Monday, December 17, 2007

Agreement from an unlikely source

For years I have been saying that the Christadelphian statements of faith, including the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF), are imperfect. The very fact that the BASF has been "amended" is a clear indication that the original writer(s) didn't get it right, at least in the eyes of the people who made later amendments. And the fact that it has been amended more than once should be a warning that even the amended versions are also quite possibly wrong.

It seems now that I have an unexpected supporter: the editor of The Christadelphian magazine. In the June 2007 magazine he wrote:
"Creeds and human statements all contain inherent weaknesses, because they are framed by frail, earth-bound beings."

Michael Ashton

3 comments:

Cliff said...

The warning lights should start to flash as soon as we realise what the "a" in BaSF stands for!!

Awesome post Steve... keep up the good work.

It has been observed that our need for a statement to define who we are, is closely akin to Israel desiring a King to be like all the other nations around them. They needed no King, for God was willing to lead His people by His spirit.

Our BaSF came into being because all the "other" churches had statements which defined what they believed. Unfortunately the BaSF doesn't incorportate or reflect that which REALLY saves us... that is, GRACE.

Laying claim to having "Pure Doctrine" will not save us. The Pharisees in Jesus day had "pure doctrine" - but look where that led them!!

It is not our statements about Jesus that will save us... it is Jesus who has saved us!

Steve said...

Cliff,

The various Christadelphian statements of faith typically follow the same kind of order and format as the statements of faith of other denominations (see the Westminster Confession of Faith for example).

The way the Christadelphian faith is generally taught to people preparing for baptism also follows a "systematic theology" approach, going through doctrines one-by-one (God, Man, Sin, Christ, Angels ... etc). Again, this is something Christadelphians adopted from other denominations. As a denomination Christadelphians have far more in common with other churches than they might realise.

Here is a challenge for you (or anyone interested in taking it up). Imagine you are explaining the Gospel for the first time to a person who has never before encountered Christianity or met a Christian. How would you begin? Imagine you have to keep this to a few paragraphs only. What would you say?

I have attempted this myself, but before I share my efforts with you I'd be interested in hearing from you and others.

Gerry said...

All "statements of faith" will tend to both complicate the truth and because they are framed by man, are prone to error.

If I had to have a statement of faith I would use the following:

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy universal church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting."

Yes it is the Apostles Creed but it is a good summary of truth.

The difficulty comes when religious groups, not just CDs, find the need to work Doctrines into such a statement.

"DOCTRINES DIVIDE" and they add a complexity that is unnecessary, they also provide the basis for disagreement.

A final word: Rather than a statement of faith we need to hold the bible as our basis of fellowship, we therefore need to agree that: where the bible is not absolutely clear about something, perhaps a difference between two passages, that we use a simple rule to decide. "What would Jesus have to say in this matter?"

Tolerance between Christians is of greater importance than point scoring and we need to accept that there can be differences of understanding. Altimately we need to ask ourselves a question: "Just whose side are we on?"

Jesus died for my Sin. He provided a way out for me. I have been saved by Grace. Why do I need to divide the Body of Christ on matters of understanding.

As Cliff says "It is not our statements about Jesus that will save us... it is Jesus who has saved us!