For those who don’t know, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood recently put forth a statement on biblical marriage called the Nashville Statement. Many are treating this like an act of the church, on par with the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Apostles’ Creed. But there are many problems with this. Tony Arsenal points out that the main problem is that CBMW is not the church, and does not have the authority to speak for the church.
As I also remarked in my comments on the Christology Statement. A parachurch organization is not a Church. It does not speak with the authority of the Church, and it cannot fulfill the obligations of the Church. The same is true when speaking of a non-ecclesiastical coalition of Christians, even Christians who are leaders in the Church. To put it bluntly, CBMW isn’t a Church, and the more than 150 signatories are not a Church.
The prescribed vehicle for the Church to speak is the pulpit. The prescribed time for the Church to speak is the Lord’s Day. The prescribed representative to speak on behalf of the Church is the ordained Elders who are tasked with speaking from the pulpit on the Lord’s Day. This may seem pedantic, but the fact of the matter is that the only time that the Church speaks prophetically (that is, when she speaks the words of God, on behalf of God, in the presence of God, and with God’s authority), is when the Scriptures are exposited and preached in the gathering of God’s people. To issue a statement like the Nashville Statement in such a way is not only not to speak as the Church, but in point of fact undercuts the authoritative speech of the Church on such subjects.
Arsenal also goes on to make it clear that the Nashville Statement is unnecessary and redundant:
The Church has already Clearly Said Everything the Nashville Statement Says
Nothing that is said in the Nashville Statement is new. The Church has been teaching the same thing on the same subjects for millennia. There is not a single signatory who would deny that statement. Why are we reinventing the wheel and allowing nonauthoritative, nonecclesiastical, and piecemeal collection of Christians (many of whom we would disagree with on significant theological subjects) determine and pronounce what the Christian Church believes… when we already have authoritative confessional documents which more clearly say the same thing.
Personally, I’ve been hesitant to jump on the Nashville-Statement bandwagon. Most of you know, I’m hesitant to jump on any bandwagon, but a bandwagon from an organization that is not the church, especially so. I developed a hesitancy of supporting para-church organizations many years ago because so many of them try to usurp the authority and place of the church and fail to be in submission to the church. CBMW and The Nashville Statement are clear example of this usurpation on the part of a para-church organization. I’m grateful to Tony for pointing that out to us. Along with the two above reasons, and the Nashville Statements lack of biblical support, I won’t be signing it. I have taken a vow to uphold the Westminster Confession of Faith. I think that is enough.