Doctrinal Statements

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Monergist, Jan 26, 2002.

  1. Monergist

    Monergist
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    I'm curious, why is it that most Baptist churches today do not have a clear and concise statement of their beliefs? I've been visiting conservative SBC and IFB churches, looking for a new home, and have only encountered one that had anything that resembled a doctrinal statement availible to prospective members. What I usually hear is "We just believe the Bible," but that just doesn't cut it. Is this just indicative of a general downplaying of the importance of doctrine?
     
  2. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TimothyW:
    I'm curious, why is it that most Baptist churches today do not have a clear and concise statement of their beliefs?...Is this just indicative of a general downplaying of the importance of doctrine?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>It could be the result of downplaying doctrine. That seems to be very popular in our day of "consumer-based marketing" of religion. Some churches have doctrinal stands, yet seem to want to "hook" visitors with some other bait, and spring that on them later. It may also reflect a skepticism of creeds and confessions. This has some historical significance among Baptists in America, and has been resurrected recently. Within my experience, most churches seem to have some kind of statement of faith, even if it is only in the church minutes or associational minutes and not readily available in print. Our two different experiences in this area are played out on church web sites. On some sites the doctrinal statement is a proud display that is very hard to miss. On others, search every nook and cranny as hard as you can, but you will never find so much as a peep about doctrine.
     
  3. Chris Temple

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    rlvaughn is right. And I would not even consider joining a church which did not have a clear doctrinal statement available to me as a visitor.
     
  4. Jamal5000

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TimothyW:
    I'm curious, why is it that most Baptist churches today do not have a clear and concise statement of their beliefs? I've been visiting conservative SBC and IFB churches, looking for a new home, and have only encountered one that had anything that resembled a doctrinal statement availible to prospective members. What I usually hear is "We just believe the Bible," but that just doesn't cut it. Is this just indicative of a general downplaying of the importance of doctrine?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    With all due respect to all churches everywhere, in my experience, the leadership of the churches that I know, understand very little about organization. They do not realize that you utilize by-laws and doctrines in church polity and ecclesia. The deacons, trustees, and preachers at my local churches see them as preference rather than any part of essentials. They see the Bible as the only "statement of doctrine" that they need.

    Every once in a while, our congregation reads the "Articles of Faith" found in the back of The New Baptist Hymnal during the responsive-reading part of our worshop service. We read our church covenant during our Communion. These things stand as the only remotely similar examples of a doctrinal statement.

    It puzzles me sometimes. I cannot even get a copy of my church's by laws...strange.
     
  5. Joseph_Botwinick

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TimothyW:
    What I usually hear is "We just believe the Bible," but that just doesn't cut it. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is a sad statement indeed when believeing the Bible no longer cuts it. Why should we need more than the Bible. Do we need the Bible and some person's interpretation of the Bible? Why doesn't the Bible cut it anymore?

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  6. Don

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    Joseph, the statement of beliefs are BASED on the Bible; someone just telling you that they follow the bible could mean you've decided to join a church that supports and endorses the Army of God.

    A clear-cut statement of doctrinal beliefs indicates a church that is well-founded and well-grounded; has a leadership that pays attention to the details; and boldly states that they don't mind being held accountable (as in, when someone brings up that the church constitution says the deacons will not visit movie theaters, but they saw Deacon Steve over at the Multiplex just last night--something I personally don't give a whit about, but that I've seen in some church constitutions).

    Of course, I've also seen churches where there's a church constitution, but it changes at the whim of the pastor....
     
  7. Joseph_Botwinick

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Don:
    Joseph, the statement of beliefs are BASED on the Bible; <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Actually, it is based on some person's interpretation of the Bible. If you need any proof of that, just look at how many times the BF&M has changed through the years. Look at the many revisions that have been made to other doctrinal creeds. For my money, the Bible will do just fine for me. I have the Holy Spirit to help me understand the Bible and have no need for a Pope, paper or human, to tell me what to believe like the Catholics do.

    Thanks but no thanks,

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  8. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph Botwinick:


    This is a sad statement indeed when believeing the Bible no longer cuts it. Why should we need more than the Bible.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Because every heretic and cult since the NT has claimed to need only the Bible. Christianity is a creedal and confessional faith; that is why we have the hammering out of key doctrine at Nicea and Chalcedon and other places.

    The cry "No creed but the Bible" is an easy out for anyone who wants to believe whatever they desire. The Bible is the final source for faith and practice, but confessionalism is the articulation of belief which says "Hey, I'm no heretic".
     
  9. Monergist

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chris Temple:


    The cry "No creed but the Bible" is an easy out for anyone who wants to believe whatever they desire. The Bible is the final source for faith and practice, but confessionalism is the articulation of belief which says "Hey, I'm no heretic".
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    Exactly! David Koresh was a "Bible Believer." Would anyone here have wanted to go to his church? I'm just tired of hearing appeals made for membership with "We're a Bible believing church and you need to be a member here" when the fact of the matter is that they are stewing in doctrinal confusion and goose-bump theology, and church discipline is non-existent (unless you make the pastor mad) because no one seems to know what standards the Bible sets!!

    Sorry, Didn't mean to vent. :mad:

    [ January 26, 2002: Message edited by: TimothyW ]
     
  10. Monergist

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph Botwinick:


    Do we need the Bible and some person's interpretation of the Bible?

    Joseph Botwinick
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No. What I'm saying is that I need to know how they stand on basic doctrines before I can consider membership.

    [ January 26, 2002: Message edited by: TimothyW ]
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    We are working to update the doctrinal statement of our church to reflect more of a reformed view of grace. What's there is okay, but not really cutting it.

    Problem? Many folks want to join without even seeing a constitution, by-laws or doctrinal statement. We could be Moonies of LDS in sheep's clothing!

    And the "All I need is the Bible" used to be valid for Baptists. But no longer. Why do you suppose we have all these "Confessions" of faith (doctrinal statements) from New Hampshire, London, Philadelphia, et al?

    We have no CREED, but we have confessions of our faith rightly interpreting the Word of God. And for that I am thankful.
     
  12. javalady

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    One of the first things we always did (when seeking a church home) was check out the Statement of Faith (or Doctrinal Statement). It's sad but true...many churches of many kinds are downplaying the need for doctrine. As a result Christians are sadly lacking the meat of the Word to know what is Truth!
    A doctrinal statement is a good instructional tool for those who are new to the faith (hmmm...kinda like a creed, Dr. Bob! :eek: ), it makes a statement on the Word to your community and any others who would inquire about your church. It also reminds members "what do we believe...?" because--as Peter pointed out, we need often to be reminded of the truth.
    We put our doctrinal statement right on the back of our church flyer, so that those "of like precious faith" might know there's some other crazies around like themselves!
    Food for thought...
     
  13. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Isn't it amazing how much Christians today rely on a "confession of faith" (CREED: man's interpretation of the Bible) to help them discern right from wrong instead of studying the Bible and relying on the Holy Spirit to give them discernment about whether or not they should be members of a Church. Are you not capable of studying the Bible yourself as you are commanded to do so in the Bible? Are you not capable of relying on the Holy Spirit to give you discernment of what is true and what is false as the Bible commands us to do? Are God's people so spiritually dead that you have no faith in the Holy spirit to enlighten us and that we no longer have any discernment on our own? I think it is time we start studying the Bible more than we do church creeds. Maybe we will be able to discern right from wrong without having to rely on man's interpretation of the truth. There have been many people I have met, and lot's of literature I have read where the people sound very Baptist, and then they end up being cults. Don't trust a carefully worded man-made creed. Trust the Bible. Use some discernment. If I have time, I will have more on this later.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  14. A.J.Armitage

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    The problem with not having doctrinal statements is that lots of people claim to believe the Bible, but don't. Since the Bible clearly teaches things like the divinity of Christ, ect, there's nothing wrong with making a clear stand for them, to divide the orthodox from heretics.
     
  15. Monergist

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph Botwinick:
    ... Are you not capable of studying the Bible yourself as you are commanded to do so in the Bible? Are you not capable of relying on the Holy Spirit to give you discernment of what is true and what is false as the Bible commands us to do? ... Maybe we will be able to discern right from wrong without having to rely on man's interpretation of the truth.

    Joseph Botwinick
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Question: When you stand to preach or teach are you not giving your interpretation of the truth? Would it even be thinkable that Christians never need instruction because each has the Holy Spirit to teach him? Is it not possible, even likely, that two people, both Spirit led, would study a portion of scripture and come up with different interpretations? Is each person's interpretation to be considered equally valid?
    I think we would both agree on the answers to these questions. But what I don't get is why having a doctrinal statement would hinder discernment. I would simply look at it, compare it with God's Word, and discern whether or not they agree. I would then be spared trying to filter through vague doctrinal stands and emotional appeals in making my decision.
     
  16. Don

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    Joseph, I think you're missing the point big time.

    Being in the military, I've had some experience with having to search out a church for my family to attend. We have choices: We ask for a church constitution and/or statement of faith. If there is one, we examine it, and compare it to the Bible. If it doesn't match what the Bible says, then we move on to the next church.

    Our other choice is to sit in that church for several services, paying attention and taking copious notes.

    Either way, we usually sit with the pastor of the church for a couple of hours literally grilling him on various doctrinal beliefs.

    I've been in the position, unfortunately, of being in a church for six months or so before doctrinal positions actually made themselves clear, and we ended up leaving.

    Either way, we're comparing that church and its position against what the Bible says--which is what you're saying. The rest of us here are simply saying that it makes sense to make it easier and crystal clear what your doctrinal beliefs are to everyone by having a constitution/doctrinal statement/statement of faith.
     
  17. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph Botwinick:
    Isn't it amazing how much Christians today rely on a "confession of faith" (CREED: man's interpretation of the Bible) to help them discern right from wrong instead of studying the Bible and relying on the Holy Spirit to give them discernment about whether or not they should be members of a Church. Are you not capable of studying the Bible yourself as you are commanded to do so in the Bible? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is a red herring and ad hominem in defense of one's own refusal to submit to doctrinal authority.

    Of course, every council or committee has written its confessions by examining the Scriptures - Westminster, Heidelberg, Dort, Lausanne, The London Baptist Confessions, SBC BF&M, and on and on. One is free to accept or reject a confession; one is also free to write their own. But no one is free to believe contrary to biblical doctrine. At least, not without divine consequences.

    Would one pledge allegiance to a country which did not have a clearly articulated confession of belief? Would one lay down their life for that country, if its leaders said "Don't worry about what we believe; just follow us!" Likewise, the church, which is a higher authority than any country, has the duty to articulate its confessional beliefs. And the believer is duty bound to understand what the church believes, and if he joins that church, to submit to it. If he doesn't agree with confessed beliefs, he is free to go elsewhere or even start his own church.

    [ January 28, 2002: Message edited by: Chris Temple ]
     
  18. TomVols

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    Good post Chris.

    As has been pointed out, it's not enough to claim you believe the Bible because that no longer carries the same connotation it once did. We need confessions to clarify what particular churches or denominations believe and practice. Steer clear from a denom or church that doesn't have one or a clear one.
     
  19. DocCas

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chris Temple:
    Would one pledge allegiance to a country which did not have a clearly articulated confession of belief? Would one lay down their life for that country, if its leaders said "Don't worry about what we believe; just follow us!"<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Good point, Chris! In fact, history teaches us this is essentially what happened to the Waldenses/Albigenses. For the most part they lived in countries which did not have codified laws, but relied on the whim of the King/Emperor. Because of this, the Waldenses/Albigenses refused military service (often the military was used to slaughter believers who disagreed with the king/emperor). For this reason, history now lists Waldenses/Albigenses as pacifists. I would also refuse military service if there were no Constitution to defend nor a Uniform Code of Military Justice to protect my rights and govern all behaviour. A statement of faith is a very important part of any church's organizational documents. We make ours available to every prospective member, and will gladly meet with those prospective members to discuss that statement of faith. We even go the extra mile and provide a Philosophy of Ministry which elaborates on how we plan to impliment and practice what our Statement of Faith contains.
    [​IMG]

    [ January 29, 2002: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     
  20. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Thomas Cassidy:
    We even go the extra mile and provide a Philosophy of Ministry which elaborates on how we plan to impliment and practice what our Statement of Faith contains.
    [​IMG][ January 29, 2002: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Excellent. This is essential as well.
     

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