This afternoon I received the annual notice that my local ministerial association membership dues were… well… due. This is not a problem.
However, this year, the association has decided to lay out guidelines for membership. Which, in many ways, is just fine. Organizations should lay out clearly what the boundaries are.
The difficulty? I don’t know if I can agree with the guidelines in a way that would be keeping with the integrity of the organization. What do I mean? Well… if I were allowed a wide ability to interpret the text, I could say, “Yes, I agree with it… though I probably don’t mean what you mean by it.”
The – – Ministerial Association is a group of ministers and fellow Christian brothers and sisters…
I’m ok with that part.
…who commonly confess the Old and New Testaments alone to be the Word of God.
I begin to have difficulties. I believe God’s “Word” (see Jn. 1.1), existed long before the text of the Old and New Testaments were set down… and is an active part of the scholarship that helps us to inform those texts. If the Spirit continues to move in the world, can not there be divine revelation outside of the canon? As a Christian, the Old and New Testaments are my primary texts… but must that hold true for one who is not a Christian?
We also believe in the Triune God…
Again, not a problem.
…and in salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Yeah, a show stopper for me. Who am I to put bounds on God’s grace? Having said that, my understanding of Matthew 25, the whole “judgment of the nations” passage, could allow me to agree with the statement. I read Matthew 25 as a response to ‘right action’ by all the peoples of the world, rather than ‘right belief’. But that would be “salvation through Jesus Christ”, rather than “salvation by faith in Jesus Christ”, no?
We also confess common agreement to the Apostles’ Creed.
Ok… let’s take a look at what was sent as the “Apostles’ Creed”. Interesting. Not quite the one I learned way back when.
We believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
I know its picky, but the Apostles’ Creed was an individual statement, not communal. (Yeah, I said I’m being picky!)
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Still no problem.
born of the virgin Mary
As long as I can follow the use of the term ‘virgin’ from its Isaiah origins, no problem.
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Ok. (Well, not really ok, suffering under anybody sucks… but I can say I believe it happened.)
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
I know the latin is ‘inferos’… but I’d probably go with the Church of England’s translation ‘to the dead’. Still, its only a quibble.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
I could say ‘I agree’ to that.
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
Nice allegorical ring to it – ok.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian Church
Again, an interesting change from ‘Catholic’ to ‘Christian’… but I can agree to it)
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
The immortal body… sure.
and the life everlasting.
So… you see my dilemma. Can I maintain both my integrity and that of the Association by signing on?