THE CANDLESTAND STATEMENT
To all believers of Reformed faith, and for all that desire to have sound Biblical teaching.
We, churchleaders of different churches and nationalities, being concerned about the growing influence of the Charismatic Movement around the world, and the unpreparedness of our churches to meet its impact, feel obliged to make the following statements about the use of the Holy Bible, the work of the Holy Spirit and the Gifts of Grace.
One of the foremost characteristics of Reformed or Presbyterian churches is that they should always be reforming - Ecclesia Reformata Semper Reformanda. This rule calls the churches that are rooted in the Great Reformation, to a progressive and dynamic attitude, and willingness to always adjust to the Word of God alone - Sola Scriptura. The church must apply its developing insights to God’s Word to the needs of ever changing times and circumstances. This important characteristic of being Reformed should guard the church against formalism, traditionalism, or laziness to meet the concrete needs of the church in her context. Church history shows that the church has striven to be faithful and zealous in living up to the reformed standards and in meeting the criteria of the criteria of being a true church of Jesus Christ.
On the other hand we have to acknowledge that we and other so called ‘traditional churches’ are not always successful in avoiding unhealthy and formalistic views on tradition and also on doctrine. Sometimes we have to admit that churches are trapped in the pitfalls of rigid formalism, traditionalism or dogmatism.
We also observe that many Christian churches tolerate the misleading influence of false teachings in their midst. We briefly mention liberalism, modernism, and wrong forms of ecumenism. This creates a fertile soil for all kind of teaching in the churches, preparing the way for secularism, or the charismatic movement.
Even when we do not recognise the mentioned elements in our own churches, the Bible gives us enough reason to regularly examine ourselves by asking the important questions on the Biblical standards of Christian spirituality and church-life. Do we really strive to live up to these standards? Or have we become lukewarm, and clever in making up arguments, to hide behind our church-walls, avoiding the consequences of our confession, of holiness, of being the children of God’s covenant?
With regard to the work of the Holy Spirit: are we receptive or alert to the leading of the Spirit? Or are we succeeding in suppressing private experiences of the of the Spirit through the Word of God, by not allowing the expression of emotions and special experiences in our worship or in our Christian lives? Are we intentionally losing grip on the ethical aspects of our Christian lives, to grant ourselves a life not transformed by the Word of God, but conforming to the standards of the world?
We do not suggest easy answers to all these questions, however, we should be aware of our responsibility to lead the churches that Jesus Christ has entrusted to us, along the pitfalls and cliffs of all these. If not, we are preparing the ground for falsehood to grow abundantly within our ranks, overcoming and swallowing away our sound teachings. These teachings which, however sound they might be, have not succeeded in preserving the church from lifelessness, lukewarmness and unholiness. Therefore, we humble ourselves before our Lord, and we confess our weaknesses and shortcomings in leading His beloved church, and pledge to make ourselves more available in His service.
At the same time we pray for His wisdom and guidance to fight against any false teaching and prophecy, and to do this in a biblical loving way. Our attitude should be open to other opinions, and receptive to good points and suggestions, and avoid being too quick to judge or prejudice other teachings or understandings of God’s Word. We should show willingness to sincerely seek points of contacts with others, to find together the truth of God’s Word.
Our loving and respectful attitude should not excuse us from persevering in sound teaching, and openly and clearly refute false teachings suited to the desires of men. In order that we may live according to the Biblical standards of persevering in sound doctrine and true Christian life, through faith alone – Sola Fide, dependent on God’s grace alone – Sola Gratia. Let us be patient, let the love of Christ reign in our hearts and determine our attitude.
May the Lord help us, and may His Spirit guide us to understanding the Word of God in preserving the truth in His Church. To Him who is able to establish us by the gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, to the only wise God, be glory forever, through Jesus Christ!
Glory be to Him alone - Soli Deo Gloria! Amen
Amersfoort, Pentecost 2004
Samson E. Akoru, RCEA Kenya
Yohanes Budhi, STTRII Indonesia
Paul Bukenya, PCU Uganda
Kees Haak, RCN-Lib The Netherlands
Lungawiruol Khawbung, RPCNEI India
Yusup A. Lifire, GKSI Indonesia
Ben van der Lugt, RCN-Lib The Netherlands
Simon van der Lugt, RCN-Lib The Netherlands
Alexander Malemelo, CCAP Zimbabwe
Jeremiah Mhlanga, FRC South Africa
Joseph M. Mutei, AEPC Kenya
Sipho Phungula, RCSA South Africa
Gerrit Riemer, RCN-Lib The Netherlands
Hiralal Solanki, RPC India