Foundational Beliefs

Coming out of the "Second Great Awakening" in the early 1800s, the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement was founded on two basic ideals: the unity of all true Christians ("one body and one spirit"), and the return to pristine Christianity in both doctrine and practice. Both goals are essential for Christians to truly "worship God in spirit (unity) and in truth (correct doctrine)." Throughout the history of the Restoration Movement these two goals have always been in tension. There can be no real unity "between light and darkness" (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Yet, there are many things where Christians differ in their interpretations of Scripture which should not affect unity. Unfortunately, some in the movement focused almost exclusively on perceived purity of doctrine (in some cases very unimportant practices) at the expense of unity. Others focused so much on unity that doctrine became unimportant and obedience to Christ's commands became optional or open to reinterpretation depending upon contemporary culture.

The Restoration Movement from its early days has repeated a series of slogans which were originally intended as guard-rails to keep equilibrium between both essential goals:

I. "No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible."
II. "We are Christians only, but not the only Christians."
III. "Do Bible things in Bible ways; call Bible things by Bible names."
IV. "Where the Scriptures speak we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent."
V. "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things, charity."

However, because of the inconsistent application of the above ideals, and arguments over what is "essential" and "non-essential," the Restoration Movement eventually fragmented into three branches which remain today. One branch became very exclusive over issues of practice and what is "authorized" and what is not "authorized" in the New Testament, completely sacrificing unity. One tended to be quite liberal, sacrificing doctrine and adherance to the commands of Scripture for acceptance of pretty much anyone. The middle branch of the movement, which has tried to maintain equalibrium between the two original goals, has ceased to progress towards reform, rediscovering and assimilating the pristine Christian Faith. They no longer seek progress towards further reforms. This may be in part because of not wanting to be too far removed from mainstream Evangelical Christianity.

4Winds Fellowships seeks to continue the original ideals of the Restoration Movement. We are open to questioning current beliefs. We are committed to the ongoing PURSUIT OF TRUTH, rather than supposing that we have already arrived. Therefore we hold no doctrine as a "sacred cow" which cannot be challenged or reconsidered. Instead, we hold to a set of ten interpretive principles which we believe keep us from many of the accumulated errors that have entered Christianity over the last 2000 years. These are:

I. The original prophetic Scriptures are "God-breathed," entirely harmonious and accurate.
II. The Scriptures are God's entire preserved revelation, sufficient to fully equip the man of God. There is no other reliable source or foundation for truth.
III. The grammar of the original languages must not be violated, but it's nuances allowed to guide interpretation.
IV. Interpretation must be from within the historical setting and context; Scripture must not be used beyond its intent in that context.
V. Literal interpretation should take precedence by default whenever it makes sense. Non-literal interpretations must be obvious and self-explanitory in that context.
VI. Jesus' and His Apostles' inspired explanations must always be followed to unlock and explain the mysteries concealed in the Old Testament.
VII. Interpretation must be progressive; newer revelation compliments and explains older revelation, but never contradicts it.
VIII. Since God created our brains to process logically, and He communicated using language to convey ideas logically, we must interpret His Word logically.
IX. True doctrines are always consistent with God's revealed character and with all other true doctrines.
X. Whenever possible, trace doctrines back to their source to understand when, where, why, and how they originated.

These ten principles are intended to remove personal bias and faulty presuppositions derived from tradition or an unbiblical world view. They are similar to the objective principles used in empirical scientific investigations and in the courtroom. Paul wrote that we must "test all things, hold fast to that which is good." Yet this can only be done honestly when we are completely unbiased. Our goal is to discern, understand fully, then hold tightly to what Jesus and His Apostles actually taught, to avoid going beyond what Scripture explicitly teaches into speculations, and to keep points of doctrine or disagreements in their proper perspective so as not to destroy unity over frivilous disagreements. The ultimate goal is to please God in all things, to move closer to the pristine Christian Faith that was evident in early Church, to work toward the goal described by Paul in the following passage:

Ephesians 4:1-5, 11-16 (LGV) 1 Therefore, I the prisoner in the Master, plead with you to walk worthy of the invitation with which you were called 2 with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to preserve the unity of the Breath in the bond of peace: one Body and one Breath just as you were called in one Hope of your calling, 5 one Master, one Faith, one immersion, 6 one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in all. ... 11 And He indeed gave the emissaries, and the prophets, and the evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers 12 for the equipping of the holy ones for the performance of service, for building the Body of the Anointed One, 13 until we might all attain to the unity of the Faith and full knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature Man, to the measure of maturity of the fullness of the Anointed One; 14 so that we may no longer remain children, tossed about and carried off with every wind of teaching by the slight of men through cunning craftiness into the deception of heresy. 15 But, speaking truth in love, [we] may grow into Him [in] all things who is the head, the Anointed One, 16 from whom the whole Body being assembled and assimilated together through the contribution of every joint according to the proportion of efficiency of each part, growth of the Body is self-perpetuating to the building of itself in love.

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