The Cambridge Declaration of 1996

of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
April 20, 1996

Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than
by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover
the historic Christian faith.
In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word
"evangelical." In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide
diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the
essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of
the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the "solas" of the
sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.
Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that
the word "evangelical" has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning.We face the
peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because
of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our
commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These
truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that
they are central to the Bible.

Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority
Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church's life, but the evangelical church today has
separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too
often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing strategies, and the beat of the
entertainment world often have far more to say about what the church wants, how it
functions and what it offers, than does theWord of God. Pastors have neglected their
rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical
authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian
consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been
increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.
Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of consumers, we must
proclaim the law as the only measure of true righteousness and the gospel as the only
announcement of saving truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church's
understanding, nurture and discipline.
Scripture must take us beyond our perceived needs to our real needs and liberate us from
seeing ourselves through the seductive images, cliche's, promises. and priorities of mass
culture. It is only in the light of God's truth that we understand ourselves aright and see
God's provision for our need. The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the
church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the
preachers opinions or the ideas of the age.We must settle for nothing less than what God
has given.
The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be disengaged from Scripture.
The Spirit does not speak in ways that are independent of Scripture. Apart from Scripture we would never have known of God's grace in Christ. The biblicalWord, rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth.

Thesis One: Sola Scriptura
We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which
alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our
salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.
We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the
Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that
personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Solus Christus: The Erosion of Christ-Centered Faith
As evangelical faith becomes secularized, its interests have been blurred with those of the
culture. The result is a loss of absolute values, permissive individualism, and a substitution
of wholeness for holiness, recovery for repentance, intuition for truth, feeling for belief,
chance for providence, and immediate gratification for enduring hope. Christ and his cross
have moved from the center of our vision.

Thesis Two: Solus Christus
We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical
Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our
justification and reconciliation to the Father.
We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ's substitutionary work is not declared and
faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Sola Gratia: The Erosion of The Gospel
Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature. This false
confidence now fills the evangelical world; from the self-esteem gospel, to the health and
wealth gospel, from those who have transformed the gospel into a product to be sold and
sinners into consumers who want to buy, to others who treat Christian faith as being true
simply because it works. This silences the doctrine of justification regardless of the official
commitments of our churches.
God's grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation.We
confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating
with regenerating grace.

Thesis Three: Sola Gratia
We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God's wrath by his grace alone. It is the
supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our
bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.
We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or
strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by
our unregenerated human nature.

Sola Fide: The Erosion of The Chief Article
Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. This is the article
by which the church stands or falls. Today this article is often ignored, distorted or
sometimes even denied by leaders, scholars and pastors who claim to be evangelical.
Although fallen human nature has always recoiled from recognizing its need for Christ's
imputed righteousness, modernity greatly fuels the fires of this discontent with the biblical
Gospel.We have allowed this discontent to dictate the nature of our ministry and what it is
we are preaching.
Many in the church growth movement believe that sociological understanding of those in
the pew is as important to the success of the gospel as is the biblical truth which is
proclaimed. As a result, theological convictions are frequently divorced from the work of
the ministry. The marketing orientation in many churches takes this even further, erasing
the distinction between the biblicalWord and the world, robbing Christ's cross of its
offense, and reducing Christian faith to the principles and methods which bring success to
secular corporations.
While the theology of the cross may be believed, these movements are actually emptying it
of its meaning. There is no gospel except that of Christ's substitution in our place whereby
God imputed to him our sin and imputed to us his righteousness. Because he bore our
judgment, we now walk in his grace as those who are forever pardoned, accepted and
adopted as God's children. There is no basis for our acceptance before God except in
Christ's saving work, not in our patriotism, churchly devotion or moral decency. The gospel
declares what God has done for us in Christ. It is not about what we can do to reach him.

Thesis Four: Sola Fide
We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.
In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of
God's perfect justice.
We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an
infusion of Christ's righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that
denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion of God-CenteredWorship
Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the
gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason:
our interests have displaced God's and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God's
centrality in the life of today's church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows
us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing
into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being
successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest
too inconsequentially upon us.
God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or
our own private spiritual interests.We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the
satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern
must be for God's kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.

Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for
God's glory and that we must glorify him always.We must live our entire lives before the
face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.We deny that we can
properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either
Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are
allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.
Call To Repentance And Reformation
The faithfulness of the evangelical church in the past contrasts sharply with its
unfaithfulness in the present. Earlier in this century, evangelical churches sustained a
remarkable missionary endeavor, and built many religious institutions to serve the cause of
biblical truth and Christ's kingdom. That was a time when Christian behavior and
expectations were markedly different from those in the culture. Today they often are not.
The evangelical world today is losing its biblical fidelity, moral compass and missionary
We repent of our worldliness.We have been influenced by the "gospels" of our secular
culture, which are no gospels.We have weakened the church by our own lack of serious
repentance, our blindness to the sins in ourselves which we see so clearly in others, and
our inexcusable failure adequately to tell others about God's saving work in Jesus Christ.
We also earnestly call back erring professing evangelicals who have deviated from God's
Word in the matters discussed in this Declaration. This includes those who declare that
there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ, who claim that those
who reject Christ in this life will be annihilated rather than endure the just judgment of God
through eternal suffering, or who claim that evangelicals and Roman Catholics are one in
Jesus Christ even where the biblical doctrine of justification is not believed.
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals asks all Christians to give consideration to
implementing this Declaration in the church's worship, ministry, policies, life and
evangelism. For Christ's sake. Amen.

ACE Council Members:
Dr. John Armstrong
Rev. Alistair Begg
Dr. James M. Boice
Dr.W. Robert Godfrey
Dr. John D. Hannah
Dr. Michael S. Horton
Mrs. Rosemary Jensen
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Dr. Robert M. Norris
Dr. R. C. Sproul
Dr. G. Edward Veith
Dr. DavidWells
Dr. LuderWhitlock
Dr. J. A. O. Preus, III

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