Sola 5 defines itself as “An Association of God-centered Evangelicals in Southern Africa.” In order to understand the purpose of Sola 5, it is essential that each element of this purpose statement be correctly understood.
Sola 5 is, first of all, an “association.” The term conveys the commitment of likeminded churches to fellowship and work together as those who recognise a mutual doctrinal position. Sola 5 is not a denominational structure that demands loyalty to a system. It is merely a fellowship of churches, which share the same convictions with regards to doctrine and the ministry of the local church. Hence, for the lack of a better term, such churches have chosen to “associate” with one another.
“God-centred” speaks to the issue of doctrine. All of the churches associated with Sola 5 recognise the biblical premise that salvation is of the Lord. Thus, all teach the doctrines of grace, sometimes referred to as “Calvinism.” In a nutshell, Calvinism teaches that God saves sinners. A God-centred evangelical believes that man is totally depraved, that his only hope to be saved is by God’s unconditional (gracious) election, that Christ died for a specific people (that is, those who were unconditionally chosen), that all whom God chose will be saved, and that they will be finally and fully saved.
Simply put, salvation is God-centred, not man-centred.
“Evangelicals” is a broad term, which speaks of those who hold to the historic gospel and all of its related doctrines. In times past, this term (as we use it) would perhaps be likened to a “fundamentalist” (that is, those who believe the fundamentals of the faith). These fundamentals included (but are not limited to): the triune God; the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures; salvation by grace through faith and not of works; the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the future visible, bodily return of Christ to earth, followed by a general resurrection and final judgement of the living and the dead; and a literal heaven (in which believers will experience eternal blessedness) and a literal hell (in which unbelievers will experience eternal condemnation and torment).
In light of the above, it is important to realise that, within the association, there is great latitude with regard to those teachings that are not considered as foundational to historic Christianity. Thus, the issues of a particular eschatology, missions policies, ministry philosophy, etc., are not issues that affect our fellowship with one another. What is of prime importance is that the associated churches seek to reform according to the Word of God, thereby becoming increasingly God-centred over the years.
IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
This final clause is self-explanatory, but let me flesh it out nonetheless. Sola 5 has representatives from Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. By the grace of God, we trust that one day there will also be the need for a Sola 5 in Northern Africa.