Saturday, June 26, 2010

My New Confession of Faith

Beliefs are important. Almost all of us within the Christian community agree with this.

It is good to know what we believe. This obviously applies to the gospel, but also to secondary (but important) issues such as baptism, the Lord's Supper, treatment of the poor and needy, worship, outreach, sanctification, the end times, all aspects of church life, etc.

Beliefs are frequently written down in the form of confessions. Protestant groups have had many different confessions over the last 500 years. These include the Westminster Confession of Faith, the 1689 2nd London Baptist Confession, the 39 Articles of the Church of England, the Augsburg (Lutheran) Confession, etc.

Confessions can be helpful because they act as concise statements of what an individual or group believes. They are almost always the result of a great deal of study and hard work. I know of no respected confession that was put together quickly and/or haphazardly.

Over the last several years my favorite confession has been the 2nd London Baptist Confession. I still like it a great deal. However, my confession of faith has changed. I'll get to that in a minute.

First, let me state my primary problem with confessions such as those mentioned above. The problem is what they are now used for. Denominations and local churches use confessions not simply to state what they believe. They also use them to determine who can be in their local church and who cannot. Confessions are now employed as dividing lines.

I'm tired of division among followers of Jesus Christ. All followers of Christ have the same Father God, and are therefore a family of spiritual brothers and sisters. Families should be united. It is Christ who unites us as opposed to beliefs over secondary doctrines.

If confessions of faith are roadblocks to unity within the church of Jesus Christ, then we need to think a great deal about whether or not we want to use them at all.

In light of all this, my new confession is simply this: Jesus is Lord.

I am united with anyone who confesses Christ as Lord and Savior. We are part of the same family. He is my brother and she is my sister. I want no more dividing lines.

Let's know what we believe. However, let us not allow confessions to separate us from other followers of Christ. We will be together for eternity. Why should we be divided now?

Let us be gracefully bold about the gospel. Let us be humble about secondary issues.

My Christian brothers and sisters, let's be united in Christ and our held confession that He alone is Lord.

10 comments:

Aussie John said...

Eric,

I'll be pleased to stand with you avowing such a confession.

If Jesus is Lord AT all, Jesus is Lord OF all!

Nothing more to add!

Eric said...

Thanks John.

I know some folks do not like posts like this one because they love their confessions. They also think that if we do not hold to a specific confession, we will go the way of the liberals. Why can't we just believe what the bible says? Sure there is disagreement, but there is disagreement among confessions as well.

As an aside, while I was attending the Ligonier 2010 Conference I got very tired of hearing about the Westminster Confession. How about the bible instead?

Alan Knox said...

Eric,

Jesus is Lord! Amen!

-Alan

Eric said...

Hey Alan, we can be united. In fact, we are - in Christ!

Nicholas said...

"Denominations and local churches use confessions not simply to state what they believe. They also use them to determine who can be in their local church and who cannot. Confessions are now employed as dividing lines."

Can you name a local church that holds to the 1689 LBC and uses it as a "dividing line" that determines who can and cannot be in the local congregation?

You're painting with a bucket again.

Eric said...

Nick,

Can folks join the membership of Ephesus Church if they do not hold to the 1689 LBC? What if they instead hold to the Westminster Confession and were baptized as infants?

Nicholas said...

We currently have 2 families who are paedobaptistic and are fans of the Westminster Confession - they have all been baptized as infants, and are yet members of Ephesus Church.

The standard of membership is a baptized believer in Jesus Christ. While we hold that the biblical position is believers baptism by full immersion, if we are certain a person is a believer in Christ, and yet remains convinced of paedobaptism, we feel it a greater error to exclude them from the fellowship, even when we believe they are wrong. Obviously, the restrictions narrow when it comes to leadership, but membership is a completely different animal. We also have members who are dispensationalists, some who believe in the continuation of the gifts, and some who are Arminians - all items of which run contrary to the LBC. They won't ever be elders at Ephesus, but they are welcomed into our membership knowing that we DO hold to the 1689 and will be teaching/preaching accordingly.

jessica_auner said...

Eric,
thank you for this post. again Bobby and I have talked about this recently too. It's so hard to be around people who are your brother and sister in Christ but who don't hold to everything you believe. And to find ways to build them up, encourage them, and truly enjoy their company even though they may be non-reformed, or penticostal, or whoever is even harder. But I have learned over the last two weeks especially, that it may be harder but it's sooooo rich. I have made it a point to seek out other denominations to interact with and when I see the growth in my own life because of it I am amazed, blessed and truely humbled.
Jesus IS Lord. and that is enough for me.
BTW, the Scripture as we live it, Bobby has got me reading them... they are soo good.

Eric said...

Nick,

That is excellent. I'm so glad to hear it. My hope is that other ARBCA churches make those same decisions.

I see two large problems in this country related to membership. On the one hand, some churches will let anyone join without even asking if that person is a follower of Christ. On the other hand (and possibly in reaction to the first problem), other churches exclude those who do not hold to their particular confession.

These problems sadly lead to A) unregenerate members and B) division within the Christian community.

Eric said...

Jessica,

I agree that it can be difficult to be around people who don't believe the same way. It is especially hard when it is about an issue that seems obvious biblically. You are right that it can cause us to grow. It certainly can lead to good discussions.

It's interesting that we are never told to separate from other Christians over issues that are secondary to the gospel. The gospel is the key.