On the Whole Counsel of God

A further explanation of the "Conservative Christian Declaration."

It is our contention that “gospel minimalism” harms churches, and this not because of what it emphasizes, but because of what it neglects. Therefore, while affirming the place of the gospel as the boundary of fellowship, we want to insist that the whole counsel of God is the center of fellowship, and that pursuit of this center is of irreplaceably great value for worship, fellowship, and devotion.

 

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.”

We affirm that the center and apex of Christian faith and fellowship is the whole counsel of God including right belief, right living, and right affections (Deut 6:1-9). We further affirm that the transmission of biblical Christianity necessarily involves the preservation and cultivation of the entire system of faith (Acts 20:27).

We deny that belief in the gospel alone is all that is necessary for healthy Christian worship, fellowship, and devotion.

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The gospel forms the boundary of Christian fellowship: outside the gospel, there is no Christianity, and therefore no Christian fellowship. But among those who agree on the gospel, there are a host of issues about which disagreements remain. Some are relatively trivial (for instance, the identity of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6); others have greater importance.

About these issues, we affirm that there are two ditches that must be avoided. On the one hand, there are those who raise every issue to the level of the gospel. Disagreements on secondary matters (such as views of the end times) are made tests of Christian fellowship itself. This kind of “everythingism” diminishes the importance of the gospel itself. It is the principle of making everything bold and uppercase: by emphasizing everything, nothing is emphasized. And thus, the “weightier matters of the law,” the “first and greatest commandment” is made on par with all else.

On the other hand, there are those who grasp the central importance of the gospel, and therefore insist that all else is inconsequential. This is typical, for instance, of interdenominational parachurch organizations. In such cases, views of baptism and the table, church order (including polity, membership, and discipline), eschatology, and a host of other doctrines and practices are minimized. We wish to push back against such essentialism: these “secondary” doctrines and practices are of vital importance to the well-being of the church.

 

Read More.

Read the first article in this series here.

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