My Current Beliefs

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Version 1.0, 7-17-05

Here are some of my current theological positions. This outline comes from a book by Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy called Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology and the online appendix to it (www.gregboyd.org; see the “Books and Essays” section). I’ve rearranged the issues to follow the traditional categories of systematic theology.

My purpose in writing this is to give theologically-minded people a quick overview of my distinctive beliefs. Thus I’m assuming you already know what most of these terms mean or where to find out, and I’m not covering the standard details that all Christians or all evangelicals believe.

Even though I consider this my theology, most of these positions don’t have the status of a full belief. They’re more like unsettled opinions. I arrived at them either by upbringing or by a minimal to moderate amount of investigation or simply by subjective preference. They will all be up for review at some time in the future.

Broadly speaking, I classify myself as an evangelical Protestant. More specifically, I’m a Reformed Baptist. That label ties together a number of views that are scattered throughout this list.

Prolegomena

Theological method

  1. Deriving propositional truth from scripture (the traditional model)
  2. Understanding the Bible’s story through the lens of modern-day culture (the postfoundationalist model)

The traditional model.

Inspiration

  1. Without error of any kind (the inerrantist view)
  2. Infallible in matters of faith and practice (the infallibilist view)

Hmm, toughie. I’ve always believed in inerrancy, but now I believe the biblical writers held the same basic cosmology as their Ancient Near East neighbors, which might put me in the infallibilist camp, unless that’s considered accommodation. Whether there are actual errors in the Bible, wellll, I’ll say no, for now …

Theology proper

Models of the Trinity

  1. The Trinity is analogous to the unity and diversity of the human self (the psychological model)
  2. The Trinity is analogous to the unity of three people (the social model)

The psychological model, but only because I find it intriguing.

Providence

  1. God is sovereign over all things (the Calvinist view)
  2. God limits his control by granting freedom (the Arminian view)

The Calvinist view.

Foreknowledge

  1. God foreknows all that shall come to pass (the classical view)
  2. God knows all that shall be and all that may be (the open view)

The classical view.

Genesis

  1. Created in the recent past (the young earth view)
  2. A very old work of art (the day-age view)
  3. Restoring a destroyed creation (the restoration view)
  4. Literary theme over literal chronology (the literary framework view)

The literary framework view, but if I had to pick something chronological, it would be the day-age view.

Noah’s flood

  1. Global (the traditional view)
  2. Local

This is really more of a biblical studies question, but since it’s in the book I’ll answer it anyway.

I don’t know. I’ve always believed the global view, but the local view people have the kinds of arguments that convince me nowadays. Does it really matter?

I would like to add one here that was not in Boyd and Eddy’s book, but it’s a fairly significant topic and goes along with my Reformed Baptist views:

Redemptive history

  1. Israel and the church are separate entities, and so are the Mosaic and new covenants (Dispensationalism).
  2. Israel and the church are the same entity, but the Mosaic and new covenants are separate (New Covenant Theology).
  3. Israel and the church are the same entity, and so are the Mosaic and new covenants (Covenant Theology).

New Covenant Theology. It provides a good framework for the Baptist views on baptism and the Sabbath while not forcing us to be ridiculous about Israel and the church. (heh heh)

Christian demonization

  1. Christians cannot be possessed by demons
  2. Christians can be possessed by demons

I would say cannot, but really I have no idea. Kind of a random topic.

Anthropology

The divine image

  1. The image of God is the soul (the substantival view)
  2. The image of God is our God-given authority (the functional view)
  3. The image of God is our relationality (the relational view)

All of the above. Why in the world would you need to limit it to any of those?

The human constitution

  1. The twofold self: body and soul (the dichotomist view)
  2. The threefold self: body, soul, and spirit (the trichotomist view)
  3. The unitary self (the monistic view)

Dichotomist.

Christology

The Incarnation

  1. The unavoidable paradox of the God-man (the classical view)
  2. Christ relinquished his divine prerogatives (the kenotic view)

The classical view.

Soteriology

The atonement

  1. Christ died in our place (the penal substitution view)
  2. Christ destroyed Satan and his works (the Christus Victor view)
  3. Christ displayed God’s wrath against sin (the moral government view)

Penal substitution as a basis for Christus Victor, but moral government is an interesting possibility.

Salvation

  1. TULIP (the Calvinist view)
  2. God wants all to be saved (the Arminian view)

TULIP.

Santification

  1. Santification as a declaration by God (the Lutheran view)
  2. Santification as holiness in christ and in personal conduct (the Reformed [Calvinist] view)
  3. Santification as resting-faith in the sufficiency of christ (the Keswick “deeper life” view)
  4. Entire sanctification as perfect love (the Wesleyan view)

The differences among these seem very subtle to me, so it’s hard to choose. I suppose I’ll go with the Reformed view for now, since I’m Reformed in general and I don’t see why sanctification shouldn’t require hard work.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

  1. People are baptized with the Spirit when they believe (the classical Protestant view)
  2. The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs subsequent to salvation (the subsequent Spirit baptism view)

Classical Protestant.

Speaking in tongues

  1. Speaking in tongues is evidence that a person is filled with the Holy Spirit (the Pentecostal view [the initial evidence doctrine])
  2. Some people may be given the gift of speaking in tongues and others not (non-Pentecostal view)

Non-Pentecostal.

Eternal security

  1. Secure in the power of God (the eternal security view)
  2. The need to persist in faith (the conditional security view)

Eternal security.

The destiny of the unevangelized

  1. No other name (the restrictivist view)
  2. God does all he can do (the universal opportunity view)
  3. Hope beyond the grave (the postmortem evangelism view)
  4. He has not left himself without a witness (the inclusivist view)

Restrictivist, but universal opportunity appeals to me.

Infant death

  1. Babies who die automatically go to heaven (the age of accountability view)
  2. Baptized babies go to heaven; all others go to hell (the Augustinian view)
  3. It depends on the faith or unbelief of their parents (a medieval and Reformed view)
  4. Elect babies are predestined to salvation; nonelect babies are not (another Reformed [Westminster Confession] view)
  5. Babies mature in the afterlife and then choose (the postmortem evangelism view)

I have no idea, unfortunately.

Ecclesiology

Baptism

  1. Baptism and Christian discipleship (the believer’s baptism view)
  2. Covenanting with the community of God (the infant baptism view)

Believer’s baptism.

The Lord’s Supper

  1. “This is my body” (the spiritual presence view)
  2. “In remembrance of me” (the memorial view)

Memorial.

The charismatic gifts

  1. The gifts are for today (the continuationist view)
  2. “Tongues shall cease” (the cessationist view)

Continuationist. (You were going to guess cessationist, admit it!) But I personally don’t exercise any charismatic gifts, and I don’t really fit in with the charismatic culture, although I find it interesting.

Women in ministry

  1. Created equal, with complementary roles (the complementarian view)
  2. The irrelevance of gender for spiritual authority (the egalitarian view)

Another toughie. My personality is very democratic, so I lean heavily toward the egalitarian view, but I’m uncomfortable with female head pastors.

Submission in marriage

  1. Wives must submit to their husbands (the complementarian view)
  2. Gender-based authority was only cultural (the egalitarian view)

As with the previous one, I want to say egalitarian, but I couldn’t prove it.

Christians and politics

  1. The church must transform and ultimately control politics (the transformational [Calvinist] model)
  2. Christians should be wary of involving themselves in politics (the oppositional [anabaptist] model)
  3. God works through the secular government and the church for different purposes (the two-kingdoms [Lutheran] model)

I actually lean toward the Lutheran model, for no particular reason.

Eschatology

Hell

  1. The unending torment of the wicked (the classical view)
  2. The wicked shall be no more (the annihilationist view)

The classical view, but annihilationism would be nice.

The book of Revelation

  1. The events spoken of in Revelation were all specifically fulfilled in the first century (the preterist view)
  2. Revelation is a heavily symbolic dramatization of the ongoing battle between God and evil (the idealist view)
  3. Almost all of Revelation records events that will take place at the end of time (the futurist view)
  4. Revelation records the gradual unfolding of God’s plan for history up to the present (the historicist [Reformation] view)

Preterist.

The millennium

  1. Raptured before the reign (the premillennial view)
  2. Working toward and waiting for a coming reign of peace (the postmillennial view)
  3. The symbolic thousand-year conquest of Satan (the amillennial view)

Amillennial.

The rapture

  1. Christ will remove the church before the tribulation (the pre-tribulation view)
  2. Christ will return once, after the tribulation (the post-tribulation view)

Neither, since I’m amillennial, but if I had to pick one, it would be post-trib.