Over 250 prominent scholars, pastors, and church leaders from around the world released on Tuesday a theological statement affirming the essentials of the Christian Faith and the Reformation. And its Protestant authors contend that in this 500th anniversary year, the document is a “catholic” statement in its best sense.
According to the Christian Post, the Reforming Catholic Confession is a document which outlines the main theological commitments held by a wide breadth of Protestant Christians, including evangelicals, since the Reformation. The purpose of such a statement is to demonstrate the remarkable togetherness that exists throughout the world among Protestants on the core elements of Christianity, said Jerry Walls, an author and professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University.
Despite how some Roman Catholics fasten the divisions within Protestantism as a case against it, including the joking about there being 33,000 different denominations — as if the entire legacy of the Reformation is endless religious splintering — the Confession showcases the extensive agreement on the substance of the historic Christian faith, Walls told The Christian Post.
The statement’s signatories include a sizable list of biblical heavyweights who hail from a variety of traditions. Over 110 Christian institutions, over 30 of which are international, are represented.
“I just got the idea that one of the best ways we could actually commemorate the Reformation, and remind people of what really lay behind it and what motivated the Reformers was to come up with a confession of faith that represented the substantial unity among the heirs of the Reformation,” Walls said.
The Reforming Catholic Confession contains 12 articles that outline their beliefs in such basic Christian tenets as “The Triune God,” “The Atoning Work of Christ,” “The Gospel,” and “The Church,” particularly as it relates to what the Reformers accomplished.
The beliefs are followed by 25 “why we say what we say” explanations that capture key cornerstones and dimensions of the Christian faith. No single group of participants got every single thing they wanted expressed in the document, which underwent multiple drafts and lengthy revisions, but they nevertheless arrived at a mutually agreed upon declaration.
On Oct. 31, Protestant evangelicals around the world will mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, objecting to corrupt practices of the Roman Catholic Church, most notably the selling of papal indulgences.