Now, here is a theological statement that I can really get excited about!!
Since the Reformation, many have accused Protestants of being a divisive folk, unable to agree on much of anything, thus undermining the unity of God’s Church throughout the world. On the eve of remembering the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, this is a charge that deserves some careful thought, before responding.
Yes, there are differences that can divide, but is there a core of fundamental beliefs that unites Protestants together? In there a “mere Protestantism,” recalling C.S. Lewis’ famous book, Mere Christianity?
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School theologian, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, says, “Yes!” In the following video, Vanhoozer explains that there is a core of common beliefs among Protestants. The Reforming Catholic Confession is a statement written that seeks to demonstrate that unified, shared core. Over 750 Christian leaders have already signed on, supporting this confession.
When I read the confession for myself, I wondered if this was even broader in scope than “just for Protestants.” My hunch is that at least some of my Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends might even find agreement here as well. Read the Reforming Catholic Confession for yourself, and let me know what you think.
In general, I am always a bit cautious about “statements,” as they are rarely the final word on anything. At best, they are works in progress. But the Reforming Catholic Confession is the kind of statement that is really a great place to start. Tell your friends about it!
Can I get an “AMEN?!”
September 15th, 2017 at 11:03 pm
Was it really necessary to explicitly mention Adam and Eve in FALLENNESS?
September 16th, 2017 at 8:33 am
I noticed that, too, Paul. I am not positive as to understanding your specific concern, but I think I will take a stab at a defense.
The Reforming Catholic Confession is careful to state first, in that “Fallenness” article, that it was the “first human beings,” generally speaking, that went “their own way,” into sin. That might imply some flexibility in how “Adam and Eve” are to be understood. Are “Adam and Eve” two literal, historical human beings, the biological parents of all subsequent humans? Or are “Adam and Eve” representative of “Everyman,” or the first human community, broadly speaking, in the metaphorical sense that C.S. Lewis would describe in The Problem of Pain (chapter 5)? It would appear that this Confession does not bind the conscience necessarily in either direction. Since this confession is written in the vein of C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity,” this flexibility in interpretation seems plausible.
In other words, I think that everyone from the most literalist “Answers in Genesis” type person, to the Old Earther at Reasons to Believe, to the most metaphorical interpreter at BioLogos could all sign onto this confession. You can fault this confession for opening a “can of worms” by explicitly mentioning “Adam and Eve,” without getting more specific about it. But I do not think it can be faulted for not granting some latitude.
My guess is that “Adam and Eve” are specifically mentioned in order to make sure that our theology of sin is tied to the Bible.
You raise a good point, that I echo in my post. Confessions, are at best, works in progress.
Thank you for dropping by Veracity, anytime!
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September 16th, 2017 at 8:42 am
Seems all good, but is there a real difference between this confession and what we have been professing forever; Nicene Creed/Apostles Creed?
Just wondering if I’m missing something. I get that it’s longer, more depth but is it a replacement? Thanks for your website!
September 16th, 2017 at 10:06 am
Hi, John. If you take a look at the video, Kevin Vanhoozer is pretty explicit in saying that this confession is NOT a replacement creed.
The Nicene Creed and Apostles Creed are confessed by all Christians: Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. This Reforming Catholic Confession is aimed at promoting a “mere Protestantism,” to answer the charge that Protestants can not agree on much of anything. It is not targeted to address controversial issues important to non-Protestants, like the veneration of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, etc. However, there is a lot in the confession that I think would be agreeable to many Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, whom I know.
I hope that helps! Thanks for contributing to the dialogue at Veracity!
September 16th, 2017 at 10:20 am
Under the “Explanation”, article 14:
“We do not intend the present statement to replace the confessional statements of the various confessional traditions and churches here represented but rather to express our shared theological identity as mere Protestants”