Summary and Proper Attitudes
83. What are the essential
doctrines that we must hold in unity?
a. We need unity on only a short
list of essential doctrines:
(1) God the Father: infinite and
holy; a triune God (trinity); a personal God; creator (past) and provider
(present) of the universe
c. Proper attitudes on non-essential
(2) God the Son, Jesus Christ: true
God became true man; born of a virgin; death on the cross in behalf of
all men for their sins; bodily resurrection; physical second coming
(3) God the Holy Spirit: effecting
the rebirth of believers; inspired the writing of the Bible; the Bible
is infallible, and is the sole standard of Christian faith and practice
(4) Salvation: everyone is a sinner;
salvation by Godís grace and through personal faith alone (repentance and
acceptance of Jesus as Saviour and Lord)
b. The lack of unity among evangelical
churches today is originated from unnecessary arguments on non-essential
matters of faith, such as:
predestination or free will
tongues and healing
modes of baptism
timing of creation and age of the Earth
millennialism, timing of tribulation
interpretation of world events in end
84. What are
the proper attitudes towards the Roman Catholic Church?
a. It is of course preferable
to have one universal church because the body of Christ is one. Many attempts
have been made to unify the Roman Catholic Church and some Prostestant
We have to trust that God would keep
the essential doctrines of His church true. For example, even with the
mistranslation of the term "only begotten Son" by the Church Fathers, the
Church did not fall into the heresy of Arianism.
On the other hand, with diverse opinion
on many non-essential doctrines, particularly those involving eschatology,
we have to learn to agree to disagree. For those non-essential doctrines,
we can hold a certain position tentatively but also allow other positions
as possible truths.
Different denominations should put
aside differences in non-essential matters and cooperate for the greater
good of extending the Kingdom of God.
b. Protestants claim to be the orthodox
heirs of the ancient church (as illustrated by Chinese names for Protestants
as "back-to-orthodoxy church" or "recovering-the-original church") because
our doctrines rely solely on the Bible. In contrast, the Roman Catholic
Church adopted some unbiblical doctrines originated from church tradition.
c. Such unbiblical doctrines include:
d. It is proper to have a dialogue
between Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church but it is unlikely
to have unity in the foreseeable future.
Papal infallibility: pronouncements
ex cathedra (from the chair) by the pope are infallible.
The Magisterium (the pope and the bishops)
have the sole authority of interpreting the Word of God.
Fullness of salvation is possible only
through the Roman Catholic Church.
Existence of a purgatory: a place with
purifying fire for the final purification of the elect before entering
Confession of sins to a priest is necessary
before they are forgiven.
Indulgences can be purchased for the
remission of punishments due for sins.
Prayer to God can be submitted through
the saints, and can be done for the benefit of the dead.
Mary, mother of Jesus, is without original
sin or personal sin; is perpetual virgin; ascended to heaven like Christ;
is mediator between man and Christ; and co-redemptress with Christ.
There are 7 sacraments: baptism, eucharist,
confirmation, penance, anointing, marriage, orders.
e. We need to accept that true believers
in the Roman Catholic Church are brothers and sisters in Christ. We should
avoid unnecessary confrontations with them in non-essential matters of
85. What are
the proper attitudes towards the Eastern Orthodox Church?
a. The Eastern Orthodox Church
has most of its adherents in eastern Europe. The patriarch of Constantinople
is its official leader.
86. What are
the proper attitudes in studying theology?
a. an attitude of wonderment:
appreciating Godís amazing plan for the world and trying our best to understand
it and accept to by faith
b. They claim a living continuity
with the church of the past and a strict adherence to its traditions. They
depend on 3 sources for its traditions: the Bible, the 7 ecumenical councils
(held between AD 325 and 787), and the creeds.
c. They believe the traditions of
the church are expressed not only in words, but in actions, gestures, and
art used in worship. As a result, liturgy and sacrments are vital elements
in their church life. Even the smallest points of ritual are extremely
important. All services are sung or chanted without instruments. They encourage
veneration of icons by the worshippers because they believe that these
are one of the ways whereby God is revealed to man.
d. With respect to Christian life,
they emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. They value
mystical experiences in seeking God as the true aim of the Christian life
is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, particularly through the church
and the sacraments.
e. They adopted some unbiblical
doctrines like the Roman Catholic Church, such as prayers to the saints,
prayers for the dead, and 7 sacraments, but not papal infallibility.
f. We need to accept that true believers
in the Eastern Orthodox Church are brothers and sisters in Christ.
b. an attitude of humility: understanding
that some divine truths are beyond the capability of human understanding,
Christ as perfect God and perfect man
predestination and free will
inspiration of the Biblical writers
87. Why do
we need to attend group Bible studies such as the Sunday School?
Our inability to explain or understand
a doctrine should never be a reason for rejecting it if it is clearly taught
in the Bible.
a. Group Bible studies can achieve
many purposes. Some of these are: (1) to be built up, (2) to become mature,
and (3) to reach unity in the faith.
Eph 4:12-13 "...so that the body of
Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining
to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
b. Each of us can be built up
and can become mature by studying the Word of God alone but
unity in the faith can only be reached by studying the Bible together
and arriving at the same understanding. If there is Sunday School in our
church, we should try our best to attend, either as a teacher or as a student.
Studying Godís Word on the Lordís Day is a wise and blessed activity.