Some believe it best to keep personal doctrine close to the chest believing doctrine divides. Conversely, I’d like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and hospitably invite everyone into a dialogue where we can engage openly, in love, and help each other grow towards Truth in Christ. Surely, being fallible, we can all find something we don’t agree on. But just as surely, as believers, we should be able to agree on the majority of things, and lock arms in communion in the essential doctrines of our faith. As brothers and sisters, our study and debate should be edifying in each person’s growth toward knowledge of Truth. With this hope, below I have compiled an open outline of my best interpretation of what the scripture teaches, and where then in the theological world I fall.
My core theological principles were not developed through experience in a church, tradition, deonomination, or under a teacher. I came to a saving faith in Christ by first reading the Bible independently and, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, developing a basic doctrinal understanding of Scripture. I then sought out the churches and the teachings that most closely reflected what God reveals in Scripture alone. I have since sought extensive teaching from many sources to clarify my theology in more granular issues, but my original high-level understanding of God’s Word remains. I am most simply what would be referred to as a Reformed Baptist. I am Reformed not merely in soteriology (5 point Calvinism), but also in biblical theology (Progressive Covenantal), worldview (Kuyperian/Transformational), and the appropriate symbol for Christ’s blood in Holy Communion (wine). I am Baptist in my view towards baptism (by submersion for professing believers) and missiology (cooperative urgency in fulfilling the Great Commission Mandate).
I have been significantly influenced by the example of John Piper, the teaching of Dr. R.C. Sproul, the preaching of Matt Chandler, the biblical worldview of Abraham Kuyper, and the missiology of Tim Keller. I find these men to be most exemplary Christ followers, expositors of the Bible, and Kingdom builders. I do not however agree in totality with every teaching of any of these men, as all people are uniformly fallible, and each of us has areas of strength and areas of deficiency. I am a Master of Divinity student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, a former student of the ASPIRE Leadership Development Program (Redeemer Church) and Porterbrook Network theological training network. My pastors are Mitch Maher (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary), Redeemer Community Church in Katy, TX, and Daniel Montgomery (M. Div., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Sojourn Church in Louisville, KY.
I believe the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of God. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction breathed out by God and recorded by men divinely inspired by God’s revelation of Himself to them. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ – scripture either points forward to the coming of the Jewish Messiah Christ, is specifically about Christ, or reflects back on the teachings and works of Christ. I believe scripture alone is the source of God’s instruction and stands over every other book, church, or conception of man. I believe the Bible contains all instruction necessary for salvation.
I believe all things exist and are being worked according to the triune God’s passion, pleasure and plan as a demonstration of His glory. God creates, calls, redeems, saves, justifies, restrains, grants and glorifies all for His namesake so that He will be praised (Ephesians 1:11, Psalm 23:3).
I believe all of the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith and adhere to the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick (living) and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Christian* Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Denominationally, I found I am a Reformed Baptist consistent with the London Baptist Confession of 1689 a.k.a. The Philadelphia Confession of Faith. As a Reformed Baptist, I agree in large part with the works of John Calvin – Calvinism/Reformed Theology (details here). I agree with Calvin’s views on Scripture Alone, Law and Gospel, Covenantalism – w/ an exception for both spiritual and physical nations of Israel (Romans 11:23-32, Zechariah 12:10), God’s Sovereign Grace, Salvation – the 5 Points of TULIP, and the Nature of Christ’s Atonement.
The major exception I hold to Calvinism is my belief (based on the Acts of the Apostles) that baptism is for professing believers and not for infants. I find nowhere in the Bible a clear statement that baptism is to be used for baby dedication nor do I believe the act of parents baptizing children is adequate for children’s salvation (Ezekiel 14:12-20, Ezekiel 18:20, Romans 2:6). Jesus said the Kingdom of God belongs to children (Mark 10:14), I believe His Word is sufficient for their salvation, and for all people there comes an age of personal accountability to Christ. I also believe baptism should be performed by submersion, as the Greek word ‘Baptizo’ is literally translated ‘immerse’ or ‘submerge.’ I also believe in the Baptist Church leadership structure and that a Pastor is to be a brother and a servant of God’s flock (Matthew 23:9). I believe, based on the works of the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts, that the church is a place for professing Christians to gather to be supported and developed to discipleship to be sent out into communities to share the gospel. I also believe in the church planting philosophy as demonstrated by Paul in Acts.
Reformed Baptist Churches currently reside as a sect of the Southern Baptist Convention. Like most Reformed Baptists, I differ from the traditional Southern Baptist Prohibitionist views towards alcohol and dancing. I find those views to be in opposition to scripture (Psalm 104:15, Romans 14:17, Psalm 150:4).
I am a cautious Charismatic Continuationist. I believe in the continuation of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit to this day. These gifts include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discernment, speaking and interpretation of tongues, service, teaching, speaking, exhortation, liberality (generosity), giving aid, acts of mercy, celibacy, and hospitality. These gifts are distributed in different measures to different individuals as the Holy Spirit sees fit, and they are to be used to strengthen and build up the church so as to glorify God (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Peter 4:11). Nowhere in the scripture is it stated that these gifts were temporary or have ceased. Further, I do not believe speaking in tongues is a common gift, or necessary proof of the filling of the Spirit, as all believers are blessed with different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
I hold a Complementarian understanding of manhood and womanhood. Scripture clearly dictates that men and women are absolutely equal in personhood and dignity and are equally valuable in God’s sight and in His plan (Galatians 3:28). Scripture also clearly dictates that God has distinct intended roles and functions for men and women in the home and church. Men are to be the servant leaders of their homes as Christ is the servant leader of the Church (Ephesians 5:22). The husband is called to serve and sacrifice for his wife as an expression of his love for her, and the wife is called to submit to, support, and respect her husband as an expression of her love for him. In this way men and women complement each other and are most capable of joy in Christ (Ephesians 5:22-25, 1 Corinthians 11:2-3, 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, Colossians 3:18-19). Church eldership is scripturally limited to males as prescribed by the qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. As the Son submits to the Father, and the Holy Spirit submits to the Father and the Son, the functional submission does not equate to an inferiority of essence. All three Persons, while differing in role and function, are equally God. Likewise, men and women are equally human beings and equally share the image of God while still having been given distinct God-ordained roles and functions that mirror the functional hierarchy of the Trinity.
Eschatologically I am a Historic Premillinialist and believe in a Post-Tribulation (Pre-Wrath) Resurrection and Rapture (Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). Believers will be gathered by the angels to meet Christ in the air (raptured) at Christ’s second coming immediately after the great tribulation just before the battle of Armageddon and then return with Him as Christ descends to the Earth, to usher in the Millennium. God’s Elect from all ages will be transformed from mortal bodies into immortal glorified bodies at the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:52). This stated, I also believe it is evident that historical themes are repetitive, and biblical prophecies can apply to events of the past and events that are still to come.
I believe it is important that we closely guard our doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16), while also remaining faithfully open to correction (Proverbs 12:1). I will not disregard what a Christian brother or sister (anyone who agrees that there is no salvation without a resurrected Jesus Christ, and holds to the other Essential Doctrines of Christian Faith) has to say because of a disagreement over secondary doctrinal issues or opinions. Paul says we must never quench the Spirit. It is our personal responsibility to stay hungry for wisdom, to discern what is good and hold on to it, and to reject what is bad. I believe that a bad doctrine or a misunderstanding of scripture does not fully disqualify a brother from having knowledge to share. Wisdom eats the meat and tosses the bones. With well developed personal discernment exchanges become very profitable as the hand may not understand the foot, but the two are one in body, and they both know the Head. If you look at My Favorite Sermons, you will see that I listen to teachers of varying doctrines and methodologies. I am secure in my own doctrine (as stated above), and believe it is important that we all come to know The Word well enough to no longer have to fear or attack every Christian who doesn’t think exactly like ourselves, but rather come together for a healthy exchange, for mutual edification, and for the glorifying and advancement of the Kingdom of God.