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We can learn a lot about the spiritual health of a church and how they function by reading their church governance bylaws and doctrinal statements of faith.
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There were many people, after my lawsuit became very public, who went to my former church’s website to look at the doctrinal statements to see what kind of church it was, how the church functioned, what kind of authority structure it had. I left that stuff up to my husband – that was his thang.
Church doctrine didn’t interest me. I visited a church and went by the “feel.” I looked at relationships. I looked at the mix of older people and young people. I looked at how balanced things seemed to feel. I know, that’s bad, but I typically have a good sense about things and I was actually right in this case – I had that “yucky sense” even on the first Sunday, but it took two years before we eventually left. That’s a whole nuther story.
What do church doctrinal statements tell us?
What can we learn from them?
Now I understand why it is so important to look at these statements. We get a lot of visitors to this site and it’s important to discuss red flags so that others can learn and not get burned in a spiritually abusive church.
I have copied two snippets from Beaverton Grace Bible Church’s doctrinal statement. What do you see?
V. We Believe In Spiritual Authority.
God Himself has established order in every area of our lives, and the church is no exception. God in Scripture has clearly given us the structure of authority for the church. Christ is the head of the church and He mediates His rule through the shepherding of godly elders (pastors) (5). These elders (pastors), having a high view of God and Scripture, being devoted to the preaching, teaching and practicing of sound doctrine, and being examples of personal holiness before the congregation, are responsible to lead the church. The Bible teaches that the congregation is accountable to the elders (pastors) and that the elders (pastors) are accountable to God. Therefore, all decision-making authority is vested in the elders (pastors), who shepherd the church (6).
This was in a different section of the document. Do you see the conflict?
K. The Mediator
We teach that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God is the only divinely appointed mediator between God and man (1). Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin (2), He perfectly fulfilled the Law, suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners (3). He was buried, and rose again on the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose hand He ever lives to make intercession for His people (4).
Feel free to send me church doctrinal statements or covenants so we can learn together. ~ja