It’s no secret that Christians have a hard time getting along with other Christians with whom they disagree. Historically, sincere Christian believers have been persecuted, defamed, tortured, and sometimes put to death by other sincere Christian believers who didn’t agree with their positions on baptism, election, church government and authority, and a host of other issues.
In order not to be caught in some kind of doctrinal or ecclesiastical error, almost all churches and Christian organizations have put together some kind of written statement defining what they consider to be their core beliefs. Whether it be the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the 39 Articles of the Anglican Communion, The Baptist Faith and Message, or the Statement of Faith of one or another Christian church or group, they all seek to set out in some clear form what they consider the essence of what it is to be a true Christian believer.
The primary purpose of these statements is to let those outside the faith know what Christians believe, and to make other Christians aware of their distinctive positions on doctrinal or ecclesiastical issues so they can find a place for fellowship with like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, these “Statements of Faith” actually impede unity by separating one group of Christian believers from other Christian believers who do not share their views. Sometimes, those who disagree are considered untaught or mistaken. Sometimes, they are considered heretics whose views must be eliminated and the proponents silenced.