Cambridge Declaration

Not to be confused with the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness.

The Cambridge Declaration is a statement of faith written in 1996 by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, a group of Reformed and Lutheran Evangelicals who were concerned with the state of the Evangelical movement in America, and throughout the world.[1][2]


"No Place for Truth"

Both the conference and the eventual declaration came about as a result of David F. Wells' 1993 book No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (ISBN 0-8028-0747-X). This book was highly critical of the Evangelical church in America for abandoning its historical and theological roots, and instead embracing the philosophies and pragmatism of the world.

While not a best seller, the book was critically acclaimed by a number of important Evangelical leaders. In 1994 a number of these leaders formed the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Since much of Wells' thesis stemmed from the modern church's abandonment of historical confessions of faith (such as The Westminster Confession and the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith), the Alliance was based upon Evangelicals who not only adhered to these Reformed confessions of faith, but were able to direct their ministries accordingly.

The two principal players involved in spearheading the conference from which the Cambridge Declaration emerged were James Montgomery Boice of Evangelical Ministries (Philadelphia, PA), and Dr. Michael S. Horton of Christians United for Reformation (Anaheim, CA). Like Wells, Horton and Boice were both strong critics of the shallow nature of contemporary Evangelicalism, and had published a book to that effect [see: "Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church" (1993) edited by Horton, and featuring Boice as a contributing author]. Later in 1996, these men joined forces by merging their respective organizations into The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

Conference in Cambridge

Eventually a conference was held between April 17-20 1996 in the town of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The choice of location was deliberate, since Cambridge was the seat of Harvard and thus the center of ecclesiastical and intellectual life in 17th century America. Cambridge was also the location of The Cambridge Platform, a declaration of church polity made in 1648 by New England Puritans.

Approximately 100 delegates from around the world gathered for the four-day conference, with the explicit intention of creating an official declaration that would be released once the conference concluded. The conference was also important because it included the presence of evangelical Lutherans, who had traditionally kept themselves apart from mainline Evangelical and Reformed movements.

Throughout the conference, a document was drafted and suggestions / changes were solicited from the various delegates. The two principal authors of the Cambridge Declaration, however, were Dr. David F. Wells, and Dr. Michael S. Horton. The various papers delivered at the conference were later edited and published in the book Here We Stand (Baker Books), edited by James Montgomery Boice and Ben Sasse (republished in 2004).

Reasons for the Declaration

The conference, and the eventual declaration that was created, was broadly influenced by the following:

Content of the Declaration

The declaration is a call to repentance for the evangelical church in order to reaffirm the historical Christian truths that are articulated by The Five solas and deny modern teachings:

1. Sola Scriptura: The Erosion Of Authority

  • A reaffirmation that the Bible contains all things necessary to understand and obey God.
  • A denial that any other form of authority is needed to bind the conscience of the Christian.

2. Solus Christus: The Erosion Of Christ-Centered Faith

  • A reaffirmation that Christ alone and his penal substitutionary atonement on the cross are the means by which all Christians are saved.
  • A denial that the Gospel can be preached without the atonement being declared and without faith being solicited from the listeners.

3. Sola Gratia: The Erosion Of The Gospel

  • A reaffirmation that salvation is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.
  • A denial that salvation is in any sense a work of the human heart, either fully or partially.

4. Sola Fide: The Erosion Of The Chief Article

  • A reaffirmation that a person is justified (declared innocent) before God through faith alone and through Christ alone - that Christ's righteousness is imputed to the Christian.
  • A denial that justification relies upon any human merit, and that churches which teach this cannot be considered legitimate churches.

5. Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion Of God-Centered Worship

  • A reaffirmation that salvation is ultimately for God's glory rather than man's, and that Christians everywhere should understand that they are under God's authority and act for his glory alone.
  • A denial that God can be glorified through "entertainment"-style worship; the removal of law and/or gospel in preaching; and preaching that focuses upon self-improvement, self-esteem and self fulfillment.

Attitudes towards the Roman Catholic Church

The declaration reflects traditional conservative Protestantism in its rejection of the Roman Catholic Church as a legitimate church. This is mainly due to the differences expressed over the issue of Justification. These rejections of the Roman Catholic Church are found implicitly and explicitly in the text of the Declaration:

Criticisms of Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity

The declaration also contains many statements that were intended to criticize the influence and theology of the modern Charismatic movement, along with the continual influence of the historic Pentecostal movement:

Purposes of the declaration, according to participants

- Michael S. Horton
- Robert Godfrey: One of the framers and a member of the United Reformed Church.
- David F. Wells: One of the framers and a member of the Congregational church.
- David F. Wells
- Dr. G. Edward Veith: One of the framers and a member of the Lutheran church.
- James M. Boice: One of the framers and member of the Presbyterian Church.

1996 Signatories

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:


  1. Randall Herbert Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, ISBN 0-664-22409-1, p. 102.
  2. Mark A. Noll, Carolyn Nystrom, Is the Reformation Over?: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism, Baker Academic, 2008, ISBN 0-8010-3575-9, p. 189.
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