This book is the product of many leaders and thinkers who have a capacity for understanding far beyond mine. God wants us to pursue wisdom and decide how we should live. It's hard to do that when we don’t know anything. The book of Proverbs is filled with promises that we see in our lives when we pursue wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom frequently requires us to hear things that we don’t agree with.
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In August 2021, my dad asked me to teach a six-week series on some of what is written here. I don’t consider my study of these topics then or now all-encompassing. My understanding of both the Kingdom and Critical Theory is limited. If I am wrong or misguided in anything I have written here, I want to learn from that and grow. As you are reading this, thank you for extending me that grace. I still have much to learn.
In his book Fault Lines, Voddie Baucham recounts the writing of what has come to be known as the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. You can find the statement on the website statementonsocialjustice.com. Many churches and pastors have chosen to add their names as signers to that statement. Our church was able to use that statement as a template and craft our own.
There are times in history where we must address the elephants in the room of culture. We believe that now is that time. We shouldn’t just address these things individually, but as the Church, as a community of faith. We have an opportunity to do much more than take a stand. We have an opportunity to change the world.
The world seems more broken than ever, more in need of Jesus than ever, more in need of his Church than ever. My prayer is that we will rise to the occasion and God will meet us there.
We must build a better world, but we must also do so with a virtuous worldview. In ancient architecture and engineering, there was one stone that would determine the stability of a building. This stone was called the cornerstone. Cornerstones were the most carefully shaped stones in an entire building project. They were often the largest and most solid as well. They were made as close to perfection as possible and placed in the bottom corner of a house or shop being constructed. The builders would then use that cornerstone and its angles to compare their progress to. If the cornerstone was misshapen, the building would be too. If a building was misshapen, it wouldn’t last.
Our lives are like houses that we are building, and we must first decide what our cornerstone is.
You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say,
“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.”
Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.”
“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
the rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
“Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. // 1 Peter 2:4-12
We must live in this world. We are born into the groups and cultures that we are born into. But we are not meant to be citizens of those groups, our countries, or the world itself. We are sent as ambassadors, foreigners who represent a new way of life, with Jesus as our cornerstone. We are meant not to adapt to this world but to show people a better way through our own lives.
“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.” // DL Moody.
The Elephant Statement
For 2000+ years, the Church of Jesus Christ has faced challenges, controversies and shifts in culture. For that same period of time – through every change and challenge – the Church has been a beacon of love, hope and light in the midst of a world that seems far from these things.
There have been, and will always be cultural movements that have great potential to affect the Church. The Church does not exist outside of the culture we live within. However, the Church was not created by people. It was established by Jesus Christ. Therefore the Church is not subject to the direction or whims of culture.
The trends that we see in our world have created topics and subjects that can be difficult to discuss. We call these subjects elephants. In every era, the direction of culture requires two things from the church: grace and truth (John 1:17). We believe that we must speak directly to the elephants in culture. There are times where – like elephants in a living room – some issues become so large and looming that they can no longer be ignored.
We believe that certain values borrowed from secular culture are undermining a biblical worldview. Recent cultural postmodern movements related to race, ethnicity, gender and human sexuality are challenging the Bible’s teaching and perspective. These movements are using the broad and vague term “social justice” to define themselves and challenge the Bible’s teaching. The truth of Scripture must be uncompromisingly asserted to confront, challenge and fight these movements.
This statement is meant to provide clarity and biblical truth related to these elephants that we must address.
However, we must remember the words of Paul in Ephesians 6 //
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Our goal is not to solely speak truth, but to walk in grace. Like Jesus. That means that we must agree that our fight is not against people, or even groups. Our fight is against the deceptions and lies of the enemy of our soul. Our responsibility is to follow the Great Commandment and love our neighbor as ourselves. That requires us to treat our fellow human beings with the same grace that God extends to us in the midst of our sins.
And although we fight against evil itself, our enemy is not other people.
However, we take seriously the words of Paul in Colossians 2:8 // “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”
What follows is our attempt to listen to the warning of Paul.
I Scripture and Truth
WE BELIEVE that the Bible is God’s Word, breathed out by him. It is inerrant, infallible, and the final authority for determining what is true (what we must believe) and what is right (how we must live). All claims of truth, behavioral and ethical standards must be tested by God’s final Word, which is Scripture alone. Our worldview and ideologies must be in accordance with Scripture. The beliefs, character, or conduct of a Christ-follower cannot be dictated by any other authority, and we deny that the postmodern ideologies derived from Critical Theory, Social Justice and Critical Race Theory are consistent with biblical teaching or a Kingdom worldview.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 2:18-25; PSALM 19:7-10; 1 CORINTHIANS 2:14-15; EPHESIANS 5:22-33; 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-4:5; HEBREWS 4:12; 13:4; 1 PETER 1:25; 2 PETER 1:19-21
II Divine Fingerprint
WE BELIEVE that God created every person equally in his own image. All people have inestimable value and dignity before God and deserve honor, respect and protection. All people have been given a divine fingerprint to leave an imprint on the world. Everyone has been created by God and for God. God-given roles, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, sex or physical condition or any other attribute of a person either negates or contributes to that individual’s worth.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 1:26-30; 2:18-22; 9:6; 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17; COLOSSIANS 1:21-22
WE BELIEVE that God requires us to live justly in the world. This includes showing appropriate respect to every person and giving to each one what he or she is due. Societies must establish laws to correct injustices that have been imposed through cultural prejudice. The standard of justice is defined by and derived from Scripture, not culture or social constructs. Christ-followers cannot live justly in the world under any principles other than a biblical standard of righteousness and justice. Relativism, socially constructed standards of truth or morality, and notions of virtue and vice that are constantly in flux cannot result in authentic justice.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 18:19; ISAIAH 61:8; MICAH 6:8; MATTHEW 5:17-19; ROMANS 3:31
IV God’s Law
WE BELIEVE that God’s law summarized by the Great Commandment (Love God with all your heart, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself) and manifested in Jesus Christ, is the only standard of unchanging righteousness. Violation of that law is what constitutes sin. Any obligation that does not emanate from God’s commandments cannot and should not be imposed on Christians as a prescription for righteous living. We deny the legitimacy of any charge of sin or call to repentance that does not arise from a violation of God’s commandments.
SCRIPTURE: DEUTERONOMY 10:4; MATTHEW 22:35-40; MARK 12:28-34; LUKE 10:27; ROMANS 6:14, 10:5; GALATIANS 2:16, 3:10, 12; COLOSSIANS 2:14- 17; HEBREWS 10:1
WE BELIEVE that all people are connected to Adam, Eve and original sin defined in the book of Genesis. Everyone is born under the curse of God’s law and all break his commandments through sin. There is no difference in the condition of sinners due to age, ethnicity, gender or any other group status. All people are depraved and stand condemned before God’s law. All human relationships, systems, and institutions have been affected by sin. No person is morally culpable for another person’s sin. Although families, groups, and nations can sin collectively, and cultures can be predisposed to particular sins, subsequent generations share guilt only if they approve and embrace (or attempt to justify) those sins. Before God each person must repent and confess his or her own personal sins in order to receive forgiveness. Legislation and reformation will never cover the sinfulness of humanity. Only repentance will. A person’s perceived group status does not establish any necessary connection to any particular sin.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 2:16, 17, 3:12,13-15; PROVERBS 29:18; ISAIAH 25:7, 60:2-3; JEREMIAH 31:27-34; EZEKIEL 18:1-9, 14-18; MATTHEW 23:29-36; ROMANS 1:16-17, 3:23, 5:12, 10:14-17; 1 CORINTHIANS 15:3-11; 2 CORINTHIANS 11:3; GALATIANS 1:6-9; TITUS 1:12, 13; REVELATION 13:8
WE BELIEVE that the gospel is the divinely-revealed message concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ—especially his virgin birth, righteous life, sacrifice, atoning death, and resurrection—revealing who he is and what he has done with the promise that he will save anyone and everyone who repents of sin and trusts Jesus as Lord. Nothing – including works performed or opinions held – can be added to the gospel without perverting it into another gospel.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 3:15; PROVERBS 29:18; ISAIAH 25:7, 60:2, 3; ROMANS 1:16-17, 10:14,15,17; 1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-11; GALATIANS 1:6-9; REVELATION 13:8
WE BELIEVE that salvation is granted by God’s grace alone received through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Salvation cannot be experienced or received in any other way. Salvation does not make Christ-followers free from sin or immune from its consequences in this life. In God’s eyes there is no difference in spiritual value or worth among those who have received this gift of Grace. All Christ-followers are united to each other regardless of age, ethnicity, sex or any other classification. These, or any other classifications do not exclude anyone from understanding the gospel, nor does anyone’s heritage lessen or remove the duty to repent, believe and follow Jesus.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 3:15; ACTS 20:32; ROMANS 3-4; EPHESIANS 2:8-9; GALATIANS 3:28-29; 1 JOHN 2:1-2
VIII The Church
WE BELIEVE that the primary role of the church is to worship God through the preaching of his word, teaching sound doctrine, observing baptism and the Lord’s Supper, making disciples, equipping the saints, and evangelizing the lost. When the gospel takes precedence, the problems of culture and society are soothed. Christ-followers can and should utilize all lawful means that God has established to create a better and more just society. We believe that Christians have a responsibility to contend for, and uphold a Kingdom worldview and Judeo-Christian ethics in the cities, states and nations where they live. According to the Bible, we are also to obey the governing authorities established by God and pray for civil leaders. We deny that laws or regulations possess any inherent power to change sinful hearts.
SCRIPTURE: MATTHEW 28:16-20; ROMANS 13:1-7; 2 CORINTHIANS 5, 1 TIMOTHY 2:1-3; 2 TIMOTHY 4:2; TITUS 1:9; 1 PETER 2:13-17
IX Gender / Sexuality
WE BELIEVE that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female. The differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female. Physical anomalies and/or psychological conditions do not nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female. Ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex do not render one incapable of living a fruitful life and following Jesus. Those born with any disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other people. It is sinful to approve of immorality (homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual), transgenderism, or any other non-biblical definition of sexuality or gender. Such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness. The approval of any kind of immorality is not a matter of moral indifference about which Christ-followers should agree to disagree. Adopting a self-conception that is fluid or contrary to Scripture is inconsistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption. Human sexuality is not a socially constructed concept.
SCRIPTURE: MATTHEW 19:4-6,12; ACTS 15:20, 29; ROMANS. 1:26–27; 1:32; 1 CORINTHIANS 6:9–11, 18-20; 7:1-7; 2 CORINTHIANS. 5:17
WE BELIEVE that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife. Sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality – heterosexual and homosexual. We affirm that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage. God has not designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. No affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality. We further deny that any kind of partnership or union can properly be called Biblical marriage other than one man and one woman in lifelong covenant together. We deny that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel. An enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality of any kind never justifies sexually immoral behavior.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 1:26-28, 2:15-25, 3:1-24, 4:1, 19:24-28; MATTHEW 19:3-6; ROMANS 8:13; 1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-11; 1 TIMOTHY 1:10; TITUS 2; JUDE 7
XII Race / Ethnicity
WE BELIEVE God made all people from one man. Though people often can be distinguished by different ethnicities and nationalities, all are equals before God in both creation and redemption. Christ-followers should not segregate themselves into racial groups or regard racial identity above – or equal to – their identity in Christ. “Race” is not a biblical category, but rather a social construct that often has been used to classify groups of people in terms of inferiority and superiority. Any divisions between people groups have no legitimate place in the Church. All that is good, honest, just, and beautiful in various ethnic backgrounds and experiences can be celebrated as the fruit of God’s grace. All sinful actions and their results (including evils perpetrated between and upon ethnic groups by others) are to be confessed as sinful, repented of, and rejected. We reject any teaching that encourages racial groups to view themselves as privileged oppressors or entitled victims of oppression. While we are to weep with those who weep, we deny that a person’s feelings of offense or oppression necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 1:26–28; ACTS 17:24-26; 1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-7; 2 CORINTHIANS 12:16-18
WE BELIEVE that some cultures operate on assumptions that are inherently better than those of other cultures because biblical truths inform those worldviews. All people belong to larger social groups and cultures. Those cultures help shape us, but they do not define us. Elements of a given culture that reflect God’s revelation should be celebrated and promoted. All earthly cultures have features that are sinful – and therefore those sinful features should be rejected. Whatever evil influences to which we have been subjected via our culture can and must be overcome through repentance and the training of both mind and heart through biblical truth. All individuals and sub-groups in any culture are able, by God’s grace, to rise above whatever moral defects or spiritual deficiencies have been engendered or encouraged by their respective cultures.
SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 1:18-32; EPHESIANS 4:17-24; COLOSSIANS 3:5-11
WE BELIEVE that racism is a sin rooted in pride and malice which must be condemned and renounced by all who seek to honor the image of God in all people. Such sinful prejudice or partiality falls short of God’s will and violates the Great Commandment. We affirm that virtually all cultures at times contain laws and systems that foster racist attitudes and policies. Treating people with sinful partiality or prejudice is inconsistent with following Jesus. We deny that only those in positions of power are capable of racism, or that individuals of any particular ethnic group are incapable of racism. Systemic racism is incompatible with the core principles of historic Christian convictions and Scripture. We deny that the Bible can be legitimately used to foster or justify partiality, prejudice, or contempt toward any ethnicity. We deny that the church has any deliberate agenda to elevate one ethnic group and oppress another.
SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 1:26-27; DEUTERONOMY 10:17; ACTS 10:34; ROMANS 2:11; EPHESIANS 6:9; GALATIANS 3:28; JAMES 2:4
XIV Love and Grace
WE BELIEVE that any battles we fight are not with human beings who are created in God’s image. Our battle is with forces of evil and spiritual darkness. All people have sinned and fall short of God’s standards for living. The goodness of God leads all people to repentance and following Jesus. In the eyes of God there is no sin worse than another sin. God’s love has the power to cover every sin that every human being commits. It is our duty to speak the truth in love at all times. The free gift of God’s grace both pardons us and transforms us into a new person by changing the way that we think first. The grace of God gives us the power to put to death all of our sinful desires and live a life worthy of our calling. God’s grace enables us to forsake immorality and unbiblical self-conceptions and accept his design of our biological sex and Biblical self-conceptions of male and female. The grace of God does not sanction self-conceptions, ideologies and narratives that are at odds with Scripture. Jesus came into the world to save us all from our sin. And through Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and follows Jesus. We affirm that God’s grace and mercy are sufficient for all of our weaknesses. As Christ-followers we have a requirement and responsibility to forgive anyone who sins against us, just like we have been forgiven. We believe that God’s gift of Grace grants all people the ability to receive salvation from the consequences of sin. We also believe that the truth of Jesus and Scripture, spoken in love, bring freedom to all people.
SCRIPTURES: ROMANS 3:23-26; 8:13, 12:1-2; 1 CORINTHIANS 13; 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9; EPHESIANS 4:15, 6:12; COLOSSIANS 3:3-6, 13; 1 TIMOTHY 1:12-17
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