When considering theological issues in which many good Christian brothers/sisters have differed, there is the need during this exchange to be Bible-based, Christ-centered, and God-honoring. Though we are entitled to our own opinion, we are not entitled to our own truth. When speaking, the only basis for authority is the inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient Word of God. The truth of the Bible is objective, propositional reality that is to be unpacked through cautious and diligent exegesis rather than hearsay and speculation. At times we see good exegetical arguments from the alternate view, though it is not enough to sway our convictions of what the Bible teaches.
Notice the third caveat here—God-honoring. When dialoging with fellow believers on opposing issues, we must be sober-minded and gracious. We cannot win “the opposing side” if we are being pejorative and unkind. We have no entitlement for condescending comments or judgmental jabs. We want to develop a winsome case, rather than use mockery or suggestions that the differing side is engaging in heresy on this matter. We’ve seen in Christian debate that there can be much unchristian cajoling that does not honor Christ. Let’s honor fellow servants of Christ and practice Christian charity as we honor one another in Christ.
That’s why we mention in our statement of faith that it is not intended to define our boundaries of fellowship. Our basis for biblical fellowship is a confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the pursuit of a godly lifestyle.
We affirm that the Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final authority of all that we believe; not theological conclusions we have arrived at, even through much rigorous study. As such, we do not require folks to adhere to all of our beliefs; we simply desire a humble, teachable heart, as we study the Word of God and practice biblical ministry together.
Having said that, some of the ministry distinctives (which are fleshed out with biblical support in our Statement of Faith) that characterize our ministry are:
- Sovereignty of God in salvation (including a high view of God & doctrines of grace)
- Centrality of the Gospel & being Christ-centered; the Church’s mission in the world is about the Gospel, not social justice or humanitarian aid. Our message, from God’s side: substitutionary atonement, the innocent slain for guilty sinners; from man’s side: repentance, saving faith, affirming Christ’s lordship over every area of life
- Creation by divine fiat in 6 literal, 24-hour days, along w/ a relatively young earth, rather than being old or the result of evolution
- Gifts: cessationist (sign gifts ceased w/ the apostles, though the serving gifts remain for the Church’s faithful practice)
- Role distinction: complementarian rather than egalitarian, recognizing that God assigned specific role distinctions in the home and church
- Eschatology: dispensational hermeneutic, rather than covenantal
- Baptism: believers’ rather than babies
- Expository preaching as the central feature of the gathered church in worship
- Biblical counseling as opposed to secular psychology or Christian integrationist approaches