Dear New Life Family:
This Sunday, May 16, we will be voting on a proposed update to our church's Statement of Faith.
This proposal comes as a result of a recent update to our denomination's Statement of Faith (Adopted in 2019). Previously, the first sentence in the ninth article (Regarding the return of Christ) of the Evangelical Free Church of America's Statement of Faith said, "We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ." As of June 19, 2019, this first sentence of the ninth article now states, "We believe in the personal, bodily and glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The EFCA has always been a denomination that has committed to unity around essential doctrines of salvation and has extended liberty and grace on doctrines that are non-essential to salvation. It's what the EFCA calls, "The Significance of Silence" (You can read more about this by clicking here). As an example, the first article of the EFCA's Statement of Faith says, "We believe in one God, Creator of all things..." In this example, we are united around our belief in God as Creator, but we extend grace on the timing, mechanics, and age of creation. This allows those of us who lean more toward a "Young Earth" view and those of us who lean more toward an "Old Earth" view to maintain our personal views while remaining united around the foundational doctrine of God as Creator.
In recent years, there has been a movement within our denomination to apply this distinctive principle to our eschatological ("End Times") views so that all Christians within all churches in our denomination could remain united around the cross of Christ as of first importance and still hold their personal views on the mechanics of the return of Christ. Since there are various views on how Christ's return will unfold, the hope is to not force those who are pursuing church membership to uphold the premillennial view, exclusively. This movement has resulted in the EFCA updating the word premillennial to glorious in the ninth article of the Statement of Faith.
This is certainly something we can all agree on; the return of Christ will absolutely be glorious! The wording is also truer to who we are as a denomination, as we aim to be a denomination of transformational churches for all people, regardless of our End Times views.
We will explain this a bit more at our congregational meeting this Sunday, when we vote on adopting the EFCA's updated Statement of Faith as our own. In the meantime, if you'd like to familiarize yourself further, here are PDFs of our church's current Statement of Faith, the EFCA's updated Statement of Faith, and the EFCA's official statement on the reasons for the update:
Thank you for taking these matters to heart. They are certainly important. May the Lord guide us in all wisdom as we pray and think through these matters and as we cast our votes. Ultimately, may our Lord be glorified as we continue to do the work of the gospel with the goal of growing as a transformational church for all people!
With love for you in Christ, Pastor Marttell