Adfontes

To the sources with pastor and writer Paul Carter

Anytime you start something new there are bound to be a lot of questions.  As we’ve travelled around meeting with churches and key leaders a few of those questions have emerged as common concerns.  Here they are, with my best attempts at reasonable response, moving roughly from the mundane to the material:

Question:

What does “adfontes” mean?

Answer:

“Ad fontes” is a Latin term that was commonly used in the Reformation era to express a concern for primary sources.  The term literally means “to the sources” or “to the fountain”.   It reflected the belief of the Reformers that back was the way forward and that the original sources (most specifically the Bible) held the key to renewal.  We chose the term for our website for a variety or reasons.  First of all it reflects our core conviction that Scripture is the sole arbiter for all disputes of religion and the supreme source of authority within the church.  Second of all, it points us backward (to the early Baptists, to the English Puritans, to the Reformers) in search of a way forward as a denomination.  Thirdly, and far less profoundly, WhiteHorseInn.org was already taken.

 

Question:

Who exactly is CLRA?  Who is behind it?  How does a person join?

Answer:

At this point there really isn’t much to belong to. CLRA is nothing more than a very small budget, provided by First Baptist Church, Orillia and a very small website.  We have a three person “steering committee” made up of Marc Bertrand, Laurie Morris and Paul Carter who help set the tone and direct the focus but other than that, CLRA is an invitation to a conversation and as such, there is no official membership or structure of identification. 

 

Question:

Does CBOQ know what you are doing?

Answer:

Yes.  I met with Tim McCoy, the Executive Minister of CBOQ in person at his office to inform him of our plans and have also promised to CC him on any significant developments.   Tim will be invited to all our events and meetings and we would welcome his input.  

 

Question:

Isn’t there a concern that an association like this might divide and weaken the denomination?

Answer:

That one probably isn’t a “yes” or “no” answer.  As a Baptist, I am not existentially committed to the necessity of denominational association to begin with, so I struggle to identify with the word “concern”.  I believe in free will association, meaning, that the local church is the primary institution of the Christian faith and that association with other churches occurs on a free will basis upon the perception of agreed upon benefits.  Historically the main benefits were seen as pastoral fellowship and education, dispute consultation and foreign missions.  As such, my approach to denominational association is to enjoy it if there is discernable benefit to the health and mission of the local church to which I am responsible or to the obvious progress of the Gospel mission abroad.  The goal of CLRA is to ascertain such benefits and if possible, to strengthen the rational for deeper partnership.

Let me use the example of foreign missions as a case study.  One of the reasons that Baptists began to associate was in order to pool their resources for foreign missions.  I wholeheartedly endorse that rational, but with Andreas Kostenberger and Peter O’Brien, believe that the potential utility of mission partnership is entirely dependent upon the extent of the theological agreement that exist between potential partners. 

“Without a well defined, clearly delineated gospel, mission will become increasingly ineffective, if not entirely meaningless.”[1]

With that in mind, far from weakening the denomination, if CLRA is successful in its mission the entire basis for missionary partnership will be strengthened and reinforced.  Having said that, the possibility exists that CLRA will not be successful and that rather than deepening the basis of our agreement it will only serve to reveal a deeper and more threatening divide than is presently acknowledged.  In that case, division and separation would serve the cause of the Gospel, allowing us to partner more effectively with others with whom we share more obvious alignment.  If our primary allegiance is to God and our primary concern the extension of his fame and grace throughout the earth, then this would be understood as a good result rather than a tragic one.

Our higher hope, however, is for the renewal of our fellowship and the reinforcement of our existing basis of agreement and it is toward that end that we intentionally strive.

 

Question:

Isn’t it true that CLRA was only formed as a political action group to consolidate support against churches advocating for homosexual marriage?

Answer:

No.  As stated on the homepage introduction, CLRA began as a conversation between two concerned Baptist pastors – myself and Marc Bertrand.  Our concerns though, were not the same.  We had each had two separate experiences that seemed to reveal a deeper division within our association than either of us had previously been aware of.  One of those had to do with homosexuality, but one of those experiences had to do with foreign missions.  What they had in common was a lack of clear agreement within our association on the nature and exercise of Scriptural authority.  That is the common link and it is that issue which provided the initial catalyst for wider conversation.

To hear more about those “canaries in the coal mine” stories, see the blog link on the home page dated February 19th, 2014 co-authored by Marc Bertrand and myself or read the cararies in the coal mine stories now.

All Content ©2017 Paul Carter