IBS and Standards
Greetings in Jesus Christ! I greatly enjoy your website. I have printed out most of the articles and I appreciate the scholarly approach to the truth. I am a young Apostolic minister and I have several questions.
I noticed that in one of your answers it was stated that it was strict policy to not discuss standards. Why is this a policy? Perhaps it would be good to post your policy on questions so people have a better guideline by which to ask questions.
I have several questions relating to standards. 1. Is there Biblical basis for standards? 2. What about personal holiness? 3. What is holiness? 4. Should it be a basic doctrinal teaching? 4. What is the role of standards/personal holiness in the life of a believer?
I know that these maybe controversial issues but I feel that a response is necessary. Holiness is part of theology. If it is taught in our Bible schools then it should be discussed. Avoidance is not a reply. Perhaps IBS could post a study on finding the truth about holiness and its personal application to our lives without discussing specific standards. At least explain why you do not discuss standards.
If you do not wish to post your answers you may simply e-mail me your reply and answer my questions. I am not searching for any weapons for or against standards, I simply wish to know the truth. I want to please God. Please comment and reply.
Thank you for your email. I am very happy to hear that you have found the IBS site useful to your ministry. Young ministers are part of our focus. I would also like to say that I feel your sincereity and hunger for the truth and appreciate your approch. Let me explain IBS' ideology behind our position to not discuss standards.
I do not want to sound pessimistic or condemning in what I am about to say, but I do want to be honest with you. We have found the issue of standards to be one of the most controversial topics among Oneness Pentecostal groups. One's position on certain standards has caused churches to dissassociate from one another, church splits, and many personal attacks from one saint/minister to another. Certain standards are highly political issues and we do not wish to concern ourselves with these politics. The results can be very damaging. We heed Paul's advice when he says concerning the exercise of personal liberties, "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves" (Romans 14:22). Paul understood the fightings that often occur when saints begin arguing over personal liberties/convictions, and advised people to keep their personal liberties/convictions to themselves. We believe this is good advice.
Secondly, many standards do not have a Biblical basis. What I mean by that is there are many standards that various churches teach which the Scripture never addresses. IBS is concerned with the issue of Biblical studies. While this does include the concept of holiness, it does not concern the issue of how to apply holiness principles to our present-day culture. This enters the area of personal opinion, not the Word of God. If IBS were to post its opinions on how to apply Biblical principles of holiness to our culture, we would be inundated with emails from people who want to argue with our opinion. We prefer to keep our studies on the objective/Biblical level rather than the subjective/non-Biblical level. The former can be demonstrated to be true while the latter cannot.
Now to address your four questions: 1. When you ask if there is a Biblical basis for standards, I am not sure if you are asking whether certain standards have a Biblical basis or if the system of standards as a whole is Biblical. I imagine you are referring to the latter. I do not want to give a straightforward answer to this question. I will direct you to Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8-10. These chapters deal with how to handle differences of opinion among saints as to what is permissible to do and what is not. I have even written an exposition on Romans 14. It is under the NT Studies section, entitled "Loving Beyond Differences." The issue of standards must be decided based on passages such as the two I just named, and the Biblical concept of ministerial authority. It is a difficult topic and one that is worth wrestling over. 2. In regards to personal holiness, yes, we all need personal holiness. 3. Holiness refers to separation. The Biblical concept of holiness is first and foremost a separation unto God, and then secondly a separation from the world system that is opposed to God. That is the nature of holiness. When referring to God's holiness, the Scripture is referring to His separateness from the created realm. God is "wholy other" than the creature. The concept of holiness does bleed over into the idea of morality, but it is not the primary referent. 4. This question will be better answered after examining I Corinthians 8-10, and Romans 14. I will say that whatever "standards" you live by, they should be for the purpose of furthering your relationship with a holy God.
You may have wished for me to be more specific on some of these questions, but specificity in some cases would spell out our personal position on some of these issues, and that is what we are trying to avoid. I pray that on your journey to truth in this important topic you will always remain God-focused and maintain intellectual and hermeneutical honesty with the Scripture. Surely the Bible is our basis for doctrine and practice. We will also consider writing something on the nature of holiness in the future. It most definitely is a Biblical issue and one of great importance at that. Thank you for your input. May God bless you!
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