Theology Corner

The Cambridge Declaration

Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.

In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word “evangelical.” In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the “solas” of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word “evangelical” has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.

Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority

Solus Christus: The Erosion of Christ-Centered Faith

Sola Gratia: The Erosion of The Gospel

Sola Fide: The Erosion of The Chief Article

Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion of God-Centered Worship

A Call To Repentance & Reformation

The faithfulness of the evangelical church in the past contrasts sharply with its unfaithfulness in the present. Earlier in this century, evangelical churches sustained a remarkable missionary endeavor, and built many religious institutions to serve the cause of biblical truth and Christ’s kingdom. That was a time when Christian behavior and expectations were markedly different from those in the culture. Today they often are not. The evangelical world today is losing its biblical fidelity, moral compass and missionary zeal.

We repent of our worldliness. We have been influenced by the “gospels” of our secular culture, which are no gospels. We have weakened the church by our own lack of serious repentance, our blindness to the sins in ourselves which we see so clearly in others, and our inexcusable failure to adequately tell others about God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.

We also earnestly call back erring professing evangelicals who have deviated from God’s Word in the matters discussed in this Declaration. This includes those who declare that there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ, who claim that those who reject Christ in this life will be annihilated rather than endure the just judgment of God through eternal suffering, or who claim that evangelicals and Roman Catholics are one in Jesus Christ even where the biblical doctrine of justification is not believed.

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals asks all Christians to give consideration to implementing this Declaration in the church’s worship, ministry, policies, life and evangelism.

For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Executive Council (1996)

Dr. John Armstrong
The Rev. Alistair Begg
Dr. James M. Boice
Dr. W. Robert Godfrey
Dr. John D. Hannah
Dr. Michael S. Horton
Mrs. Rosemary Jensen
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Dr. Robert M. Norris
Dr. R.C. Sproul
Dr. Gene Edward Veith
Dr. David Wells
Dr. Luder Whitlock
Dr. J.A.O. Preus, III

The Alliance is a broad coalition of evangelical Christian leaders from a number of different denominations, including Baptist, Independent, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Reformed. Our purpose is to call the church, amidst our dying culture, to repent of its worldliness, to recover and confess the truth of God’s Word as did the Reformers, and to see that truth embodied in doctrine, worship, and life.

© 2002 Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Biblical Insights

What is Heaven/Hell?

Why is biblical marriage so important?

Where is Christ found in the Old Testament?

These and excerpts from many other topics may be found at:

http://rts.edu/site/wisdomwednesday/

Israel

Many dispensationalists suggest that the modern day nation of Israel founded in 1948 is heir to the promises of God….The Reformed perspective takes a different tack. It affirms the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, applies to those who are in Christ, who trust in His finished work. This is the outworking of the truth of Galatians 3:7– “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” We who are Reformed do not believe God replaced Israel with the church, instead we simply affirm there has always been only one people of God, those who believe.

Israel is the sons of Abraham. Those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham. Those who are of faith are therefore Israel. And in turn, those who bless those who are of faith will be blessed, and those who curse those who are of faith will be cursed. It is how we treat the church that matters. What of ethnic Israel? What of that country in the Middle East? Many in the Reformed camp hold out hope that there will be one day a mass conversion of those who are not today the sons of Abraham, that virtually all of Israel will once again become Israel. That said, many of these likewise hold out hope that there will be a mass conversion of Arabs, and Persians, of every tongue and every tribe. All of the promises of God belong to the children of Abraham, those who are of faith, including the promise that through Abraham, all the world will be blessed. – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Meaning of “Real Presence” in the Lord’s Supper

Question:

Could you explain the distinctive Reformed view of the “Real Presence” in the Lord’s Supper, and what it entails?

Answer:

This is an old and interesting question. The reformers Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli took somewhat different positions on this in response to the abuses that were being taught by the Catholic church. The view of the Catholic church, which may be worth stating here as a backdrop, was that when the priest said the blessing the elements of bread and wine were mysteriously transformed into the body and blood of Christ. This was called transubstantiation. They saw Christ as, if you will, overly present in the supper, to the point of being offered up over, and over, and over.

Christ’s sacrifice was given “once for all,” and that was on the cross (see Hebrews 9 and 10)  The idea that Christ’s “once for all” sacrifice on the cross was repeatedly “re-presented” in the Lord’s Supper was rejected by all the major branches of the Reformation. Zwingli’s view is the closest to the modern evangelical view, though upon close inspection, it could be the case that he is somewhat misunderstood. Nevertheless, Zwingli is understood by many as teaching that the supper is a “memorial” to Christ’s death upon the cross. The issue of presence in the Supper is played down (at least in comparison to other reformers). The analogy of a wedding is used. The Lord’s Supper is a visible reminder of something accomplished in the past, whether the person is present or not.

Luther had a heightened view of the presence of Christ in the supper.  He said, and Lutheran Catechisms (like “Luther’s Small Catechism”) still say, that Christ is present “in, with, and under” the elements. By this Luther wanted to suggest that Christ was “truly” in some way present in the Supper, even in the elements themselves, yet he did not want to go where the Catholic church had been on the supper. Still, the prepositions “in, with, and under” seem to skirt the issue, and I have not been overly helped by them yet.

Calvin, and those coming from his direction are the ones I do find to be the most biblical, clear, and helpful. While denying that the elements themselves are in any way changed, he argued strongly that Christ was truly present by his/the Spirit in such a way that we can and should believe that Christ is truly, “really” present. In other words, the “real” presence of Christ, is a uniquely spiritual presence. The Supper, according to Calvin and the Reformed tradition, is truly a unique meeting with the resurrected Christ who promises to nourish the souls of his people as they feed upon him by faith. The language of “feeding upon him” should not be misunderstood. I cannot say it any better than the Westminster Confession, so I’ll quote chapter 29, section 7:

Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

(Taken from http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=332)

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