WHAT “FUNDAMENTALLY” DO WE BELIEVE?
Dr. Paul Pettyjohn
I. With whom should we fellowship and from whom should we separate?
II. Fundamentals of Christian Faiths – what are they and how do fundamentals vary among sects and denominations?
A. Lutheran: Follow Martin Luther’s teachings, such as his 95 Theses (October 31, 1517) covering 3 basic areas
1. Financial abuses (e.g., indulgences)
2. Doctrinal abuses (e.g., if pope has jurisdiction, should empty purgatory free of charge)
3. Religious abuses (treasury of the church is the gospel, not merits of the saints)
B. Presbyterian and Reformed: Five points of Calvinism (TULIP)
1. Total Inability/Depravity – only the foreordained “can” come to Christ
2. Unconditional Election – no choice, elected to heaven or hell without condition
3. Limited Atonement – Christ died only for the elect, not for everyone
4. Irresistible Grace – God forces people to be saved
5. Perseverance of the Saints – Eternal security for the elect
C. Methodist: John Wesley was an Arminianist, believed in freedom of the “will”
Five Points of Arminianism Remonstrance (condemned Synod of Dort 1618-19)
1. Election & condemnation conditioned by rational faith or non-faith of man (whosoever will may come)
2. Atonement while qualitatively adequate for all men, was efficacious only for the man of faith
3. Unaided by the Holy Spirit, no person is able to respond to God’s will
4. Grace is not irresistible
5. Believers are able to resist sin, but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace
D. Baptist Fundamentals: Curtis Hutson’s list of 5 fundamentals – Are they enough?
1. Virgin Birth and Deity of Christ (Isa 7:14; Lk 1:27; 2:5; John 1:1-5, 14)
2. Substitutionary Death of Jesus (John 3:14-18; Rom 5:8)
3. Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:3; John 20:17, 26-28)
4. Verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures (John 1:1-5, 14; Matt 4:4; Rev 22:18-19)
5. Second Coming of Christ (John 21:22-23; Acts 1:11; Rev 22:6-7, 12, 20)
6. What else could be added?
E. Roman Catholic Liturgy – Three parts: Mass, divine office, and seven sacraments – Full liturgy is solemn high mass and recitation of the high office in choir
1. Eucharist in 2 parts: Mass = sacrifice, and Communion = sacrament; Mass is the only act of worship imposed upon RCC members; Central act from earliest times was eucharistic assembly
2. Divine Office: legacy from monks to the clergy; laity is passive
a. 8 times of prayer daily (Matins = midnight; Lauds = 1st daylight; Prime = sunrise;
Terce = midmorn; Sext = noon; None = mid-afternoon; Vespers = sunset; Compline = before retiring)
b. Chanting of Psalms in a weekly cycle
c. Recital of prayers
d. Reading of Scriptures & Church Fathers
e. The divine office is the only “official” prayer of the RCC, except for the mass. All others are “private” even if hundreds recite them together.
f. Breviary – reciting of the divine office privately if not in choir
3. Seven Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick (extreme unction), Marriage, Holy Orders (ordination)).
4. Dogmas and doctrines vary.
III. Fundamentals of non-Christian Faiths
F. Islam’s Five Articles of Faith and 5 Pillars (obligations)
1. Five Articles of Faith
i. Belief in Oneness of God
ii. Belief in God’s Angels
iii. Faith in Books of God (David’s Psalms, Torah, Gospel, Qur’an)
iv. Faith in God’s Prophets (Mohammed a true prophet, his teachings perfect, &
he is the last prophet of God
v. Belief in Life after death Nisa 24-25 imply supt of slavery of women
vi. (Belief in Destiny – kismet) Nisa 34-35 says can beat women
2. Five Pillars (Acts of Worship)
i. Prayer (Salat) 5 times daily
ii. Fasting (Sawm) during Ramadan
iii. Poor’s due (Zakat) 2 ˝ % annually
iv. Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah once in a lifetime
v. Defense of Islam (Jihad)
G. Buddhism’s four vows, Fourfold Noble Truth, & Noble Eightfold Path
1. Four vows
i. To save all people
ii. To renounce all worldly desires
iii. To learn all the teachings
iv. To attain perfect Enlightenment
2. Fourfold Noble Truth
i. Truth of Suffering
ii. Truth of Cause of Suffering
iii. Truth of Cessation of Suffering
iv. Truth of Cessation of the Cause of Suffering
3. Noble Eightfold Path (Right: View, Thought, Speech, Behavior, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, & Concentration)
H. Hinduism – very inclusive
1. Dharma: “law & duties” - main aim of worldly life lies in conforming to social & ritual duties, traditional rules of conduct for caste, family, and profession (Sanatana “traditional” dharma denotes their religious practices)
2. Karman: previous acts determine the condition into which a being is “reborn”
3. Samsara: “bondage” – process of rebirths – no beginning & usually no end, a matter of perpetual enslavement, until reach final emancipation “moksa” (freedom from attachment to world) – All Hindus want liberation, though only a small minority have truly searched for moksa.
4. Sin is more like pollution to be washed off or the solution is the realization that self “atman” really is Brahman
5. Salvation state is nirvana (sort of oneness with the universe)
6. Three paths “marga” to salvation
a. karma-marga: path of duties
b. jnana-marga: path of knowledge (meditation); yoga = meditation for training to gain insight into one’s identity with Brahman
c. bhakti-marga: path of devotion (to a personal God)
7. The Hindu Trinity: the One or Whole with 3 forms: Brahma, Visnu, Siva
8. Forms of Hinduism
a. Vedism (named after the Veda) – earliest form
b. Vedism grew into Brahmanism (Brahmin priestly elite & a Supreme God Brahman
c. Vaisnavism (Vaisnava) – cult forms worshipping Visnu (aka Rama, Krishna)
d. Saivism – worship Siva or Shiva
e. Tantrism (Tantra) & Saktism (Sakta) – esoteric, magical & devotional religious forms
f. Folk Hinduism – amalgam of numerous local beliefs
9. Five Pursuits of Vaisnavism: 1. purification rites, 2. collecting the requisites for worship, 3. acts of worship, 4. study & contemplation of sacred books, 5. meditation on Lord’s image
10. Religious Acts: Chanting (mantras), breath control, posture, internal purifications (stomach & bowels), self-torture, sacrifices, recitations, visits to sacred places, virtuous way of living, puja’s, etc.
III. Proposed Fundamentals of the True Christian Faith:
A. The Written record from God:
1. The Holy Bible (Book) originated in the mind of God, was given to man by inspiration so that the writers of Scripture wrote what God wanted them to write without error. The Bible does not merely contain the word of God, it is the word of God.
2. All of Scripture is inspired, not merely some parts (plenary inspiration), and the inspiration extends to the words of the Bible themselves, not only to the ideas (verbal inspiration).
3. The inspiration of the scriptures applies only to the text as originally produced by the writers, and no single copy or translation can be assumed to be void of errors in copying or translation.
4. The final religious authority for all doctrine is the Holy Bible, not tradition, not human reason, and not the authority of a church body or organization. (Sola Scriptura)
5. The Holy Spirit must illuminate Scripture in the heart of an individual before he/she can truly understand it. Some parts of the Bible are to be taken literally and other parts figuratively. It is important to consider the context in which a Bible statement is made.
6. The Canon of Scripture is complete in the 66 books accepted by orthodox Christianity as listed by Athanasius in 367AD and as reconfirmed by the council of Carthage in 397AD. This is commonly known as the Old Testament consisting of 39 books of the Hebrew scriptures as preserved via the Massoretic Text and as the New Testament consisting of 27 books apostolic in origin and preserved in the Textus Receptus Greek text. (Refutes other books, e.g., Koran, Vedas, Apocrypha, Commentaries, etc.)
7. All Scripture was given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man/woman of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto good works. (2Tim 3:16)
B. The Nature of God:
8. God is transcendent. He is separate from and above His creation, the heavens and the earth. He is Creator and Sustainer of the universe. (Refutes monism)
9. God is immanent, eternal, infinite, and the Creator of all that is. He is Sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, completely self-existent, and changeless. (Refutes deism)
10. God is spirit and He is personal (having personality). (Refutes monism)
11. God is Holy and is the standard of ethical purity by which His creatures must measure themselves.
12. God is Love, full of Mercy and Grace, and yet Just. He is the Judge of all intelligent created beings and the source of moral law.
13. God is one in His essential being, but the divine essence exists in three modes or forms, each constituting a Person, yet in such a way that the divine essence is wholly in each Person. God is one Being, but He exists in three Persons. There is only one God, a Trinity in Unity consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit – all coequal and coeternal. (Refutes pantheism, Allah, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, and Judaism)
14. God has foreknowledge of all things, but whether actively by decree or passively by His permissive will, God is sovereign over all that happens.
15. In the beginning God created matter, the universe, and all living things out of nothing (ex nihilo) in six literal, 24 hour days and rested from creation on the seventh day. (Refutes evolution)
C. The Nature of the Christ:
16. Jesus Christ is fully God, the Creator and Sustainer, coequal and coeternal with God the Father. (Col 2;9; John 1:3; Heb 1:3)
17. He is the only “begotten” Son of God, fully man, supernaturally conceived, and born of a virgin.
18. The Lord Jesus Christ, as a man, was free from both hereditary depravity and from actual sin. He was sinless.
19. Jesus shed His blood as a substitutionary sacrifice for the atonement of all the sins of the “whole world” in perfect obedience to God the Father. His atonement for sin was sufficient for all persons and all sin. (Sufficiency of Atonement) He was crucified and died on a cross and was buried. No bones were broken, but His blood was shed. He lay down His own life, no one took it from Him. (Unlimited Atonement)
20. After three full days and three full nights in the grave, Jesus Christ arose bodily from the dead as a testament to His God nature and to His perfect sacrifice for sin in fulfillment of Holy Scriptures. He was resurrected through the power of God the Father, Himself as God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. After His resurrection He appeared to many persons and presented proofs of His identity and resurrected life. (Bodily resurrection of Christ)
21. After appearing for 40 days to numerous disciples, Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father where He makes intercession for believers.
22. All power and authority has been given to Jesus Christ far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given. (Eph 1:20-21)
23. God Himself in His Son has done for man what man cannot do for himself. He provided forgiveness from sin and righteousness for man, because of His love, and not because of any merit of man. There is no other path to salvation except through Jesus Christ. (Sola Christos)
24. Jesus Christ will return at a time or times appointed to gather His elect, to establish His earthly kingdom, to defeat His enemies, and to judge the world. He will redeem creation and create New Heavens and a New Earth free from the curse of sin. (Second Coming)
D. The Nature of Man and Sin:
25. Man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created by God on the sixth day of creation week, in the image of God, and were given dominion over the plants and animals to tend and care for the earthly creation. Man is superior to the plants and animals.
26. Adam and Eve, in disobedience to God’s command, committed original sin and thereby demonstrated a sin nature that is inherited by all human descendants, except for the sole exception, the second Adam, the man Jesus Christ. (The Fall)
27. All males and females are now born with a sin nature and daily commit actual sins of commission and omission in disobedience to God’s commandments; therefore, all males and females have need of reconciliation to God in order to be saved from eternal punishment and separation from God. In addition, the whole of creation suffers under the curse of God until atonement and reconciliation is made.
28. Sin includes not only physical acts “committed” in disobedience to God’s commandments (sins of commission), but also includes the acts of “omission” when an individual knows the right thing to do but fails to actually and physically do it (sins of omission). Also, God considers and judges the heart and intentions of an individual, not just the physical actions, so sin includes wrongful and disobedient thoughts as well as the sinful acts of commission and omission. Christ said that to hate is the commission of murder in the heart and that lusting is the commission of adultery.
29. Man is totally depraved and unable to come to a saving knowledge and faith in God without the drawing of God the Holy Spirit through the hearing of the Word of God. There is none good, there is none that seeketh after God. (Total Depravity)
E. The Nature of Salvation:
30. God requires atonement in order to forgive sin according to His plan of salvation as prepared for man before the foundation of the world. God’s standard of righteousness is perfection, nothing less. He requires that we be perfect like He is perfect, and no man can attain that level, so God had to provide a way that holiness, righteousness, and perfection can be imputed to every man.
31. Only a perfect, sinless, blood sacrifice could atone for man’s sin, as required by God in His Holiness, Sovereignty, and Justice. This means that only God Himself could be the acceptable sacrifice for sin and the salvation of man. This is why Jesus Christ had to become a sinless man, born of a virgin, and why He had to sacrifice Himself via the shedding of His own blood.
32. The only Righteousness achievable and available for man is the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. All of man’s righteousnesses are as filthy rags in the sight of God’s Holiness and relative to God’s required standard of perfection. Man cannot be righteous, or even do anything righteous, in the eyes of God outside of the righteousness received from God as a free gift.
33. The only path to true salvation is the belief and trust on the faith of Jesus Christ and in His death, burial, and resurrection for the reconciliation, salvation, justification, sanctification, preservation, and adoption of men into the family of God as sons of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. There is no other way to be saved. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Sola Fide) (Eph 2:8-9)
34. God has given every man and woman a free will with which to accept or reject the salvation plan offered via Jesus Christ. Whosoever will may come and receive the free gift. (Resistible Grace)
35. God in His omniscience foreknew who would accept His salvation. (Foreknowledge)
36. God in His Sovereignty has elected believers to be predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, unto an inheritance according to His purpose and to the praise of His glory, and to be conformed to the image of His Son. (Conditional Election and Predestination) (Eph 1:5, 11-12; Rom 8:29)
37. After hearing the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and after believing, man is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, namely our bodies, souls, and spirits. Salvation, once received, is eternal. (Eph 1:13) It is a free gift from God that man could not earn through works or his own righteous deeds, neither could man keep his salvation through his own works or his own righteousness deeds. (Eternal Security of the Believer) (Preservation of the Saints, not Perseverance of the Saints)
38. Baptism by immersion and the taking of Communion (eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine) are testimonies of the belief of the Believer and are memorials to Jesus Christ, to be exercised only by true believers. Neither Baptism nor Communion is required for either obtaining salvation or for the retention of salvation once it has been received.
F. The Nature of the Church:
39. The Holy Spirit of God indwells each individual believer, whose body is the temple of the Spirit. Therefore, the believer’s body should be treated respectfully and never be mutilated, abused, or neglected.
40. The Holy Spirit indwelling believers will produce the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Gal 5:22-23)
41. The New Testament Church is known as the bride and the body of Jesus Christ and consists of the whole company of regenerated persons. The independent, individual local congregation of believers is the only pattern of church organization and assembly identified in the Holy Scriptures prior to the gathering together by Christ at His return.
42. God gave spiritual gifts to the church – some to be apostles, some preachers, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers. There is no Biblical basis for a distinction between clergy and laity, but instead there is the Universal Priesthood of all believers. Each and every believer is ordained by Jesus Christ, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and commissioned to represent Jesus Christ to the world without the need or requirement of the laying on of hands, anointing, and/or ordination by men. Each believer is ordained to perform the functions of the priesthood including representing Christ on earth and even approaching directly into the presence of God’s Holiness for the purposes of worship and administrations. (Universal Priesthood of Believers)
43. The only two offices in the local church identified by the Holy Scriptures are those of pastor/bishop/overseer and minister/servant/deacon. In addition, each believer can be classified as either a spiritually mature believer (elder) or as an immature believer (a baby in Christ), and only elders should be considered for responsible positions of oversight.
44. The primary duties of the pastor/bishop/overseer are to edify, instruct, correct, reprove, and to train members of the local congregation in their roles as ministers/servants/deacons.
45. The primary duties of the minister/servant/deacon is to fulfill the Great Commission by going into the world preaching, baptizing, and teaching the world to observe all things commanded by God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
G. The Nature of the Adversary:
46. The enemy of God, the church, and all creation is the Devil, also known as Satan and Lucifer, who is a fallen angel that rebelled against God, accuses the believers in Christ, tempts men to do evil, and rules over a spiritual kingdom of demonic spirit beings that invade the earth and that can possess human bodies and otherwise oppress men. There is an invisible, supernatural world of good and evil influences around us, involved in a spiritual warfare for the souls of men.
H. The Nature of Eternity:
47. The eternal destiny of the unsaved is an abode in outer darkness, separated from God, and eternal punishment known as Hell.
48. The eternal destiny of the redeemed is an abode with Jesus Christ in God’s house, with eternal bliss and rest known as Heaven.
49. The eternal destiny of the earth and the heavens is to be redeemed through burning by fire and recreation, freed from the curses of sin and death, and made the home for future generations, so that the increase of the kingdom of God will be without end.
50. The eternal destiny of the Devil and his demonic angels is to be confined to the lake of fire, also referred to as hell.