Tuesday, 13 April 2010
A Great Omission
I’ve been out of circulation for over a month because of a bout of ill health and having to catch up on everything I didn’t do while I was down with a chest infection. I am now resolved to blog something most days and I start with something really exciting.
I have just come out of what I believe was a historic meeting in every sense of the word. I am attending the Third General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship in Edinburgh. Delegates from around the world are meeting here 450 years after the Geneva Bible was completed and after the Scottish Parliament approved the Scots Confession of Faith. The Assembly also marks the hundredth anniversary of the World Missionary Conference which took place in Edinburgh, the theme of which was “The Evangelization of the World in this Generation.”
In the meeting from which I have emerged, delegates were presented with a Confession of Faith for the 21st century; not a rewrite of any of the historic confessions but a statement of the Christian Faith in plain 21st-century English. This is the first major Statement of Faith for at least two hundred years and has been produced not by men from one country or denomination but from an international, interdenominational team including Gerald Bray (England), Pierre Berthoud (France), Wilson Chow (Hong Kong), Victor Cole (Kenya), Leonardo de Chirico (Italy), Allan Harman (Australia), In Whan Kim (South Korea), Sam Logan (USA), Augustus Nicodemus Lopez (Brazil) and Stephen Tong (Indonesia).
The statement is extensive, covering the doctrines and issues not touched by the historic Statements of Faith. As well as dealing with the Christian understanding of God, Scripture, salvation, the Christian life and the Church, the new statement deals with issues such as demonology, sexuality, family planning and medical ethics.
Members of the World Reformed Fellowship have until the end of October to respond to the document before it receives its final form. I have not had time to read, mark and inwardly digest the statement but, having read it quickly, I am seriously impressed.
Nevertheless, there is one great omission; there is no statement about Israel and the Jewish people. There is no section about the status of the Jewish people since the coming of Christ; there is nothing about the State of Israel, or about the future of the Jewish people. And nothing is said about the priority of Jewish mission. In a document as extensive as this, there ought to be room for a theology of Israel.
I intend to comment on this omission and to make some suggestions to the committee. I’ll keep you posted about that but, meanwhile, have a look at the proposed statement of faith on the World Reformed Fellowship website.