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On The Necessity of Virtues and Values

Of an Empowering & Inspired Leader

The term values is often confused with virtues although similar in meaning virtues are characteristics and attributes (qualities and aspects) associated with the nature of God whereas values are any principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile and desirable (Bredfeldt 2006). Furthermore, values are determined by one’s worldview and are based on personality, family dynamics, environmental factors, social factors, cultural aspects, political views and other views of social nature. One’s view on creation, God (or the lack of, and even economics shapes one’s values as well as how one perceives and pursues the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. Additionally one’s values are mutable and change as one’s perception and perspective changes. Our values can be influenced and manipulated by the views and teachings of others and form the basis of our morality where as our virtues are God given. The two combined form the basis for Ethics.

Ethics can be divided into three categories.  At the highest level is our Virtue our concept of God and Evil or theodicy.  Western social concepts of virtues is credited first to the Greek Philosopher Plato who views justice as the highest virtue.  Justice forms the bond that holds all the other four virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance (Self-control) and continence (abstinence from immorality especially sexually desire) in unity and congruency. Additionally, only through the exercise of knowledge and the power given within our soul can ultimate good be achieved for the form is an imperfect copy and our senses are inferior matter or existence is imperfect while essence (soul, God, spirit, knowledge) is perfect and unchanging and is the basis for all things (anonymous 2016).  The second level is one’s personal and family conception of what is right & wrong (general morality) and at the base is secular law or social and corporate structure.

Virtue, Values & Vices

Aristotle built upon Plato’s concepts but came to a different conclusion. For him matter and essence are inseparable and both are derived from God. The lower form matter thereby originated from the deity and all action originates from the potentiality of motion (anonymous 2016).   For Aristotle virtues are God given but must be developed in training and discipline in what he called means. If we for example wish exemplify High-Mindedness (Wisdom) but the over development of it this will lead to the excessive vice of pride (boastfulness, vanity). In Contrast a lack of development will lead to the vice of deficiency of foolishness ( humble-mindedness) Thus for Aristotle, virtues fail as a result of two categories’ of vices one of deficiency and one of excess as a result of a lack of discipline and training.

Aristotle’s list of virtues and vices are listed on the following chart (anonymous 2016).

VICE OF DEFICIENCY VIRTUOUS MEAN VICE OF EXCESS
Cowardice Courage Rashness
Insensibility Temperance Intemperance
Illiberality Liberality Prodigality
Pettiness Munificence Vulgarity
Humble-mindedness High-mindedness Vaingloriness
Want of Ambition Right Ambition Over-ambition
Spiritlessness Good Temper Irascibility
Surliness Friendly Civility Obsequiousness
Ironical Depreciation Sincerity Boastfulness
Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery
Shamelessness Modesty Bashfulness
Callousness Just Resentment Spitefulness

 

Finally, one is to practice self-love and friendship or love of others, which is a communal relation, and peaceful and beautiful state of existence with the world in general (anonymous 2016). Furthermore, justice is both general and special in that it applies to the observance of both secular and moral law in occasional circumstance such as judicial and economic matters and is abstract in some instance for absolute justice, which is corrective, and often retaliatory is necessary in moral conduct and common decency.

God cannot be comprehended by practicing normal human moral insight; rather one finds God in happiness in being (anonymous 2016). For Aristotle, pain and pleasure of the mind and soul is the motivation behind the virtues and thus desire for higher pleasure one strives for the highest virtue of high-mindedness through the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and the disciplines of means or pursuit of the other Godly virtues.

From a Biblical the character of the leader should be developed out of disciple and training from the study of God’s word, meditation, prayer, a life of obedience of faith ( reliance, dependence and trust on Christ and the Holy Spirit).   One must additionally die to flesh – born to Spirit (Rom. 12) and be without boastful pride and in loving humble servitude and in a unity of heart and mind that imitates the likeness of Christ (Phil 1-6). Through the transformation of one’s mind through various spiritual disciplines and the resistance of temptations and living by Christian Ethics, one is granted Spiritual Gifts for the glory of God and service (Rom 12-15).

Additionally, one is to be follow the guidelines of Christian character and conducts as outlined in 1 Tim: 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. This ethical code is similar to the classical code of the Greeks and summarized lists certain desirable traits of conduct for leaders and elders of the church. However, this code should become the basis for all believers conduct, as it is list some basics guidelines for virtues besides those in Romans 12-15. The Fruit of the Spirit, which results from discipline practice and training, is the highest virtues (Gal 5-16-26, Col 3:1-17) and is only given by the leading and granting of the Holy Spirit. Both lists also contain some of the more common sins or depravities of Humanity.  One should recall from Romans 1-8 Paul reminds us all though the Law illustrates us the nature of our sin and we may have all intentions to do good deeds, works actions or even obey out of obligation of the Law. Because of our sin even after being justified or declared citizens of distinction worth and righteous (elect, saints). Will fall short. Thus only by the atoning cross can any of us be truly forgiven, and it is by Christ grace and mercy that all faith is based not by anything we can accomplish. WE however must with the aid of the Holy Spirit striving to become transformed dying from the temptations of sin, forgiving others as well as our self, empowering others and spreading the Gospel to the fallen world serving as Christ like teachers in faith, hope and love.

Courage

Courage is essential and is the result of Endurance, perseverance, and often times suffering.  Courage is the ability to face one’s fears, standing firm in strength in one’s convictions and is a discipline virtue that arises from faith and relying on the practice of truth in times of crisis, adversity or suffering. Courage as a virtue is the assurance of the interdependence working of God in total trust and reliance in any situation or occasion of danger (whether perceived or actual).

Thus, with that aid of the Holy Spirit and the Authority given to the believer by Christ the sovereignty will insure the outcome is in the best interest of the Trinity of God and for his divine creation and Eternal- kingdom.  Additionally courage sparks the passion and not always the sensibility of the individual leading to actions in a situation. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, virtues, and vales in a manner that practical and is thus sensible and heartfelt or appropriate in any given situation.

Truth

Truth can be absolute or relative based on assumptions, feelings, false input of one’s senses or misguided views or actions. The Bible in inerrant when God, Christ or “The Angel of the Lord says or the Holy Spirit gives direct directives. However, the Bible is also infallible meaning it is the means and ends of achieving Faith. Both doctrines of the church are human perspectives and can be supported by the Biblical Evidence.

However, the Bible is not fully inerrant or infallible in itself and never makes an exclusive claim for one or the other. Rather truth and faith (Spirit) matched with authenticity should be seen as the Biblical doctrine  Biblical intake and teaching requires the ability to differentiate, evaluate and incorporate  historical, occasional, cultural, situational, universal, personal and finally current relevancy (Duvall and Hays 2012, 235-246).

To make a claim that either truth of faith or works or goodwill (deeds) are to be separated or combined in any a+ +b or b+ d or any other combination to achieve salvation is missing the mark. The truth is all are inseparable and holistic parts lived and in of obedience of faith for the suffering Bondservant of Christ. One style of leadership or church will not be fitting or reach and meet the needs for all people and doctrines of man will divide. Each view has strengths and weakness as every man has strength and weaknesses (Bredfeldt 2006).

The Key of Wisdom

The key is discernment with biblical guidance and application of general revelation, assessment and our experience. This enables one as an individual, the Body of Believers or universal communal church, and all who are willing to hear, see and receive the Atoning Sacrifice of Christ and the Good-News in a manner that leads to a profession of faith and the empowering and ongoing transformation to the Eikōn. This New Adam – New Kingdom fulfillment, will be granted  when final salvation and full restoration is completed upon Christ return which is only possible with the aid of others and the Holy Spirit brought forth in humble, and accepting discerning teachings of love grace and mercy.

 

Uniqueness & Diversity: The Character of a Leader

What defines ethics and sound character will vary from subculture to culture and will differ even by some degree with in the individual heart and mind of each person. A worldview is simply how an individual perceives the world and his place in creation. It is influenced by family dynamics, cultural customs, ethnicity, nationality, religious views ( doctrines and dogma & beliefs), peer pressure, inspiration, philosophical ideology, political perception,  economics, innate vales & talents , God given virtues ( often unrealized or undeveloped), knowledge, and wisdom. This list is far from complete.

Sin is the adversary of character and is like a genetic curse inherit in all humanity. Sin leads to opposition to the guidelines of the Law that is Holy and the basis of our virtuous morality. Only through Christ atoning sacrifice are we worthy and significant free from blind obligation to obedience of the Law.  In correlation by the leading of the Spirit sanctified and ethics is thus written on the heart of all who live obediently in and by faith (Rom 6-8).

Our strengths and weakness need to be assessment and evaluation and at times God uses not our strengths but our weakness ( Gen 50:20)  for the benefit his divine purpose ( Matt 28: 18-20 must be done in conjunction Matt 22:33-39). Finally, Philippians 1-11, Titus 1:6-8, 1 Timothy 3:2-7, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, Romans 12-16 as well as Matt 5-7, Eph 5, Col 3:5, and Rom 1:18-32, Rom 2-6). The Good News is since all are declared righteous and redeemed by Christ and love writes the Law on one’s heart in transformation, obedience and willing service of love.

The individual and community is being transformed and restored as long as we keep trudging running, persevering, suffering thru the race of life and praising and glorify God in all things. Thus, doing our part to advance the completion of God promise of salvation and inclusion of all who are willing into the New Adam ( Man)- Perfected reconstructed Eternal kingdom of God when Christ returns to reign in the Eschatological Age (Moo 2000).

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

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Bibliography

anonymous. Ancient Greek Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser, Bradley Dowden, & Kirby Jeremy. 2016. http://www.iep.utm.edu/greekphi/ (accessed May 01, 2016).

 

Bredfeldt, Gary J. Great Leader, Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006.

Duvall, Scott J., and Daniel J. Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

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Image result for The PrototokosThe Prototokos Debate

The debate over what is meant by being first born as it pertains to Jesus Christ has perplexed theologians and has created a divide resulting in discord within the Body of Christ resulting in a lack of unity, dissention and in some cases rivalry and even hatred among those who profess that Christ is their Lord their Lord and Savior.

The word heretic and heresy is commonly a depiction of one who holds an ideology that is against God or against the Church. The meaning from the Greek and Biblical definition can refer to a sect or individual holding an opinion or choice as in Acts 5:17, Is. 24:5, to speak out against authority( Gal 5:20),  a person of questionable conduct “whose self – will questions (Titus 3-10)”,  or a division in the church itself ( 1 Cor. 11:19) (Easton 1897). A simple meaning could be stated as follows: any view, belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief, dominant theory, opinion, or practice of a particular religion, institution or system (Heresy 2015).”  However, deviancy is a definition of society and those considered deviant are often innovators of change in society. More so,  one could hardly argue Jesus was a bit of a revolutionary and considered a revolutionary and even considered a heretic by the religious leaders of his time.

What is Paul referring to in Col. 1:15 when He states, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” First, on the issue of first-born the story of Jacob and Esau comes to mind. Eric Lutzer states: “One should take the word “firstborn” to mean “first-bearer” implying Christ has preeminence over creation or the source of all things that which is above ,supreme and above all else, The Alpha the Omega. In addition, Lutzer points out “It is not a chronological matter but one of status that should be considered for Esau was older but Jacob received the blessing and inheritance (Lutzer 1998).” Secondly, John the Beloved writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Jn.  1:1 NIV).” John also restates this as; “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14 NIV).” The first quote refers to Jesus Christ as being present since before and at the beginning of time, One with God, and the author of creation. The second refers to the second persona of God, Jesus Christ descending from the father to be our savior fully human and divine both in form and in essence; complete in mind, body soul and spirit.

The councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon were called to debate the nature of God and Persona of Christ. In summary, Jesus Christ was of a unified nature of human form- and Divinity born of a virgin mother in a manner which is a mystery and ascended to Heaven in the same state and thus will return in such a state in the second coming. Only such form would be sufficient to pay the price for the penalty of the sins of humanity. Only a Man-God could experience temptation and serve as a teacher and example: A New Adam and role model for a fallen world in need of redemption, a savior who could crush the head of serpent (evil) and hold mastery over all matters of death physical and spiritual (Lutzer 1998).

However, there are some truth and merits to the views of heretics. The Gnostics view that much of the world is under the influence of unseen spirits and the Platonic view that all knowledge is derived from a heavenly origin and all creation has a soul is not without warrant. The Bible cautions of the powers of principalities and the need to put on” The Armor of God” In Ephesians 6. The Holy Spirit is the source of all Inspiration, and in Psalms 148, it is clear all Creation worships and praises God.  All has a soul and Spirit; however, we as humans are in a fallen state suffering a spiritual death because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Humankind must come into a decision of faith, and by the gift of grace of salvation to be redeemed and restored back to our rightful state being baptized of the Spirit.

To the Jehovah Witness who claims that the Father created the Son and the in turn created creation.  A full explanation of context, meaning, and historical as well as relative meaning of the passages from John coupled with the story of Jacob and Esau and the Blessing story should suffice. To the Mormon who claims Christ was born of a union between God the Father and a Goddess the passages from John may be a starting point. However, unlike many fundamentalist and many evangelist the focus should be on salvation, sanctification, and the seven core teachings of Jesus Christ[1] and on Love, unity and humility. It is my belief to overly emphasis doctrine. Dogma or Law is to place religion over relationship and to be more like a Pharisee than to be like our Lord and Savior. If culture, worldview and such can be incorporated into a fashion that does not threaten the Body as a whole it only adds to the dimension of the Church not subtracts from it. God created man in his image but each one of us id unique the world is not black and white but made up of many colors and even forces we cannot see. Even the Highest name of God YHWH means I am which is inclusive not exclusive either God is everything or He is nothing.

In God, Christ, & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

References

Easton, Matthew George. Entry for Heresy. 1897. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/eastons-bible-dictionary/heresy.html (accessed 01 21, 2016).

Heresy. 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heresy (accessed 21 2016, 01).

Lutzer, Eric. The Doctrines That Divide. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998.

 

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[1] Repent & Believe (Mark 1:15)Baptism and Sanctification (Matt 28:18; 20; Acts 2:38; Rom 6:1:11), Love God/Others ( Matt 22: 37-40),Communion (Luke 22:17-20),Pray (Matt 6: 5-15),Give (Matt 6:19-21; Luke 6:38)Evangelize the world( Matt 28: 18-20)

Our Lord Jesus Christ

Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Christology Revealed

(An Exploratory of the Humanity and Divinity of Jesus Christ as Illuminated by the Bible)

Introduction

Imagine if you will “As you are going home from work, two well-dressed gentlemen accost you, handing you some literature explaining what they believe.  You glance over it and are drawn to this sentence: “Jesus was a man and as such could not also be God.”  Seeing the puzzled look on your face, one of the men asks you what you think of this claim (Ted Rivera).”

In this essay, I will prove the monotheism of Jesus as it relates to the other entities of the Holy Trinity. I will explain Christ’s humanity and deity attributes and the meaning of the God and Man concept (Hypostatic Union). I then will explore the dangers of denying either of these aspects, explore some contradictions to Christology, and conclude with the impact of Christ’s humanity on my theological and secular life.

 

The Humanity of Jesus

The first account of the humanity of Jesus would be his birth. Although his conception was of divine origin he was born from an ordinary woman (Mt 1:25, Luke 1:31). Jesus greatest expression of his humanity is through his actions and teachings however. The best illustration of his humanity is when Jesus returns to Bethany after the citizens of the town tried to stone him for being a heretic. Upon hearing the news that Lazarus, his dear friend has died, He wept with Martha, Lazarus sister, expressing compassion, grief and love.  Jesus, then resurrected Lazarus from the dead (although the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus illustrates his divinity) it also shows mercy and kindness for his friend and the family of Lazarus (John 11:1-40). Jesus also had to eat, and sleep, was tempted (Mt 4:12-17), and felt emotions as expressed by his outrage at the temple being desecrated as a market place (Mt 21:12-13). A final illustration of Jesus’s humanity is the fact Jesus experienced pain, suffering and death at the time of his trial and crucifixion (John 19: 1-34, Mark 15:1-40, Mt.11:27-55). It was necessary for Jesus to be born of flesh and thus human and an expression of humanity to fulfill the prophecies foretold in the OT and to serve as sufficient living sacrifice to replace the sacraments and earthly sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant. The Laws of the Covenant (Exodus 20) and the deeds of man because of the nature of sin fell short and cannot grant salvation. Man became to corrupt and society was destroying itself. Thus God must be born and die in the flesh to restore a balance with God and man.

 

 

 

The Divinity of Christ

The divinity of Christ is illustrated by his omnipotence (Heb.1:3, 12, John 1:1-5, 1:10-14), omniscience (John 2:24-25), and omnipresence (Rev. 1:18) (Towns 2008,2002, 159) which is the three traits associated most commonly with the father Jehovah. Christ himself called himself The Son of God and uses the term “I AM” numerous times in the Bible ( especially in the Gospel of John) to authenticate his divinity and oneness with the father (John 6:35, 8:12,10:9,10:11,11:25,14:6,15, 18:5-8) (Towns 2008,2002). The use of Jehovah, which is a means to establish a covenant relationship with man, Scotchmen suggests, “The identification of our Lord Jesus Christ with the Lord (Father) of the Old Testament results in an explicit doctrine of his (Christ’s) deity. (Cited by Towns 2008, 2002,160.*) Particularly in the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals Himself as the “I AM” of the OT. (Towns 2008, 2002)

““Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)  When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.  Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go (THE HOLY BIBLE 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 Emphasis added).” The greatest account of Christ’s divinity is his resurrection and reappearance as man followed by his Accession to Heaven. (Luke 24).

The Hypostatic Union

The Hypostatic Union states that Jesus Christ is a union of two natures and an aspect of the monotheistic Jehovah. It concerns two aspects (dyo physes) and establishes the doctrine that The Son of God is immutable, incarnate, inseparable, and united for eternity with the God. However, his humanity and divinity are a mixed element composed of the human and the divine. This rules out any confusion of the Jesus of faith and history, and guarantees the doctrine of Logos, the Son of Man (John 1:1, 14; 8:58).   The complexity of the Savior’s personality is reinforced by this doctrine. “While there is a continuity of identity, there is this difference. It is no longer the divine nature alone that is expressed in his person. The human nature, not an impersonal appendage has its personal subsistence in the Logos. The incarnate Christ is theanthropos, the God-Man.”  This doctrine thus disproves all forms of Christological doctrines and false teachings proofing Jesus is perfectly and wholly God and Man. The Hypostatic Union was officially decreed in 451 A.D. by The Council of Chalcedon and remains the Orthodox Christological doctrine today.  It set forth to establish unification and to overturn heretic concerns in regards to the Trinity and the nature of Christ it has however been questioned over the years (Elwell 184,2001). Some of the common objections to this doctrine include that man was composed of parts an animal soul (instinct), rational soul and intellect as well as a body. In Christ, this was displaced by the divine soul (Logos).  Arius denied Christ a human soul and denied any connection with the Godhead claiming the word is made out of nothing before time. Deism divides the human and the divine into two distinct entities and tritheism three distinct personas (Elwell 241-242, 2001). The overemphasis on either the divine or the human aspect of Christ would lead to either a critical view of a judgmental impersonal God incapable of our salvation or down play the need for his resurrection and the need for the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah, the replacement of the sacrificial lamb and the Mosaic Covenant, the teachings of humanity , love kindness, compassion and most importantly our judgment for our sins (and our forefathers) and the importance of grace and sanctification.

The impact of Christ Humanity on my life

Jesus has affected my life through his teaching and parables, through becoming the Living Word and by becoming my divine counselor, comforter and redeemer As the Alpha and Omega in Hypostatic Union he is the source of all power, wisdom, inspiration and present in all creation, time and space in perfect union with Jehovah and the Spirit.  Christ has softened my heart, taught me the true concept of love, compassion forgiveness, mercy, to not stress over money, not to worry and not to fear. He is my Prophet, Priest King and Redeemer. With Jehovah-Elohim-Adonai, all things are possible if I ask seek pray and forgive those I trespass against and sincerely seek his guidance and forgiveness with a humble and loving spirit. As I continue to love others and to teach others to love, to bring others to know his glory and to speak out against sin and corruption in a loving manner he will strengthen me. However, if I fail to try to live as he did and fail to live up to the Ten Commandments or become prideful I shall be punished as a father punishes a child.

An example of how Jesus’ humanity has been working in my life is that since 2002 I have been on disable and pursuing an education to better myself. This disability is a manifestation of epilepsy in the temporal lobe and was misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder. I have suffered severe depression battled with chemical dependency and felt empty inside for many years. I sought out philosophy religion, money or the ways of the world to ease the pain.  It was not until I rededicated my life to Christ after restudying the Word from a more open-minded perspective and attending church that the Spirit reentered my life. Over the last decade, I have become commissioned and devoted to serving God, Christ and the Spirit first and seeking The Bible as the primary and authoritative source of wisdom. Slowly dying to self and fighting of the temptation of sin( with prayer and the word) and the ways of the world I decided to transfer my college credits to Liberty University and pursue a degree in Religion hoping to gain further enlightenment into theology and to enter in to a ministry vocation.

One of the best illustrations of how to live up to the examples of Jesus is The Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

All in all Jesus has Christ has given me a new life and made me the man I am today.

In God, Christ and The Holy Spirit.

Trenton Rindoks

Bibliography

Elwell, Walter A. “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition, by Walter A. Baker, 218-219, 583-584. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 184,2001.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Bible Gateway. 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2018:5-8&version=NIV (accessed June 9, 2013).

Towns, Elmer L. “Theology for Today.” In Theology for Today, by Elmer L. Towns, 159. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008,2002.

 

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