World Views: Is Orthodox Christianity Important?

You have heard about the “canon of the Bible”, but what does that mean?  You have heard people put down Christianity as being based on made-up fiction formulated to strike false doctrine onto others. We Christians hold that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, divinely breathed upon authors by the Holy Spirit. Thus the term “canon” is used to describe those divinely inspired books, which belong in the Bible, and have held up to scholarly review for many centuries. Jewish Rabbis and Hebrew scholars first conducted this review process. But the main energy in the review of these early writings came directly from the Triune God, revealed by Jesus Christ and directed by the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament was fairly firm early in the process; Hebrew scholars had been using the Torah for centuries and had long believed God’s prophets and accepted their writings as being inspired words. The only issue that remained was the “Apocrypha”, where a majority of Hebrew scholars thought the collection to be good religious documents, but not on the same level as the Hebrew Scriptures.  Considering the New Testament and the work of the Apostles, Mark was probably the first Gospel written. This, along with a collection of the sayings of Jesus Christ known as “Q” (a German word for Quelle, meaning “source”), was the basis for Luke’s Gospel, and probably Matthew’s and John’s as well.  Paul considered Luke’s writings and Peter recognized Paul’s work, so there was a great deal of continuity in the New Testament.

Also, the discovery of scrolls and thousands of scroll fragments recovered in the Qumran area, an extremely large collection of Jewish documents, has supported the accuracy of the early Old Testament writings. These documents date back to the third century BC, and are written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Among these documents are the “Dead Sea Scrolls” which are all of the books of the Bible except Esther. Many councils, such as the Council of Laodicea (363 AD), the Council of Hippo (393 AD), and the Council of Carthage (397 AD), followed affirming the same 27 books are authoritative scripture.  Questions asked were: 1) Was the author an apostle or closely associated with an apostle? 2) Was the book consistent with Christian doctrine and orthodox teaching? And, 3) Did the book put forward high moral and spiritual values consistent with the instruction from Jesus? As stated above, the Bible is God inspired and written by directing men driven by the Holy Spirit; therefore, it can be said that it was God that selected what was to be the Biblical Canon. I would never be so bold to claim to be an expert in the Bible, though I have taught adult Biblical Scripture Classes for over 35 years, anyone who has studied the Bible for any length of time has surely noticed how it all fits together cover to cover inspite of the many authors over centuries.

The Orthodox believer holds on to a theological knowledge based upon God’s Revelation. This Revelation is presented to the world through the written words in Scripture and through what is known as “The Apostolic Tradition”. Christ passed on in Pentecost the power for the apostles to do great things in the name of Christ. Jesus passed on “The Great Commission” for the apostles to go throughout the world and affirm the foundational Christian Truths as clearly taught in the Bible:

  1.  That the Triune God is three distinct persons in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  2. The True Deity and True Humanity of Jesus Christ.
  3. The physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
  4. Salvation of the believer by grace alone, through faith in Christ Jesus our LORD and Savior.
  5. The atonement of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of the sins of a sinner.
  6. The physical return of Christ to earth at the end of time to judge the wicked and reward the righteous.

Any Christian group that would alter or distort one or more of these orthodox beliefs would be considered an aberrant group. To push the issue farther, theologically, a cult is any deviation from orthodoxy, or denial or outright rejection of one or more of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Not to be confused with a “cult”, the “occult” deals directly with demonic forces; this awful practice has been engaged in throughout all history. Nothing good can come out of it. I once heard a woman on the radio, critical of churches, saying that they needed to change with the culture; this is the exact opposite of what an Orthodox Christian Church should do! Adapting to the culture only creates aberrant and cult groups; Jesus did not do nor did He teach that we should adapt to the culture.  Deviations take all forms with some being very minor; groups normally must pull verse out of context and twist it around (give it new meanings) to create their own new theology.  One notable group, that produced “The Jesus Seminar”, goes so far as to uphold that Jesus’ ministry had nothing to do with salvation nor that Jesus viewed Himself as Messiah or the Son of God. Pretty darn blatant when you consider the New Testament is extremely clear that Jesus in fact knew Himself as Messiah and what His role in the salvation of humanity was to be.

Today, the aberrant churches are growing and the orthodox Christian churches are struggling and are under persecution.  We must not change to suit the culture or we risk losing our way.  In the first century, lions ate many Christians; today we are nibbled to death by political correctness.

[For more discussion on Orthodox Christianity, please refer to the book, I Am, the Great Creator God by Haven D. Mankin. Information about the book and how to obtain a copy is available at: http://www.MuskratBooks.com]

Celebrate Uncertainty? You're Crazy!

Today’s culture celebrates uncertainty; it’s true. If you are firm in your belief, you are condemned to be short-sighted or closed-minded, a person NOT open to new ideas. You are not an intellect…why should we even listen to you?

Syncretism is killing our culture, our families, our churches, our souls! We are a world of lost souls wandering aimlessly through the desert of life, always searching, and passing right over life-giving water by eyes that don’t see! We need to bring Jesus Christ back into our lives, our work, our families, our relationships, our government, and yes, even back into our churches! It is unsustainable for everyone to wander about aimlessly searching for “their own way, their own meaning in lfe, what their idea of truth”. It is the turf of Satan! The breeding ground for invention. The more you divert and invent, the farther you will be away from Jesus! Get back to Bible study; it is your only foundation. It is ONLY by Jesus Christ who is our way, our truth, and our life, that we can be saved! It is ONLY Jesus that sustains us, for He is the Bread of Life and brings us “life-giving water”. I beg you, turn away from the crowds on that wide road to destruction and set your eyes upon Jesus and look upon His wonderful face; only here will you find peace, meaning, love and truth! Amen! 

Celebrate Uncertainty? You’re Crazy!

Today’s culture celebrates uncertainty; it’s true. If you are firm in your belief, you are condemned to be short-sighted or closed-minded, a person NOT open to new ideas. You are not an intellect…why should we even listen to you?

Syncretism is killing our culture, our families, our churches, our souls! We are a world of lost souls wandering aimlessly through the desert of life, always searching, and passing right over life-giving water by eyes that don’t see! We need to bring Jesus Christ back into our lives, our work, our families, our relationships, our government, and yes, even back into our churches! It is unsustainable for everyone to wander about aimlessly searching for “their own way, their own meaning in lfe, what their idea of truth”. It is the turf of Satan! The breeding ground for invention. The more you divert and invent, the farther you will be away from Jesus! Get back to Bible study; it is your only foundation. It is ONLY by Jesus Christ who is our way, our truth, and our life, that we can be saved! It is ONLY Jesus that sustains us, for He is the Bread of Life and brings us “life-giving water”. I beg you, turn away from the crowds on that wide road to destruction and set your eyes upon Jesus and look upon His wonderful face; only here will you find peace, meaning, love and truth! Amen! 

The Relationship between Creator and Creation

It is a God given wish of all humans to create, yes, I mean each and every one of us. Why? Because it is a reflection of you; we all wish to leave a mark, part of you ends inside that creation.

There is an inner spirit in each of us, yes each of us, created by God and in His image and character. Besides the Holy Spirit, this other inner spirit is the creative “juice” that will move to do creative things. I like to call it “juice” because it (whatever “it” is) this creative essence in each of us, “flows”. You can feel it when it is moving and you know when it dries up. Haven’t you heard an artist say things like, “I don’t have it anymore” or “nothing was coming to me”? Every artist has a dry period; a period when the “juice” is not flowing. The juice hasn’t dried up forever, gone and never to be experienced again. No, the juice is still within you; it has only ceased to flow at that given time. It is best to just get up and do something else for a time. When the juice is flowing, you can do amazing things. Michelangelo’s statue of David can be carved out of a rough block of marble. Frank Lloyd Wright’s house, called “Fallingwater” in Bear Run, Pennsylvania can be designed. Leonardo Da Vinci’s 16th Century painting of the “Mona Lisa” and Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” can all be created out of nothing, ex nihilo baby!

Every time you read a novel, a poem, a sonnet, a play, any literary work, you have revealed something of whom the writer is and about their life. You can see that Michelangelo understands human anatomy when you view his drawings, such as the portion of the Sistine Chapel ceiling called the “Creation of Man”. Most architects display “their style” to the point that a person can view a set of buildings and place the architect’s name beside each one. In the created object, there is indeed part of the creator.

When we view God’s creation, we see part of God. Our Creator, the Lord God Almighty, will move His creation toward higher order through relationship. This is why He created us. He loves us! He wants to see us grow toward completeness, just as we delight in seeing our own children grow toward completeness, and become fine adults. How many parents have looked out from the audience at the school awards ceremony, to see a child receiving an award, and think “I had something to do with that…I sure am proud!”

A sense of completeness and relationship, we each seek this “reward of living”, much more important than money. So it is with God, and this is why He created you and I. He seeks out relationship with us; God desires to look at us and say “well done my good and faithful child, I am proud of you and I love you so very much”.

Some would say that God has no need of us. I think just the opposite. Why? As an architect, I know about the feelings between a creator and his creation. I know there is a “relationship” with the created object; after all, as discussed earlier, the created object is actually a part of the creator. God delights in creating; we are all created in His image. You don’t create and then destroy a masterpiece. Oh, you may experiment, realize it isn’t working, and then start over, drawing on your newly acquired knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. But you don’t destroy your final masterpiece; you work to save it.  God is reaching out to you now; salvation can be yours.

[For more discussion on Creating, please refer to the book, I Am, the Great Creator God by Haven D. Mankin. Information about the book and how to obtain a copy is available at: http://www.MuskratBooks.com]