Where Is Your Doctrinal Statement?

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!

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22 Comments
  1. Sergei June 9, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I agree with what is said here. Doctrinal statements sometimes may serve as labels. We may be subject to an illusion that knowing what doctrinal statement a person sticks to we know a person himself.

  2. Clifton June 9, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    But Wayne, without doctrinal statements how are we gonna know who the heretics are?

  3. Jim June 9, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Clifton:

    You know the heretics when they volunteer themselves as such.

    So, let me step right up. I’m a heretic! That is, if conforming to standard ideas of doing church and relating to God makes one that.

    There, I made it easy on you!

  4. Sergei June 9, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I agree with what is said here. Doctrinal statements sometimes may serve as labels. We may be subject to an illusion that knowing what doctrinal statement a person sticks to we know a person himself.

  5. Clifton June 9, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    But Wayne, without doctrinal statements how are we gonna know who the heretics are?

  6. Jim June 9, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Clifton:

    You know the heretics when they volunteer themselves as such.

    So, let me step right up. I’m a heretic! That is, if conforming to standard ideas of doing church and relating to God makes one that.

    There, I made it easy on you!

  7. Peter June 9, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Funny me, I thought your page under “Our Passion” was your Doctrinal Statement. I stand corrected. Oh well — Live Loved and Love. 🙂

  8. Peter June 9, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Funny me, I thought your page under “Our Passion” was your Doctrinal Statement. I stand corrected. Oh well — Live Loved and Love. 🙂

  9. Jim June 10, 2007 at 5:56 am

    I heard that John Wesley once said that mental assessment would soon replace faith. For my personal observation I see that doctrinal statements have replace living for many. Keep up the great work Wayne.

  10. Jim June 10, 2007 at 8:56 am

    I heard that John Wesley once said that mental assessment would soon replace faith. For my personal observation I see that doctrinal statements have replace living for many. Keep up the great work Wayne.

  11. Clifton June 10, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Sorry Jim. I was being facetious.

  12. Clifton June 10, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Sorry Jim. I was being facetious.

  13. Steve Sensenig June 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for the post, Wayne. I’ve linked to it on my blog here.

  14. Phil Hawkins June 10, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I’ve been reading your articles and blog for several years now, and didn’t need a doctrinal statement to tell me where you stood. I reached the point a long time ago that I was not that impressed by how much Bible a person knows, I want to know how much they live!

    Back around 1980 I read a book called “Disciple” by Juan Carlos Ortiz, an Argentine AG pastor. Apparently he would teach on a Bible topic, the small groups would follow up on it, but he wouldn’t move on to another topic until the groups could report they were living it. The church could use a lot more of that approach.

  15. Steve Sensenig June 10, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks for the post, Wayne. I’ve linked to it on my blog here.

  16. Phil Hawkins June 10, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    I’ve been reading your articles and blog for several years now, and didn’t need a doctrinal statement to tell me where you stood. I reached the point a long time ago that I was not that impressed by how much Bible a person knows, I want to know how much they live!

    Back around 1980 I read a book called “Disciple” by Juan Carlos Ortiz, an Argentine AG pastor. Apparently he would teach on a Bible topic, the small groups would follow up on it, but he wouldn’t move on to another topic until the groups could report they were living it. The church could use a lot more of that approach.

  17. Clifton June 11, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    This is kinda funny. I wrote a blog entry awhile back about the “What We Believe” pages on church websites. The title is “What We Believe and What We Reject”. What’s funny is that entry gets five times more clicks than anything else. I think people assume it’s the doctrinal statement for the blog. I used to do the same thing though so I shouldn’t laugh. I understand the temptation to run a doctrinal background check on people before listening to them.

  18. Clifton June 11, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    This is kinda funny. I wrote a blog entry awhile back about the “What We Believe” pages on church websites. The title is “What We Believe and What We Reject”. What’s funny is that entry gets five times more clicks than anything else. I think people assume it’s the doctrinal statement for the blog. I used to do the same thing though so I shouldn’t laugh. I understand the temptation to run a doctrinal background check on people before listening to them.

  19. Kelly June 19, 2007 at 5:49 am

    I think people look for that doctrinal statement because they’re afraid of what they may find. When I was growing up, I would carefully check out even the Christian authors I read and decide whether or not I wanted to put something they had written into my heart/mind. We try to protect ourselves by not accepting everything we read unless we believe we can trust the person who wrote it. This is our idea of “discernment.” I think it is only in our learning to walk in the Spirit that we are able to set aside this fear and lay whatever comes into our lives before Him to approve.

  20. Kelly June 19, 2007 at 8:49 am

    I think people look for that doctrinal statement because they’re afraid of what they may find. When I was growing up, I would carefully check out even the Christian authors I read and decide whether or not I wanted to put something they had written into my heart/mind. We try to protect ourselves by not accepting everything we read unless we believe we can trust the person who wrote it. This is our idea of “discernment.” I think it is only in our learning to walk in the Spirit that we are able to set aside this fear and lay whatever comes into our lives before Him to approve.

  21. Rich/luthsem June 22, 2007 at 9:13 am

    The Apostle’s Creed is pretty straight forward and all Christians agree with.
    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.

    I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried;
    he descended to the dead.*
    On the third day he rose again;
    he ascended into heaven,
    he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
    and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

    Catholic means universal church so some substitute it for Christian Church. I know it was not written by the Apostles but an earlier baptismal creed.

  22. Rich/luthsem June 22, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    The Apostle’s Creed is pretty straight forward and all Christians agree with.
    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.

    I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried;
    he descended to the dead.*
    On the third day he rose again;
    he ascended into heaven,
    he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
    and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

    Catholic means universal church so some substitute it for Christian Church. I know it was not written by the Apostles but an earlier baptismal creed.

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