What I Believe

I personally would classify myself as a Reformed Baptist, identifying both with the Biblical definition of Christianity and with the traditional 5-point system of Calvinism. Above all I believe 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.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and that it is “by grace through faith” that we receive Christ’s atoning death for our sins (Ephesians 2:8).

Listed below is a detailed but not comprehensive list of specific theological beliefs that I hold:

  • The Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men, and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life.
  • In one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • That Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. He died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. Further He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He now is our High Priest and Advocate.
  • That the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, and during this age to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner, indwell, guide, instruct, and empower the believer for godly living and service.
  • That man was created in the image of God and that through the disobedience of the Adam, sin entered into this world. All of mankind, having descended from Adam, so also the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all his posterity descending from him by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
  • All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.
  • That the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit, and thus become children of God.
  • They, whom God has accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
  • That water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation.
  • That the true Church is composed of all such persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the body of Christ of which He is the Head.
  • That only those who are thus members of the true Church shall be eligible for membership in the local church.
  • That Jesus Christ is the Lord and Head of the Church, and that every local church has the right under Christ to decide and govern its own affairs.

If you have any questions about my beliefs or wish to discuss any of them with me, please feel free to contact me at todd@toddongod.com.

14 Responses to “What I Believe”

  1. L.G. Says:

    Hi there. Greetings from Canada! Congratulations on your very clear website. Looks professional and clean and to the point. One question, if I may (?)…
    It says you believe: “That water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation.” I agree with the first part, but I was always taught that repentance, baptism and rcving the holy spirit was THE way to salvation (because of what it says in Acts 2:38 – please look it up again if you would), but you don’t seem to think baptism is always necessary. How come? Is there something I don’t know?
    Thanks for your time (if you have it to respond), and informative website….
    L.G.

  2. Todd Burus Says:

    Hi, L.G. Thank you for reading my blog and for your compliments. As for your question I would be glad to go into this further with you.

    The verse you mentioned was Acts 2:38, which for the sake of others reading says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” This is a difficult text, and often given as a proof text for baptismal regeneration (which if you were unaware is the theological term for what you described). However, using it in such a manner is disingenuous in many ways.

    First, we must examine the whole context of what is going on. Immediately before this we see Peter is asked by the crowd which is being affected by their teaching, “What shall we do?”, i.e. what must they do to be forgiven and avoid the wrath of God? In reply, Peter tells them to “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.” So, if I am saying that the baptism is not a necessary means of salvation then why is it put here? The answer is because it was a public declaration of repentance and an initiation into Christianity, an act which would make them an outcast from the Jewish society, and so would be an indicator of the genuineness of their salvation (since a devout Jew would never do such a thing unless they were truly a follower of Christ).

    Second, we must analyze this text in view of other passages, since if we are interpreting it correctly then it should be in agreement with all other parts of the Bible. Thus, if we view this as saying that the order is baptism then regeneration then it stands in blatant contradiction to passages such as John 3:16, Acts 16:31, Romans 4:5, Galatians 2:16. Most importantly we see that it contradicts the order of salvation proposed by Paul in Romans 10:9-10 which says, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Nowhere in this does Paul mention a necessity of baptism. Also, in looking at Ephesians 2:8-9 we see that salvation is a result of grace through faith and not of works, but surely baptism is a work that must be performed by an individual outside of Jesus (Note: it is important in making this comment to point out that it is my belief in accordance with this passage, as well as Philippians 1:29 and Romans 12:3, that the faith which we have in God is actually given to us by God as well, and so is not a work of our own doing).

    Third, we must analyze this belief in light of its practice and occurrence throughout the rest of scripture. We see in Acts 3:19 and 26:20 that repentance is its own act and that baptism is one of the deeds which is done in keeping with the obedience that comes from repentance and salvation. Also, in Acts 8:13,21-23 we see through Simon that baptism was not effectual for salvation, that the act of baptism was performed yet the participant was not truly saved. And, in 1 Corinthians 1:17 we see the Apostle Paul declare “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel,” and so if baptism was inseparable from promise of the gospel then why would Paul say this?

    As for the Holy Spirit, I hold that the Holy Spirit is a gift which one receives as a result of salvation. This is made evident in this passage, that being Acts 2:38, and in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. However, we see in Acts 10:47 that it is also clear that the presence of the Holy Spirit is not a result of a person being baptized.

    So, I hope that in the end this clarifies my position and may throw further light on what I believe to be the truth of the gospel. This is a difficult text to deal with on its own, but hopefully when viewed in the bigger scheme it makes more sense. Please feel free to continue this discussion with me more, as I believe it can do nothing but help us to increase our understanding of God’s grace and in doing so cause us to glorify Him more. Have a wonderful day.

    -Todd

  3. Keith Walters Says:

    Toddicus,
    Wow this section is thorough and I appreciate your answer to the above question. You definitely make most blogs I know, includng mine, look shabby!

  4. Jonathon Says:

    Toddy,

    Great website man! Just found it. I will be a frequent reader, probably will not have time to jump into lots of conversation though.

    I would add this to your defense of Acts 2:38. The word “for” in this passage is the the Greek “eis”. It means here , “because of”. Repent from your sin and then sins they are forgiven, be baptized as a sign of the new life in Christ.

    An example would be this. We say someone goes to prison FOR murder. Not to be murdered or to murder but because of murder. Hope that helps.

  5. Jamie Says:

    Todd,

    It is wonderful to see someone so dedicated to his faith. Although I am not Christian, I believe that every religion has an element of truth and provides a solid moral backbone for its followers.

    I am curious, however: I have met many Christians, family included, who have told me repeatedly that because I do not believe in the divinity of Christ that I am destined for damnation. While I understand that Christian tenets say that the only way to come to God is through Christ, I feel that it is extremely alienating and while it follows the letter of the law, so to say, it defies the spirit of the law by prohibiting brotherhood and love among all mankind.

    What are your views on such vigorous condemnation of non-Christians? If I met you on the street, would you tell me I was going to Hell, or would you recognize the validity of my own faith and righteousness?

    Thank you for your time!

    Jamie

  6. Todd Burus Says:

    Jamie,

    First, I would like to say thank you for taking the time to read my blog and offer your compliments and questions.

    That said, I would like to answer your question with as much sincerity and sensitivity as possible. Starting from the basics, you ask what my “views [are] on such vigorous condemnation of non-Christians” and if we met on the street if I would tell you that you are going to hell? Personally, I am against “Christians” in our culture going about vigorously condemning people, behaving like the loons you see on college campuses wearing sandwich boards and calling all of the girls in shorts “whores.” I believe that this type of behavior has done unspeakable damage to the spread of the Gospel in America and feel the Bible opposes it almost always. Neither would I go up myself to anybody and say, “Do you have faith in Christ? No? then you’re going to hell.” Again, this style of evangelism is so against the teachings of the Bible that it should never be considered.

    But as to your question of would I “recognize the validity of [your] own faith and righteousness” I would have to say no. Don’t get me wrong. I would certainly recognize that that is what you believe, even that you believe it sincerely, but I would not recognize that those beliefs, if lying outside of faith in Christ as revealed in the Bible, will save you or are capable of producing any true righteousness. As far as righteousness, I don’t even believe that Christians have a righteousness that is their own anyways, but are only righteous in the extent that Christ’s righteousness is made to stand for them (this is called ‘imputed righteousness’ in theology and comes from 2 Corinthians 5.17 among other verses). And with salvation, I believe that Jesus is the only way, that “no man comes to the Father except through [him]” (John 14.6) and that the way you do this is by “confess[ing] with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believ[ing] in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10.9).

    You make mention of the distinction between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law.” This comes from 2 Corinthians 3.6, which says (starting in verse 5), “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” So, what we see is that Paul is saying that he and his fellow teachers have been made “ministers of [the] new covenant . . . of the Spirit.” What he is trying to convey is the fact that it is no longer a covenant based on obedience to a set of rules (the letter of the Law) which leads to salvation, but it is a promise based on “the Spirit.” But what does this mean? Well, look back to verse 3 and you will see that “the Spirit” is “the Spirit of the living God.” So, when we say “For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life,” we don’t mean “the spirit of the law” as in its’ essence or motivation, but we actually mean “the Spirit of the living God” which is the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity

    And how is it that “the [Holy] Spirit gives life”? Because it is the Holy Spirit which seals us in the faith when we have believed in Christ (Ephesians 1.13-14), who indwells us upon salvation (Acts 2.38). It “gives life” because it is the means by which God can “[cause] us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1.3) even though we are all “dead in the trespasses and sins” in which we walk (Ephesians 2.1).

    Now, as far as being alienating, I guess it is; but that alienation is not the result of legalism, it is a result of the exclusive nature of Christ and the exclusive means of faith in him which is presecribed for salvation. Then do Christians need to alienate people in the way they usually do? Certainly not. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of Christians forget that they themselves are no more deserving of being saved than anyone else, and so instead of carrying the Gospel message to all people in humility and performing good deeds of charity they become arrogant and give off an aire of moral superiority which adds to the offense of the cross.

    With all this said, I hope you can see where I am coming from and that you don’t feel judged negatively by what I’ve said. I also hope that you don’t see me as saying I am better than you, because I certainly do not feel this way. And I’m not claiming to be smarter than you because I have “found the right way” either. It wasn’t my work, it was God and his grace which brought me to him, and I am just blessed that he revealed his saving grace to me, and I pray that he will do the same for you.

    Please feel free to contact me more if you have any other questions or if you want to discuss the things I have written in this post (novel?) further. Have a nice night!

  7. Kiersten Says:

    Mr. Burus,

    I was checking out your facebook page as well as your blog, and I think it’s really awesome that you show so much commitment to God & Christian faith!! :D Some of my profs have been very blatantly un-Christian and it’s sad. :(

    I don’t think I’m really getting what Calvin meant about Predestination.Of course God knows beforehand who will go to Heaven and will go to Hell, because He’s all-knowing.
    However, to say that God has certain “elect” ppl who go to Heaven while others are damned makes it sound like God is playing favorites or something.
    Doesn’t God love every person and desire for all of them to be with Him in Heaven, even though He already knows many (and exactly which ones) won’t accept Salvation?

    • Todd Burus Says:

      Kiersten,
      First, feel free to call me Todd. Second, thanks for the kind words. I know how discouraging college can be to your faith and my main advice to you would definitely be to hook into a group like a college ministry or maybe the BCM where you can be supported in your faith by fellow Christians who are working together to stand against the anti-Christian cultural current of the university.

      As for your question about predestination, the idea, as I see it, is that before time began, God saw that humans would sin and so he chose some to be saved from the condemnation they would bring on themselves. These are the Elect and they were chosen not on any merit of their own but “according to the purpose of [God's] will” (Ephesians 1.5). God’s commitment to the Elect is that he will save them, by the means of regenerating them and bringing them to faith, and that none of the Elect will not be saved. Consequently, none of those outside the Elect will be saved because God does not work regeneration in them and on their own they are incapable of pursuing God (cf. Romans 3.9-18, Ephesians 2.1-3). This is where the struggle exists.

      No, God did not cause anyone to sin or be condemned because we are all guilty of sinning on our own. Thus, in choosing the Elect, God is not sending some to heaven and some to hell, he is simply saving some from hell who would be going their on their own without his intervention. Then why does God not elect everybody? Certainly he could, but it appears from Scripture and our experience that he hasn’t. Why he has done this I don’t believe we can say, other than understanding it is “according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28). Regardless, this doesn’t make God unloving to those who aren’t saved, since it is not his delight nor his working which leads men to condemnation, but is the righteous judgment for the sins they willfully committed.

      I hope this helps. If you want to read further Scripture on this I would turn to Romans 8.28-30, Ephesians 1.3-14, 2.1-10, and 1 Peter 2.9. Also, know that the doctrine of unconditional election (what this view is called) is best understood in context of the larger body of Calvinist convictions. Finally, keep in mind that the Elect are a people chosen by God for his purpose (1 Peter 2.9) but are not a group that we can identify ourselves in this life. As you know there are some in the church who are not truly converted, and there are some outside the church who, despite the way it seems, are. Thus, election is more about an understanding of God’s decrees than an actual line we can draw in the sand among people today.

      Please feel free to ask me any more questions that you have and I will do my best to show you my convictions on them.

  8. Carl Gobelman Says:

    A very detailed, yet succinct statement of faith. We’re very close theologically. I’ve been going through a theological renovation of sorts lately. I was raised in the Baptist church and have attended Evangelical churches since coming to Christ in 2001. Yet I have been shifting more and more toward reformed theology. I have been, for the most part, a 5-pointer and have recently adopted reformed eschatology (amillennialism) and covenant theology.

    I look forward to reading more of your stuff!

    Carl.

    p.s. you can stop by and visit my blog at newcreationperson.wordpress.com

    • Todd Burus Says:

      Thank you for your comments. I tried my best to just lay it out there. I’m not all about this whole emergent trend of not saying what you believe because you don’t want to offend people. Besides, what I’ve found with most people like that is that in the end they really don’t believe in much of anything (cf. Tony Jones). Good luck on your quest into Calvinism. I have tried to deal with a lot of it on my site, so let me know if I can be of any help.

  9. Tony York Says:

    Todd,

    I have enjoyed reading your “what I believe” and your discussions on Baptism and Election. I agree with you on Baptism and only slightly disagree with you on Election ;)

    On the topic of Election, how do you handle texts like 2 Peter 3:9 and Acts 17: 26-27?

    My understanding of God’s omnipresence dictates that He stands outside of time and so, His presence is not limited by time or space – that He is just as much here in the now as He is still at the creation and in the future kingdom. He stated that before Abraham, I AM and that He was Alpha and Omega.

    That being said, if we use Psalm 139 to take a basic understanding that God is active in each of our conceptions and forming and can agree that none of us ‘chose’ to be created, how do we reconcile a ‘loving and just’ view of God if everyone isn’t at least given an opportunity to choose or reject?

    I know some would argue that it is no different to create and not elect as it would be to create those who He knew would never submit to Him. My thoughts are that there is a difference. As a parent, if I give instruction to my child and he/she disobeys me, I can apply correction in love. This is called discipline. If however, I decide to punish my child without ever making him/her aware of my expectations that could be construed as cruelty.

    I believe the bible teaches us that none will be without excuse. Psalm 19 tells us that creation itself shouts knowledge of the creator.

    So, I have said all of this to basically make it clear that I am somewhere between Calvinism and Armenianism… mostly leaning toward Calvinism.

    I know this is a difficult subject.

    By the way… I love listening to Matt Chandler.

  10. Todd Burus Says:

    Tony,
    Thank you for the comments. I want to give you an explanation for how I would deal with those passages but I don’ quite have the time to write something original write now. What I would do instead is refer you to the discussions that have been had over the order of the decrees on the post “I Choose Hell- CS Lewis and God’s Role in Condemning.” I hope that helps a little.

  11. Andrew Says:

    In genesis we read clearly that God said of all the tree in the Garden you may eat, But the tree in the middle of the garden you must not eat, no you must not touch that you do not die….

    Adam and Eve touched, took and ate, .. did they Die? Was death a punishment or a blessing?… obviously it was a punishmnet.. will adam and eve ever live again ?… NO… They where judged and found unworthy of life… the in habitants of Sodom and Gomarragh suffered a similar judgment….. DO not be fooled into thinking that all will be saved, or that all religions lead to salvation, they clearly don’t to anyone with half a mind, and the wit to read the scriptures…. Also too, this subject about the sacrements,,, this was inorgruated by Jesus on the night of the last supper, as the promise of a NEw covenant, A covenant for those anointed with holy spirit… Revelation numbers these to 144,000 of all nations peoples and tongues, also known as the little flock…. So only anointed christians ought to be partaking of the the Emblems?sacrements and not members of the ” Other Sheep” that Jesus said he had to bring as well… or else, as the Apostle Paul says, “You will bring Judgement upon your own head”.

    So the thrust being that accurate knowledge and correct application of the scripture will bring on into a favoured relation ship with God and his only begotton Son Jesus… His he not also to sit down on his throne at the appointed time and separate people into Sheep and Goat-like peoples, the sheeplike, thatis to say those who LIsten to the scriptures and obey them Teachable, humble people, (the Meek shall inherit the Earth ), yet the goat-like ones are sent into eternal damation and death, just like Adam and Eve and the Inhabitants of Sodom and Gomarragh…

    Jesus Blood is the means of our salvation, by excercisng faith in the value of his blood sacriffice, as he is the LAst Adam, and because he was able to walk faultlessly under the mossaic law is proven to be perfect, and therby able to buy back all the sons of Adam who are perishing because of Adamic/inherited sin (sin meaning Imperfection )

    That’s why He raised Lazarus and Jarius Daughter, to proved that he had the power, and the will to bring all things back to the way humans were meant to be, under the original Plan for humans way back when the garden of eden was founded.. Were God told Adam and Eve to Subdure the Earth and make it fruitfull using the Garden of Eden as a Pattern to follow…

    To explain Genesis to Revelation is straight forward but, one has to unravel it like a thread of cotton, by Theme, Namely the Vindication of God’s Holy Name, His Sovereignity and right to rule his own creation. all of which were challenged by Satan the Devel, the original Serpent who decieved Eve and continues to mislead and deceive mankind down to this day.

    Ask any question you may, and I will give you the scriptural answer, the thing is though, do you want to debate or learn the truth about God and his purposes?

    Thanks for reading,

    Regards
    Andrew

  12. Byroniac Says:

    Todd Burus, a hearty amen from me goes to your list of beliefs! May your tribe increase, and all that. I hope to keep coming back.

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