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Fiercely Moderate Theology: Reflections on Covenant Affirmations by Donald C. Frisk

Author: Donald C. Frisk
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Covenant Publications (2003)
Language: English
Pages: 175

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The Evangelical Covenant Church (hereafter simply the Covenant or ECC) is passionate about unity, fiercely moderate, and insistent on irenic theological dialogue. While carefully articulating a robust, orthodox, and systematic Christian theology, these values shine through most in Donald C. Frisk’s Covenant Affirmations: This We Believe. Throughout the book, Frisk surveys a range of perspectives on each doctrine, drawing from a number of diverse sources and traditions, highlighting the strengths and potential blind spots of each, then invariably manages to carve out a balanced way forward. What results is a theological proposal that is truly catholic and Christian. “Recognizing the possibility of divergent interpretations [of Scripture], the Covenant encourages discussion of the issues within a context of trust and love.” (p.153) I find refreshing this entire approach, and the creative doctrinal formulations it produces. It is positioned to have broad appeal, since it is grounded in sound theological method, respects the Covenant’s Pietist roots, and yet remains open to insights from other branches of the Christian family tree. However, there was at least one section that I found confusing. Uncharacteristic of the book as a whole, Frisk’s delineation of divine revelation, the “word of God,” and The Word of God (Jesus), struck this reader as a bit convoluted at one point. Nevertheless, I could find little to nothing in Covenant Affirmations seriously objectionable. I would only want to suggest a constructive and complementary layer of future theological exploration. These three areas of reflection will frame what follows.

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Recommended to Plant a New Church

There was a time in my Christian life when I lost faith in the church as a vehicle of social and personal transformation. Instead I planned to express my ministry gifts and calling in a parachurch context. I dreamed of serving as a director of a faith-based nonprofit. Certainly they are much better at transforming the world, I thought. In the last five to six years, however, my faith in the church has been restored. Not primarily because I have had the privilege of serving and belonging to better churches, although that is true too. My faith in the church as God's instrument of transformation has been renewed primarily because of a renewed conviction that what the world needs most is not a social service agency, but a worshiping community to which to belong that incarnates the love and justice of God. I have come to believe that the church is much more than merely a collection of people who think similarly and occasionally give to charity. Instead, I have found that the church of Jesus Christ is the mystical family of God that continues to incarnate God's love and justice in the world as Jesus her bridegroom shows her and commands her to.

At the same time, I have also discovered that my personality is much more conducive to a creative environment where I have freedom to exercise my gifts, dreams, and create new things—something established churches unfortunately tend not to be. So where can a called and creative minister thrive in God's chosen vehicle of social and personal transformation: the church? The answer Osheta and I have sensed God providing is church-planting. Church-planting is not only conducive to creative personalities, it requires them. Only creatives have the type of improvising skills to roll with all the various punches that accompany church-planting. So, for the last year or so Osheta and I have been pursuing this area of ministry and just this last week have crossed a very important threshold.

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Exploring Covenant Affirmations: Blog Series

Through a series of blog posts, I will be exploring the six essential "Covenant Affirmations" of the Evangelical Covenant Church (also known as "the ECC" or "the Covenant").

1) The Centrality of the Word of God

Coming Soon

2) The Necessity of New Birth

Coming Soon

3) Commitment to the Whole Mission of the Church

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Going Covenant: On Denominations and the ECC

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Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

T. C.

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