Less is More
While as a Christian thinker and writer I have many ideas about hundreds of biblical themes, teachings, and implications, a lengthy statement of faith quickly becomes a quagmire of explanations. The theological position is evangelical. That is, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Bible is the Word of God, and all men and women must be willing to become children of God. To put it succinctly, as succinctly as did the apostle Paul, this ministry acknowledges one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The Threefold Ministry
Ephesians 4:11 describes the leadership ministries of the church in the apostolic age. Today, there are no apostles or prophets, which leaves preachers (evangelists), teachers, and shepherds. A mature church should embody all three ministries. They are complementary, not competitive. That is, elders, evangelists and teachers are a team.
For more on this vital threefold cooperation, click here.
People often ask me where I stand on various issues. In my replies, I always strive to distinguish between the classical core doctrines of the Christian faith and everything else. Not every doctrine is equally important, nor are all doctrines equally obvious. For this reason we must show grace towards those with whom we may disagree, especially in the "gray areas." (This reasoning is expanded in the audio set Anchored for Life.)
So what do I say in a statement of faith? What represents the conviction of the International Bible Teaching Ministry?
- How about the 4th-century Nicene Creed? This captures the heart of the Christian faith, as I understand it. In keeping with the content of this creed, I teach that in order to become a Christian, one must turn in faith and repentance to God, be born again of water and Spirit through Jesus Christ, and live a life of faith.
- In scripture, I would point to Ephesians 4:4-6 as one of many passages highlighting the essentials of the faith.
- Last, I do not believe it is right to draw lines of fellowship around any non-essential doctrine or practice. Statements of faith are always problematic, since through most of church history they have become instruments of disunity as much as tools for unity. For further sentences expressing this viewpoint succinctly, click here.
- In my teaching ministry, the approach is heuristic. Rather than “give a man a fish,” I prefer to “teach a man to fish.”