Pandenominationalism Part Three: The Practical Application

In the practical application of theology, I like to categorize things into different levels. I’m a sucker for structured hierarchies and taxonomies. Heh heh.
First: The core of faith and theology, the Gospel, the parts that are essential to salvation itself. If you don’t believe these, then you have a false gospel and aren’t saved. These are very minimal, in my mind, and can be summed up essentially in the Apostle’s or the Nicene Creed. I have here quoted the Coptic Orthodox version of this, which I personally prefer for matters of style and completeness.

We believe in one God, God the Father the Pantocrator who created heaven and earth, and all things seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not created, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy spirit and the Virgin Mary and became Man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And on the third day He rose from the dead, according to the scriptures, ascended to the heavens; He sits at the right hand of his Father, and He is coming again in His glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

Yes, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Life-Giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

And in one holy, catholic and apostolic church. We confess one baptism for the remission of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the coming age. Amen.

When the terms are understood (like ‘catholic’ in its old sense meaning universal, as in, not geographically located to one nation, but open to all peoples, nations, languages, classes, and sexes; ‘pantocrator’ meaning ruler or holder of all; and so on) it is very complete and exhaustive for this level. This is where the cults start to be distinguished from the true orthodoxy, and also where our fundamental unity in Christ is found over and above denominational differences. This is the common ground upon which all else is built. If you believe this and are committed to it (in the true sense of belief), then you are a part of the Body of Christ. Period. Full stop. You are a brother, and thus worthy of all privileges and blessings of that station. Such as an extra measure of loving charity from one’s fellow believers (Galatians 6:10 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”).
Second: The essentials of the faith. These are foundational and have far-reaching implications for the rest of your exploration of the truths of God and for life itself, but are not necessary for salvation. Belief in the infallible and eternal authority of Scripture from its first verse to its last, for example, is a big one. There are many sincere Believers who do not agree with that, and go astray in their theology, but are still saved. This is mostly to do with hermeneutics, and about how to approach Scripture and God and less about content.
Third: The pillars of the faith. This is where those beliefs go which people have been fighting over for millennia viciously because they are Very Important, and yet which in my belief they shouldn’t be fighting about. Not because they aren’t important, but because they are so important. There’s no learning in fighting. We are still Christians, and so we still have a common ground and common foundation in the first two categories. So we should be learning together and exploring these questions together rather than at each others’ throats. Anyway, this where things like infant baptism, predestination and free will, the age of the earth, creation ex nihilo, and things like that are categorized.
Fourth: The practical theology of day to day life. These are things like whether or not kosher laws apply to modern Christians, modest dress standards, what version of the Bible is best, clean speech, Church government practices, whether or not Christians should be involved in politics, whether we should drink or not, whether or not smoking is okay, how divorce is handled, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and so on and on and on. These are really really important aspects of theology. Critical topics! These are about “how then shall we live” and the nuts and bolts of the Christian life. I personally think that most theological study should center right here. The earlier categories should be established and then explored further, but cease to become immediately profitable to our day to day life as followers of Christ once they are understood and internalized, which should happen relatively early in our saved life. This tier should consume us as we strive hourly to become more like Christ.
Fifth: The relatively frivolous aspects of theology. Things that are more trivial. Interesting and academic and useful for understanding the earlier categories better, and certainly profitable for study, but not really as vital or as important as the others. Definitely not anything to fight about! I would actually put eschatology here. * winces * Some eschatology anyway. Not all of it — some eschatology is in the first category! Unfortunately, a lot of seminaries and sermons spend way too much time in this category, which results in “much knowledge puffing up” people.
What practical use are these categories? Well, for one thing, listing them out like this in our minds, and sorting through our beliefs and assigning them to their relative places, really helps us to prioritize and choose our battles. It puts our pride aside and helps us climb off our hobby horses and realize what’s really important.  It reminds us of how much we actually have in common with that person we are yelling at and excommunicating. Also, it helps us to formulate exactly to what degree “unequally yoked” applies to our current situation. If I am going to marry someone, I want to be unified with her completely all the way up through the third tier, and a great deal of the fourth as well. If I’m going to be best friends with someone, I might only need to agree with the dude on the stuff in the second tier. If someone is a mentor and a teacher, I might want to make sure we are in agreement all the way through to the fifth tier! Or not. But it’s good to think through these things and know where you (and your friends, sometimes, and your suitor, definitely) stand on them.
Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

Biblical Body Hacking?


Okay, here’s a controversial subject that I actually am not bringing up for the purpose of stirring up controversy. I’m honestly curious to hear different people’s differing ideas on this (the more thought-out and biblically-based the better). I’d like to avoid debate — so as an exercise, how about if we all just present our positions, and then politely ask questions about each other’s ideas?

The subject: body modifications. I.e. tattoos (of all degrees and locations), piercings (and gauges), aesthetic surgery (whether tweaking a feature already present, like a nose job, or changing physiology, like elf ears or tongue bifurcation), functional hacks (like implanting piezoelectric metal slivers in your fingertips so you can feel electromagnetic fields, and so on), scarification (flensing, branding, etc.), and all the rest. Continue reading “Biblical Body Hacking?”

When is it Lying to Lie?

We are often too eager to accuse others (or ourselves) of lying. This is serious, because not only is true lying a serious sin and hated by God, but true lying destroys trust, relationships, and love, which is abominable to God. Even thinking a person has lied to you about even the slightest thing can destroy a relationship if you are not relying wholly on God’s love in it.

Continue reading “When is it Lying to Lie?”

Why Keep Hoping

“Why do I keep going?”

It’s something that people have asked me multiple times in different points of my life after they see things that I’ve gone through, things that I’ve lost, disappointments — shipwrecked dreams, loves severed. Why do I keep going? How do I keep smiling, keep trying again? How do I get back up and just keep trudging on? How do I still enjoy and keep my focus on the things which are still pleasurable?

Continue reading “Why Keep Hoping”

Pandenominationalism Part Two: Personal History and Testimony

I sat in my seat, staring out the window at the night, my insides consumed with nervousness, the van filled with silence. My father drove, I sat. We both knew we were about to have a conversation that would be hard, serious, and awkward. I was terrified. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t know if I would be able to. Or how he would take it. How he would respond.

This was the first time I’d disagreed with him. And I had no clue what that meant or what happened next.
Continue reading “Pandenominationalism Part Two: Personal History and Testimony”

Raising Standards to Their Achievability: an Innovation in Accountability

Battered, not shining.
Battered, not shining.

I have fought all my saved life against persistent, nearly unflagging temptation. When your primary struggle is with lust, there is rarely respite. Those few days where you go hours without having a single wayward thought try to tug you down the wrong path are like cool breaths of fresh air. You cling to those days and thank God for them as precious gifts, for they are rare. Because there are also those days where every other thought, like a pulsing siren alarm, is an overwhelming appetite, a desperate and ravenous hunger for the illicit. There have been days I physically shook from the strain, sweating, unable to focus on anything but the immediate battle that was waging inside myself.

More often than not, if the battle gets that intense, there are few avenues for escape. And shamefully often, the end result is another tick against myself, another battle lost. Another confession which must needs be made.
Continue reading “Raising Standards to Their Achievability: an Innovation in Accountability”

Comfort Zones: Good, and Sinful

Comfort zones are good, and helpful; they help us to be efficient in our lives. They help us to be able to know what to expect, to know what needs to be done, and be able to plan for those ends. Comfort zones are where habits, routines, plans, and lifestyles live. They free mental space for us to be able to think creatively about other things, without having to worry about what hand you brush your teeth with. Also, by establishing a norm they help us to recognize patterns, so we can notice danger when those patterns are broken. And so the threat response to having a comfort zone encroached upon is both legitimate, and healthy. When mastered, comfort zones can be used to establish healthy routines in our lives, and become tools to master the way we live and make our time more effective and profitable. This is why God designed comfort zones into how our biological and cerebral makeup function in the first place, of course.

However.
Continue reading “Comfort Zones: Good, and Sinful”

Happy Pi Day!

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028842197…
The digits I just recited are very special. They are the first 40 digits of my favourite number, a magical and mysterious number with strange and wonderful powers. It even has its own day, and I and millions of other nerds around the world celebrate it every year on March 14th. For centuries brilliant men have studied it, and been awed by its glory and beauty. This number is known as…
Raspberry Pi
…Pi! It is named after the Greek letter π and not the food. I love Pi so much, I thought it would be cool to use three of its features as metaphors for three similar features of myself and my family. And so, my dear readers, may I introduce to you… Pi!

Continue reading “Happy Pi Day!”