The New Birth Vs. Doctrinal Commitment: Should Evangelicals/Fundamentalists Require A Testimony, Doctrinal Agreement, or Both?

If a person claims to be born again, we can accept him as an evangelical/fund. even if his doctrines are not consistent
13% (1 vote)
If a person claims to agree with a certain doctrinal position which he understands, we can label him a fun/evan.
25% (2 votes)
An evan/fund. must have both a clear testimony of conversion and a solid doctrinal alignment
50% (4 votes)
The answer above, but children born into Christian homes may not have as clear a testimony
13% (1 vote)
Other
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 8
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There are 12 Comments

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Require for what Ed? Because I think the requirements will vary based on the context.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Almost went with "other" but stuck with the "both" idea.

Chip raises a really good point. In many contexts we haven't heard a person's testimony of conversion. It's usually Golden Rule to take someone's word for it unless they have given you reason to believe otherwise. So there are many that make implicit claims to believe the gospel because they are serving in or lead ministries that claim that standard--and I accept that claim by default.

But when you're looking at church membership or an applicant for a role in a ministry, you're in a position to be more intimate about it. There should be doctrinal assent and personal conversion, though I no longer hold the "conversion story" to the standard I once believed important.

The strongest evidence that you have passed from death to life is where you are now, not vivid recall of every moment of the passing.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Require for what Ed? Because I think the requirements will vary based on the context.

Good question.  Reminds me of Jimmy Durante looking his classes and inquiring of his friend, His friend says, "They are on your nose."  Durante comes back, "Could you be more specific?"

So I need to be more specific.

So I am talking about who we personally consider  a believer and who we would fellowship with spiritually. This might also include situations where you are determining whether you are willing to officiate a wedding when it is not clear that both are believers or unbelievers. How do you make your best guess?

Aaron's point below, namely, church membership, would be a little different in that we would want members who agree with our church doctrinal statement (which is usually more narrow than just the fundamentals).  But I try to make sure they have a clear understanding of salvation, but, like Aaron, I am more concerned that their faith is in Christ rather than how they go there.

I was also thinking of a post I saw here or elsewhere where someone doubted Calvin's salvation, for example, because he did not have a testimony of conversion.

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

I would begin with their testimony. I am looking for a clear understanding of the Gospel. So many professing believers cannot articulate the gospel. I am incredulous about the reality of their faith if they cannot express what it is. Than, as Aaron said, I am look for fruit of salvation as evidence. I think, biblically, that even real Christians can have no assurance of salvation while they are backslidden. Of course, all of this is also going to be relative to the length of time they have been a believer.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

JohnBrian's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

I was also thinking of a post I saw here or elsewhere where someone doubted Calvin's salvation, for example, because he did not have a testimony of conversion.

Some years ago a friend wrote to me and stated that "Calvin has never given a personal testimony of his salvation."

I did some searching and found Calvin’s Last Will – April 25, 1564 which includes his testimony.

Calvin wrote:
First, I give thanks to God, that taking compassion on me whom he had created and placed in this world, he not only delivered me by his power out of the deep darkness of idolatry, into which I was plunged, that he might bring me into the light of his gospel, and make me a partaker of the doctrine of salvation, of which I was most unworthy; that with the same goodness and mercy he has graciously and kindly borne with my multiplied transgressions and sins, for which I deserved to be rejected and cut off by him; and has also exercised towards me such great compassion and clemency, that he has condescended to use my labor in preaching and publishing the truth of his gospel.

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Ed Vasicek's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

I would begin with their testimony. I am looking for a clear understanding of the Gospel. So many professing believers cannot articulate the gospel. I am incredulous about the reality of their faith if they cannot express what it is. Than, as Aaron said, I am look for fruit of salvation as evidence. I think, biblically, that even real Christians can have no assurance of salvation while they are backslidden. Of course, all of this is also going to be relative to the length of time they have been a believer.

 

Chip, I agree fully with the importance of articulating the gospel and saying one believes it.  When I think of the word, "testimony," I usually think of, "I was lost.  At a specific point or era (e.g., 1980), I turned from my sins and trusted Christ and my life has been transformed."  Are we talking semantics?

 

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Ed Vasicek's picture

JohnBrian wrote:

Ed Vasicek wrote:

I was also thinking of a post I saw here or elsewhere where someone doubted Calvin's salvation, for example, because he did not have a testimony of conversion.

Some years ago a friend wrote to me and stated that "Calvin has never given a personal testimony of his salvation."

I did some searching and found Calvin’s Last Will – April 25, 1564 which includes his testimony.

Calvin wrote:
First, I give thanks to God, that taking compassion on me whom he had created and placed in this world, he not only delivered me by his power out of the deep darkness of idolatry, into which I was plunged, that he might bring me into the light of his gospel, and make me a partaker of the doctrine of salvation, of which I was most unworthy; that with the same goodness and mercy he has graciously and kindly borne with my multiplied transgressions and sins, for which I deserved to be rejected and cut off by him; and has also exercised towards me such great compassion and clemency, that he has condescended to use my labor in preaching and publishing the truth of his gospel.

 

This is a nice quotation and much appreciated.  Thanks, brother.  This is much my own testimony, although obviously my ministry has not be quite as extensive Smile

 

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

If we are talking personal relationships, I think there is more to a testimony. I mean, your Catholic friend could share the testimony as you have described it. I am looking for a clear understanding of the Gospel, what would be necessary for a person to actually come to a saving knowledge of Christ in the first place.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

We were just in Acts 25-26 last Sun. AM. Fine example of the conversion story in Paul's words  before Agrippa/Festus.

  • Before Christ
  • Meeting Christ
  • After Christ

But the doctrinal content of the gospel is not in focus there... though it's mostly stated and the rest implicit in Paul's conclusion.

Interesting how different Calvin's testimony is. It's an affirmation of personal faith without any kind of chronology/sequence of events.

The biblical examples we have are enlightening. Sometimes it's as simple as "I was blind but now I see" or "come see a man who told me everything I ever did."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Yes, when we say testimony, I think of Aaron's description above.  When I think of a correct understanding of the Gospel (salvation), I think of Chip's.  If someone has the understanding that Chip suggests and professes to believe the message he has elaborated (the atonement, salvation by grace alone through faith alone), to me, that's what I look for.  I just don't know if that is really a testimony.  What Aaron described is what I think of when I think of a testimony.

Am I correct in making that distinction?

It sounds like Chip might want both, which is fine by me.  I am thinking not everyone who is saved has as clear a testimony as Aaron elaborated from Acts 25-26.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Charlie's picture

On one level, I think we need some kind of uniform level of religious identification. That is, we need to apply similar criteria to a Christian as we would to a Muslim, Hindu, etc. For me, if a person is baptized and has not openly renounced Christianity, that person is a Christian. Baptism makes someone a member of Christianity. Nothing else is required. I would then distinguish perhaps between practicing and non-practicing, and I might distinguish based on which branch of Christianity. 

Notice, that's pretty much exactly how I would approach someone from any other religion. Oh, you're registered as a Muslim in your country or you've recited the Testimony of Faith? Ok, you're a Muslim. Do you uphold the pillars regularly? Ok, you're a practicing Muslim. Are you a Shia, Suni, Sufi, or something else? 

Even if we believe, as I do, that there is an invisible congregation of the elect that is not coterminous with the visible church, we still need to acknowledge the visible church. If you're baptized and not excommunicated or self-excommunicated, you're a Christian, at least on the visible level.

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Ed Vasicek's picture

Charlie wrote:

On one level, I think we need some kind of uniform level of religious identification. That is, we need to apply similar criteria to a Christian as we would to a Muslim, Hindu, etc. For me, if a person is baptized and has not openly renounced Christianity, that person is a Christian. Baptism makes someone a member of Christianity. Nothing else is required. I would then distinguish perhaps between practicing and non-practicing, and I might distinguish based on which branch of Christianity. 

Notice, that's pretty much exactly how I would approach someone from any other religion. Oh, you're registered as a Muslim in your country or you've recited the Testimony of Faith? Ok, you're a Muslim. Do you uphold the pillars regularly? Ok, you're a practicing Muslim. Are you a Shia, Suni, Sufi, or something else? 

Even if we believe, as I do, that there is an invisible congregation of the elect that is not coterminous with the visible church, we still need to acknowledge the visible church. If you're baptized and not excommunicated or self-excommunicated, you're a Christian, at least on the visible level.

 

I don't agree with this, Charlie, at all.   I could maybe (maybe) see this if by baptism you mean "believer's baptism."  Also, many fine believers have never been baptized with any sort of baptism. For example, I think of some evangelical Quaker friends who do not believe in the ordinances.  If I understand that by "Christianity" you mean "Christendom" in some historical sense, and if you are talking about how the world views things, I can somewhat understand your position.  But, from a Biblical viewpoint -- how we should view things, which is the point of our discussion,  I have a real problem with your view.

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