The first few things I would want to affirm will be fairly straightforward, as I hold pretty orthodox views on the basics of Christianity. These are things that, for the most part, are not really contested within Christianity, and I would go so far as to say that these cannot be laid aside without abandoning Christianity. As such, I'm just going to toss all of these into one post and then focus on more secondary and/or controversial topics for the remainder of the series.
The Christian faith stands or falls on the resurrection of Christ, and this is where I started when I began my deconstruction phase. I did not consider anything short of a literal, physical resurrection from the dead to be acceptable; if Christ was dead, or never existed, then I was prepared to throw the whole religion out as baseless and false. If Christ did not exist, then all of Christianity is built on a lie; if He died and stayed dead, He failed to prove Himself to be God in flesh, and therefore Christianity is built on a lie. A symbolic or metaphysical resurrection is not even worth considering, as it cannot be verified and means essentially nothing. I recently saw a tweet where someone asked, "if it was absolutely, undeniably, 100% demonstrated tomorrow that Christ was still dead in a grave, how would that affect your faith?" and I read through response after response of people saying it wouldn't do anything to their faith.
I don't know what their faith is, but it isn't the one Paul declared would be in vain if Christ had not been raised.
I looked at the gospels as historical documents, because that's fundamentally what they claim to be. I could go into detail in another post, but I was convinced that they were faithful recollections of real events, with Luke and John having the most convincing lines of argument for me. Luke because of his research; the number of details that Luke includes that support his claim to be operating from eyewitness interviews was staggering. Luke stated outright that his goal was to ensure his reader(s) could have confidence in the teachings they've received, and he makes sure to name sources, include stories that other gospels didn't include that show Christ interacting with people beyond the disciples, provide geographic and cultural details that improve clarity, and (as he continues into Acts) distinguish between the things he personally witnessed and the things he didn't. John stood out to me for his honesty and intimate familiarity with the story, how he really turns his focus to who Christ is and lets the person of Jesus stand out on the page even more than the specific things Jesus did or what order exactly He did them. The bit where John and Peter run to the tomb and John is the only writer who records that, well actually, he won that race, but that's an aside; details like that drove home that this was a real person telling real stories about his own real experiences, show a bit of the character of a man who wants to note that he ran faster than his friend, but is willing to admit hesitance to actually enter the tomb.
Incidentally, and this isn't a core doctrine, it's just a side note here, but John is also why I believe in a very early dating of the gospels, which was important to my acceptance of their claims. There is no dispute among scholars, Christian or secular, that John was written after the synoptic gospels, and almost certainly after Acts. Everyone agrees that John wrote last. A great many people, however, put John after 70 ad, and I don't. My reason isn't historical or based on any specific papyrus or anything--so take it how you will--but rather it's literary. As a writer, I am struck by the fact that John has no apparent sense of dramatic tension. He shows throughout his writings that he is a writer who cannot allude to something and then wait to reveal what he's alluded to. Consider this segment of John 2:
The Jews then said to Him, "What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
The Living Word
First, that God is three eternal persons. He is not three separate beings, and He is not one person presenting in three ways. Christ affirms God the Father as the creator of all things, prays to Him as the Eternal Source, follows His leading as the Great High King, speaks His words as the Author of all things, and points to Him as the Ultimate Glory. It is the Father who holds the ultimate right to determine and deliver judgment, who welcomes us as His children, who we come to know in salvation, and who we will ultimately glorify for all eternity. Christ declares Himself to be God the Son, the speaker of the Father's words, the enacter of the Father's will, and the one true means of access to the Father. Christ promises the arrival of God the Spirit, the One who delivers truth, the catalyst that unites the body of Christ, and the source that empowers the work of salvation in the life of the Christian and the church.
Second, that mankind is severed from our proper relationship with the Father, enslaved to sin and unable to reunite ourselves to Him. Mankind, created to serve as image-bearers of God, instead serve from the womb as image-bearers of fallen Adam. God is making all things new, and our only hope to be reunited with Him is to be made new as well. This new creation is only available through the work of Christ on our behalf, which begins immediately when we are adopted as sons and will be fully realized when Christ returns to deliver final judgment on the world and completes the great work of redemption.
God as Judge
Abraham calls God "the Judge of all the world," and rightly so. But which person of the Godhead sits as judge? In John 5:22, Christ declares that the Father is not the Judge, but has given that function to Christ. But in John 8:15, Jesus says He judges no one, and 1 John 2:1-2 describes Christ as our advocate standing before the Father, who is presumably (given the nature of an advocate) sitting in judgment. Within parables, the role of judgment is carried out variably by characters who represent either the Father or the Son.
Consider what Jesus says later in John 5. In verse 30, Jesus says that He does nothing without direction from the Father, including judgment. I present this, and my statement above about the function of the Son, as the unifying theme; God the Son reveals the just will of the Father (the declaration of the Judge's ruling) and realizes the material truth of that just will by bearing the full weight of the Father's judgment on the cross and standing before the Father to plead the application of His work to our case as Advocate. That is, all ultimate judgment finds its origin in the Father and its expression in the Son.
These, I believe, are the basics of the Christian faith. Everything else stems from them or explains them in more detail. All our models, all our atonement theories, all our theological frameworks and terminology find their soul here. Here we have creation, fall, and redemption; here we have God and man and our need for Him and His love for us. Here we have the Bible, in which God the Son reveals God and ourselves and what God has done and how we respond to that work, which can have no falsehood without sacrificing its essential purpose. In these things we must have unity and unwavering adherence; any deviation from this, any different Christ, any other gospel, any allegiance placed equal or higher than God, any ultimate source of truth other than the Father revealed through the Son through the lens provided by the Holy Spirit, is not Christianity. It may share many things with us, but it is not of us.
Baptist Faith And Message
Gods At War
God The Father
God The Son
Gospel Of John
Gospel Of Matthew
Small Town Summits
Stanley E Porter
Statement Of Faith
The Good Place
Who Is Jesus