For the last 5 years, Sovereign Grace Churches has been working on a comprehensive revision to our denominational Statement of Faith. There was nothing egregiously unbiblical about our old statement. However, there were many places where we needed to speak with greater theological precision, address biblical topics on which our old statement was silent, and take a position on new issues where our culture has dramatically shifted from the witness of Scripture.
One of the most encouraging aspects of the whole process has been the involvement of every local church eldership in Sovereign Grace. It made the work more tedious, but the net product is significantly stronger for it. Our goal from the beginning of the process was to create a confessional document that will serve every SG church in every nation for generations to come. The Theology Committee submitted a final draft of the entire statement to the CoE delegates this fall.
On November 10, 2020, the CoE took a historic roll call vote unanimously approving our revised Statement of Faith. It also had to be approved by a three-quarters majority of our regional assemblies. As of November 30, every regional assembly in Sovereign Grace approved the statement, at which point it formally went into effect.
There are several reasons I’m grateful we are part of a confessional denomination with a formal statement of faith. First, a robustly biblical statement of faith is a tremendous safeguard for our church. It keeps us from being tossed about as a congregation by various winds and waves of doctrine, subject to whatever a particular pastor believes or wishes to teach.
You don’t want to show up one Sunday and learn your pastor has adopted an unorthodox view of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, a new take on the process of sanctification, or an unbiblical view of gender and human sexuality. A Statement of Faith protects us from those dangers. It also plays a critical vetting role in our ordination process, which helps us avoid ordaining elders to office who disagree with our doctrinal beliefs in matters of primary or secondary importance.
Second, a robustly biblical statement of faith strengthens our unity as a church. Our unity as a congregation is the product of our common faith in Jesus. But if we don’t specify what we actually believe about Jesus (and all the other doctrines connected to his person and work) then we never know if our unity is real. Saying, “We have no creed but the Bible,” is insufficient. Plenty of people say their beliefs are biblical. The issue is what you actually think it says or doesn’t say.
That’s where a statement of faith is helpful. It articulates the body of beliefs we have mutually agreed to support as church members, even if we have a different perspective on an issue of secondary importance. Having a common statement of faith also helps us know what biblical truths are particularly important for a new believer to understand as well as the unified body of doctrine we need to pass on to the next generation. Everything the Bible says is true, but some of those truths are more central to the faith than others.
Before the Apostle Paul died, he issued a sobering charge to the next generation of spiritual leaders in the church. 2 Tim 1:13-14, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Through affirmation, denials, and strategic silences, we believe our new statement of faith equips us to do that. Thanks be to God.