I got an email last night from someone looking for a doctrinal statement on the Lifestream website. She asked:
I’ve looked at your website for a considerable amount of time…is having a doctrinal position statement too close to being “religious”? How is someone able to be certain you are lining up your ministry with the Word of God? Maybe I missed something?
As I wrote her back, I thought others might have had a similar question, though this has never come up before. So, here’s how I responded to her.
I’m sorry you’ve spent so long looking for what is not there. To answer your first question, no, I wouldn’t consider a doctrinal statement too religious.
I have not included a doctrinal statement on my website for a number of reasons.
- Through my books, blog entries, articles and audio recordings my doctrinal views are pretty well out there, as is my history as a long-time Contributing editor at Leadership Journal and my work with lots of different evangelical/charismatic groups. I guess I resist titles and definitions as divisive by nature, but I have no reservations about the fact that I embrace the historic faith in God as Father, Son and Spirit that has been passed down through the ages and I embrace their current activity in the world and my life today. I see the Bible as God’s revelation of himself and agree that all of Scripture is inspired by him for our instruction and correction in seeking to live out his life. I believe that all things will be summed up in the Son at some future date.
- Doctrinal statements are an irrelevant test whether anyone is lining up their life with the Scripture. The test is in the living. I know many people who sign on to doctrinal statements but do not live the reality of them. Assent to a creed doesn’t mean anything if someone isn’t going to live in and embrace the reality of it. What really matters is not their theology but their relationship to the Father through the Son. And their words don’t really matter here. Many people claim to know him who do not. What matters is their life in him.
- The test of whether my words or teachings are true has anything to do with a doctrinal statement. Each of us who know the Living God have an anointing from the Holy One to discern truth and error. If you’re following him and I am following him, you will find his presence and heart in the things you read and listen to here. That’s not to say everything I post is purely him. It’s as pure as I know it to be, but I am still growing in this life as well and God continues to change my mind about things as I grow to know him better. And if my words do not bear witness with your spirit or your understanding of Scripture then you are free to take your leave.
- A doctrinal statement could be misunderstood as a test of fellowship. I want people in various stages of their spiritual search to feel comfortable at Lifestream. I wouldn’t want them to misunderstand a doctrinal statement as a demand for conformity, or an exclusion of their journey. I want them to find open doors to God’s heart here even if at the moment they might have some views of God that are not worthy of him.
- I’ve never been asked before. This is a first.
So, I hope that makes sense to you. I’m not trying to be evasive, I just don’t think I see doctrinal statements in the same way you do.
And I could be nuts!