I am in full agreement with the 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith. I hail from the northern wing of American Baptist fundamentalism–what Roger Olson calls “first-stage fundamentalism.” Properly understood, the heirs of this movement are the conservative evangelicals of today’s American landscape. Within those guardrails, here are some Cliff-Notes on where I stand on certain issues:
- Bible. I prefer “totally truthful” to “inerrant,” but I could nevertheless sign the Chicago Statement. Verbal, plenary inspiration with a concursive scheme for the writing.
- God. I am intrigued by Emil Brunner’s suggestion (Dogmatics, vol. 1) that we re-think a rote acceptance of the entire package of classical theology proper which, in misguided or over-zealous hands, can present us with a God who is remote, unfeeling, unmovable, and unloving. However, I am wary of accepting everything Brunner (and especially Jurgen Moltmann) has to offer on a revisionist line. I am also persuaded by Millard Erickson’s suggestion that theology be translated (not transformed) to communicate to the contemporary world. That may mean that frameworks which worked in one era might not communicate well in another. Is the whole package of classical theology proper the “biblical” framework that cannot be moved? Or, it is merely the legacy expression of a useful framework that we need not stick with by rote? This is a very important question; one which I haven’t yet settled in my own mind. See especially Millard Erickson’s discussion in his Christian Theology (3rd ed.), his monograph God the Father Almighty: A Contemporary Exploration of the Divine Attributes, John Feinberg’s No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God, and Emil Brunner’s discussion of “God as love” in his Dogmatics (vol. 1). See also this wonderful video (not from me) which briefly explains and advocates for a classical theology proper.
- Providence. Compatibalism.
- Image of God. A hybrid of Erickson’s “structural, in service of relationship” scheme, and Stanley Grenz’s “sanctification” model. The essence of the imago dei, I believe, is that God hardwired us for relationship to mirror the society of Persons that are our one God. So, the “image of God” is being renewed bit by bit throughout believer’s lives by improving our relationship with God, and our relationship with our brothers and sisters in the family of God.
- Christ. Nicea, Constantinople, Chalcedon, and more. Active and passive obedience. Resurrection as Christus Victor. Cross as penal, substitutionary atonement. Multi-intentioned view of atonement, which conveniently gives me the ability to talk out of both sides of my mouth on this issue with a straight face.
- Holy Spirit. Open but skeptical on the sign gifts for today. See also this and this.
- Salvation. Unconditional, single election to salvation. Effectual calling. Perseverance of the saints.
- Church. Baptist. I literally wrote a book about why. Yes, other Christians are still Christians!
- Last Things. My “official” answer is that I’m a dispensational premillennialist, who believes in a pre-tribulational rapture of the church. My “real” answer is that the case for dispensational premillennialism is weak and built upon conjectures and suppositions, and its outworking resembles an unwieldy engineering schematic (something both B.M. Pietsch and Duane Garrett have noted). It may be the “best bad” scheme among a host of unsatisfactory options. I have great sympathy with some flavors of historic premillennialism, but have not yet studied the issue enough to “come out” for it. God’s promises to Israel cannot be gainsaid.
- Overarching framework. Both dispensationalism and covenant theology have problems (see Duane Garrett’s wonderful book). The promises to Israel are real. Gentiles are grafted into Israel, which neither washes away or re-interprets those promises, or re-builds the dividing wall and makes the Old Testament a de facto closed book for the Church (again, see Duane Garrett, pp. 162-165, 172-174). It means we can read ourselves into the Old Testament story, promises and drama as adopted children who are now fellow heirs and sharers of those great promises. The covenants (the real ones) are the proper skeleton to hang the biblical storyline upon. The telos of the bible’s storyline is community (a la Stanley Grenz’s Theology for the Community of God), and it can be summed up thus: God’s promise to choose and rescue a special community to be with Him in His coming kingdom.
And, that’s about it. I could say more, but I shall not.