27 September 2018

The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel, introduction

Earlier this month, a group of church ministers and leaders of parachurch organizations published a Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel. It appears to have been spearheaded by the Rev. Mr. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and radio preacher on Grace to You. According to MacArthur's wikipedia profile, he "is considered a Calvinist and a strong proponent of expository preaching. He has been acknowledged by Christianity Today as one of the most influential preachers of his time and was a frequent guest on Larry King Live as a representative of an evangelical Christian perspective."

Throughout the history of the church, occasions have arisen calling for creedal statements setting forth the substance of the faith. The Nicene Creed, for example, came out of the christological controversies of the early centuries of our era. In the sixteenth century, the Reformation produced a number of confessional documents such as the Augsburg Confession, the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the two Helvetic Confessions. These were often, if not always, generated during the heat of conflict and were intended to draw boundaries around orthodoxy.

If this new statement is not exactly an ecclesial confession in the classic mould, it does represent an effort to steer Christians away from certain dangers its drafters believe have infected the larger evangelical church. Accordingly each of the sixteen articles takes the form of a series of affirmations and denials. In the coming weeks I will be devoting space to each of these, pointing to their respective strengths and weaknesses while bearing in mind the overall framework within which the statement is set. My intention is not to give readers a series of idiosyncratic likes and dislikes, but to evaluate the statement in light of the larger Christian tradition, and particularly its Reformed expression. As I have been strongly influenced by Abraham Kuyper and his heirs, my analysis will reflect this.

My first post in this series will be published at 9 am EDT next Monday, 1st October, and will cover the first set of affirmations and denials on Scripture. Thereafter I will post every Monday and Thursday until we have completed the statement. My final post will be a general evaluation of the whole.

Here is the link to the section on Scripture.


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