Welcome to the family! Coming to faith in Christ is a big deal. You’ve made the commitment to follow him, and you see others doing so with varying degrees of success, but how do you measure success? You already know Christianity is not a set of “do’s and don’ts,” but a life that reflects what we believe. There are lots of resources that will tell you how to do that, but it is helpful first to know what it is we believe, or are supposed to believe as followers of Christ.
In the following series of posts, I will offer some broad outlines of what C.S. Lewis called “mere Christianity.” I will be following a format stolen from…. I mean, inspired by Greg Koukl’s “Credo” talk, in which I will cover the topics of God, man, Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection (the general resurrection at the end.)
In each section, I will explain doctrines that are largely agreed upon by most Protestant Christians. “Wait, what? What’s a doctrine?” As much as I would like to limit the amount of geeky jargon in these posts, some is useful. A doctrine is a particular set of teachings on a given issue. See how useful that is? “Doctrine” is WAY shorter than “a particular set of teachings on a given issue.” I will not go into much depth on issues of controversy on non-essential issues. My purpose is to explain the essentials.
In my next post in this series, I will begin to explore the doctrine of God. I will use the Apostles’ Creed as an outline. After Christianity began to spread and the original leaders began to dies off (or get killed in some cases) there were occasional disagreements that arose among churches. This led to leaders getting together to figure out what it was that everyone agreed was essential to the faith. By essential, I mean in order to be considered part of the church there were certain things you had to believe. It wasn’t about being exclusive or snobbish. It was simply so that others you hung out with knew you shared their beliefs. Some time during the second century AD, the church leaders came up with a basic outline of what Christians believe about God. They called it “The Apostles Creed.” They did not claim the apostles (those were the original guys that Jesus trained) wrote or dictated it, but that it was a summary of what they taught. For those of you unfamiliar with it, here it is:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
It is my prayer that you find these posts helpful.