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Friday, June 30, 2006

Moderation, over-reaction, systemization and “things”

Around 300 A.D. roughly half of the Church over-reacted to the fear of persecution and conspired to establish a state church that could provide the safety and control that they believed was missing from God’s provisions. This resulted in the first systemized division of the Church with the power to persecute other believers. A few major regional splinters occurred in the following centuries but the Church remained divided primarily between two groups, the persecuted and the persecutors. A few hundred years ago a group of reformers over-reacted to the error of the Roman church and decided to systemize a reformed version of Christianity. Another group over-reacted to their error and developed their own system, “in response”. All of these systems of over-reaction, or SOR’s are certainly not the first efforts of men to undertake the ironic effort of establishing rules for living by faith but they have each served to keep believers separated over the centuries. While the persecutors are less violent than in times past, the persecution has expanded to the point where nearly all the Church participates in some form of persecution or harassment toward other believers.

One of the primary achievements of these founding SOR’s was the establishment of a clear list of “things” that are good and things that are evil and to provide the means for condemnation or affirmation in all future things. This lead to a plethora of SOR’s who find good in some things where others find evil and vise versa. Each SOR has served to further divide the Church. One SOR finds the use of alcohol an abomination. Their solution is to develop a catechism or a statement of faith, persuade the masses, call for solidarity then petition for legislation that gives God the help He needs to direct men in the ways of righteousness through persecution. A key ingredient to the success of any SOR is the ability to provoke passion in the hearts of men for one or more “things” and this has become progressively easier over the centuries. Where once the fear of death was needed, today men are passionate for nearly everything but Christ. As for the things, it’s not just one or two that are at question, but all things. It seems as if the Church might fully divide in half again with one half condemning all things as evil and one half claiming all things are good.

Is it really necessary for us to assign the value of good or evil to inanimate objects? Is it yet another over-reaction to declare all things good simply because the past generation has declared them evil? Should we uphold the personal choice of another as being good simply because we believe it is his choice to make?

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22 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Great to see a new post, Kc.

Some good thoughts, but I am horrified to see the Reformation being called an 'overreaction.' Surely it was the turning back to the true Gospel and the Word of God, even if not satisfactorily.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

6/30/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Nellie Bellie said...

Hey KC...
I am still very new in the beginnings of the church but I see it like this, I let the Holy Spirit guide me in the things that I should or shouldn't be partaking in. The closer we walk to Him I think the choices we make reflect that.

6/30/2006 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor thanks for the welcome and for your honesty as always.

The persecuted Church has existed since Christ. It is not a political entity but a functioning body that reacts only to Christ’ command and the Holy Spirit. The Reformation was a reaction to Roman error and oppression and I think any negative reaction is an over-reaction. The fact that the Reformation failed to bring about a return to Christ’ teachings is evidenced by the many murders and persecutions performed by the Reformers and by the numerous divisions that arise from it. In all of this the Reformers are as guilty as Rome. The Reformers have a much better understanding of God’s gift than Rome but I think this is to their shame. They immediately followed in the footsteps of Rome and have aligned with government to secure their own preeminence. Many continue to seek to impose their sovereignty rather than submit to the teachings of Christ. All successful movements dissolve into the body, as their purpose is unity in Christ through brotherly love and not control.

I know we have opposing perspectives on this but I always welcome your thoughts.

Matthew thanks, it’s good to be able to discuss here again. I can’t share your conviction concerning the Reformation and I’m afraid that many look to the Reformers to find the Truth, rather than to the scripture. If being right is righteousness then I suppose the Reformers do much better than Rome but I’m persuaded that it’s not the hearing or saying of the word but the doing of it that makes us disciples and I don’t see that being a result of the Reformation.

Hi Nellie and thanks for your thoughts too. I think we agree in that our judgments should be to our self. I would add that along with a Spirit guided conscience the scripture is an excellent source for instruction in righteousness but I already know we agree on that. ;-)

6/30/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I believe much of the theology of the Reformers was in error and new light has come since then. However, to say that their stand for the sufficency of God's Word, the need to separate from idolatry and their discovery of the doctrine of justification by faith (even if not conssitently expressed) is deeply unhelpful.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

7/01/2006 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Matthew I didn’t say that they erred in their stand on those doctrines but I think it is historically inaccurate to attribute their discovery or even their popularity to the Reformers. These doctrines were held throughout the Church age. The Reformers even enlisted the Waldenses who had held these things for centuries prior to the Reformation. I think it is historically more accurate to attribute their rise in popularity to the invention of the printing press though, in truth, I give God the glory.

7/01/2006 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

That is a question for the historians (I suppose I am one, but this is not my period!).

I think the weight of evidence suggests that the doctrine of justification by faith alone was largely unheard of between the New Testament and the Reformation, with minor exceptions like the Waldensees.

We know very little about persecuted 'heretical' groups in the Middle Ages and it is by no means certain that they were at all sound in doctrine.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

7/01/2006 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

While I agree that most of the history of the persecuted Church has been hidden or distorted there is still ample evidence that these groups not only held to good doctrine but that they also obeyed the word, unlike the majority of the Reformers. The discovery of “The Key of Truth” in the late 1800’s is a good example of this evidence.

7/01/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Given that you agree with the Reformers on the key issues on which they opposed Rome; is it not rather misleading to say you think that the Reformation was an overreaction?

Would you not agree with me that the Reformation was rather an 'underreation' to the errors of Rome?

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

7/01/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I don't agree that doctrine was the key issue of the Reformers. I think it was control. I think it still is for many.

7/01/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/01/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/01/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor the last thing I want to do is to provoke anyone, and especially not you dear brother, to anger. Please know we do share many of the same passions and beliefs but we each understand responsibility and authority in a different light. You’ve brought up numerous topics here and I hope we can discuss each one over time. If you allow I would like to outline my understanding of the scripture regarding responsibility and authority for your critique.

I find three areas of responsibility toward God with each being assigned authority by Him necessary to accomplish the task for which He holds them accountable. These responsibilities relate to the Church, the government and the individual. The individual is responsible for following the Commandments of love and God has given each of us the authority to judge our own heart to determine if we are acting by faith. To the Church He assigned the responsibility of the Gospel and ordinances of Christ and He authorized her to publish it and perform them throughout the world. He mandates that government be a terror to evil “doers” and grants it authority to make determinations on the “actions” of other men. Accountability for each of these is to God alone.

Problems arise when a particular responsibility and/or authority is usurped or neglected. For example when the Church usurps the governments authority to judge the actions of men or when the government determines doctrine for the Church or when an individual makes a determination on the personal responsibility or rejects the personal authority of another. None of these unfortunate events justify retaliation nor do they relieve the responsibility. As an individual we must love our enemy. The Church must proclaim the Gospel in spite of persecution and government must resist the pressure to legislate religion and popular opinion.

Both Rome and the Reformers usurped individual authority and pressed for allegiance through the authority of government giving themselves the preeminence and not Christ.

7/01/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Ok,
I will have to think about that for a while.
Blessings
timothy

7/01/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Kc, do you really think all of Martin Luther's agonies over his sin and then his joyful discovery of justification was all about control?

I am horrified that you would come near to suggesting such a thing.

Luther's testimony is so powerful. Surely that discovery of grace is one of the greatest events in the history of the Church. Does it not lift your heart and fill you with joy to read of Luther's conversion?

The theolgical heritage of Baptists, Brethren and other Evangelicals can be traced back to the Reformation, not to Anabaptists or mysterious groups whose doctrines are not entirely certain.

Can you name a great preacher or missionary who was not inspired by the Reformation in some way?

I think it is a real shame that you think this way, Kc and I thought I was quite negative about the Reformers.

Yes, the Reformers championed denominations and wrong structures. They persecuted fellow Christians. They courted the world.

Nevertheless, they did far more than any group before them to champion justifcation by faith, whcih is central to the Gospel.

They pointed people to the Scriptures and away from idolatry, even if they faield to always follow the Scriptures faithfully.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

7/01/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

I removed my earlier postings because I'm not writing in the best Christ-like attitude. My mood has clouded my wisdom this morning...
Blessings

7/01/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor I understand.

Matthew please relieve your horror, as I never mentioned Luther, only the Reformation. ;-)

Luther's testimony is as wonderful and precious to me as yours is but he would not take part with the Reformers. He never intended to cause division or to usurp authority in any way; to the contrary he clearly rejected both control and rebellion. He is no more responsible for the action of the Reformers than I am. Again I must press that it was the printing press and not the Reformers that circulated this doctrine that was already being taught by "mysterious groups". ;-)

Are you really horrified? Are you familiar with the atrocities of the Reformers? I would think you might find that such acts being called righteous be much more horrifying.

7/01/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Is it helpful to view the Reformation simply in terms of its bad fruit?

What are the results of the Reformation historically?

Democracy, the Bible in common languages, eventually the spread of the Gospel to heathen lands (it took a long time for that to happen to the shame of Protestants).

Before the Reformation, England was a Catholic country under near absolute Monarchy.

Since the Reformation, it bacme the world's greatest parliamentary system. It spread not only the Bible and Protestantism, but justice and civil rule throughout the nations. Of course, I doubt you Americans will allow yourselves to admit the wonderful good done by the British Empire, but I will say it any way.

None of these things would have happened without the Reformation. God sovereignly used the state church system of the Reformation to enable the survival of Protestantism and its eventual propogation across the world.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

7/01/2006 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

"...you Americans..." ? Is that all I am to you? (grin)

Just so you'll know I love "you Brits". ;-)

7/01/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I know you do. And I love Americans too.

7/02/2006 03:06:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Church history and its interpretation has caused many to have ecclesiastical crisi.

(In general, not directed towards you. A general rule I have noticed)

7/13/2006 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I know that's true Pech but I also think it's good. I see confrontation and debate over these issues as very productive. ;-)

7/14/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Only Look said...

Good thoughts Casey. Well done, but I hope it wasn't motivated in hopes of making a shameless plug for keeping a beer in the fridge. You needn't go round the horseshed with Matthew if that was the case.

:-)

5/30/2007 08:34:00 PM  

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