Background to the development of the original AEA Statement of Faith and the Supplementary Statement of Faith
The original “Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Alliance” was one of the constitutional documents of the Australian Evangelical Alliance. When it was adopted it was typical of many evangelical statements. It is, for instance, very similar to the Statement of Faith of the World Evangelical Alliance.
The Statement provides the theological foundation for the Alliance. An Explanatory Note added to the original Statement notes that it was not to be regarded as a creed, it was not to be seen as defining “the limits of Christian brotherhood” and it pointed out that the Statement’s selection of certain tenets, and the omission of others, was not to be held as implying that the former constituted “the whole body of important Truth, or that the latter are unimportant.”
The Statement, in others words, was not a full statement of Christian faith, it simply identified the common foundation on which the members of the Alliance agreed and by which the work of the Alliance would proceed.
One consequence of this is that the Statement makes no reference to many important Christian beliefs. There is no explicit reference to “love”, “grace”, “forgiveness”, or even “evangelism”. Obviously, this is not because the Evangelical Alliance did not accept these biblical concepts or thought that they were unimportant, it was simply because, as the Explanatory Note observes, the Statement did not intend to set out a thorough and comprehensive systematic theology. It was content to identify certain aspects of faith that were considered to be distinctive of evangelical belief and which were sometimes the subject of contention.
Over time, however, it was recognised that the absence of certain central Christian convictions and the general style of the Statement meant that it did not necessarily present to a contemporary audience all that the Evangelical Alliance stood for. So in the year 2000 the AEA Board adopted a supplementary Statement of Faith that could also be used to represent the Alliance’s convictions.
It is extremely important to keep in mind that the Explanatory Note to the Supplementary Statement indicates that this new statement was not seen as contradicting anything that was contained in the original Statement of Faith. Indeed, the original Statement remains as the constitutional Statement of Faith for the Alliance. Nothing in that original Statement has been repudiated.
The Supplementary Statement of Faith thus stands alongside the original Statement of Faith as a constitutionally subordinate but more contemporary, and in some instances, fuller expression of evangelical conviction.