In our day, we find everyone and their dog making declarations – frequently ecumenical in nature (which is not always bad – many of the aforementioned confessions or creeds were ecumenically driven) the net result is a cheapening of the work. The individual is king in the culture of the day, and few declarations have meaning which the majority could or would be compelled to subscribe to. So I was not too excited about the exercise. I took it on, out of a respect of the men who were party to the making.
I also expected to find some rather difficult to grasp and thereby to ascribe to statements which I would be critiquing. This I was delighted to find was not the case. In fact as I was reading through, I became more excited. You see the style of the piece is plain, even ordinary, but not flat. The language, though at times novel to my eyes, was edifying to my soul and lifted my spirit. It actually began to teach me. Let me clarify, because one can learn in many ways. What I mean to say is not that I was learning new prescribed doctrinal points (although that is one of the express goals and that did happen with me). Rather the very use of the language added to the declaration. It was sweet to my soul. It communicated eloquently, simply, and at times powerfully ideas which have at times been fleeting around my little brain so fast I never quite got them down out of the ether and into words! A wonderful statement. And all this to say that it was engaging to the core. Never overbearing in the point, most articles were only 2 or 3 pages in length.
While there are a total of 15 articles – The theme is to address today’s excesses without creating much which might be construed as new. Pointedly this is only an addendum to what has already been written creedal-ly and confessional-ly (sp.?) over the centuries. So it is not a new catechism as it were. Just a fine-tuning of what we already know, particularly dealing with what our modern or even post-modern minds have been grappling with over the last 100 years.
I don’t want my own review to end up being more than a page so I will end with a few choice quotes and strongly urge you to get a copy and read it over and over – it’s that good!
In the preamble, “We object to this religious reductionism and desire to reclaim the entire heritage of Christian doctrine, obedience, and adoration.”
Speaking of the gospel, “To deny the historicity of the events of the gospel is to deny the gospel. To deny the biblical interpretation of those events is also to deny the gospel.”
Speaking of harmony and variety in ordinate expression, “[T]his delightful variety must not be exploited as a rational for aesthetic agnosticism. Both ordinate and inordinate expressions exist in great variety. Truth can be communicated in hundreds of languages, but so can lies.”
Speaking of the works of popular culture, “Their ephemeral nature precludes them from reflecting the weighty, the profound, the transcendent, and the enduring. ...Immediate gratification cannot cultivate profundity”
Speaking of Christian tradition, “We insist that a Christianity that must change with each wind of fashion is confessing that it has nothing permanent to say.”
Didn’t I say it was that good?!