General Statement of Faith
The Bellator Christi website welcomes views from across the spectrum of what is considered to be found within universally accepted Christian orthodoxy (that is, beliefs that abide by the Apostle’s Creed which adhere to the core fundamentals of Christianity). The following gives a brief description pertaining to the personal beliefs of Brian Chilton.
Brian Chilton holds to the essentials found within the Baptist Faith and Message and also ascribes to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. The following gives a little more detail to the beliefs of Pastor Brian.
Detailed Statement of Faith
The following is a Statement of Faith from Pastor Brian Chilton. A much more extensive treatment could be given concerning the issues being treated. However, to keep this document somewhat brief, a summary of beliefs under each article has been offered. If you have any questions pertaining to any of the articles listed below, please feel free to contact the author.
Article I. God
I believe in the classical view of God. Thus, I believe in the ancient and medieval views of God and reject modern ideologies that demerit or demote God’s attributes. I accept that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnisapient, omnibenevolent, and completely holy in his character. I believe in the aseity of God, the immutability of God, and the oneness of God. God is also transcendent and immanent in the world. God is spirit and thus does not have a physical body outside of the physical body of Jesus Christ. While God is one, God is also a Trinity; three persons with the same substance.
Article I.1. God the Father (Yahweh). God the Father is known by the personal name Yahweh. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and keeper of all things. He is a Father to those who receive his son under the New Covenant. He is mighty, creating, loving, and just. God the Father is spirit and does not hold a physical body. One could say that the Father is the architect to all things.
Article I.2. God the Son (Jesus). Jesus of Nazareth, otherwise known as Jesus Christ, is the only begotten Son of God the Father. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, was condemned by Pontius Pilate, crucified on a Roman cross for the sins of humanity, was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, literally raised from the dead in a new glorified body, and after performing many infallible proofs over the course of 40 days, ascended to the right hand of God the Father. There, the Son intercedes for humanity becoming the believer’s advocate. Whereas the Father is the Architect, the Son is the Builder or the Accomplisher of salvation.
Article I.3. God the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Triune Godhead is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called God in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit flows from the Father and the Son. He has come into the world to The Holy Spirit abides with the believer. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin and judgment and provides a way towards truth. The Holy Spirit keeps the Christian in the faith, comforts believers, and provides spiritual gifts to each person. Whereas the Father is the Architect and the Son is the Accomplisher, the Spirit is the Applier of salvation.
Article II. The Scriptures
I believe that the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God. The Bible consists of 66 books; 39 in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) and 27 in the New Testament. I am a traditionalist in that I accept the traditional beliefs concerning authorship of the books of Scripture as I feel the internal and external evidences demonstrate traditional authorship as valid. The Bible is the inspired Word of God as it is found in its autographs written in the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. I believe the Scriptures are without error as found in its autographs.
Article III. Humanity
Humanity was made in the image of God (imagio dei). However, that image was tainted when sin entered into the equation. When the first two humans (Adam and Eve) rebelled against God by the temptation given by Satan, all of humanity was affected. Thereby, man’s relationship with God was severed. However, that image still exists in each and every human being. Thereby, mankind need salvation. Each person’s life matters regardless of nationality, gender, or race.
Article IV. Salvation
Salvation is the means by which God saves human beings from sin and brings them into a right relationship with himself. Salvation is brought by the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. There is no other means of salvation outside of Jesus Christ. Salvation is completely a work of God as the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts. Salvation involves four steps.
Article IV.1. Regeneration. Regeneration is the act whereby God convicts a person of sin and the person responds to the grace conferred. Repentance and faith are both necessary. Repentance is the turning away from the life of sin. Faith is biblically understood as one’s trust and dependency upon someone or something.
Article IV.2. Justification. Justification is the means whereby God completely brings the sinner into a right relationship with himself. The sinner is justified, or verified, before God and can enjoy a new relationship with the Creator.
Article IV.3. Sanctification. Sanctification is the means whereby God cleanses a person and leads them on a process to become more Christlike. A person will not reach perfection while on earth. However, the person will continually grow until they reach eternity when they will be perfected.
Article IV.4. Glorification. Glorification is the final step in redemption. It is the state where the believer has been perfected, and eventually resurrected, and enjoys an eternity in perfect bliss with God.
Article V. Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Freedom
The Bible teaches two undeniable truths: God is sovereign, and human beings are responsible for their actions. Inasmuch as many theologians have tried to solve this conundrum, I offer no absolute answer to the problem. Many have jumped on the bandwagon of Calvinism and others have jumped on the bandwagon of Arminianism. However, I have troubles with both systems. With hyper-determinist philosophies as those found in some versions of Calvinism, humans are presented as automatons who lack the ability to choose x from y. Laws, rewards, and punishments lose their value if humans cannot choose to do otherwise. With hyper-freedom philosophies found in some forms of Arminianism (mainly in the more open theist spectrums), the sovereignty of God is diminished to the position of an uninvolved bystander. Both extremes seem to possess errors which disallow me from embracing either position.
There are other options that are unbeknownst to many Protestants. Thomism, from the theologian Thomas Aquinas, accepts that God moves and each person responds as God knows that they would. Molinism, from the theologian Luis de Molina, accepts that humans are completely free and God knows their actions by middle knowledge.
I accept the system known as congruism which was accepted by Presbyterian theologian B. B. Warfield, theologian Millard J. Erickson, and former president of the ERLC for the Southern Baptist Convention Richard Land. Congruism holds that God’s sovereignty moves and operates within the knowledge of what free creatures would do. Thereby, divine sovereignty and human freedom are congruent (or are in harmony). As a professor once described to me, picture yourself walking through the door of salvation. As you enter the door, you notice a saying above the doorframe that reads “Whosoever will, let him pass.” After you walk through the door, you look back to the doorframe only to read “Only the elect of God shall pass through this door.” In a similar fashion, God’s sovereignty completely harmonizes with human freedom.
Article VI: Church and Ministry
The church consists of all believing, baptized individuals regardless of ethnicity, gender, nationality, or race. The universal church consists of every individual across the globe who professes the name of Jesus Christ. The local church body is an autonomous group of believing, baptized individuals who enjoin themselves together for the common mission of Christ serving under the Lordship of Christ, who is the head of the church.
Article VI.1. The mission of the church. The mission of the church is spelled out in the Great Commission. The Great Commission instructs that the church is to go about evangelizing those around them. This process is to begin locally and is to extend to the globe. Thus, the church should be involved in local and global evangelism. In addition, the church should be actively involved in discipleship. Discipleship is the means by which we grow individuals in the church. Each person has certain gifts and abilities and should use those gifts to glorify Christ in their local assembly.
Article VI.2. The nature of cooperation. Seeing that the church is not exclusive to one local body alone, the local church should serve in cooperation with those around them in order to hold a greater impact. This includes participation with local associations, conventions, and the like.
Article VI.3. Personal ministerial philosophy. My philosophy of ministry is to serve according to the model set forth by Christ. That model is called servant leadership. Dictatorial forms of leadership, while necessary in certain occasions, rarely serve to empower the body of Christ. It is important for the leaders of the church to train and to delegate as best as possible.
Article VII: Marriage and Family
The family is the cornerstone of society. God first instituted marriage when he created the first man and woman and commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply.” The family should be protected at the best of one’s ability. As identified in the introductory section to this article, the family consists of the unit that God created it to be. The family should serve as a safeguard for future generations. It is the responsibility of both the mother and the father to serve as godly examples bringing up their children in the ways of the Lord.
Article VIII. Eschatology
In due time, God will bring all things to an end. God will recreate the heavens and the earth and will establish a literal heaven and a literal hell, both which will last an eternity. The righteous, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, will enjoy the blessings of heaven; whereas, those who have rejected the grace of Almighty God will be assigned a lot to an eternity spent in hell. I hold to the premillennial view of the end-times; that is, that Christ will at some point come to resurrect all believers and will establish his kingdom upon earth for a period of 1,000 years. After which time, the forces of Satan will once again try to overtake God’s kingdom which will eventually lead to the complete demise of Satan, his demons, and those who follow after him. All of this will lead to the second resurrection as explained in the book of Revelation.
While I hold certain views pertaining to the end-times, it is important to understand that a bit of mystery exists as it pertains to the end-times. Thus, grace should be the byword while holding one complete and undeniable truth—Christ is coming again to redeem his people.
Article IX. Ordinances
Two ordinances are ascribed for the New Testament church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Article IX.1. Baptism. Baptism does not save anyone. However, baptism is the outward expression of an inward transformation that has taken place in the person’s heart. Baptism is done as identifying one with their entrance into the church.
Article IX.2. The Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper brings to remembrance the sacrifice of Christ’s body and the shedding of his blood for the remission of our sins. The Lord’s Supper symbolizes the unity of the church’s participation in the atoning work of our Lord. This ordinance should be employed at a regular basis as determined by the local church body.
Article X. Faith and Reason
Some believe that faith and reason are opposed. Those who hold that faith should be held to the suppression of reason are called fideists. Skeptics hold that reason could never support faith. However, faith and reason are not enemies, but rather are enjoined. The combination of faith and reason are accepted by those who are known as realists. I am a realist.
Article X.1. Natural and Special Revelation. Revelation comes in two forms: natural revelation and special revelation. Natural revelation involves those things that God reveals about himself through the use of reason and through the natural world. Special revelation involves explicit truths that God reveals about himself through the revelation of his Word (i.e. the Bible). Thus, God has provided reasons to trust and reasons to rationalize as the “heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).
Article X.2. The Biblical Understanding of Faith. Biblically, faith is understood to be one’s trust and dependency upon someone who is considered to be trustworthy and dependable. It does not involve blind faith. Rather, faith is trust.
Article X.3. Reason. Reason employs the use of the intellectual pursuit of truth. Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In like manner, the unexamined faith is not worth holding. Why is this? Well, how is one expected to hold to something that they do not know to be true? One would not flippantly choose a pill from a bowl filled with white capsuled mints mixed with white capsules filled with cyanide. One would wish to know that what they were taking was good for them. Likewise, we should desire to know that our faith is based on truth. Is there a role for apologetics in ministry?
Article X.4. The Use of Apologetics in Ministry. We find that Jesus was the ultimate apologist. On several occasions, Jesus employed the use of signs and miracles to prove the claims that he had previously given. When John the Baptist was imprisoned and suffered from doubt about whether Jesus was really the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was truly the Messiah or whether they should expect another. Jesus then performed miracles before their eyes and told them to tell John the Baptist what they had seen. Jesus also confirmed his resurrection to one Thomas who suffered from severe doubt. John the apostle, the writer of the Fourth Gospel, confirmed that the reason he recorded the deeds and sayings of Jesus as an eyewitness was for apologetic reasons—to show that people should believe in Jesus due to the evidence. Thus, I am a realist. I believe that truth is objective. People should promote objective truths. Biblical teachings and events are greatly objective. The Bible’s teachings and events are objectively true. Therefore, we should promote the truth of the Bible’s teachings and the events contained within the Bible. Following the examples of Jesus, the apostle Paul, and even Simon Peter, we should be ready to give a defense for the faith. Such a defense should never be done to argue with a person or simply debate contentiously with someone. Rather, as Simon Peter writes, we should “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to made a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
First Draft Completed: © April 7, 2016. Brian Chilton.
(c) 2017. Bellator Christi.