Presentation on theme: "EFCA Theology Pre- Conference “Soteriological Essentials and the “Significance of Silence’” Arminianism, Calvinism, Lutheranism and the EFCA” (Unity in."— Presentation transcript:
EFCA Theology Pre- Conference “Soteriological Essentials and the “Significance of Silence’” Arminianism, Calvinism, Lutheranism and the EFCA” (Unity in Essentials – Dialogue in Differences”) Trinity International University January 28, 2015 Greg Strand
The framers of the 1950 SOF desired a statement on soteriology that was consistent with both Arminian and Calvinist soteriology, but which required neither.
One is privileged to hold either view and still be a member in good standing of a local congregation. It is only in a strict adherence to this principle of freedom, respect for the views of others, and restraint in teaching one view as though it is the official view of the denomination when it is actually silent on the subject, that this unity can be maintained. We must recognize that while some may be Arminians, others Calvinists, others deploring the use of such names, none are heretics! A. T. Olson, The Significance of Silence (1981), “Eternal Security,” (p. 135):
We believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit... “regenerate the unbelieving sinner” (Swedish EFC Ministerial Association SOF, Article 6 (1947)) “regenerate the believing sinner” (EFCA SOF, Article 4 (1950) “He regenerates sinners” (EFCA SOF, Article 6 (2008))
Credentialing: Attitude Towards the EFCA – 1. The Evangelical Free Church of America purposely allows latitude in significant areas of doctrine (e.g. the age of the universe, Arminianism and Calvinism, the use of the gifts of the Spirit particularly the miraculous gifts, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the tribulation, etc.). This has been referred to as the “significance of silence,” viz. we will debate these issues, but we will not divide over them. Are you willing to minister alongside those whose views differ from yours on nonessential matters?
“The EFCA commitment to live and minister within the ‘significance of silence’ framework (we will debate but not divide over certain non-essential doctrinal matters) is a strength.” 95% agree (33%) or strongly agree (62%)
“As you consider the logical order of a believer’s exercise of saving faith and the Spirit’s work of regeneration, which best describes your belief?” “Faith precedes regeneration (I believe and then I am regenerated).” 34.65% “Regeneration precedes faith (I am regenerated and then I believe).” 37.60% “These cannot be put in any logical order.” 27.75%
“Do you believe that those who have truly put their faith in Christ and have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit can lose their salvation?” No: 94% Yes: 3% Don’t know: 3%
Once [the early Free Church leaders] began to put in writing what was commonly believed among them, they were silent on those doctrines which through the centuries had divided Christians of equal dedication, Biblical knowledge, spiritual maturity and love for Christ.’ This ‘significance of silence’ reflected our strong concern for Evangelical unity in the gospel. Evangelical Convictions, 24-25
This expression does not mean that we will not discuss and debate these issues but simply that we will not divide over them. Evangelical Convictions, 24, n. 18
This means we affirm the following truths and commitments: the gospel is central and essential to who we are as the people of God and what we believe; we are committed to the essentials of the gospel in principle and practice, in belief and behavior, in orthodoxy and orthopraxy; we acknowledge there are differences in theological views, what we would consider non- essentials, but they are secondary and ought not to distract from or prevent our shared commitment to the gospel and a ministry of the gospel;
we are committed to the essentials of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we acknowledge differences, although we do not believe these differences are absolute, either as it relates to unity or purity (doctrine); from the foundation of the essentials we will engage in robust dialogue regarding the differences, without dividing.
This also means we address these issues to clarify the misunderstandings: the notion that this commitment means we cannot embrace and teach our view strongly and with conviction; we must remain quiet and passive so that we are not allowed to talk about either my theological view or the differences that exist between views; this is a lowest-common-denominator theology that values unity at the expense of doctrine;
one cannot affirm a position but must meld them all together (in which everyone feels theologically compromised); we expect that the local church will reflect in practice what we state in principle, viz. the church will be equally represented by each view, or since the church leans in one direction it can silence the voice in the other direction.
Positions will be grounded biblically and theologically, with historical awareness and pastoral sensitivity. An overview of the position will be presented along with strengths and weaknesses of the position. Caricatures against one’s own view will be identified. This is intended to inform in an irenic and constructive manner, not be a debate (though there will be discussion and disagreements, though no divisions). This exemplifies the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ: unity in the essentials of the gospel, dialogue in differences.
1. Introduction 2. Overview/Summary of Your Theological Position a. Strengths and Weaknesses b. Sine qua non of the view 3. Caricatures of Your View 4. Conclusion: Why We Need Each Other
Arminian/Wesleyan: Tom McCall Calvinist/Reformed (Baptist): D. A. Carson Lutheran: David Luy