Excerpt from a longer article “The Threat of Heresy in the Organic Church“
How do we screen people doctrinally?
This raises a question of whether or not we should screen people over doctrines. In our movement it is what we consider the DNA of Christ’s body that is the code that dictates life, health and fertility. The DNA is Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships and Apostolic Mission. We want to see the DNA evident in every cell of the Body. It is what holds together our movement. That said, Divine Truth is crucial for health and unity in the church and in our own unique movement. So holding firmly to God’s Word is of the utmost importance. Currently (in 2003) our movement consists of church planting that is associated with over 15 denominations (from Reformed to Vineyard) and five parachurch ministries. Now the question is which beliefs are important and which are not as crucial. Is there a point when we exclude fellowship with certain people over doctrine?
One of the ways that we keep unity among our diverse movements is to run people through what we call the “bullet test.” We ask, “If someone held a gun to your head and said, ‘Renounce this doctrine or I will shoot’, if you say, ‘pull the trigger’ then it is a bullet doctrine. We must agree on bullet doctrines. We can hold to doctrines that are not bullet doctrines, and even teach them with conviction, but we don’t exclude or attack brothers and sisters over non-bullet doctrines. They are secondary doctrines that are enlightening but not worth dying over and certainly not worth killing over.
For us, the bullet doctrines have consistently been the following:
We believe in…
- One true God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- The deity and incarnate humanity of Jesus and his redemptive work evident in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and imminent return.
- Salvation is by grace through faith and not ever the results of our own works.
- The inspiration and power of God’s written Word in all of its revelation, without error in its original manuscripts.
- All believers are redeemed to be significant in the cause of God’s kingdom and granted the empowerment necessary to do so.
Of course, this is not meant to be a fixed and static screening process. It is only a beginning to a relationship that will grow over time built on much more than cognitive assent to a set of stated beliefs.
We understand that this is also not a fool-proof method of screening out heresy. There were over nine hundred people in 1978 in Guyana who took a “Kool-Aid test” over the wrong doctrines and gave their lives for false teaching. History is littered with people who have given their lives for a lie, so this is not considered a mistake-proof method by any means. This is just a starting point for those who have the Spirit of God and listen to His voice and join together over uncompromising truth.
>>Read the rest of the article The Threat of Heresy in the Organic Church by Neil Cole