Towards a Christian Life

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Christianity differs from other Abrahamic religions in that it focuses on the teachings of Jesus , and on his place as the prophesied Christ. It also includes a belief in the New Covenant. According to most Christian traditions, Christian faith requires a belief in Jesus' resurrection from the dead , which he states is the plan of God the Father.

Since the Protestant Reformation the meaning of this term has been an object of major theological disagreement in Western Christianity. The differences have been largely overcome in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification The precise understanding of the term "faith" differs among the various Christian traditions. Despite these differences, Christians generally agree that faith in Jesus lies at the core of the Christian tradition, and that such faith is required in order to be a Christian.

The verb form of pi'stis is pisteuo , which is often translated into English versions of the New Testament as 'believe'. The adjectival form, pistos , is almost always translated as 'faithful'. The New Testament writers, following the translators of the Septuagint Greek Old Testament rendered words in the Hebrew scriptures that concerned 'faithfulness' using pi'stis -group words.

The pi'stis -group words are most appropriately translated into English by a range of words, depending on the context in which they occur.

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In both the New Testament and other Greek texts, pi'stis describes connections of firmness that can form between a wide variety of entities: people, traditions, practices, groups, purposes, facts or propositions. The appropriate English translation is often evident from the relationship between the two entities connected by pi'stis. The pi'stis -group words in the New Testament can thus be interpreted as relating to ideas of faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, commitment, trust, belief, and proof.

The most appropriate interpretation and translation of pi'stis -group words in the New Testament is a matter of recent controversy, particularly over the meaning of pi'stis when it is directed towards Jesus. In the Protestant tradition, faith is generally understood to be closely associated with ideas of belief, trust, and reliance. This understanding is founded in the doctrinal statements of the Reformers. One of their confessional statements explains: "the principle acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification , sanctification , and eternal life.

Saving faith is generally understood in terms of a belief of, trust in, and reliance on the person of Jesus and his work of atonement accomplished through his death on the cross. In a more everyday sense, faith is often discussed in terms of believing God's promises, trusting in his faithfulness, and relying on God's character and faithfulness to act. Yet, many Protestants stress that genuine faith is also acted on , and thus it brings about different behaviour or action and does not consist merely of mental belief, trust or confidence or outright antinomianism. Hence, having authentic 'faith in Jesus' is generally understood to lead to changes in how one thinks and lives.

However, the Protestant tradition holds that these changes in character and conduct do not have any value for obtaining a positive final judgment , but that a positive final judgment depends on faith alone sola fide. In recent decades, scholars have researched what pi'stis meant in the social context of the New Testament writers.

Christianity - Wikipedia

Several scholars who have studied the usage of pi'stis in both early Greek manuscripts and the New Testament have concluded that 'faithfulness' is the most satisfactory English translation in many instances. Hebrews : "Now faith pi'stis is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. In view of this, James Hope Moulton and George Milligan suggest the rendering: "Faith is the title deed of things hoped for" Vocabulary of the Greek Testament , , p.

Thereby this evidence makes clear what has not been discerned before and so refutes what has only appeared to be the case.

This evidence for conviction is so positive or powerful that it is described as faith. Christian faith, described in these terms, is not synonymous with credulity, but rather has connotations of acting in faithfulness and trust. John : "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son , that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Hebrews : This passage describes the meaning and the practical role of faith: "Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. John —29 : When asked "What must we do to do the works God requires? Galatians : "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

James : "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? James : "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

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Objectively, faith is the sum of truths revealed by God in Scripture and tradition and which the Church presents in a brief form in its creeds. Subjectively, faith stands for the habit or virtue by which these truths are assented to. According to Thomas Aquinas , faith is "the act of the intellect assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God" St.

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What is the exceptionality and distinctiveness of the Christian definition of the conscience? Furthermore, the Scriptures affirm that the natural state of our conscience is not a fully reliable mechanism for distinguishing right from wrong. There are so many different expressions of conscience. On one side there is good conscience Ac , pure conscience 1 Tm , clear conscience Ac , and on the other side evil conscience Heb , seared conscience 1 Tm , defiled Tt or weak conscience 1 Cor , Limitation of space does not allow me to elaborate more on each of these states of human conscience cf.

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Nevertheless, what is significant in this discussion is that the conscience alone is not reliable in determining moral good or evil. The Apostle Paul put it nicely in 1 Corinthians — My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. At that time each will receive his praise from God. The Lordship of Christ in the conscience is what gives the conscience power and effectiveness as a moral device. The Lord is the ultimate judge of our moral reasoning, which is very often undependable because of its sinful nature.

This is the basic difference between Christian faith and the scientific explorations of morality in Psychology. McBrien the renowned Catholic theologian, put it this way:. Conscience is the radical experience of ourselves as moral agents. Christian conscience is the radical experience of ourselves as new creatures in Christ, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. But since we never know ourselves completely self-knowledge is something one works at; it is not ready made , decisions of conscience are necessarily incomplete and partial.

And because our own circumstances are always historically, socially, and culturally defined, decisions of conscience are necessarily fallible and subject to correction and change. Morality is therefore never neutral.

The place of Christian Ashrams in the journey towards spiritual perfection

Conscience is never empty. The content and correction of our conscience comes from the Word of God, and the power to exercise it properly comes from the Spirit of God. As Luther famously states:. Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience.

Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Modern psychologists, at least in the United States, identify the need, both in theory and practice, for correlation between human spirituality and the scientific tools of Psychology. The following serves as examples. In Edward P. On what philosophical ground is the integration between the spiritual faculty of human nature and the concept of the Lordship of Christ possible?

Let me use the following debate, taken from a recent blog of Richmond , as a starting point of discussion on this integration:.

Responding to a Society Becoming Increasingly Hostile Towards Christian Views

In his masterful play, Man and Superman , George Bernard Shaw turned the classical images of heaven and hell upside down. He described hell as a place of complete satisfaction, where all desires are freely fulfilled. Personal responsibility had no place in hell. This is a provocative metaphor. Being a metaphor, though, it is not to be taken literally in a metaphysical sense. Therefore, though an atheist, not a theologian, Shaw nevertheless made a brilliant discovery: a spiritual life is also a practical life. Yet such practicality does not depend on knowledge so much as understanding. Too many persons today, however, preoccupy themselves with knowledge, whether it be intellectual or carnal, and in doing so they sidestep the concept of understanding. All the pages of knowledge flap uselessly in the swirling gusts that blow along that ridge. Accordingly, spiritual journey is based on the quest for meaning against the agony of the self-limitations of our being. The full understanding vs knowledge of the transcendent divine love of Christ gives fullness of meaning spiritual meaning to our lives.

The spiritual substratum of our life is this understanding of redeeming divine love that transforms itself into a meaningful practical life of service to our neighbour and humanity. This aspect of spirituality has been forgotten in the scientific exploration of spirituality as a faculty of the human soul. Renewed spirituality is preoccupied with the Lordship of Christ. There is only one foundation for the integration of Psychology and the human faculty of spirituality: the quest for ultimate meaning is rewarded by the experience of the divine love and Lordship of Christ.

I have to admit that attempts of this kind to integrate psychological theories of human faculties and Christian theory or revelation of the sovereignty of Christ have been found wanting.