Doctrine is only the drawing of the bow; application is hitting the mark. —Thomas Manton
Given my history with and around Independent Baptist (IB), this article posed an interesting question. As any IB Survivor knows, “essential” doctrine is anything your pastor says is essential. How many IB churches have “KJV Only” written into their church doctrinal statements? (Answer: too many.) How many IB churches insist that “doctrinal purity” demands they separate from other Christian brothers and sisters who hold to a strict biblical theology yet do not support many of the lifestyle standards (i.e. legalism) demanded by IB churches? (Answer: too many.)
Writer Paul Lamey offers some insight into what is considered “essential” doctrine. Lamey quotes Mark Dever’s simple test:
A Fourfold Test for Doctrine
- How clear is it in Scripture?
- How clear do others think it is in Scripture? (Especially those that you respect as teachers of God’s word).
- How near is it to the Gospel? (Or how near are its implications to the gospel itself?).
- What would the affects be doctrinally and practically if we allowed disagreement in this area?
To read the expanded article, click here.
I affirm my confidence in God’s inerrant Word. I treasure its truths and I respect its reproofs.
I acknowledge the Creator-God as my heavenly Father, infinitely perfect, and intimately acquainted with all my ways.
I claim Jesus Christ as my Lord–very God who came in human flesh–the object of my worship and the subject of my praise.
I recognize the Holy Spirit as the third member of the Godhead, incessantly at work convicting, convincing, and comforting.
I confess that Adam’s fall into sin left humanity without the hope of heaven apart from a new birth, made possible by the Savior’s death and bodily resurrection.
I believe the offer of salvation is God’s love-gift to all. Those who accept it by faith, apart from works, become new creatures in Christ.
I anticipate my Lord’s promised return, which could occur at any moment.
I am convinced that all who have died will be brought back from beyond–believers to everlasting communion with God and unbelievers to everlasting separation from God.
I know the Lord is continuing to enlarge His family, the universal Body of Christ, over which He rules as Head.
I am grateful to be a part of a local church which exists to proclaim God’s truth, to administer the ordinances, to stimulate growth toward maturity, and to bring glory to God.