Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Restoration Confusion

NB: I have updated this article due to some confusion about my intended meaning.

I read an article recently which talked about the good old days of evangelical churches but was openly hostile to "new" church movements.

It listed these as being "lost" amongst newer churches.

Priority of preaching the gospel of individual salvation at every opportunity
Absolute insistence on a born-again experience for salvation
Love of, and knowledge of, God's Word
Desire for doctrinal purity
Abhorrence of liberal creeds and intimate knowledge of the errors of Rome
Spiritual unity of the Saints without compromise of doctrine.
Daily walk governed by scriptural principles.
Recognition of the condition of backsliders, correction in the Church
Infilling of the Spirit linked to sanctification, not gifts or manifestations
Traditional, scriptural worship without excesses
Pre-millennial eschatology, with expectation of apostasy before the Lord's Return.
Heavenly goal; rewards sought in heaven rather than on earth.

This is a narrow view of evangelicalism in the UK in the 1950s and does not represent a good definition of where evangelicalism in the UK is at the present time.

The accusation was that new churches like ours were lacking in the above, with newfrontiers given as one example. I would counter that by saying what we may lack we don't miss, and some of the things we are accused of lacking we are actually strong in.

Priority of preaching the gospel of individual salvation at every opportunity

Yes definitely - the blood of Jesus shed for us on the cross. That's the message. Repentance and faith leads to forgiveness and new birth. "Every" opportunity is difficult to judge. I think there were times when opportunities aren't actually opportunities at all. I don't like the "Come to a pancake party with a short talk about Jesus" kind of evangelism. But once we are actually talking about faith, then it is Jesus, our sin, the cross and his sacrifice that bring sus forgiveness.

Absolute insistence on a born-again experience for salvation

Yes, and this is publicly declared before baptism and before membership.

Love of, and knowledge of, God's Word

Yes - preaching through books, bible training courses, personal discipleship through the bible

Desire for doctrinal purity

Yes - even when it is unpopular. People may disagree with newfrontiers on any manner of subjects but we rarely get accused of being wishy washy. Even when we are wrong we are trying to get it right.

Abhorrence of liberal creeds and intimate knowledge of the errors of Rome

Not so sure about "intimate" knowledge - but definitely clarity about our own distinctives.

Spiritual unity of the Saints without compromise of doctrine.

Our Church is not a full member of the local Churches Together, for this point. But we are fully involved in the Hope 08 initiative, which has different goals, even though it contains many of the same churches from a huge swathe of backgrounds and denominations, but only relates to trinitarian churches which is where we have drawn the line.

Daily walk governed by scriptural principles.

Yes - and no. "Spiritual" experience of any sort, will do anything aside from scriptural principles. Marriage, relationships, workplace, business, money, parenting, prayer, giving, worship, it is all based on scripture.

Recognition of the condition of backsliders, correction in the Church

Yes - Church membership, clarity on certain lifestyle choices

Infilling of the Spirit linked to sanctification, not gifts or manifestations

Sanctification is the product, or should be the product, of anything claimed to be a work of the spirit.

Traditional, scriptural worship without excesses

What does "traditional" mean? "Scriptural without excesses" hits the nail on the head for me. Stuart Townend is a great modern hymn writer. I mean hymns, not songs. Old style hymns, but modern. In Christ Alone, How deep the Father's love etc.

It is never about a music "style", but it is about the message being clear. I prefer a modern style but I don't like songs about "Jesus, my girlfriend" and do like a bit of meat in the words, like "Happy Day" or "Beautiful One".

Pre-millennial eschatology, with expectation of apostasy before the Lord's Return.

Interesting one, and a much wider spectrum of belief. On the whole we're a bit different from many in newfrontiers and probably come down a pre millenial route if any, but that's not a core teaching.

Heavenly goal; rewards sought in heaven rather than on earth.

Yes definitely - no hint of prosperity teaching or "life coaching to success" sort of stuff.


So I guess the "good old days" are still alive in many aspects of the original definition. I don't think we have thrown the baby out with the bath water as the writer seems to suggest, but rather have widened the scope of the definition, as have many other evangelical churches.

To have widened the definition is not to have thrown away scripture, the gospel, evangelism etc. Charismatic gifts should not reduce the view of the role of scripture. Social Activism should not reduce the role of proclamation of the gospel. Modern music styles should not allow for "excesses" in worship etc etc.

5 comments:

Jon Sidnell said...

Good comments! I can't help thinking of Mark Driscoll's comments about the UK charismatic scene that "Charismatic" basically means "believes in the Bible"!

Peter Kirk said...

Surely by no means all older evangelical churches were premillennial - certainly here in England. As for "scriptural worship", there are few patterns for worship in scripture but following the one in 1 Corinthians 14:26 was not exactly characteristic of traditional evangelicalism.

DaveW said...

Do you have a reference for the article? Who it was by and where it was published?

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

I can't find it Dave, think it was Banner of truth or Banner something.

I will try to dig it out.

DaveW said...

According to google I suspect it was "Bread & Games" - Reflections on the British Church