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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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William

So much heresy!

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    • Explain Heresy with Superhero Help

      The most significant threat to healthy Christian spirituality isn’t the threat of government persecution or even the cultural acceptance of unhealthy ethics, but incorrect understandings about God. Several common misunderstandings have flourished throughout church history. These paths toward error seem perfectly reasonable; the problem is they’re insufficiently considered in light of the whole Bible. Thus, groups like Docetists and Gnostics arose early in Christian history. More recently Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have recycled historical errors. But theological error doesn’t just come in the form of nicely dressed people knocking on your door to hand out pamphlets. It comes in the form of half-completed discipleship, often with a healthy emphasis on Scripture but without reference to the way Christians have previously fit the data of Scripture together. Theological error is committed by well-meaning people who pick up a few bits of doctrine and try to put them together without understanding the whole picture. Good theology is important, but it can be hard to get people interested or know where to start. Careful theological work is sometimes dry and dusty business. When the pastor pounds the pulpit to proclaim the importance of a careful logical argument, it’s likely to cause eyes to glaze over. The problem is often not the significance of the issue, but the lack of a vocabulary to explain the problem. Vocabulary for Heresy Coming in to save the day is Superheroes Can’t Save You: Epic Examples of Historic Heresies, a recent book by Western Seminary theology professor Todd Miles. The book offers a creative presentation of a robust orthodox theology by showing how historical errors about the nature of God lead away from saving faith. It connects the church’s thinking about specific theological heresies to beliefs that are commonly held today. Miles offers a culturally accessible vocabulary to explain seven theological errors that continue to pop up in church history. Each chapter briefly describes a popular comic-book hero, illustrates how a common heresy is embodied in that hero, identifies where the error is present in our time, uses Scripture to debunk the error, and concludes by explaining why avoiding it is so important. For example, chapter one connects Docetism to Superman. Although the world around him sees mild-mannered Clark Kent, who seems merely a frail human, the reality is that the Man of Steel is an entirely different sort of being. The heart of Docetism is that Jesus was God in disguise, much like Clark Kent was an alien with superpowers disguised as an ordinary person; Docetists believed in Christ’s divinity while minimizing his humanity. The Superman heresy is problematic because it undermines the common humanity we share with Christ. Thus, when we see Christ’s moral example in Scripture, our response may well be apathy and disappointment, rather than obedience. After all, if Jesus wasn’t human, then he couldn’t have experienced temptation in the same way we do. But that is not the case (e.g., Heb. 4:15). Miles then outlines a biblical doctrine of the true humanity of Christ, showing that if Jesus wasn’t truly human, his sacrificial death couldn’t have reconciled us to God. In this way Miles uses Batman, Ant-Man, Thor, Green Lantern, the Hulk, and Spider-man to illustrate common heresies and show why they’re significant. In doing so, he combats theological liberalism, Modalism, Arianism, Adoptionism, Apolliniarianism, and Eutychianism. Simply getting some people to read a book that defines and refutes these errors, particularly using the terms themselves, requires something like a superpower, which makes me wonder what Miles’s origin story is. Rousing Success Any book that depends heavily on a cultural meme to engage audiences is likely to be either a catastrophic failure––falling into gimmickry and labored analogies––or a rousing success. The opportunities for the former are wide, varied, and easy. Miles, however, successfully navigates the pitfalls of his approach to produce an important and helpful volume that offers both clear theology and practical application. Superheroes Can’t Save You is a success that makes sound theology culturally relatable. This is the sort of book that’s useful for individual or group study. Each chapter includes questions for personal reflection and for group discussion. It’s clear this book is an exercise in pursuing truth for the sake of holiness, rather than a theological exercise for its own sake. Miles has done a lot of the legwork to connect right belief to proper living, which increases the usefulness of this volume. Getting people to read theology can be a challenge. A great deal of theology tends to fall into extremes: the most engaging presentations are often the most harmful, while some of the most important theology is difficult to read. There are wonderful exceptions, but those exceptions are altogether too infrequent. When an author combines an engaging approach with sound, practical theology, his or her work should be celebrated. Superheroes Can’t Save You is such a book. View the full article

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    • Decaf Coffee Condemned As Heresy

      ST LOUIS, MO—In an ecumenical council convened in St. Louis last week, the use of decaf coffee was condemned as rank heresy. The post Decaf Coffee Condemned As Heresy appeared first on The Babylon Bee. View the original full article

      in Christian Satire

    • Straight Heresy

      in Lounge

    • What’s the Difference Between Heresy and Orthodoxy?

      While we may be in a “post”-postmodern world, there are still many people who resist objective truth claims, particularly when these claims are moral or metaphysical in nature. Is anything objectively true, or is everything simply a matter of perspective and opinion? Christianity, as a worldview, rejects relativism. The Christian worldview makes specific claims about the character of God, the person of Jesus and the nature of Salvation. These truths are grounded and described in the Bible, and while we may not always agree on tangential issues, some truths are simply not negotiable. Some views about Jesus, for example, are true, and some views are false.   The earliest believers felt so strongly about the exclusive nature of truth (and were so convinced the scriptures taught objective facts about the nature of God, Jesus and Salvation) they declared these truths in a number of creeds. These believers rejected the notion of a theological smorgasbord, arguing, instead, for a number of minimum objective truths. Those who rejected these minimum truths were called heretics because they embraced inaccurate choices. The word “heresy” comes from the Greek word “hairesis”.   Heresy = Hairesis (Greek) = Choice   A word once describing choice is now accepted as a term conferring error and inaccuracy. This seems to reflect the exclusive nature of objective truth. Let me give you an example. Imagine picking an apple from a tree. As we begin to identify the fruit with a single word, how many options do we have? To be accurate, we would have to say, “This is an apple.” Do we have other accurate choices? Could we say, for example, “This is an orange” or “This is a cantaloupe”? No, if we want to be precise in our one word description, we don’t have a lot of choices; only one word describes the fruit. Heresies are inaccurate choices in light of non-negotiable realities:   “Heresy is an opinion or doctrine in philosophy, politics, science, art, etc., at variance with those generally accepted as authoritative” (Oxford English Dictionary)   Heresies are incorrect choices, based on some generally accepted authority. From a Christian perspective, heresies are claims contradicting the clear objective truths described in the Bible. Irenaeus (the ancient apologist and disciple of Ignatius and Polycarp) made careful distinctions between heresies and apostolic truth. In “Against Heresies”, Irenaeus laid out the heretical claims of some of his errant contemporaries, and compared these claims to the truths he had been taught by Polycarp (the disciple of the Apostle John). Irenaeus referred to his own beliefs as “orthodox”. This word is derived from two Greek root words:   Orthodox = Ortho (Right) + Dox (Belief)   In essence, Irenaeus used the word to describe those beliefs supported by the apostolic, Biblical teaching. The idea of a “right belief” presumes there are objectively accurate Christian truths, and the Bible is the authority upon which we discover these “right beliefs”. Like all humans, Christians ground truths in an authoritative text. We’re not alone in this approach to truth, by the way. As an atheist, I grounded my beliefs in the texts of scientists I accepted as authoritative (even though I had never performed experiments or conducted research on my own). Everyone bases their beliefs in authoritative texts of one kind or another; not every truth can be verified by of some empirical experiment or observation.   The authoritative text of the Bible is the standard by which Christians must ultimately measure and assess claims about God, Jesus, and Salvation. When our views are aligned with the teaching of Scripture, we are said to be orthodox; we possess “right beliefs”. When we choose options other than those described in Scripture, we are said to be heretical; we’ve chosen heresies. In both cases, our accuracy is determined by the authoritative text of scripture, rather than our own biased opinions. That’s why it’s so important to become good Christian Case Makers. Sometimes we’ll need to make a case for Christianity to an unbelieving world; sometimes we’ll need to make a case for orthodoxy to a misbelieving Church.   Source: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/whats-the-difference-between-heresy-and-orthodoxy/

      in Apologetics and Theology

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