What is your statement faith? What do you believe? If you were to write your statement out long hand, would it agree with what the Apostle Paul wrote in the 9 introduction clauses to 7 Churches (in the years 50-60AD)?
So let’s pretend we are the GOOGLE search engine and we are looking for the keyword phrases on Paul’s 9 top ranked pages (the 9 epistles, 9 introductions, to 7 Churches). To do this analysis, GOOGLE would crawl each of these pages and fit Paul’s content into their mathematical algorithm which is based on a concept known as LSI.
LSI (latent semantic indexing) is a content analysis technique based on ‘word count’ within unstructured text. After determining the frequency of words and phrases in the content, LSI ranks the words and phrases in terms of their importance (most used to least used). Google’s algorithm then attempts to analyze longer word phrases to determine their meaning (LSA, latent semantic analysis). It does this by listing the phrase concepts into predefined categories to separate synonymy from polysemy. That is, separating words and phrases with a single meaning (synonymy) from those with multiple meanings (polysemy).
Google’s scientists have determined that LSI and LSA processing is very similar to the way humans organize and file information in the brain, constructing neural relationships (paradigms of truth) for ranking and retrieval.
But here is the problem! For humans, who determines what the categories are; the text itself or someone who has predetermined an errant way to categorize and separate the content? As Christians, we need a method to challenge our paradigms of truth (organized categories and constructed neural relationships) to determine whether we have an accurate statement of faith. LSI/LSA can help us defeat errant categorization (delusion) but only if we leave the source of errant thinking behind.
In the 13th century, an English monk and Oxford scientist named Roger Bacon published the 4 basic reasons people fall into error, thereby disabling them from discovering truth. His insight must be applied to categorization and neural relationships if delusion is to be defeated. Bacon is considered the father of the scientific method (a process for discovering truth), although scripture identifies the apostle John as it’s true founder (1 John 4:1).
Had two intelligent men of the 16th century been familiar with the above, a gruesome murder might have been avoided. (Note, at the end of this article you will find Paul’s statement of faith based on LSA/LSI.)
A 16th century disagreement that became murder
In 1546AD, two 37 year old men, John Calvin and Michael Servetus, began corresponding regarding the correct statement of faith for Christianity. Their disagreement found it’s way into two books.
- Restoration of Christianity 1553AD – Miguel Serveto (Michael Servetus, Aragon Spain)
- The Christian Institutes 1536AD – Jean Cauvin (John Calvin, Noyon France)
Both men were hunted by the Catholic Inquisition for heresy (the reformation) and both men took a strong stand against ‘burning heretics’. Heretic burning was a common practice the Catholics used to suppress theological opponents.
What is perplexing is that because of their theological disagreement, Calvin himself had Servetus arrested and tried as a heretic in Geneva Switzerland, the protestant city which he presided over as supreme cleric and judge. Incredibly, he personally supervised the barbarous burning of the brilliant Spaniard at the stake, immersing Servetus in a mountain of flames fueled by Servetus’ own confiscated books (The Restoration of Christianity, published in English in 2007).
Calvin’s brutality was an old fashioned book burning complete with an Auschwitz style sacrifice. Calvin himself wrote against such practices but found himself bearing the mark of Cain; murder.
Calvin rationalized and justified his persecuting actions later in his life in his writings, after questions regarding his morality were raised by other thinkers. But critics saw through his murderous jealously of Servetus who possessed the intellect to criticize the errors in Calvin’s writings. To Calvin, anyone who criticized his own ideas must be dealt with harshly.
In correspondence between the two men regarding their faith systems, we are given a list of the scriptures and elements they deemed mandatory for ‘saving faith’, the utmost LSA category. In reading Servetus’ 9th letter to Calvin before 1553AD, he details each of their two positions.
Quoting John 20:31 and referencing Matthew 16:15-19 and Acts 8:31-38, Servetus instructs Calvin that the foundation of all subsequent faith in Christ begins with the belief and confession “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” To him, baptism is useless until this foundational belief is properly understood and put in place.
To Servetus, Calvin’s great error was in ‘how’ he thought of Jesus as the ‘son of God’. Servetus criticism of Calvin’s core statement of faith was that Calvin’s belief was anchored in a man made doctrine of the incarnation. This was the old paradigm Calvin had adopted from the Catholic fathers which Servetus argued convincingly as errant.
Servetus accused Calvin of believing in 2 sons, one a ‘second spiritual entity’ that dwelled in heaven next to the ‘father spiritual entity’, who then subsequently descended to earth to inhabit the fleshly form of the Jewish child Jesus. Servetus schooled Calvin that the ‘son of God’ was totally human with the limitations of the human form in every way. But this human was indwelled by the ‘One Spirit entity’ alone, the Father God.
In criticizing Calvin, Servetus made the point that Jesus was sired by the One Father God through the cooperation of a woman, Mary, herself totally human. Therefore to Servetus, Calvin did not believe in the ‘son of God’ properly as the scriptures prescribed, upon which all subsequent faith actions were to be based.
John 20:31 but these things are recorded in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (KJV)
Acts 8:34-39 And answering the eunuch said to Philip, I ask you, about whom does the prophet say this? About himself, or about some other one? (35) And opening his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, Philip announced the gospel to him, Jesus. (36) And as they were going along the highway they came on some water. And the eunuch said, Behold, water! What prevents me to be baptized? (37) And Philip said, If you believe from all the heart, it is lawful. And answering he said, I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. (38) And he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. (39) But when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip. And the eunuch did not see him anymore; for he went his way rejoicing. (LITV)
Matthew 16:15-18 He said to them, But you, whom do you say Me to be? (16) And answering, Simon Peter said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17) And answering, Jesus said to him, Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but My Father in Heaven. (18) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against her. (LITV)
To Servetus, justification came simply by looking at Christ properly as the ‘son of God’, just as the Hebrews looked upon the bronze serpent in the wilderness. To him, the 2nd entity or 2nd person doctrine of the Catholic fathers warped this view into great error. He believed that this man made doctrine distorted one’s belief in the ‘son of God’ and was an interjection of Greek philosophy, thereby aborting the Hebrew concept of ‘one God’ manifest as ‘one human Lord’.
Finally, Servetus believed that good works of faith when motivated by the Holy Spirit and scripture, were the Church building blocks that added to one’s justification and perfection. However to Servetus, the absence of ‘works of faith’ never detracted from one’s justification (right standing with God). This is where Servetus misunderstood the Apostles’ faith system. Servetus, like modern evangelicals, relied on intellectual ascent solely as faith, ignoring the Apostle James epistle where he said, ‘Faith without works is dead, being alone’ (James 2:17-24). To the Apostle James, mental ascent is belief, but faith is obedient action based on that belief.
Calvin of course believed that ‘justifying faith’ was found in two sacraments, both based on the aprori understanding of the ‘son of God’ as articulated by the Catholic fathers and doctors (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas). These two sacraments were:
- water baptism of infants
- the communion supper
In Calvin’s philosophical mind, God had predestinated some to be able to believe in the justification qualities of the sacraments and some were simply damned and predisposed to unbelief and hell. For him, God alone is just in His predetermination of people’s belief systems no matter how difficult it is for humans to understand God’s ways. This view of God caused Servetus to boil, accusing Calvin of painting God as a compassionless monster, without equanimity, and mankind as slavish automatons (a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions) without free will .
It is clear from the introductory statements of Paul that both Servetus and Calvin were deficient in their understanding of the faith system of the Apostles. As we see, Servetus never went far enough in his reading of John 20:31 whereby the Apostle gives his reason for writing the gospel of John. Let’s deconstruct this key verse.
John 20:31 but these things are recorded in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (KJV)
In this verse, the Apostle John gives us two reasons for writing his gospel:
- that we may BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God
- that we may POSSESS life in the name of Jesus.
What Servetus missed was that believing in the ‘son of God’ is first required before the work of faith, water baptism in the name of JESUS which provides remission of sins and life, can be accomplished. That is, belief is revelation given to the seeker in expectation of an obedient action. This is the faith system of the Apostles. Servetus fell short of this concept.
However, Servetus was correct in regard to his criticism of Calvin’s errant belief in the ‘son of God’. He vehemently makes the point that scripture never speaks of a ‘2nd entity’ (a subordinate word) that descends into the human form of the Jewish child Jesus. Servetus points out that this child (Jesus) was gendered or sired by the ‘One God’ through the ‘spoken word’ which planted the fertilizing seed within the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary. This makes Jesus human in every way, just as Adam was a ‘son of God’, albeit created through a different process (Adam was manufactured, not sired or begotten). In Servetus’ thinking, scripture clearly speaks that it is the ‘One God entity’ alone (Father God) that manifests in the human form, the son Jesus (1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:19). This is the mysterious manifestation of Father in human flesh, a Divine secret withheld from human technical description yet revealed through the empiricism of the Spirit.
Calvin, like his elder contemporary Luther, was weighted down by Old Catholic traditions the educators of Paris had troweled onto his mind while he studied Latin and Greek. Adopting the Greek philosophy of the Catholic fathers regarding the incarnation his instructors repeated, it was impossible for Calvin to see the ‘son of God’ according to the definition of the ancient Hebrews of the Old Testament. As the prophet Isaiah would have schooled him, there is none beside God (Isaiah 45:21). Moses would have told him, Shema, Hear O’ Calvin, YHWH is One God (entity, person, Deut 6:4).
LSA/LSI would have helped Jean Calvin had he known anything about mathematics or the statistical technique behind it. However, unteachable pride destroyed him as he fearfully perceived that Servetus may sway others about the hermeneutical errors in his lengthy Protestant catechism, ‘The Christian Institutes’ book.
Calvin had published this book 10 years prior to his correspondence with Servetus. Certainly, he got a lot of attention from other reformers during this time, after it’s publication. There was a lot to lose for him by admitting he had no solid scriptural response to Servetus’ ingenious criticism of the ‘2 sons’ doctrine he continued, originally created by the Catholic fathers. Thus, Calvin would not reply in writing to Servetus, eventually alerting the Catholic authorities to Servetus’ location in the summer of 1553AD.
Calvin actually hoped that the Catholics would apprehend and execute Servetus for him in Vienne, France (by supplying evidence to his cousin) where Servetus lived, thus silencing any book review of the ‘Institutes’ by the Spaniard. When this didn’t happen, Calvin personally had Servetus arrested in Geneva Switzerland, just a few weeks after Servetus had miraculously escaped the Catholic authorities in Vienne.
Finally, Calvin sadistically had Servetus burned at the stake, acting as prosecutor, judge, and jury in a show trial of clerical oppression. He controlled the entire judicial process including the publicity about the trial. We know this from his correspondence with his reformer friend, Philip Melanchthon (Lutheran apologist). Melanchthon himself as did other Protestant reformers, insisted on a death sentence (which happened on October 14, 1553AD), encouraging Calvin to destroy Servetus in letters he wrote to Calvin during that time.
Of course, Calvin had previously written that Christianity, no one is to suffer condemnation until after a trial. Further, that inquisition and capital punishment for perceived heresy was not after Christ. Calvin obviously thought that his previous writings on persecution applied to everyone but Servetus.
In applying LSA techniques to Paul’s introductions within these 9 epistles (he wrote twice to Thessalonica and Corinth; note, I excluded the pastoral letters of Timothy and Titus from the analysis), we find an interesting mix of key phrases and words that reveal the faith system of the early Church. Let’s categorize and list these faith statements below. (You may wish to print these out then hand to your friends).
Paul’s Statement of Faith
*Apostles are servants of Jesus Christ
*Apostles are separated (set apart, purified) for the purpose of the gospel of God, which He had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures
*Paul was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ and God the Father through/by the will of God
*From Jesus Christ the Lord, Paul received grace and apostleship in order to bring obedience to the faith among all nations
*I am an apostle not of men but by God the Father and Jesus Christ
*I am an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God
*The Gospel of God concerns His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord
*You trusted in Christ after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation”
*After you believed in the gospel of salvation, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised. We know this because our gospel came to you in word, power, and assurance of the Holy Ghost
*God will punish those dismissing the gospel with everlasting destruction, exiled from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power
The name of JESUS CHRIST, Saints, Church of God, Called, Children of God
*The Church of God is sanctified (separated and purified) in Christ Jesus
*The Church of God is called to be saints (Holy people) and in every place calls upon the name of Jesus Christ (in water baptism, Acts 22:16).
*To them that are called are sanctified (separated, made Holy, purified) by the name of Jesus Christ and are in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
*Christians are beloved of God, called to be saints (Holy people), and are the ‘called’ of Jesus Christ
*Saints are the faithful in Jesus Christ
*We are children of God by Jesus Christ so that we can be Holy and blameless in love before Him
*The glory of God’s grace, Jesus, made us accepted and beloved as if His own children
*By the pleasure of His good will, God predestinated us to be adopted children through Jesus Christ
The Son of God
*Jesus Christ our Lord was made of the seed of David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit, which raised him from the dead
*The faithfulness of God calls you into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord
*Obedient faith declares (invokes) the name of Jesus Christ and Christians are called to an obedient faith that declares the name of Jesus Christ
*If you continue in faith, are grounded and settled, are not moved away from the gospel of hope which you heard through preaching, you will be presented holy, blameless, and unreprovable in God’s sight
Grace and Peace, Endowed within the Saints
*The grace (unmerited
lovingkindness, favor) of God is given to the Church by Jesus Christ
*Grace (charis) and Peace (shalom) belong to the Saints (Holy ones) from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
*Grace and Peace from God our Father and LORD Jesus Christ
*Grace given to you by Jesus Christ makes me thankful to God
Good Works of Faith
*We pray that you might walk worthy of the Lord, to please him in fruitful good works and increasing in the knowledge of God
*We pray always for you that God counts you worth of this calling and fulfills all the good pleasure of his goodness by the working of your faith with his power
Speech and Knowledge, Confirming Words from the Gifts of the Spirit
*In everything the Churches are enriched by Jesus Christ by all utterances and knowledge
*All utterances and knowledge must be confirmed (empiricism, 2nd witness) by the testimony of Christ (the Spirit of prophecy)
*The testimony (evidence) of Christ is established/confirmed when you are not deficient in spiritual gifts (charismata)
*The ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ are given until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
*Your words and knowledge are enriched, anointed, by Jesus Christ
*The Testimony of Jesus Christ was confirmed in you by all the ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ in you
*The ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ confirm you until the end that you are in Christ Jesus, even until the day of His coming
Comfort and Consolation in Tribulation
*Bless God the comforter of us during tribulation, who’s comfort exceeds and consoles us during our sufferings.
*We pass along God’s comfort to others which consoles others unto salvation
*The ‘comfort of God’ is effectual in helping us endure sufferings and in passing it along, others can endure unto salvation.
*We have stedfast hope knowing that you partake of the same sufferings and consolation.
*Now in my imprisonment and defense of the gospel, I think confidently about you in my heart because all of you are partakers of the grace given me
Redemption, Forgiveness, Reconciliation
*Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us from this present evil world
*It was God’s will that Jesus give himself for us to whom [Jesus] belongs glory forever
*Jesus redeemed us through his blood according to the riches of his grace
*Jesus forgave our sins according to the riches of his grace
*Through Jesus Christ we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins
*God made peace with the world through the blood of Jesus from his cross
*Through the cross of Jesus, God reconciled all things unto himself, earthly and heavenly
*Wicked works made us alienated enemies of God in our minds, but yet he has reconciled with us
*Jesus reconciled us by the death of his flesh, his body, to present us holy, blameless and unreprovable in God’s sight
*Bless God the Father of our Lord Jesus with all Spiritual blessings
*The heavenly Christ blessed us with all Spiritual blessings
The Day of the Lord
*Like you, your offspring (converts) are waiting for God’s Son from heaven, who was raised from the dead, who will deliver us from the wrath that is to come. Jesus will deliver us.
*I am confident that the good work begun in you will progress until the ‘day of Jesus Christ’
*My prayer is that you will be sincere and without offense until the ‘day of Jesus Christ’
*For those of you troubled, rest with us [until the day] when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels
*Jesus will be revealed with flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that don’t know God and don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
*When Jesus comes ‘in that day’ to be glorified in his saints, he will be admired by all them that believe because our testimony was believed by you.
Mystery of God’s Good Will
*God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world
*In God’s good pleasure of wisdom and prudence, he has made known the mystery of his will to us. That is, to gather together all in Christ as one [body], heaven and earth beings
*The counsel of God’s will has predestinated us to obtain an inheritance, that is, a working purpose
*We desire and pray that you will be filled with the knowledge of his will which comes from ‘wisdom and spiritual understanding’
*We know beloved brothers your election [His will] by God
Gift of the Holy Spirit
*The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance until we are fully redeemed and purchased
Praise, giving Glory to God
*We praise His glory [death, burial, resurrection]
*Jesus Christ is the praise and glory of God
*God has predestinated (created a
plan from the beginning) us to praise His glory who first trusted in Christ
Thankfulness and Joy
*When I think of you I thank God and make a prayer request for you joyfully
*I am always thankful and joyful for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day [you were born again] until now
*We give thanks to God and pray for you after we heard of your faith in Jesus Christ and love of all saints
*We give unceasing thanks in the sight of God for you in our prayers as we remember your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ
Love and Truth
*God has recorded my great depth of longing for you in Jesus Christ
*My prayer is that your love may abound more and more bringing knowledge and judgment of what is approved and excellent
*We do not cease to pray for you when we heard you knew the grace of God in truth and your love in the Spirit
*You have a hope laid up in heaven which you heard about in the ‘word of truth of the gospel’
*The ‘word of truth of the gospel’ has come to the whole world and it is bringing forth fruit
*My prayer is that you will be filled with the ‘fruits of righteousness’ which come by Jesus Christ
*Strength and power is for patience and longsuffering in joyfulness
*We pray that you might be strengthened with all might, glorious power
*Joyfulness from his glorious power makes us give thanks unto the Father which made us able to be partakers of the saints inheritance of light
Kingdom of God
*Light has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the Kingdom of God’s dear son
*Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first born design of God’s mind, before all creatures
*Jesus Christ our God, created all things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible
*Jesus Christ our God, created thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers
*Jesus Christ our God, created all things, is before all things, sustains all things, which things were created for him
*Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the Church
*Jesus Christ is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead
*Jesus Christ is pre-eminent in all things
*It pleased the Father that in Jesus Christ all the fullness of His Deity should dwell
*We pray always that the name of Jesus Christ will be glorified in you and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ministry, Suffering, and Tribulation
*As a gospel minister, I rejoice in my sufferings for you
*As a minister, I fill up my flesh with the sufferings of Christ on behalf of the Church, which is his body
*I am made a minister of an administration [economy, dispensation] given to me by God for you, to fulfill the word of God
*God works in me mightily causing me to labor and strive as He works, to present you perfect in Christ Jesus
*We ourselves glory [praise Jesus] in the Churches of God for your patience and faith by which you endure persecutions and tribulations
*Your patience and faith during persecutions are the reason for God’s righteous judgment to come
*You are worthy of the Kingdom of God for which you are suffering
*Note that it is a righteous thing for God to repay those that trouble you with tribulation
Mystery of God
*The word of God I fulfill [ministry to the gentiles] is the ‘mystery of God’ hidden from ages and generations
*The ‘mystery of God’ [Christ in you] is now manifest in the saints, the riches of glory
*This mystery is now among the Gentiles, Christ in you, the hope of glory
*We preach about this mystery, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom
*We preach this mystery in order to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus
Followers and Leaders
*You know this was our manner for your sake and you became ‘followers of us and the Lord’ after you received the word in much affliction, yet joyful in the Holy Ghost
*You have become examples of faith toward God to all that believe because of your joy in the Holy Ghost during afflictions
*To all the saints, bishops, and deacons in Christ Jesus
*We need not speak [declare] anything, for your offspring (your converts) sounded [declared] the word of the Lord in every place, spreading your faith to God abroad
*Your offspring show the same manner you did when we initially entered [met and ministered] unto you, they too turning to God from idols and serving the living true God