Introduction to Theology. Take-Home Essays
I find the Mennonite theology to be more appealing as compared to the other types of theologies. One of its ideologies that I agree with is the baptism of a person when they are already of age, thus, at the time when they choose to confess they understand the significance and the relevance of their faith. This is as opposed to baptizing infants who are made to abide by the religions of their parents or guardians. Accordingly, people should be given an option to be taught and to be able to comprehend what baptism is its importance, and its relevance in their religious lives. The Mennonite theology proposes that early teens are the period for baptizing. I think that at this time one is in a position of being capable to differentiate what is right or wrong and the religious path they may want to follow. They should be given the chance to experience life and, maybe, to choose to live differently after being baptized as according to the notion of being born again. It seems to make little sense to baptize a small child who may later in life want to change religions or even decide to be a non-believer or an atheist. Thus, while guiding a child into knowing the significance of baptism, it is important to help them make their own decision on whether and when to get baptized.
I am intrigued by the Mennonite theology concept of advocating for religious liberty. It allows people to freely express their religious opinions and ideologies without the fear of persecution or discrimination. Hence, one should not be made to hold back their views or feelings towards religious matters. Instead, they should be allowed to talk to other people and try to sell their gospel to them. This may even help prevent religious extremism since people from all religions would have been given equal chances to express their religious views. It also stands against discrimination on religious grounds as no religion would be given special treatment. Subsequently, religious liberty encourages unity and harmonious co-existence. In addition, Mennonites have been grouped under the historic peace churches due to their opposition to the war engagement. Their theology on maintaining peace is important in the current society where there are differences and conflicts in every angle of life. I would, therefore, support an ideology that advocates for peace.
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I also value the fact that Mennonite theology recognizes the significance of the Lord's Supper, weekly practices of worship, devotional life, and Christian education. It appreciates the Christian history, the importance of salvation, and the significance of the activities that Christ requested his disciples to do in his memory. Practicing such events of the Last Supper as sharing bread and drinking wine is a way of following some of the major teachings that are expected of the Christians.
We need salvation for various reasons. One of them is that it leads to forgiveness of sin, and, since the world is full of temptations and a Christian is predisposed to sin every minute, people require the grace of God in response to their faith. Therefore, without salvation, man would remain a sinner and that would alienate them from God. People's sins and inequities separate them from God, thus denying people the chance to be heard by Him. In other words, redemption grants people forgiveness, which is essential for the restoration of people's relationship with God. All in all, striving for righteousness is the goal of many believers. Some religions require their followers to go through pain or sacrifice for them to become holy in God's sight. In Christianity, however, one needs to receive salvation which Jesus awarded to all persons through his sacrificial death and resurrection. Irrespective of how good a person is, regardless of how religious one is, or what one does for God, one can never be good enough or righteous enough to earn salvation. Nevertheless, through the salvation that Jesus provided to all people, it is possible to seek forgiveness of all the sins that one has committed. This way, one becomes worthy before the eyes of God. Salvation is, therefore, the gracious, undeserving gift that God has granted to humanity.
On the question of what people are saved from, the Christian faith states that people are saved from the judgment of sin by God, allowing them to escape from His wrath. The sins of people have separated them from God and the repercussion of this is death. Biblical salvation is about people's deliverance from the repercussion of sin that entails the removal of sins. In other words, God saves us by eliminating sin and delivering people from their punishment. Moreover, salvation may entail being delivered from danger or suffering as it carries the notion of victory or preservation. At times, the word salvation is used in the scriptures about temporary physical deliverance, as the deliverance of Paul from prison. Salvation, therefore, may mean being delivered from stressful, painful, or bad situations which would be difficult to come out from without it. In most cases, however, the term salvation is about everlasting, spiritual deliverance.
On the human predicament, the Christian myth is that the problem of the human condition is essentially a moral one. The choices made by humans are viewed as responsible for the advent of sin into the world that was formerly without it. Thus, in the form of using their free will, they led evil in this world in terms of disobedience, which is an essential possibility in a place where people are created with the freedom of choice. Good values do not help in gaining salvation and saving one from evil, whereas the actions that arise from faith do. Hence, repentance is a moral decision. When one repents, they become a new pure creation and they can pass to live from death.
The alienation between human beings and God happens when there is an estrangement of the soul of the person from God, which initially happened through the original sin with the fall of humanity. People's hearts remain restless until they find God. To transform from this alienation, one needs to redirect their will and reason towards God. This is the only way that people will be able to overcome the self-alienation of the soul dividedness.
Hanson claims that human nature is good and the fact that people have been able to exist for so many years serves as proof of their nature. In all this time, human beings have taken it upon themselves to take care of each other. They are constantly looking for ways of bettering their living conditions, which involves, for example, creating new technologies to improve the conditions of survival. Moreover, the introduction of cars and other vehicles has helped human existence by making the means of transportation easier and faster. Other inventions such as medicine are also constantly being introduced to ensure that the health of humans is protected. Though new diseases arise every day, remedies are also produced daily to fight for health and general existence. Human beings are also arranging peace agreements between various states to ensure that the Earth is a conducive and peaceful place for people to live in. What is more, poor people are receiving donations and technology to help them out of their conditions. I would say that if human nature was bad, all these efforts towards bettering the lives of human beings would not be done. Instead, humans would be preoccupied with killing each other and making each other's lives miserable. It would be about ensuring that the rich remain rich while the poor continue languishing in poverty. In addition, in that case, any technological advancements would be towards eradicating humankind rather than enhancing its existence.
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Hanson talks about people being granted freedoms; however, he also states that these freedoms should be limited. I agree with him that freedom is the weaknesses of human nature, which should be restricted for its own sake. If every person was allowed to use their freedom in any way, they would cause harm to other people, either intentionally or by accident. Hence, liberty should be enjoyed, but only to the extent that it does not lead to violation or injury of another person's rights or freedoms. Arranging limitations ensures that people's decisions are controlled to prevent them from making decisions that might hurt other people or even themselves. Overall, as people tend to make bad decisions due to the weaknesses of their kind, it is important to help them avoid leaning towards such mistakes.
Social obedience is one of the major determinants of the quality of human nature. Society has laid down some rules which its members have to follow. These rules are known as the morals that guide how to behave themselves and relate with each other. Members who go against the set rules are punished and guided back to the right path. On the contrary, a society with no morals to guide its members would be destructive. These rules are passed from one generation to the next, hence ensuring that everyone lives peacefully. Thus, a human being needs to be controlled, and the rules set by society should be effective for such matters. The societal rules, therefore, merged with one`s predisposition to satisfy them, are essential in maintaining the nature of human beings.