Confessionalism, Boundaries, and Discipline

After my recent post about The Elephant Room, I feel it’s appropriate to share with you some thoughts by two of The Gospel Coalition’s council members, D.A. Carson and Tim Keller. Justin Taylor provides an abridged version, but I think the fuller post is worth reading.

Recent discussion, mostly in blogs, regarding the forthcoming Elephant Room conference, sponsored by James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, provides an opportunity to write a few clarifying paragraphs on confessionalism, boundaries, and discipline.

Whatever else The Gospel Coalition has or has not done, it has not prohibited mutual criticism among Council members. We disagree not only on some historic dogmatic matters (e.g., baptism, church governance) but also on an array of pastoral judgments (e.g., multisite churches, approaches to evangelism)—which are of course themselves grounded in our respective understandings of theological issues. On some matters where all Council members are on the same “side” (e.g., complementarianism), we find ourselves in somewhat different places when it comes to implementing our shared theological commitments. At the same time, the richness and detail of our Confessional Statement and our Theological Vision of Ministry demonstrate that we wish to avoid lowest-common-denominator theology. But how do we negotiate the difficult occasions when our foundation documents appear to be skirted, or where boundaries become too porous?

We would like to offer seven reflections on these matters.

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