- Why is the scope limited to the New Testament?
The scope has been limited to the New Testament with slight mention of the Old Testament where relevant. As you can imagine, just to do the New Testament is a huge task. And to include the Old Testament, it will be gimongous – much beyond the capacity of our small team. In Titus 3:9, Paul also warned us that believers should not get into ‘fights about obedience to Jewish laws (because) these things are useless and a waste of time.’
The Project Team is fully aware of possible limitations if we just focus on the New Testament because, for example, the doctrine of sin is really from the Old Testament. However, we are prepared to live within these constraints.
2. Some of these statements are different from what we understand from our churches. Why is that so?
The Project Team members come from a wide denominational background – Charismatic, Pentecostal, Brethren, Anglican, and Methodist (Episcopal). Our members have deliberately not taken the stand of denominations but rather to start from first principles.; it does not take a particular denominational view. Our point of reference is the Bible alone. Hence, each element has to be supported by the relevant biblical verses. Christians must be certain of what the Bible says so that they can answer Satan’s favorite tagline, ‘Did God say?’
3. The numbering system seems rather unrelated and some elements do not line up well with the headings. Why is that so?
The Project Team started the numbering system chronologically. However, when new ‘elements’ are identified, we could not go back to the original numbering system. The important thing is that we can now use the numbering as a way for people to reference quickly. Hence, the numbering might not flow well.
The elements might also not line up well with the headings as it was guided by opinions and opinions might differ.
4. Are we overemphasizing sins? Should not the blood of Jesus eliminate our sins?
Jesus’ command to all of us when we become Christians is the same – ‘Go (and from now on) sin no more.’ The issue is always about repentance from dead works. Current churches preach and teach forgiveness and sometimes, sadly, to the exclusion of repentance. We don’t believe that we are overemphasizing sins. We just think that sins have been de-emphasized to the extent that nowadays, Christians define sins in their own mind and possibly what the current worldview tells us.
The Project Team, hence, would like to provide Christians with a clear understanding of what sins are. Remember, it is not a tick box exercise for ourselves or our neighbors. We are saved by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ but Jesus’ command to us going forward remains – ‘Go (and from now on) sin no more.’
5. Are there guiding principles in designing the project?
Indeed there are twelve principles to guide us. These are listed below:
- The project relates solely to the New Testament. It does not include the Old Testament and Proverbs.
- As you can imagine, it is already a big task just to focus on the New Testament. Maimon only targeted at the Torah.
- Nonetheless, it will be incomplete truth if we ignore the Old Testament and Proverbs. Hence, in deciding Christian doctrine, we must bring in the Old Testament.
- However, for the purpose of this project, we have limited the scope to the New Testament.
- The project is divided into sections relating to doctrines, behaviors, and sins.
- ‘Doctrine’ is defined as a set of beliefs held and taught by the church.
- ‘Behaviors’ relates to ‘what believers should do’. These are particular actions – like ‘relationships with spouse’, ‘relationships with brethrens’, or simply behaviors relating to the ‘Bible’ and ‘Faith’.
- ‘Sins’ is defined by the Collins Dictionary is ‘an action or type of behavior which is believed to break the laws of God.’ In Christian circle, ‘sin’ means ‘missing the mark’ (or the standard set by God).
- Key doctrines, of what it means to be a believer in Christ are identified. We acknowledge that Christian doctrines encompass more than the New Testament.
- ‘Doctrines’ can be quite wide ranging. We have used our experience as students of the Bible to establish as many as we see relevant.
- Some Christian doctrines are found in the Old Testament. A key one, for example, relates to sin and its origination which is in the Book of Genesis.
- Behavioral traits are identified within the New Testament through the use of action verbs.
- While the Torah offers very prescriptive and precise expected behavior as in a sort of a ‘thou shalt’, traits in the New Testament are more loosely given; the Torah had direct download from God.
- Paul, nonetheless, wrote about expected (prescriptive) behavioral traits although Christians do have the Holy Spirit’s presence to guide us (more explanation later).
- When it comes to Jesus, other than his expressed behavioral expectations, the interpretation of his action would identify the relevant supported behavioral traits/ doctrines,
- Jesus did have a few clear behavioral expectations. Bulk of them were, nonetheless, an interpretation of his actions and parables. Obviously, when we do that, there will be the issue of subjective interpretations. We have tried to limit controversies by offering cross reference verses.
- Jesus’ actions have been included to help us learn what behavioral traits he was practicing (hence supporting)
- Jesus is the Son of God. His actions would indicate what he supported. Hence, it is natural that these will be included.
- Within one verse, there could be several behavioral traits. Each trait will be considered separately.
- Just like the Torah, we do find several expected behavioral traits within one verse, especially in the Epistles. Each trait will be considered separately.
- Sin is defined as a ‘negative behavior’ or what believers ought not to do.
- There needs to be little explanation here. Sin is just something that as believers we have to remind ourselves not to do it.
- Jesus’ mandate to believers has always been, once we come to a knowledge of him, we should not carry on sinning. The two most important foundational truths are repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus (Acts 20:21).
- All statements will be accompanied by a one-sentence descriptor.
- There will be limitations associated with just a one-sentence descriptor. Nonetheless, for simplicity, we will keep them to one sentence.
- All statements are accompanied by supporting verse(s).
- All statements will have descriptors and supporting verses. There may be one or several supporting verses.
- All statements are numbered.
- For simplicity in referencing, all statements will be numbered. In fact, they will be categorized.
- ‘Doctrines’ will be represented by the prefix ‘D’, ‘Behaviors’ or ‘Actions’ by the prefix ‘B’, and finally ‘Sin’ by the prefix ‘S’.
- This is a beta-version.
- It is interpreted ‘as is, where is’ in accordance to what the passage says.
- As far as possible, it will be interpreted ‘as is, where is’. In other words, the statement may not be able to provide context in terms of description although we would have deciphered the context before placing the statement and verse into a particular category.
- Nevertheless, we acknowledge this as a possible constraint.