2014 GARBC Conference Resolutions

Messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches approved the following resolutions:

The Essential Gospel

Freedom of Religion

Resolution on Biblical Hermeneutics

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference, June 24–28, 2013, in Dearborn, Michigan,

Understanding that a system of Biblical hermeneutics must be compatible with the truth that the Bible is verbally as well as plenarily inspired by God, and that the Bible is both inerrant and authoritative (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21),

Believing that the correct approach to Biblical hermeneutics is based on a literal interpretation of God’s Word, one which takes the words of a sentence in their normal, customary meaning, according to the simplest and clearest sense,

Recognizing that a literal method respects the literary form of a passage of Scripture, including but not limited to figures of speech, genre peculiarities, and poetic arrangements; recognizing words and their meanings as the writers intended,

Asserting that Bible interpretation should give attention to historical and cultural analysis; discovering what words meant to the people in the day in which they were written; valuing the manners, tools, and institutions by which a people carried on their existence; and noting the historical, political, economic, and social situation of the time,

Affirming that a right hermeneutical method considers both grammatical and contextual concerns, giving due diligence to word definitions and the syntactical relationship of the words to each other and the entire contextual framework,

Concurring that the accurate understanding of a text will involve respect for the clarity and unity of Scripture and the progressive nature of revelation, ascertaining the theological understanding at the time of writing,

Noting that historically other hermeneutical approaches have been less literal-historical-grammatical in form and have brought confusion, with certain ones more dependent on allegory, some leaning heavily on higher criticism, and others denying the inerrancy of Scripture, looking for God’s revelation not in the text, but in His presence,

Observing that more recently divergent techniques are being proposed: systems like the New Hermeneutic that looks to the “speech event” to encounter the subject of the text; or methods that add the listener to a mix of text-writer-listener to derive meaning, more dependent on the reader than before; or the Redemptive-Historic model, which may have a tendency to preempt the writers’ original meaning by prematurely reading the New Testament or Christ back into the Old Testament; or interpretation models that overemphasize the genre of a passage, thus overriding the literal-historical-grammatical meaning and affecting key portions of Scripture, such as the literal, historical treatment of Genesis 1—11, prophetic sections of the Old and New Testaments, and especially the Book of Revelation,

Regretting that many of these different views have resulted in a weakened view toward the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, have opened the door to unclear if not false teaching, have occasioned a cavalier attitude about the importance of the Bible as a foundation for faith and practice, and have weakened the church, we

Reaffirm an approach to hermeneutics that seeks to understand the writers’ originally intended meaning; that seeks to come under the text as a servant, recognizing that Scripture is God’s written revelation communicated in propositional truths and seeking to discover its clear, objective, and unchanging meaning;

Reject subjective, relativistic approaches or any other hermeneutic that obscures the clear understanding of God’s Word and undermines a commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture;

Urge a renewed commitment to a hermeneutical method that acknowledges the inspiration and inerrancy of God’s Word; that approaches the text literally, historically, and grammatically; that leads to thorough exegesis; that establishes a framework for a dispensational understanding of God’s management of the ages; and that enables the clear and powerful preaching and teaching of the Bible; and

Recommend that, with the enabling of God’s Holy Spirit and with the confidence that God’s Word may be clearly understood, believers should hunger for and read the Bible, reaping the rich blessings of a life infused with Bible truth (1 Cor. 2:9–15; Ps. 19:7–11, 2 Tim. 3:17).

 

Resolution on Renewal of the Spiritual Mind

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 24–28, 2013, in Dearborn, Michigan,

Confident that God has granted us blessings of truth revealed in Scripture and the ability by the Holy Spirit to comprehend His clear and logical revelation,

Aware that the ongoing battle against spiritual forces of wickedness at work in the world, as well as in our own hearts, has placed many believers in a spiritually weary condition, often without realization of being drawn away to deceitful lusts and perversions of the truth,

Affirming that the key battleground is the mind, as Scripture often enjoins: “gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Pet.1:13), “bringing every thought into captivity” (2 Cor. 10:5), “meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8), “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2),

Noting that believers are called foolish for failing to direct their minds toward the plentiful, historical, evidential reasons for faith in the truth,

Concerned that many seek the goal of renewal to spiritual strength in quick fixes, methodological tricks, and exponential leaps, rather than through incremental, laborious advancement in the knowledge of Jesus Christ,

Regretting that the wisdom of this world is elevated as scholarship, even among many who profess adherence to the authority of the Bible,

Recognizing that spiritual leaders are asked to continually correct and convince those who are in opposition through discussion of sound doctrine and instruction in the words of faith, and that all saints are to be ready with rational answers in the defense of truth, we

Reaffirm our thankfulness for the inerrant, infallible, comprehendible Word of God and for the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit;

Awaken brothers and sisters to areas of inconsistency, unreasonableness, and worldly wisdom in thought and belief and to the danger to which they lead, for “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”;

Urge pastors to focus on doctrine, teaching, equipping, and prayer, avoiding the distraction of spreading themselves too thin in ministry endeavors that are to be the share of all members of the body; and

Direct each of our fellow believers to be steadfast, not terrified by our adversaries; but to confidently put on the whole armor of God in our wrestling match with the rulers of the darkness of this age, choosing to tie our hope for fullness of joy and flourishing endurance to our faithful God; and to confidently expect the fulfillment of His promises (Isa. 40:31).

Resolution concerning Universalism

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference, June 25–29, 2012, in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania,

Believing that God is perfectly holy, and that He created people to have fellowship with Him (Gen. 3:8–9; 1 John 1:3), desiring them to be holy because He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15, 16),

Recognizing that all people are sinners by both disposition and action (Rom. 3:23; 5:12), and are unrighteous in God’s sight and unable to do anything to qualify for salvation (Rom. 3:10; Eph. 2:8, 9),

Affirming that the reception of this salvation is only through conscious belief in Christ and the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1–5; Rom. 10:9, 10),

Convinced that a person’s death ends the opportunity for accepting this salvation because one’s relationship with Christ is eternally fixed at the moment of death (Luke 16:19–31; Heb. 9:27),

Concurring that all those who believe the gospel of Christ will spend eternity in God’s presence (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11), and that all others are condemned to the Lake of Fire, a place of conscious, unending anguish (John 3:18, 36; Rev. 20:15),

Observing that some theologians are teaching a universalist view that all people will ultimately be saved; some saying that after a period of punishment all people will be saved; and others saying that all people are now saved but do not realize it; and even others suggest that God’s radical love will pursue men until all are saved,

Noting, also, that a variety of others are promoting views leading toward a more universalist approach, including pluralism, which holds that there are many ways of salvation; inclusivism, which teaches that while the work of Jesus Christ is the way of salvation, more persons may be included than had traditionally been thought, some even being saved without consciously believing in Christ; general revelation only, a form of salvation in which one may come to a right relationship with God through the knowledge of God in general revelation alone; postmortem encounter, in which people who do not have an opportunity during this life to hear the gospel will be given such an opportunity after death; and various views of annihilationism, suggesting that people who do not come to saving faith will not suffer endless punishment but will simply cease to be, we

Reaffirm that people are sinful, and unable to deliver themselves; that Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for a righteous standing before God; that salvation comes through belief in the work and person of Jesus Christ; and that without conscious acceptance of the gospel, a person will face eternal punishment,

Urge the churches in fellowship with the GARBC and the GARBC’s various ministries to preach, teach, and incorporate a clear gospel message,

Reject teaching and teachers who promote universalism and related errors, and strengthen our stance against the inroads of these errors, fine-tuning doctrinal statements, double-checking teaching curriculum, and encouraging Biblical and critical thinking in faith and practice, and

Increase efforts to promote worldwide missions, encouraging believers to reach all people through a sound proclamation of the gospel that identifies the problem of sin, warns of coming judgment, and offers hope through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Resolution on the Priority of the Local Movement

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 25–29, 2012, in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania,

Rejoicing that God has granted forgiveness and adoption into His family to all who believe on His Son (John 1:12; Eph. 1:5), and that God enables His children to grow in righteous conduct and deepening faith through the instruction of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16) and the ministry of fellow members of the Body of Christ (Eph. 2:21; 4:16),

Believing that a local church is an organized congregation of immersed believers associated by covenant of faith and commitment to righteousness (Eph. 4:13–16), and carrying out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20),

Affirming that each local church has the responsibility of self-government subject to Christ, under the oversight and nurture of pastors and the service of deacons (1 Tim. 3:5,10), and that it is Scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other in contending for the faith and for the furtherance of the gospel,

Conscious that some of God’s children give heed to false doctrine and disobedient practice, falling prey to Satan’s attempt to remove the pillar and ground of the truth which is the church (1 Tim. 3:15–4:2),

Observing that some believers exhibit an imbalanced focus on personal growth and benefit, neglecting effectual love for siblings in Christ (Phil. 2:4); being quick to distance themselves or depart the local church rather than bear with one another in humility and gentleness, or give and receive correction consistent with doctrinal soundness, or yield liberties for the sake of love,

Recognizing that some diminish the distinctiveness of the church by confusing the church and the coming kingdom of God,

Aware that some theologians claim that God is done with the local church, arguing that His bride’s persistent imperfections result in His abandonment of the concept altogether, we

Reject the idea that carnality warrants the abandonment of God’s plan for the local church since God alone can rescind or replace our commission and He has not,

Declare that the spiritual growth of the body is just as important as personal growth and that neither can truly occur without increased love for fellow saints,

Urge those among the GARBC to thoroughly instruct the brethren in God’s teaching on the local church, promoting and examining the expression of their local church covenant and rehearsing it regularly; and to equip the family of God for ministry that we may be a holy temple for the Lord, confronting those who “church-hop” as a technique of avoidance, and taking heed to the spiritual health and well-being of each member and prospective member,

Direct believers in Christ to identify with faithful saints in a location through membership and submit to God-placed gifts and roles, demonstrating loyalty to Christ and care for fellowship and attendance, as we see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:24), and

Recommit ourselves to the manifestation of God’s wisdom by the church, bowing our knees in submission to the Father to Whom be glory in the church by Christ Jesus. Amen.

Resolution: Missional Church Movement

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 27-July 1, 2011, in Denver, Colorado,

Believing that the church’s mission is at least two pronged: (1) toward the world, involving evangelization (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8), and (2) toward itself, involving edification (Eph. 4:11–16; 1 Cor. 14:26; 2 Tim. 2:2; Jude 20),

Recommending that the church give balanced attention to both edification and evangelization,

Knowing that the gospel is most clearly articulated in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, and that the primary means of evangelization is the proclamation of this gospel (Acts 1:8; 8:4), leading to the establishment of New Testament local churches,

Affirming the difference between Israel and the church, and that a literal earthly Kingdom awaits the nation of Israel, a Kingdom with ethics, leadership, and social care uniquely different from the church,
Observing that Christ’s ministry, including His miracles and acts of service, was selective, was primarily spiritual and redemptive, and was meant to reveal His ability to redeem, to show that He is deity, and to affirm His Messiahship,

Noting that a missional church movement exists that has the potential of blurring the lines between the Kingdom and the church, that places undue stress upon social responsibility and social justice, and that possibly confuses the true nature of the gospel message,

Perceiving within the missional church movement a second, more evangelical level of the movement that stresses an exaggerated commitment to social responsibility, that confuses the church and the Kingdom, and to some degree allows its zeal for missionary activity to diminish a healthy focus on the church gathered,

Recognizing, also, that the missional movement has positive qualities that could constructively impact the church today,

Acknowledging the difficulty of precisely defining the missional movement, we

Use care in what elements of this movement are adopted and in the wise assessment of the theological and Biblical framework of this approach to church ministry,

Adopt some of the missionary fervor generated from the current missional movement,

Learn from the strategic thinking of some of the missiologists and writers involved in the missional church movement and evaluate our own ministry for potential weaknesses or blind spots,

Evaluate how the church ought to relate to social responsibilities, differentiating between responsibilities of the individual believer and the mission of the local church,

Commit to fresh efforts to boldly and unashamedly declare and preach the gospel, sharing the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection with people outside the church gathered,
Strengthen the edification mission of Christ’s gathered church, while not neglecting the evangelistic thrust of the Great Commission.

(See Baptist Bulletin article, May 2011, Evaluating the Missional Church Movement, for a fuller treatment of this topic.)

Resolution: “Destined to Multiply”

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 27—July 1, 2011, in Denver, Colorado,

Believing that the local church is to be evangelistic and multiplying in nature (Acts 2:40, 41),

Recognizing our Savior’s passion for the lost and His commission to make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:19, 20),

Knowing that we have His blessing when we follow that commission (Acts 2:47),

Understanding that our responsibility is to witness to the saving grace of Christ through our personal testimony, the preaching of the gospel, and a consistent, godly lifestyle (Acts 1:8; 8:4; 1 Pet. 2:12),

Bearing in mind that effective evangelism should lead to the formation of Bible-believing local churches (Acts 14:21–23), we

Proclaim our commitment to present the gospel message to those who are unsaved,

Reassert the historic position of the GARBC (as set forth in our founding documents, previous resolutions, and our organizational principles) in support of missions at home and abroad, with a strong emphasis on evangelism, cross-cultural outreach, the planting of independent Baptist churches, and the interdependence and cooperation of Regular Baptist churches wherever they may exist,

Applaud the work of local churches, mission agencies, and individual missionaries who are actively involved in the work of evangelism and church planting, knowing that the work they are doing today will produce “fruit that abounds to [their] account” long after they are with the Lord, should He tarry (Phil. 4:17),

Appeal to every local church to be involved in church planting in some way, such as participating as a mother church, partnering with several churches of like faith to start a new work, training and mentoring young men for future ministry in evangelism and church planting, strategic planning with a view to establishing local churches in promising locations, and financially supporting those who are working in church-planting ministries,

Urge our churches to give priority to the proclamation of the time-honored message of the gospel in this undertaking (1 Cor. 15:1–4), while understanding the times and reaching out in a manner that clearly and urgently presents that message to the people of our day,

Call upon all of our churches to make church planting a matter of urgent prayer (2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:19), asking God for strength, resources, workers, and fruit in this essential aspect of our individual, ecclesiastical, and associational ministry.

For more information about the historic GARBC position on missions, see “Organizational Principles—Our Mission,” “What Is the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches?” (GARBC literature item by Robert T. Ketcham), “Need for New Churches” (1954 resolution), “Evangelism” (1966 resolution), “The Mission of the Church” (1969 resolution), and “Worldwide Missions” (1973 resolution).

Resolution: Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 27—July 1, 2011, in Denver, Colorado,

Believing that the Bible stresses the sanctity of human life (Gen 1:27) and the marriage bed, and that it condemns all forms of sexual promiscuity (Heb 13:4),

Affirming that the Bible also stresses the protection of and care for children, as evidenced by (1) commands to not provoke children to wrath, but to bring children up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1–4); (2) exhortations to love children (Titus 2:4); (3) the Old and New Testament regard for orphans (Deut. 24:17–21; 26:12, 13; James 1:27); (4) the condemnation of the ancient pagan practice of child sacrifice (Lev. 20:1–7; Ezek. 16:20, 21); (5) the teaching of Scripture that children are considered a heritage from the Lord and a reward (Ps. 127:3); (6) and the model of Jesus, Who welcomed and valued little children (Matt. 18:1–5; 19:14),

Respecting the laws of the land and governmental authorities, for government can act as God’s servant for good and can bring wrath upon the wrongdoer (Rom. 13:1–4),

Distressed by a seeming rise in physical and sexual crimes against children, reaching alarming levels in our nation, and disturbed that this abuse has occurred too often in churches and homes and at the hands of family, educators, ordained ministers, and ministry workers, we

Call upon the churches of the GARBC, pastors, and people to submit to God’s standards and to practice ministry with complete integrity; to encourage religious bodies to rid their ranks of predatory ministers; to encourage civil authorities to punish to the fullest extent of the law sexual abuse among clergy; to discipline those guilty of any sexual abuse and to cooperate with civil authorities in the prosecution of those cases; and to offer support, compassion, and Biblical counseling to victims and their families,

Express a deep level of moral outrage and concern at any instance of child victimization, deploring the cover-up, ignoring, or passive condoning of abuse by any individual, church, or religious body, and urge them to change the course of their actions,

Recommend that churches have in place an effective abuse prevention policy and respond to any suspicions or allegations of child abuse in a timely and forthright manner, never retaliating against the victim,

Appeal to churches and agencies to exercise moral stewardship in the their employment practices, exercising due diligence to check the backgrounds of ministers, employees, and volunteers,

Pray for righteousness to prevail in our churches and ministries, for the repentance of the victimizer, for the healing of victims of sexual abuse plagued by possible emotional, physical, or spiritual wounds, and for the church of Jesus Christ, that it would be found “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

Resolution on the Open Practice of Homosexuality in the Military

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 21–25, 2010, in Schaumburg, Illinois,

Recognizing that the Secretary of Defense has established a Comprehensive Review Working Group to conduct an assessment of issues associated with the possible repeal of 10 U.S.C. 654 (commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”), which would allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military,

Realizing that on May 27, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Murphy amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 that would repeal the sections of the law that relate to the limitation of those who are openly practicing a homosexual lifestyle while serving in the military, and that same day the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee passed the same measure in a 16 to 12 vote to be included in the Defense Authorization Act,

Responding to a letter from the Armed Forces Chaplain’s Board in which endorsing denominational bodies have been invited to give our views on the matter,

Recognizing that there are those who practice homosexuality presently serving in the military, and that our chaplains are providing compassionate Christ-like care to all service members and their families,

Holding that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and our only infallible rule for faith and practice, and affirming that homosexual activity is prohibited by the Holy Scriptures (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18–32),

Recognizing that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34), we

Express our position that no further changes to the current policy be made into law;

Call upon the members of our fellowshipping churches to contact their respective U.S. Representatives and Senators, asking them to vote to maintain the current policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;”

We further call upon the churches in our fellowship to express Christ-like compassion without condoning the behavior of those who proclaim a homosexual lifestyle, and to pray for our government and military leaders (I Tim. 2:1–2).

Resolution on Revitalizing Biblical Fundamentalism

The messengers of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting together in regular conference June 21–25, 2010, in Schaumburg, Illinois,

Believing that unity in the family of God is important to Jesus Christ, Who prayed to the Father that those whom God had already given Him and those who would come to believe on Him through their word would be one (John 17:21),

Seeing the growing connections with a budding movement of independent Baptists and recognizing that we have much in common in our understanding of the faith, and in our separatist heritage,

Knowing that the Bible expressly prohibits believers from fellowshipping with those who are described as divisive (Titus 3:10), with “those who cause division and offenses contrary to the doctrine” (Romans 16:17-18), and with those who “overthrow the faith of some”  (2 Tim. 2:16-21),

Affirming that fundamentalists believe the important doctrines of Christianity: (1) the full inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible; (2) the Virgin Birth, Deity, sinlessness, miracles, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, and literal return of Christ; and (3) salvation based upon personal faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross,

Affirming that fundamentalists are also committed to defending these great doctrines, are committed to the purity of the church necessitating separation, and see in these doctrines an irreducible criterion for Christian fellowship,

Acknowledging that the name “fundamentalists” was introduced by Curtis Lee Laws, who said, “We suggest that those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who mean to do battle royal for the fundamentals shall be called ‘Fundamentalists.’” While we recognize that the term has suffered at the hands of our critics and society at large, we can think of no other term that adequately reflects the heritage and the position of those who have historically stood for the truth of God’s Word and who have been willing to defend those truths when they are under attack,

Recognizing that during the latter half of the twentieth century, institutional fundamentalism began to develop fissures and today lacks cohesion and commonality,

Believing that fundamentalists who desire such a renewal must strive to achieve cohesion and commonality, we

Purpose to advance and defend those doctrines at all costs, and to discover ways to work together to accomplish these ends, especially in cooperation with other independent Baptists;

Recognize that while there are differences and distinctives that keep groups of separatist believers from full organizational fusion, these differences must not hinder us from working together wherever possible for the common cause of advancing and defending Biblical truth;

Seek to initiate relationships among fundamentalists where barriers have existed due to misunderstanding or  political expedience, in a spirit of  kind affection and brotherly love, in honor preferring one another; and

Establish networks of labor and ministry to meet the challenges of the future, equipping older organizations for the present task where possible, or establishing new ministries  where restoration of the old is either impossible or inadvisable.