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The Great Lie of the Faith Statement

May 08, 2020

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Today I want to talk with you about the great lie of the faith statement. The modern replacement of the catechism, or confession, the faith statement is usually a short set of points that express what the beliefs of a church are. Or the beliefs of an aid group. Or the beliefs of any other ministry. I’ve written before about the irresponsibility and cowardice of short faith statements – since they do not represent much of what the Bible actually teaches. Today I wish to speak about the LIE of the faith statement – the simple fact that while ministries typically put up only a few doctrines they believe in – they actually treat many other things like dogmas in practice. In doing so, they not only misrepresent the Bible, they trick people about what they believe.

As a person who has worked in ministries multiple times, I have seen this first hand. They will confess to a few things about the nature of God, the nature of Jesus, the atonement, the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, and any of their supporters would assume that this represents their faith. Any reader would think they care about a few big doctrines, and not about others.

Not surprisingly, they would be wrong.

The urge to make only a 5-10 point list represent your faith has been spurred in part by a desire to avoid conflict and division over belief. In part, it has been spurred by a desire to attract more people, under the assumption than not being heavily weighted with teachings and rules would make their organization more palatable to the masses. It has always been a lie from its inception, but not everyone recognizes that it is.

Let me add one more facet of why churches have fallen into the weak practice of mini-faith statements. It’s because basically they plan to float with the times regarding many doctrines. They will let the desires of the crowd determine which way to decide on a doctrine. They will even MORE allow the doctrines of their ministry friends determine what doctrines they teach and don’t teach. They will allow the currents of social pressure decide their doctrines as well. Since all of these elements change over time, it is safest from their standpoint to not to write down what they believe. It’s going to change with the times anyway, and why embarrass yourself by having to edit your faith statement that often. Like Esau, who sold out his birthright for a bowl of warm stew, churches sell out their right to shepherd the brethren and to teach the Word of God, for the warm comfort of social acceptance and ministry friends. Keeping faith statements brief allows them to privately flow with bad doctrinal change if they choose.

I could give you first-hand examples of how this results in deception. It’s clearly not just a few big points that matter to them. While working in ministries, I multiple times taught from the Word of God teachings which modernity finds distasteful. I communicated the roles God gives for men and women. The need for modest apparel. The permanent nature of marriage and the sin of taking new spouses. Despite the fact than none of these doctrines appeared on the ministry’s faith statement – too “little” to be written down you’d think - the ministries found it natural to threaten me, try and pressure me into silence, and when I would not be silent, demand that I leave. Beyond the question of whether each doctrine is true or false, is the painfully obvious fact: they have many MORE doctrines than they put on their miniskirt of a faith statement.

Brothers, you might not call your dogma a dogma. But if you are willing to silence any minister that teaches it, and then excommunicate them over it, realize this: It is a dogma. Moreover, when you refuse to notify your supporters, your ministry friends, or your employees about such beliefs you have, and you keep those beliefs under the covers, you actively deceive people. You present yourself one way – as a Christian who thinks that only the most important doctrines matter –but you run your ministry another way – like the things you call “small doctrines” actually DO matter. That is dishonest.

On the several occasions that I encountered this phenomenon personally, I gave them this simple advice: If this doctrine matters enough to threaten someone over, and you are treating it like a doctrine, you need to write it down too. That way everyone knows you treat it like dogma. If you choose NOT to write it down, then do not threaten anyone if they disagree with you over it. You’ve already let them know it’s not a dogma. It’s not on your list of beliefs. So let people believe what they believe, and let people teach what they will teach. Both times I have offered this advice, they told me – you know, that’s actually a pretty good idea.

This is not a difficult concept to understand, brothers. If you are willing to treat your belief as a rule in your ministry, or worthy of discipline, you need to write it down. Lengthen the hem of that little statement of yours. Granted, it ought to be a full confession to begin with, and it ought to represent what the Bible teaches in its fullness, but at the minimum it ought to be honest. If you believe in evangelical feminism, put that in your statement. If you believe Christians can take spouses aplenty, and it’s not a sin, put that in your statement. If you believe it’s too offensive to talk about modesty, repentance, hell, or anything else, put that in your statement. Otherwise, permit people to speak freely on the doctrines that do not appear, and be comfortable that they hold a variety of beliefs. That’s the only consistent way to do things, and it’s honest.

Another practical difficulty of the artificially short confession is that from the standpoint of a visitor to a church, or of one wanting to recommend a good church to a friend, it does not help very much. It may loosely let the brother know the church is not is gross heresy, but beyond that it leaves you wondering. When I travel, and I have to attend a new church, I am left writing or calling to ask questions. I have to do the same when I find a church for a friend. Or someone who may be a new believer. Sometimes you get awful surprises not knowing what a church actually teaches. Being upfront, honest, and unafraid to share your beliefs would be a fair service to anyone who might want to learn about your church or attend. Finding a church should not require tons of research, or attending for five years, to learn about its doctrines. Is it a mystery cult or something? The ministry should be open and transparent from the start.

The way to do that is to have a broad and deep confession of faith. If you want to present those doctrines related to salvation in a special place, that’s fine. They belong there. People SHOULD be able to find them quickly. If you want to present the main, characteristic doctrines of the faith in an elevated position, no problem. This author does the same. But when you refuse to include everything else, is where the deceit begins, as well as the practical harm it causes the church. If you plan to treat something like a doctrine in practice, write it down. If you don’t write it down, allow a variety of beliefs among your ministers and teachers. That’s consistent. It’s open. It’s what the brethren deserve.

 

 

You can find my marriage book Get Married and Save the World right here: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781 545659052&HC_ISBN=  

I’ve been working for holiness and reform in the Church at: https://www.holinessofthebride.com/

 

See videos of most of my material here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc7KZc_yBQQhv7u02HQnPzw/videos& lt; /a>  

Contact me anytime at: kodeshkallah@yahoo.com