Constitution Update, 2018
One of the major items that the elders of NewBranch are tackling this year is an update to our church constitution. This year marks our tenth year as a church, and in that time, much of our methodology and practice has been refined as we have continued to pursue what it looks like to be a New Testament church in the 21st century. In addition, many of our doctrinal positions have likewise been refined. As a result, our constitution needs updating, and our statement of beliefs needs clarifying. Please note that this does not mean that our beliefs have changed, but that we see the need to clarify who we are and what we teach. Additionally, we live in a culture that requires us to be clear about where we stand on specific issues that define our time (i.e. marriage, gender, sexuality, etc.), but are not addressed in our statement of beliefs. For this reason, the elders have affirmed five documents that we would like to go ahead and communicate to our church body. Below, these documents are listed (along with a link so you can read them in their entirety), along with the primary reason why we chose to affirm these specific statements and positions.
Baptist Faith & Message (2000) This is the foundational belief statement of the Southern Baptist Convention. We affirm more than what this statement says, but we do not affirm less than what it says. This is a foundational, generic document that covers orthodox, protestant, evangelical, baptistic theology.
Abstract of Principles This theological statement has great historic tradition within the Southern Baptist Convention, and is a document that all professors of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (the flagship seminary of the SBC) are required to affirm. This statement more clearly articulates our affirmation of Reformed theology within a baptistic setting.
Chicago Statement on Inerrancy This statement was ironed-out 40 years ago when protestant denominations were facing an onslaught of attack from liberal theologians. This statement is the result of an intense battle to reclaim a belief in the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. Although this is an older statement than some of the others listed below, we felt it was important to affirm this publicly, since it is the reliability of Scripture itself that will help us navigate some of the more intricate theological battles today.
Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Perhaps no other area of theological division has been more hotly debated within the church than the role of women in the church and home. As society continues its progressive swing, the traditional approach to interpreting key passages dealing with this have likewise been questioned and undermined. The Danvers Statement, which outlines a Biblical argument for the complementarian perspective, is the work of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), formed in 1987 to address this issue and bring clarity to the confusion.
Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality This statement is also the work of CBMW, and is by far the most recent of the statements we are currently publicly affirming as elders (published in the Fall of 2017). The Christian church in our culture must have clarity on issues regarding homosexuality, gender roles, etc., which is what this statement provides.
We encourage you to read through these documents and let us know what questions you might have about their contents. We will not be asking all members to affirm these statements, but simply to be aware that these better represent what we teach. The purpose is not to impose these convictions on all of our members, but to ensure that the doctrinal content of our teaching as a church is consistent across all of our teaching platforms.
Please note: We project the constitution update to be completed by the end of the year, when we will bring our proposals before the church for a vote. Prior to that time, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to learn more about the changes we’re proposing and why.
Submitted on July 18, 2018 by the sitting elders of NewBranch (Kris Harrison, Bowdie Jenkins, Ken Rucker, and David Settle)