Doctrinal drift is a real problem. Throughout the history of Christianity, various churches and institutions have drifted away from doctrinal faithfulness. The historical landscape is littered with such examples, and one can only weep over the decline of churches, schools, and other organizations that once held fast to the Christian faith.
By God’s grace and the power of the Spirit, Bethlehem College & Seminary has remained faithful. I do not say that so we would sing the praises of Bethlehem or her leaders. No, we look at the steadfastness of this school and sing the praises of God. It is only by sheer grace and the magnificent mercy of a sovereign God that this school is faithful today and will be faithful tomorrow. So far, at Bethlehem College & Seminary, the winds of doctrinal drift have been held at bay.
Yet, a church or school, or a church-based school, cannot rest on its laurels. Remaining faithful will require Spirit-dependent and grace-driven effort in the future. The cultural winds will blow, the devil and his demons will devise their schemes, and the sin that remains in our flesh will cause us problems. And yet, this school does not move forward in fear. We know in whom we have believed and are steadied when we remember the right man is on our side.
As Bethlehem College & Seminary presses forward, I am praying for this institution to remain faithful to the mission it has been given by God and faithful to the message with which it has been entrusted.
Faithful to the Mission
Bethlehem College & Seminary exists to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ by equipping men and women to treasure Christ above all things, to grow in wisdom and knowledge over a lifetime, and to glorify God in every sphere of life. That’s the mission, and it must remain central. The school cannot waver. It cannot drift. Until Christ returns, calls us home, or closes our doors, steady as we go. By the grace of God, Bethlehem College & Seminary will remain faithful to our mission well into the future.
Would you join me in praying for faithfulness? Pray for:
- The Presidential Succession team to find a man who will embrace the mission and lead the school into the future.
- A faculty that pursues the mission as a unified team.
- Students who will graduate and spread the message to every part of the globe.
- Financial partners that believe in the mission and link arms to support the school.
Faithful to Our Message
In order to faithfully carry out our mission, Bethlehem College & Seminary must not drift away from the theological commitments it has embraced. Thankfully, our school is a robustly confessional institution. Though the Bible is our final rule of faith and practice, we stand in a tradition that has counted it wise to summarize our views on what the Bible teaches regarding important doctrines. Though some schools have short statements of faith that allow for broad disagreement, our Affirmation of Faith is fifty-two pages of glorious realities and raises the doctrinal bar. We are not looking for lowest-common-denominator agreement.
What I love about this Word-soaked document is how it distills glorious biblical realities. There are amazing, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting truths in the pages. You read the articles, and your heart should sing. When you read the Affirmation of Faith, you begin to capture a biblical vision of God, grasp more clearly the gospel of Jesus Christ, understand more deeply the work of the Spirit in the world, comprehend to some degree the essence of the church and the importance of her ordinances, and catch a glimpse of how you can live faithfully in this fallen world.
In short, although the Affirmation of Faith is a confessional document, it is not an academic paper that puts you to sleep. On the contrary. It is a fifty-two-page treatise on theological realities that moves you to worship and helps you to live in this age. My prayer is that Bethlehem College & Seminary would never drift an inch from the God-glorifying truths summarized in our robust statement of faith.
Would you join me in praying? Pray for:
- Courage to remain committed to our doctrinal beliefs, as outlined in the Affirmation of Faith.
- A staff and faculty united in our common beliefs, as outlined in the Affirmation of Faith.
- Charity when it comes to doctrinal discussions that the Affirmation of Faith does not address.
- Raised affections in light of the truths we confess.
Till Christ returns or calls us home, let us remain faithful to the mission and message.
Jonathon D. Woodyard, M.Div. ’16
Lead Pastor, Northfield Community Church
Adjunct Instructor, Bethlehem College & Seminary