QIsn’t “Statement of Faith” just another name for “creed”?
ANo. The word “creed” has become synonymous with certain documents, such as the Nicene Creed (AD 325), which certain religious groups have raised to the level of Scripture. Unlike a creed, our Statement of Faith has no authority apart from the Scripture on which it is based.As we make plain on our What We Believe page, the Alkire Road Church of Christ rejects all man-made creeds and accepts the Bible as its sole and final authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Further, each item in the Statement cites a supporting passage from Scripture so that any reader can study the matter for himself (Acts 17:10).
QWhy adopt a Statement of Faith?
AGiven the great amount of confusion in the religious world today, we believe it is vitally important to make our doctrinal position as clear as possible. We have observed, for instance, that secular courts have formulated positions on a wide range of issues — from church membership to marriage and the family — that are clearly at odds with Scripture. When it comes to church teaching and practice, the elders want it to be the case that these issues are decided by careful consideration of God’s Word, not legal fiat or public opinion.
QWhere is your Scriptural authority for a Statement of Faith?
AWe are following apostolic example by systematically listing the foundational beliefs of New Testament Christianity. For instance, in 1 Timothy 3:16 Paul presents a series of beliefs to which all Christians should confess, namely, that…
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul recites the essential facts of the resurrection, namely, that…
God was manifest in the flesh- 1 Timothy 3:16
Justified in the Spirit
Seen of angels
Preached unto the Gentiles
Believed on in the world
Received up into glory.
Paul’s purpose in each case was not to encourage a formulaic conception of faith in which Christians would blindly rehearse a series of propositional statements. Indeed, the New Testament exhorts us to pursue the truth for ourselves (Matthew 7:7-8; Acts 17:10-12; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 6:1-2; etc.). At the same time, as we see in these examples, our beliefs and practices must be measured against the teaching of Christ and His apostles.
Christ died for our sins- 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
He was buried
He rose again the third day
He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve
He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once
He was seen of James; then of all the apostles
He was seen of me also
QBy adopting this Statement of Faith, aren’t you forcing all members of your congregation into doctrinal submission?
ADefinitely not. Membership is completely voluntary and no one is “forced” to accept the Statement of Faith. The apostle Peter instructed elders to serve as examples, not lords (1 Peter 5:3). Nonetheless, elders have a duty to perfect and edify the church (Ephesians 4:12), take care of the church (1 Timothy 3:5), teach and rebuke the church through sound doctrine (Titus 1:9), and shepherd the flock (1 Peter 5:2). The Statement of Faith assures present and future members that there is an explicit, public standard to which the elders must hold themselves and others accountable. It assures members that their part in a stable, loving church will not easily be displaced by false teachers and other disruptive elements.At the same time, members have a duty to honor and submit themselves to the elders (1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5). Their decision to become a member of the Alkire Road congregation necessarily includes an implicit acceptance of the Biblical principles represented by the Statement of Faith.
QAren’t you afraid that a Statement of Faith will cause divisions?
AFar from it. The apostle Paul urged the church at Ephesus to “keep the unity of the Spirit” (4:3). In yet another example of explicitly setting forth the doctrine of the church, Paul goes on to list a series of non-negotiable beliefs on which that unity should be based (Ephesians 4:4-6). There is, he writes,
Through the Statement of Faith we hope, also, to unify the body of Christ which meets at Alkire Road. We recognize that not all Bible-believing Christians will reach the same conclusions on all doctrinal matters or on any given passage of Scripture. This is why we have concentrated only on those areas that: (a) define the essential beliefs on which all Christians can and should unite; and (b), address vital issues that threaten the spiritual and doctrinal integrity of the Lord’s church.
One body- Ephesians 4:4-6
One hope of your calling
One God and Father of all