I still remember sitting in a restaurant years ago speaking with a man who began to share with Kasey and me about the changes in a Christian denomination. He was talking about how they were going back to teaching that the Bible was true and that Jesus rose from the dead visibly and bodily. I remember saying quite nonchalantly, "Man, that's awesome." What followed was a look of shock across his visage. You see, his views were more in line with contemporary "mainline Protestantism" which I learned that day to mean "we no longer believe much of that Bible stuff."
It has always been a profound puzzle to me why people would choose a form of religion yet then deny the central tenets of that faith, the teaching of its founder as well as it's holy book. What's the point in this? I am personally someone who converted to be a follower of Jesus because I believe he rose from the dead, died for our sins, is the sovereign son of God and the hinge point of human history. If I did not believe these things and experience them I certainly would not be a Christian let alone go to some dead church on Sundays.
Today the Washington Post summarized some research over the past year that simply makes sense to me. The churches that are growing actually believe in Jesus, his teaching, his death, burial and resurrection. The pastors and congregations with the most vitality seem to believe in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles as found in the Bible. Shocker right!? Do take a few moments to read the article here.
Long ago, an early leader of the Jesus movement spoke of a social reality with people having "the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. " (2 Timothy 3:5) I also find it interesting that the end of the verse contains the following command "Avoid such people."
My conviction is that if we are going to be a Christian we ought to believe in Jesus, trust his work for us and follow him in the manner laid out for us in the Bible. After all, if you want your church to die out, don't believe any of this nonsense below. If you want your church to thrive and your soul to be alive to God, you just might want to join me in reciting it:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.