As a church, we are in friendly and voluntary affiliation with the Baptist General Conference (now Converge Worldwide). For a concise expression of our shared biblical beliefs, you are invited to view the statement of faith: Converge Statement of Faith.
Pastor Daniel is also in agreement with Together for the Gospel’s Affirmations & Denials as well as the Gospel Coalition’s Confessional Statement.
Essentials, Convictions, and Areas of Disagreement: 3 Levels of Importance
In every church, there are matters on which believers disagree. So how do we know which doctrines we must agree on to be a church, and which doctrines we can agree to disagree on and yet still have fellowship together and join together in the mission of the church? How do we strive to maintain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) when we have differing opinions on what the Bible teaches on a wide variety of matters? Understanding the distinction between biblical essentials, convictions, and genuine areas of disagreement is vitally important in this regard.
1st Level – Biblical Essentials: These are the fundamental truths of the faith. These truths are what one must believe in order to be a Christian; to deny these is to deny the Christian faith itself. (Note: you do not have to have a complete understanding of these truths in order to be a Christian; in fact, no one on earth does!).
- God the Trinity
- The historical reality of Christ’s life, death and resurrection
- The full deity and humanity of Christ
- Christ’s virgin conception and bodily resurrection
- Justification by faith alone in Christ alone
- Scripture as the written word of God (it’s inspiration, inerrancy, authority)
2nd Level – Biblical Convictions: While these are not truths that one must believe in order to be a Christian, they are important enough that differences in these convictions are the reason why Christians are part of different churches and denominations.
- The meaning and mode of baptism
- The ordination of women as pastors
- Men’s and women’s roles in the church
- The gifts of the Spirit
- Models of church government
3rd Level – Biblical Areas of Disagreement: Matters about which we have biblically informed convictions, but they are not worth dividing into different local churches over. These beliefs should not disrupt the unity of the local church.
- Various views on the timing of Christ’s return and of the Millenium
- Age of the earth
- Matters relating to Christian liberty (such as appropriate activities on a Sunday, dietary/dress issues, choice of children’s education, alcohol, music/movies)
- Which translation of the Bible to use
This does not mean that some teachings of the Bible are insignificant or unimportant. It also does not mean that we don’t have to take seriously something the Bible says just because it doesn’t speak about it as often as it does another doctrine. Everything in the Bible is important – after all, God spoke it. We embrace the entire Bible as God’s word written.
Yet we should recognize that some truths are more central to holding together the entire teaching of Scripture. For instance, there is a difference between someone denying the historic, bodily resurrection of Christ versus someone saying that the Millennium is now, not a future period of one thousand years. If you deny Christ’s bodily resurrection, the NT says that you cannot be saved (Romans 10:9). But the consequences of getting the timing wrong of the thousand years referred to in Revelation 20 are far less severe.
With that in mind, here are some guidelines for determining how to distinguish between essentials of the faith, convictions, and genuine areas of disagreement which should not disrupt the unity of the local church:
- How clearly does the Bible teach it?
- How often does the Bible teach it, and what significance does the Bible itself place on it?
- How does it relate to God’s character and to the gospel?
- What is the effect it has on other doctrines?
- What have Christians in the past or present thought about it and it’s relative importance?
- What effect does it have on our lives as believers or the life of the church?