This is a summary of a longer mini-book as a proposal for a full-length textbook on Alliance Foundations: Alliance Theology & Hermeneutics. Dr. Paul King is a retired ordained C&MA Official Worker, pastor, theologian, historian, adjunct professor at Crown College, and former Member of Southwestern District C&MA LO&CC. He has taught Alliance History and Theology for the Canadian Central District of the C&MA, conducted ordinand and consecrant seminars on Alliance heritage, authored numerous articles and books on Alliance history and theology, served as Scholar-at-Large at Alliance Theological Seminary, and was awarded the 2006 Scholar of the Year at Oral Roberts University
Note: For brevity, documentation has not been cited in this summary, but extensive endnotes will be included in the fuller paper.
ESSENTIALS, DISTINCTIVES, OPEN QUESTIONS:
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE 3-TIER ALLIANCE THEOLOGICAL HERMENEUTIC
By Paul L. King, Th.D., D.Min.
INTRODUCTION—WHY THIS PAPER?
As I read and study the wealth of writings from A.B. Simpson and other early Alliance leaders, what richness and depth I encounter, far beyond the basics of the great foundation of the Fourfold Gospel than most have read. As I have dialogued with other Alliance leaders on Facebook, over Zoom, telephone, and in conferences and seminars, I have seen how little many Alliance leaders really know about our heritage.
Dr. Arnold Cook, former president of the C&MA in Canada warned about what he calls “generational slippage” or “historical drift,” “the inherent tendency of human organizations to depart over time from their original beliefs, purposes, and practices, which in the Christian context results in the loss of spiritual vitality.” Of course, what one person calls drift and another person calls drift may vary. This study is intended to ferret out what Simpson and the early leaders intended to be the essential standards and distinctives of the Alliance from which to avoid drift, and what are open questions or secondary issues which have greater flexibility.
WHAT IS THE THEOLOGY OF THE CHRISTIAN AND MISSIONARY ALLIANCE?
That is a question that has been simmering and perhaps coming to a boiling point in the 21st century. Because of the nature of the Alliance “big tent,” Alliance theology and hermeneutics have not been articulated clearly across the board through the years. Consequently, various theologies and hermeneutics have been propagated as “Alliance”, some of which are actually in conflict with Alliance theology and hermeneutics, or have been elevated to the level of 1st or 2nd tier doctrines, when our founders intended them to be 3rd tier non-essential open questions.
Since we are a big tent, pastors and leaders coming into the Alliance from other varied backgrounds have brought with them their favorite Bible teachers and preachers, on every end of the theological spectrum, such as John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Paul Washer, John Stott, C. Peter Wagner, and Bill Johnson, to name just a few, who often have great biblical teaching in some areas, but unfortunately do not share Alliance beliefs and values; and some of their teachings or emphases actually conflict with Alliance theology and practice. I have also heard others say regarding a vast array of issues that they want to move away from, dis-identify with, significantly modify, and/or discard some historic Alliance doctrines and practices: Continue reading