So I’m home. My wife and I had a great honeymoon in Myrtle Beach and we’ve been spending the past week and a half getting the house together (in more ways than one). We have some of the same things going that most newlyweds do â€“ duplicate furniture and appliances, who’s going to throw out what, and so on. So far, so good. 🙂 The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful woman and actually kept me single until I could properly appreciate how good she really is.
In between, I’ve been working on a new project I’m set to launch in a few days. The project is Life | Doctrine | Music. The site’s up at LifeDoctrineMusic.com right now, although there’s just a ‘coming soon’ page up for the time being. No, TheologicallyCorrect dot Com isn’t going anywhere. TCDC’s just going to get back to doing what I originally intended it to be â€“ a reference and a ‘clearinghouse’ for sound teaching. LDM is going to be a bit broader and seek to bring in quite a bit more people. I’ll be leaking a few more bits of info on the site in the coming days before the release.
Among the things I’ve been working on for the site include a separate doctrinal statement. Why ? I’d like to reach outside of just talking to reformed folks and try to ‘bring in’ some non-reformed folks. So I’m creating an atmosphere for dialogue where I can do just that.
I decided to model (read: hijack) this doctrinal statement after the one in my soon-to-be former denomination, the Evangelical Free Church in America. The EFCA is interesting in that they have a nice mix of Calvinist and Non-Calvinist folks in their folds. Their doctrinal statement is broad enough to include a host of different believers (which allows for more believers to grow and interact with oneanother) while still narrowing their belief system to exclude some things which are outright heresy (i.e. full preterism). While it would’ve been easy to simply cut and paste their doctrinal statement, being in the denomination for a bit and hearing some of the discussions that have went on in regard to how they shaped their revised doctrinal statement they recently adopted, I decided it would be prudent to make a few ‘additions’ to their statement (some of which make it more inclusive) and add a set of denials after each statement, based upon the vision I have for the new site.
I think that at one point or another, as an exercise in discernment, every believer should take an existing doctrinal statement and craft a set of ‘denials’ to show what they do NOT believe in contrast to what they do believe in the statement. The task of crafting a doctrinal statement (and denials) is not one to be taken lightly, as over the past 2000 years, we’ve had people invent heresy after heresy and morph the biblical text in so many ways as to weasel past the plain meanings of the text.
Anyway, I’ve been working on the doctrinal statement for LDM so I can get it up and moving soon. The first five denials for articles 1-5 were fairly easy to write. Writing denials for articles 6-10 have been challenging in a few ways. On the issue of the church, I had to include a statement on church leadership and male headship in the church which the EFCA’s original statement did not have. I found myself, after recent conversations on HCR with folks regarding the doctrine of substitutionary atonement and the doctrine of imputation, adding to the EFCA’s statement on the topic of imputation, as imputation is the heart of the gospel message. Without Christ’s active obedience counted on behalf of the believer, there is no ‘alien righteousness’ and the person claiming faith in Christ is instead stuck trying to establish his own righteousness, even if a degree of righteousness is ‘infused’ to him, as in Roman Catholic theology. It’s interesting that over in the Â Free Church, these beliefs (imputation and male headship) seem to beÂ assumed though not expressly put forth as so in the doctrinal statement.
I’ve found article seven to be of great importance, as there seems to be a deal of confusion among some brethren (particularly those in the Calvary Chapel movement) regarding the nature of the church and church membership. On a simple examination of scripture (1 Cor. 5, Â 16, Romans 16, Hebrews 13), I wonder how in the world people can even claim to exercise church discipline, who can claim oversight of sheep, etc…. if there is no such thing as local church membership.
The denials section of this article also ends up touching on several issues integral to the marks of a true church. No lawfully ordained ministers = no true church. Just because someone’s wearing the uniform of a mailman and delivers the mail on time doesn’t mean they were hired by the government to do the job. Legally, they can be held on felony charges of mail tampering (even if their intent was to deliver the mail on time) because they were not commissioned to do so by the government. I think back to the book of Numbers and Nadab and Abihu offering unauthorized fire (strange fire) before the Lord and the results of what happened when they chose to do so. There are many people calling themselves ‘minister’ or ‘pastor’ or ‘elder’ or ‘bishop’ today who have no legitimate right to do so. The Catholic folks have a little something accurate within the concept of apostolic succession: there should exist a direct link of succession between a current minister of the gospel and the apostles.
Seriously, if your life depended on it, would you allow someone to be your neurosurgeon just because he read the books on the topic and is capable of doing the operation correctly ? Of course not. You’d demand to see his credentials and who licensed him to be a physician in the first place (usually the state medical board). But weekly, people place themselves under the spiritual authority and care of people who had a dream that they should open a church and did. No training. No proper handling of the Word of God. And a host of heresies (old and oldER) seem to always follow.
But that’s a topic for another blogpost. 🙂
Article eight deals with the doctrine of sanctification. I’m glad the EFCA has a strong statement here, though as I remember, during the deliberations, there were several pastors who opted for a ‘softer’ statement that allowed for the doctrine of the ‘carnal Chrsitian’ to exist. I’m pleased the proposed amendments got voted down. For good measure, in writing the denials section, I simply emphasized the things which the statement was designed to work against.
Article nine had to be modified on my end for LDM, as I don’t want to limit the site’s confessional stance to simply being premillennial. The EFCA had a large swath of pastors who were willing to break with the denomination over the issue of being explicitly premillennial or not, so the EFCA, for now, remains explicitly premill in their eschatology, though there are many different flavors of premillennialism represented in the denomination. As for my site, LDM’s doctrinal statement is inclusive of pre, post and amillennial viewpoints on purpose, focusing on the things which all three viewpoints hold in common. I believe this is a healthy move, as it provides a basis for eschatological unity to a point, while still giving each view a chance to ‘prove themselves’ in dialogue. Over my years of dealing with eschatology, I’ve found that aside from a few things which are absolutely set in stone, some of the same arguments made for one viewpoint can equally apply to another viewpoint….so the difference in interpretation of some things in regard to eschatology can end up being quite subjective, whether the individual realizes it or not.
Darrel Bock realizes this when he writes in his summary essay in ‘Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond’ on the topic of preunderstanding, or ways of thinking that we bring to the text of scripture when discussing and examining issues. He writes:
â€œIn the area of eschatology, preunderstanding can show up subtly in various ways. For example, we might be presdisposed to argue or even feel that the articulation of God’s plan that is the simplest in structure is best. The claim of a simple structure has an appeal because it is clear and lacks the complication of other options. Such a straight-forward reading has a seemingly inherent plausibility. It is here that amillennialism and postmillennialism like to make a point. There is something simple about having eternity follow right on the heels of Christ’s return. No one will get lost in the detail of the amillennial or postmillennial approach as a matter of structure. Certainly the point is one that makes amillennialism or postmillennialism attractive. But it is important to point out that this kind of argument represents a kind of appeal to logic and preunderstanding as opposed to being automatically reflected in the text. A claim that the simplest approach is inherently superior is a claim at the level of preunderstanding, not a textual argument. By itself, the claim has no merit, unless the text can sustain the claim.â€ – Bock, p. 286.
A few pages prior, Ken Gentry provides us with a glaring example of this when he comments about what he perceives as theological problems in premillennialism:
â€œthe convenient and surprising imposition of enormous time gaps in prophecy, such as in Daniel 2 (whereafter successive kingdoms a gap exists between the ancient Roman Empire and the future Antichrist) and in Daniel 9 (where the gap stretches from Christ’s ministry to the future Great Tribulation- despite Daniel’s providing a careful, unified measure of ‘seventy weeks’). â€œ
â€œthe second humiliation of Christ, when he returns to rule on the earth (his footstool, Isa. 66:1; Matthew 5:35; Acts 7:49), only to have his kingdom rebel against his personal administration and surround him in Jerusalem at the end (Rev. 20:7-9). (p. 255)
You have to really appreciate Gentry’s honesty here. His question really isn’t a scriptural objection, but rather one based on what he believes ‘ought’ to be in regard to eschatology. Many attacks on dispensational premillennialism (as opposed to historic premillennialism) come across this way when they are examined more closely (paying close attention to ‘surprising’ and ‘humiliation’ as key words here).
Article ten, I’m still writing the denials to. The EFCA’s statement is strong enough to instantly deny full preterism, hypercalvinism, conditionalism and annhilationism, inclusivism, inclusion and universalism in one fell swoop. I appreciate doctrinal statements like that, as they simply get to the point without being overly wordy. My denials statement may simply emphasize these things as being explicitly denied.
With that said, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of response LDM will get once I open up the doors. Although I didn’t intend on some of it ‘getting out’ now, there’s a bit of a buzz on LDM as to what it’s all about and so on. A few think (erroneously) that it’s just another message board opening. Others think it’s probably a blog (similar to TCDC).
I have a little info set up to get folks rolling on what it is and what to expect. So enjoy and see you in a little while when I open the site.