At the time I had no major issues with any of the beliefs expressed in the document and was happy to sign it (I did have minor issues, see below). If I was presented with such a document today I don't think I'd be able to sign it with a clear conscience. There are some things in there that I do not believe are fundamental to the faith and, furthermore, I simply do not believe them to be true.
Does this make me a 'backslider'?
Here I will list the UCCF declaration of faith and comment on each of the articles in turn:
The doctrinal basis of the Fellowship shall be the fundamental truths of Christianity, as revealed in Holy Scripture, including:
- The unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead.
Yes, I think I can still agree on this one. It doesn't use the phrase 'trinity' which I am beginning to question, but I think 'Unity' is a perfectly acceptable word here.
- The sovereignty of God in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgment.
More or less, yes. This doesn't actually use any words beginning with 'omni' which might cause me problems. It also doesn't insist on any particular meaning of 'creation' which might also bring me to the point of dissent.
- The divine inspiration and infallibility of Holy Scripture as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
No! This was my only minor niggle before - the word 'infallible' - but now I really can't agree with all of this. The divine inspiration of Scripture - yes, OK, I believe that much of the bible is in some way 'inspired'. But I can't go as far as 'infallible'. The Scripture Union basis of faith is very similar to the UCCF one, except it speaks of the bible as being "God-breathed" and "fully trustworthy in all that they affirm, and are our highest authority for faith and life" - this is a much better starting point than claiming the 'infallibility' of a book which asserts that it is possible to get two of every kind of animal on the planet into a reasonably small ship.
- The universal sinfulness and guilt of human nature since the fall, rendering man subject to God's wrath and condemnation.
I do have a problem with the concept of 'God's wrath' against mankind. I accept that there is a problem of sin and that it needed dealt with, but the whole idea that a blood sacrifice was required to appease an angry God goes against my world view.
- The full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God; His virgin birth and His real and sinless humanity; His death on the cross, His bodily resurrection and His present reign in heaven and earth.
Most of this, yes. Jesus is God, yes. He was a man, yes. He was crucified and rose again, yes. Virgin birth? Is this in any way an essential doctrine? It may have happened, but I remain in doubt over this one. I don't really see the need.
- Redemption from guilt, penalty and power of sin only through the sacrificial death once and for all time of our representative and substitute, Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man.
Most of this, yes. However, I don't think we truly understand what Jesus did by dying on the cross. I certainly don't think his death was simply his dying instead of us - let's face it, we're all going to die anyway - but something else was achieved there which we still can't see or understand. Maybe in eternity...
- Justification as God's act of undeserved mercy, in which the sinner is pardoned all his sins, and accepted as righteous in Gods sight, only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, this justification being received by faith alone.
Yes. There is nothing we can do to reconcile us to God. That is why Jesus died (although, as I say, I don't think we understand what exactly his death achieved).
- The need for the Holy Spirit to make the work of Christ effective to the individual sinner, granting him repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all those thus regenerated, producing in them an increasing likeness to Christ in character and behaviour, and empowering them for their witness in the world.
- The one holy universal Church, which is the Body of Christ, and to which all true believers belong.
- The future personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge all men, executing God's just condemnation on the impenitent and receiving the redeemed to eternal glory.
Mostly, yes. Although there is much about 'heaven' and 'hell' which I think we have completely misunderstood.