The Reformation 500 Franschhoek Declaration - 30 October 2017

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The participants and representatives gathered at the Reformation 500 Conference held in the historic Dutch Reformed Church in Franschhoek, on the 30th Day of October in the year of our Lord, 2017, reaffirm our faith, trust, loyalty, love and commitment to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

 

The Five Solas of the Reformation
At this historic time, we reaffirm the great principles of the Protestant Reformation: Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Scripture alone is our ultimate authority. Salvation is by the grace of God alone. Justification is received by faith alone. Everything is to be done to the glory of God alone.

 

Firm Foundations
We reaffirm our commitment to the historic, traditional Christian Faith as expressed in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed and the Great Confessions of the Church: The Heidelberg Confession, The Synod of Dort, The Westminster Confession of Faith and The London Confession of Faith of 1689.

 

Firm Foundations
We reaffirm our commitment to the historic, traditional Christian Faith as expressed in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed and the Great Confessions of the Church: The Heidelberg Confession, The Synod of Dort, The Westminster Confession of Faith and The London Confession of Faith of 1689.

The Authority, Sufficiency and Inerrancy of Scripture
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”
2 Timothy 3:16. Scripture possess authority because it is the Word of God and God Himself has bestowed authority to His revealed Word. The sufficiency of Scripture is the adequate Biblical Revelation of God to His people at every stage of redemptive history. Right now, believers have the complete Revelation which is sufficient for salvation, trust, obedience, and righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Ps. 119:1).In affirming the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, we affirm that the Bible is the plenary, verbal, infallible and inerrant Word of God. We are persuaded that to deny the inerrancy of Scripture is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God’s own Word which marks true Christian Faith.

 

Facing the Threats

As a conference, we have discussed the serious threats to religious freedom, the attacks on the family, the basic building block of society, the undermining of traditional, Biblical marriage and undermining of freedom of conscience. There is no doubt that we are involved in a world war of worldviews, a cultural war, a clash of civilisations. In this battle for the mind, battle for the heart and battle for the family, it is vital that Christians stand firm on the rock of God's Word and turn the tide against immorality, injustice, corruption, pornography, perversion, idolatry and abortion. Much of Christian civilisation has been hijacked and many millions of Christians are suffering oppression and violent persecution, especially in Muslim and communist states in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

 

True Freedom

Freedom must include the liberty to obey God, the freedom to know God's Will and to do it. Freedom is much more than a right, it is a duty and responsibility. We are warned in Scripture to be aware of those who promise freedom, but are themselves slaves of corruption (2 Peter 2:19). We recognise that The Ten Commandments are God's perfect Law of Liberty. Adherence to God's Law protects freedom of worship, freedom of speech, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of the family, private ownership of property, truth, reputation and freedom of conscience. "The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statues of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple." Psalm 19:7

Recognising the Challenges
We recognise that we are facing a resurgent paganism, a pervasive humanism and an aggressive secular agenda, which threatens freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

 

Religious Freedom

Religious liberty must include the freedom to proclaim the God of the Bible to be the only true and living God and to objectively point out errors in other religions. "Jesus answered: 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6

Freedom Under Fire
Freedom needs respect for life and property and respect for divergent opinions and convictions. The South African government’s Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) Report on the “Commercialisation” of Religion which proposes the licencing of all Religions practitioners and regulation of churches through state- prescribed umbrella bodies is unnecessary, unworkable and unconstitutional. Similarly, the so-called Hate Speech Bill threatens to undermine freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. Religious freedom is a fruit of the Reformation. We will, by prayer and action, resist all attempts to limit religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

Mobilising Christians in Evangelism
It is shameful that so few Christians regularly share the Gospel with unbelievers and are thereby disobeying Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Every church should be mobilising their members in daily witnessing and involvement in regular outreaches.

 

The Biblical Duty of Parents to Train their Children to Love God and His Creatures

The recent ruling (19 October) in the Gauteng High Court that it is illegal for parents to spank their children is a direct violation of a parent’s Biblical duty to lovingly discipline their children.

 

Educational Freedom

Religious freedom must include freedom for parents to educate and discipline their children according to the Bible, whether in public schools, independent or church schools, or home schooling (Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:1-7; Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 2:8). No state may lawfully interfere with how parents raise their children, or how churches and independent schools educate their children. Children are not made in the image of the state, but in the image of God and are entrusted to parents to bring up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

 

The recent OGOD vs 6 schools case (28 August) that ruled that no government school may brand themselves as a Christian school is a violation of the freedom of the governing bodies of those schools to determine the religious ethos of that school.Parents should be able to decide the religious ethos of the school through the School Governing Body, which has mostly been the case up until now. Christians should not be intimidated by this judgement into removing the public reading and teaching of the Bible or the sharing of their Christian convictions during school assemblies, classes or any other school events.

 

Government Interference and Financial Burden on Private Schools and Bible Colleges
The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill – requiring that all homeschoolers register with government, and that their curriculum must conform to the government CAPS curriculum, is state interference in the religious and educational freedom of parents and is an unnecessary, financial burden and time-wasting requirement. The Constitution of South Africa already recognises the rights of parents to home educate their children. Therefore, this Amendment Bill is in violation of the Constitution.

 

We praise God that Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) won their recent court case (October 2017) against the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) who had declared the ACE matric qualification invalid. All Christians should reject and resist government interference with religious and educational freedom and the unnecessary financial burden placed upon private schools, home education curriculum providers and Bible Colleges to be accredited by government authorities.

 

Biblical Worldview of Education
We affirm
that the Bible provides the only adequate and coherent worldview and foundation for all philosophy, ethics, law, government, science, the arts and educationand that Christian parents are obligated by God to guide and educate their children to think, decide, feel and act in all areas of life according to the worldview presented in the Bible.We may not righteously allow our children to be indoctrinated in worldviews which oppose the Biblical worldview.“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. We have the right to disagree with the spirit of the age.

 

We affirm that God has given parents’ custody, jurisdiction and authority over their children, as stewards to raise them as servants of Christ, to seek to discern their calling and to train, discipline and educate them in the Biblical worldview. Parents may not rightfully yield their jurisdiction or authority to the civil government.

 

We deny that, Biblically, the civil government has ownership, jurisdiction or authority over children, or that the civil government has authority to usurp the stewardship to raise and educate children entrusted by God to the parents.

 

We further deny that the civil government or the church may interfere with a parent’s education of their children except in some matters of abandonment, or criminal justice, or may impose requirements, standards or methods for training, educating or disciplining their children. Therefore, we note that it is only right and in the best interests of the child, that parents must be allocated educational vouchers to finance the educational option of the parents.

 

Sanctity of Life

We affirm that the infinite, personal, Triune God of the Bible created man in His image; andbecause all humans bear the image of God, God forbids murder. Since man is the image of God, each life is of inestimable value from conception to death. The killing of over 1.4 million pre-born babies by abortion, often with taxpayer’s money, is an abomination in the sight of our Creator and Eternal Judge. We urge every Christian to educate and enlist, and to motivate and mobilise others in the Fight for Life. Recent attempts to legalise euthanasia through the courts are also a violation of the sanctity of life and should be resisted.


Homosexuality
We affirm
that Scripture describes homosexuality, in thought, desireor behaviour,as sin.

We deny that a practicing homosexual may be a pastor, a teacher, or hold any other office of service in Christ's Church,or be a communicate member.

 

Biblical Marriage

We affirm that marriage is a loving partnership between one man and one woman, for life.

We deny that same-sex couples may enter into holy matrimony in the eyes of God. No one has the right to re-define an ordinance of the Church and to require churches to accept the re-defining of marriage to include what the Bible condemns as perversion and an abomination.

 

Freedom From Sexual Immorality and Exploitation

Those who condemn human trafficking should also condemn pornography which is propaganda for a rape culture. Indeed, pornography markets and creates the demand for prostitution and human trafficking. Pornography is the theory, rape is the practise. No civilised country can tolerate the exploitation of women's bodies for profit through pornography and prostitution. "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'" Galatians 5:13-14

 

Long-Term Solutions to South Africa’s Political Crime, Chaos and Corruption

All civil law should be based on God’s Law (the Ten Commandments) and Biblical principles for civil government. Churches need to disciple their congregations in a comprehensive Biblical Worldview that includes these principles. Practical long-term solutions to South Africa’s political chaos and constant conflict should include the decentralisation of municipalities – restoring the civil governance of municipalities into the hands of ratepayers and homeowners who built up those communities. Referendums on important issues, term limitations and a system of recall for those in political office, could go a long way to reducing corruption and energising the involvement and voice of ordinary citizens in political issues that affect them. Municipal police should be trained from among and accountable to the communities that they serve.

 

Biblical Principles for Preventing and Fighting Crime

The reformation of the family would go a long way to preventing crime. We affirm that the state is God’s minister of justice (Romans 13: 1-7). Restitution is to be paid by the criminal to the victim of the crime. The death penalty should be reinstated for murderers and rapists.

 

Rejecting Evil

It is not acceptable to justify evil in the name of freedom. There should be no freedom for blasphemy, perversion, sodomy, cruelty to animals, rape, child abuse, human trafficking, pornography, prostitution, euthanasia, or abortion. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1

 

Foundational Truths

As a conference, we endorse and recommend for further study, the Coalition on Revival Reformation FIRE documents, including, The Authority of Scripture, The 42 Essential Articles of a Christian Worldview; A Manifesto for the Christian Church; 25 Articles on the Kingdom of Godand95 Theses for Reformation Today.

 

For Reformation and Revival

We must give our highest priority to loving, worshiping, serving, obeying and honouring God. We must seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and His righteousness, fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:20-31). We call on all who love the Lord Jesus Christ to, by God's grace, resolutely work for Biblical Reformation and to earnestly pray for a Holy Spirit-empowered Revival.

 

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, for all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

 

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