Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Affirmations and Denials; Articles I - III

Over the next couple weeks I'm going to blog through the affirmations and denials that were written in conjuction with the Together for the Gospel conference last year. I'll do a few articles every few days. I'm curious to see what any of you think regarding this.

Is this something you could sign?

Here are the first three articles

Article I
We affirm that the sole authority for the Church is the Bible, verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, and totally sufficient and trustworthy.

We deny that the Bible is a mere witness to the divine revelation, or that any portion of Scripture is marked by error or the effects of human sinfulness.

Article II
We affirm that the authority and sufficiency of Scripture extends to the entire Bible, and therefore that the Bible is our final authority for all doctrine and practice.

We deny that any portion of the Bible is to be used in an effort to deny the truthfulness or trustworthiness of any other portion. We further deny any effort to identify a canon within the canon or, for example, to set the words of Jesus against the writings of Paul.

Article III
We affirm that truth ever remains a central issue for the Church, and that the church must resist the allure of pragmatism and postmodern conceptions of truth as substitutes for obedience to the comprehensive truth claims of Scripture.

We deny that truth is merely a product of social construction or that the truth of the Gospel can be expressed or grounded in anything less than total confidence in the veracity of the Bible, the historicity of biblical events, and the ability of language to convey understandable truth in sentence form. We further deny that the church can establish its ministry on a foundation of pragmatism, current marketing techniques, or contemporary cultural fashions.


jwd said...

Those sound pretty good to me

Wayne said...

Hi Noah,

Not to throw a wet blanket on this, but here are my $.02.

I don't think I could sign this due to the problematic phrasing of article #1's affirmation.

To say that the Bible is the "sole" authority for the church is to say that the Bible is the "only" authority for the church. But this simply isn't what the Scriptures teach. (Nor is it taught in the Westminster Standards.)

We know that officers of the church have a delegated authority, which while subordinate to the teachings of scripture, is itself real authority. To say that the Bible is the "sole" authority for the church doesn't properly make provisions for the existence of secondary authority that Christ has given His Church. Further, to leave "authority" so undefined it's exposed to criticism that this statement implicitly denies that Christ is the Lord of His Church.

It appears that article #1 is attempting to ward off a Barthian position, which is fine. But it over-shoots and leaves our understanding of the church exposed to a raw biblicism (like that of independent fundamentalism) or something akin to Quakerism. (Remember Barth was wrong because he was only half right.)

Much better is the affirmation in article #2 where the phrase "final" authority for all "doctrine and practice" is used. This is less problematic and it more closely echoes the confessional literature of Reformational Protestantism. But even here it could be argued that it falls a bit short. Contrast these two articles with the first chapter of the WCF and you'll note a slight contrast in that the WCF consistently refers to either "God" or the "Holy Spirit" in its use of the scriptures as the locus of authority (e.g. WCF 1:10).

They would have been much better off to engraph their concerns about inspiration and infallibility into article #2 and leave the language of #2 regarding authority alone or make article #1 a simple statement about inspiration and infallibility of the and leave out its language of authority.

Anyway, I doubt very much that these issues were really on the front burner when the guys at t4g put this together. The denials testify to the fact that the t4g guys were reacting to radically different issues than the ones I bring up.


Wayne said...

Just to be clear, I wrote:

It appears that article #1 is attempting to ward off a Barthian position, which is fine.

What's "fine" is the attempt as warding off a Barthian position, not a Barthian position itself. :-)