A few months ago, I’ve had a few people come to me, in kindness and concern (I think), asking me to give an account for things that I’ve written around theological theories and topics. Some of these people claim to represent a number of concerned/worried people. One of them suggested I write some kind of doctrinal statement of beliefs so that people know where I stand. Although I am careful about how I manage my time defending/stating/discussing my positions or beliefs, I thought that was a good suggestion to write for reference and reflection. It’s followed by some personal context.
So here it is my statement of faith: Firstly, in the form of the Nicene Creed. Finalised in 381 – a foundational confession to many across the centuries.
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Ultimately, however, I believe that Jesus Christ is perfect theology (the perfect image of God) (Heb 1:3).
I believe Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1).
I believe Jesus Christ is the final authority.
I believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ/ which extends his whole life, ending in his heavenly enthronement.
Alongside the Nicene Creed, I also believe in the Jewish Shema which Jesus referenced in Matt 22:37-40.
Deut 6:4 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Outside of these foundational beliefs, I remain a curious questioner, explorer and someone you might find has changed direction several times over several theories, over several years. I’m settled in heart that if you don’t like or agree with what I say, and agreeance on issues/doctrine outside of what is listed above is fundamentally important to you, you are free to disengage, ignore or even be agitated by what I write/teach/say – or you could just wait a few years, because I may change and agree with you. In fact, I hope I do change as time goes on. To some, that change may be a sign of floundering and/or weakness – but to me, it’s what maturing (teleios) and remaining curious is all about. And I need to grow up… just ask my wife and kids 🙂
Since 2011, I have been working with Christians all over the world in the restorative healing area. I witness raw heartache frequently. Recently, I have extended my scope into marketplace spirituality, training and leadership development; an area I believe has been largely neglected in our quest to keep Sunday gathering the spiritual ‘thing we do’. From 2015-2019 established LeaderHeart as a not-for-profit organisation to support these efforts.
I admit, that the David of ten years ago (me) would probably be theologically/existentially concerned for the David (me) of today. But he would also greatly admire his freedom, boldness and authenticity – (although not the suffering that it took to reveal). He’d probably admire the ministry space I work in now, especially when it came to the constant witness of the kindness of Jesus in the prayer ministry space and the dynamic stuff I get to do in an international work environment.
Today, opposed to a decade ago, the way I see God (my theology) is shaped through firsthand and witnessed encounters with Trinity.
I have seen Holy Spirit comfort and Jesus hold victims of rape – drawing the trauma to Themself.
I’ve witnessed the Father lock eyes with an inner child and undo loneliness with love and blessing.
I’ve experienced God pushing back evil from people’s precious humanity and speaking truth into brokenness that years of therapy may never get to.
Amidst the hundreds of clients and thousands of hours, I have never witnessed the Triune God be violent, punitive or coercive. Perhaps I will one day..? But for almost a decade, across cultures, denominations and ages, I have only ever witnessed the work of a restorative, healing, honouring, patient and kind God who IS love.
Does this make my faith subjective? Yes. Wonderfully YES! I will always acknowledge and find hope in the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, and His incarnational redeeming work in people’s lives, including my own. Heaven-help-me if the only things holding me to God were a belief (system) in the Bible, Church attendance, and second-hand largely-Western middle-class post-enlightenment theology/doctrine (as important as they are) – because they are not God – they may only attempt to point us to the Trinity, at best!
I believe in the living Jesus Christ! Not just His existence, but in a loving relationship with Him as eternal life (Jn 17:3). And you know what is also shocking? I’ve discovered that God believes in me too.
At this stage, I’m realising matters like atonement theories, afterlife theories and eschatology will continue to be argued for millennia – because they are theories – and not the Gospel itself (Himself).
Are these theories important? Yes. – to some more than others. It seems our egos love them!
Are they essential to inherit the Kingdom of God and promise of eternal life through Christ? That’s a complex question, but outside of what I stated above, I don’t think so. If the entrance to eternal life is via a complex doctrinal pop-quiz, I fear we’re all screwed… (unless you know the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow)!
But seriously, I’m grateful that the good news came in the flesh (Jn1:14) and God was in Christ reconciling the whole world to himself (1Cor 5:17-19). And He lives. And He still heals and loves today.
So, as long as there are grace and courage for me to do so, I will participate with Christ in the restorative work of healing the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18). By God’s enabling, I will continue to write and train and lead people into freedom. Freedom from sin. Freedom from religious bondage. Freedom into maturity. Freedom into the heart that Jesus gave them.
Beginning with my best friend and wife, Natalie, I want to thank all those that continue to support and believe in us and work God has called into.
~ David Tensen
P.S. This document is subject to change without notice 🙂 🙂