Ours is an age of cynicism, where the idea of universal truth is questioned and often rejected in all areas of life, whether in social and cultural issues or in personal matters. People today talk of “my truth” or “your truth” or “a truth”, but reject the notion of “the truth”; that is, absolute truth which is definite and binding on all people for all time. People want their own version of the truth, one that will give them liberty to believe and behave as they prefer. This individual, experiential approach to truth is something Christians must understand and deal with. Both in secular culture and within the church at large, we have voices calling out against what is biblical, what is real, and what has been common sense for centuries. Christians may soon be branded as “cultural heretics.” How will we respond when it seems our voice is being overwhelmed by many other voices?
First, we affirm that there is only one truth in regards to salvation. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Second, we evaluate our beliefs based on the Scriptures. Third, we reaffirm our beliefs in worship and in preaching. Fourth, we live our beliefs by loving God and by loving our neighbors. Fifth, we declare what we believe. Declaring what we believe may bring us into conflict with the spirit of the age, but we seek to hold forth the truth and hope of Jesus Christ.
I had the privilege of attending the most recent Theology Conference sponsored by the EFCA. The theme was “Contending For the Faith” from Jude 3. Professors from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and other EFCA leaders spoke on seven key doctrines (truths of the Christian faith), each of which is either rejected by society at large or actively challenged in the church. We reviewed the Biblical basis for each doctrine, sought to understand the reasons for objections, and we also reaffirmed our commitment to orthodox understanding.
- Doctrine of God – The Trinity means that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are co-equal, co-eternal, and yet each is a distinct person of God. The Bible teaches both concepts, yet the Trinity is a mystery to our finite minds.
- Doctrine of the Scriptures- We hold that the Bible is the absolute authority over life and faith, and is inerrant in all that it teaches. The Scripture attests that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, therefore God establishes what is just, moral, and wise, not the culture.
- Doctrine of Humanity – Human Beings are created in the “image of God”. What does this imply regarding the dignity of the individual? The Bible speaks clearly as to the value of human life, two genders which are complementary (male and female), marriage between one man and one woman, and the importance of personal holiness when it comes to one’s body and mind.
- Doctrine of Salvation- Jesus died “for our sins” as the perfect, sinless substitute, taking our punishment. This central concept is called the “Penal-Substitutionary Atonement”. Many today say Jesus’ death was only an example of moral courage in the face of opposition.
- Doctrine of the Church- The goals and purposes of the church are clearly given in scripture: to worship God, to preach the gospel, to make disciples, to love one another, and to minister mercy. Churches are also commanded to exhort people to holy, Christ-like living, something which is increasingly unpopular today, especially in the area of sexuality.
- Doctrine of Christ- We affirm the full humanity and full deity of Christ, as well as His exclusive claims to be the sinless Lord and Savior, the Messiah of Israel. Our culture worships tolerance and inclusiveness, and it is skeptical about any need for salvation. Many today say that Jesus was only a regular human being, in essence a sinful man. This claim must be challenged.
- Doctrine of Hell- The EFCA, along with the Church through the ages, teaches that the unbeliever will spend eternity in conscious punishment. This seems so harsh and unloving! But, God’s full attributes of love, justice, compassion, and wrath against sin must be understood together. We thank God that He saw fit to save us, and we grieve over those who reject Christ. God’s magnificent love compels us to share the good news of Christ, hoping to rescue as many people as possible.
Truth matters. It is a life and death issue. Thank God that the EFCA stands with Christ in His Truth. May we continue to be faithful. Rev. Ken Aune