Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Evangelical Tradition – 5 of 6

This tradition works best when in tandem with the previous, the Social Justice tradition. For how could non-believing people be convinced of the power and grace of the Spirit without seeing it in the evangel?

This tradition, or the Word-centred life, is about faithfulness in three orders: proclamation, repository, and interpretation.

The Word of God is preached to influence people’s faith in line with the Augustine philosophy, “To teach is a necessity, to please is a sweetness, to persuade is a victory.”[1] The preaching of gospel truth is primary.

The ancient Near East (ANE) repository tradition centred around the oral tradition due mainly to the generational and communal culture, if not the core reason that texts weren’t available and reading and writing were not relevant to the age for the majority of the people. Evangels passionately protect the role of Scripture as the contemporary repository for the Gospel.

Confessional witness and response to the Gospel message are keys.

Entrusted as the ‘keepers’ of the Word of God, evangels study the text and faithfully preserve it; each of the different Bible translations and paraphrases have been carefully and dutifully composed based on the primary texts.

Of course, the great commandment of Jesus’ in the final verses of Matthew charges us to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” –Matthew 28:19-20a (TNIV).

It is essential in this tradition, and to the Christian faith no less, to hold fast to the belief that, as Emil Brunner put it, “The church exists by mission as fire exists for burning.”[2] Hence, this tradition’s goal is of conversion and the saving of souls, by grace through faith.

The evangelical tradition is about a “life founded upon the living Word of God, the written Word of God, and the proclaimed Word of God.” We should explore it because “through it we experience the knowledge of God that grounds our lives and enables us to give a reason for the hope that is in us.”[3]
[1] Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (London, England: HarperCollinsReligious, 1998), p. 194.
[2] Foster, Ibid, p. 226. Cited from D. Elton Trueblood, The Validity of the Christian Mission (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).
[3] Foster, Ibid, p. 233.

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