As you’ve probably known, my friends, I’ve been without a statement of faith from this ministry’s beginning — and I’ve only talked about generally accepted doctrines. And that is because, initially, I had a local church to associate with, and so the matter was not that urgent. But more important, it’s also because I wasn’t yet prepared, theologically, to formulate my own doctrinal statements, or to adopt someone else’s.
However, now that I’ve struck out on my own — with Swordsman of the Word already an independent entity — this kind of situation where I have no faith-statement is no longer acceptable. Even what I said in my last two blog posts that I’m going to be orthodox in my teaching is not enough. I need now to be specific about my theology, and I need now to make a stand.
The good news is that, because I’ve been outside of the established Church most of my Christian life, I am not bound to any theological tradition. I am free to choose according to God’s leading and according to my conscience. But my dilemma is that I’m still growing up in my knowledge of both doctrines and Scriptures, and without guidance, I might end up lost in my choice. Formulating my own faith-statement is still out of the question, and so my best option is to adopt an already-made confession — a confession I can generally accept — until I am ready to fully embrace it, to revise it, or to reject it.
Fortunately, God’s providence has been at work. I won’t go into details, but God has led me to the study of Reformed theology, particularly the teachings of R.C. Sproul; and he has also introduced me to The Gospel Coalition — “a fellowship of evangelical churches in the Reformed tradition” that is committed to gospel-centered ministry.
Recognizing that I am a conservative at heart, in spite of the Pentecostal influences I’ve had, has made me choose Reformed theology for my study — I wanted to go back to the Reformation, and to the very roots of historic Christian faith. And while studying, I did find myself agreeing with much of what’s being taught (with the rest I’m not yet sure of). However, I also realize that, because of my background, I can never be a truly Reformed Christian. I cannot ignore my past, and I do need to reckon with my own personal experiences with God.
Enter TGC. It has its roots in Reformed theology, but it is interdenominational. Many Christians from other traditions and denominations have joined in it. Moreover, they have these Foundation Documents that they are inviting other Christians to embrace. The implication of this is clear to me: It is possible, very possible, that I can find it in myself to also adopt their doctrinal beliefs. Yes. And this is exactly what I’m doing now. Adopting TGC’s statement of faith.
Before I make this official though, I want to say first a couple of things. Firstly, I am only generally accepting TGC’s doctrinal confessions, because as I’ve explained, I’m still growing up theologically. I want to leave room for growth, and I reserve the right to change my mind, if I need to. Secondly, I am doing this acceptance more as an act of faith, and less than because it seems to be the best decision I can make. For quite some time now I’ve been sensing God’s hand behind this, and I trust that he is leading me to where he wants me to be.
And now, to the matter at hand:
Personally, I am now adopting as part of my own confession of faith the Confessional Statement of The Gospel Coalition, which is one of their three Foundation Documents.
Furthermore, because I respect orthodoxy and the rich heritage of Christianity, I am also adopting as part of my own confession the following historical creeds — The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, and The Chalcedonian Creed.
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What I believe has a direct impact on what I write. Thus, the question now is, how does this new development affects Swordsman of the Word? Fortunately, there won’t be much change from the path I’ve already laid down for this ministry.
I said in my last blog post that I will use Reformed theology as the baseline for my teaching, and this is still true. Having adopted TGC’s Confessional Statement as my own only means that I now have something to compare with that baseline. (And the difference between the two, I suspect, won’t be that much.) Yes, I’m still going to teach Reformed theology, and whatever else I’ll talk about that is not part of Reformed teaching you will clearly know.
TGC’s Foundation Documents consist of three items. In addition to their Confessional Statement, they also have a Preamble and a Theological Vision for Ministry. For my purposes for Swordsman of the Word, I have adopted only their Confessional Statement, and not the other two. I did this for the following reason: TGC is a coalition of churches, and Swordsman of the Word is not a local church ministry, but a blog on the internet, and so those other documents do not really apply to it. Besides, I already have my own vision and model for this ministry.
Nevertheless, even if this is the case for Swordsman of the Word, I’m still open to the possibility of fully accepting all of TGC’s advocacy someday — when God leads me to other ministries besides this blog. That is a goal in my continuing studies.
Note: Because of its importance, this announcement will become part of this ministry’s new founding documents.