I have to be who I am. Once, a long time ago I called it the “Idiocy of Jeffreyosity.” Kind of silly, but I meant that no one is like me. I am who I am and I can’t be anything else. Aren’t we all that way. We are who we are. It’s our DNA and the environment that we grew up in and currently live in. It’s our beliefs and choices, and a hundred or a thousand things or more.
Theology has a lot of different systems to present belief about God and Christ and the Bible. I have a book that is several years old that has almost a hundred different creedal statements by groups and churches over the centuries. Most of those creeds are developed in response to some question or to protect against false teaching as if the Scriptures can’t handle the job.
These doctrinal statements called creeds are mostly based on what is called “Systematic Theology.” Systems of belief that attempt to
force the teachings of the Bible in a box. Usually it is a means of interpreting things that may or may not interpret scripture accurately. Calvinism is one of those systems. John Calvin learned it from Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), a monk who held a mystical view of things. He believed and taught what Calvin later refined and taught, thus Calvinism. A current trend is “Reformation Theology.” An explanation of reformed theology is to large for this post. Check this link for an explanation; http://reformedtheology.org/SiteFiles/WhatIsRT.html. Arminanism is another one. It has different views of God’s sovereignty and predestination than does Calvinism. Check this link for a further explanation; http://www.theopedia.com/Arminianism. And eschatology is concerned with the end times and there is at least one form of systematic theology within it, the premillennial dispensational view. It does what systematic theology does, it takes a form of belief and makes everything fit within that form, whether right or wrong.
I am none of the above. My church tradition involves a concern that the reformation began with Martin Luther and though he was correct his method was mistaken. What the reformers did was discover un-Biblical and non-Biblical practices and teaching in the church and address them. As they addressed each issue, a dozen more would appear. It’s like swimming up-stream against a violently raging river, at flood stage. Always more!
The tradition I am referring too is often known as the Restoration Movement. The desire was to restore the church to New Testament Christianity. Instead of dealing with issue after issue, we should go back to New Testament teachings and practice and the issues will fall away. We will be dealing with a pure church, a church that has no man made creeds or systematic forms of belief.
Some of the restoration pioneers are Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander. Barton W. Stone, Walter Rigdon, Walter Scott, Racoon John Smith and more. They all came to the same conclusions in different parts of the world at about the same time, and eventually through a series of events met and worked together, not to set up a new denomination, but to avoid the man made and let the church be under the authority of Christ and the Scriptures.
Some of the churches that have a history with the Restoration Movement are the Disciples of Christ, the Church of Christ (non-instrumental), the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) and several others such as the more recent Disciples Heritage.
Please know that I am not criticizing or condemning any of these creeds, theology’s or Churches. Some of what they present are true to Scripture, and some are not or mistaken in interpretation or understanding.
This evening in our Bible discussion at church, one of our elders and I tried to be honest and fair with these other belief’s and groups, but show our people how we differ from them too. One of the motto’s of the Restoration Movement is that “We are people of the Book,” and “Where the Scriptures speak we speak and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” We may learn from Calvin, or Augustine, or Luther, or Campbell, or even Bob Russell, or Rick Warren, or Bill Hybels and contemporary preachers and theologians. But we are bound not by any man’s teaching or interpretation of Scripture. We don’t have a man made and developed creed, or a systematic theology. Our creed is Christ and our theology is the Bible.
We are “Biblio-Thologians.”