Reflection on Ephesians 4:1-7 and 11-16.
1. According to Paul, the unity of Christ is maintained based on patience and humility and having an attitude of making allowance for each other's fault.
2. Unity in a spirit, is something given in Christ and people have to work to remain in it. Verse 4 says that we have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
3. According to Paul, maintaining the unity of the Spirit is a reflection of maturity. This reasoning is important as it encourages people to strive to maturity by maintaining unity.
4. In addition to verse 11, it is stated that God gives the gift of healing, speaking in tongues, and performing miracles.
5. My gift and the gift of others are important as they empower people to do God's work and in building the body of Christ. For example, they can serve in various ministries which will all be of the benefit of the church as a whole.
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6. The unity of faith described in verse 13 is achieved by striving to measure to the standards of Christ while in the previous verses it is achieved by binding ourselves to one another in peace and love.
7. Speaking the truth in love aims at growing more and more like Christ because it helps us to avoid the influence of false teachings.
8. Verse 15-16 supports Christ as the head of the body of Christ. This can help Christians to bind together knowing they form different parts of the body, but all belong to one head.
Christianity in History and Modern Times
1. People define a Christian as a person who adheres to the Christianity religion. This definition can be a barrier as the non-Christians will resent the belief that it is a matter of changing their religion.
2. The emphasis on inclusiveness found in today's culture is not something I adhere to. In the Lutheran context, I believe that justification is by faith alone, grace alone, and the scripture alone. Anybody who still believes that he or she can see God without passing through Christ is not of Christ, and no common thing unites us with them.
3. Individualistic concern makes others perceive Christianity as serving God with no concern for others.
4. At the time when Christianity is viewed as a religion where there is no need for helping others, we get the opportunity to preach through servant evangelism.
Orthodoxy versus Heresy
1. When it comes to matters of faith, the basis of discerning the truth from a lie is the Holy Scripture.
2. Galatians 6:1 requires us to gently revive a brother caught in sin. Thus, the error found in us is that we tend to discriminate against people whom we perceive to be sinners.
3. Personal ambition, prejudice, and pride may supplant orthodox teaching and give virtue to heretics by pursuing personal gains without considering the morals of the community.
4. This may hinder our effectiveness in ministering or correcting others.
Being Confessional Church
1. The public ministry of the word means performing duties on behalf of the church to teach the gospel and administer the sacrament. It is conducting the church duties that serve the church members and the public.
2. Public ministry of the word guides the way we conduct the divine task of teaching the word of God. Thus, it defines the way we share the word with other Christians of other communions.
3. Closed communion presents an opportunity for the mission as it allows us to provide answers to those who question why they are not allowed to partake of the sacrament.
4. LCMS Lutherans can cooperate with other Christians by agreeing that Holy Spirit is necessary for an effective Christian life even though they don't believe in baptism. They also share the common faith in Christ and the holy spirit.
5. Ecumenical goals are worth of LCMS Lutheran because they need to reinterpret Christianity and know that baptism by both Spirit and water is essential for one to enter the kingdom of God.
Christianity in the First Six Centuries
a) The Gospel is the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
b) In Christianity, Messiah means savior.
c) A disciple is someone who adheres to the other person's teachings and follows them to the latter.
d) An apostle is a follower who conveys the message of the master to other people.
e) Pharisees are members of the ancient Jewish sect who strictly observed the Mosaic laws.
f) Sadducees are from one of the three Jewish religious sects that only accepted written laws and denied the existence of spirit and resurrection of the dead.
g) Essenes are members of a Jewish religious sect who lived away from town and strictly observed the Mosaic law.
h) Samaritans are people inhabiting Samaria, who adhere to Judaism but accept only the ancient version of the Pentateuch as the scripture.
i) Forgiveness is the act of pardoning one's sins.
j) Grace is the unmerited favor from God.
k) Work righteousness is righteousness attained due to human activity.
l) A gentile is anybody who is not a Jew.
m) In Christianity, Trinity means one God in three persons.
n) Holy Spirit is the third person in the Holy Trinity.
o) An imperial cult is a form of state religion in which the leader, mostly the Emperor, is worshiped as a demigod.
p) Byzantine Empire was a continuation of the Roman Empire to the Eastern side. It existed during the middle age period and had its headquarter in Constantinople.
q) The Nicene Creed was used by the early church to profess their faith and has its origin in Nicaea. Hence, it got the name the Nicene Creed.
r) Council of Chalcedon is the fourth council of the great church that was convened by Emperor Marcian at Chalcedon.
s) The Great Schism refers to the division of the church that took place in the 11th century leading to the Church having two popes at the same time.
t) The Orthodox Churches are a branch of the Catholic church that keeps its teaching to what it believes to be the original sacred tradition of Christianity as passed by the apostles.
u) Roman Catholic Church is a branch of Christianity headed by the Pope with its headquarter in the Vatican.
2) Early Christianity and Greek philosophy was divergent in that Christianity was based on faith while Greek philosophy was based on reasoning.
3) Christians believe that the Old Testament and the New Testament were written under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, they are inspired. They believe that the Bible is authoritative because it forms the foundation of all the doctrines.
4) The death and resurrection of Jesus are significant to Christians because it forms the foundation of Christian faith (1 Cor 15:14).
5) The Jewish synagogue was used as a worship place. It, therefore, influenced Christian worship as most Christian worship is done in a particular place; the church.
6) Christians and the Jews agree that the law was brought to help people live righteous life. However, they differ in the opinion that the law of Christ has superseded the Old Testament laws. This has led to the Judaizer controversy where some group of Christians wants their co-religionists to follow the law.
7) Gnostics are a collection of ancient religions that shunned material wealth. They influenced the Christian faith by making Christians focus more on the spiritual life than the material wealth.
8) Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity. His function is to help Christians live following God's will and purpose.
9) The formal recognition of Christian faith in the peace of Constantine contributed to the spread of the Christian faith by stopping the persecution of Christians.
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10) St. Augustine is an ancient Christian theologian who was teaching people how to interpret the scripture.
11) The great schism was a division in the leadership of the Catholic church and helped foment a more institutionalized character of the church because it led to the creation of a church council that would help govern the church constitutionally unlike the previous era of monarchial popes. The benefit of such arrangement is that it leads to returning of the powers and authority of the Pope as the Pope. The liability of such an arrangement is that it weakened the papacy.
Christianity Pre and Post-Reformation to Modern Times
a) Scholasticism is a system of theological teaching that based its teachings on traditional doctrines and the writings of the early church fathers.
b) Translation of the Bible into Latin took place in the 4th century. In the 16th century, the Catholic Church promulgated the Latin Bible for public use. It promulgated Latin Bible that is called the Vulgate.
c) Eucharist is a Christian ceremony in which they commemorate the last supper. It is often accompanied by breaking bread and drinking wine like it was done by Jesus and his disciples.
d) The Protestant Reformation was a separation from the Roman Catholic that happened in the 16th century mainly due to the difference in doctrinal ideologies.
e) Counter-Reformation was a Reformation by the Catholic church to counter the works of the protestant reformers. It mainly involved theologians and intellectual groups such as the Jesuits.
f) Denomination is a recognized branch of a Christian church.
g) Mission society can be defined as a Christian organization mostly interdenominational that recruits, equips, and send people (missionaries) to share the gospel with the world.
h) Missionary is a person trained and sent to share the good news with others in a place different from his or her place of birth.
i) The charismatic movement is an interdenominational Christian movement that emphasizes a Christian having the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongue, healing among others.
j) Evangelical is a Christian movement maintaining that the essence of the gospel stems from the doctrine of salvation by grace through Jesus Christ.
k) Ecumenical refers to a Christian movement that aims to unite all the churches or denominations.
l) Pentecostal is a Christian movement that emphasizes the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
m) Second Vatican Council was a council instituted by Pope John XXIII to settle the contentious issues between the Catholic Church and social life.
n) World Council of Churches is a worldwide inter-church organization formed to foster dialogue and collaboration among churches.
o) The Renaissance is the period of the middle age and the time of modern history.
2) Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic theologian and priest commonly referred to as the doctor of the church. He contributed to reconciling faith and philosophy by using his philosophical reasoning and writing books about faith. Martin Luther King and the reformers conflicted with Thomas Aquinas over the existence of evil. Thomas Aquinas argued that there was no evil but the deprivation of good. Conversely, Luther and the reformers affirm the existence of evil. They, however, agree that God is omnipotent and knows why it is evil. They also differed on the belief in justification by faith alone and the sole authority of the scripture.
3) Protestant reformation was made possible by the desire of ambitious political leaders such as Henry VIII to extend their power even at the expense of the church. Furthermore, nations were politically separate. It was a factor that made it difficult for the church to unite them given that the church was seen as the replacement for the fallen Roman empire. The theological circumstance that made it possible for the reformers to succeed was the slow reaction of the Catholic Church to the reformer's innovations and publicity. Historically, the adoption of the Aristotle philosophy into the church doctrines and teachings made it difficult for the Catholic Church to defend its position about the sole authority of the scripture.
a) Martin Luther used the approach of challenging the church to a debate by posting thesis 95 in which he forced the church to face him and provide answers to the concerns he raised. The Lutheran Church followed directly Martin Luther's efforts.
b) Zwingli used an interpretive approach in which he sought to clear interpretation of the scriptures, especially in comprehending the meaning of the Eucharist.
c) Calvin stressed God's power and humanity's predestined fate. Furthermore, he used his publications to spread his reformation ideas. His teachings led to the Calvinism religion.
4) One of the reasons factors for the success of the Reformation was the slow reaction of the Catholic Church to the theological and publicity innovation of Luther and other reformers hence allowing time for the reformers to expand. Luther's day is the day when Martin Luther posted thesis 95 on the church door post. These proposals influenced other reformers such as Zwingli. If the counter-reformation had occurred before this day, other reformers would not have been motivated to continue their activities, and perhaps there would have been no Reformation.
5) Vatican II was the second Vatican council created in 1959 to address the relationship of the Catholic Church and the modern world and to settle doctrinal issues. The Vatican II shaped the form of the Catholic church today as it allowed the Catholics to pray with other Christian denominations, encouraged friendship between the church and non-Christians, and most importantly allowed the use of other languages besides Latin during mass.
6) Ecumenical Movement is a movement that aims to attain the unity or cooperation of all Christians. It can be used to iron out the doctrinal differences existing among the Christian denominations concerning scriptural interpretation.
7) A unique characteristic of Christianity in the non-western context is seen as a source of help or liberation from the forces beyond human ability.
8) The western world was one time known for its participation in sending missionaries to unreached places. However, the rising secularism has changed things and now, the missionaries are coming from other parts of the world to minister to the western world.
9) The most significant feature of Christianity is that its followers believe in one God. They believe that man has sinful nature and that Jesus reconciles men to God. Besides, Christianity unlike other religions does not believe in the work of men to please God but rather in the Biblical principle that we can never be good enough to please God.
Challenges facing Christianity today include embracing tolerance rather than biblical principle, focusing on community projects instead of church matters, and lack of zeal for evangelism.
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