Baptists have long rejected creedal formulations to re-state their faith. In an increasingly syncretistic world, it is important to be clear about what we mean by our faith.
Please read the original newsletter that is attached on this topic. Please also look over the Theological Positions, statements and creeds that are also attached.
I am happy to receive feedback and will pass on the feedback to the half dozen or so folk who are working on a corporate document. The Baptist World Alliance uses the Apostle’s Creed in 1905 and again in 2005. I know that some of you think that even that is too frequent. We need to guard our independence, soul, liberty, and autonomy. I believe that! I believe that we need to guard against those independent tendencies when they become a ruse to resist orthodox, biblical and historic Christianity. Historically Baptists have tended to extremes–from unitarianism on the one side, to liberal and conservative forms of fundamentalism on the other. The BUWC has its roots in the fundamentals of the faith and is indebted to pietism. We also identify with a clear evangelical faith.
Please read the material. I propose to present a document that will be available to our Union family, the Union staff and others who wish to see and sign it. I intend to present such a document for consideration at the Banff Assembly. So far, only one person has raised their voice on this issue with me. Not bad given centuries of Christian history.
Let’s have a prayerful, thorough look at this…
Original Newsletter: Vol. 1, Number 16 (October 26, 2005)
We have a great deal to be thankful for as Baptists as we have (by and large) been the historical advocates for the religious tolerance, separation of church and state and the biblical “marriage” between social justice and evangelism. One of the distinctives that many are most enamoured with is that we are not a “creedal” church.
Creeds are simply statements of faith drawn from the church’s historical interpretation of essential theological and biblical foundations. Not all creeds are created equal. Some were created for political reasons. Some were crafted along specific theological and doctrinal lines so as to “skew” the intent of the biblical writers.
There are advantages and disadvantages to creeds. When they were used as de facto oaths of allegiance to a secular or ecclesiastical power they were wrong. When creeds or, in a broader format, statements of faith are used as a religious or cultural tool of coercion they are equally wrong. We are all too familiar with these problems and more. We are also deeply concerned as Baptists to be able to make personal discernments and choices as the scripture and the Spirit leads. That tradition will continue in the Baptist Union.
All these concerns are legitimate within a particular historical and cultural framework. We have several contemporary dilemmas however. There is within the Christian church context in Canada a theological left which can tend towards believing very little of the historical and biblical faith and a theological right that can tend towards legalism and a refutation of God-given analytical gifts. On the other hand we have a culture which denies pluralism (the right of all to believe side by side without interference or ridicule) and embraces syncretism (which puts all beliefs in a blender and declares the resulting goop a victory for taste but reduces every belief to the same value).
A Statement of Faith is something that can be an affirmation of belief in an age of unbelief and syncretism. It does not need to be coercive (comply or else you are not one of us), but needs to honour the Lord by contributing to worship and community. A Statement of Faith, prayerfully crafted and discussed can be an affirming declaration to newcomers about who we are in Christ…united, worshiping, welcoming and at one with other Christians.
The current Statement of Faith in circulation that has been approved by the Baptist Union for use at Carey Hall is the one that some use as our reference point. There is a tradition that the academy-seminary is the creator and repository for such documents and the Union is part of that tradition. I have initiated a discussion with several circles of leadership in the Union so that we might work on a Statement of Faith. I have outlined the historical problems with such issues. I have tried to explain why we need to explore such a statement. This is an era which is in need of orthodoxy, clarity, community and worship not coercion, triumphalism and rote.
Please find three Statements of Faith or creeds attached. Let’s discuss freely, think through and arrive at some consensus in the months ahead. I look forward to hearing from many of you.
Let’s find new ways to express faith together apart from the clutter around us; a dynamic, historical and compelling faith for this day and for the years to come.
Statement of Theological Position
We accept wholeheartedly the revelation of God given in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and confess the faith therein set forth. We here explicitly assert the doctrines which we regard as crucial to the understanding and proclamation of the Gospel and to practical Christian living:
1. The sovereignty, love, and grace of God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit in creation, providence, revelation, redemption and final judgment.
2. The divine inspiration of Holy Scripture and its entire trustworthiness and supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
3. The value of each human being as created by God. The universal sinfulness of humankind since the fall, which alienates all from God and subjects all to condemnation.
4. The full deity and humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, whose substitutionary sacrifice is the sole ground of redemption from the guilt, penalty and power of sin.
5. The justification of the sinner by the grace of God through faith alone in Christ crucified and risen from the dead.
6. The illuminating, regenerating, indwelling and sanctifying work of God, the Holy Spirit, in the believer.
7. The church as set forth in the New Testament and understood historically by the Baptist community.The expectation of the personal, visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ, our participation in the resurrection, and the hope of eternal life.
New Life Statement of Identity & Purpose
New Life Community Baptist Church exists for one overarching purpose: to help people know, love and serve God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and to help people know, love and serve other people as they do themselves. To this end, we cherish and uphold these three things:
Up-Reacho We will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, seek and adore God in Christ through worship and prayer.
In-Reach o We will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, grow in and commit ourselves to God in Christ through discipleship and fellowship.
Out-Reacho We will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, show and tell others about God in Christ through service and witness.
These 3 primary values are built upon these specific convictions:
God the Father is eternal, infinite, good, just and personal, and worthy of our highest and best devotion.
Jesus Christ the Son is the eternal God made flesh. He is Savior of humankind and Lord of all.
The Holy Spirit is the eternal God in spirit. He lives in all those who trust Christ for salvation, and reigns in all those who submit to Christ as Lord.
The church is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ and is His visible, appointed and empowered agent to reveal God on earth and fulfill His purposes.
Unity within the church is the heart of God and is to be cherished and protected by all her members except where this violates conscience and allegiance to God’s Truth, Way and Life.
The members of God’s church are called to serve others and seek God’s purposes by cultivating a Christ-like attitude and practicing wise stewardship of their skills, talents, resources, gifts and opportunities.
All people matter to God, who created them and loves them, and are to be treated with respect and dignity.
All people are separated from God by sin and need to be reconciled to Him through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Salvation is a free gift, available to all, and is received through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Bible is the Word of God, true in all its parts, and is to be our guide for life and faith.
Prayer is vital to the work of God and to seeking His perfect will and is to be the basis of all we do.
Spiritual friendships are a key to our growth in God and are to be sought and nurtured.
Godly leadership is indispensable to the healthy functioning of God’s church and is to be pursued with all diligence.
Purity of life* is central to witness for God and is to be embraced and guarded with all vigilance.
Servanthood is crucial to the mission of God and is to be cultivated and practiced with true joy.
* See NLCBC bylaws for further clarification
Faculty are expected to subscribe annually, in writing to the following Theological Position annually, without reservation:
We accept wholeheartedly the revelation of God given in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and confess the faith therein set forth and summarized in such historic statements of the Christian church as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. We here explicitly assert doctrines that are regarded as crucial to the understanding and proclamation of the gospel and to practical Christian living.
1. The sovereignty and grace of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, providence, revelation, redemption and final judgment.
2. The divine inspiration of Holy Scripture and its consequent entire trustworthiness and supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
3. The universal sinfulness and guilt of human nature since the fall, bringing everyone under God’s wrath and condemnation.
4. The substitutionary sacrifice of the incarnate Son of God as the sole ground of redemption from the guilt, penalty and power of sin.
5. The justification of the sinner by the grace of God through faith alone in Christ crucified and risen from the dead.
6. The illuminating, regenerating, indwelling and sanctifying work of God the Holy Spirit in the believer.
7. The unity and common priesthood of all true believers, who together form the one universal Church, the Body of which Christ is the Head.
8. The expectation of the personal, visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE EFC MISSION, VISION AND STATEMENT OF FAITH
:: THE EFC MISSION
In order to promote Christian mission in life and society, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is a national movement that purposes to engage an increasingly inclusive participation of evangelicals to accomplish together mission, ministry and witness.
:: THE EFC VISIONThe Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is an alliance of Canadian Christians vitally linked for Kingdom purposes.
:: THE EFC STATEMENT OF FAITH
The Affiliates of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada believe:
- The Holy Scriptures as originally given by God are divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy, and constitute the only supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
- There is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh; we affirm his virgin birth, sinless humanity, divine miracles, vicarious and atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension, ongoing mediatorial work, and personal return in power and glory.
- The salvation of lost and sinful humanity is possible only through the merits of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, received by faith apart from works, and is characterized by regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit enables believers to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Church, the body of Christ, consists of all true believers.
- Ultimately God will judge the living and the dead, those who are saved unto the resurrection of life, those who are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
:: THE EFC CORE VALUES
In order to advance the cause of Christ, the EFC seeks to be a unifying influence that facilitates, fosters, promotes and models the following:
- A clear and compelling vision for the EFC
- Visionary, faith-oriented and strategic leadership
- Engaged, empowered and effective evangelical movements, ministries, denominations and individuals
- Strategic, empowering and productive gatherings, work groups, study groups, councils and conversations
- Being an informed, respected, and collaborative voice representing the application of biblical principles
- A deepening understanding of the role and relevance of the Christian faith in a diverse society
Inter-Varsity’s Doctrinal Convictions
We believe in: The only true God, the almighty Creator of all things, existing eternally in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – full of love and glory.
The unique divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible.
The value and dignity of all people: created in God’s image to live in love and holiness, but alienated from God and each other because of our sin and guilt, and justly subject to God’s wrath.
Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, who lived as a perfect example, who assumed the judgment due sinners by dying in our place, and who was bodily raised from the dead and ascended as Saviour and Lord.
Justification by God’s grace to all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
The indwelling presence and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all believers a new life and a new calling to obedient service.
The unity of all believers in Jesus Christ, manifest in worshiping and witnessing churches making disciples throughout the world.
The victorious reign and future personal return of Jesus Christ, who will judge all people with justice and mercy, giving over the unrepentant to eternal condemnation but receiving the redeemed into eternal life.
To God be glory forever.
Inter-Varsity’s purpose is to be shaped by God’s word and led by the Holy Spirit, as well as facilitating the transformation of youth, students and graduates into fully committed followers of Jesus Christ.
Through witnessing communities, we:
Develop Faithful Witness: To witness to the Lord Jesus Christ as God incarnate and to seek to lead others to a personal faith in Him.
Cultivate Spiritual Growth: To deepen and strengthen the spiritual life and gifts of followers by the study of the Bible, fellowship, prayer, and worship.
Demonstrate Christian Love: To encourage Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Seek All Truth in Jesus Christ: To assist Christians in exploring and asserting the relevance of the Christian faith to every aspect of private life and public concern.
Shape Servant Leaders: To develop godly men and women to serve as leaders in God’s work in the world.
Grow a Missional Commitment: To affirm God’s call that all Christians are called to serve Him through their lives and work and to participate in the global mission of the church by praying, giving, and serving
The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth,and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead.He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
The Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.