The Assemblies of God General Council is meeting next month and the hot topic for this year is a proposed revision to the Statement of Fundamental Truths. This document, created in 1916, has served as the theological basis for the fellowship. Its central tenets define the AG’s beliefs on doctrinal matters such as salvation, baptism in the Holy Spirit, healing and other truths.
The proposed modifications up for a vote this year are primarily cosmetic. Most of the changes deal with inserting or deleting support verses, a practice that has a long standing record in the history of the SFT. There is other language changed in order to clarify any doctrines. The committee claims the following:
“While absolutely nothing in content is being changed, the Commission on Doctrines and Practices was assigned by the Executive Presbytery to review the version of the General Council’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, with the objective to refresh the text with a more modern language version, without changing content of the sixteen Fundamental Truths, and to confirm all supporting Scripture references that appear in the Constitution”
I don’t have any specific comments on the upcoming changes, as the eschatological truths did not receive much attention in this revision. However, I am delighted to see efforts to revise these statements to conform to more modern language and interests.
Efforts to revise our doctrinal statements are not new to the 105 year old document. In fact, it is almost a tradition in our fellowship to revise the statements now and then. Although it is true the specific doctrines addressed by this document have remained essentially the same, major revisions to the titles, wording, and content took place in 1917, 1920, 1921, 1927, 1961, and 1969. This may be news to some in the AG who believe the SFT has some sort of inerrant nature to it, seeing only minor changes over the past century. But the truth is that these doctrinal have been modified over time.
In my upcoming book, Imagining the Future: The Origin, Development and Future of Assemblies of God Eschatology, I document the development of the AG’s eschatological beliefs. I have a chapter on the development and changes to the SFT as well as a chapter where I propose modifications to the statements that reflect a more pneumatological orientation. Sadly, it doesn’t appear the committee consulted my research in this latest revision. But perhaps those who are voting would benefit from my historical survey of the changes from the past.
Since my book will unfortunately not be ready in time for the General Council, the editors at ORU Press decided to allow me to share a free preview of the chapter where I discuss in detail development of the AG fundamental truths: The Blessed Hope, the Millennial Reign, The Final Judgement and the New Heavens and New Earth.
In this chapter you will discover:
- New information regarding the architects of the statements themselves.
- In depth analysis of the major changes in 1917, 1927 and 1961, pertaining to eschatology.
- Surprising revelations about the AG’s official position and, more importantly, what they DON’T say that everyone thinks they say.
- Details of how later doctrinal statements, such as in the Pentecostal Evangel, were responsible for popularizing ideas that were not in the official statements.
My book is important to understanding the past in order to discover the future of Assemblies of God. Since the beginning of the Assemblies of God, the doctrine of the second coming of Christ has featured prominently in their proclamation of the Pentecostal gospel. Yet in many churches today, teaching on the Second Coming of Christ has fallen into a period of neglect. Is the Assemblies of God losing its faith in “the Blessed Hope?”
Drawing from the deep wells of the past, this book uncovers a hopeful and Spirit-inspired eschatology from which I imagine the future for a new generation of Pentecostal believers.
You can read the pre-publication chapter below. Feel free to share with others by sharing this blog post URL to help me get the word out. Also keep watch for the book released from ORU Press in the days ahead.