ECO theology


As I previously announced, our church is in the process of gracious dismissal into ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. One of the more impressive aspects of ECO is their commitment to theological revitalization, including this year’s push to have every member church do a study of the French Confession of 1559. More significantly, ECO requires the officers of every church to affirm the Essential Tenets of the Reformed confessions. I highly encourage everyone to read the document (the tenets begin on page 5). It is an excellent expression of our faith — clear, warm, irenic. It also exhibits a precise grasp of the Reformed faith in each of the loci.

The section on election is notably Reformed, even more than I expected. It is very well-written, with due attention to the Incarnation and election’s purpose of witness to those outside the covenant (“We are not elect for our own benefit alone”). This is not to say that a pure Barthian (if such a thing exists) would be entirely satisfied. The ordo salutis for election follows the classic Reformed paradigm, yet there is no reciprocal statement on reprobation — for which I am grateful, since such statements tend to imply a symmetry between election and reprobation.

There is also an extensive study guide for the Essential Tenets, developed for a classroom setting. They have created both a Leader’s Guide and a Participant’s Guide.



      • Yeah I know that and I love Calvin as well, but it always surprises me how the reformed think the 15th century was close enough to perfect so let’s role with that.
        Do you have to agree to 39 and 40 to be eco?

      • I think you misunderstand — the Essential Tenets are what has to be affirmed, not the French Confession. I have the links for each document in the post.

        And, ECO takes a more moderate position, in regard to the 16th/17th century Reformed confessions, than other more conservative Presbyterians (the PCA and OPC). The most obvious example is our affirmation of women’s ordination, which is prohibited in our confessions. Also, in the past, the Westminster Confession has been changed to reflect American views on separation of church and state. So, we do recognize the need (albeit limited) to reform/change the confessions at times.

      • Actually, #40 is helpful especially as applied in a contemporary setting to folks in politically conservative churches who grouse about “paying taxes,” and lamenting the “Muslim socialist” in the White House.

        I don’t quite “despise” the folks in “intentional community” and all that, like Calvin writes. But to the degree that those things get made the sine qua non of Christian community, then they do become a barrier to the gospel – and actually to community as well.

  1. Oh I see that distinction now. My local pastoral prayer partner (who has worked with Eugene Peterson a lot) is thinking about planting an ECO church and leaving the PCUSA. Really interesting stuff being done in ECO.

    • That’s good to hear. We are excited and hopeful for the future. We are especially heartened that ECO has focused on the unique challenges to both church revitalization and planting. It is especially challenging for Protestants who are (rightly) weary of the mega-church model that dominates our landscape and is parasitic on other churches. The challenge is growing and thriving without using the consumerist identity politics that have been borrowed from capitalist enterprises.

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