Discovering what a church believes can be confusing, because while many churches may share the same general statement of faith what they practice differs wildly. Charismatics and cessationists, believers baptism and infant baptism, covenantal and dispensational, prosperity gospel and those vehemently opposed to a prosperity gospel; all using the same broad definitions while meaning very different things. The reason for this is that many churches use a minimalistic approach to their statements of faith in order to promote unity and while well intentioned, they leave the door open to ambiguity and confusion within their congregations.
The Confessional Collective’s intention, as predicated by our historic Christian faith, is to produce and prepare fellow churches to be in holistic care of their congregations, and that by preserving their faith through creeds and confessions their bodies would be accurate in theology and missiology. In order to fully subscribe to a confession requires action, more than just posting a document on a website, they are to inform and shape our theology as well as our mission. They affect the head and heart, body and spirit.
Creed or Confusion
If a church’s theology is left undefined, the people will be left to define it for themselves. Like sheep without a shepherd, people are left in the wild to fend for themselves. Minimalist faith statements leave many doctrines open to interpretation and change and do not provide a solid, consistent foundation for accountability. Worse yet, not having a clear written standard leaves the door open for abuse by leadership. Pastors without theological accountability share a seat with tyrants, as they withhold the full extent of their beliefs from their people in an effort to consolidate power. By doing this pastors position themselves as the infallible interpreter of Scripture. These tyrants elevate themselves above the apostle Paul who submitted himself to the accountability of the Bereans (Acts 17:11). Faithful biblical discipleship requires accountability, which is more than what a minimal statement of faith can provide.
The church’s God-given mission as defined in Matthew 28 is to multiply. In order to do this responsibly, there must be consistent theological agreement. Man’s historic propensity to wander from the truth requires a consistent true north, “guardrails” if you like. Without these guardrails, leaders and groups are left to define and interpret biblical truths for themselves. Creeds and confessions provide a basis of theological clarity and unity.
Passionate mission is a natural outgrowth of a deep understanding of biblical truth. A consistently defined theology unites and empowers believers in their mission while clarifying the truth of their message. This foundation remains long after the leaders are gone and leaves a lasting legacy of theological integrity. Without a creed or confession the layman is at a serious disadvantage, leaving the biblical mission solely to the theologically trained.
Prayer and Preparedness
Proper worship flows from a proper understanding of God. Creeds and confessions are beneficial in giving a more clear and accurate portrait of the God of the Bible, and in doing so, grasp the heart and move it towards adoration of Him. As they give clarity to who God is and what he has done we grow in our love for Him, aligning with Scripture as it instructs us to worship God in spirit and in truth. Prayer is the outward expression of our inward convictions; it is where our hearts are brought into line with his and where we experience our most intimate communion with Him. Truly knowing God stirs our affections for Him, more than simply understanding propositions, we find our feelings moved, our joy expressed, our actions surrendered. That is the goal of creeds and confessions, that in knowing God more deeply, we might love and obey Him more passionately.
These four movements express the convictions of the Confessional Collective. Look for upcoming posts that will expand on each.