What is the Christian Faith? Part III (CC-4)
This blog is the fourth in a short series dedicated to the Christian faith. As the title clearly implies, the Diamond Soul book is addressed primarily to a Christian audience. It would only make sense, therefore, to provide a brief refresher on the Christian theological doctrines which are applicable to the subject matter of my book.
On the other hand, I strongly believe that the teachings contained in the Diamond Soul are highly relevant to all open-minded is addressed primarily to a Christian audience. It would only make sense, therefore, to provide a brief refresher on the Christian theological doctrines which are applicable to the subject matter of my book.
Before getting into today's topic, I'd like to share with you the editorial review published by the Literary Titan a few days ago.
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
The concept of the Holy Spirit is another difficult one for believers to grasp, particularly at the beginning of their faith. We know that God is Spirit and that Jesus Christ is holy, so why do we need a third divine entity? To understand the Holy Spirit, we shall outline the historical process of his coming on the earth, the experience of the early Christians regarding it, and the evolution of the belief of the Holy Trinity.
The coming of the Holy Spirit is first announced in the Old Covenant when it is related to the activity of the Spirit of God during the creation and later on through prophecies. Most old prophets such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah anticipate the Holy Spirit's future coming in connection with the arrival of the Messiah or other events. However, it was the prophecy of Joel when he promised on behalf of God that "I will pour out my Spirit on all people," and the coming of the Holy Spirit was established as a biblical fact.
The fulfillment of the Holy Spirit takes place in the New Covenant, first through the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, then through the apparition of the dove during Jesus' baptism. Later on, by the preparation for Pentecost. Jesus himself told his disciples what would happen and when, by predicting the great outpouring of the Spirit on all people, particularly before his ascension.
The event of Pentecost took place fifty days after the Passover, during which Jesus was killed, and ten days after His ascension. The Bible presents a detailed account of what happened that day, when about one hundred and twenty of Jesus followers witnessed the Holy Spirit descended upon them and baptizing them with fire. As a result, the believers started speaking in tongues other than their own.
The great significance of the Pentecost is the beginning of creating a new community, shaped by the Holy Spirit poured over all people equally and indiscriminately. Thus the differences in gender, race, rank, and class became irrelevant because the Holy Spirit brought about the community of oneness. Pentecost marked the beginning of the last phase of history, the age of the Church.
The Ministries of the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus teaches that he would send a successor to continue his ministries after his departure. This successor is the Holy Spirit, who would have to continue Jesus' work in three dimensions: the world, the Church, and the individual. The Scriptures present the Holy Spirit as a member of the Trinity who relates the benefits of the salvation achieved by Christ to the needs of individual persons. The Holy Spirit takes residence in each believer who seeks redemption through Christ, the Savior. But the work of the Holy Spirit does not stop with the rebirth of believers.
On the contrary, his work is just beginning. New Christians are like babies who must grow into maturity. The Scriptures call this process "sanctification." Sanctification is intended to restore God's imaging in his children by reproducing Christ's character in them. It is the assignment of the Holy Spirit to produce this likeness to Christ within believers. And finally, the Holy Spirit will inculcate God's ideals of love, sacrifice, and service into the people in which he resides. Holy Spirit is also responsible for assigning gifts to the believers to provide for their active participation in the ministries of their churches.
The Fruits of the Spirit
These gifts are called "the fruits of the spirit" or "charismata." They are talents and abilities released and energized by the Holy Spirit to be used to benefit all communities.
Holy Trinity is the fundamental belief of Christianity that God is, in fact, an inseparable union of three beings: God himself, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The current understanding of the Trinity is "God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated being, one in essence, equal in power and glory."
But this fundamental belief is not stated explicitly in the Scriptures, and was adopted by the Church only after long and bitter debates several centuries after Christ's death. The most significant general gatherings of the Church, attended by illustrious theological minds of the time, were the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, which produced the Nicene Creed incorporating the Holy Trinity, and the Council of Constantinople at the end of that century, which confirmed the Nicene Creed and clarified the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son. Later on, two more councils (Ephesus in AD 431 and Chalcedon twenty years later) defined the unity and integrity of the two natures of Christ.
THE HOLY TRINITY CONSISTS OF GOD,
AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Doctrine of Humankind
In this section, we will discuss the nature and condition of human beings: how they were made in God's image, the limits of that image, the Fall from the Garden of Eden, and the consequences of the Fall.
Humans as God's Image.
This is the essential truth about humans in the Scriptures that we are made in the image of God. But we know that the nature of God is complex and mysterious, so is our nature also complex and mysterious? And we also know that God is Spirit and therefore does not have a visible physical form that can be reproduced in humans. So how can we look like God? The theological answer to these baffling questions is that God created man in his image as a transcendent, dynamic, and absolute good being. Of course, we cannot have God's divine transcendence, but we can be a scaled-down human analogy of it. We know that God is a dynamic being, both within himself as a triunity of persons, and in his activity. Therefore, it is to be expected that the plurality within God's being should be reflected in a majority of human persons.
By the goodness of God's creation, humans have a share in that goodness. The Bible says that God was delighted with the integrity and the righteous innocence of his image as he perceived it in humans. However, because of the possibility of the entrance of evil in his new creation, God provided humans with protection in the form of the Tree of Knowledge regarding good and evil. The tree served as a reminder to humanity of the possible loss of their goodness. In other words, God endowed humans with the capacity to make their own moral choices.
The limits of God's image in humans result from the finite, deficient, and vulnerable nature of humans, by the creation of polar-opposite male and female. As a result, radical differences can be identified: dependency, mortality, and corruption. We humans are obviously biological creatures and, as such, in constant need to feed, protect, and shelter our bodies. We are also very much in need of each other, not only as couples and families but also as communities and societies. As born creatures, we are subject to God-ordained cycles of life that implies suffering and uncertainties, and inevitably ends in death. And despite our goodness inherited from God, ours is not absolute and, therefore, vulnerable to evil and subject to corruption.
The Fall of Man is the theological term describing the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience. It also means the rebellion of humans against God. God's rules for preserving human goodness were clear and straightforward: Acknowledge your need for me, stay in communion with me, and recognize my sovereignty over you. If you don't, you will suffer dire consequences.
The consequences of the Fall are dramatic not only for Adam and Eve but for their descendants as well. The disobedience to God in Eden set off an unending chain reaction of disruption that affected every aspect of human life.
(i) The immediate result of the Fall was the disruption of the image of God. The Bible says that both Adam and Eve realized they were naked and were ashamed of it. Humans were exposed to weakness and defeat with their innocence removed, features that are characteristic of sinners.
(ii) The second result of the Fall was that sinful Adam and Eve broke their communion with God and felt the need to hide themselves from his presence. Before expelling them from Paradise, where their lives had been innocent and serene, God told them about their new state: they were now on their own. The woman would fall under the domination of her husband, while the man would struggle under the dominance of a cursed environment. Having cut themselves from God, they now become subject to death.
(iii) God created man and woman to be one flesh, bonded together in a community of oneness, similar to the divine oneness. Once the rebellion detached them from God, it disrupted the oneness community by separating them from each other.
(iv) The account of the Fall abounds with terms denoting suffering, brokenness, evil, and death. It foretells the story of our lives contained in a closed cycle of pain: We are born in pain, we live in pain, and we expire in pain.
(v) The pattern of social organization established by God for humans was the harmonious oneness that he was. After the Fall, the whole social fabric of the human race was disrupted and turned upside down. The instruments used for its destruction were violence and sex. It took only one generation after the first couple exited from the Garden of Eden for the first murder to take place. When Cain killed his brother Abel in a minor dispute, he established a precedent for recourse of violence as a problem solver
One of Cain's fourth-generation descendants after his settlement in the land of Nod was Lamech, a brutal killer and disrupter of God's ordinance for the family. Through God's order, the human family began with a man and a woman forming a joined and married couple to produce offspring. Lamech violated this rule and married two wives, thus starting a long history of polygamy that continued through the old covenant of Abraham and his descendants. The Fall has destroyed the oneness of the couple and replaced it with a ruler/subject relation: man was the ruler; woman was the subject.
WE HUMANS ARE GOD'S CHILDREN
MADE IN HIS IMAGE
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