World Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith

Is there anything in the World Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith that Catholics (or Orthodox & Lutheran Catholics) would disagree with? I’m having a faith discussion with a Evangelical relative and am curious to your thoughts.

Here is the link to the statement below.

We believe

…in the Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct…

One God , eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

Our Lord Jesus Christ , God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His Personal return in power and glory…

The Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit…

The Holy Spirit , by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ…

The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ…

The Resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

PnP

Well, yes, there are two areas that would cause a Catholic to disagree. First is the statement giving 'supreme authority ’ to scripture. This is just another way of stating ‘sola scriptora’. Second is the denial of works, better known as ‘sola fides’.

I’ve learned to be careful with Protestant statements. Reading them sentence by sentence is not enough, Read them comma by comma. Both of these points were buried in the middle of statements that Catholics could support without them.

I think staunch Lutherans would want to flesh this out a bit before agreeing to it:

The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ…

We would agree with the sentiment, but more strictly while ‘unity of the spirit’ is good starting point, we would want to have complete unity within the Body of Christ - that we may meet around one altar.

For a Catholic, I would possibly wonder if this well-meaning sentence may possibly lead toward the heresy of indifferentism - if I’m reading it correctly:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indifferentism

Ask your relative why they don’t use the ancient Apostle’s Creed?

If by indifferentism you are suggesting that the WEA’s statement could be used to support universalism, I think that is a stretch. Most evangelicals who read “The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ…” would take that to mean that there is only one church, which all who have been born again are a part of, irrespective of the fact that Christians are divided into different denominations.

That doesn’t mean that anyone who claims to be a Christian or that any church/denomination that claims to be Christian is Christian. What it does mean is that there is one church, whose head is Christ Jesus, and that all those who are truly members of His body share in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. True believers may be divided along doctrinal and ecclesiastical lines, but that does not change the fact that there is only one church.

It is our duty as believers to pray and work for the day when “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” Until that day comes, yes there will be a level of unity and fellowship that will be beyond us. Yet, even now there is a unity that the Body of Christ shares. The WEA is one manifestation of the unity that evangelical Christians all over the world have with one another even though it is composed of many different denominations that don’t agree on everything. Each denomination maintains it’s own identity, while working with other Christians to fulfill the church’s mission.

I imagine because any Christian should be able to affirm the Apostle’s Creed. Even Oneness Pentecostals can affirm the Apostle’s Creed.

The WEA is an organization of evangelical Christian denominations and regional associations of evangelical Christian denominations (such as the National Association of Evangelicals for the US and the Evangelical Alliance for the UK).

Since it’s an alliance of evangelical Christians, I assume it wanted a statement of faith that evangelical Christians could affirm and non-evangelical Christians could not affirm.

P.S. There are plenty of evangelicals who know and affirm the Apostle’s Creed.

I think that as a Catholic one could say that we do not disagree with what is presented…as we understand them…However, it wouldn’t take long to find places where we understand things differently than an evangelical…
One by one…
We believe
…in the Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct…
I can say - sure I agree with this…in general…but then there are certain questions and issues.

  1. Which “Holy Scriptures”? Which canon…66 book? 73 book? 80 books?
  2. The written word can be inerrant, but fallibility has to do with how one understands that word…so a better term would be inerrant.
  3. I suppose one could say that a Catholic sees Scripture as supreme authority in that Scripture places that authority with “The Church” and not with the written word…
    I think the above would result in a rather lively discussion…:smiley:
    One God , eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…
    No disagreement here
    Our Lord Jesus Christ , God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His Personal return in power and glory…
    :thumbsup:
    The Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit…
    We would need to discuss what is meant by “faith apart from works” since Scripture (the “supreme authority”) mentioned in point one, makes works and integral part of a living and saving faith.
    The Holy Spirit , by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ…
    :thumbsup:
    The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ…
    :thumbsup:…but…what that unity means, entails and how it is manifested…That will be an interesting conversation too.
    :thumbsup:

So - as others have pointed out, such general and (as I call them) bumper sticker are easy to agree with on the whole. However when one begins to discuss what is actually meant by such the terms used in the statements things begin to get a bit trickier.
This is why the 2000 year old Catholic Church has so many documents and explanations. :smiley:

If it were me - I would start by saying something like, "Yes we can agree with this, however, the statements are so general that your understanding of them and our understanding may be quite different…
Then I would begin with the first statement about Scripture.

(NOTE) I find it interesting that in this series of statements, they place their belief in the Bible above their belief in God…Freudian???..:wink:

Peace
James

Not at all. Men wrote the Bible as they were inspired by God. God is the author of Scripture, and the author of the book is greater than the book itself. That being said, how do we know that God is triune? We know it because of the testimony of Scripture. Everything in this statement of faith, like any good evangelical statement of faith, should be found in the Bible. The authority for every statement rests in the Bible, and therefore, the statement begins with the Bible, establishing it’s authority from the get go.

I was Evangelical Protestant for the first 47 years of my life before converting to Catholicism.

I think that Thomas Howard nailed it in his wonderful book, Evangelical Is Not Enough.

Although Catholics can delve deeply into the WEA Statement of Faith and dredge up all kinds of theoretical conflicts with Catholicism, if they take the Statement at face value, they will find that there are no conflicts with Catholicism.

I think a lot of Catholics are suspicious of Evangelical Protestantism because of bad personal experiences with Evangelical Protestants. But it’s not really fair to tear apart and cast suspicions on the very simple WEA Statement of Faith based on bad personal experiences.

The big problem with Evangelical Protestantism, including the WEA, is its “incompleteness.” As Howard says, “it’s not enough.” It stops short of “complete Christianity.”

Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so–Catholics believe all that! There’s no conflict! But we believe so much more!

Evangelical Protestants pride themselves on a simple Christianity in which all a person has to do is “accept Jesus into their heart as their Personal Savior.”

It’s not enough.

Many of us have heard the analogy of the tent and the castle, and I think it’s a good analogy. The Catholic Church is the castle, full of magnificent treasures available to Christians who choose to place themselves under the authority of the Lord Jesus and His Church. Instead of entering the castle and partaking of all the delights of true Biblical Christianity, which is Catholicism, Evangelical Protestants choose to live in tents on the castle grounds. Because they are on the castle grounds (believing in Jesus and trusting Him), they are under His protection. But how sad–to live in a tent instead of a castle. I know–I lived in one for 47 years.

:thumbsup:

Fair enough…my statement was somewhat tongue in cheek…

That said, establishing the Bibles authority from the get go is an easy statement to make and sounds wonderful…and yet when examined - it is not so simple.

And yet…When you say “The Bible” do you mean the same set of Scriptures as a Cathodic does then they say “The bible”? What Canon of Scripture constitutes “The Bible” that you accept as the final and infallible authority?

You say above that “men wrote the Bible as they were inspired by God”, yet in point of fact this is not true. Men did not “write the Bible”. They wrote letters, and testaments and “books”. No one sat down and “wrote the bible”. The Bible was "compiled"
Now before you say ---- picky-picky — I know that I am splitting hairs…but it’s an important distinction.

So - The books of the Bible were indeed written by men as directed by God.
Likewise, I am sure you will agree, bible was “compiled” by men as directed by God.
And if this is true then the canon of Scripture should be the same universally, if it is intended to be the sole rule of faith and action. Yet the Bible canon is not universally the same. The Canon of Scripture (Bible) that is inferred in the WEA statement contains a different number of books as the canon of Scripture (Bible) that the Catholic accepts as inspired. The Bible used by the Western Church since ca. 400 AD has fewer books that that used by the EO.

This then leads to a problem. If one has too few books then one may be missing important truths that should be contained in the Scriptures. If one has too many - one could be misled…
So - before one can accept the truth of that first statement in the WEA statement of faith…this issue of what is and isn’t Scripture would have to be settled.

Not saying this to be argumentative…but rather to illustrate what I meant in my earlier post about Scratching the surface of some of these statements.

Peace
James

Sorry to be so dense - JRKH included the initials “EO” in his last post. What does that stand for?

Eastern Orthodox.

All this talk of unity…yet when the unbelievers looked at those first Christians
They didn’t say “behold how they all believe the same!” Didn’t they marvle at how they loved one another.

:thumbsup:
Indeed - all too often I’m afraid we lose sight of the centrality of Love in our walk.

Yet - while we can say that the unbelievers marveled at the Love of believers - we can see in Paul’s letters and in Acts (the council of Jerusalem) the great weight that the community put on unity in doctrine - in believing the same, of avoiding dissensions, of praising with one voice and being of one mind.
The one does not negate the need, ore desirability of the other.

Peace
James

Indeed, as an example: no matter where the apostles went to establish communities of faith, from Spain to India, those early Catholics all believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. No one taught, nor practiced, a symbolic meal of grape juice and bread. At least not for another 1,500 years.

Well, just good reading is needed in anything important. Buried is a bit …slanted way of putting it. The statements are quite open and declatory, nothing hidden.

The historian i like best says the early church exhibited four ways to describe the “remembrance” of which transubstantiation is rooted to one or two of them. The 1500 years of something new popping up is quite unhistorical if i may politely state.

Don’t think so because of the other “requirements” or faith points. That is quite a few “cults” are ruled out. It is more non-sectarian or non parochial and more universal yet within strict absolute boundaries of stated points. It is not "relativistic. It is "catholic’’.

Pretty good. Would add many say Jesus must be your Lord also, not just your savior. The tent anaology is what i have heard of difference between being baptized in the Holy Ghost and not ( a bit like “charismatics”)…I am wondering though is it like saying Abraham was in a “tent” because
he did not have a more developed Torah and Talmud (castle) as say David or Micah had ? Was Abraham less of a Jew , hindered in his walk with the Lord then ? That some P’s have less rules and rituals are they really hindered, even second class (in tents or dingy’s) as some insinuate ?

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