Vision and Values
Shared Vision and Values
The European region of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) comprises the student movements of 37 culturally diverse nations nonetheless working together. How is this possible?
Since IFES' foundation in 1947 we have been clear that our shared unity lies in our shared gospel – the 'evangel'. Similarly, while the integration of faith and scholarship can be a challenging endeavour, we trust that the same gospel foundations can also bring the focus required for effective partnership in this important field. The clarification of an evangelical theological vision for this purpose is the work of the dedicated Gospel and Academia Project.
Our partnership together in postgraduate student ministry is based around our unity on three foundational values, built on Christ who is our chief cornerstone.
Beginning with Christ
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together. And
He is the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
Everything exists 'from him', 'through him' and 'to him'.
So we seek to encourage one another as we serve Christ in our unique twofold opportunity within the university:
From Christ to our research: in our academic roles we pursue creation’s flourishing, working excellently and serving the good of the university under Christ’s Lordship and in the light of Scripture; and
From our research to Christ: as we trace the way our field points to God’s glory, we praise him and seek to bring others with us, turning our expertise toward persuasive gospel outreach.
Our first orientation means that we are committed to scholarship for the good of God's creation, and engaging in it all the more effectively through the clarity provided by biblical lenses – seeing it as created, and fallen, but being redeemed through the work of God in history revealed in Scripture.
Our second orientation means that we want to verbalise creation's praises back to its Creator, and to draw as-yet-unbelievers with us. Here we seek to bring the contribution of our expertise to our evangelistic witness, helping to show how the nature of reality – including the questions, assumptions and history of our field – points to the relevance, plausibility and beauty of the gospel of Christ.
We want to pursue this common mission together in a way that recognises the deep connections between our relationship to God, our relationship to knowledge, and our relationship to one another:
Attitude to God: We want to work with intellectual humility and worship, obedience and trust – because our knowledge is not self-existent but received as a gift from God.
Attitude to knowledge:
God has made us rational creatures to pursue truth. We learn through our experience of his creation (‘general revelation’) and through our participation in Christ, as the Holy Spirit helps us understand Scripture (‘special revelation’).
We recognise that these are mutually-informing and that our interpretation of one is helped and corrected by the other. At the same time we recognise their asymmetrical relationship. Through special revelation the Spirit’s ongoing re-creative work overcomes the effects of the fall in our lives, including in our minds. We are called to respond to Christ and to Scripture with our personal trust.
Attitude to one another: We want to share our knowledge generously without boasting; where we disagree we seek neither to judge nor hold in contempt, but act in love – especially toward our fellow believers.
Our mission statement is framed around the gospel – both as it bears implications for our academic work, and as we bring acceptable worship to God through Christ, including our public witness and evangelism. Inevitably, clarity on our mission together requires clarity on the gospel – in which we want to continue 'established and firm' (Colossians 1:23).
So we want to pursue our shared mission together from a position of generous, humble confidence in the historic truths of biblical Christianity as summarised in the IFES doctrinal statement, placing us within a classical Protestant evangelical tradition.