Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Controversies: the list

Updated with links: 02/09/2011

This post is my working draft of the controversies I'd hope to consider. I have some notes but I'd bore everybody if I put those above the list -- so they're below it.

1. The liberal/conservative group of controversies:
a. Creation/evolution
b. Role of women
c. Is heterosexuality normative?
d. Reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible
e. Moral authority of the Bible
f. Models and methods for interpreting the Bible

2. Controversies over the identity of God
a. Can we know God?
b. Who is Jesus?
c. How can Jesus Christ be both God and man?
d. Who or what is the Holy Spirit?
e. Is the doctrine of the Trinity warranted?
f. What is God like?

3. The Catholic/Protestant group of controversies:
a. Scripture, Tradition, and the basis of doctrine
b. Apostolic succession
c. The Bishop of Rome
d. What gives unity to the church?
e. Saints and heroes of previous ages
f. The controversies over Mary
g. Doctrinal development and the faith once given
h. Celibacy and holiness
i. Monasticism and holiness

4. The salvation controversies
a. How are we saved?
b. How do we grow in holiness?
c. How do we deal with sin in our Christian communities?
d. Is there a heaven?
e. Is there a hell?
f. Who is saved?

5. The sacrament/ordinance controversies
a. What is baptism?
b. What is the Lord's Supper?
c. The right place of Other sacraments, rites, or ordinances

6. The liturgical/free-church controversies
a. The lectionary
b. The liturgy and the movement of the Holy Spirit
c. Clerical garb
d. Special offices and the priesthood of all believers
e. The creeds
f. How should we worship?

7. Christianity in the world
a. Is Christianity unique?
b. How should we witness?
c. How should we live out our faith?
d. What is the gospel?

And here are the introductory notes that would have put any unsuspecting readers to sleep before they reached the list:

  • This list is likely to be fluid. I use this blog like an on-line notebook at times, and I expect that this post will change as I add or rearrange the material, or add links.
  • Looking at my current list, I suppose I'd rather have started with what is now section 2 on controversies over the identity of God. When I set out, starting with Genesis seemed natural, but for most things it's not practical to take them in the order in which they appear in the Bible, since the controversies range all over the place. So I'll finish up the conservative/liberal group of controversies first, then move on.
  • I'm aware that my list is weighted towards controversies where I'm more involved. This is not out of any plans to exclude anyone's favorite controversies; it's more a matter of starting with what I know. I can hardly start somewhere besides where I am. I'd be glad for comments on other things to discuss.
  • Some controversies could easily fit under more than one heading. I usually grouped them where I thought it would be most helpful to discuss them.

Edward Babinski has a survey of the diversity of Christianity.


Craig said...

An excellent list!! I have only a couple of comments or suggestions. You could cover the differences the West has with Eastern Orthodoxy under the creeds (the filoque) and salvation (their notion of original sin vs. The West's idea of imputation, etc), but it might be helpful to include a more concentrated post to the Orthodox perspective.

Also under the sacrament / ordinance area, you could add a broader look at the question of what a sacrament is in the first place. This could help frame the looks at baptism and communion.

Weekend Fisher said...

That's a good idea. The Eastern Orthodox deserve better than to be crammed under other headings, and some of the RC/Protestant controversies would make more sense if the RC/EO controversies had been covered first.

Last night I was mentally going through my list of various Christian groups & making sure I'd covered all the controversies I wanted, & I think I want some more areas too. For instance, the question of different ways Christians see the laws of the Old Testament -- it comes up in the Church of Christ, the Seventh Day Adventists, probably others that are slipping my mind at the moment.

Also a good idea to cover "What is a sacrament?" separately. There's some slight difference between how RC/EO define 'sacrament' and how, say, Lutherans define 'sacrament' (which is behind why they have 7 and we have 2). But the larger divide is between people who say 'there's such a thing as a sacrament' and 'that's superstition, magic, and/or works-righteousness'.

Good ideas. Thank you.
Anne / WF

Craig said...

Great points about the Law.

Re: the sacraments - there is also a minority position in the Baptist churches that there really are such things as sacraments. While more prevalent among British Baptists, the view lives here in the U.S. as well. My Baptist church is heavily sacramental, as, obviously, am I. Of course, everything is relative. When I say "heavily sacramental," I still speak as a Baptist. The Orthodox would laugh at us, no doubt. But, still, it's there.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of your series. Thanks for the excellent work you do on your blog!!

Edwardtbabinski said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Craig

Thanks for the encouragement. And when we get to the details, I'll look forward to hearing what you have to add.


Hi Edward - thanks for the contribution. I looked it over & it did seem to be on-topic. In the future please feel free to send a link. I've googled up the original & am adding a link up in my post. I'd like the comments space to be used for people interacting with each other, so I'm also clearing off all the cut & paste comments of that linked article so that the comments box can keep with that purpose.


Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

As I've already remarked, you are ambitious! Really ambitious.

Weekend Fisher said...

The trick is not minding if I make a fool of myself. ;)

And caring whether there's a resource for my children, who are coming of age ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

I thought about your question, and looked over your list, and I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm enough of a theologian, or historian, to contribute much that makes sense, except perhaps on the question of creation, which has been well covered, maybe too well covered, by others.