Monday, May 01, 2006

T4G: The Conference Statement

If we weren't together for music and what to wear, what could we possibly have been together for?

The "core four"—Dever, Mahaney, Mohler, and Duncan—clarified some core issues directly related to the gospel on which they were "together." Chris Hinton has posted this statement.

Now, although I had a few initial impressions, I'm no authority on creeds and statements of faith, so over lunch I asked my fundamentalist friends "Bob, Chris, Joe, Mark, and Tim" what they thought. "Joe" made an excellent observation that it seemed peculiar that the statement included sections on gender issues and racial reconciliation but nothing on creation or eternal punishment. Others are blogtificating on other perceived flaws, and perhaps some of those opinions are helpful.

I was surprised that no one in our group of fightin' fundies brought up the absence of any article on separation. Those of you who think I'm one step away from Joel Osteen might want to sit down now since I'm just going to go ahead and say that I do think it's important to clarify that the refusal of professing believers (evangelicals) to express agreement with this statement must have profound implications for our ability to fellowship and cooperate with them. During the conference I found myself wondering how many people in the crowd were "together for the gospel" for a couple days, but would be "together for an evangelistic crusade" or "together for youth ministry" or "together for whatever" a few weeks later with folks who would reject the T4G statement.

One might argue that the essential idea of T4G implies that the gospel must be primary in every aspect of our ministry and relationships, and that is true. On the other hand, it seems to me that even conservative evangelicals would be well-suited to receive reminders that not all who claim the name of Christ are genuinely of Christ.

Regardless, this statement advanced the discussion within evangelicalism on the need to define and affirm sound doctrine and also to expose what is false. I think it also ought to reveal to even the most rigid of the separatists that not all evangelicals are alike. Some of them are actually quite committed to raising up a generation that will stand for sound doctrine and contend for it unashamedly and unreservedly. This will no doubt be a stunning revelation, should such separatists choose to believe it.

As has been reported, after the "core four" finished reading through the articles and discussing them briefly, Piper, MacArthur, and apparently Sproul as well all expressed their desire to have their signatures added at the bottom. It was about that time that I raised my hand and said that I would like to, as well, but I was ignored. I probably needed to speak louder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

posting anonymously for a reason...

I understand that "traditions" dictate that they focus this type of statement on inerrant scripture, the look/feel of the church culture/body, and addressing the chic Christian-political issues of today... but why no statements about combatting world poverty, opposing oppressive regimes that victimize innocents, ministering to those suffering from disease, or any other practical way for Christians to show the world hope through faith?

Why so much navel gazing?