A Pentecost message from Secretary General of the WEA, Thomas Schirrmacher
During the handover ceremony inaugurating my term as Secretary General, I referred to Holy Scripture as the constitution of Evangelicals. Here is a slightly edited excerpt from my remarks:
We are deeply convinced that the Bible is the confession of the Church. But the idea of a paper document that would rule the people comes from the Old Testament. For the ancient Hebrews, the Torah was above the king and everyone else. Some people mock us and say the Bible is our ‘paper Pope’. We are proud to have a paper Pope, because it assures us that none of us, including me, are above the Word of God.
The Westminster Confession of 1647 states, ‘The supreme judge by whom all controversies of religion are to be determined and all decrees of councils or opinions of ancient writers and doctrines of man and private opinions are to be examined and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other…’—and now you would expect it to say ‘than the Scriptures’. But no! In 1647, they said the supreme judge ‘can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture. We believe the Holy Spirit is ruling His Church, but this is not in opposition to Holy Scripture. Rather, the Spirit is the author of the Holy Scriptures and is using His constitution, the Scriptures, to rule the Church. That for us is the DNA of Christianity and it is what evangelicals are all about.
The World Evangelical Alliance is complete only if the World Reformed Fellowship sits alongside the Pentecostal World Fellowship under our umbrella—just to mention two close friends of the WEA. It is complete only if Bible-believing Anglican bishops sit with the modern apostles of the independent churches. It is complete only if the enormous emphasis on Bible and the church inherited from Reformation times 500 years ago, which preserved the faith of the early church, kisses the ever-new revival movements inspired by the author of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost changed the world thanks to a sermon by Peter on a text from Holy Scripture, which the Holy Spirit powerfully used to initiate world mission. In the same way, let us seek our unity in Christ with the Bible in hand and with our eyes and ears open to the move of the Holy Spirit.