doctrines to be rejected


Sometimes, folk ask why it is necessary for the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith to contain “Doctrines to be Rejected” as an intrinsic part, and question the validity of such an inclusion. The following item by Bro Robert Roberts seems to settle the question, hence we include it for the benefit of our readers:

At first sight, it might appear superfluous, and even unwarrantable, to set forth points of non-belief as a basis of faith, but a moment’s reflection will dissipate this impression, and reveal the negative side of faith to be of equal value with the positive. Every affirmative proposition has a converse. Every “yes” has a “no”; and if a man is not prepared to boldly accept that “no,” it shows his “yes” is not worth very much. For instance, if a man profess to believe in the God of Israel, he is bound to be able to say that he does not believe in the gods of the heathen. If he were to be timorous about affirming the latter, would it not show that his belief in the God of Israel was no belief in the real sense, but merely a fragment of ancient polytheisim, which recognised different gods for different nations? It is not part of a true profession of faith in Jehovah to be able to say boldly that we do not believe in any of the deities of heathen imagination. Would any even “Christian” community recognise the faith of a man who hesitated to commit himself to this negative? Does not the acceptance of any truth involve the repudiation of everything opposite to it? And would not hesitancy to repudiate the opposites, show uncertainty and indecision with regard to the positives? There is but one rational answer to these questions, and that answer falls in Paul’s exhortation, that in maintaining the Truth, we must “refuse profane and old wives’ fables.” Now, in the present day, there are man profane and old wives’ fables abroad in the earth in the name of the Gospel. Paul predicted that such would be the case—that the time would come when men, professing the Name of Christ, would turn their ears away from the Truth, and be turned aside unto fables (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Now, is it not of the first importance that these fables should be repudiated? Can anyone hold the Truth without rejecting them? Is it not a part of a true confession of faith in our time to reject the traditions that make the Word of God of none effect? Common sense will supply the answer. There is a negative as well as a positive side to the faith in our day, for the simple reason that there is a spurious faith to be destroyed before the True faith can enter the mind. In the apostles’ days, the work was more simple. There was no counterfeit Christianity to obstruct the operations of the Truth. The apostles had only to propound their doctrines constructively. There was no necessity to go out of the way and deal with the dogmas of Paganism. Paganism was Paganism, and the Gospel was the Gospel. They did not stand on the same ground. There was no competition between them. If Christ was received, Paganism was rejected, as a matter of course, but it is a different thing now. We have to deal with Paganism in the garb of Christianity. We have to deal with another Gospel preached in the Name of Christ and his Apostles; and it therefore forms one of the first duties of intelligent and faithful testimony to protest against, and expose the imposture. One of the first acts of a valid profession of the Truth is to repudiate “the profane and old wives’ fables”, which abound in the guise of truth. In fact, in times like these, the repudiation of false doctrine is almost a criterion of the reception of the Truth. If a man shrink from the objection of the fictions of so-called Christendom, it is a sure sign that is apprehension of the verities of the Gospel is very weak, if it is not altogether non est. Positive belief (that is, full assurance of faith) on one side necessitates and produces positive non-belief on the other. A man heartily believing the Truth will heartily reject error; and if he does not heartily do the latter, it is an infallible proof that he is incapable of heartily doing the former. Hence the propriety and necessity of exacting the non-belief of truth-nullifying fables as a corollary to the reception of the Truth in it’s positive form. On this foundation, the Birmingham ecclesia take their stand, and will have fellowship with none who are not prepared with theselves to maintain the purity of the Truth.

Robert Roberts,
The Ambassador of the Coming Age 1866