Monday, December 28, 2009

Proposed Statement of Faith - Articles 1-5

See also:
Preamble
Articles 6-11

Our church is currently in the final stages of redoing our statement of faith. I want to throw out the "final" version of this statement on the blog in the hopes that my fellow theologically & biblically astute Christian brothers and sisters in Christ can read it over with a discerning eye. Biblical & theological challenges, as well as editorial criticisms, of all kinds are welcome.

1. The Word of God
We believe that God has graciously revealed His existence and power in the created world, and has supremely revealed Himself to fallen human beings in the person of His Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who, by His Holy Spirit, has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of His will for salvation, sufficient (sola scriptura) for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks.

The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.

[Original Statement: THE SCRIPTURES : We believe in the verbal (the very words), plenary (all the words) inspiration of the Holy Bible as originally written, that the Scriptures are the product of Holy Spirit controlled men, and therefore is truth without admixture of error for its matter. We believe that it is the true center of Christian union and the only infallible rule of all human conduct, creeds and opinions.
By the “Holy Bible” we mean that collection of sixty-six books from Genesis through Revelation, which, as originally written, is the very Word of God. By “inspiration” we mean that the books of the Bible were written by holy men of old, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, in such a way that their writing was supernaturally controlled and free from error as no other writing has ever been or ever will be (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1: 19-2 1).

We believe that the same Holy Spirit who originally communicated the Truth has presided over the translations and versions so that the written record as found particularly in the King James Version is essentially trustworthy and authoritative.]

2. The Trinity
We believe there is One and only One living and true God, an infinite, sovereign Spirit, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth, inexpressibly glorious in holiness and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love: that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit. We believe they are equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.

[Original Statement: THE TRUE GOD: We believe there is One and only One living and true God, an infinite, sovereign Spirit, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth, inexpressibly glorious in holiness and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love: that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit. We believe they are equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption (Exodus 20:2-3; I Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11).]

3. The Creation of the World and Humanity
We believe that God, solely by an act of His sovereign power and grace, and for the manifestation of His glory, brought the universe into existence. The culminating work of His creative activity was the creation of human beings, male and female, which are His own image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker.

In God’s wise purposes, men and women are equal to one another yet distinct as they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. The marital relationship, instituted by God and between one man and one woman, establishes the only proper pattern of sexual relations. Within this relationship God has ordained that husband and wife assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. To this end, God commands that the believer only marry another follower of Jesus Christ and that this relationship be life-long. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. While both men and women are to serve the church according to their respective giftedness, God has ordained that the Church be spiritually led by capable, godly men.

[Original Statement: CREATION: We believe the Genesis account of creation as being neither allegory nor myth, but a literal, historical account of the direct, immediate creative act of God without any evolutionary process; that man, spirit, soul and body, was created by a direct work of God not from previously existing forms of life; and that all men are descended from the historical Adam and Eve, first parents of the entire human race (Genesis 1:2; Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:3).]

4. The Fall of Mankind
We believe that although humanity was created in perfection, Adam willfully rebelled and sinned against God. Though made in the image of God, he distorted that image by falling into sin and forfeited his original blessedness, both for himself and all his progeny. As descendants of Adam, all human beings are totally depraved, partakers of Adam’s fallen nature, and are sinners by nature and by choice. As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned to eternal death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand; the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.

[Original Statement: THE FALL OF MAN: We believe that man was created in innocence under the law of His Maker; but by voluntary transgression Adam fell from his sinless and happy state, and all men sinned in him, in consequence of which all men are totally depraved and are partakers of Adam’s fallen nature, and are sinners by nature and by conduct; and therefore are under just condemnation without defense or excuse (Genesis 3:1-6, 24; Romans 3:10- 19; 5:12, 19; 1:18, 32).]

5. God’s eternal plan of salvation
We believe that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, whom He foreknew and predestined. We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace (sola gratia) have faith (sola fide) in Jesus (solus Christus), and that He will one day glorify them—all to the praise of His glory (soli Deo gloria). In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set His saving love on those He has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer.

No original statement.

11 comments:

  1. Do you have an online version of the original or some way to highlight the changes you are proposing?

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  2. Good idea. I'll post the current Statement of Faith. Keep in mind we are not only rewording the Statement, but also reorganizing its overall flow. Some entire articles have been deleted, others added, still others reordered, and all reworded.

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  3. "These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of His will for salvation, sufficient (sola scriptura) for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks."

    Can one really conclude "sola scriptura" from or within that?

    "We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace (sola gratia) have faith (sola fide) in Jesus (solus Christus), and that He will one day glorify them—all to the praise of His glory (soli Deo gloria)." If you removed the parenthetic Latin Solas from the statement it would appear that it would be a statement that any Roman Catholic could agree with, which then would mean it really does not state the solas as I would interpret them.

    One man's thoughts...

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  4. I would probably argue the following:

    1. The word "sufficient" seems to convey sola scriptura, and seems to have historically been used in that sense.

    2. "all to the praise of His glory" seems to directly point to soli Deo gloria.

    3. sola fide, solus Christus, and sola gratia will need further clarification--which will happen in the sections on The Work of Christ and on Justification.

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  5. More of an editorial note I suppose. Parts of Article 3 appear more to be a statement of practice(s) rather than a statement of faith. It is understandably difficult to dissect the two if it is even possible at all to do so. I am referring to the role of men and women mentioned. I imagine there will be an article covering church order and governance which will then make it portions of article 3 redundant

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  6. Tim,

    That's the one I struggles with the most. I originally crafted a statement on marriage/family (similar to what the Southern Baptists have done), but then thought it better to tie it directly into the Creation article, as it has its theological base in the created order. Yet, it makes that statement long and quite broad in scope.

    Our team is still trying to determine how to best include that info.

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  7. Although I agree and understand that marriage relationship and men and women respective roles is theologically based in creation I personally lean towards a separate articles. Again it is more from a editorial and personal preference perspective to due society's attack on family and feminist movements that it warrants an article of its own.

    Also noticed that the original articles include the scripture references but not in the revision; well at least not included in this post

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  8. Scripture references are in our working copy, just not on the version posted online.

    Thanks for your feedback bro.

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  9. Tim, we did draft several "versions". One other one, which earned much support, was as follows:

    The Creation of the World and Humanity:
    We believe that God, solely by an act of His sovereign power and grace, and for the manifestation of His glory, brought the universe and everything in it into existence, out of nothing. The culminating work of His creative activity was the creation of human beings, male and female, which are His own image. We believe that God directly formed Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from His side; they were the historical parents of the entire human race; and they belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker.

    Marriage, Family, and Gender:
    We believe the marital relationship, instituted by God, is between one man and one woman, and establishes the only proper pattern of sexual relations. Furthermore, we believe that gender is ordained by God and cannot be changed or altered by human will. Within the marriage relationship God has ordained that husband and wife assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising leadership and authority in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to and obeying her husband in a way that models the love of the church for the Lord. To this end, God commands that the believer only marry another follower of Jesus Christ and that this covenantal relationship be life-long.

    We believe that God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. Parents are to teach their children to know and love the Lord, and lead them, through a consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

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  10. I personally lean toward having the separate articles for the reasons I mentioned previously. I would also add it would counter the LDS family friend campaign. It also doesn't make the document any longer. It also gives you the opportunity to add the portion of parental responsibilities which I personally like. However, I did notice that the roles of men and women in ministry is absent in this version; something I enjoyed in the first post. Again, if there is a an article on the ecclesiastical positions of the church there is no need for it here.

    Thanks for letting us take part in this process even on a small scale. I am enjoying reading the proposed document. Grabbing a copy of a statement of faith, if publicly available, is the first thing I look for when visiting or going to a new church

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  11. I think you should put the King James language back in.

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