Monday, February 16, 2009

"The Cambridge Declaration" on Scriptural Authority in the Church Today

from "The Cambridge Declaration" (the opening section deals with the erosion of Scriptural authority within evangelical churches):

"Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church’s life, but the
evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its
authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too
often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing
strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far
more to say about what the church wants, how it functions and
what it offers, than does the Word of God.

"Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.

"Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of
consumers, we must proclaim the law as the only measure of true
righteousness and the gospel as the only announcement of saving
truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church’s
understanding, nurture and discipline.

"Scripture must take us beyond our perceived needs to our real
needs and liberate us from seeing ourselves through the
seductive images, cliches, promises and priorities of mass
culture. It is only in the light of God’s truth that we understand
ourselves aright and see God’s provision for our need.

"The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the preacher’s opinions or the ideas of the age.
We must settle for nothing less than what God has given.

"The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be
disengaged from Scripture. The Spirit does not speak in ways
that are independent of Scripture. Apart from Scripture we would
never have known of God’s grace in Christ. The biblical Word,
rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth."


arc said...


However. . .in our exposition of Scripture, are we making the explicit, relevant application of God's Word to the nitty-gritty of our daily lives? How many have felt the same as a Cassandra King character?

"I tuned out, looking around at the stacks of books and materials on the desk, the coffee table, the bookshelves, everywhere. Bible commentaries, counseling texts, dictionaries, lexonaries, all seeming to hold the ancient mysteries of God and religion, of faith and worship, mighty words of power and prophecy. But nothing that could tell two people how to forgive and love each other again, to listen and understand and cherish each other, to overcome the petty squabbles and endless hurts of daily life" (2002, p. 317).

And, yes(!), it's all in there. The Bible unequivocally addresses these issues.

Historically, perhaps, evangelicals have focused on being right doctrinally rather than focusing on how God's Word transforms our daily lifes. It is important that my doctrine is right; however, it is more important that my doctrine is impacting my life rightly. Does my doctrine see the light of day when I interact with my kids; when someone backs into my parked car, scraping the paint from its back fender; when I have to call my local church for a corrected contribution acknowledgement because a number of my financial contributions haven't been acknowledged and I've been credited with donations that I didn't make?

There are many reasons why we are observing the present trajectory among evangelical churches. But, perhaps, one is that, in the past, we haven't been overly relevant to a world that doesn't know Christ.

In "Mere Christianity," C.S. Lewis states, "It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects--education, building, missions, holding services. . . .the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose (2002, p. 106).

In a world full of distractions, it's so easy to lose our focus.

I love Lynn DeShazo's "Ancient Words."

"Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God's own heart.
O let the ancient words impart
Words of life, Words of hope,
Give us strength, Help us cope.
In this world where'er we roam,
Ancient words will guide us home.

Ancient words ever true,
Changing me and changing you. . ."

Anonymous said...

My prayer is that God's spiritual authority is not eroded by the well intended works of South's leadership and that our worship will be God-inspired, our preaching will be expository, and Christ's church will grow mightily in Lansing as we intentionally and whole heartily pursue holiness through reverent interactions with the Holy Spirit. Thanks for this posting, and may God bless others as you continue your blog postings.