Creeds, Confessions, and MissionsIn the Twenty-First Century
By Rev. Bassam M. Madany
In order to properly engage in the task of missions, the Church needs to reclaim itscreedal and confessional heritage. As it faces resurgent world religions in Asia and Africa,and as the corrosive effects of secularism continue to impact Western societies, theChurch must reaffirm the truth of its message and articulate it within the context of thehistoric Christian faith.We praise God that at the dawn of the Third Millennium, the Church is more universalthan ever. It is found throughout the entire oecumene, and its membership includes people from every race and culture. However, we should not forget the great controversyearly in the twentieth-century between Modernism and Fundamentalism. While theModernists, in their attempt at “rethinking missions” ended up with another gospel,Fundamentalists reacted by emphasizing certain basic truths of the Christian message,without manifesting a proper concern for the great heritage of the Church as summarizedin the early Ecumenical Creeds and the Confessions of Faith and Catechisms of theReformation. This lack of interest in these creedal documents may also be attributed tothe rise and spread of Dispensational hermeneutics. While claiming to “rightly divide theWord of truth,” it ended up with robbing the Church of its nature and role according tothe teachings of the New Testament.As the past century came to a close, classical Protestantism was quite weakened due tothe triumph of theological liberalism on the one hand, and the neglect of the rich historicChristian tradition among the Fundamentalists. So we should not be surprised to findDavid F. Wells reminding us of the results of this tragic departure from the historicChristian tradition. In his book, “NO PLACE FOR TRUTH, OR WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY?” Professor Wells reminds us of this sadfact.
“The disappearance of which I am speaking, then, has two sides to it. Theology isdisappearing, first, in the sense that it has become dismembered. Moreover, the threeconstituent elements (confession, reflection, and the cultivation of virtues grounded inconfession and reflection), having been separated from one another, are now eachattracting different constituencies. Today, there is a large and flourishing establishment of professional scholars dedicated to the refinement and disseminationof biblical knowledge, but reflection on what all of that means in the contemporaryworld is largely left to others. The most incisive analyses along these lines have, in fact,come from the philosophers, historians, and sociologists --- but only rarely do they give any evidence of knowing what the biblical scholars are thinking. And thetheorizers of practice, while they tip their hats in the direction of the Bible, quicklylook the other way when they get down to the serious business of devising techniques for the Church’s life. In a historic sense, theology is thus disappearing. Second, it isalso disappearing in the sense that while its articles of belief are still professed, they