Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When a Statement of Faith and Secondary Issues Collide

Every church has a statement of faith which normally describes what they believe with verse of Scripture to back it up. Most of them are very similar with a slight variation of wording. Most of them contain what they believe about the Bible, the Trinity, salvation, and other essentials to the Christian faith. We can all say, "Amen" because we believe in the same things.

However there may be some issue you encounter when it comes to a church's statement of faith that will make you question should you leave the church you are currently attending, or not joining this particular church that you are really interested in joining. Most of the issues raised normally come from secondary issues, but there are others that come from personal preferences.

The KJV only churches, for example. First, I do not oppose the KJV. I have been under a pastor that has used it as their main translation and people in my church use it. The problem comes when a church says they will accept the KJV as their main Bible. Here is an example of a statement of faith from an Independent, KJV only church:

We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the verbally and plenarily inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant, infallible and God-breathed and, therefore, are the final authority for faith and life. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the complete and divine revelation of God to Man. The Scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning, and all issues of interpretation and meaning shall be determined by the pastor. The King James Bible shall be the official and only translation used by the church. (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)

That final sentence sums it up about what translation should be used in the church. If you are not a KJV user, this would not be the church for you. What is even more interesting is the sentence prior to it that says, "The Scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning, and all issues of interpretation and meaning shall be determined by the pastor." Say what? This is almost sounding like a cult. I hope I am not reading too much into this, but it sounds like all matters of interpreting what the Bible says comes through one man, the pastor. That should be a problem for those attending and those who are considering.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues when it comes to a church's statement of faith is eschatology, also known as study of the End Times. Some churches will hold in their statement of faith they believe that Jesus Christ will return one day, which we can all say, "Hallelujah." Normally, some churches do not put on their statement of faith if they hold either Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, or Amillennialism, however there are a few that do that.

In one church's statement of faith, they talk about their beliefs in the Bible, salvation, marriage, the fall of man, and others that I agree with. When it comes to their eschatology, they reveal they are Premillennial Dispensational church. You might be thinking, that is not a big deal because you have been with other churches that are the same way. I know I have as well. Then there a little clause that make us think twice about either joining or staying with a church like this:

We believe that the Bible unequivocally teaches the following doctrines, although we recognize that in some cases sincere and intelligent Christians hold different views. In order for unity to prevail within (our church)...we require that all those in positions of leadership and teaching must personally hold to the following basic precepts. However, if you disagree with some aspects of them, you are still welcome to be a part of our fellowship.

Notice the issue. You may not called to vocational ministry, but you aspire to be an elder or have the gift of teaching and want to lead a small group. If you hold to any other form eschatology, based on this church's statement of faith, you cannot. They will let you join but have nothing to do with leadership or teaching.

When it comes to joining a church, one thing you need to know is their statement of faith. Most churches are not restrictive when it comes to secondary issues, but there are others that are. How can a church promote unity if they are restrictive? I get being on the same page, but not everyone will be on certain issues such as eschatology or a Bible translation.

No comments:

Post a Comment