The GARBC Articles of Faith were drafted in 1932, remained unchanged until they were clarified in 1975 and ’76, and were again clarified with a brief revision in 2003 and 2009. For additional background, see “The Origins of the GARBC Articles of Faith.”
Add the following paragraph to the current statement:
In light of God’s creative design, we believe that the Bible teaches that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman and that sexual intimacy is to be expressed only within the bonds of a Biblically defined marriage. Any other form of marriage or sexual intimacy is immoral and a perversion of God’s gracious will.
Genesis 2:18, 24, 25; Matthew 19:4–6; Romans 1:24–29; 7:2; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 7:1–5; Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4
Add the following words and references to the current statement, as indicated by bold type:
XIV. The Church
We believe that a local church is an organized congregation of immersed believers, associated by covenant of faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by His laws; and exercising the gifts, rights, and privilege invested in them by His Word; that its officers are pastors and deacons, godly men whose qualifications, claims and duties are clearly defined in the Scriptures. We believe the true mission of the church is the faithful witnessing of Christ to all men as we have opportunity. . . .
1 Corinthians 11:2; Acts 20:17–28; 1 Timothy 2:12; 3:1–13; Titus 1:5–9; Acts 2:41, 42
It is a serious issue for an association of churches to consider amending its Articles of Faith—an issue that demands thoughtful and prayerful consideration.
But sometimes situations arise that demand our response. Concepts that were universally accepted and even assumed many years ago are now being questioned and denied. Two such issues are the Biblical understanding of marriage and the Biblical understanding of church leadership.
The GARBC’s Council of Eighteen and its policy committee have been working on these issues for several years. While we considered beliefs about marriage and church leadership important, we did not have a clear statement in print. Because of this, our GARBC chaplains were finding it difficult to communicate the official position of our association. To provide more protection for our chaplains, the council addressed both of these issues in a formal chaplaincy policy it developed in 2011.
This chaplaincy policy was a start, but not enough. In November 2011, the council directed the policy committee to draft amendments to the GARBC’s Articles of Faith to specifically clarify our beliefs on these two important issues. We are in no way recommending a change to our beliefs. We are simply stating our long-held beliefs in a formal manner. We believe that placing these statements within the GARBC’s Articles of Faith will publicly clarify its position and afford us the greatest protection against potential legal threats.
We presented these proposed amendments for a first reading at the 2012 GARBC Conference. They will be read a second time at the 2013 GARBC Conference in Dearborn, Mich., followed by a vote. Each church in fellowship with the GARBC has the opportunity to discuss and consider the proposal, then send voting messengers to the 2013 GARBC Conference. A two-thirds majority is required for the amendments to be approved.
Tom Alexander (MRE, Temple Baptist Theological Seminary) is pastor of First Baptist Church, Wellington, Ohio. He is on the policy committee of the GARBC’s Council of Eighteen.