My Theological Pigeonhole
(Current Statement of Beliefs)
This is my attempt to map out my basic set of beliefs within the vast, multidimensional
world of Christian theology as systematically and succinctly as I can. It does not address
every possible Christian belief, of course, but only those that seem to me to be most
basic or most significantly discussed and debated. I hope it is helpful.
In cases where the beliefs stated on this page conflict with assumptions made in other
essays on this site, I freely acknowledge I have changed my mind, and it is this page
that reflects my current views. While some may find such fluidity disturbing, I myself am
generally more suspicious of those who never have to change their minds about any aspect
of their basic theology whatsoever. I suspect it usually shows that they do not think
deeply about their own beliefs. My own theological outlook, at any rate, has undergone
some fairly significant modifications over the years, and this has had the unfortunate
side-effect of rendering some of my earlier writings on this site as not fully
representative of my current beliefs. Rather than retracting all these writings wholesale
or spending the time necessary to update them in every case, I have decided to devote this
page to the effort of openly stating my current theological positions, and I will try my
best to keep it updated as often as necessary.
Note: For those who recognize an inherent danger in the desire to pigeonhole people
on the basis of their beliefs, as if doctrinal detail were more important than personal
relationships and Godly love, I acknowledge the concern. There is also the related risk of
seeming too confrontational, as if the motive were to tell everyone who disagrees that
they are just wrong. In addition, the failure to communicate and appreciate crucial nuances
is almost inevitable. Nevertheless, when such dangers are openly admitted, I think there is
a place for theological pigeonholing. Simply refraining from ever stating one’s
beliefs is not the answer to these dangers, and in fact carries its own risk of
potentially offending others when they find out indirectly that you do not hold the views
they may have always assumed you did. Plus, sometimes it’s just plain interesting
and instructive to learn about other people’s positions. So I don’t think we
have to be shy or evasive about what we believe. Better to get it out in the open for all
who care to see, and just learn to respect each others’ different interpretations,
in my opinion.
Fundamental View of God
I am a monotheist, though not of a strictly orthodox, trinitarian variety. I do believe
that God can be described as the invisible Father, that in Jesus He has chosen to truly
represent Himself, in part by giving us the supreme, visible, revelatory image of His
own nature mapped to true humanity, and that although transcendent He is also nevertheless
providentially present and active in His creation (and especially in His people) in a form
we call His Spirit. I therefore affirm the deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in at
least an official, functional sense if not necessarily an ontological one. I am not
convinced that the historical formulations of the doctrine of the Trinity (which tend to
focus on ontology, such as there being three hypostases or “persons”
eternally existent in one substance) are accurate or helpful, however. It also seems to me
that much of traditional evangelicalism downplays the true humanity of Christ to a
significant extent, in the name of orthodoxy (ironically enough) taking an almost Docetic
or Appollinarian approach that often fears to consider the probable noetic limitations of
His human mind, including on the development of His own conscious understanding of His
office and person.
I hold to the absolute sovereignty of God in ultimately determining everything that has
ever or will ever come to be (as opposed to the Arminian and open theism perspectives,
for example, which deny His sovereignty over human will).
I hold to a mitigated skepticism, necessitating the courage to walk by faith, not sight
or absolute certainty. I take a rationalist, evidentialist approach to knowledge about
God, as opposed to a presuppositionalist approach. I see much of evangelicalism as
tending too much toward mysticism and fideism in practice, not really bothering to dig
into why they believe what they do.
I affirm the value of general revelation and natural theology for genuine knowledge about
God. In practice this leads me to hold to theistic evolution (though not in any way
implying the absence of divine design). I take the creation and fall narratives as
examples of non-historical genre, intended to convey fundamental theological truths, not
In addition to general revelation, I believe God reveals Himself particularly in Christ,
and may well have given further special revelation on significant occasions in the past,
with such instances of revelation being authenticated by miraculous signs. I am reluctant
to say we can know for sure about any particular claim of such a thing, however, and in any
case am highly skeptical that He continues to give such prophetic direction/communication or
any other miraculous sign gift today. (I do believe He continues to give wisdom and insight
to those who ask and genuinely seek, providentially through natural means.)
View of the Bible
I hold to Sola Scriptura in a limited sense, the sense of affirming the sufficiency of
the primary documents of the Christian faith, which were later canonized by the church as
Scripture, to carry the saving and sanctifying message that God intended and providentially
preserved. This also means I do not believe later writings, creedal statements, or
official pronouncements of the church to be of any authoritative value.
I do not hold to the doctrine of inerrancy. I believe Scripture is the word of God
in roughly the same sense that Paul’s preaching was the word of God, namely, in that
it is the basically trustworthy record and interpretation of God’s special revelation
to man through the advent of Jesus Christ and perhaps other related events in redemptive
history. My view of the Bible is therefore similar to that of classic liberalism and perhaps
neo-orthodoxy to a lesser extent, though my emphasis is on its function as a container for
much objective truth rather than as a vehicle for subjective or existentential encounter as
those philosophies often stress. I affirm the value of literary criticism in general, though
I believe its adherents often take their conclusions much farther than actually warranted.
Biblical Hermeneutic and Eschatology
I hold to neither dispensationalism nor covenant theology, though I am closer to the latter,
and perhaps closer yet to what is sometimes called new covenant theology. I see the Mosaic
law as basically an imperfect picture of God’s standard that foreshadowed what was to
come in Christ, rather than as an earlier stage of the same fundamental covenant as in
covenant theology. I see elements of both continuity and discontinuity between Israel (the
true, believing Israel) and the church.
I am an amillennialist, affirming both present and future (eternal) aspects of the kingdom
of God, but not an Israel-centric millennial form.
I believe in the resurrection of the just and the judgment of the unrepentant, though I am
not convinced that this judgment will necessarily consist in a literal conscious
torment throughout all eternity. I am also open to the possibility that the final judgment
may ultimately be restorative rather than retributive in nature.
I hold to Sola Gratia and Sola Fide with an essentially Calvinist/Reformed view of salvation,
though with significant qualifications to the doctrine of limited atonement, since I am not
convinced of the penal substitution theory of atonement that this aspect of Calvinism is
I hold to what is sometimes termed Lordship salvation, affirming that true faith includes
a fundamental acknowledgment of oneself as under the authority of God.
Though not exactly a pluralist, I am an inclusivist in that I hold to a very real possibility
for regeneration (by grace through faith) without specific knowledge of and belief in the
facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in a similar way to how people could be followers of God
in the Old Testament.
Ecclesiology and Related Issues
I am fairly flexible on church practice and government. I value simplicity and spontaneity,
open participation in worship, active development of gift, and familial care for one another.
I support credobaptism (i.e., for believers, not infants) and hold the significance of the
Lord’s Supper as being fundamentally symbolic in nature rather than intrinsic
channels of grace. I take both of these institutions to be valid apostolic traditions that
we have no reason to discontinue, even though as traditions I believe we should be flexible
in the specifics of how we observe them, rather than claiming any particular mode of
observance is strictly commanded by God.
Morality and Ethics
I believe in the objective reality of good and evil, not necessarily in the sense of having
some kind of ontological existence, but at least in the sense of having a real basis in the
character of God. I am not convinced of the personality of Satan and the demonic
forces behind the existence of evil. (I do not believe Scripture teaches that demons are
fallen angels, as is commonly supposed, but rather suspect they may be personifications of
evil “spirits,” which I think is a broad enough term to be used of various
unseen and impersonal but nevertheless very real influences of the flesh and present age,
like selfishness, greed, materialism, lust for power, etc.)
I take morality to be based fundamentally on the valuation of what can be considered
objectively valuable in that it is apparently valued by God. This includes the valuation
of human life and on how God has created that life to relate to others, itself, and Him.
I believe God expects us to discover these truths through general revelation and through
the principles behind Jesus’ teaching, and further elaborated by His apostles, since
I believe He led a God-pleasing life that Christians are called to emulate, which is part
of the acknowledgement of His Lordship.
Although Jesus did not specifically address many sexual issues that are so debated in
today’s climate, I believe He saw the physical marriage relationship as portrayed in
Genesis 1 and 2 to be the sacred and intrinsically beautiful ideal, and I think that would
suggest that homosexual and polygamous variations are injurious to our well-being, though I
acknowledge the possibility of other interpretations and would therefore not be dogmatic
on this point. Similar considerations lead me to a somewhat complementarian stance with
respect to gender roles, so that I think something of value would be lost if the distinction
between male and female were completely obliterated in our praxis. I see the specifics of how
this distinction should play out as being rather dependent on cultural considerations,
however, so that in practice I am usually more closely aligned with the egalitarian position
than the patriarchal view, with a general reluctance to make absolute rules about such things.
I hold to the separation of church and state, not in any way necessitating the withdrawal
of Christians from the political process, but recognizing the state as responsible for
upholding a naturally revealed form of righteousness rather than a specifically Christian
worldview. (I am highly suspicious of the bias I sense in much of evangelical Christianity
in favor of extreme political conservatism, though I consider myself fairly moderate and am
also skeptical of attempts to tie Christianity to extreme political liberalism.)
This page copyright © 2011-2013 Edward A. Morris.
Created May 12, 2011.
Last updated March 14, 2013.
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