The Communion Table in the chancel of Alberton Church


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Questions about the Christian Faith

In conversations about faith people often ask one another, "What do you believe about ... ?"
Though I always try to answer such questions honestly, my spontaneous answers to unexpected questions are sometimes less helpful than I intended. Questions deserve responses that are both clear and accurate.

Here are some answers that have the advantage of being more than just a personal opinion. They were prepared after careful reflection by a whole community of believers and address some of the crucial questions being asked today.This material is all drawn from a statement of Christian belief called Living Faith prepared and endorsed by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Living Faith offers answers to many of the questions that people have about the faith. I have grouped common faith questions into ten categories corresponding to the ten chapters in Living Faith.     Dr. Bob Bernhardt, Alberton Church.

1. What do you believe about God?

Is there a God? What is God like? Why do people worship God? What is the value of the early Christian creeds? Why is God spoken of as Trinity? How does believing in the trinity shape how people relate to God? If those are your questions too, click on God.

2. What is God's connection with our world?

Is God connected with this world? If there is a god, how do you explain the existence of evil? What are some of the implications if God really is the source of life? If God is in control do we still have a responsibility to care for the world? What is the purpose of a human life? Is there really such a thing as sin and, if so, what is it and how do we escape its consequences? Do humans deserve to be called sinners and if so why? Are we responsible for sin? What are the consequences of sin? If these questions interest you, click on God and the world.

3. What do we believe about Christ and his divinity?

Why is Jesus called the Messiah? Who is Jesus Christ really? Is he human or is he divine? Was he a real human being and does it matter? What do we mean when we call Jesus "Lord and Saviour"? Did Jesus rise from the dead? What is this idea of salvation that Christians talk about? What does Jesus want to accomplish for us, in us and through us? If you share those questions, click on Jesus Christ.

4. What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?

Who or what is this Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit have to do with coming to faith? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian? What are the signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit? If the answers to those questions interest you, click on the The Holy Spirit.

5. What do we believe about the Bible?

Why do Christians look to the Bible for the answers to their questions? Who wrote the Bible? What do we mean when we say the Bible is inspired? How should we understand this ancient book? What things must we keep in mind when we try to interpret the Bible? If you have wondered about any of those questions, click on the The Bible.

6. What do we believe about faith?

What does it mean to have faith? How do people come to faith? Do believers ever experience doubt? How does doubt relate to faith? In what things ought we to have faith? If you too have thought about such questions, click on Faith and Doubt.

7. What do we believe about the church?

What is the church? What are the essential characteristics of the church? Does the church need to change? What is the proper role for the church in the world? How important is worship? What are "sacraments" and why does the church celebrate baptism and communion? Who ought to be baptized? How important is it for a believer to participate in communion? Many people have questions about the church and its influence in the world. If you too share these questions, click on The Church.

8. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

The church talks about being disciples of Christ: what does being a disciple mean? How does faith relate to children and family life? What do we believe about things like marriage, love, justice and world peace? If you have struggled with some of those things, click on Life in Christ.

9. What do we think the mission of the church ought to be?

What message ought the church to be sharing in the world? How does Christianity relate to other religions? What attitude ought the church to demonstrate when it interacts with the world? If you have wondered about any of those things, click on The Church and the World.

10. What does it mean to have hope?

What do we believe about where life is headed? What is the relationship between hope and the reality of death? In a world where there is so much despair why do Christians persist in talking about hope? Is heaven real, and if so, what's it like? If those questions interest you, click on Our Hope.

Questions about the Christian Faith

I realize that simply referring people to a prepared statement of faith is not really an adequate way of responding to questions about the faith. However, it is a beginning and it does at least solve some issues. I have come to understand that many people have assumptions about what Christians believe that are simply not accurate.

Questions about faith really need to be approached in conversations where everyone's views can be explored and clarification can be sought and received. However, unless you actually have some personal association with Alberton Church we can't have that conversation. However, this represents a starting point.

Including this information on our website also serves another purpose. It lets you know who we are and where we are coming from. It is my opinion that all websites which represent faith communities must be transparent and candid in acknowledging who they are and what they believe.

Whatever your church or faith commitment may be I hope that you continue to pursue clarity of insight and you maintain your willingness to discuss issues of faith respectfully both with those who share your perspective and those who do not.

Dr. Bob Bernhardt, Alberton Presbyterian Church, Alberton, Ontario.
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