There was plenty of discussion and even gracious disagreement on a proposed statement of cooperation, but each speaker was given respect and each viewpoint received a full and free hearing, so that a consensus statement was approved within a short period of time. The revised and official doctrinal confession and statement of cooperation, which will be published tomorrow, is an excellent example of how Christians can unite in ministry around the essentials, give freedom to one another in disagreement over the non-essentials, and display love toward each another in all things and at all times. Discussion will take place in today's meetings about possible future involvement in cooperative missions and ministry among the churches within the network. Nobody can say for certain if something formal will come out of this fellowship time or not, but if nothing else, the two day event has been a wonderful experience because there are no denominational politics at work in the meeting and there have been no demands for doctrinal conformity on minutiae matters.
There were several speakers tonight, but I wish to highlight the words of Dr. Sam Storms, the theologian who presented the biblical basis for the name 'Antioch.' Dr. Storms took two texts, Acts 11:19-30 and Acts 13:14, and listed twelve characterstics of the Christians in Antioch. These twelve characteristics would descriptively define any churches who would desire to be a part of a proposed 'Antioch Network.'
(1). They so personally cherished and prized the gospel they were willing to die for it (Acts 11:19).
(2). They were energetically and enthusiastically evangelistic (Acts 11:24).
(3). They were hungry for, and obedient to, the whole counsel of God (Acts 11:26).
(4). They were a compassionate and generous people (Acts 11:27-30).
(5). They were thoroughly and wholeheartedly Christ-centric (Acts 11;26).
(6). They were people committed to a convergence of word and Spirit (Acts 13:1).
(7). They were sincerely, and not merely theoretically, multi-ethnic (Acts 13:1).
(8). They were diverse not merely racially, but socially and economically as well (Acts 13:1).
(9). They were thoroughly God intoxicated and theocentric in their worship (Acts 13:1-4).
(10). They were thoroughly Christian hedonists (i.e. 'They desired abundant pleasure - but the pleasure they desired was 'in God' and all that He is in Christ).
(11). They were sensitive and discerning of the Spirit's voice (Acts 13:4).
(12). They had a heart for the nations (Acts 13:1-4).
It is worth noting that out of this group of Christians in Antioch the missionary journeys of Paul were launched. Early Christianity was struggling until these Antioch Christians, as described in Acts, came together to cooperate for the good of the nations. In a scant two and a half centuries later the world would be filled with professing believers, thirteen of the twenty seven books of the New Testament would be a direct result of the churches begun by the efforts of the Antioch Christians, and the name 'Christian' (partisans of Christ) would be spread to every nation of the world.
I do believe Dwight McKissic has landed upon a very good name for this proposed network of churches.
In His Grace,