Faith Once Delivered: Jesse Ancona's Articles
Faith Once Delivered
Dear Reader

      This site originally began as a place to house my booklet-length article, Lying with the Truth: Deception and Mind Control in the Worldwide Church of God. I have just added two new articles on the general workings of mind control cults, written by someone who has many years experience fighting for the individual's right to freedom from brainwashing and cult exploitation.

      Still, I've felt the need to move beyond the past, and go forward, into rediscovering the basics of the faith. My aim is to write Articles, Life Parables, Meditations, Studies & Testimonies for these pages. At the moment, I have a few of some of these.

      I am also working on a series on the Ten Commandments, and I have just written a personal testimony of my healing in 2000, and various meditations and articles on different themes. Generally, though, my emphasis is personal and anecdotal, based on the practical details of dealing with Biblical principles in one's everyday life, rather than emphasizing doctrinal exposition.

      Jude tells us to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. There are many ways to take this statement, and they each complement the other: one can look at the doctrinal beliefs, one can look at the dominical and apostolic practices, and one can look at the core of the faith, who is Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach).

      There are many websites devoted to minutely detailed Biblical Studies, generally from a thematic, doctrinal point of view, and often getting into very fine details and high-level exposition. In the future, I may do a few studies like this, on issues I feel have not been adequately covered elsewhere, but I do not generally feel the fruit of this kind of teaching has been as good as has been intended. The Faith Once Delivered is a living faith, and one of the major ways we contend for it is by living it! Of course, we can't live it if we don't understand it, but how many people do we know with some measure of understanding who don't live what they know?

      Over and over again, I have been struck by the difference between the superior, detailed intellectual Bible knowledge so many people have, compared to the very limited skill they have at living according to Biblical principles. This is pure Pharisaism, since intellectual study without practice leads to emphasis on increasingly trivial things, and ignoring "the weightier matter of the law." On a spiritual level, it would be like having a degenerative disease, such that we were unable to communicate or act out what we know, so we would appear to be completely ignorant. The fact is, whatever we do not practice, we do not truly know.

      Of course, many people in the churches have another problem: they have very little understanding of the Bible, so they find themselves reading it less and less, and turning more and more to religious books, magazines and tapes. These things are good supplements, but it would be like living on vitamins without food: you'd starve for lack of calories and protein! With one's food, vitamins can help make up for losses from improper growing methods, long shipping, storing, and cooking, but without food, these supplements would not be able to keep you alive. In the same way, if you're not reading your Bible, you are just not being fed, spiritually. That's why I've included my article on how interesting the Bible is -- many unbelievers have devoted their lives to studying it, because it is such a rich and fascinating source of information -- because for too many believers, the Bible is like "spiritual cod liver oil," they know it's good for them, but inwardly, they feel Oh, Yuck! So this article is my experiences with the Bible, even through many times of unbelief -- and some of my reluctance to read it during times of belief!

      My aim -- and I hope it is your aim, too -- is, whenever you learn something new, put it into practice right away! The fact is, whatever name you want to use for our common belief, whether Christianity or Messianic belief (in deference to Jewish people who have suffered at the hands of people using the Greek form of the Messiah's name), it is not primarily knowledge, it is a way of life (as an exercise, crack open an exhaustive Concordance, Strong's if you're strong, Cruden's if you're crude -- sorry, old lame joke -- and look up "way" in the New Testament, and see how many times it's referred to as "this way").

      If you don't practice your belief, it's doubtful you are a believer. A truck driver who doesn't drive trucks, an artist who doesn't paint, a teacher who doesn't teach -- these can all exist, but at least there has to have been some past experience...and if they don't resume their practice, you really want to say, a former truck driver, former painter, former teacher. To say a former Christian is too painful, though, since it assumes that the person has stopped believing. I think we need to think about the Jewish concept of the practical atheist, the person who lives as though there were no God, regardless of what they believe. Do you do that? If so, you need to earnestly contend, in your life and practice, for the Faith Once Delivered! Everything I say to you, dear reader, I say double to myself: I speak the things I know I need to hear.

      So, while I believe that it is necessary to have pure doctrine and avoid heresy, defining these things tangle one up in divisive doctrinal issues. I believe that we may be able to reconstruct the apostolic theology in broad, rough strokes, but I think there are enough doubts, both historically and exegetically, that we may not be able to be absolutely sure of the finer points.

      This doesn't mean that I feel doctrine is unimportant: Paul fights vigorously against any false ideas, and speaks out vehemently against those promulgating them. He even tells us not to believe in any "other Jesus," which is a sobering thought. If we are taught falsely, the Saviour we believe in may be a false construct. We don't know how God will judge such faith, if innocently held, but we have no excuse for not being diligent to avoid deception.

      I simply feel that, while doctrine divides, shared practice and faith unite. Even on contentious issues, I intend to take a practical, experiential approach, dealing with how these particular issues impact our walk with God. While there are many disagreements on fine points of practice, generally, these are not so vehement as arguments over abstractions, theories, and theology. The Bible is written in many genres: narrative, history, genealogy, technical description, poetry, biography, prophecy, proverbs, songs, and letters, among others, but very few books could qualify as theological documents, with the exception of Ecclesiastes, Romans, and Hebrews, the three books that are the most off-putting and difficult to grasp of the whole Bible. Generally, God has seen fit to explain Himself through narrative, and this is the model I am going to follow, wherever appropriate.

      As you can see, I have only just begun to expand this section; I appreciate your patience.


     Jesse Ancona

Top of Page Contents