Several weeks ago I asked the question “Can you articulate what you believe?” I then promised I would present a framework by which to answer that question within the week. I failed to do that but will spare you the excuses.
Since that time I did have the opportunity to pose this question to our youth group kids. I split them into small groups of 2-3 with one leader and had them attempt to articulate their core religious beliefs to each other in between two and four minutes. Some did well. Some struggled. One guy in my group did well, in part because he had a lot of practice sharing the gospel as a camp counselor. The moral of the story here? Practice helps. Overall, I was encouraged by the teenagers in our youth group.
What I ask others to do, I should attempt as well. First, an introduction:
One framework by which we can express our faith making the rounds in today is the so-called “meta narrative” (Story) of the Bible. In my opinion, this is one of the most helpful frameworks for understanding the big picture of the Bible, of the world, of ourselves, of God, and of God’s action in the world. This framework has four parts which are named different things by different people, and are understood a little differently by different strands of the Christian tradition. For the purposes of this blog series I will use the language of Creation, Rebellion, Rescue, and Re-creation.
If asked today, “What are your religious beliefs?” I would probably talk through it using this framework. Ten years ago I probably would have used some more traditionally evangelistic, starting with our sin, moving to the cross, and then explaining how to be sure to go to heaven. I’m convinced that these traditional evangelistic methods of explaining our faith still have merit in a lot of circumstances. However, they aren’t really a robust picture of the totality of our religious beliefs. Below is my attempt to express my religious beliefs using the “meta narrative” framework. My goal is to make this expression succinct.
In the beginning, God created the Universe. He created Adam and Eve, placed them in the garden, and gave them dominion over the earth. Adam and Eve were in perfect relationship with each other, with the earth, and with God.
Adam and Eve, after being tempted by Satan, rebelled against God. In righteous judgment, God placed a curse on the earth. Every relationship was irrevocably broken – between Adam and Eve, between us and God, and between us and the earth. Sin and death entered the world.
Rebellion reigned and escalated. It has continued to do so. Today, are born with a sin nature and all agree with the sin of Adam and Eve in our thoughts and actions. This rebellion continues to break down our relationships with one another and with God. It brings death and judgment from God.
As rebellion increased, God’s grace increased. He gave us the promise of rescue. He chose Abraham and promised that through him all nations would be blessed. He rescued Israel out of Egypt and made it a nation. He set forth the promise of future, and ultimate rescue – the promise of a Messiah who would save his people from their sin.
That Messiah is Jesus. God sent Jesus, the eternal Son, fully God, who was present at creation, to become fully man. He came to earth as a baby, was tempted yet did not sin, suffered, and died on the cross. He died as our substitute. His death paid for our guilt. Jesus’ death was not the end. On the third day he conquered death.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and many others. He gave them the promise of the Holy Spirit and ascended into heaven where He is today having been given all power and authority.
Jesus is the head of the Church, all those who have put their faith in Him. The Holy Spirit empowers the Church to proclaim the good news of Jesus to all the earth.
We can become beneficiaries of the mercy offered to us in Jesus by repenting from our sin, turning to God, and putting our trust in him alone. In so doing our sins are forgiven, our guilt is taken away, we are adopted as sons and daughters, we are reconciled to the Father, we are made new, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are freed from the slavery of sin, we are united with Christ, we are made victorious, and we are redeemed, and we are imputed the righteousness of Christ. We are rescued. We have new identities, a new family, and a new purpose.
But, we still live in a world where rebellion seems to reign, even in our own hearts. We do not yet see all things the way they were supposed to be, or the way they will be. We are still subject to sin and death.
We look forward to another day, a day when God makes all things new, a day when sin and death are no more, a day with no more suffering or tears. This is the day of re-creation when God makes all things new.
So, how did I do? It’s hard to express Christian faith in about a single page. I was hoping for 400 words but still went over. Still, I’m not sure what I would cut out. I really didn’t want to miss the Trinity or the nature of atonement, or the church (things often missed). I didn’t use any language of the “Kingdom” which I sort of regret. Also, I didn’t mention baptism which is another thing I regret. Are there any glaring errors?
Sometime in the future (I won’t put a time frame on it this time so I don’t become a liar) I’m going to examine the consequences of leaving any one of the four elements out.
 I’m borrowing the language here from a colleague of mine: Jeremy Bouma. An alternative is “Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation.”