Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
What does the expression the “significance of silence” mean?
On a number of doctrinal issues in the EFCA we allow beliefs within certain acceptable theological parameters. We focus on the essential truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as articulated in doctrine while allowing differing views/understandings of the position to be acceptable. For example, this is true regarding the issue of the age of the universe, time and mode of baptism, whether faith precedes regeneration or regeneration precedes faith (the Arminian and Calvinist discussion).
We refer to these theological differences as the “significance of silence”: “This expression does not mean that we will not discuss and debate these issues but simply that we will not divide over them (Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition of the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America, 24, n. 18).
Here is how we have defined/explained this in Evangelical Convictions, 24-25:
Once [the early Free Church leaders] began to put in writing what was commonly believed among them, they were silent on those doctrines which through the centuries had divided Christians of equal dedication, Biblical knowledge, spiritual maturity and love for Christ.’ This ‘significance of silence’ reflected our strong concern for Evangelical unity in the gospel.
Because many misunderstand this expression today, another way to refer to this commitment is “Unity in Essentials, Dialogue in Differences.” It might be helpful to spell out what this means and what it does not mean.
What it does mean – we affirm the following truths and commitments:
What it does not mean – we clarify the misunderstanding: