Page 5 - January 2020 - Truth & Tidings
P. 5

It would be tempting to say that    of Scripture where distillations of truth
        whenever the word has reference to the   are presented. The first is in the form
        core beliefs of Christianity it is preceded   of a summary of the key features of the
        by the definite article “the.” Unfortunately,   assembly in Jerusalem as it continued in
        things are not that straightforward. In the   testimony for God after Pentecost: “Then
        original text the definite article is used   they that gladly received his word were
        before the word “faith” where personal   baptized: and the same day there were
        faith is in view. Thus, for example, Paul   added unto them about three thousand
        speaks of the “righteousness of God by   souls. And they continued stedfastly in
        faith” and uses the definite article before   the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship,
        the word faith (te pistei). Likewise, Paul   and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”
        writes of Abraham’s personal faith, “being   (Act 2:41-42).
        not weak in faith” (te pistei), with the   The second is a summary of key
        definite article (Rom 3:22; 4:19).    Christian truths as they relate to the
          That being so, the assertion that “the   Godhead and is  found  in Ephesians:
        faith”  may  refer  to  doctrine  depends   “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as
        on contextual rather than grammatical   ye are called in one hope of your calling;
        considerations.                       One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One
          It should be noted that there are parallel   God and Father of all, who is above all,
        expressions that refer to the same idea.   and through all, and in you all” (4:4-6).
        Paul refers to “the form of sound words,   The third is in Hebrews. The author
        which thou hast heard of me” (2Ti 1:13)   sets out the principles of the doctrine
        and “that which is committed to thy trust”   of Christ and encourages his audience
        (1Ti 6:20). These expressions are to be   to  make  progress  beyond  these  basic
        regarded as co-extensive with “the faith.”  truths: “Therefore leaving the principles
          It is also evident that this term “the   of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on
        faith” was used to define Christian   unto perfection; not laying again the
        doctrine before the New Testament     foundation of repentance from dead
        Scriptures had been completed and long   works, and of faith toward God, Of the
        before they were organised into the canon.   doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of
        “The faith” therefore is not co-extensive   hands, and of resurrection of the dead,
        with Scripture, though “the faith” is to be   and of eternal judgment” (6:1-2).
        found in Scripture.                     On October 11, 1521, the Pope conferred
          What then is the content of the faith?   the title “defender of the faith” on Henry
        Despite the value Christendom has     VIII of England and Ireland. When Henry
        placed on catechisms and confessions   broke with the authority of the Roman
        down through the years, and without   Catholic Church in 1530, the title was
        wishing to suggest that these attempts   revoked. Parliament then took it upon
        to distil “the faith” are wholly without   itself to re-confer the title. To this day it is
        merit, it is a striking fact that the letters   a title claimed by the Kings and Queens
        and treatises that constitute the New   of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
        Testament canon make  no attempt to   The lesson of this short article is that, in
        produce an authoritative statement of “the   truth, every Christian is a defender of
        faith.” That said, there are three portions   “the faith.”

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