What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?
Joel Tetreau

 So yesterday ( February 8, 2015) our congregation voted on changing our name from Southeast Valley Baptist Church to Southeast Valley Bible Church. Why did we do that?

In 3 John, Gaius is commended because of his commitment to both “Truth” and “Love”.  While appreciating our Baptist heritage, in our view, ”Bible Churches” often do a better job of striking a balance of commitment to both  “Truth” and “Love.” While we transition from the title “Baptist Church” to “Bible Church,” that does not mean we reject what historically has been called “Baptist Distinctives.” Those teachings (local church autonomy, soul liberty, priesthood, two offices, separation of church and state, etc…….) remain true. The issue for us at SVBC is not with the Baptist position but rather the Baptist disposition. Too many Baptist congregations (especially in and around our Jerusalem) have an approach to ministry that is either legalistic in life-style or in doctrine and/or have an approach to church government which is too congregational, too monarchial (pastoral dictatorship) or too committee driven. So because we actually preach against common heresies found within many  Baptist congregations (such as radical KJV onlyism; sacramentalism in the form of Jesus’ literal blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in heaven; a heretical view of non-repentance in salvation connected to man-centered arminianism and often semi-pelagianism) we find ourselves outside the main of many Baptist fellowships.

Another clear reality is that many Baptist churches are disobedient to the Scriptures on being able to have a right appreciation for God-honoring congregations that are outside their particular denomination. Instead of having a healthy appreciation for those ministries, too many are guilty of a kind of “Schizophrenic Isolationism”. They have taken the teachings of separation and have applied them errantly to too many portions of the body of Christ that are outside their fellowships/associations. Having said that, we continue to appreciate the historical reasons independent and congregational churches are both conservative and separated from liberal and ecumenical denominations. That being the case, we also find ourselves a bit outside the main of a variety of Baptist groups and conventions that are mixed with good churches and not-so good churches. I personally am a member of a fellowship of leaders and ministries called the IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America). Many of our ministries in the IFCA are called “Bible Churches.” They have a great reputation for being Biblical, conservative, but balanced.

Therefore for these and other reasons the leadership and congregation of Southeast Valley Bible Church believe that God is both pleased and honored with our new name. This does not mean we do not have a love in our heart for many Baptist congregations that are balanced and careful in some of the areas we have mentioned. We will continue to partner with careful and balanced Baptist churches in the partnership in the gospel ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me directly. May God bless you and strengthen your hands (as He did with Nehemiah) as you faithfully plow in your corner of the Lord’s Vineyard.

Straight Ahead!

 

Dr. Joel Tetreau

Senior Pastor – Southeast Valley Bible Church,  (Gilbert, AZ)

Western Regional Coordinator – Institute of Biblical Leadership (Lake Lure, NC)

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