Re: ASA Statement of faith - The Forgotten Verses

From: George Murphy (
Date: Mon Jun 16 2003 - 16:36:51 EDT

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    Iain Strachan wrote:
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "Howard J. Van Till" <>
    > < ... on the idea that the bible might be wrong in places ...>
    > >
    > > Yes, that idea has occurred to many people. In major portions of the
    > > Christian community, however, that would be considered heresy of the
    > highest
    > > order. For such folk, protecting the Bible from this form of critical
    > > examination is given top priority. Recall a suggestion I have made here
    > > before -- look at the 'statement of faith' portion of creationist or other
    > > conservative Christian web sites and note how often the very first
    > statement
    > > is a declaration about biblical inerrancy, followed later in the list by
    > > statements about God and Jesus. Priorities are interesting things.
    > >
    > Now it's _very_ interesting that you should say that, because your post made
    > me go and look up the ASA "Statement of Faith", which can be found at:
    > which declares that our platform of faith has four planks. And what do we
    > find at No. 1 but:
    > 1.. We accept the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of the
    > Bible in matters of faith and conduct.
    > ????? Wot? No God or Jesus ?????
    > Now, admittedly that isn't necessarily the same as "Biblical inerrancy" (or
    > it's debatable at least), but in the light of Howard's statement that
    > Priorities are interesting things, I find it astonishing that in the ASA,
    > Jesus Christ is NOT No. 1. I have been severely criticized on this list for
    > showing an interest in Vernon's numerics, but let me assure you, any
    > organization that does not put the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ
    > as the No 1 priority is _really_ on shaky ground. To me, without Jesus
    > Christ, the rest of the bible makes no sense at all!
    > What is even more disturbing is that Jesus Christ is not mentioned in ANY of
    > the "four planks" (only indirectly via the reference to the Nicene and
    > Apostles creeds). The name of "Jesus" doesn't even appear anywhere on the
    > page!! A alien looking at your page would'nt even know the name of the
    > Saviour you believe in! Come to think of it, that's another word that's
    > completely missing from the page (not even spelt the American way :-)
    > At the very least the page ought to contain a link to the creeds that are
    > affirmed in point 2.
    > I'm absolutely shattered that an organization of Christians doesn't even
    > proclaim what the Gospel is on its "Statement of Faith" web page!!
    > A few years ago I wandered into a Penetcostal church in Calgary while I was
    > there on business. It was just the nearest one to where I was staying and
    > it was Sunday morning. After a service that lasted around 2 and a half
    > hours during which we had a 20-minute set from a full scale rock band, the
    > statutory "mini" sermon (25 minutes) before the collection about how the
    > Lord loves people who give money, and then another spontaneous 10-minute
    > mini-sermon that the Lord apparently prompted the preacher to give about how
    > maybe we'd all like to give a bit more, then the real 75 minute sermon, I
    > spoke to someone in the congregation, a computer science student from
    > Calgary University. He told me that in his church they just like to "hit
    > 'em with the Gospel". I thought back over the whole charade, which made me
    > very uncomfortable, especially the bit at the end when people went up to
    > have hands laid on them & then fall over (complete with beefy guy standing
    > behind to catch them as they fell and girl handing out blankets to shiver
    > in), and I tried to remember one single point where they had explained
    > clearly what the Gospel is. I could not. If I had been an unchurched
    > person walking into that service off the streets, I doubt very much if I'd
    > been any the wiser.
    > Now, c'mon guys, you can do better than that. In the past battles with
    > Vernon on what to believe about Genesis, people (George Murphy I think it
    > was) have said that Jesus Christ should be the centre.
    > I'll gladly say Amen to that. Why don't we make it so? Let's be serious
    > about "hitting 'em with the Gospel".
    > I would also add that I had to search really hard on the ASA home page even
    > to find a statement of faith, which seemed only to be at the bottom of the
    > page.
    > My suggestion. Put the link to the statement of faith right at the top.
    > Put a clear and concise statement about the Gospel of Christ at the top of
    > the statement of faith page; perhaps in the introduction. In statement 2 of
    > the four planks of faith, put hyperlinks to the references to the Nicene and
    > Apostles creed, so that anyone "just browsing" who doesn't know what they
    > say can immediately find out.
    > Another idea; I'm sure it's possible for the list server to put a standard
    > footer on every email that is posted to the list (the other listserv I
    > belong to does this). How about putting a direct link to the new
    > gospel-proclaiming "statement of faith" in that footer. You never know
    > whether some non-Christians, or seekers are receiving these posts. We
    > should use every opportunity we have to spread the Good News, should we not?
    > ... and just in case anyone sees this on the archive and accuses me of the
    > same thing; not saying what the Gospel is, or who wants to know it, here it
    > is ...
    > "For what I received I passed on to you as of **>>FIRST IMPORTANCE<<** :
    > that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, ..."
    > (I Corinthians 15:3). (Emphases mine)
    > Iain.
    > [BTW, Howard, I don't mean this as a personal attack; I realise that you are
    > not a spokesman for ASA, just a member; perhaps you also are as appalled as
    > I am at what I see on this page].

            Since I was a member of the committee that drafted the ASA statement of faith, I
    will take some responsibility for it & note:
            1) The statement is intended neither as the confession of a church body which
    sets out criteria for intercommunion &c nor as a tool for evangelism. Instead, it's
    supposed to set out fairly broad conditions for membership in an organization of
    Christians who have particular interests in matters of faith and science.
            2) The second part of the statement is explicitly trinitarian - which one
    can't accept without believing in, /inter alia/, the divinity of Christ. And the
    reference to the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, which are heavily christological, is by no
    means incidental. I agree that it would be a good idea to link to them on the website.
            3) I would have no objection to more explicitly christological phrasing of the
    statement. Perhaps we should have given more thought to that. But be aware of two
            a. Revising the statement is highly non-trivial. It took several years of
    discussion culminating in a vote by the entire ASA membership.
            b. As soon as you start getting _too_ specific you start defeating the attempt
    to include a broad range of Christians. The previous statement of faith included the
            "Jesus Christ is the Son of God and through His Atonement is the one and only
    Mediator between God and man."
            This may seem unobjectionable but it
            i. focuses on particular themes of christology and salvation, &
            ii. by its insistence on "one _and only_ Mediator," which goes beyond what
    I Tim.2:5 says, made some Roman Catholics feel that they couldn't subscribe to it.


    George L. Murphy

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