The Reformation Day Declaration
We, the undersigned, urge all Christians to stand boldly against those who are not being “straightforward about the truth of the gospel”(Galatians 2:14).
We repudiate the expressions of the doctrine of justification contained in the North American documents “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” and “The Gift of Salvation,” and the European document, “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” all written and endorsed by those who, in the interest of organizational unity, are willing to compromise between the Roman Church-State and the Reformation. In these documents Rome actually concedes nothing, while the Biblical and Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone is either abandoned or ignored.
We reject the “New Perspective on Paul,” advanced by writers such as James D.G. Dunn, E. P. Sanders, and N. T. Wright, that argues that Martin Luther and John Calvin at the time of the Reformation misunderstood what the Apostle Paul taught about justification and so constructed an erroneous and misleading doctrine of justification that Protestantism has unwittingly followed to this day.
We denounce the new perspective on covenant and salvation variously styled “Federal Vision,” “covenantal nomism,” “ Neolegalism,” and the “Auburn Avenue Theology.” This theology, based on the false doctrine of Norman Shepherd and others, contradicts the doctrine of justification as enunciated by Scripture and the Reformed confessions. Instead of doing the honorable thing, that is, leaving their communions, many Ministers and Elders in Reformed communions are perverting the Gospel and causing division within their communions with their false teaching that the Christian’s justification is not by faith alone in the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ, but is rather the eschatological result of the believer’s lifelong faithfulness to Christ as seen in his imperfect works of obedience.
These teachers have rejected the clear Biblical teaching that justification is an act of God’s free grace alone in which, forgiving believers of all their sins, He irrevocably imputes to them the perfect righteousness of his Son Jesus Christ as the ground of their justification. In no way do the imperfect works of the regenerate effect, augment, or change their justification before God. Justification is an act of God whereby He declares those for whom Christ died legally righteous forever the moment they place their faith in Christ. (See John 15:4-6, Acts 13:38-39; Galatians 2:16; Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-22, 28; 4:4-15; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Peter 2:4-5.)
These teachers, either minimizing or denying the imputation of Christ’s active obedience to believers, teach that justification is not a purely forensic declaration but a transforming activity in which the believer’s obedience also plays a significant role. This false doctrine of justification includes within it the lie of Satan that Christ’s righteousness is not sufficient for salvation and that an earned righteousness on the part of the believer is necessary for his justification before God.
For these reasons, it is necessary to protest and oppose
this widespread false teaching within Reformed churches and to warn these
errant Ministers and Elders, as the Apostle Paul declares, that those who
would intermingle the believer’s obedience with Christ’s obedience
as the ground or instrument of their final justification before God stand
under God’s own anathema (Galatians 1:8-9). They have made Christ’s
life and death of no value to them (Galatians 5:2), they have alienated
themselves from Christ (Galatians 5:4a), they have annulled the grace of
God (Galatians 2:21), and they have fallen away from grace (Galatians 3:10;
5:4b), because they are trusting in a “different gospel that is no
gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7).
In order to preserve the doctrinal purity and unity of the Reformed churches; and
In order to urge these false teachers to remove themselves from their offices, or be removed by faithful Christians if they do not repent of their errors, we urge that all who love the one true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ join with us and sign this Reformation Day Declaration.
Adopted at Nottingham, Pennsylvania, October 31, 2004.
For a list of those who have left their "digital signature", click HERE