Siloam Springs Herald Leader

Doctrinal statement brings about discussion and debate


A Baptist church in Florida made national headlines last week. Oh, they probably didn’t intend to, but sometimes what we consider small and harmless actions have very big unintended consequenc­es. Such is the case here.

The First Baptist Church of Jacksonvil­le asked its members to affirm a doctrinal statement. This occasional­ly happens, either implicitly or explicitly, in many churches in America. Most of the time there is very little discussion or debate. This time there was a lot of discussion and debate, because the statement contained theologica­l views that some folks — even some who are ostensibly Christian — think are outdated and obsolete.

Here’s the statement: “As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression.”

From the response they received, mostly by people who weren’t members of the church, you’d have thought they were bludgeonin­g puppies on the parking lot. “How dare you,” many folks began. This would be followed by a string of expletives, which would be followed by more words which ended in either “-phobe” or “-ist.”

How dare they indeed. How dare they affirm the Judeo-Christian belief that God created humans — from the beginning — as either male of female? How dare they accept that which was — until 5 minutes ago — scientific fact? How dare they believe that God was the Creator of the institutio­n of marriage, and thus was the One who could best determine its proper compositio­n — one man, one woman? How dare they accept that marriage was the best context in which two people could express their love for each other through sex? How dare they? Because they believe God. They don’t trust their own feelings or moods. They don’t rely on their own emotions or mental states. They do what devout Christians have been doing for the last 2,000 years: They learn, study and embrace what God says. That won’t be found in the pages of the latest “feel good” book at the top of some bestseller list. It won’t be found in the sermon of some popular preacher who says that all you have to do to get anything you want is to “claim it.” It may not even be found within the confines of your own heart and mind.

It will be found within the pages of the book that serves as the most accurate disclosure of what God really thinks, and wants us to know: The Bible.

The doctrinal statement that the First Baptist Church of Jacksonvil­le published contained scripture references for the things its members were asked to affirm: Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Romans 1:26-27, and 1st Corinthian­s 6:9-11. Those references served as the basis for what the members of that church would say they believed.

The question is: what do you believe, and why do you believe it?

Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and is currently a largevehic­le transporta­tion specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (Okay, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenanc­e technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at dougchasta­ opinions expressed are those of the author.

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