonder as I recited the creed again...for the first time. The Creed became alive for me. I continue to be moved when I recite this creed for my students in Church History class.
THIS is my statement of faith:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate
was crucified, dead, and buried.
On the third day he rose from the dead,
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand
of God, the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic church,
The communion of the saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And life everlasting.
I believe these things.
I might not be able to explain these statements, or to give flawless evidence to prove each of them, but I believe them nonetheless.
My faith informs everything I think and do. I fail consistently in many ways, but my daily goal is to live a life that honors the God of the Apostle's Creed.
By Al Baker
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