The Message of the Brethren Ministry
National Ministerial Association of The Brethren Church (1921)
Since its inception in 1883, The Brethren Church had avoided adopting any statement of faith. When a very simple statement was proposed at the beginning, someone moved the New Testament as the substitute motion for the statement of faith, and they voted by unanimously singing the doxology together! However, by 1892 the need for a simple statement on Brethren distinctives including trine immersion baptism, threefold communion, and congregational government was recognized and the conference adopted it. By 1915, it was clear that Liberalism was creeping into The Brethren Church as in every other evangelical denomination. The battles for orthodoxy were led by L. S. Bauman and Alva J. McClain. The final result was that in 1921 the National Ministerial Association adopted The Message of the Brethren Ministry as the essential beliefs for members of that body. Alva J. McClain prepared the original statement that was adopted with minimal change. The Message would not be adopted by the national conference until 1938. It will be carried over by the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches as their statement of faith until 1969.
The Message of the Brethren Ministry
The Message which Brethren Ministers accept as a divine entrustment to be heralded to a lost world, finds its sole source and authority in the Bible. This message is one of hope for a lost world and speaks with finality and authority. Fidelity to the apostolic injunction to preach the Word demands our utmost endeavor of mind and heart. We, the members of the National Ministerial Association of The Brethren Church, hold that the essential and constituent elements of our message shall continue to be the following declarations:
1. Our motto: The Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible.
2. The authority and integrity of the Holy Scriptures.
The ministry of The Brethren Church desires to bear testimony to the belief that God’s supreme revelation has been made through Jesus Christ, a complete and authentic record of which revelation is the New Testament and, to the belief that the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, are the infallible record of the perfect, final and authoritative revelation of God’s will, altogether sufficient in themselves as a rule of faith and practice.
3. We understand the basic content of our doctrinal preaching to be:
(1) The Pre-Existence. Deity and Incarnation by Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
(2) The Fall of Man, his consequent spiritual death and utter sinfulness, and the necessity of his New Birth;
(3) The Vicarious Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ through the shedding of His own blood;
(4) The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in the body in which He suffered and died, and His subsequent glorification at the right hand of God;
(5) Justification by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, of which obedience to the will of God, and works of righteousness, are the evidence and result; the resurrection of the dead, the judgment of the world, and the life everlasting of the just;
(6) The Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit, Who indwells the Christian and is his Comforter and Guide;
(7) The personal and visible return of our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords, the glorious goal for which we are taught to watch, wait and pray;
(8) The Christian should “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind”; should not engage in carnal strife, and should “swear not at all”;
(9) The Christian should observe, as his duty and privilege, the ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, among which are: (a) Baptism of Believers by Triune Immersion; (b) Confirmation; (c) the Lord’s Supper; (d) the Communion of the Bread and Wine; (e) the Washing of the Saints’ Feet; and (f) the Anointing of the Sick with Oil.