His Place Church Elder Update Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) Statement of Faith Change 2021-10-18
Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) voted in 2019 to make a
change in its Statement
of Faith (SOF).
9: Christ’s Return was changed as follows:
We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial
return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time
known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed
hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and
We believe in the personal, bodily and glorious return
of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only
to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope,
motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and
amendment to the SOF is more consistent with EFCA policy and practice
of only including core, essential Christian doctrines in its SOF.
The premillennial position, it was argued, is more of a denomination
distinctive than a Gospel imperative. The new wording was,
therefore, proposed at the EFCA One General conference in June 2017
and adopted by a vote at the General Conference in 2019. The EFCA
has put together a short document explaining the rationale behind
changing the SOF here.
is a member of the Northern Mountain District of the EFCA. Each
district must adopt the SOF to remain a part of the EFCA. Adoption
of the SOF for the Northern Mountain District requires a
constitutional amendment which requires a 75% approval of the
assembled delegates at the Annual Conference. The Annual Conference
was convened in Liberty Lake on May 7, 2021.
the annual conference the constitutional amendment did not receive a
75% approval of convened delegates. Therefore each member church in
the Northern Mountain District will need to inform the EFCA as to
their disposition regarding membership in the EFCA. Member churches
may continue to be members of the EFCA without adopting the change to
their individual SOF’s. Should HPC continue to be a member of the
EFCA, it could do so but will no longer be a member of the Northern
Mountain District as the Northern Mountain District’s relationship
with the EFCA will be dissolved. This document is meant to serve as
a position paper from the elders regarding this change in wording.
Hopefully it serves to ensure, to those who take the time to read it,
that the elders have thought this through, evaluated it’s harmony
with Biblical teaching, and have deemed the change in wording to be
the best for the Body of Christ at HPC.
this document there are some terms being used that warrant definition
as to their usage in order to remove ambiguity that may otherwise
Eschatology: The doctrine concerning “last things”,
especially end-time events, the second coming of Christ, and the
ultimate destiny of the saved and unsaved
Premillennial: Christ’s return occurring prior to the
1,000-year reign of Christ on Earth
Glorious: Full splendor of Christ in His immutable attributes
displayed and made manifest
Essentials: Doctrines that are non-negotiable, necessary for
faith and practice, and have been understood and accepted by the
Church (for the most part) throughout Church history
Hermeneutic: Consistent methodology used for interpreting the
HPC Elders’ Position
is the conviction of the HPC elders that the change in wording of the
EFCA SOF should be adopted. Below are the salient issues the elders
believe are important to address related to the amended EFCA SOF:
Veracity and Biblical accuracy of the statement “glorious return”
in the context of Christ’s return
Primacy of the eschatological position of the timing of Christ’s
return in relation to the essentials of the Gospel
Promotion of unity within the Body of Christ
Addressing of the “slippery slope” argument and on what
trajectory this amendment to the EFCA SOF might place the EFCA on.
Does it move the doctrinal position of the EFCA to a more liberal
and/or less literal interpretation of scripture?
and Biblical Justification for Adopting SOF Amendment
there are perhaps other aspects that could be looked at in regards to
determining whether or not to adopt the amended EFCA SOF, and though
those arguments may bear some significance to the issue at hand, the
ones being addressed here are those that the elders believe to be the
most important and most determinative in making the decision to
accept or reject the SOF as worded or not.
and Biblical Accuracy
are many mentions of Christ in the fullness of His being that are
accompanied by the word “glorious” or “glory” — several of
which are connected with his second coming:
Matthew 24:30: Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son
of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they
will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power
and great glory.
Matthew 25:31: When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and
all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Titus 2:11-14: …waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing
of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,…
Philippians 3:20-21: But our citizenship is in heaven, and
from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform
our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that
enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Romans 11:36: For from him and through him and to him are all
things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
glory will be on full display at his return. Therefore, the HPC
elders conclude that changing the EFCA doctrinal statement to read:
“…glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ…” is both true and
of Christ’s Return
definition, “premillennial” describes the timing of Christ’s
return. The HPC elders believe the timing of Christ’s return is
not a doctrinal issue of salvific import and, therefore should not be
a barrier to church membership.
“premillennial” with “glorious” does not in any way preclude
HPC from continuing to teach a premillennial return of Christ. At
the same time, this change does allow for individual believers who do
not hold to a premillennial view to become members of EFCA affiliated
the Elders of HPC believe that a premillennial view is not a primary
doctrinal issue regarding the message of the Gospel, this is not to
say that one’s understanding of Christ’s return doesn’t matter.
Rather, that it should not be an issue that divides the body –
neither with those within HPC nor between HPC and other
congregations. Since the SOF being amended is the same SOF that
members sign and agree to in order to become members of HPC, the
Elders do not believe that those who do not hold to a premillennial
view of Christ’s return should be excluded from membership.
Within the Body of Christ
since the change from “premillennial return” to “glorious
return” is biblically sound (which the Elders affirm) and since
one’s eschatological position on Christ’s premillennial return
should not bar one from church membership (also affirmed by the
elders), then the issue that is left should be evaluated through the
lens of Christian unity. The elders believe, therefore, that Church
unity should be sought and preserved in this issue and, as is within
our ability as believers, that we should seek for greater unity.
This is only if is possible to attain without compromising the
meaning or teaching of the Word of God.
has hopefully been established above, the change in the doctrinal
statement to “glorious return” neither dilutes nor misrepresents
the Word of God, nor changes HPC’s commitment to teaching the
premillennial return of Christ. Therefore, this is not a matter of
seeking unity at the price of doctrinal integrity. Changing to
“glorious return” serves to widen the tent to those who may be
considered members and in full fellowship with the Body of Christ at
HPC, which should be viewed in the context of promoting greater unity
amongst the Body of Christ.
importance of unity may be found in these and many other passages
throughout the Bible:
John 17:22-23: The glory that you have given me I have given
to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you
in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may
know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Romans 15:5-7: May the God of endurance and encouragement
grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with
Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another
as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Ephesians 4:1-6: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge
you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been
called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing
with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as
you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one
Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over
all and through all and in all.
Slope to Apostasy
argument raised against the changing of the wording of the SOF is
that doing so sends us down a slippery slope. While this has been
true with many denominations’ changes to their SOF, ecclesiology,
etc, the elders at HPC do not believe this to be the case with the
EFCA SOF in this instance.
beginning of the headlong journey down the slippery slope begins with
compromise in the understanding and teaching of essential Christian
doctrine. Moving from a statement of “premillennial return” to
that of “glorious return” is actually moving away from the
slippery slope as it substitutes a disputed, non-essential doctrine
(premillennialism) with an essential doctrine (Christ’s imminent
return) worded to be more in line with what Scripture clearly says.
argument against changing the wording from “premillennial return”
to “glorious return” is that the premillennial position attempts
to interpret the Bible literally in all points that are obviously not
metaphorical in passages that are concerned with eschatology. Other
eschatological positions require a much more metaphorical
hermeneutic. It may be argued that this may be a subtle way of
opening the door to changing the Biblical hermeneutic that HPC might
eventually adopt if it were to abandon the premillennial position.
The elders of HPC reject this argument because HPC does hold to a
premillennial position and it is not being suggested that HPC abandon
this position in its teaching. To bolster this, the premillennial
position will be added to the new members instructional material and
are concerned that the EFCA is watering down the Gospel message in
order to attract people who do not have an appetite for the hard
sayings of the Word of God. While this certainly has been and is
true in many churches, the elders at HPC do not believe this is the
case with the EFCA SOF. The tent is widened in this case, by simply
recognizing the appropriate differentiation between primary and
summarize, the elders of HPC affirm the following:
That the phrasing of the return of Christ as “glorious return”
accurately states what the Bible has to say about Christ and His
That a premillennial understanding of the return of Christ is not an
essential doctrine, and therefore it should be removed from the SOF
That the Body of Christ should seek unity in as much as within our
capacity to do so and that we should not divide over our differing
views regarding when Christ is to return
That there are issues of primary importance related to the Gospel
and that there are secondary issues that, though they are important
for the believer and to their faith, they are not issues that should
This is not the beginning or continuing of a “slippery slope”
wherein we are by degrees moving away from the infallible, inerrant
Word of God and into apostasy. It is, rather, affirming that which
is of primary importance and relegating that which is of secondary
importance to their proper place
elders at His Place Church recommend that the amended wording of the
EFCA SOF be affirmed by a vote of the members of HPC for HPC’s SOF
and that the “What We Teach” section of the new members handout
be modified to reflect that HPC holds to a premillennial view of