Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Christian Affirmation

Though I have not yet seen it, I understand that the "Christian Affirmation" of last May 2006 has been republished as a printed advertisement in the Christian Chronicle of July 2007.

I hope it is not true though I fear it is. I am surprised--very surprised--to hear that the "affirmation" has been republished. I had no idea it would be published again, and if I had know it were to be, I would have removed my name from the signatories.

I thought it served a good purpose the first time around, and I gave my reasons for that on my blog (indeed, started my blog for the reason of contributing to the discussion--but have not done much with it since as some are wont to point out to me). You can read those reasons at May 13 and May 14 in 2005. I am quite disappointed that it has appeared again. Once was sufficient to make the point, but a continual reappearance that fosters disunity (it seems to me) is not the intent with which I signed the affirmation in the first place.

22 Comments:

At 9:51 AM, Blogger K. Rex Butts said...

I never would have signed the affirmation myself (not that they would ask me) as it was. It is not that I disagree with any of the affirmation statement as being historical consistent with the scriptures and practice of the first century church.

The reasons I would not have signed it myself are for two reasons: 1) There is no affirmations regarding the Christian belief in God the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit (not to mention other key doctrines pertaining to historical Christianity). This is troublesome that baptism, communion, and worship is elevated over these doctrines -- epecially when there have been movements within the history of Churches of Christ that have at best promoted beliefs regarding the Trinity (esp. the Holy Spirit) in less than an orthodox fashion. 2) The Churches of Christ have a history of using these three affirmations as the basis for sectarian practice. For a fellowship that is trying to leave the practices of sectarianism, there was no hint as to how those affirmations could be taught and practiced in a non-sectarian manner.

Further more, while I enjoy a capella worship, I am not convinced that it is as important as we have historically made it out to be. Neither am I convinced that instrumental worship is wrong, but that is comming from someone who has been a part of both the a capella Churches of Christ as well as the Independent Christian Churches/Instrumental Churches of Christ.

BTW... It is good to see you blogging again. Go Cubs!!!

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger K. Rex Butts said...

FYI... The link to you previous blog comments about the Christian Affirmation is invalid.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

There is nothing in the Affirmation that I necessarily disagree with. Others however may seize upon it for their less than wholesome agendas.

But it was in fact reprinted in the CC.

Shalom,
Bobby Valentine

 
At 8:28 AM, Blogger Steve Puckett said...

I would love to sign a statement that affirms our unity with Christ followers from all walks!!!

Peace.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

It's in the July 2007 Christian Chronicle. As a missionary of the independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ who works with an a cappella Church of Christ (composed of immigrants) I can say this won't make much of a difference in my life or ministry right now. It is quite clear, however, that this "affirmation" is being used to drive a wedge. Very conservative elements in both portions of the brotherhood have been grumbling about wanting to clarify where everyone stands. They want an "us vs. them" to stem the tide of "change agents."

As Rex said in the first comment here, the affirmation is woefully indadequate regarding some real core beliefs of the faith.

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I don't believe the Affirmation was ever intended as a comprehensive creed; in fact, there's some language in it that indicates quite the opposite.

What it does attempt, though, is to establish the "distinctiveness" that so many believe vital to their particular brand of Christianity. I disagree with that notion. The phrasing "them" in "Come ye out away from among them" does not refer to other churches which identify Jesus as the Christ, God's Son crucified and resurrected to purchase our souls.

In fact, I believe the man-made "doctrine" of distinctiveness is part of a belief system that causes division where there is no division and leads to an attitude of self-righteousness and salvation by works only - doing the right things in the right ways as the only method for somehow achieving God's forgiveness and approval.

(I'm glad to see you blogging again, too!)

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger vannoy said...

John Mark: Thanks for your clarification on the "Affirmation". After hearing you at NACC last year and reading your books I was surprised to see you as a signatory. The "affirmation" is subject to missuse and does not help with our restoration family relations.

 
At 11:23 PM, Blogger danieltomlinson said...

I'm glad to see you disassociate yourself with said publication. It seemed to contradict some of my former professor's theology, and I was surprised to see you and Dr. Briley's name on it. I agreed with the premise of the matter in trying to create more unity in Churches of Christ, but it succeeded in alienating other evangelicals we would call sisters and brothers. Grace and peace.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger edward said...

Glad to hear you say this, brother.

Edward

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger Gardner Hall said...

The affirmation sure looks like a creed to me. We love to have our traditional views validated in such an articulate way, especially by those who have a long string of degrees after their names. We’re not so dumb after all if all those fellers that are so smart agree with us!

Though I don’t have many quarrels with its content, I appreciate your distancing yourself from it because of its creedal nature. I appreciate much of your material. God bless,

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger John Mark Hicks said...

"Creed" is an ambiguous word. In the context of our historic rejection of creeds (as in the Campbell-Rice debate), it is "creeds" as official proclamations that bind the conscience of members and function as tests of fellowship that is rejected.

A "creed" in terms of an affirmation is a very different sort of thing. It simply affirms something as believed by a group without binding that belief on others in terms of fellowhsip.

I oppose "creeds" in the former sense; but constantly use "creeds" in the latter sense. Indeed, almost every blog is its own creed.

I'm not sure what to make of the reference to "long string of degrees"--the degrees represent a kind of accomplishment, but the degree is not as important as the knowledge for which the degree was a means rather than end. Unfortuantely, some degreeed people think of the degree as the main thing. As for myself, I don't even hang my degrees in my office and prefer not to be called "Doctor." Nevertheless, I value the accomplishment and recognize the expertise some attain through the work that completes such a degree.

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger Gardner Hall said...

Sometimes the line can become fuzzy between the first type of creed you mentioned and the second. I fear that the affirmation is at best in that fuzzy area, and at worst (at least in the minds of some) almost like the first type of creed you mentioned.

I meant no disrespect in my observation about those with "strings of degrees," especially those who, as you have mentioned, don't pursue them as an end in and of themselves and who don't allow them to affect their humble service of the Lord. Sorry if my comment came across the wrong way.

My point was directed primarily to those of us (I’ll include myself) who sometimes feel the need for validation of their beliefs from the “string of degrees,” not for those with the degrees themselves. That need might indicate an unhealthy spiritual insecurity that may also explain the popularity of “the affirmation."

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger John Mark Hicks said...

Gardner,

I don't know how it can be fuzzy when the advertisement is not the offical representation of any ecclesial organization nor the delineation of a test of fellowship. I don't see it as fuzzy at all.

It is simply an affirmation of some historic beliefs among Churches of Christ and encourages churches/people to maintain them. This is exactly what many do from pulpits and lectureships all the time. This is simply a written encouragement.

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Gardner Hall said...

It seems to me that whether a "statement of faith" is officially published by an official "ecclesial organization" or not, isn't the big issue regarding its spiritual danger, but rather the second issue you mentioned, whether it is the type of declaration that will tempt people to use it as a test of fellowship.

I am sure that you would never draw lines of fellowship over "the affirmation." However, I'm not sure about a lot of other people, especially those who seem so attached to it that they want it printed again and again and maybe again later. I don't see how you can be so sure that they wouldn't draw lines of fellowship over it. That's why I still think it's at least "fuzzy" whether it's the first or second type of "creed" you mentioned.

I'll paste in a few lines from an article I read and add a few thoughts in brackets...

"…Officials do not have to be elected to exercise authoritative influence. [for ex., “Editor-bishops,” gh] Creeds do not have to be written [or published by an official ecclesial organization, gh] to be binding. Names do not have to be adopted by a conference to be considered essential and exclusive designations. Publications do not have to be funded by churches to serve as their spokesmen, and religiously oriented agencies do not have to be legally attached to the church to be considered church-related. That such features of the institutional church are prominent in the thinking of many of us can scarcely be denied.”

 
At 10:04 AM, Blogger John Mark Hicks said...

It seems to me, then, that any statement is "fuzzy." So, perhaps we should all just say our individual piece and never say much if anything as a community.

The danger is always present, but that should not prevent us from accomplishing good through various means, even as communities.

I will leave it at that, my brother. I have no energy for talking about the CA. Too many other things to do.

 
At 8:09 AM, Blogger Gardner Hall said...

Thanks again for your thought provoking material and may God continue to bless you.

 
At 12:20 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

Wish you would start blogging again more.

 
At 8:13 PM, Blogger Matt Brent said...

After I took your tests and you graded my papers I called you many things, doctor was not one of them...

I agree with my namesake, blog more!

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Congratulations on the publication of your newest work, A Gathered People!

I'm looking forward to reading it.

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger preacherman said...

I just got your book a gathered people in the mail today. I am so excited about reading it. :-)

 
At 12:50 AM, Blogger Wes said...

Hi there ... please blog more! I enjoying reading your posts.

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I just finished reading A Gathered People last week and, as I expressed on Bobby Valentine's blog, wanted to meditate on it a bit more before thanking you and the other authors for the extraordinary work you did with it: historical and biblical research, prayerful contemplation of scripture, courage in expressing a bold and Christ-centered point of view of our worship together.

It completes an outstanding trilogy along with Down in the River to Pray and Come to the Table.

 

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