The spotlight turns to New Wineskins
The Layman August 2005 Volume 38, Number 3, another group has stepped forth as a herald for Biblical faith. They call themselves the New Wineskins Initiative. They produced a proposed constitution that includes “theological essentials” and “ethical imperatives.” They called for a wholesale transformation that would make higher governing bodies the servants of the congregations – not their masters and regulators. They embody the principal Confessing Church resolutions: 1) Jesus is the only Way, Truth and Life, 2) the Bible is the infallible rule of faith and life, and 3) God’s holiness standards, including sexuality, are not to be compromised.
Not everything that was written down and provided to delegates from endorsing congregations was pluperfect. During the New Wineskins Convocation in Edina, Minn., in June, the delegates from 85 congregations made a quick trip through the documents and proposed dozens of changes. The constitutional refinement process hasn’t ended. But the gist of what the New Wineskins Initiative has produced is solid.
It emphatically declares that Jesus is Lord. It accepts the Bible as a factual account of God’s revelation. It specifies what every minister, elder and deacon ought to confess. It unapologetically states the Triune God has declared that our holiness ought to reflect his holiness. And it offers a plan for cooperative connectionalism to build the body of Christ, not toss it to and fro by every wind of doctrine.
In this edition, The Layman gives you a sampling of that initiative. We hope our stories, columns and editorials will encourage you to go to the New Wineskins Web site – www.newwineconvo.org – and read the group’s constitution, which includes the theological essentials, moral imperatives, vision statement and polity.
Then ask yourselves, your pastor and your session members some questions: Isn’t this more faithful and upbuilding than the current declining state of the PCUSA? Aren’t we obligated by God to be unified according to his revelation and his standards? Can we risk the backlash that has already begun – even among some evangelicals – against a vision that calls for bold action? Can we help make the New Wineskins Initiative even more faithful? Are we willing to “pay the price” – even if that means loss of church property – for being faithful?
Ask those questions in light of Scripture and the answers the New Wineskins Initiative proposes in its constitution.
Don’t prejudge the initiative because a presbytery executive, a member of the denomination’s national staff or even a renewal group harrumphs. Put the issues on the table for discussion and prayer.
The motto of the Reformation was “Reformed and being Reformed according to the Word of God.” We emphasize “according to the Word of God” because that link with Scripture has been all but obliterated from today’s words and actions of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The New Wineskins Initiative is a faithful, bold attempt to reclaim the church’s greatest treasures: the absolute Lordship of Christ and the compelling infallibility of Scripture.