Acts 29 is a diverse, global network of church-planting churches, characterised by theological clarity, cultural engagement and missional innovation. This reflects our conviction that true theology is essentially missional, and real mission is profoundly theological. What this means in practice is that there will always be a continuous dialogue between our theology and our mission. As our context changes, the way we demonstrate the pertinence of the unchangeable gospel to that changing context will need to flex and adapt. The issue of gender and gender-relations is a pressing and vital illustration of a contemporary and seismic cultural change. To the extent that convictions are rooted in Scripture, they will remain constant whatever the cultural pressure to conform. But how we communicate those biblical convictions will be constantly variable. If those convictions are true, they are important. If they are important we cannot allow them to be obscured by careless language or thoughtless rhetoric. Similarly, we cannot hide behind a facile allegiance to a slogan nor pay lip-service to what is nothing more than a tribal value.
This is why we are amending the wording of Doctrinal Distinctive #4. In not using the term headship in the headline, we are not diminishing its importance. We are simply trying to capture what that term describes in language that our culture will better understand. This is what the church has always done. It has created language and categories which faithfully capture biblical truth, e.g. trinity, penal substitution and which engage the world well. In fact, this dynamic was already at work within the biblical text itself, e.g. gospel. The new wording is not because we have changed our mind, nor that we are less sure of the truth which it expresses. In fact, it is the very opposite. This truth is so significant at this time that we must be thorough and nuanced in how we communicate it to others, Christian and non-Christian. We want to win people, not alienate them. We want to persuade rather than deter. Rather than giving anyone any grounds to dismiss this truth as ugly because we inadvertently confirm their prejudices, we want to take care to show others its inherent beauty and worth.
On behalf of the Board,
Executive Director, Acts 29
THE RE-WORDING OF DOCTRINAL DISTINCTIVE #4:
(4) We are deeply committed to the fundamental spiritual and moral equality of male and female and to men as responsible servant-leaders in the home and church.
Both men and women are together created in the divine image and are therefore equal before God as persons, possessing the same moral dignity and value, and have equal access to God through faith in Christ. Men and women are together the recipients of spiritual gifts designed to empower them for ministry in the local church and beyond. Therefore, women are to be encouraged, equipped, and empowered to utilize their gifting in ministry, in service to the body of Christ, and through teaching in ways that are consistent with the Word of God.
Both husbands and wives are responsible to God for spiritual nurture and vitality in the home, but God has given to the man primary responsibility to lead his wife and family in accordance with the servant-leadership and sacrificial love characterised by Jesus Christ. This principle of male headship should not be confused with, nor give any hint of, domineering control. Rather, it is to be the loving, tender and nurturing care of a godly man who is himself under the kind and gentle authority of Jesus Christ.
The Elders/Pastors of each local church have been granted authority under the headship of Jesus Christ to provide oversight and to teach/preach the Word of God in corporate assembly for the building up of the body. The office of Elder/Pastor is restricted to men.
(Genesis 1:26-27; 2:18; Acts 18:24-26; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; 3:1-7; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7)