Last month I wrote about the problem of mission drift. Many organizations have drifted from the original goals of their founders. New Tribes Mission recognizes this as a potential problem and has proactively taken steps to combat this organizational tendency.
New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 by Paul Fleming. Lance B. Latham, who founded Awana Clubs International, was also a co-founder of New Tribes Mission. In the early days of NTM, Doc Latham was known as “the theological watchdog of the mission to keep the fledgling organization on the straight and narrow doctrinally.” Even at its outset, the leadership of NTM was concerned about the potential for mission drift.
Over the last few years NTM’s Theological Consultation Group, of which I am a member, has examined our current doctrinal statement to make sure that it is clearly worded and leaves no room for misunderstanding. A clearly worded doctrinal statement is a good foundation for combating mission drift. Over the last 20 years NTM has developed a number of doctrinal resource papers which are available to our members. These papers elaborate on specific doctrinal issues which face believers and Christian organizations today. As NTM’s Theological Consultation Group discussed various aspects of our doctrinal statement we recognized the need for some of the doctrinal resource papers to be revised and updated. Last summer I worked on revising the paper dealing with Calvinism. That project was fascinating as I enjoy both writing and researching doctrinal topics. There are other NTM doctrinal papers that I could possibly help to revise in the future. I hope to become more involved in a ministry of research and writing down the road.
As a side note, Lance Latham was a student of the well-known Bible teacher William R. Newell. Lance followed in the footsteps of his mentor and became an exceptional teacher of God’s Word himself. It is an honor to have a small part in carrying on the legacy of Doc Latham’s “theological watchdog ministry” for New Tribes Mission.
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The Value of the Gospel
by Lance Latham
Down through the ages of history, Christianity has been subjected to a multitude of influences. There have been creative ideas, new programs, fascinating personalities, fresh approaches to theology, evangelism, missionary activity, and a myriad of other diverse developments in the ongoing mission of the church. It is probably undeniable that, with true spiritual discernment, these developments should be viewed with guarded favor, and given the opportunity to have their part in the cause of Christ.
However, that special and changeless message called “the gospel of the grace of God” must never be subject to creative ideas or diverse developments. The hope of eternal life, the central message of divine revelation, is based upon the finished work of Christ on Calvary’s cross and the offer of divine mercy which issues therefrom. The death of the Son of the living God in space and time and the meaning of that sacrifice is what constitutes this glorious message called the gospel.
Should that message ever be changed, then the door to life is instantly closed and Christianity becomes a mere humanistic religion, fascinating perhaps, but valueless. The most valuable and sacred commodity, therefore, on the face of the earth is the truth of the gospel. This is a sacred message worth living for, worth sacrificing for, and worth gladly dying for. It is the only real value on earth today; it is the truth of all truths to which the church must be dedicated to propagate and protect.