Answering Hervé-Cyrille from Benin

This article provides advice to those who meet Christ through the Web, and are wondering how they might proceed in order to grow in their new-found Christian faith. Here is some of the most basic advice to be heeded, in a nutshell. First, ask God to help you understand as you read the Bible. Second, make sure you take into account the context of the Biblical passages that you read or that other quotes to you. Third, Consider what God says in His Word to be more important than what others say about it. Fourth, Find believers to gather with, and a church that teaches the Word of God.

… Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12.1b-2, ESV)

Full text of article available under:  Réponse à Hervey Cyrille du Bénin (French).

Other articles that might be helpful for meeting the same needs as this article does:

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share below some aspect of your hard-gained life experience.

Summary created: August 28, 2017.
Updated: January 11, 2018; July 23, 2018.

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Research keywords: Advice to those who meet Christ through the Web; Advice to new believers; Advice to new Christians; Help for starting the Christian life.

Merging of Past, Present, and Future

My journey of faith, when I consider it today, may be considered from the angle of a merger of horizons, or the encounter of past, present and future.

What is man that you care for him (Psalm 8:4)?

Three events have been turning points in my Christian life. Witnesses of Jesus told me about the love of God for human beings, guiding me in this with the Word of God. After a fairly long period of resistance on my part, I finally decided to make the changes that needed to be made in order to obey God and follow Jesus. But it was several years later only that I came to understand what to be loved by God meant, and what it entailed in terms of the peace that comes with knowing we are forgiven by Christ no matter what.

Always, God was there. Keeping watch over me. Guiding me. Respecting my refusals.  For God does not impose himself upon us. Instead, he invites us, and waits until we are ready. In the past, God waited for me. In the present, he does not bully-me around, but waits for me to become ready to enter more and more fully into the love He has for me. For, from our human perspective, all begins with our understanding that we have God’s love for us.

No matter how despairing your situation might seem to be at any given point in your life, please always remember that God is preserving your life all along. Personally I went through phases of high expectation, deep despair, and to one of peace and joy in Christ. Today I realize that God is using every dimension of my personal history for His glory. One way to put it is that I am now living at the encounter of past, present and future.

Full text available from :  La rencontre du passé, du présent et du futur (French).

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share below some aspect of your hard-gained life experience.

Summary created: August 28, 2017.
Updated: January 5, 2018, and June 28, 2018.

Intelligence and Christian Faith

When I came to the Lord as my personal Savior as a young adult in 1977, I believed myself to be very limited in terms of intellectual capabilities or potential, such as are involved in the proper understanding of written material of any degree of complexity. Yet I wanted to understand what God was teaching in his Scriptures.  I titled this article, Intelligence and Christian Faith because it was God who provided me with the abilities I was asking of Him so I would understand His Word and be able to explain it to others.

You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
(Psalm 27:8, ESV)

One day I read a passage of Scriptures that said that it is God who gives wisdom to the wise and understanding to those who have understanding. My French language Bible used the French word “intelligence” for “understanding,” and I took it to mean that God provides one’s mind with the abilities one would otherwise be lacking to comprehend what God’s Word, and God’s teaching, is all about. Based on this interpretation of things, I said to God that if He wanted me to understand His Word, He would absolutely have to make me capable of doing so, for it would otherwise not be possible for me to get it.

I consider that Christianity removed a barrier that would otherwise have prevented me from believing that I could one day achieve what I had to heart to know through systematically and regularly reading the text of the Bible for myself through the years. As I applied myself to understand as best I could what I was reading, I made progresses that would otherwise not have been within my reach. Also, God helped me through His Spirit, but He also helped me through His Word to believe He would intervene. This had a mobilizing effect upon me for several years until it had become and felt natural for me to study the Bible and whatever other text I wanted to understand, no matter how complex.

The original version of article may be read at :  Intelligence et foi chrétienne (French).

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share below some aspect of your hard-gained life experience.

Translation provided on August 25, 2017.
Comments opened on January 5, 2018.

Research Key Words: Christian Faith; Intelligence and Christian Faith; Intelligence; Understanding; Intellectual capabilities.

God Answers Prayers!

God answers prayers in ways that are sometimes surprising…

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121.1-2, ESV)

I would never have imagined that He would answer my prayers by leading me to create the web site  Savoir et croire .ca, and its Forum chrétien la Rencontre.

The entire text of his testimony is available in French : Dieu répond aux prières !

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share below some aspect of your hard-gained life experience.

You may communicate with me through the indications under Questions or Comments.

Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA,
Updated: February 6, 2018; July 21, 2018.

Choosing a Bible Translation

What are the best versions for reading and studying the Bible for oneself , or to recommend to people enquiring from us to help them with their choice? I did an in-depth study of the Bible Translation world based on a life-long practice of reading the Bible, primarily in French, then in English, and to a lesser degree, in Spanish also. The entire study is available in the French language, under Choisir une traduction de la  Bible.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18, ESV)

Even if you don’t read French, you still might want to browse through the French language version of this article, for it will lead you to English or Spanish resources that will help you answer some of your questions about Bibles and Bible translations. Sites as that of  the New Living Translation (NLT) from Tyndale House publishers. The latter covers some of the same grounds as does the French version of this article, along with suggestions for studying and applying the Bible.  It also uses samples of the NLT for discussing what it means to be a Christian on a day-to-day basis.

Please don’t underestimate the potential that resides in reading the Bible in a language other than your own as a complementary means to increase your fluency in that language. I am saying this from personal experience, for I heavily relied on such an approach when I chose to learn Spanish as a foreign language.

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You may also share below what you consider important in choosing a Bible translation.

Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA
June 18, 2018

Being a Christian?

Being a Christian is about being. From who we are flows what we like and dislike, what we do and don’t do. To become a Christian, one must start by knowing who God is. Reading about the life of Jesus as told in the four gospels is a good place to start, but then the rest of the New Testament also provides very important insights about what it means to be a Christian. Also, reading the same books Jesus read (Psalms, Isaiah, Genesis, Jonah, Jeremiah and the rest of the Old Testament) will provide bits of understanding about God, as one reads more and more over the weeks, months and years.

Whoever abides in me and I in Him, he is that bears much fruit (John 15.5)

My own road from agnosticism to belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior involved a key step, which occurred after reading in the Bible that anyone who seeks Him will find Him. Once I read that, I prayed to God that He would make Himself known to me. That was a very important attitude quite early in  my quest after God or rather His seeking me out.

The above is an adaptation of an answer I gave to the question someone asked, and which I would sum up in these terms: What are the rules for being a Christian? The thread was titled «Important things I need to know in Christianity» at Christian Forum Site. To read the thread itself, go to my profile (member name : DanielGarneau), click the Postings tab, and search for my posting dated October 27, 2014.

If what Christianity is all about is of interest to you, you may enjoy visiting the section of www.savoiretcroire.ca called Believing and from there Christian Faith. Many short videos provide information about some key aspects of what it means to be a Christian. The testimonies found at www.savoiretcroire.ca, under the Autobiography and Learning, could also help you along in your searching for God.

You wish to get involved and discuss further about the above topic, please consider doing so at Christian Forum Site. I will be happy to engage with you there.

We also would like you to feel more than welcome to join our nascient (as of this writing) trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). Additionally, you may simply share your response to this post in the comment box below.

Updated: May 11 and 17, 2016; January 5, 2018.
by Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA.

Primary and Secondary Convictions?

Why is it that, from the pages of the same Bible, Christians come to convictions that diverge from one another? ask some to themselves, on the web, and elsewhere? Why is it that when different people ask the Bible the same question their answers are not identical? Should this be so? Or could we expect the Bible to yield a single answer to any given question one might expect to draw from its pages and from the writing or teaching of those who have studied it with the most astute of competences? The first part of this article will attempt to answer why this is so, the second part, what to do about it.

1. Why the varying interpretations of the bible?

From my perspective there are many factors involved in the fact that not all readers or students of the Bible come with the same answer to the same questions.

1.1. Having to Bear with Imperfect Skills and Background Knowledge

First, we have not a perfect knowledge of the culture and languages of Bible times. Second, even when the actual knowledge does exist, not everyone knows of it, or knows of it entirely, or understands it with an absolute degree of perfection.

I will take my stand at my watchpost, and look out to see what he will say to me (Habakkuk 2.1)

1.2. Giving Priority to Culture, Christian Heritages, or the Bible

There is also a set of reasons why we do not all come out of the Bible with the same answers to the same questions: not every one approaches the Bible in the exact very same way. There are those who believe that only some parts of the Bible are valid for us today, but they give higher credence to Christian heritage and culture in interpreting what the Bible means for their current situation and context. Others take their own cultural setting and Christian heritage into account, but consider that everything the Bible has ever said is true and should be given a higher degree of authority than the rest.

If one prioritizes the cultural premises of his day and of the place where he lives on earth, he or she will come-up with a certain set of conclusions. If someone, on the other hand, considers that the Christian tradition inherited from her or his family’s adherence to a Church as being at the top of what deserves to be trusted, above current cultural trends, or even above what the Bible itself says on a given issue, this would justify in their eyes yet a very different set of convictions than for the previous person.

There are also those, on the other hand, who considers that the Bible has priority in the value of its truth-statements. Yet at the same time, they also consider that the Christian heritages to which we still have access today can shed a fair amount of light on how certain Bible difficulties could be understood. These would weight what is brought to bear by such heritages onto their understanding of what they understand from the Bible. In addition, they may also want to look at what the culture brings to the table that is helpful to understand what the Bible and what the Christian heritages tell us. And then, having weighted all these, such a person would be able to answer both culture and tradition from what the Bible says, sometimes agreeing with them, sometimes not. Conclusions here would not be identical with those who allow culture to prime on their interpretation of the Bible, nor with those who concede priority to Christian heritages.

My articles under Theological Analysis develop this latter reason as to why we do not all come up with the same answer from the same Bible. Evaluating Theological Statements and Practices thoroughly explains how to apply and work with these concepts, while Understanding Culture and Responding from the Word provides an example of how Tim Keller applies this to what, from memory, I believe he calls the literature of suffering.

1.3. Not Wanting to Yield Oneself to What can Easily be Understood

But there is yet another completely different set of reasons why we do not come up with the same convictions when looking at the Bible with the same set of questions: some of us find the Bible so disturbing that we barely look into it. Many people today criticize the Bible as if it were a book of old tales without anything important to tell us, because they don’t want to yield to what is otherwise easy to understand, when one actually reads it.

2. What to do about the varying interpretations of the Bible?

Integrating all of the above reasons why the Bible does not always yield the same answer to the same questions into a comprehensive view of biblical hermeneutics, a distinction must be made between primary and secondary convictions in matter of biblical interpretation among Christians. In a nutshell, it is essential to bear in mind that some of our beliefs our extremely important because of their consequences in people’s lives.

For example distinguishing whether Jesus is or is not God determines at least in part whether one is or is not truly a Christian, so it is essential to know where one stands with regards to this. On the other hand, whether one adheres to the charismatic or pentecostal perspective is clearly of chief importance, but it does not distinguish in and of itself between whether one is or is not a Christian, so while important it is not as vital. Third example , the way a given group of churches makes its decisions is important, but not to the same degree as the previous two. Finally, there are many practices in church groups, local churches, and person’s lives that are related to preferences. It should be borne in mind that these are far from being as important as the previous three examples.

Showing the relationship between varying levels of convictions and providing examples from different denominational contexts is what the French language version of this article Convictions essentielles et secondaires adds to the preceding one. Also, the Spanish version of it, Convicciones esenciales y secundarias, deals with the same set  of preoccupation, but from a slightly different angle.

So, if you are able to read all three of these languages, you might draw something complementary from the French, the Spanish and the English version. This was not intended, but is due to the way in which this site developed. However it does illustrate the point I am making within this article. We can learn from what others have said from their perspective instead of being obfuscated by the different light they bring on things.

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share a response to this post in the comment box below .

You may also communicate with me through indications from Questions or Comments.

Author: Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA,
June 18, 2018

Research Key words: primary convictions; secondary convictions; essential convictions; primary Christian convictions; secondary Christian convictions.