Pertinent correspondence

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18/11/09

Dear David and Michael Thomas,


Thank you for your replies. I have rechecked this gmail account, it is the better for correspondence now, and have no record of Michael Thomas' reply, and have not deleted emails in the 'bin', since March, so my apologies, it seems to have either be inadvertently deleted or misrouted in an intermediary server before reaching me.

With respect however, I find it difficult to perceive how you can defend clause 5 in Pioneers' statement as an even barely adequate statement of justification. It does not appear to fall foul of the Tridentine anathemas (which are still very much in mind for Roman Catholic ecumenists as their statements in recent declarations on justification make crystal clear) - and would form by itself a reasonable consensus statement for modernist Anglican, Methodist or Lutheran dialogue with Rome. The other statements to a certain extent preclude liberal views, but are loosely and carelessly worded - for example which unbelieving scholar doesn't believe in Adam and Eve in some sense - the crucial question is, is it one which utterly eviscerates the Bible's teaching and orthodox understanding of the Fall or not?

AWM's forebears were well aware of these theological snares and pitfalls, I find it hard to believe they would read your argument with a straight face, David, that somehow, 'salvation is a gift of God to those who repent and personally believe in Jesus Christ; that it is accomplished by God's grace through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit' 'says much the same' as AWM's altogether more watertight and weighty confession, 'the justification of the sinner, solely by faith, on the ground of the merits and vicarious sufferings, death, and bodily resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'. Frankly, the preceding deliberations are a bit of a smokescreen, aren't they?
 
Pioneers seems to have wholly swallowed Paul Hiebert[son]'s [name misspelt] central thinking and the antinomianism inherent in it, is AWM also about to do the same?,
Yours in Christ,

Charles Soper
Home page: www.strateias.org

(No reply has been received to this email as of 2/4/2011)

 
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From: David Innes (email)
Sent: Wed 11/11/09 12:15 PM
To: (email)

Attachments: 1 attachment

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Dear Mr. Soper,

Thank you so much for your email which addresses the ongoing discussions between AWM and Pioneers with regard to the possibility of a merger between the two mission organisations. Firstly, let me assure you that a reply was sent to you by Michael Thomas, AWM’s UK National Director on 25th August.  I have attached a copy of his response to you below – I do note that it was sent to your gmail account and I wonder if you have now changed to a hotmail account.  

As you know, the discussions between AWM and Pioneers are of an exploratory nature and no decision to merge has been agreed.

We really do appreciate your response to the announcement of these discussions and your concern for the clear evangelical confession of AWM. I can assure you that the members and staff of AWM stand with you in clearly contending for a faith that is evangelical and is founded on the fundamental scriptural principle of justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone without works. Our evangelical character is absolutely core to who we are - both individually and as an organisation - and will not change.

With regard to Pioneers Statement of Faith (also attached below) you rightly point out that the wording does not mention the term 'justification'.

However, I do believe that the key elements of justification are clearly contained within the statement. 

The doctrine of justification may be summarised in these four key areas.

1.         Its source.  We are justified 'by grace', Rom 3:24.  We did not deserve it, and it is given to us for nothing.

2.         Its ground.  We are justified 'through his blood, Rom 5:9.  We are acquitted, Rom 8:1, because God 'condemned sin' in Jesus Christ, Rom 8:3.

3.         Its means.  We are justified 'by faith', Rom 3:28.  And it is by faith alone, since it is altogether apart from observing the law.  Faith is not itself a work, but is simply the hand which takes the gift.

4.         Its effects.  We are justified 'in Christ', Gal 2:17.  We are justified when we are united to Christ.  We thereby gain membership of his Messianic community, and are eager to do good works, Eph 2:8-10.

In particular, clause 5 of the Pioneers statement (on salvation) says much the same as might a clause on justification in that it speaks of repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and of grace. The clause on Christ and his atoning work is also strong from an evangelical perspective, as is the statement on sin. 

I can assure you that doctrinal matters have been addressed to some degree in our discussions with Pioneers to date - but not yet in detail.

However we are confident that Pioneers adheres (as we do) to the key evangelical doctrines. Your comments are much appreciated at this stage in the discussions and we certainly have taken them on board to be addressed.

I would welcome further discussion with you on this matter.

Yours in Christ,

David Innes

Communication Manager

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AWM logo

Original Message from Michael Thomas to Charles Soper

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Michael Thomas

Sent: 25 August 2009 16:50

To: 'e'mail'

Subject: FW: New Contact Form Submission

 

Dear Charles,

Thank you so much for your contacting us through the website. Pioneers International is not particularly well known in the UK and I wonder if we are looking at the same organisation.

In any event I enclose a summary Statement of Faith of Pioneers. I trust that you find it helpful. Please do come back to me if you wish.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest.

May the Lord bless you richly.

Pioneers – Statement of Faith

1.WE BELIEVE that the Holy Scriptures, consisting of Old and New Testaments, were originally given by God, divinely inspired, without error, infallible, and are entirely trustworthy and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice.

2.WE BELIEVE in one God, Creator of all things, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

3.WE BELIEVE in our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, sinless life, divine miracles, vicarious and atoning death on the cross, bodily resurrection, ascension and exaltation, mediatorial work, and personal, imminent and visible return in power and glory.

4.WE BELIEVE that Adam and Eve, created in the image of God, were tempted by Satan, the god of this world, and fell; that their sin has passed to all people, who as a result are lost, are unable to save themselves from the wrath of God, and need to be saved.

5.WE BELIEVE that salvation is a gift of God to those who repent and personally believe in Jesus Christ; that it is accomplished by God's grace through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.

6.WE BELIEVE in God the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers enabling them to live holy lives, and to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ despite opposition from the world, the flesh and Satan.

7.WE BELIEVE in the spiritual unity of all true believers, the universal Church, the Body of Christ.

8.WE BELIEVE in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of eternal life with God, they that are lost unto the resurrection of eternal condemnation separated from God.

9.WE BELIEVE that Christ commanded the Church to go into all the world and make disciples of all peoples, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching those who believe to obey all that Christ commanded.

Michael Thomas

 

UK National Director

Arab World Ministries

PO Box 51, Loughborough, LE11 0ZQ

Tel no given  www.awm.org

registered charity no. given  registered office: Address. Arab world ministries is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales (no. 3275009)

BUILDING CHRIST’S CHURCH AMONG ARAB PEOPLES


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