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Handout #1: Introduction

What’s the Difference? Introduction Sept.7, 2014

I. How the class will run
A. Each week there will be a handout we go over at the beginning.
B. This will be followed by Q&A and discussion.
II. The story behind this class
A. In the context of Gainesville Theatre, Gainesville Community Choir, and LIFE Homeschool support group, all ministries of our church, a number of us have developed friendships with members of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
B. This has raised questions about what are the differences between those churches and Evangelical churches like GPC.
III. The fact is that we all need to be theologians.
A. As RC Sproul says, everyone is a theologian, just not necessarily a good one.
B. In Ephesians 4:14 Paul calls to “no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
C. Part of becoming a mature believer is understanding from the scriptures what you believe and why.
IV. Description of the Christian landscape in the world
A. The Protestant, Roman Catholic (RC) and Eastern Orthodox (EO) churches are by far the three biggest churches in the world.
B. Protestantism came into being in the 16th century in Europe as a result of the Protestant Reformation.
C. So the Protestant debate with RC is not new. It's been playing out for 500 years.
D. The Protestant debate with EO is new — in this part of the world. In those parts of the world where historically EO has been dominant the debate is not so new.
E. But by far the longest debate of all is between the RC and EO, which has been going on since the early church.
V. The three churches have many beliefs in common.
A. God
B. Christ
C. Trinity
VI. The differences are also many.
A. E.g. The doctrine of salvation, the relationship between Scripture & church tradition
B. The importance of the differences
C. Review of 8/31 sermon: There are at least two kinds of divisions:
1. Divisions to avoid (1Cor.3:3-10),
2. Divisions to promote (2Cor.11:2-4)
VII. One thing I want to make clear: We don’t think we’re the smartest guys in the room.
A. There are people far smarter than I am on all sides of this debate.
B. I want to approach this humbly and fairly. I hate political posturing. I hate pressure tactics. I would rather lose the debate than be unkind or unfair to those who are coming from a different place.
C. I can’t promise to be fair, of course. I can only promise to try to be fair. And if anyone feels that I’m not being fair, even those who read this from the website, please inform me about how you feel I’m being unfair.