Statements of Belief, Division, and I Am Second

Recently, I ran across the organization I Am Second when looking for a video to share before a sermon I was working on. They made an awesome Tony Dungy video that I was debating on using. I went to see how much it would cost to use, when I found out that I needed to agree with their statement of belief to use it. What turned into a brief attempt at finding an appropriate video clip turned into a diatribe on church unity.

Below is their statement of belief followed by the letter I wrote after facing, "You must accept the statement of faith."

I Am Second's Statement of Belief

THE GOAL OF UNITY. The task of finally finishing the Great Commission is bigger than any one part of the Body of Christ. God wants to use the entire Body of Christ to finish this task. I am Second and its parent organization, e3 Partners Ministry, seek to be an answer to the prayer Christ Himself prayed in John 17:20-21:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word: that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

UNITY BASED ON TRUTH. I am Second and e3 Partners Ministry seeks to serve as a catalyst for spiritual, Biblical unity in the Body of Christ as we serve various parts of the Body. While we pray and work toward unity, we also are mindful of Paul’s caution in Galatians 1:8, 9:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

STATEMENT OF FAITH. Unity must be based on truth. Cooperation that results in a dilution or compromise of the essential truths of the Bible is ecumenism, not Holy Spirit-breathed Biblical unity. We seek to work with those who believe in the following Statement of Faith:

God. We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and that these three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections.

Jesus. We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles, death on the cross to provide for our redemption, bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven, present ministry of intercession for us, and His return to earth in power and glory.

Holy Spirit. We believe in the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit, that He performs the miracle of new birth in an unbeliever and indwells believers, enabling them to live godly lives.

Bible. We believe in the divine verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. The whole Bible, in the original manuscripts, is without error. As the revelation of God, we believe the Bible to be the sole authority and sufficiency with regard to Christian faith and practice.

Man. We believe that man was originally created in the image of God. Adam fell through sin, and as a consequence of his sin, lost his spiritual life. This spiritual death, or total depravity of human nature, has been transmitted to the entire human race of man, the Man Christ Jesus alone being excepted. Thus every person is born into the world with a nature that is essentially and unchangeably sinful apart from divine grace.

Salvation. We believe that, due to universal death through sin, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless born again. Our redemption has been accomplished solely by the blood of our Lord Jesus. We believe that the new birth of the believer comes only through faith in Christ. No other acts, such as confession, baptism, prayer, faithful service, or manifestation of certain spiritual gifts, are to be added to believing as a condition of salvation.

This statement reflects a contemporary summary of the central doctrines in the Bible, which are also presented in the historic creeds of the Christian church.

I understand that membership in the I am Second network is intended solely for churches, ministries, leaders and other individuals who affirm an orthodox understanding of biblical Christianity, including the above affirmations.

I agree with the Statement of Faith written above.

My reply to being asked to agree to the above statement in order to use their materials


Thanks for your time. Your organization has a lot of potential. Your purpose is powerful as I also long for unity in the body of Christ.

I wanted to download some of your resources and use them in the church that I serve as pastor at, but I cannot agree with your statement of faith on every issue.

I had three points where I couldn't press "agree" in good conscience.

Let me briefly summarize. I am sure that you have heard these before, but I summarize in the hope that you consider modifying your statement so that I an other followers of Jesus like me can "agree," work with you, and use your materials. Even more important than that, I think these statements will alienate other people who are completely in agreement with what you are doing except in the case of these three statements.

"We believe that the new birth of the believer comes only through faith in Christ"

James 2:24 disagrees sharply with this statement. It states, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24 ESV). If you mean by "faith in Christ" the surrender of rule in my life to Jesus, then I agree with that. But faith is a word that implies thoughts, and receiving a new birth is more than just thoughts. It is a realigning of one's life from personal lordship to a position under Jesus as Lord. We are saved through a surrendering of our heart to the Lord, not through faith alone.

"The whole Bible, in the original manuscripts, is without error."

This is a powerful statement, but we have no way to prove it. Unprovable, useless speculation regarding what the original manuscripts were like is not worth dividing over. Can we not agree on a position on the manuscripts as we currently have them rather than speculate on what they were in copies that we no longer have?

Total Depravity and Man

The whole section on "man" relies on the concept of "total depravity." I have been in conversations with brothers who share this thought before, and I doubt anything I say would change your thoughts on this. However, I thought I would lay out an approach that would be more unifying without compromising the Bible.

"We believe that man was originally created in the image of God. The Bible teaches that man, created by God, willfully sinned against God and is consequently lost and without hope apart from the divine grace revealed through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23)."

One other brief thought. This wasn't a deal breaker although it did make me uncomfortable. Your statement describing the godhead as "having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections" seems to minimize the concept that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three unique distinctions of the same God, hence the different manifestations and names. Nothing in your statement expressed their uniqueness. I could probably agree with your statement in theory, but " precisely the same" nature and attributes are some really loaded thoughts that would need to be unpacked.

The Tony Dungy video I watched was well made and powerful in its message. You guys did a great job with that. Unfortunately, I am currently unable to use it and share the thought that you have so superbly packaged because I cannot agree with your statement of belief in good conscience. It is your right to put whatever stipulations or costs on your materials. I hope that you would reconsider agreement to above statements as a stipulation.

I share my thoughts, not to stir up trouble, to be divisive, or to attack your organization. I bring them up because I desire to be part of what you are doing but cannot on the terms you have laid out. The "statement of belief" contains some positions that I do not hole, nor do I think they are essential to unity as you aim to be about. If you feel that the points above are worth excluding people who are followers of Jesus over, that is your right as it is your organization.

You say, and rightfully so, that "Unity must be based on truth. Cooperation that results in a dilution or compromise of the essential truths of the Bible is ecumenism, not Holy Spirit-breathed Biblical unity." Unfortunately, you put what I perceive as man-made obstacles in the way of that unity through the points I described above. I am not asking for compromise but for unity on essentials eliminating divisions that are man-made.

Grace and peace,
Regan Clem

I don't think it needs to be said, but please let me know what you think.