By Reed Benson
MUCH OF WHAT passes for Christian theology in recent decades is shallow and trivial. Indeed, many of the most popular Christian ministers of our time, while appealing to one's desire for prosperity or emotional support, have little or no theology in their works. The abandonment of the profound biblical teachings of Western civilization have left both a spiritual and intellectual void. Sadly, this cultural vacuum is not being filled with merely the ankle-deep teachings of suburban mega-churches, but also with non-Christian religions and philosophies utterly foreign to the West. Vast numbers of our people, desperate for a belief structure that is both intellectually rigorous and practically demanding, are dabbling in everything from Buddhism to Islam to sundry occult philosophies. If only the West would be willing to dip into the deep well of Christian truth practiced by their ancestors for nearly two millennia their spiritual thirst would be slaked.
THE FOUNTAINHEAD of Christianity is the Bible, the sacred and inerrant Word of God. In the three centuries following the resurrection of Jesus Christ, during which time the early church endured terrific persecution, the canon of Scripture was codified. Simultaneously, the Church Fathers hammered out the theological foundations of the faith, encapsulated in the two key orthodox creeds of the West, the Apostles and Nicene. These pithy statements statements of faith, along with the corpus of Scripture, became the cornerstones of Christianity throughout Europe for the next thousand years. Carrying the West into and beyond the High Middle Ages, it wasn't until the sixteenth century that theological refinements were required to correct distortions that had crept into the Church. Known as the Reformation Era, the next two centuries witnessed an outpouring of intellectual and spiritual zeal that resulted in a series of philosophically profound, scrupulously biblical, theological confessions. These treatises, some of which are lengthy, represent the high water mark of Western Christianity. Some of the most prominent are the Augsburg Confession, the Heidelburg Confession, and the Westminister Confession of Faith.
THE ARTICLES POSTED here do not represent every element of a systematic theology, but rather address some of the most pressing theological issues that have crossed my desk. This is a work in progress and more will be added. Each of these essays begin with the premise that the Bible alone among earthly writings is inerrant, inspired by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Upon that foundation I attempt to establish truth, "precept upon precept, line upon line" (Isaiah 28:10). Rather than searching for something new, truth will be found if we "look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn . . . unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you" (Isaiah 51:1-2). Thus to build a bright future, we must rediscover our Christian past.