A comment was put forward by a visitor to our web site in relation to the fact that we use a Statement of Faith as a standard for fellowship. The remark was that, "it would seem that you consider yourselves to be saved by faith through adherence to a system of beliefs as formulated by men, according to the tradition of some particular men, rather than by faith in Christ as imperfectly understood by other men. In effect, you believe you can only be saved by believing certain doctrines when you are baptized, and are thus baptized into the name of that belief system, rather than simply (like a child) into the name of Christ, or the name of God as given to Christ by his Father. Consequently, you seem to be claiming to be saved by works of theological understanding rather than simple acceptance of the work, blood, and merits of Christ and his power."
Answer: You made the observation, "it would seem that you consider yourselves to be saved by faith through adherence to a system of beliefs as formulated by men...rather than by faith in Christ as imperfectly understood by other men." Only part of this is true. Yes, we do believe that we are saved by faith through adherence to a system of beliefs. But, we do not believe in a system as formulated by men. The system we adhere to is the Gospel (i.e., "The Things Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ"). We believe that the scriptures fully reveal the elements of the Gospel and that we are expected to understand it in order to obtain salvation. As the Apostle Paul states concerning the gospel, "it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." (Romans 1:16). The scriptures fully and explicitly give us the answer as to what makes up the
The fact that we have a Statement of Faith is to provide a concise overview of what we believe the scriptures teach about the fundamental elements of the "Kingdom of God" and "the Name of Jesus Christ". Yes, the outline is put together by men, but based completely on what is stated in the scriptures. It is a definition of the common hope of the Christadelphian (Unamended) community, a hope that we believe is not made up by men but the beliefs taught by the Apostles and held in common by the early ecclesias. If each one of the propositions listed in our Statement of Faith could not be supported by scriptural testimony then yes, I would agree with you that our belief system was formulated by the traditions of men. We refer individuals to the Statement of Faith so that one that is not a Christadelphian can easily compare their own beliefs as to what we consider to be fundamental. Our Statement, just like the creeds or documents of other religions, is designed to clearly and briefly demonstrate what beliefs hold our community together.
The position that there are "certain doctrines" that need to be understood we believe is taught in the scriptures. The fact that "salvation" is dependent on "belief" in the gospel (Romans 1:16) should then pose another question. . . What makes up the Gospel? A broad answer to that question is found in the phrase, "The Things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 8:12; 28:23,31). Should we not be very concerned as to what those "THINGS" are? Merely accepting the "work, blood, and merits of Christ and his power" does us little good if we do not understand what the scriptures so carefully teach concerning these items, how they affect us, and how they relate to the "Things" of God's Kingdom. In Acts 2:42 we are told that the 1st century believers "continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine". Doesn't it then seem that we are taught as to the importance of understanding what that "doctrine" was (and still is), and once we find it stick faithfully to it? What good does it for us to believe that when we die we go immediately off to heaven for a reward in the skies when the scriptures explicitly teach that the reward of the faithful will be rulership in a Kingdom set up on this earth and that the only hope from death is a future resurrection? If we believe what is opposed to God's word then we cannot possibly be believing the Gospel and as a result will find salvation out of our grasp.
In Galatians 1:6-8, we read of the fact that some of the Galatians were straying from some doctrines contained in the Gospel message for other ideas and beliefs. Paul states in response to this problem, "I marvel that ye are soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." And he goes on to warn, "though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." There is no other gospel, or "good news". To believe something that is not outlined in scriptures, or to hold various opinions that do not harmonize with the one true Gospel is to be outside of the Gospel of Christ. So the idea that it really doesn't matter what we believe or that we can be saved no matter what ideas we hold is out of the question. Early believers were to be united on the one true gospel, as is stated in Ephesians 4:3-6, "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism..." (Also read, 1st Corinthians 1:10; Romans 15:5,6; Phillipians 1:27; I Peter 3:8).
Scripture list to consider regarding the importance of an accurate understanding of God's Truth:
1 Samuel 12:24 - We must serve God "in truth"
Psalm 145:18 - We must call upon him "in truth"
Hosea 4:6 - Israel was destroyed for "lack of knowledge"
Ephesians 1:13 - The "gospel" a matter of salvation. How can we be saved by it if we do not know what it is?
Ephesians 5:17 - We are commanded to be "understanding what the will of the Lord is".
2 Timothy 1:10
2 Timothy 3:15
1 Thessalonians 5:21 - "Prove all things"...Why, if it doesn't matter?
2 Thessalonians 2:13
Jude 3 - How can we "contend" for a "faith" that we do not understand?