Tag Archives: study

Creeds + Catechisms: Why You Don’t Have to Be Afraid


Creed and catechism. Two words that scare a lot of people.

Do they scare you? Turn you off? If so, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Maybe catechisms scare you because of your rigorous Catholic school upbringing.

Perhaps creeds appall you because of your experience in a church that split over “doctrine.”

Or maybe somebody simply told you from the pulpit that creeds and catechisms were of the devil.

Whatever the reason, you don’t have to fear creeds or catechisms. They’re your friend.

Why I’m Talking about Creeds and Catechisms Now

Over the last week I’ve been grooming the idea of what we believe as Christians.

I’ve done this through posts like How Do You Know Christ Is Real? and the Problem with Your Personal Testimony.

Today I want to close this short series by talking about creeds and catechisms and why they are important to a believer’s life.

Short History on Creeds in the Church

In , Paul lays down the backbone of what we believe as Christians–a message he preached as of first importance:

That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Gary Habermas in his book  argues this is an early creed–a simple statement of belief shared by the early church.

Other early creeds recorded in the New Testament are found in ,  and .

Why Creeds Are Important

Why this emphasis on standard creeds and doctrine by Paul and others in the New Testament?  gives us many reasons. Here are four:

1. To equip saints for the work of ministry.

2. To have a unified church.

3. To mature believers.

4. To avoid the seductive power of false doctrines.

The importance of creeds can’t be overstated: Maturity and growth hinge on a unified doctrine. But how do we make creeds part of our faith? Catechisms are one way.

Why You Should Care about Creeds and Catechisms

Catechisms–systematic summaries of doctrine usually recorded as a question-and-answer manual meant to be memorized–are an important  part of a believer’s life.

In fact, the purpose behind catechisms is the education of believers–both children and adults–into a full understanding of Christian life.

But if you don’t have a unified, universal creed, you can’t have a unified catechism. And if you don’t have either, you’re at risk of diluting the original message and ultimately retarding spiritual growth.

So, whether you know it or not, creeds and catechisms are very important to your spiritual growth.

Here’s My Point

Creeds frame what we believe. Catechisms help us learn what we believe, namely the good news of Jesus Christ.

But if we don’t have a unified understanding of what we believe, we have chaos. Personally and corporately.

Thus, don’t re-invent the wheel. Creeds, confessions and catechisms are timeless. Read and memorize a few creeds if you haven’t already.

A good place to start is the . Then the . Better yet, memorize . And other creedal portions of Scripture.

From there you can tackle larger creedal texts like the Canons of Dordt or the .

So tell me: What’s been your experience with creeds and catechisms? Good? Bad? Have you ever thought of using creeds or confessions in your own family devotion time?

What Do Your Bible Study Habits Look Like?

In the end, there are only two responses to the Bible–either you receive it or you reject it.

I recommend you receive it. Here’s why.

Basic to the Christian faith is the conviction that God, far from being dead and dumb, is living and vocal.

This means you can get to know him on a personal level…

Why is it important to get to know him? To know him means to build your life on a solid foundation.

As , it’s about putting ballast in the belly of your boat so that you can survive the wicked storm surge of the sea.

What You’ll Learn from Studying the Bible

If you read your Bible, you’ll learn how to survive adversity and judgment. You’ll overcome temptations, avoid sin. You’ll reform your mind. You’ll share words of wisdom and encouragement with people who need comfort.

But reading your Bible involves time. Lots of time.

It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to get up extra early in the morning. Stop staying up so late. Avoid the television, the radio. Practice patience and quietness.

It’s going to cramp your style–something fierce. That’s the drawback. The dark side.

What You’ll Gain from Studying the Bible

However, if you believe the Bible is God’s spoken Word that expresses God’s unapologetic purpose, then you’ll never regret the time spent.

You’ll never begrudge the sacrifices. (You’ll just learn how to make coffee at 4:30 AM.)

In fact, make the sacrifice and you’ll re-discover the lost art of meditation. You’ll experience the joy of solitude. The joy of isolation with Christ. You’ll crave time with Christ and your Bible.

And you’ll find what you need to survive in our post-modern, soap-opera saturated world.

Your Turn

So, what do your Bible study habits look like? Do you have strange circumstances that demand bizarre accommodations? And what personal changes have you seen from a sustained study and memorization of and meditation on the Bible?  I look forward to your thoughts.

Why I Didn’t Defend a Six-Day Creation

You may think less of me after this post.

Then again, maybe not.

I guess it just depends on where you land on this debate.

Let’s lay the groundwork first.

Groundwork Ahead

Last Friday I got an email from Daniel Wilson of  blog.

He asked a simple question. But very penetrating.

The kind of question that, in a sense, “calls you out.” That makes you pause and–well, think.

I knew exactly what he was referring to.

And I had a great reason for doing what I did. Indeed, my motives were good…

Just in the dark, ergo, Daniel’s question. What was THIS question? Here’s Daniel’s email:

There’s a question I’ve seen you avoid twice on your blog. I can understand why, but I am still very curious.

Do you believe in a literal, 6-day creation by God of the various kinds of living things?

Tough question.

Let’s run through my thought process on how I answered it. I think you’ll benefit.

How Important Is Creation to Me?

To begin, let’s deal with why I avoided this topic twice on my blog.

Really, it’s pretty simple: I’ve never had a firm opinion on this topic. I’ve never made a firm stand.

Why? I actually haven’t put enough gray matter to it.

Sure, I did listen to  and agree but walked away with a tad bit of uncertainty.

But why? If the Bible IS the inspired word of God–which I believe–then indeed those days mentioned in Genesis were in fact each 24-hours long as stated.

Hence, I affirm a 6-day creation.

Here’s Where I Started to Sweat

Part of me finds that answer insufficient though. I feel very uncomfortable claiming to be a 6-day creationist.

Why? Science’s domination on this topic. Assert yourself as a 6-day creationist and you’ll get scoffed. Ridiculed. Dismissed.

Scientific opposition 101.

What is that opposition really, though? Evolution and it’s suggestion that macro-evolution [non-observable event] is extrapolated from micro-evolution [observable event] plus time ad infinitum.

Personally, I don’t want to look like a fool because I’m hooked on the approval of man. But do I really have a case?

If I truly believe God to be omnipotent, then I could easily believe he created the world in six days.

Heck, I could believe he created the world in six hours. Standing on one arm. Singing opera. [Note: I don’t believe God has a body. Just saying.]

But that’s not the way it’s described. The writer of Genesis stated six days. So I affirm a six-day creation. In opposition to science.

To those who will complain that such a view is credulous and unsophisticated, :

It is certainly superior to the irrational notion that an ordered and incomprehensibly complex universe sprung by accident from nothingness and emerged by chance into the marvel that it is.

I agree.

Where I Don’t See Eye-to-Eye with MacArthur

There is one point I might disagree with MacArthur: I don’t think defending a six-day creation matters. Let me qualify that statement.

I don’t think it’s worth emotional or intellectual equity defending a six-day creation…especially with a non-believer…when we’ve got bigger fish to fry, namely new birth.

It’d be like me bickering with my wife over the placement of patio furniture on a deck attached to a house that we were losing to foreclosure.

Thus my tendency to avoid the issue and change the topic.

What’s paramount in the creation account is The Fall. The creation narrative is the setting. The Fall and subsequent redemption, the plot.

Don’t get me wrong. We need Genesis 1:1-3 in it’s entirety. Here’s MacArthur again on how  it is:

If Genesis 1-3 doesn’t tell us the truth, why should we believe anything else in the Bible? Without a right understanding of our origin, we have no way to understand anything about our spiritual existence. We cannot know our purpose, and we cannot be certain of our destiny. After all, if God is not the Creator, then maybe He’s not the Redeemer either. If we cannot believe the opening chapters of Scripture, how can we be certain of anything the Bible says?

It’s the WHY in my mind that trumps the HOW.

One Final Thought

Funny thing is, a six-day creation event is small beans when compared to some bigger beliefs we Christians share.

Take the Incarnation, for instance. God invaded his universe as a human. What?

Or what about the new birth–the belief that God raises us from spiritual death? Hell? The Second Coming?

Those, my friend, are tough nuts to swallow.

We are fortunate to live in a region of the world where apologetic materials are abundant. Answers to objections are everywhere.

Not so with those in restricted or persecuted countries. But this shouldn’t bother us. Or them.

While I respect science and what it says, in the end I need to go with God–and so do they–and his purposes revealed in the Scripture.

Listen: This is sometimes very hard for someone who unapologetically embraces the title intellectual snob–but persecution and hardship are the name of the game. Opposition is real.

And sometimes all we have is the Holy Ghost and a Bible. Fortunately, we have more.

Final, Final Thought

Here’s what I learned from Daniel’s email: We worship a creative God who demands singularity in our affections and dismisses all competitors…

And neglecting allegiance to him is simple blasphemy–even if that means rejection from our peers.

Therefore, I’d rather be at odds with the establishment than the God who created and sustains the people in that very establishment.

Christianity is a thinking man’s religion. , “You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.”

This means we need to exercise all spheres of our beings–body and soul–if we want to honor God. This means beefing up in areas we are weak in. [For me, that would be the creation account. What about you?]

This also means answering challenging questions–questions that may challenge our very allegiance…questions that come from both outside our camp–and sometimes from inside.

It’s not always easy. But it’s necessary. Especially if we want to –a mandate no Christian can avoid.

So tell me: You still love me? Give me your thoughts. Brutal and all.

6 Basic Benefits to Studying Your Bible


That’s the average number of  in a 24 hour period.

Tempting to read them all. I know.

Such wonderful, witty wisdom holed up in those nearly one million posts.

But you’d need over 900,000 minutes to read them all (that is if it took 1 minute to read each post…which is about the average time spent on a page here).

In other words, 625 days.

Now, while there are some gems out there, frankly, most blog posts are not useful. Especially if you’re after divine revelation. Or a power that can sustain your daily Christian walk.

The Bible provides that power. And it reveals a rich source of benefits. Benefits you’ll enjoy when you read less blogs (including Fallen and Flawed) and more Bible.

So, what are those benefits? Here are six.


In the Bible you’ll find the truth that sets you apart as a believer for a particular purpose, namely, to do what God wants and to hate what God hates.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is the truth. 

God’s Blessing When Obeyed

 Once you discover what God calls you to do and you do it, you receive reward. Among those rewards…peace, genuine fellowship and joy.

But He said, ‘On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it’. 


The truth of Scripture is the weapon you use to defeat the world, the flesh and the devil. 

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 


Crawling through the Scriptures in search of the truth about God cultivates an ever-growing hunger for this truth. Sometimes this growth is rapid. Sometimes it’s slow. But it’s always growing.  

Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you grow in respect to salvation. 


In the message of the Gospel you find God’s omnipotence. Which is important. It’s this power–and this power only–that overcomes a man’s sinful nature and gives him new life.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 


God’s Word opens our eyes and illuminates our life so we can avoid stumbling. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 

So, what am I missing? What other benefits do you receive when you study your Bible? I look forward to hearing from you.

A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Bible

For me, truth begins and ends with the Bible. That’s why I put so much emphasis on reading it. Studying it. Discussing it.

And some of you probably haven’t seen all the posts I’ve written on the Bible…

So, I thought I’d share with you the ones you might have missed.

If you’ve read them already…here’s a chance to enjoy them a second time.

I’m a firm believer in revisiting important topics. The Bible is one of those topics.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

16 Reasons Why Christians Must Submit to the Authority of the Bible Some of the best reasons to submit to Scripture.

10 Reasons Why You Should Cherish the Bible Ten reasons that will cure you of that ignorance and low view of the Bible and encourage you to cherish the greatest book ever written.

Simple, Unapologetic Purpose of the Bible The central theme of the Bible is not science, style or philosophy…it’s more practical, more dramatic.

5 Stipulations: What It Takes to Be a Bible Student Take a look and see if you measure up.

What Do Your Bible Study Habits Look Like? Find out the disadvantages and advantages of investing personal time in reading, studying and contemplating the Bible.

Why You Find It Hard to Understand the Bible (and What to Do About It) Find studying your Bible hard? Learn how to get the words to pop off the paper, pages to zing by and stories to carry you away.

Curious Secret to Understanding the Bible Want to make sense of the Bible? Introducing 3 simple principles that will help you unpack it’s meaning.

Message of the Bible in Three Words Want to know the basic point behind the Bible without reading the whole thing? Read on.

Right-Brain Thinker’s Guide to the Bible: 10 Creative Steps Ten creative steps to help sequential, computational-challenged people understand the Bible to the fullest.

27 Christ-Centered Couplets Each of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament summarized into tight, little couplets.

39 Morbid Old Testament Couplets Did I mention I’ve got a morbid streak? That’s probably why I enjoyed summarizing the Prophets the most.

The Right-Brain Thinker’s Guide to Bible Study: 10 Creative Steps

Ten creative steps to help sequential, reductive, computational-challenged types understand the Bible to the fullest.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get into .

What is Bible arcing? It’s the graphical tool used to determine and document the flow of thought in biblical texts.

It’s a hot item in Reformed circles. But I just can’t do it.

Even after  explain why it’s so important…even after walking through  on Bible arcing…

I just can’t do it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m down with Bible arcers when it comes to dissecting text into propositions and drawing out connections between it all.

That’s cool. I love it.

But when they launch into 18 distinct relationships based on classification, definitions, comparisons and positive-negative statements…

My minimalist, right-leaning brain just aborts.

Revenge of the Right Brain

So, does that mean my future as an armchair Bible scholar is dead? Does that mean I’ll never be prepared for tough theological questions? I won’t see relationships between texts? Can’t wrestle with the original meaning of the author?

Not at all. There are more ways than one to skin a cat, my friend.

So, in case other sequential, reductive, computational-challenged types are having trouble studying their Bible to the fullest, these ten little steps will help.

1. Read the same 5-8 chapters a day for 30 days.

For instance, I’m reading Mark 1-8 everyday this month. Next month I’ll read Mark 9-16.

2. Start to highlight keywords in texts.

About day 3 or 4, I start to see words repeated. I draw circles, squares, triangles or mangled rectangles around those words.

3. Color code important words.

Around day 10, I break out the colored pencils–colors like Espresso Binge and Washout–and color in the shapes. This way I can start picking up patterns.

4. Create symbols.

There are about 2 miracles per chapter in Mark 1-8. So, out in the margins, I draw a little cluster of grapes to mean miracle. Any mention of the Spirit, a little flame. Get it?

5. Identify key verses for each chapter.

 Midway through the month I start thinking about the key verse for each chapter. I put a * in the margin to mark possible candidates.

6. Identify keywords for each chapter.

Any time after day 20, I pencil in the keywords for each chapter out in the margins.

7. Write paragraph summaries.

At the end of the month, I work through each chapter paragraph and write a one sentence summary. I use , so it’s broken up into meaningful paragraphs. Hard work, I know. But summarizing helps me think through each paragraph and prepare for the next step.

8. Write a chapter theme.

This is not a summary. This is a description of what the chapter is about. Big difference. For instance, in  Jesus tells a parable about vines and branches. The theme, however, is about the relationship of believers to Christ and the world.

9. Create an At-a-Glance sheet.

It’s always good to collect all your notes you’ve written in the margin and document in one place. Here’s the  I use.

10. Read 10-20 chapters from the Old Testament every Sunday.

Right now I’m working through the OT…backwards. On January 4, 2009, I read Malachi. On January 11, I read Zechariah. You get the picture. Bottom line: Don’t neglect the Old Testament.

You could always go a step further and simply memorize a chapter. Or book. Check out these 18 memory tricks if you need help.

It’ll take you about 3 years to get through the entire New Testament. Just depends on your pace.

But no bones about it: Whether you arc or follow these ten high-concept steps…you still have to work.

And don’t get frustrated if you fall behind. [Take it from me: I’m about 10 books behind in my OT reading.] Either pick up where you left off or pick up where you should be. Just read.

What Do You Think?

What creative ways do you use to absorb more of the Bible and build your biblical muscles? Do you arc? Has it improved your understanding of the Bible? Let me know what you think.

Look forward to hearing from you.