Policy Statement on Identity, Scripture and Church Partnership
This policy document is a follow up on the preceding documents developed and issued by the UOEC in its previous work to address these matters. Those documents were;
1. The position statement of the African National Churches in ELCA, rejecting the 2009 CWA action on Homosexuality and change of ordination policy (September 3, 2009).
2. ‘Here we stand’: the position statement of the Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Churches of the ELCA to the 2009 ELCA Church Wide Assembly on the Social Statement of human sexuality ( September, 2009)
3. The Portland resolution of the 15th UOEC council on the actions and future direction of the Oromo Churches in their relationship with the ELCA (July 28, 2009
This policy document is the fourth document issued per continued discussion among the members, leaders and Pastors of Oromo churches.
On the Matter of Christian Identity as UOEC:
We believe and jointly confess that we are evangelical Christians united for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we say we are evangelicals we mean we are a community of believers that confess salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the Person and work of Christ alone as revealed in the Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. The centrality of the Gospel of Christ, the truth that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2Cor 5:9); that we are the being justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus (Rom:3:4); through saving faith that is freely given by the Spirit of God(1Cor 12:3; Eph 2:8); is what we believe and proclaim in word and de ed. Our fellowship with any church body shall be in reflection of this identity of the UOEC.
On the Matter of Scripture:
We believe and jointly confess that the Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, and the sole rule and norm of Christian doctrine.
We believe and confess that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2Ti 3:16). We agree with the scripture on its own term that it is divinely inspired in its every part. That means, the authority of the Bible is derived from God himself objectively, not from its functions or any kind of mere tradition. The scripture was given to us by God “through men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1Pet. 1:2) using the language they knew and the style of writing they had. However, what these men and women said was spoken “not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Holy Spirit (1Cor2:13). When we say the scripture is infallible authority and guide for everything we believe, as Oromo Evangelical Christians, we mean that we believe the scripture as a unified whole as true and without error in everything it says, for our Savior said “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). That also means the validity of any kind of teaching or doctrine will be solely approved or disapproved where it is in agreement with the teaching of the Scripture in all its terms. We submit ourselves to the absolute authority of the Scripture and let it speaks for itself in its wholeness. This scriptural matter directs establishment of UOEC relationships with church bodies or individual congregations.
On the Matter of Partnership:
We believe and jointly confess that agreement on the apostolic doctrine is the base for alter and pulpit fellowship (Act. 2:42).
Without agreement on the apostolic doctrine, there is no true unity and fellowship that provide a convincing testimony to Christ. In John 17 Jesus prayed for the unity and harmony of its Church that the world might know that they are one. The unity that He prayed for was modeled after the interrelationship within the Godhead working in perfect harmony. The unity that he prayed for was not a state of unity for unity’s sake. On the contrary, this unity has a purpose. The unity is to create believable platform upon which the Gospel might be preached in its wholeness, so that the world would believe that the Father sent the Son. There can be no true partnership and unity on the basis of two contradicting doctrines, except it confuses and hinders Christ proclaimed.
Therefore, for the matter of welfare of our churches and for the sake preserving saving faith (Tit. 1: 13; 2:20):
1. We reject any doctrine or teaching that contradicts our evangelical conviction, that deny biblical authority and fellowship that is not based on agreement on pure Gospel teaching.
2. As pastors, church elders and evangelists called to teach (1Tim. 3:2) and guard the true and saving doctrine (1Tim. 6:20) we unreservedly confess and vow to refute all doctrine that contradict the apostles teaching (1Tim. 1:3; 6:3-5; Tit. 1:9, 2Pet. 3:2-4)
3. We repudiate church partnership with adherents of false doctrine, as disobedience to God’s command, as approval of those practicing (Rom 1:24 – 32), as causing division in the church (Rom. 16:17; John 9:10) and as involving the constant danger of losing the Word of God entirely (2Tim. 2:17-21).
March 12, 2011