The Commitment to applying God's truth to the whole of life
The visible and invisible creation in which we live, is the objective environment, not merely of religious experience, but of all human existence. It is the meeting place between God and human beings. This world, and not some abstract religious world, is the only place we have to enjoy our relationship with God.
Through God's common grace to all His creatures the sun shines on both the Christian and the non-Christian. This means that both Christian and non-Christian may do much good, however imperfect, and may all seek to know and understand many true insights into the working of the creation.
Before the Fall the first couple were both fully spiritual and fully human. There was no contradiction or tension in this. They were physical, feeling, reasoning, intuiting, creative beings, both before and after the Fall. Spirituality is not something "other worldly", but living in right relationship to God and therefore also in right relationship with other objects of His creation. To be "un-spiritual" means to live in a way that demonstrates separation from God.
God, the creator, is the maker and giver of every good gift. The universe displays His delight in creating what is good, beautiful and true. We need to train our minds to see the glory of the Creator behind His creation, while being aware of our own tendency towards idolatry. We are thankful for our humanness, which is not something secondary. It is no shame to rejoice in this creation in an attitude of thanksgiving for what God has given us. Gratitude, not guilt, for the material world is the appropriate response to God's generosity. Real gratitude for what has been given should lead to generous hearts and should be a driving motivation of our lives.
Because of our sins this world is cursed and waits for the righting of all wrongs and its redemption. The Christian's call is to seek God's Kingdom in all of life and to work at limiting the effects of the Fall. This is true in our own individual and community human relationships and also in our relationship with the environment. We receive this earth and all its creatures as good gifts from God and as a responsibility of stewardship. Christians above all others ought to care for the creation. Our calling is both to exercise dominion over the earth for the benefit of humanity, and also to pass our world on to the next generation in as good or better order than we received it.
Often Christians, seeking protection for themselves and their children, or from a misunderstanding of what it means to be holy, retreat from the wider culture by developing a sub-culture and so society is abandoned to go its wicked way. Yet, God has not abandoned the human race, humans all still bear the divine image, and therefore His Glory can still be perceived in all human cultures despite the terrible corruptions of sin. As Christians we are called by the Lord not to withdraw from the world but to be in it, living as salt and light, rejoicing in all that is good in human society and committing ourselves to make a difference in our own way in whatever calling we are placed by the Lord.
There should be neither passive withdrawal from this world nor un-reflected activism within it, but continual communion with God in the context of an engaged life. We actively encourage Christians to demonstrate the Kingdom of God in their field of calling and interest. This allows for a deep sense of rest and trust as we know that our work is not done to earn favour but in partnership with God. We may also rest (without being lazy) in the final outcome of history, knowing that our lives make a difference within it.
Christianity is comprehensive, covering all aspects of life. Scripture makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular, that is, it does not encourage us to think that some activities, such as prayer or evangelism, are more spiritual than other activities, such as caring for children or manual labour. We are each called to live wisely and faithfully in that sphere of life to which God has called us.
As those made in His image, we are called to enjoy God's creation and to delight in using body, mind, and imagination to express our own creativity and to enrich the lives of others as we do. For example, whether it is the appreciation of great art in all the varied disciplines, or whether it is the "hidden art" of serving a well-prepared meal, or digging a ditch, we should honour, and be thankful for the depth and richness which art brings to our lives. We may say that Christianity is "ordinary" because it deals with the stuff of everyday life.
We are committed to encouraging Christians to be active in every sphere that is morally permissible. Evangelicals have sometimes concentrated on the problem of individual sin to the exclusion of the wider purposes of redemption: in that this is incomplete, it is, over the long term, counter productive. A one-sided theology of salvation does not afford the hope we need to keep going or to witness to the potential of Kingdom living to those around us. Rather we are taught that Christ is the Lord of all of life and that our calling is to honour Him in all that we do. We are to take captive every thought, to make it obedient to Christ and to seek to serve Him in every human activity.
With our priority on reason and words, Evangelicals have sometimes neglected the creative and imaginative aspects of life. While we would never want to reduce our emphasis on reason, we do believe it is important to balance this with the proper use of the imagination and creativity. We respect the gift of the artist and the imaginative person who help people to see life from a new perspective. As followers of the Creator we may take pleasure in the gift and joy of art, music and creativity. Likewise, through the sciences we can understand and appreciate the beauty and wonder of God's order in creation, and through our productive and creative work we can take delight in shaping our environment and expressing our uniqueness and humanity. We realise that there are tensions and temptations and that our hearts are easily deceived. Therefore we are to encourage and strengthen those who stand in difficult places.
Christ became incarnate in a particular culture at a particular time in history. He knew His contemporaries, for He was one among them, raised and educated as they were, shaped by the same ideas and customs, and yet He lived in obedience to His Father's will in all that He did and said. On every page of the gospels we see His deep knowledge and understanding of the times in which He lived and of the people to whom He sought to make known the good news of the Kingdom.
While Paul was not directly involved in economics or politics, when he set foot on the European mainland for the first time, he brought with him a message that would radically change the way people understood the world. Over against the then contemporary view of the random caprice of the pagan "gods", the Christian message of the love and justice of the One true, personal and infinite God and an understanding of the value of people made in the image of God, and a view of justice and holiness brought a new perspective on the purpose, meaning and direction of life. Paul's gospel was not only a matter of personal sin management but also a radical discontinuity from the Greek and Roman worldviews.
The call to be transformed in our minds means, among many other things, to evaluate the belief, perspectives and practices of our daily life against that of the Bible, as we seek to structure our lives in the framework and worldview of reality as described to us in the Bible, developing an integrated worldview where the Sovereignty of God is respected over all of His creation.
While Christians should be conversant with and contributing to all parts of their societies, economically, culturally, scientifically and scholarly, the content of their Christianity must not conform itself to the fashions and prejudices of any age. As the doctrines and behaviours of our own age set no universal standard for the Church, so also do all previous ages become relativized before the eternal teachings of God as set before us in the Scriptures.
To resist those cultural ideas and practices which are against God, we must understand them and bring them before the bar of Scripture. Reflection on the Word and on the world is necessary, both for holy living and also for wise communication of the gospel to those around us. Paul spoke the same truth, but he presented it in different ways depending on whether he was in a synagogue with Jews and God-fearing Gentiles, or whether he was on Mars Hill with pagans.
We live out our Christian faith in the midst of many competing worldviews: it is important to know what these are and how they affect our message and methods. If we ignore them they will mostly likely influence us unawares. To communicate and live faithfully we have to work at understanding the intellectual environment of the times in which we live, and we need to give ourselves to people in love if we want to know what idols captivate the hearts of our contemporaries.