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ECC Perspectives on Salvation: Shalom, Justification, and Breathing Kingdom Air

For Covenanters, any study of salvation must begin with the Scriptures. We ask, “What does the Bible say?” (which is a version of the Covenant axiom “Where is it written?” that discourages proof-texting). This means that regardless of tradition, informed and skillful interpretation of Scripture will be the final arbiter of our soteriology. Covenanters also engage with the best scholarly thinking available to us, both past and present. Therefore, Covenanters gladly stand within the Reformation tradition of ‘justification by grace through faith,’ while also making space for contemporary perspectives on justification. We want to be Reformed, and always reforming! The Covenant’s perspective on salvation is colored not only by its historical roots in the Reformation, but also in the Pietist renewal movement which sought to further reform Protestantism and also to recover the living faith of the Early Church. So in the Covenant’s own history there is precedent for an on-going process of reformation toward greater and greater spiritual renewal.

The Scriptural Story: Salvation as Shalom-establishing

Beginning with Scripture, we find that salvation is rescue. In this sense, it implies the overcoming of danger, a conflict, or an enemy. But it is also the state of being free, whole, and safe from harm. For humanity, this state can only be achieved when we are joined with our Creator. Therefore, salvation is both being saved from something and saved to Someone. Scripture’s witness to salvation is displayed in the progressively-unfolding story of God’s action in the world in relationship to God’s creation, and to humanity in particular. The story which Scripture tells again and again is: 1) God forms a people; 2) God provides that people with a home; 3) God gives that people a purpose and/or mission. Then danger, conflict, an enemy emerge and threaten the people, the home, and the purpose God has created. In love, God rescues God’s people by repeating the process: forming again, providing again, purposing again. In a very real sense, biblical salvation is New Creation!

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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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Midwinter 2013: Mission Friends—The New Class

This past week, I had the honor and privilege of attending my third "Midwinter," the annual gathering of the Evangelical Covenant Church's clergy and friends for mutual support, fellowship, worship, equipping, renewal, and rest. Midwinter is usually held in Chicago (where the ECC is headquartered), but every third year the Covenant holds it somewhere else. This year it was in San Diego! But the weather wasn't all that San Diego-like. Mostly, the weather was chilly and rainy.

Nevertheless, the time spent in San Diego with Covenanters and friends was amazing! So many highlights, I'm not sure I'll be able to list them all, but I'm going to try.

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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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Welcome to

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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