The Need for the Adoption of an Official Statement of Faith for the Advent Christian Denomination
By Justin Nash
(Editor's Note: This was originally submitted as a paper for the Advent Christian General Conference on January 26, 2017 and was linked in recent newsletter among Executive Director Steve Lawson's comments on the statement of faith. Upon invitation, it now appears here for a wider readership. The original document may be read here.)
The delegate body of the 2017 Advent Christian General Conference Triennial Convention will be presented with an item of business to adopt the following statement of faith as the official statement of faith of the Advent Christian Denomination:
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
- We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
- We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
- We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
- We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
- This document will present a case for adopting the proposed statement of faith. The first part offers four reasons the delegate body should adopt the statement. The second main section will seek to address concerns and objections related to the proposed statement.
Reasons for the Adoption of the Proposed Statement of Faith
First, the proposed statement of faith is essential if the denomination is going to fully and finally embrace and promote biblical Christian faith. This is an opportunity to publically stand with nearly two millennia of Christians in affirming the foundational elements of what it means to be a Christian. (See Appendix for the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.) [available in original document]
Second, the proposed statement of faith should also be adopted because it will act as a complementary and supporting statement to the Declaration of Principles. The proposed statement of faith is in no way intended to replace or supersede the Declaration of Principles (though some might argue that it should), but the Declaration of Principles has some fundamental weaknesses that the proposed statement can strengthen.
Third, the proposed statement of faith is clear, concise and accessible to a wide variety of believers, regardless of theological acumen. These qualities make it ideal for discipling new believers and establishing essential theological boundaries for every believer.
Finally, the proposed statement of faith offers a long-needed source of theological unity within the denomination regarding exactly what it means to be a Christian. Adopting the proposed statement of faith will, for the first time, provide a clear affirmation of the biblical doctrine of God which will serve as a firm and unifying foundation upon which to build.
Answering Concerns and Objections
Some will object to any proposed statement of faith based on the deeply embedded principle of “no creed but the Bible.” This philosophy was fundamental in shaping the culture of the Advent Christian denomination from its genesis. As Dr. David Dean wrote, “There is the temptation to view the Declaration of Principles as a creed, a doctrinal statement to that total conformity is required at every point. … Do not forget that this is not a creed. It is simply a statement of what the denomination, as a whole, believes. … Christian character is our only test of church fellowship.”1 However, it can be argued that “no creed but the Bible” is not wise or ideal. This specific statement and its historical significance does not have the same meaning or application today as it did when originally used. “The slogan ‘No creed but the Bible’ conceals the fact that in almost any group, crucial biblical statements will be properly understood by some and misunderstood by others. In such cases, it is naïve to say that the Bible unites us. It may not be uniting us at all. It may be a vague cloak for significant disunity. And that doesn't honor the Scriptures.”2
Another source of opposition to the adoption of the proposed statement of faith may come from those who disagree with a Trinitarian view of God. The purpose of this section is not to address the validity of the triune nature of God and a biblical Christology that affirms both the full humanity and full deity of Jesus Christ. This is the clear teaching of Scripture and has been affirmed as such by the Church in the great ecumenical creeds and councils. Rather, this section will address how those of us with an orthodox understanding of God can interact fruitfully and graciously with those who see matters differently.
Third, an additional objection to the proposed statement of faith will be based on the concern that adopting such a statement will create division in our ranks and cause us to lose churches and people. While this may occur with a few, we must recognize that our affection for Jesus must be greater and our commitment to the triune God must be supreme. We welcome all to worship with us, but we will not compromise on biblical faith.
Finally, some will argue that the proposed statement of faith is inadequate and incomplete in a number of areas. There are likely some fair and reasonable critiques of the proposed statement of faith. However, we must understand that change is often incremental and this is the first very important step in finally affirming an orthodox doctrine of God.
A Clear Embrace of Orthodox Christianity
Adopting the proposed statement of faith as the official statement of faith for the Advent Christian denomination is essential if we are going to fully and finally embrace and promote an orthodox and biblical Christian faith. This is an opportunity to publically stand with nearly two millennia of Christians in affirming the foundational elements of what it means to be a Christian. The gospel itself is at stake.
As our current Declaration of Principles stands, we are not fully biblical and theologically orthodox and stand in contrast to the majority of Christian history and most importantly, clear biblical revelation, especially related to the person and work of Jesus Christ. The language of the Declaration of Principles in the section regarding God offers ambiguous language allowing for affirmation by those holding divergent, and even contradictory, doctrines of God. The question of Jesus’ identity is central to the gospel message. This is clear in the exchange between Jesus and Peter in Matthew 16:14-16 (Also Mark 18:27; Luke 19:9). “Who do you say that I am?” is perhaps the most important question anyone can be asked, for to get it right leads to eternal life, but to get it wrong leads to death (John 8:23-25; Romans 10:9-10).
What does it mean to say that Jesus is Lord or that he is the Son of God? Who is this Jesus who saves us, and what qualifies him as a Savior? Is it necessary that Jesus is divine? Currently we lack a biblical Christology that adequately answers these questions. Instead we have theological milieu that allows for a divergence of Christologies, which range from biblical to heretical, and thus from saving to damning. The full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ is a sine qua non of the Christian faith. A Jesus who is anything less than fully God and fully human is a Jesus that cannot save. Therefore, we must fully embrace a theological statement that provides a clear and biblical understanding of who Jesus is.
Publically embracing an orthodox doctrine of God and an orthodox Christology also presents a much more accurate picture of who we have become as a denomination. “We are orthodox Christians. With the vast majority of Christians over two millennia, we recite the Apostles’ Creed and affirm the decisions of the ancient ecumenical councils, Nicaea (325) through Chalcedon (451), including the triune nature of God.”3
Those who would deny the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ have been a part of the denomination since its inception (and, in fact, were at one time the majority), largely due to the influence of Miles Grant and of the Christian Connexion who were one part of the early Adventist movement. As one writer has put it, “In a sense Grant’s theology on the nature of God and Christ was the dominant theology among Advent Christians until the early 20th century.”4
But thanks to the work of individuals like Clarence Hewitt and James Nichols and the staff of Berkshire Christian College, the tide of heterodox Christology was pushed back and a biblical Christology is now dominant within the denomination. A clergy survey administered circa 2006 revealed that 96% of Advent Christian pastors are orthodox Trinitarians, up from 92% when the survey was administered in 19885. The percentage of those embracing a biblical Christology is likely even higher now.
Also, we have aligned ourselves and/or partnered with organizations that are evangelical (and thus biblical and orthodox) in their theology. For instance, we are members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), Missio Nexus (formerly the Evangelical Foreign Mission Association) and the Evangelical Press Association (EPA). Therefore, adopting the proposed statement of faith would provide a more accurate picture of who Advent Christians are theologically.
Next, adopting the proposed statement of faith would be an act of wisdom and humility. Populism, anti-authoritarianism and rationalism shaped our denominational culture and theology from the very beginning of the Adventist movement. This led to a rabid rejection of all things creedal, institutional, hierarchal or sectarian.6 Because of this, Advent Christians have rejected ancient creeds and church councils. But in doing so, they have denied themselves much of the clarity of thought and wisdom that God has given to the church, as the Holy Spirit guided godly and often brilliant theologians, writers and pastors throughout almost two millennia. To not avail ourselves of such wisdom is foolish. The proposed statement of faith offers a concise, clear and accessible statement of what the church has embraced as essential biblical truth.
Our fierce independence can also lead to a damning pride. When we say that all you need is a man and his Bible to know and teach truth, we are embracing a populism and individualism that cuts us off from the good gift of other Christians’ speaking truth into our lives and denies the essence of the Protestant Reformation. By God’s grace, the church has been given apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to equip the church (Ephesians 4:11-12). To humble ourselves and submit to the collective wisdom of godly church leaders is exceedingly wise.
“Creeds strike hard at the cherished notion of human autonomy and of the notion that I am exceptional, that the normal rules do not apply to me in the way they do to others.”7 “A reticence to employ the creeds as instructive tools is largely borne of a mixture of skepticism toward tradition, a rank biblicism that ignores historical theology, and a certain arrogance that all who came before us were either incomplete or erroneous in their theology. The result is a theological travesty where a treasure trove of riches remains untouched. Even worse, by ignoring the creeds those who consider themselves to be orthodox are effectively sawing off the theological branches upon which they are sitting.”8
The creeds of Nicaea and Chalcedon represent not the sectarian work of one church or strain of Christianity, but rather an agreed upon set of essentials of the faith as agreed upon by an ecumenical council representing the wider Christian church. The proposed statement of faith aligns itself with the orthodox theology expressed by those ancient creeds and councils. Its creation is also a result of a similar ecumenical cooperation within the modern evangelical community.9
We must guard ourselves against a kind of chronological snobbery that says that we know more or have more wisdom than previous generations. We must also be wary of an individualism that rejects anything we ourselves did not come up with. To affirm and adopt the proposed statement of faith is to show humility and respect towards previous generations of those God has gifted to lead the church. As the proposed statement of faith affirms the teaching of those ancient councils, it is also exceedingly wise that we avail ourselves of these important resources.
Finally, the move toward orthodoxy in adopting the proposed statement of faith will allow us greater access and respect within the wider evangelical community. Historically, Advent Christians have often been marginalized for their tolerance of what evangelicals and others view as non-Trinitarian heresies. This has meant that distinctive Advent Christian theology has not received as free and fair of a hearing as it might otherwise have. By moving from the margins of an ambiguous Christology to a clear and orthodox Christology, we will gain more opportunity to present distinctive Advent Christian positions on non-essential issues to the larger evangelical world.
In summary, adopting the proposed statement of faith is necessary in order to fully and finally adopt a biblical and orthodox theology of essentials of the Christian faith for the denomination. This embrace of biblical orthodoxy is important because the gospel itself is dependent upon certain foundational principles. Second, biblical orthodoxy more accurately reflects our theological identity as a denomination. Third, adopting the statement of faith would be an act of wisdom and humility as we take advantage of the wisdom of those who have gone before us. Finally, adopting the statement of faith would allow for a wider and more welcome acceptance to hear the Advent Christian message of life only in Christ.
A Support for the Declaration of Principles
The proposed statement of faith will act as a complementary and supporting statement to our current Declaration of Principles. The proposed statement of faith is in no way intended to replace or supersede the Declaration of Principles.10 The Declaration of Principles has some fundamental weaknesses. Among these is an ambiguous statement regarding the doctrine of God in Article II, which reads:
“We believe, as revealed in the Bible:
1. “In one God, our Father, eternal, and infinite in his wisdom, love and power, the Creator of all things, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.
2. “And in Jesus Christ, our Lord, the only begotten Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; who came into our world to seek and to save that which was lost; who died for our sins; who was raised bodily from the dead for our justification; who ascended in heaven as our High Priest and Mediator, and who will come again in the end of this age, to judge the living and the dead, and to reign forever and ever.
3. “And in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, sent from God to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, whereby we are sanctified and sealed unto the day of redemption.”11
Article II offers a view of God that can be interpreted as orthodox or heretical. This ambiguity and resultant theological flexibility was likely intentional as at least nine different denominational traditions were represented in the founding of the Advent Christian Church.12 While trying to erect as large a tent as possible, the authors of the Declaration of Principles created a document that cultists and biblical Christians alike could affirm. The proposed statement of faith strengthens the Declaration of Principles without doing damage to the unique aspects of Advent Christian theology presented therein.
While the Declaration of Principles presents a view of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that can be affirmed by both the orthodox and heterodox, the proposed statement of faith establishes theological guardrails by presenting a Trinitarian view of God:
- “We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- “We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.”
The two documents serve to complement one another. The proposed statement of faith clarifies and affirms orthodoxy regarding essentials of the Christian faith by supporting and strengthening the language of the Declaration of Principles. And the Declaration of Principles supports the proposed statement of faith by clearly stating Advent Christian theological distinctions. The two documents are intended to work together to present clear and orthodox affirmation of what Advent Christians believe.
It is Clear, Concise and Accessible
The proposed statement of faith offers boundaries of faith that separate orthodoxy from heresy. It focuses on basic statements of essential Christian doctrine. The purpose of such a statement is to communicate complex theological ideas to people who don’t have sophisticated theological backgrounds. The purpose of such a statement is to tell us what parts of our faith matter the most. It marks the boundaries of the faith.13 The proposed statement of faith is able to do this because it is clear, concise and accessible.
First, it is clear. The statement is direct in its affirmations. It is exceedingly clear and precise where it needs to be. For instance, when referring to the triune nature of God, it states clearly “We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” It offers no wiggle room for heterodoxy. The clarity of the proposed statement of faith offers a great complement to some of the ambiguities of the Declaration of Principles.
Second, the statement is concise. It says what it needs to say using an economy of language. The longest statement is 54 words. The shortest is 13. It encapsulates foundational Christian doctrine in a short rich summary. This conciseness adds to the clarity of the statement as well. Fewer words are easier to process and remember, thus making the statement accessible to more people.
Finally, the statement is accessible to virtually anyone because it is written in normal, everyday language. One does not need a seminary degree to understand it. Rather, it is written in a popular vernacular that can be understood even by children. The clarity, conciseness and accessible language of the statement allow lay-people (even younger lay-people who aren’t mature as readers) to easily learn about the essential elements of the Christian faith.
The clear, concise and accessible nature of the statement makes it ideal for discipling new believers. In a day when biblical illiteracy is at an alarming, perhaps all-time high, 14,15 and a large portion of American Christians are ignorant of basic biblical truth16 the church must employ whatever resources it can to teach and engage its people in biblical truth. Whereas the Declaration of Principles is an excellent tool for teaching the distinctive doctrines of Advent Christian theology, the proposed statement of faith would make an excellent tool to teach new believers the basic elements of the faith. Paired together, the two statements would serve as an excellent cornerstone to a new believers’ class, a new members’ class, Sunday school class or as the basis of catechetical teaching.
Another advantage of the proposed statement of faith is that it would provide a long-needed source of theological unity among Advent Christians regarding exactly what it means to be a Christian. Currently the Declaration of Principles does not offer a clear standard of “mere Christianity.” Instead it offers a statement that is precise regarding distinctive Advent Christian doctrine and vague regarding basic Christian doctrine. We have therefore constructed a theological house with a strong roof and a shaky foundation.
Adopting the proposed statement of faith will ensure that firm foundation is in place. As mentioned earlier, a Trinitarian understanding more accurately reflects the majority report of Advent Christian pastors. The wording of the statement of faith comes directly from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) Statement of faith which was addressed by the delegate bodies at two Triennial Conventions. At the 1987 Triennial Convention the delegate body approved a resolution to join NAE, which required assent to the NAE Statement of Faith.17 A second resolution regarding the NAE Statement of Faith came before the delegate body of the 1993 Triennial Convention. Again the delegate body approved a resolution giving assent to the NAE Statement of Faith and encouraging that the statement be shared with all Advent Christian churches.18 In short, the delegate bodies of two Triennial Conventions have already affirmed the proposed statement of faith (including its Christological statements). This shows the statement is reflective of the theology of the majority of Advent Christians.
Some will object that such a statement divides rather than unites. On some level this is true. “When you set out the biblical teaching in some formal sense, like in a church doctrinal statement, then you are creating a creed. You are saying: this is what we believe the Bible teaches about X, Y, and Z. You are saying: this is the stuff that really matters. You are declaring: this is where the boundaries of the faith need to be drawn. You are suggesting: this is what brings us together in one faith. “19
But this statement is of a mild variety that establishes a generous orthodoxy of the sort that allows great latitude of conviction on a range of theological issues. However, it provides clarity on what the church for nearly 2,000 years has considered the most basic and essential aspects of the Christian faith, especially as it relates to identity and characteristics of God. The proposed statement of faith doesn’t erect fences to keep others out so much as it puts up guardrails to keep us from veering into the kingdom of the cults.
For more than 150 years the primary theological unifiers of our denomination have been the imminent return of Christ and conditional immortality.20 Those are biblical and good, but are not enough to hold us together if we can’t agree on the basics of what it even means to be Christian. The proposed statement of faith will clarify that for us and create a firm and level foundation from which to unite and build. This foundation still allows for a large tent that welcomes and unites those of varying theological perspectives: Arminian or Reformed, amillenial or premillennial, complementarian or egalitarian and the list could go on. But everybody in the tent will be working from the same understanding of who God is.
Adopting the proposed statement of faith will, for the first time, provide a clear affirmation of the doctrine of God. This affirmation may cause a few to leave us, but for the first time in our history we will be unified around the same basic understanding of what constitutes essential Christian belief. While being Christian is certainly more than confessing a set of beliefs, it is also certainly not less than that (Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:6 and 2 John 10).
No Creed but the Bible
The philosophy of “no creed but the Bible” was fundamental in shaping the culture of the Advent Christian denomination from its genesis. As one author has written, “After the Great Disappointment in the mid-1840s there was a huge reluctance by Adventists to form a denomination because of the distrust many had for any kind or organizational church or sect. There was also a large rejection out of hand of the historic creeds. This was evident in the Restoration Movement and associated groups like the Christian Connexion from which a number became Advent Christians. They ardently promoted statements like ‘Bible words for Bible doctrine’ and “no creed but the Bible” which became catch phrases that underscored this allergic reaction to anything creedal.”21
This anti-creedal mindset was encoded into our DNA when the denomination was formed in 1860. Evidence would suggest that “no creed but the Bible” had its origins in humanistic philosophies such as populism, anti-authoritarianism and rationalism rather than Scripture.22 So we must ask, is “no creed but the Bible” wise?
“No creed but the Bible” is unwise for at least four reasons. First, public creeds or statements of belief can be scrutinized in the light of Scripture. Private creeds cannot. Second, such an operating principle leaves the local church vulnerable to false teachers and the problems that accompany them. Third, an unhealthy and unbiblical individualism and independence is fostered without a clear corporate standard of faith. Finally, “no creed but the Bible” grows doctrinally anemic believers.
Everyone has a creed. Ironically, “no creed but the Bible” is a creed. A creed is simply a set of beliefs and everyone, especially Christians, has a creed. But as Carl Trueman writes, “Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions that are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique, and those who have private creeds and confessions that are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not, therefore, subject to testing by Scripture to see whether they are true.”23
Trueman’s point is important – public creeds can be known and tested, but private creeds cannot. If a denomination has a public creed (or statement of faith in our case) it can be scrutinized and examined in the light of Scripture. It is subject to public accountability among the body of Christ. One of the great ironies of “no creed but the Bible” is that private and unwritten statements of belief are not subject to any accountability and cannot be evaluated in light of Scripture.
Some who would oppose this on the basis of “no creed but the Bible” have a legitimate fear that creeds and confessions can end up, in certain circumstances, supplanting Scripture and becoming the sole authority in the way the church operates.24 They will argue that Scripture is the ultimate authority on all matters of faith and practice and thus we shouldn’t have creeds or statements of belief. Creeds are not intended to supersede Scripture. They are simply articulations of biblical truth for the benefit of the church. As such, they are always submissive to Scripture as the “norming norm” by which all truth is measured. All creeds or statements of belief are subordinate to Scripture and subject to correction thereby. “No creed but the Bible” makes this kind of evaluation by Scripture very difficult.
Anti-creedalism also serves to weaken the church by making it vulnerable to false teachers. If there is no clear articulation of sound biblical doctrine, anyone can hold to any doctrinal position as long as they can somehow justify it using Scripture. When you remove a standard, there is no such thing as deviance. Everything simply becomes a matter of interpretation and thereby removes almost any option of a doctrinal position’s being false.
Scripture itself seems to advocate for a clear and accepted standard of belief as a safeguard against false teachers. In 1 Timothy 1:13, the apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” These sound words were apparently a clear and accepted set of beliefs in the early church. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul exhorts him “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions.” Again, Paul points Timothy to doctrine expressed in “sound words.”
Notice that Paul issues this exhortation to protect the church from false teachers. False teachers who inevitably produce “envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions” in those churches. No creed but the Bible creates an environment where false teachers can flourish unchecked by Scriptural discernment. And when false teachers flourish, the church is damaged.
This is especially true when the false teacher is part of pastoral leadership in the local church. The damage done is exponentially higher when that is the case. “Doctrine is so important in the life of the church that it is only to be entrusted to a special category of qualified people (James 3:1).”25 Anti-creedalism offers no theological standard to determine who is qualified to preach and teach God’s Word.
“No creed but the Bible” also serves to foster an unhealthy individualism and independence among believers. Refusal to submit one’s beliefs to evaluation by a standard articulated by other believers in a creed, confession or statement of faith is unwise at best and dangerous at worst. As one author has remarked regarding the great creeds of the church, “These conciliar decisions have been tested again and again, and have continued to be confirmed by the consent of believers. They reassure us that we can trust the understanding of God’s revelation in Scripture that has been held to be true by the whole worldwide church throughout changing cultures of all times and places. These conciliar decisions have been hammered out by intense examination of Scripture when nonconsensual opinions have been asserted. We learn from them those teachings that the ancient Christian consensus has confirmed as true apostolic teaching. To ignore these insights is to attempt to reinvent the wheel, and to risk reinventing it badly.”26 We ignore the wisdom of other believers at our own peril.
The refusal to submit to creeds and statements as standards for basic biblical doctrine grows from an individualism that sees no need for the wisdom and accountability of other Christians. “All I need is the Bible. I don’t need anyone telling me what it means,” grows from a posture of arrogance and independence that is pure folly. We are created for community and that community requires mutual submission and accountability from all its members. To reject a community standard of basic belief is to reject the community itself.
Finally, “no creed but the Bible” has the likelihood of creating weak and theologically anemic Christians. Fundamentals are the bedrock and beginning of every advanced skill, whether it be in sports, music, craftsmanship, education or theology. “No creed but the Bible” offers no such set of theological fundamentals for a new believer to start with. Instead the believer is left to decide for himself or herself what constitutes basic Christian doctrine. The problem with this is that if the fundamentals are wrong, everything that follows will be wrong. If we want theologically robust believers, we must give them a biblically sound set of fundamentals to begin with. A creed or statement of faith provides these much needed fundamentals. Without this foundation, believers are left to be tossed back and forth in the winds and waves of whatever theology happens to come along.
As Ligon Duncan writes,
“I think denominations, institutions, and churches that reject confessions are made vulnerable precisely in the two areas that creeds and confessions help us most. They’re vulnerable to failing to adhere to biblical doctrine and to teaching a clear system of biblical doctrine to their people. This can be proven over and over again in church history.
"As groups rejected the more robust confessionalism of the period and opted for more minimalistic statements of faith, unbelief or heterodoxy always followed. The result was either a rationalistic downgrade like Unitarianism, which stemmed from New England congregationalism but rejected the confessionalism of earlier generations, or a heterodox downgrade that became a cultish theology.”27
One final thought on the idea of “no creed but the Bible” is that ironically, it might be an unbiblical idea. While the Bible doesn’t mention the word “creeds”, the concept seems to be pervasive. To quote extensively from Justin Holcomb:
“The earliest creeds are arguably to be found in Scripture itself. In the Old Testament, what is known as the Shema (“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one,” Deut. 6: 4) is a creedlike statement. While there are no official, full-blown creeds in the New Testament, scholar Ralph Martin has suggested that the beginnings of creeds are already present in the New Testament and were developed by early Christians to defend against subtle pagan influences and to establish key beliefs. Many scholars believe that Paul recites an early creed in his letter to the Corinthians when he summarizes the facts that he taught as “of first importance”: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared [to the apostles and many others]” (1 Cor. 15: 3 – 7). Furthermore, in the church’s acts of baptism, Eucharist, and worship, certain prayers and early creedlike statements of belief were developed, such as “ Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12: 3) and the Trinitarian baptismal formula of Matthew 28: 19: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” While there is no formal creed in the pages of Scripture, the idea of a central, basic teaching of Christianity certainly is.”28
So whether it is the examples above, Paul’s “sound words” to Timothy or Jude’s “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,” we can see that, at the very least, the basic idea of creeds is seen throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Given this fact, it may be that the concept of creeds is not just practical for the church, but normative.
Bible Words for Bible Doctrine
Another philosophy associated with “no creed but the Bible” is “Bible words for Bible doctrine.” Initially this may look like a good and even biblical thought. But upon further examination, it can be seen that this principle is inadequate and unsustainable. “The fact is that many groups claim to believe the Bible, including Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, and many more.”29
This notion severely limits what we can say and, in a sense, what we can know from Scripture. God chose to reveal Himself through the use of words. It only makes sense that we should use words to better understand his revelation and to teach it to others. If we only used “Bible words for Bible doctrine” it would be impossible to provide any biblical exposition. All we could do would be to read the biblical passage and leave it at that. Preachers and teachers of God’s Word would be unable to “help the people understand the Law” or give “the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (Nehemiah 8:7-8). Non-Bible words are absolutely essential to explaining the deep theological truths of Scripture. We must get to the meaning of the text and the only way to do that is to use words outside of the text. There is also an economy to using non-Bible words to express Bible doctrine. For instance, many object to the doctrine of the triune nature of God because the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. That actually proves very little as “advent”, “conditional immortality”, “unconscious state of the dead” and even “Bible” don’t appear in Scripture. While these words aren’t “Bible words” they do express “Bible doctrine” in clear and concise ways that help us to teach and understand these truths better.
“In fact,” one author has written, “it is actually impossible to use only Bible words for Bible doctrine. To really do this all Bible teachers would need to be able to master the original languages and all of those who are taught would need to know the original languages too. We know that our English Bibles are translations. In one sense, none of them contain Bible words – the words that are in the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts of the Old and New Testament. Every translation moves away in some sense from the original Bible words.”30
Pastors and teachers must be able to teach and explain biblical truth in a manner their hearers can understand. This can only be done using language, concepts and structures people are familiar with. This is especially important in a post-Christian culture like Europe or the United States. Using only “Bible words for Bible doctrine” would render this virtually impossible.
Christian Character as the Only Test of Fellowship
Those who formed the Advent Christian denomination were a diverse group who largely held to conditional immortality and Adventism. Their differences however were often a source of rancor in the formative period of the denomination. However, some of the movement’s early and influential leaders were opposed to bitter fighting and theological wrangling. As a result, the new denomination became tolerant of variant, often oppositional, views on most theological issues. The test of fellowship became Christian character and only “Bible words for Bible doctrine.”31
This idea has largely remained the test for fellowship in most Advent Christian circles. However, upon further review, this seems problematic. First, how exactly do we define “Christian character”? How are we to understand the word “Christian” here? If “Christian” is simply reduced to a certain set of moral behaviors, it reduces Christianity to nothing more than a system of ethics for what we ought to do. Certainly Christianity is no less than our behavior, but it is also much more. The gospel is good news. News is not something we do. It is something we hear and proclaim. At that core of that good news is the content that defines what it means to be Christian in the first place. Christianity is first and foremost a set of beliefs that we embrace and commit to. It is the beliefs that define the term “Christian”.
We cannot know what “Christian character” is until we first understand what it means to be Christian. And we cannot separate what it means to be Christian from certain doctrinal beliefs. Christian character becomes quite meaningless because when something can mean whatever a person wants it to mean, it means nothing at all.
Second, if we reduce “Christian character” to a set of behaviors, does that mean we can have legitimate fellowship with anyone who displays these largely undefined behaviors? For instance, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses lead exceedingly moral and upright lives. If we understand “Christian character” to be defined as living moral and upright lives as described in Scripture, shouldn’t we be open to having fellowship with these groups as well?
Fellowship in the early church was predicated on a common belief. Acts 2:42 tells us those who were a part of the church at Jerusalem, “devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching.” Paul warns the church at Galatia, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). These people are accursed because of their doctrine, not their behavior. Paul admonishes the Corinthian church, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (1 Corinthians 1:3-4). Theology, not character is the litmus test for fellowship here as well.
Many early Advent Christians were Trinitarian in their view of God. In fact, William Miller was a Trinitarian.32 However, an attitude that relationships trumped truth led to a denomination that allowed people to disagree on the most basic of questions – what is essential Christian belief. As one writer has put it, “That anti-sectarian mindset valued fellowship and love in fraternal matters at the expense of Miller’s orthodoxy, even to the denouement of his core beliefs.”33
Christian character alone is simply inadequate as the sole criteria for Christian fellowship. Theological agreement upon what it means to be a Christian is also necessary. Because of our history, we must guard against valuing relationships and unity at the expense of truth.
From the above it can be seen that “no creed but the Bible,” “Bible words for Bible doctrine” and “Christian character as the only test of fellowship” are at best unwise and perhaps even dangerous for a number of reasons. “No creed but the Bible” seems to be unwise for at least four reasons. First, public creeds or statements of belief can be scrutinized in the light of Scripture. Private creeds cannot. Second, such an operating principle leaves the local church vulnerable to false teachers and the problems that accompany them. Third, an unhealthy and unbiblical individualism and independence is fostered without a clear corporate standard of faith. Finally, “no creed but the Bible” grows doctrinally anemic believers. The idea of “Bible words for Bible doctrine” severely limits what we can say and in a sense, what we can know from Scripture. Finally, if “Christian character” is to be the only test of fellowship, it must first be determined what it means to be Christian. And this is a question of doctrine and belief.
A Response to Those Who Do Not Affirm Trinitarian Faith
Another source of opposition to the adoption to the proposed statement of faith may come from those who do not affirm the biblical teaching regarding the Trinitarian nature of God. The purpose of this section is not to address the validity of the triune nature of God and a biblical Christology that affirms both the full humanity and full deity of Jesus Christ. This is the clear teaching of Scripture and has been affirmed as such by the Church in the great ecumenical creeds and councils. Rather, this section will address how those of us with an orthodox understanding of God can interact fruitfully and graciously with those who may disagree.
First, we would do well to remember the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:24 where he exhorts Timothy, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,” (NKJV). As we interact with those who hold an opposing point of view, we must remember to conduct ourselves with grace and gentleness. We must be patient, not seeking to win an argument, but rather seeking to teach and bring understanding and clarity. We must remember to treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve as people made in the image of God, even if that same courtesy is not returned.
In part, this will mean we seek to listen more and talk less in order to understand exactly what non-Trinitarians believe and why they believe it. This will require us to engage in active listening that asks fair and respectful questions that seek to gain understanding. Polemics and invectives will not be useful, but will only serve to widen the existing chasm. We must seek respectful dialog. Name-calling and shouting are counterproductive to understanding. Our denominational history is one of conflict, much of it over the nature of God. And we must do our best to listen well before speaking in order that we might speak from a place of understanding.
This kind of respect has not always been easy. As those who hold to a biblical and orthodox Christology understand, the deity of Christ is essential to the gospel message. The gospel has an irreducible complexity to it. There are a few doctrines that all must be true in order for the gospel to be true (For example: salvation by faith alone). The deity of Christ is a sine qua non of the Christian faith. “If Jesus was a created being, a supreme angelic creature no less, he could not be our Savior, because one created being cannot eternally save another created being.”34 If Jesus is not fully God and fully man, the gospel fails. The gravity of this leads to passionate defenses of the Trinitarian position. We must find a way to be passionate without being mean or disrespectful.
Second, we need to understand that many who disagree with Trinitarian faith do so because it is what they have been taught their entire lives. Those who taught them were people they dearly loved and respected (parents, grandparents, pastors and Sunday school teachers, etc.). Like many in the church today, their theology is shaped more by what their grandfather said than by what the Bible says. When Trinitarians assert that a non-Trinitarian view of God is wrong it becomes more than a theological discussion, it becomes personal. We are not just questioning the truthfulness of a doctrine. We are questioning the truthfulness of the person who taught them the doctrine.
Certainly this is the case for many in the church today, orthodox and heterodox alike. However, we must take this into consideration as we attempt to have meaningful dialog between the groups. We must keep in mind that an assault on a doctrine is seen as an assault on the person who conveyed the doctrine. We must gently point people to Scripture as the ultimate authority on such matters.
Third, we need to understand that many people who reject the doctrines of the triune nature of God and the deity of Jesus Christ don’t understand the doctrine properly. The doctrine of the trinity is difficult at best and ultimately a mystery.35 What some non-Trinitarians reject is not the orthodox doctrine of God, but rather a misrepresentation of that doctrine. Often it is a misrepresentation that orthodox believers would reject as well.
It is therefore incumbent upon those of us in the orthodox camp to (1) make sure we properly understand the orthodox doctrine of God and (2) make sure we can explain our view correctly and clearly. In part this will mean listening well and honestly answering fair questions and objections. We must remember that this is not the easiest of doctrines to apprehend and people sometimes have honest and reasonable questions. Seeing interactions over this issue should be seen as opportunities to clarify, explain and teach a biblical view of God.
Fourth, our denominational history of infighting over this issue must be taken into consideration. The word “Trinity” is loaded language that reminds many of ugly battles and hard feelings. Trinity is a good word and a helpful word for efficiently expressing a robust theological concept. But for many it is simply a word of war. We would do well to remember the conflicts and resultant scars that are linked with this doctrine. We must seek to clearly explain our terms (i.e. Trinity) before using them in dialog with non-Trinitarians. Second, we must act with empathy toward those who strike a defensive posture when discussing these things. They may be reacting to stress and wounds from previous battles. We must remain firm in our convictions, but always speak the truth in love.
Finally, there are most certainly a group of non-Trinitarians that reject a Trinitarian view of God because they are convinced from Scripture that such a view is unbiblical. They understand the doctrine correctly and the arguments in support of it but reject the Trinitarian view because of the interpretive lens they employ for understanding the Bible. The main hermeneutical filter many non-Trinitarians use is rationalism. Rationalism is a philosophical system that regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge.36 As one writer has put it, “If a doctrine did not seem to square with human reason it could not be true. Such rationalism played a large role in the hermeneutics of many early Advent Christians. The Trinity was contrary to human reason for it was against reason to think that God could be both one and three at the same time, so the Bible could not be teaching this.”37
Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians often come to different conclusions about what Scripture teaches because they are playing by a different set of rules when it comes to interpreting the Bible. A hermeneutic based in rationalism makes human reason the ultimate arbiter of truth to which everything, even Scripture, must conform. This is likely a reason both sides can become very frustrated with each other. They are trying to have a conversation while using two different rulebooks for their grammar. Trinitarians need to keep this in mind. It is a challenge and before fruitful dialog can take place, a broader discussion of proper biblical hermeneutics may be necessary in order for everyone to understand the rules. Otherwise the participants may be playing two different games.
In summary, in order to engage in fruitful dialog with those who reject a biblical Trinitarian faith we must first seek to be gentle, patient and gracious with the goal of teaching in mind. This will mean, in part, that we must listen well in order to understand the view of the non-Trinitarians we encounter. Second, we must keep in mind the often-personal nature of this debate. To question the doctrine is to question the integrity and heritage of the person. Third, making sure our terms and concepts are clearly and accurately defined is of paramount importance. What many reject is a misrepresentation of the orthodox doctrine of God. Fourth, the past history and deep wounds of the years of conflict over this issue has conditioned people to be immediately defensive when the subject is brought up. This does not mean we don’t passionately advocate for the biblical and orthodox position. We need to attempt to do so with empathy and compassion. Finally, the differing hermeneutics between the Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian positions is a significant challenge. It may be necessary to address the hermeneutical issues prior to dialog regarding the person and nature of God.
We Will Lose People
One objection to the proposed statement of faith will be based on the concern that adopting such a statement will create division and cause us to lose churches and people. This is certainly possible. Creeds and statements of faith divide truth from error, as the two are incompatible. There is no way around this. As Carl Trueman has commented, “A confession is a positive statement of belief; but in making a positive statement of belief, it inevitably excludes those who disagree with its content. Even the most tenuous confessions do this: the Unitarian may claim a creedless faith, but he is never going to invite a Trinitarian, who insists upon the nonnegotiability of the Trinity, to fill his pulpit; Trinitarians are therefore excluded.”38
We must recognize that either Jesus is God in human flesh or he is not. The two views are mutually exclusive and stand in stark contradiction to one another. There can be no peaceful coexistence other than a cold war style détente between the rival theologies. The fact is that the perceived unity we claim is illusory. We have been divided over the issue of the Trinity for our entire existence and we remain divided today, though a biblical Trinitarian faith is now the dominant view in the Advent Christian Church. Cordiality is not fellowship and lack of hostility is not unity. Jesus prayed that his people might be one as he and his Father were one. This is not possible for those who can’t agree concerning the identity of the Father and Son.
The harsh reality is that those we may lose over this issue likely were never with us. They have simply cooperated with us where it suited them and ignored the larger Advent Christian community otherwise. If they withdraw, they will become formally what they already are in practice. This is saddening, as it will mean the severing or irrevocable altering of many longstanding and sometimes cherished relationships. But we must ask ourselves, to whom do we owe our ultimate allegiance and affection?
Jesus states in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus is clear, we must not value any relationship, no matter how dear or intimate, more than we value our relationship with him. Those who would oppose any statement of faith that would divide find themselves at the crux of this admonition. What is more important, your relationships or your commitment to Jesus? His honor and reliability are at stake in this discussion. We have come to a point where we must choose.
We must also consider what will happen if we don’t adopt the proposed statement of faith or some statement of faith that clearly affirms an orthodox view of God. Not adopting such a statement could lead to the loss of those who do hold to these doctrines as non-negotiable and essential to the Christian faith. We must remember that more than a decade ago the number of Advent Christian pastors who held the orthodox view of God represented 96% of all our pastors.
We have lost good pastors and leaders over this issue in the past and we stand to lose more should we choose not to deal with this issue in a biblically sound and faithful manner. Adopting the proposed statement of faith and its biblical and orthodox view of God may cause some churches and pastors to leave the denomination. That is something that brings grief to us. But we must recognize that our affection for Jesus must be greater and our commitment to him must be supreme, even if that means letting people leave. We must trust in the promise of Jesus, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
It Doesn’t Go Far Enough
Some have argued that the proposed statement of faith is inadequate and incomplete in a number of areas. For instance, some have criticized the statement for not having a strong enough statement regarding the authority, inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. Others have been critical of a lack of denominational distinctions, disapproving of the prosaic evangelical nature of the statement. However, these individuals need to consider a couple of thoughts related to the proposed statement of faith.
First, it must be remembered that change is often incremental. This has been especially true when it comes to the great creeds and councils throughout church history. As new questions, heretical challenges or cultural issues arose, church councils continued to refine their creeds and confessions. The Nicene Creed was the first creed to obtain universal authority in the church, and it improved the language of the Apostles’ Creed by including more specific statements about the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. 39 Chalcedon would later come along to refine the theology of Nicaea and address new questions that arose. “The Chalcedonian Formula effectively put into place four boundaries for future Christological discussion, boundaries which theologians must not transgress in order to remain orthodox.”40
We can see the adoption of the proposed statement of faith in a similar way. It finally puts in place a long-needed standard for biblical orthodoxy regarding the doctrine of God. Once this is in place further refinement can take place. There is a proposed process of amendment to be presented as well. This should be seen as our Nicene moment as a denomination. We can strengthen the statement later, but let’s finally take a stand on a foundational issue that has divided us for our entire existence.
Three comments to those critical because of a lack of denominational distinctions: First, as mentioned above, the statement of faith can always be amended. Second, the proposed statement of faith does not replace or supersede the Declaration of Principles. It is intended to be a complementary document. The two documents will work together; therefore no distinction of Advent Christian theology will be lost. Finally, the denominational offices in Charlotte factor in to adopting what some view as a vanilla evangelical statement of faith. The offices in Charlotte require that all employees affirm a statement of faith that represents biblical orthodoxy. If the statement of faith was too “Advent Christian” it would only be possible to hire employees who affirmed Advent Christian theology. This would put a tremendous burden on the Charlotte offices. Already a number of the support staff positions are filled with employees who are committed believers who are a part of area evangelical churches that are not Advent Christian. These folks do an outstanding job and attempting to employ only those who espouse Advent
Christian theology would be especially difficult for those support staff positions. People are much less likely to relocate for such a job.
There may be some fair criticisms of the proposed statement of faith that can be addressed. But adopting the current statement is the appropriate thing to do at this time. It would finally allow us to officially affirm biblical orthodoxy. This is long overdue and this proposed statement of faith gives us that opportunity. Further refinement can take place at a later time once we have established the boundaries for essential Christian belief.
J. Gresham Machen has written, “Indifferentism about doctrine makes no heroes of the faith.”41 We have been indifferent about certain fundamental and essential doctrines for far too long as a denomination. Our aversion to conflict and desire for consensus and cordiality have led us to live in a denominational house that is divided on issues central to the Christian faith, namely the doctrine of God and Christology. Some want to view the doctrine of the deity of Christ as the appendix (a vestigial organ serving no useful purpose) rather than the life-pumping heart of the Christian faith. “Far from being an optional extra, the divinity of Christ, given expression in the doctrine of the incarnation, is an essential and integral part of the authentically Christian understanding of reality.”42
The delegate body of the 2017 Triennial Convention will have an opportunity to finally and clearly take a stand on this issue that has so long divided us. This document has sought to offer four reasons the proposed statement of faith should be adopted. It has also attempted to answer criticisms and concerns that will likely militate against the adoption of the proposed statement of faith.
There are at least four reasons we should adopt the proposed statement of faith. First, by adopting the proposed statement of faith as the official statement of faith for the denomination, we will fully embrace a biblical and orthodox Christianity. As our current Declaration of Principles stands, we are not theologically biblical and orthodox, and we stand in contrast to what Christians have taught throughout Christian history and most importantly, clear biblical revelation, especially related to the person and work of Jesus Christ. The question of Jesus’ identity is central to the gospel message. In adopting the proposed statement of faith, we will officially answer the foundational question of “Who is Jesus?”
The new statement of faith will also offer significant theological support for the Declaration of Principles, as the Declaration of Principles offers an ambiguous Christology and doctrine of God. The proposed statement of faith is in no way intended to replace or supersede the Declaration of Principles. Rather it clarifies and strengthens some of the ambiguous, and therefore weak, positions of the Declaration of Principles.
The proposed statement offers a clear, concise and accessible expression of fundamental Christian doctrine that will be particularly useful in discipling new believers. The proposed statement offers a strong theological foundation of basic but essential Christian doctrine upon which believers can build their Christian lives and beliefs. This is especially important in a time when biblical illiteracy is rampant, not just in the culture at large, but also in the church itself.
Finally, this statement will also create a fundamental theological unity that has not existed in the Advent Christian Church heretofore. Our lack of agreement of the fundamental elements of the Christian faith has led us to a place of fragmented community, organizational and missional identity. Distinctive Advent Christian doctrines alone are inadequate to provide denominational unity if they rest on different theological foundations.
There are also likely four main points of opposition to the adoption of this statement. Some will object to adopting the statement because they are firmly committed to the concept of “no creed but the Bible”. It has been shown that “no creed but the Bible” and attendant concepts such as “Bible words for Bible Doctrine” and “Christian character as the only test of fellowship” are at best unwise and ultimately untenable to serve as a theological infrastructure for the denomination.
There will also be some who will oppose the proposed statement of faith on historical and theological grounds. Those of us who are biblical and orthodox in faith must seek to engage these folks with gentleness, dignity and respect. We must seek to listen well, honestly answer legitimate questions and seek to teach for understanding, not to win an argument. We must also attempt to understand the personal, historical and hermeneutical issues that have led those who disagree to their position.
A third objection is that the adoption of this statement will cause us to lose people from our fellowship. This is almost certainly true. Anytime, you take a stand on truth, you inevitably exclude some positions. Losing or altering longstanding and personal relationships will be uncomfortable, perhaps even a bit painful. However, we must remember that our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus and his honor, even if that means the forsaking of family and friends (Luke 14:26-27).
A final objection to the proposed statement of faith may be that it is inadequate and doesn’t go far enough. There may be fair critiques of certain points of the statement, but we must remember that throughout the history of the church, theological shifts have often been incremental. Adopting this statement will allow us to make a giant leap forward in finally embracing an orthodox doctrine of God. Any other changes deemed necessary can occur at a later time.
We stand at a seminal moment in the history of the Advent Christian Church. This is our opportunity to take our stand for a biblical, orthodox, Trinitarian Christian faith. Far being secondary, this is foundational and essential to the gospel itself. If we hope to survive as a movement and advance the kingdom of God, we must choose to side with the clear teaching of Scripture and the testimony of two millennia of Christian witness. Now is the time to make this stand. The adoption of the proposed statement of faith as the official statement of faith for the Advent Christian denomination will allow us to make that stand.
Justin Nash is the Director of Communication for the Advent Christian General Conference. He received his B.A. in Communication from Thomas Edison State College and has studied at Wake Forest University and Wake Forest School of Divinity. He resides in North Carolina with his wife Joyce and their son Nathan.
1 Dean, David A. Resurrection Hope. Charlotte, Advent Christian General Conference, 1992, p.11
2 Piper, John. "No Creed but the Bible?" Desiring God, Desiring God, 30 Oct. 2015, www.desiringgod.org/interviews/no-creed-but-the-bible. Accessed 3 Jan. 2017.
3 Barton, Freeman. "Who We Are Theologically." Henceforth, vol. 33, no. 1-2, 2008, p. 10
4 Going, Lou. "The Origins of the Advent Christian Church A Union of Unitarians and Trinitarians? or, Where Have All the Trinitarians Gone?" Henceforth, vol. 32, no. 1-2, 2005, p. 27.
5 Barton, Freeman. "Clergy Survey." Henceforth, vol. 33, no. 1-2, 2008, p. 16.
6 Going, Lou. "The Origins of the Advent Christian Church A Union of Unitarians and Trinitarians? or, Where Have All the Trinitarians Gone?" Henceforth, vol. 32, no. 1-2, 2005, p. 23.
7 Trueman, Carl R. The Creedal Imperative. Kindle Edition ed., Wheaton, Crossway, 2012, p. 48.
8 Bird, Michael F. What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed. Kindle Edition ed., Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2016, p. 13.
9 "History." National Association of Evangelicals, National Association of Evangelicals, nae.net/about-nae/history/. Accessed 27 Jan. 2017.
10 Note that our current Declaration of Principles is the 1900 version with an amendment to Article I in 1964 and the addition of Article XI in 1972.
11 Advent Christian General Conference. (2016). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://acgc.us/advent-christian-declaration-of-principles/
12 Brown, Stephen. "Advent Christian DNA Theological Fragmentation or Gospel Affirmation." Henceforth, vol. 32, no. 1-2, 2005, p. 35.
13 Bird, Michael F. What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed. Kindle Edition ed., Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2016, p. 24.
14 Stetzer, Ed. "The Exchange." Christianity Today , 17 Oct. 2014, www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/october/biblical-illiteracy-by-numbers.html. Accessed 30 Nov. 2016.