Sunday, June 1, 2008


In preparation for leaving on the mission trip to DC this upcoming week, I have been putting together a list of things to read. It's becoming a pretty good list, I guess. But I found one book that I had to start reading even before I left. My wife team-teaches the middle school youth Sunday school class at our church. They have been using a book called "Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers: Exploring Christian Faith" by Donald K McKim (who seems to be a pretty well written author). I've been a member of our current PCUSA church for the past 8 years. We pretty much joined back then so we could have a church to baptize our first child. We had joined a different church several years before so we could get married there. I'll admit, those aren't the necessarily the greatest reasons to join a church, but there it is. Prior to those events, I had been in Southern Baptist, Pentecostal Holiness, Church of Christ, Ghurch of God, and charismatic churches. So I didn't really know much about formal Presbyterian theology. Shoot, I really don't know the formal theology of any of the aforementioned denominations.

So, my interest in this book was high immediately. I picked it up and read the first few chapters. It's written as chapters dealing with topics like Faith and Salvation. Each chapters has several questions that KcKim provides answers grounded in Presbyterian theology. Each answer is pretty simple and short, so no long treatise with extensive research citations. There are several Scriptural references for each answer.

Now, the point is not to review he book and point out the ups/downs of it. The point, for me anyway, is to ask some serious questions about faith. Well, about my faith. The first of the many questions has to do with theology itself.

How much does the theology matter in a Christian denomination? I mean, there are some basic things from Scripture that are hard to argue with, I would think. But it turns out that different denominations, and even churches within the same denomination, can have different interpretations of things like the virgin birth of Jesus or the "literalness" of the creation story in Genesis.

The main point that started drawing me into this internal discussion had to do with KcKim's answers about predestination. I had just read Romans 8 in which Paul writes:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:28-39 NIV)

So McKim's discussion about God's predestination and His elect piqued my interest. I'll probably go into more depth about the answers in his book in a later post. For now, I want to know:

What is important about theology in the Christian faith?