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Foundations of Academia

 My Goal is not to declare "I'm right" or that I have everything perfectly. The goal is to set out a standard that must be followed as part of the agreed upon rules by those who wish to play in the same sandbox. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that people disagree. For instance people disagree on how to baptize people, sprinkling or emersion, how do we come to a consensus or can we agree to disagree with out dividing. People obviously demand they divide  because it goes against "their conscience", yet the truth is the form of baptism is a secondary issue, How a person is baptized does not determine if they are saved or not and should not be a point of division, yet those who do believe one way or another and demand their way, create division, the very idea of what God hates in the Body of Christ, or in the church.

At what point do we divide?

In the Early church the Fathers battled it out with the "heretics "  about what is the true gospel and what one must believe in order to be saved and to be called a true Christian. The made a formal statement called the Nicene Creed which establishes the essentials of what one must believe to be a Christian:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.  And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Every cult and false church deviates from this basic established truths. Many cults are defined as cults and not true Christian church because they change one or several of the main tenets, such as believing Jesus was created and not divine.  The Nicene creed establishes that Christ is equal in nature to God and is divine, fully God.

Among those who agree on these essential still have disagreements about the fine points. Such as the idea there is only one true church and that is the Catholic church. Yet catholic which means, universal, conveys the idea that all Christians are a part of one body of Christ, one church. While Catholics have held to the idea you have to be in the Catholic church to be in the true church, they have slowly recognized this is not necessarily true. All churches  are not true Christian churches just because they claim to be.

So how do we prove when someone is really right or really wrong?

When we approach the Bible to understand it there are two standard basic presuppositions that people take. (1) It is the word of God, infallible in the sense that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit through men, who did not make mistakes as they were led to write by the Holy Spirit. (2) It is also to be understood that it is primarily literal in nature and not "spiritual", which implies you must look at the words and find the true meaning as the starting point for correct interpretation. The rules of Hermeneutics is what guide our interpretation of the Bible. When a person violates these rules of communication they create contradictions and problems.

Proper Hermeneutics

Starts with the premise the Bible was intended to be read as is and understood as is while  allowing for Genres, (such as poetic, narrative, parables, and Apocalyptic language.) as a way of communicating truth. The Bible is first to be understood literally (not woodenly) until the language demonstrates that it is using a figure of speech. Figures of speech, such as metaphors, analogies, ellipsis,  and Idioms., are to be understood as a means of communicating truth. Because of the Literal , the spiritual exists, but never contradicts the literal. Concerning prophecy, the Bible uses "apocalyptic" language to describe real events man experiences not "spiritual" events. 

There are eight rules to follow for communication to be achieved and how these rules are applied is critical.

1.  Definition 2.  Usage 3. Context 4. Historical Background 5. Logic 6. Precedent 7. Unity 8: Inference


 - We are not allowed to change definition of words to make it fit our belief system. 
 - We must recognize that words are used in different ways to mean different things.
 - Context is the passage in which the word is used and how it is used that  creates consistency of the whole Bible.
 - The historical background is insight into the culture and nature of who the book was written to.
 - Precedent demands there is nothing new under the sun. 
 - Unity defines the understanding of consistency, the Bible does not contradict its self.   
- Any passage has a literal meaning and can also infer truth that what was not directly stated. 

A Great resource  for doing Exegesis (the process of  applying Hermeneutics to come to an interpretation) Is Gordon Fee's "New Testament Exegesis". Exegesis is always interpretation from the Greek  or Hebrew language never from an English translation. It demands one must know "some" Greek grammar.

 

Apologetics

"Is the ability to give an answer for the hope that lies within you." Apologetics comes in the form of  an answer (written or video) to something someone  has stated or taught that is perceived to be in error. We do not simply say "your wrong" but we seek to demonstrate why something is wrong. Ones mental ability to grasp a concept is greatly effected by ones education and skill in comprehension as well as the ability to logically reason through a difficult concept. Ones ability to communicate in the first place is paramount in the communication process in expressing a thought or idea coherently. When an opposing position is presented that rightly clarifies a truth, and logically refutes the former position, honesty requires a change of beliefs to adapt to the new information. I have set out to "change you mind" or help you from falling into the trap of well sounding arguments.

      Any truth must have three things to be true; sound logic, coherence, and consistency. 
      The argument from logic must be concise and reasonable. 
      It must be uniformly sound with other doctrines and rules of interpretation. 
      It must be consistent with the whole of scriptures, it can not contradict.
      If it can be demonstrated that an argument fails in the logic, misuses the rules and creates inconsistency among doctrines, and creates a contradiction from one scripture to another, the belief must be rejected.
Our goal is to always give an answer for why and what we believed as a counter to what we perceive is error of others, which implies "we know better".  We know better if the statement or teaching violates the Nicene Creed. We know its wrong if it creates a contradiction. We know its wrong when it violates something that has been well understood for 2000 years.  This is where the study of scriptures come into play. It is why we are encourage to study our Bible and why teachers and Pastors were given to the church, to help us come to understand, yet realizing no one is perfect and we may disagree on some minor points. But we do not divide UNLESS its been well established that what the person is teaching is Heretical, that which is against sound truth.