PASTORAL MINISTRY HANDBOOK | CHAPTER 18
Official Doctrinal Positions
¶171 The Gift Ministry of the Holy Spirit
In a study of the gift ministry of the Holy Spirit, one becomes deeply impressed with the thought that any doctrine of the church, though right in itself can be wrongly elevated to a position it does not deserve. There must be a balanced message. At its center is man’s salvation in Jesus Christ.
We must place equal emphasis upon the importance of the Spirit and the Word. The Church must be open to whatever God wants her to do. The Church must discover a professed openness to the fullness of the Spirit which reconciles negative attitudes. Those of the Church who disagree on the gift ministry must remember love is the cord that never breaks. The Church must seek to have everything done under the guidance of the Spirit, in obedience to the Word, so that it exalts Jesus Christ, ministers to the Church, and witnesses to the world. The deepest intention of members of the Church should be a spiritual fullness that we so desperately need.
(This statement is a summary of a much larger study on this topic. The complete study is included as an appendix in “Theological Perspectives” by Dr. Paul R. Fetters, ed.)
¶172 The Authority and Infallibility of Scripture
The Church of the United Brethren in Christ reaffirms unequivocally the Word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be sole authority for the believer and the church and the only infallible rule of faith and practice; that sincere and full acceptance of the Bible as final authority is an indispensable condition of true Christian unity and further the Church of the United Brethren in Christ calls upon all churches to restore the Word of God to rightful preeminence in teaching, preaching and practice.
As the result of a contemporary resurgence of the issues of authority and infallibility we believe it is important to again declare our belief in the Holy Bible, the Word of God written, as the infallible Word of God to man, wholly trustworthy in the fullness of its message of God’s redemptive grace and His acts in history.
Further, we dedicate ourselves to the proclamation of the Word through teaching, preaching and personal witness, calling upon God’s people everywhere to join us in this noble task, so that others may find in the sure, dependable Word of God what we have found—an infallible guide.
(Adopted by the 1977 General Conference)
All persons are born, because of the fall of the race in Adam, with an inherent tendency toward evil. This depravity has negatively affected and is operative in every faculty of one’s being. Each person, because of the inherited depravity, when confronted by the world, the flesh and the devil, will follow the sinful nature, deliberately choosing to ratify sin, and thus assumes the guilt and condemnation belonging to a sinner.
(Adopted by the 1981 General Conference)
¶174 Divine Foreknowledge
Our Confession of Faith states: “We believe in the only true God….that this triune God created the heavens and earth and all that in them is, visible as well as invisible, and furthermore sustains, governs, protects, and supports the same.”
The Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA affirms that God’s knowledge of all past, present and future events is exhaustive and infallible. God’s knowledge includes all future decisions and actions of free moral agents. The openness view denies that God’s knowledge is this comprehensive. Thus, the “openness” view of God’s foreknowledge is contrary to our denomination’s historic understanding.
(Adopted by the 2005 US National Conference)
¶175 Destiny of the Unevangelized
Our Confession of Faith states: “We believe in Jesus Christ; that He is the Savior and Mediator of the whole human race, if they with full faith in Him accept the grace proffered in Jesus….We believe that the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God; that it contains the only true way to our salvation; that every true Christian is bound to acknowledge and receive it with the influence of the Spirit of God as the only rule and guide; and that without faith in Jesus Christ, true repentance, forgiveness of sins, and following after Christ, no one can be a true Christian.”
The heart of the United Brethren movement is evangelism. We believe in a transformed life made possible through an experiential faith in Jesus Christ. The church believes that God wants all people to come to salvation by hearing the gospel proclaimed and responding to it with personal faith. Salvation is possible only through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
We recognize that some in our church believe that God may, if he so chooses, save some to whom the gospel message has never been specifically proclaimed, namely, those whose deaths occur prior to an age of accountability, the mentally impaired, or those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even with this understanding, the church has always insisted that salvation is a gift of God, given solely on the basis of the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
(Adopted by the 2005 US National Conference)