Churches have historically used confessions or statements of faith in order to summarize and clearly identify what they believe. Many historical confessions have been preserved, and are used by churches to this day. Instead of adopting an historical confession, we have chosen to use the following summary of biblical doctrine, entitled Holding Fast the Word of Life, as our statement of beliefs. Listed below are several important things you should understand about the purpose of our statement of faith, and about the way it will be used.
- Our statement of faith will be a helpful introduction to the doctrines we will teach, giving you assurance that we will remain solidly biblical in our convictions. While we strongly believe that the doctrines set forth in our statement are an accurate summary of biblical truth, we do not require everyone joining our church to understand and affirm the statement at every point.
- We may invite guest speakers who do not agree with every point of doctrine in our statement of faith. There are many faithful ministers of the Word who do not hold to the exact expression of our convictions. Though our statement will guide us in selecting those we choose for guest speaking, it will not preclude those who are in complete agreement in the most basic areas, while differing somewhat on secondary issues.
- We do expect conformity to the statement of faith for our pastors, interns, and teachers–those most associated with the pastoral duty of teaching the truth. This does not imply that every teacher must have a thoroughly formulated understanding of every aspect of the statement. It does mean, however, that they are willing not to knowingly teach contrary to the established doctrine of the church while working out the finer points. Certain doctrines are so clear and so necessary that a teacher or potential leader would have no reason to be in confusion over them (e.g. the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the nature of saving faith, the sovereignty of God in electing, etc.). However, certain difficult points of doctrine may take even good students some time to work out (e.g. the extent of the atonement, the precise relationship between the covenants, etc.). Since any teaching is a pastoral extension, the pastor(s) will decide which points of theology, on a case by case basis, may remain suspended in the mind of a teacher or potential leader. Pains should be taken, however, to remove the confusion and to come to a solid conviction and doctrinal unity.
- If a teacher comes to a conclusion contrary to the statement of faith, he is required to inform the pastor(s) about his conflicting belief. The pastor(s) will work with his concerns until there is unity in understanding. If an issue in the statement is found to be in error when compared with the Word of God, a correction will be made to the statement. If unity is unattainable, then the pastor(s) and the individual must fall back on the statement of faith as correct, until proven otherwise. In this case, the teacher will be asked to discontinue teaching until there is a better resolve. It is possible that at some point, a pastor or teacher may completely apostatize (i.e. disbelieve certain essential doctrines once held true). In that special case, church discipline is in order and all teaching responsibilities will be terminated.
- Our statement of faith is subservient to the Scriptures. It should never be viewed as having an authority equal to that of the Bible. It is authoritative only in a limited sense, as far as it accurately reflects the meaning of Scripture. We view it and use it as a tool to promote, achieve, and maintain doctrinal understanding, purity, and harmony.