Thursday, May 17, 2012

Introduction to "Frank Geis--On Things That Matter"

Welcome to On Things That Matter, a place for reflection on and discussion of various topics from a Christian perspective.  It occurred to me that before composing and posting any other blogs on various topics of common interest to this author and any potential readers, it might be wise to layout the foundation, scope, and aims of Barnabas Hall.  First, I will explain the foundation of this blog, its scope, and its main aims. And then I will list some basic guidelines for how future discussions and responses to be conducted at this site.

Foundation of "On Things That Matter"

There is a threefold foundation for this blog that is personal, doctrinal, and ethical.  First, it is personal, in that it is rooted in my own Spirit-gifting and calling as a representative and spokesman for God.  "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good works he planned for us long ago" (Eph. 2:10, my rendering).  God has called me, gifted me, and trained me, like Barnabas my role model, to be a teacher, counselor, encourager, and equipper of God's people.  And like Barnabas and Paul before me, I also am committed to proclaiming, defending, and confirming the Gospel Faith with all the wisdom, skill, and ability the Holy Spirit has given me.  Moreover, my Spirit-gifting and calling involves a commitment to persistently and faithfully explain and apply the intellectual, moral, and socio-political implications of the Gospel, as best as I can, for today's issues and concerns.  

Second, the doctrinal foundation, or basis, from which I will carry on my discussions here will generally be that of orthodox, Evangelical Protestantism.  And as to the specific and essential Christian doctrines honored and upheld on this site, they are as follows:

Statement of Faith
  1. We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, is absolutely trustworthy in all that it truly affirms, and is the final authority for all Christian belief and practice.
  2. We believe in the One Triune God, the LORD God Almighty, eternally existing as Three Equal Persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Each Person is distinct and yet equal, fully sharing in divine honor, glory, worship, power, authority, rule, and rank--such that no Person has eternal primacy over the Others.
  3. We believe in the full deity and humanity of Jesus, and in his atoning death; in his liberating and life-transforming resurrection; and in the reality of his present and yet to come kingdom of truth, justice, righteousness, and peace in the Church and in the coming New Heavens and New Earth.
  4. We believe that eternal salvation and restored relationships are possible through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for us, rose from the dead in full victory over sin, death and the powers of darkness.  And this salvation, both present and future in its scope, is offered to all people.
  5. We believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, and in his powerful sanctifying and transforming presence in the life of all believers.  And we also believe that the Holy Spirit--in full and mutual agreement with both the Father and the Son--calls, gifts, equips and empowers people for ministry and leadership in the church and larger society irregardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, or social status.
  6. We believe all human beings are made in the image of God, and are to reflect that image in the church, home, and larger society.  Therefore, as those made in God's image, men and women are to develop and use their God-given gifts for the good of family, church, and society.
                                                               Core Values

      1.  Everything we say and do must flow out of love, gratitude, and reverence towards God; and
           out of love, respect and a desire to promote the total well-being of our fellow human beings,
           male and female, who are made in his image.
      2.  Christians are called to mutual submission, love, and service.
      3.  All Christians, according to the NT, have equal authority and equal responsibility to exercise
           their God-given gifts and talents for the common good of the Church and Society without
           regard to gender, ethnicity, class, or the limits of culturally-defined roles.
      4.  God's design for human community and intimate relationships embraces celibate singleness,
           faithful heterosexual marriage, and loving families.
      5.  All Christians, both men and women as God's kingdom ambassadors, as mandated by
           Scripture and as enabled by the Holy Spirit, must oppose all injustice and wickedness while
           at the same time promoting truth, justice, and righteousness.

While some readers might think the above doctrinal statement is too narrow, others will think it too broad.  That is because, for some, since it says nothing specific about church polity, church offices, baptism, or eschatology, it appears too broadminded   For others, its statements about Scripture's inspiration and authority, about redemption and reconciliation resting solely in Christ's death and resurrection, about the Spirit's calling and gifting both men and women for Christian ministry and leadership, the "now and not yet" nature of God's kingdom may appear as too narrow.  Nonetheless, these statements best the express what I regard as the essentials of  "the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people" (Jude 3, NLT). 

Now I should say that my own roots are in the Reformed and Baptist tradition, and so I do have some strong personal convictions about certain doctrinal issues, which I have no reluctance to discuss when appropriate and when it can be done so without any rancor.  However, I am not obsessed with what Alister McGrath has, in his The Passionate Intellect, described as "winning the battle for mental correctness" and not carrying about any other aspect of the Christian faith.   Nor am I committed to being an entrenched intellectualist, "a rigid, argumentative, critical Christian" who champions his particular brand of Christianity as the only valid expression of orthodox Christianity.  The fundamental rule to be followed in this blog as regards both the discussions and accompanying responses is summed up in the rule laid down long ago by St. Augustine:  In necessarius unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas, "In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; (but) in all things, charity (love)."

Content and Style of Blog Discussion

As for the topical content of the blog, I hope to discuss, in addition to theological and ethical issues, the lessons we can learn for today from key historical persons and events in Church history; significant Christian and non-Christian philosophers, artists, and writers.  And though I may introduce various topics, I hope to carry on discussions with my readers that will be intellectually stimulating, morally enhancing, and spiritually uplifting, even when there is some disagreement.  After all, I don't expect uniformity of opinion on some of these topics.  That is not reasonable, given the diversity existing among Christians due to their denominational, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds.  That is why I will seek, throughout our discussions, to embrace and maintain an essential and generous Christian orthodoxy that accommodates our disagreements within the context of the greater agreements that bind us all together in the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, I do expect those who visit this website to be civil in expressing their viewpoint; to be willing to engage in meaningfull dialogue where different opinions are seriously and respectively considered; that any arguments that are presented be solidly based on Scripture, historical and scientific fact, and be logically consistent and coherent, as much as is possible, in their development.  "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them" (Eph. 4:29, NLT).

So welcome, friends, to Barnabas Hall.  May God, through his Word and Spirit, lead us on to a mutually fruitful and rewarding journey of exploration and discovery.  Amen.     


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