Recently I was asked a series of questions about my views on faith, and my thoughts on how certain issues may affect it. I thought I’d post them here as a summary of my beliefs on these issues.
What are your views on homosexuality?
I believe engaging in homosexual activity, either by physical practice or the indulgence of lust, is a sin. I do not however, believe that my heterosexual sins are any less abhorrent to God. I believe the inclination for same-sex relations is merely one example humanity’s fallen nature (Psalm 51:5) at work in alluring us to sin. While temptation may be a result of sin’s effect on the human race, to be tempted is not a sin of itself.
I believe that God loves us all, His atoning sacrifice is available for all, and His power is great enough to keep us all from falling into sin.
You can read more about my stance here: Confessions of a Homophobe.
What are your views on speaking in tongues?
I believe that speaking in ‘tongues’ is a valuable gift of the Holy Spirit, and is available to us today. I believe that this gift is given to glorify God, enabling us to communicate the gospel to others in their own languages which we may not be familiar with.
I believe that this gift is unfortunately abused by many today, and has become a source of confusion, and self-glory among believers.
What are your views on Harry Potter?
I’ve never watched the films, or read the books, but I see it as effort of mass desensitisation. Witchcraft (which is condemned in Scripture) was once a very taboo thing, but somehow has now become hugely popular in mainstream media. 30 years ago, it would have been shocking to think that almost every television programme aimed at young people would include it as a main feature, but this is the case now.
I believe Paul’s counsel to us, in Philipians 4:8, is apt here. It’s not something Christians should regard as suitable entertainment.
What are your views on yoga?
Great exercise, questionable roots in eastern mysticism. I’m not dogmatic about it, but I think there are other, more fun ways of getting fit… like cycling :-)
What are your views on Horoscopes?
Astrology falls into the same category as witchcraft in Scripture. As far as I’m aware, it comes from the ancient Babylonian religion centred in sun worship. Probably not the best thing for Christians to engage in.
Do you believe that we can be baptized in the Holy Spirit?
I believe we MUST be baptised in the Holy Spirit. As circumcision was given to signify a covenant and renewal of the heart by the power of the Spirit, baptism by immersion communicates outwardly an inward conversion through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The outward declaration of baptism means nothing unless it signifies an inward reality of transformation by the renewing of the Spirit.
What are your views on Halloween?
I choose not to celebrate, or endorse it for a number of reasons. I come from a culture where Halloween is entirely inconsequential. Also, it’s a celebration that seems to glorify death and speaks nothing of Christ, so I’ve never found the value in partaking.
Do you believe in predestination?
To be honest, this is a question I am currently struggling with. On one hand, a reading of some texts on their own seems to imply its validity. And on the other hand, the doctrine doesn’t quite fit with the theme of love, grace and salvation as found through the whole of Scripture.
It irreparably damages the concept of human free-will, which in turn damages the legitimacy of God’s claim to benevolence. Reasons being, if we are saved because He decides we should, or will be, then it makes the reality of grace’s offer limited to only those who are saved, instead of for all mankind as most are predestined to reject it. It also raises the question that, if our scope of free-will is only partial and we are predestined for salvation (or damnation), were we also predestined to sin in the beginning?
In answer to the question, I am leaning more towards an understanding that being predestined has more to do with God’s foreknowledge as opposed to His ‘fore-appointment.’ That is to say, He knows all future outcomes and possible eventualities. His knowledge does not dictate events, the events outline His knowledge of them. Thus, He hasn’t appointed some to be saved before the fact because of His future knowledge, but He just simply knows who will be saved, and subsequently sealed/elected at the appointed time.
Do you believe in infant baptism?
No. Among other things, it originates from the belief that salvation is obtained through the (Roman Catholic) Church, and was practiced as a precautionary measure to prevent a child losing its soul and going to hell in the event it died before reaching an age where a conscious decision could be made.
I think now it’s seen by most people more as a traditional quirk rather than a doctrinal imperative. However, I believe it diminishes baptism’s true purpose; as a public testimony of the believer’s decision to be joined in covenant with God.
Do you believe in the immortality of the soul?
No, because the Bible doesn’t teach it. What the Bible does teach however, is that life is not an innately self-existing quality of the human being, and that God alone is immortal.
A relatively short explanation of my belief on the subject can be found in the following post: Things Christianity Teaches Which I Reject.
A longer explanation may be found here: Life After Life Part I: The Nature of the Soul.
Do you believe in the eternality of hell fire?
No. I believe the consequences of hell are eternally lasting, in a similar fashion to the lasting destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I believe the flame is quite literally the glory of God’s presence revealed in its fullest magnitude. And I believe the wicked are completely burned up by it, being eventually destroyed (Isaiah 33:14,15).
I reject the popular teaching of an eternal hell for the following reasons:
- A currently existing place of endless burning and anguish for ‘departed souls’ is entirely incompatible with a future resurrection.
- A future place of endless burning and anguish for ‘departed souls,’ after the resurrection, is entirely incompatible with an immortal soul, unless you create Purgatory (which most credible scholars would agree is not a Biblically espoused concept).
- Eternal burning can only be considered as the never ending punishment of sinners, it is certainly not the complete destruction of sin. Thus, the universe will never again be free of evil.
- Following on from the previous point, this thought alone raises significant theological questions. Namely, if the universe can never again be free of sin, would that lend credence to the thought it never was? Also, if sin will always exist, and possibly always did, would that mean God (and good) is unable to exist without it in a sort of Ying and Yang?
- Eternal burning would mean the wages of sin is not actually death, but everlasting life (in torture).
- The history of this teaching as a popular Christian understanding did not exist before the 2nd century AD.
- It makes God unjust to maintain the punishment of people throughout all eternity for approximately 75 years of a life lived in sin.
- It raises the implication that if He could cope for duration of eternity in the knowledge of present suffering beyond all human imagining, how far less concerned would He be about our current comparatively trivial state of fallen existence?
Do you believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel?
This is one of the things I do not consider to be fundamental to faith. Nevertheless, yes, I do believe Jesus was likely Michael the Archangel.
My understanding is this, the term ‘Archangel’ does not necessarily denote a created being, but exactly what the name literally means: “God’s highest, or foremost messenger.” In the very few times he is mentioned, we find that Michael undeniably shares many attributes of Christ. We also find that in the Old Testament, the “angel of the Lord” was used interchangeably with God, or was seen to have the qualities of God.
Do you believe worship must be done on Saturday?
I believe worship should be done every day. More than that, I believe worship isn’t something to be treated as an act limited to certain times, but rather as an uninterrupted way of life.
I do however, believe that the Sabbath was specially blessed, and set aside by God as a memorial of creation and His first union with us. I believe the observance of the 4th commandment to be eternally pertinent, as I do the other 9.
My desire to keep the law is an expression of love for Him, not an effort to earn His favour.
See here for a more full explanation: Why Worship on Saturday?
Do you believe Jesus ascended bodily (in the flesh) into heaven?
Absolutely, and He will in like manner return.