Ask Your Preacher
(This is a follow-up to the post “Without Creedence”)
Your answer to the difference between creeds and publications that preachers write didn't fully explain a difference between the two. Can you please show me where different denominations hold their "creed" books to the same standard as the Bible? I have had many discussions with various Lutherans and Baptists alike, and none of them view their supplements to the same degree of Bible authority. They all view them as teaching tools to supplement the Word. Many preachers claim that their writings should be heard because they are "based" on the Word of God. Many religious groups with creed books would claim the same. I believe the difference between a creed book and the publications church of Christ preachers write is that we believe that one follows the Bible, and the others don't. Our friends outside the church make the same claim. Anytime we hold our opinions and explanations to demand the same level of attention as plain Scripture, we have written creeds by your definition. Maybe we should simply point people to Scripture and quit offering our opinions.
Dear Tracking Tracts,
If a preacher takes something he writes and gives it equal weight to the Bible, then he is sinning, but we’ve never personally experienced someone using a tract or commentary that way. Your statement that “many preachers claim…” is arbitrary, and we can’t speak to personal experiences and subjective viewpoints. In fact, the discussions you have had with various Lutherans and Baptists are also subjective because most Baptists and Lutherans don’t know what their own creed books even say. The key is to read the books for yourself and ask what the leaders of these churches say about their creeds. The Lutheran church uses four creeds: The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Augsburg Confessional. They teach that these creeds are authoritative guides for their worship and beliefs – they aren’t commentaries; they are distinct belief systems that don’t require Bible authority to back them. As we said, read them yourselves.
The Baptists are even more blatant about the value they place upon their creeds. The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches says that baptism used to be a necessary part of salvation, but now things are different (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22). That type of a statement clearly places their manual as a religious authority above the Bible!
Not all people who are part of a religious group understand why they do what they do and where their beliefs come from, but that doesn’t make the creed any less of a guide for their respective denominations. These creeds add to God’s Word, and that is definitely wrong (Rev 22:18-19, 1 Cor 4:6).
Are we predestinated to be saved according to Acts 13:48 and Ephesians 1:4-5 amongst others? Is Calvinism true about predestination?
Chosen By God
Dear Chosen By God,
We here at AYP firmly believe in election, grace, and predestination because they are all terms clearly mentioned in the Bible. The important questions to ask are:
- How are we elected?
- Who receives grace?
- What is predestined?
Many false doctrines have been created because people failed to ask these questions. Calvinism (a very popular false doctrine that has infected many churches) teaches that people are elected by God without any conditions and that it is impossible to choose to serve God; it is all up to God. It also teaches that grace can never be lost and that it is impossible to fall away even if you become an axe-murderer or live a homosexual lifestyle. Calvinism also teaches that God predestined specific people throughout history to be saved and that only those specific individuals will go to heaven – everyone else is lost by default. (For further information on Calvinism, please read “Calvin And Sobs”.) This is an example of how the words ‘election’, ‘grace’, and ‘predestination’ have been abused when we didn’t clarify their biblical meanings.
God teaches that He has elected certain people to be saved. John 6:44-45 says that God draws people to Him through the Bible. When we listen to what the Bible says, we are called by God. 2 Thess 2:14 makes it even clearer when it says that we are called through the Gospel. ‘Called’ is another word for ‘elected’.
Those who turn to Christ will receive grace. ‘Grace’ means ‘unmerited or undeserved favor’; grace is a gift you haven’t earned… in this case, it is the gift of salvation. We receive grace when we live by faith (Eph 2:8). Jesus died and paid a price none of us could ever pay – the price of our sins. When we walk according to His teachings, His blood cleanses us from sin (1 Jn 1:7). A faithful life isn’t a perfect life, but it is a life that is guided by God’s Word (Rom 10:17).
The Bible also teaches that God predestined something to be saved. ‘Predestined’ means ‘to set the limits’. Before God made anything, He set the limits of who would be saved and who wouldn’t (Eph 1:5). God said that those in Christ will be saved (2 Tim 1:9). Everyone who is washed in the blood of Jesus will be saved – He is the only way to God (Jhn 14:6). God predestined only a certain group of people to be saved – the church (Acts 20:28). The question we must all ask ourselves is: am I a part of God’s church?
Leviticus 19:28 said, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Why don't I hear too many churches preaching against putting tattoos on your body?
The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.
In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:
- Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
- People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of as ‘the weird tatted-up guy’?
- You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
- Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
- Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
- Many tattoos are of things that exude evil. Snakes, skulls, demonic signs, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. This is not a right or wrong issue, but simply one of wisdom. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.
What is a stigmata? Is it satanic or something?
Stymied Over Stigmata
Dear Stymied Over Stigmata,
Stigmata are supposedly miraculous bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus, such as the hands and feet. The term is often heard in association with the Roman Catholic church which considers it a potential sign of sainthood because it is supposedly a miraculous sign from God that the person is a saint. The Catholic church gets this from taking Paul’s statement in Gal 6:17 completely out of context.
People throughout the centuries have attempted to recreate Christ’s wounds on themselves or associate unexplainable physical abnormalities (bruising, bleeding, etc.) with Christianity. This is totally false. God never calls for us to recreate the crucifixion in our own lives. We are called to be servants of the Christ who already paid that price for us (Gal 2:20).
Should all nations support Israel as God's chosen people, so each nation will not be condemned by God?
Dear Sending Support,
The Jews are not Jesus’ chosen people; the church is. Jesus says that christians are His royal priesthood and chosen race (1 Pet 2:9). Under the Old Testament, the Jewish people were God’s nation (Deut 7:6). The Jewish nation was warned that if they rejected God’s Son, they would be rejecting God, and God would make a new nation out of those who believed in Christ (Jesus explained this to the Jews in the parable of the vineyard – Lk 20:9-19). The vast majority of Jews didn’t believe in Jesus, and therefore, they never became a part of Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ chosen people are those that love Him and keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15). The Jewish people rejected God because they would rather have their traditions than God’s Son (Mk 7:9).
There is a great deal of confusion over this issue today because some churches teach that Israel is still God’s chosen nation – this is false. This false teaching that the Jews are God’s people and that God hasn’t yet set up His kingdom is called ‘premillenialism’. Read our article entitled “Premillenialism” for details on why that teaching is wrong. God already has a chosen nation – the church.