Alec Hill Responds
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to Christianity Today's article, "Not All Evangelicals and Catholics Together." In particular, I want to address the concern—raised by a relatively small group of fellow believers—that Intervarsity may have watered down its view of justification in order to become more inclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Since 1941, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA has been bringing the Gospel to campuses across America. Our 859 chapters reach out to non-believing students and faculty, develop leaders and equip graduates to pursue God's purposes in the world.
Our purpose has remained unaltered for seven decades. InterVarsity has always been, and will continue to be, unapologetically both evangelical and transdenominational. Our vision is to call students and professors from every church tradition—and those with no faith background at all—to be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our mission field is broad. It includes pagans, Presbyterians and Pentecostalists. It includes Buddhists, Baptists and Brethren. It includes agnostics, Anglicans and Assemblies (of God). And, yes, it includes Catholics too.
InterVarsity believes that Jesus is Lord of the university world. This commitment has placed us on the front line of the faith/culture divide. In recent years, several of our chapters—including those at Rutgers, Wisconsin, Tufts and Grinnell—have been derecognized by university administrators because of our stands on sexual holiness and Christian orthodoxy.
We are thankful for our many alumni who serve in the church, the marketplace and the public sector. A small sample includes Dallas Willard (author/professor), Tim Keller (pastor/author), Gary Haugen (International Justice Mission) and Mike McIntyre (US Congressman).
Our Doctrinal Basis states that we "believe in justification by God's grace to all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation." This sentence is wholly biblical and thoroughly evangelical. No amount of good works can lead to salvation. We are saved by grace alone. Period.
The full Doctrinal Basis may be found at intervarsity.org/aboutus/doctrine.php. I strongly encourage you to read it. It represents a significant upgrade from its 1941 predecessor (also posted) which ironically—given the current conversation—was less robust on the doctrine of justification. Also ironic is the fact that staff from Reformed traditions were instrumental in the redrafting process. The result: a marvelous summation of God's sovereignty and grace that several evangelical ministries have adopted it as their own.
In recent years, we have been chided by some on the liberal end of the theological spectrum for references in our Doctrinal Basis to "God's wrath," "judgment due sinners," and "eternal condemnation." But this is the first time that I have heard concerns coming from the other side of the continuum.
It is also important to note that InterVarsity is one of 150 indigenous national student movements federated under the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). With conviction, we affirm IFES' faith statement—"the justification of the sinner by the grace of God through faith alone."
Finally, the article makes reference to a Bear Trap faith statement. I had never heard of it before the departing George Washington University students raised it as a concern. Apparently, in 1960, a group of staff drafted the document. It was never adopted by our board. As early as 1969—when two of my current vice presidents joined InterVarsity—it was not mentioned during new staff orientation. Very few or our staff today are even aware of its existence.