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Monday, August 7, 2017

The Essentials of Christianity

Most of various groups/organizations which call themselves Christian have formulated some kind of official statement/summary of their beliefs. Indeed, for many of them, this statement can be very elaborate and detailed. Moreover, most of them attach a great deal of importance/significance to these statements. Many of them would go on to say that their particular statement represents the only correct understanding of Christianity, and that only those who find themselves in agreement with that statement have any real chance at salvation.

In surveying this cacophony of beliefs, however, one is apt to wonder if any of them could truly be said to represent the Christian religion. In thinking about these things, another good question comes to mind:  Are there any teachings/doctrines/beliefs that one could characterize as universal (or almost universal) in their application to the various groups?

In reviewing many of these statements, I have found that they often contain references to their belief in (and reliance on) the Bible as the basis/foundation for/of their other beliefs. Likewise, most of them talk at some length about their belief in (and reliance on) God, and many of them go on to give excruciating detail about what they think about "His" nature. Many of them also talk at some length about the rituals associated with their particular brand of Christianity. Finally, it could also be said that there is much diversity and little agreement among these different statements.

I, however, think that it is far more useful and constructive to try to focus/concentrate on those principles that seem common to all (or at least most) of them. In other words, to attempt to distill the essentials from what is superfluous. Hence, this post will attempt to compare and deconstruct some of these statements and arrive at a more general/universal declaration of what most Christians believe.

What follows is my distillation of some of those statements into a more universal creed:

1. a belief or faith in God and his ability/intention to reward those who seek/follow him
2. a belief that the Judeo-Christian Scriptures are a reliable source/foundation for other beliefs
3. a belief that Jesus Christ was/is the fulfillment of the Messiah promised in those Scriptures
4. a belief that salvation is available to Christians via the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
5. a belief that Christians must repent of their sins, receive the Holy Spirit and live a new life in Christ
6. a belief that Christians are expected to practice love for God, each other and their fellow man
7. a belief that Christians are expected to practice forgiveness and not seek retribution/revenge for wrongs done to them
8. a belief that Christians are expected to assemble together for worship and fellowship on a regular (weekly) basis
9. a belief that Christians are expected to participate in certain rituals (some form of baptism, and some form of communion service/partaking of the bread and the wine)
10. a belief that those who adhere to these beliefs/practices will receive eternal life in God's kingdom (reward), and that the avoidance/neglect of them will result in some form of permanent separation from God (punishment)
11. a conviction that Jesus Christ will someday return to this earth, and that this present world/age will come to an end

What do you think of my list? Can you think of any other "essentials"?

2 comments:

  1. Bible Belt area of southern Illinois best place to experience the eclipse!

    What must it be like growing up in the Bible Belt? Would have been STIFLING, like growing up in Armstrong Doomsday Cult, mental programming that cannot be reversed!

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  2. Dear Minimalist, I've missed you. I was born and lived the first twenty-one years of my life in Lorain County, Ohio (that's one of the ones that borders Lake Erie) I currently live in LaSalle County, Illinois (that's in the North Central part of the state). Sorry, but I wasn't born and bred in the Bible belt! Moreover, I didn't grow up in Armstrongism. I chose to become a part of that cult as a confused, stupid and opinionated teen. I believe that this blog alone proves that I've traveled a long way away from that programming. And, as usual, you completely ignored the thesis of the post. Any thoughts on boiling Christianity down to its essentials (the things that most of them share in common with each other)?

    ReplyDelete