How does Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition of the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America, relate to the Statement of Faith (SOF) and credentialing. What kind of authority does EC have?
The Board of Ministerial Standing (BOMS) has been asked this question, particularly as it relates to credentialing and the five-year reaffirmation of the SOF. The origin of the question is that some conclude all that is necessary is to affirm belief in the EFCA SOF. The problem is the breadth of individual interpretation and understanding. Who deliberates the various ways individuals affirm the SOF?
There are numerous historical examples in which this individual interpretation has occurred which undermines a SOF. In one instance, one taught at an Evangelical college and converted to Roman Catholicism. When it came time to reaffirm the college’s Evangelical SOF, the professor signed it in “good” conscience and claimed it could be done based on one’s own understanding and interpretation of the SOF. Without some exposition or commentary on the SOF, who determines whether this person can legitimately do this or not?
This is one of the ways a SOF is undermined. One in “good” conscience states they affirm the SOF “without mental reservation,” but they do so based on their own personal understanding of the SOF. But a SOF is not so elastic that it is open to any and all various interpretations. Otherwise it means something other than intended. Someone at some point needs to define/explain what is meant. In the EFCA, we have been up-front with that so people know what it means, along with the parameters.
BOMS has affirmed the following statement.
Statement of Faith and Evangelical Convictions
It is important to precede our BOMS statement by what has already been written in Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition of the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America, p. 19:
This book, published under the authority of the EFCA Board of Directors1, seeks to give clarity to the theological convictions contained in our Statement – spelling out what is affirmed and what is denied (and what is not addressed). Beyond that, it will expound these convictions – helping the reader understand and appreciate the wonderful truth contained in this brief and concise confession.
1. This book was drafted by members of the Spiritual Heritage Committee, but its content was vetted by numerous EFCA pastors and others in various areas of EFCA leadership and ministry, including President William J. Hamel, members of the Board of Ministerial Standing (which includes District Superintendents and the Chair of the Ministerial Association), representatives of ReachGlobal and faculty from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Evangelical Convictions and Credentialing
In discerning the meaning of the Statement of Faith as it pertains to credentialing, BOMS uses Evangelical Convictions as the “determinative guideline” as spelled out in the following statement:
Evangelical Convictions is a theological exposition of our Statement of Faith reflecting a consensus of the EFCA, as affirmed through the EFCA Board of Ministerial Standing and the EFCA Board of Directors, regarding the meaning of our Statement of Faith, and it is the determinative guideline in responding to questions raised during the credentialing process related to the Statement of Faith.