Sunday, June 24, 2007

Terry Virgo Interview

"...we have to work with where we are. I feel a sense of commissioning to gather some Christian leaders together, and am beginning to do so. I am praying about throwing a wider net to include more from reformed backgrounds. I am looking for men of the Bible who are men of goodwill to see what would happen. It has to be on a relational basis. I am not just looking at those who 'ought' to be there. It seems to me that the key is to bring together people who really care. I would love to see a rallying point that was not just charismatic but for those who value the Word. I do feel God has given me a desire to have fellowship with leaders beyond Newfrontiers. We love the Word and want to see the Cross upheld as do others. I would love to see some kind of bridging of the Together for the Gospel type of movement in the UK."

18 comments:

  1. It's encouraging in the beyond newfrontiers aspect, and general vision in the whole interview, but I find the emphasis on relational over confessional rather disturbing. I know he himself wants that relationship to be based on valuing the Word, not set against confessional at all, but that's the aspect he highlighted about T4G rather than the fact they're in the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. But newfrontiers (it was easier to type when it was NFI) isn't confessional. I wonder if what he's looking for in the UK isn't Affinity? Interesting anyway, thanks for flagging it up Dave...

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  2. I think we have to notice that Terry was talking to Adrian - so it's a conversation within the newfrontiers environment.

    I find it encouraging that it's not just an 'automatic' thing but relationship based upon centrality of the word - which we know Terry takes very seriously.

    A loophole for us is that we know people sign our DB when they're not wholeheartedly committed to it. One imagines that Terry's approach may see past that because of his Word priority and because you get the impression that he's a 'deep relationship' person.

    There is some work to do on how to develop confessional partnerships and what it looks like to do that positively.

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  3. Newfrontiers IS confessional if by confessional you mean valuing doctrine. There is a remarkable degree of agreement on theological positions within the family of churches. Pop over to my place over the next few days when in the interview Terry will be explaining this issue further.

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  4. Hi Adrian, of course I didn't mean that newfrontiers doesn't value doctrine - I love that it does! :) By confessional I meant in the historic sense of adhering to a confession of faith (e.g., Westminster, 1689, a denominational confession or even an evangelical statement such as the UCCF DB), and indicating the same with leadership / eldership / etc indicating this at appointment and regularly thereafter, and being held accountable to it in teaching & life by others in leadership in the church (with discipline when necessary). Doctrine is vital to the life of the Church, but which doctrine, and how will it be safeguarded for the next generation? Of course this sense of confessional isn't foolproof, but the problems (treating it as a dry merely cerebral thing without recognising & celebrating the inherent relationship, signing without consent, etc.) don't seem to me a good enough reason to ditch it. Deep relationship defines in doctrine, as we partner in the gospel of our Lord and Saviour.

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  5. I think we sometimes can think that to have a confession is a better protection against error in the Church than relationships. However confessions can be ignored, distorted, and even overly ridgedly applied. Confessions are no protection of themselves but actually depend for their usefulness about relationships of people committed to encouraging and exhorting each other to holiness and using them as a tool to do this.

    Holy relationships though woolly sounding are the most certain way to ensure right doctrine - and to ensure that this right doctrine is held in a God-glorifying way rather than a legalistic way. Perhaps Terry Virgo is right to emphasise the relationships as without thought these break down and with them the church and the confessions.

    Just thinking.

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  6. Wow that comment was poorly written. Should have read it before I posted it!

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  7. I think doctrinal statements are useful, if they are used properly. I can think of organisations that have them and appear not to actually really believe the things in the Statement of Faith are that important.

    I think David Gibson's article - Assumed Evangelicalism is helpful - particuarly the paragraph just before the conclusion - "It is worth simply asking at regular intervals what role the DB or Statement of Faith actually plays in the life of our movements...."

    But if used properly, I think they can be useful.

    Perhaps we don't need to choose between confession or relationship. Both Together for the Gospel and Sovereign Grace have detailed statements of belief, and strong relatonships between those involved.

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  8. I'm convinced we need both - if we have statements without relationships that is wierd, and equally how glorious is to stand with a friend and partner in the gospel and declare our shared convictions in writing to express our unity. It's what gospel-friends love to do isn't it. We do it in books, in conferences, in blogs - shouting a loud Amen! as our brother or sister confesses the gospel.

    Doctrinal statements must not be seen as technicalities but as joyful declarations and bases of fellowship - UCCFs Doctrinal Basis gives a clear confession of what our fellowship is based upon, in terms of doctrine (just as the rest of our vision details other reasons for our fellowship). They're the basis of a fellowship, the basis of a partership, the basis of a relationship. The point is the relationship, the bond of it is in the word.

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  9. Your last sentence there Dave made me think that when we talk confessional-relational we're really talking truly covenantal. Which makes me rather excited, as a train of thought to pursue. But then, I am a presby...

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  10. That thought kinda just popped into my head... but I just think there might be something to it.

    Increasingly presby.

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  11. Dave,
    Out of interest, what would you see as the main areas of disagreement between your theology and presbyterianism, if presbyterianism is defined as the beliefs in the Westminster Confession of Faith?

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  12. Ben - I think it's more a case of, having never had much contact with Presby theology until about 18 months ago and seeing that the more I read the more I find resonating with me.

    Without checking the whole document - I'd differ on Law/Sabbath, am still on the fence on baptism but with presby inclinations... which kinda the door I'm coming in through.

    Mostly I'm with Calvin except for the law where I'm modified-Lutheran. Charismatic about gifts and Edwardsian about affections. If that makes any sense.

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  13. Anyone know if new frontiers has a statement of faith?

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  14. Adrian tells me that all newfrontiers churches are part of EA so I that implies the EA basis.

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  15. they are kinda planting new ones fairly frequently.

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  16. So most Newfrontiers churches agree with the EA Basis of Faith, and possibly all.
    Therefore it would not be a huge step for this to be an official doctrinal statement of Newfrontiers.

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