When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

28 June, 2015

"Judge Not": What Does This REALLY Mean?

"But there is one more thing that we should be said about this text, because it is often used against Christians (or anyone, really) who would say that there's a right and a wrong in the world. ... Or especially thinking about the Supreme Court decision on Friday, when we say that marriage is for family, a man and a woman bound up together until death, we hear that same response, the words of Jesus quoted back to us, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."  Or this question, "Who are you to judge my love?" 
Now I think it is a bit ironic this weekend that the 'judge not' folks are rejoicing in the judgment of five people called judges.  But when Jesus forbids judging, He does not intend to destroy the law.  He's not smashing the Ten Commandments, like Moses in the wilderness.  He's not declaring an end of right and wrong. 
And the answer, by the way, to the question, "Who are you to judge?" is: "I'm a human being."  It's the fundamental act of human society, of ethics, to judge the things that we love, the things that we want, and the things that we do, to see if they are good or if they are bad. ... Making a judgment about what I love and what I want is the fundamental act of humanity, and the more we forget this, then the more lawless and dangerous our culture will become. 
But look, when Jesus says "Judge not," what He is doing is reserving the final judgment for Himself.  Jesus knows that if we are the judge, there are only two judgments that are possible: either the prideful judgment of ourselves and each other, that we're all good, which is the dangerous delusion leading to hell--self-justification and self-righteousness; or the despairing judgment that we are sinners beyond the hope of redemption.  Those are the only two options when man is judge.  But when Jesus is judge, there is a third, and a correct, and blessed option.  He judges us guilty of our sin--all of them--but then, by His blood, by His death, by His resurrection, by His lovingkindness, and by His mercy, He judges us--He judges you--to be innocent, clean, guiltless, righteous, and holy.  So we judge not, because Jesus, who died and rose again, is our judge in mercy and kindness."

Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller

Full sermon audio can be found here--it is well worth the listen, as this was the end of the sermon.

25 August, 2014

Heresy of the Week: Ophitism

This week's heresy is the "parent" heresy to last week's heresy.

Ophitism (also known as Ophianism) was a 2nd century Gnosticism sect. From what little survives about their sect today, they regarded the serpent from the Garden of Eden as heroic, superior and preferable to Christ, and that the God of the Old Testament is the enemy. They also believed in the Monophysitism teaching that Christ did not exist in the flesh. They believed that Christ was an imitator of Moses’ serpent’s power. Like other Gnosticism-family sects, they believed in multiple heavens and that the Creator God was to be despised. They believed the ultimate Father was Bythos (meaning “Depth”) and from him came the Father of All (or First Man), Ennoia, the Son of Man (or Second Man) and the Holy Spirit (or First Woman). From the Spirit came water, darkness, the abyss and chaos. Both the First and Second Men became so enamored with the beauty of the Holy Spirit, the three generated a third man, Christ, the Incorruptible Light. The myth goes on to tell of the creation of the evil material world. More than any other Gnostic sect, it appears that Ophitism most closely follows the Bible in their story of creation, the fall and redemption.

18 August, 2014

Heresy of the Week: Peratism

This week's heresy is one of the Gnostic heresies about which we know a good deal.

Peratism, meaning “to pass through” is a 2nd century Ophitism Gnosticism sect related to Borboritism, Mandaeism, Naassenism, and Sethianism. Little has survived about this sect other than in the writings of one early church father. They were largely focused on astrology and the influence of stars and planets on man, with many myths about the planets. It appears that they believed in a Trinitarian-like God with three divisions or “principles”: Pater (the Father, who was perfect goodness and unbegotten), Uios (the Son, considered to be the Word and the Serpent) and Hyle (the Spirit, who was fashioned by the Father but is without form). They seem to largely follow the redemption story of the Bible. The Serpent (meaning the Son) attracts to himself the “likeminded” (like iron is attracted to a magnet), who are called “Paratae”. The Paratae are those who have learned through gnosis how “to pass through” the corruption to which every created being is subjected. The ignorant were known by Peratians as “Egyptians”.

11 August, 2014

Heresy of the Week: Restorationism

This week's heresy, while perhaps noble in intent, is terrible in execution.

Restorationism (also known as Christian Primitivism or the Primitive Christian Movement) is a protestant (predominantly Hussite and Anabaptism) heretical belief that the woes of the church can be fixed by returning to the “primitive” or apostolic early church. In their attempt to “purify” the church, Restorationists are willing to throw out many orthodox beliefs to achieve a more  “ancient” form of religion. It is also connected with the Dispensationalism Christian Zionism movement, and Restorationism is often the name used for the Christian Zionism movement during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

04 August, 2014

Heresy of the Week: Subordinationism

This week's heresy sounds like the description to a syllogism.

Subordinationism is a heretical doctrine that says the Son and Holy Ghost are subordinate (or less than) the Father in both nature and being. While sometimes confused with Arianism, they are not the same. All Arianists subscribe to Subordinationism, but not all Subordinationalists believe in Arianism. Some see this as the middle ground between Sabellianism and Socinianism/Unitarianism.

28 July, 2014

Heresy of the Week: Waldensianism

This weeks heresy started as a reformation movement before partnering with Calvinism after several centuries.
Waldensianism (also called Vaudoisism and Waldensism) is a 13th century heresy that initially was only concerned with reforming the Church by condemning money and power as leading to spiritual corruption and that the Church and Church officials should have nothing to do with money or power.  They were declared heretical in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council, and in 1487, Pope Innocent VIII issued an order for the group’s extermination.  After the protestant Reformation, the Waldensians joined with the Calvinists, adopting most of their tenants, and became the Italian arm of Calvinism, making it also a protestant heresy.