Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Belief

Roger Olson, Baptist, explains how he can be a “confessing evangelical” without committing to a doctrinal statement. His position is about the same as that of my denomination:
.... Churches and other Christian organizations should not rely on written statements of faith but should ask potential employees and community members to offer their own faith statements (by which I mean doctrinal statements). In other words, rather than putting a written statement in front of them and asking them to sign it or swear allegiance to it, they should ask them to produce their own statements of belief about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc. And then they should examine them and determine whether the person belongs among them. I hope that would be done generously. ....

Now, I do think it’s fine for a Christian organization (church, college, seminary, mission agency, etc.) to have a written statement of faith as a CONSENSUS STATEMENT only. “This is what our community generally believes to be true.” But I’m opposed to requiring individuals to sign them. In place of that, I suggest individuals wishing to join (be hired, become members, whatever) be given the opportunity to write out their own doctrines. Then there should be a trusted group (deacons, elders, pastoral staff, committee, whatever) who looks at it and decides if the person’s beliefs are sufficiently consistent with the organization’s ethos. .... [more]
My denomination's "Statement of Belief" is prefaced with these words "The following statement is not intended to be exhaustive, but is an expression of our common belief, which is derived from our understanding of Scripture." I've described it as descriptive rather than prescriptive. I recall at the time that statement was adopted a conversation with someone who said that he was being read out of the denomination because he couldn't affirm some of the articles. That, of course, was not the case. What he needed to decide was whether he wished to associate with a people most of whom held those doctrinal convictions.

Why (and how) I am a “confessing evangelical” (response to Al Mohler, et al.)