This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Rev. Bassam M. Madany
In order to properly engage in the task of missions, the Church needs to reclaim its creedal 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, the Church must reaffirm the truth of its message and articulate it within the context of the historic Christian faith. We praise God that at the dawn of the Third Millennium, the Church is more universal than 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 controversy early in the twentieth-century between Modernism and Fundamentalism. While the Modernists, 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 summarized in the early Ecumenical Creeds and the Confessions of Faith and Catechisms of the Reformation. This lack of interest in these creedal documents may also be attributed to the rise and spread of Dispensational hermeneutics. While claiming to “rightly divide the Word of truth,” it ended up with robbing the Church of its nature and role according to the teachings of the New Testament. As the past century came to a close, classical Protestantism was quite weakened due to the triumph of theological liberalism on the one hand, and the neglect of the rich historic Christian tradition among the Fundamentalists. So we should not be surprised to find David F. Wells reminding us of the results of this tragic departure from the historic Christian tradition. In his book, “NO PLACE FOR TRUTH, OR WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY?” Professor Wells reminds us of this sad fact. “The disappearance of which I am speaking, then, has two sides to it. Theology is disappearing, first, in the sense that it has become dismembered. Moreover, the three constituent elements (confession, reflection, and the cultivation of virtues grounded in confession and reflection), having been separated from one another, are now each attracting different constituencies. Today, there is a large and flourishing establishment of professional scholars dedicated to the refinement and dissemination of biblical knowledge, but reflection on what all of that means in the contemporary world 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 the theorizers of practice, while they tip their hats in the direction of the Bible, quickly look 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 is also disappearing in the sense that while its articles of belief are still professed, they
are no longer defining what it means to be an evangelical or how evangelicalism should be practiced. At its center there is now a vacuum into which modernity is pouring, and the result is a faith that, unlike historic orthodoxy, is no longer defining itself theologically.” P. 109 It is my firm belief that if the Church today is to maintain its spiritual health as well as its integrity as it lives within a globalized world culture, it must reclaim its entire heritage going back to the apostolic age, followed by the Ecumenical Councils, and going on to the Reformation. The First Century yielded the New Testament, which together with the Old became the Holy Book of the Church. The post-apostolic era witnessed the rise of the Church Fathers who confronted their pagan environment with the claims of Christ. And when disputes arose regarding the fundamentals of the faith, Church Councils met, debated, and issued summaries of the faith in Ecumenical Creeds. Orthodoxy was defined for the Church and heresy was condemned for its departure from the teachings of the Bible.