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August

A Facebook friend recently posted a montage with the caption: “Christians. We’re not all the same.” When we think of historic or global Christianity, we see a lot of diversity. At the same time, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). The paradigm that has helped me

We all have preferences of what food we like, what kind of car is the best, what sport is the most enjoyable. The “right” flavor, or the “best” choice, or “most” enjoyable is a matter of preference. In our Christian journey, we also develop personal opinions and practices that work best for us. For example, Christians have preferences about: • which Bible translation is best. • which worship style is preferred. • which activities are, or are not, acceptable. • which political viewpoint is better. • which

All Christian everywhere agree that God created everything. They differ, however in how God created. Some Christians believe that God created everything in six 24-hour days. Others say that God created everything in six time periods. Some Christians look at Genesis 1-2 and see scientific statements. Others examine Genesis 1-2 and see literary patterns. That God created is primary, an absolute. How God created is secondary, a conviction. Convictions are strongly held beliefs based on one’s understanding of Scripture. Convictions are formed by

Every church and Christian denomination has characteristics that are distinctive. They have special traits, beliefs, and practices that express their group identity. For example, a church may be known for its empowering discipleship, or effective evangelism, or dynamic prayer, or great worship, or purposeful small groups, or meaningful social justice, or mobilizing for missions. Likewise the group label of a denomination such as Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, or Pentecostal often gives us a picture of how they function and what they emphasize. The Christian

Christians can seem to disagree about a lot of stuff – theology, lifestyle choices, family issues, political differences, social concerns. But some things we must agree upon. I find it helpful to differentiate between absolutes, distinctives, convictions, and preferences. Think four concentric circles, with absolutes at the center. Paul provides a great starting point, of first importance: “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the

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