The Reduction of Christianity is also designed to accomplish several other things. First, we want to show the importance of creeds and their usefulness in disagreements over doctrinal positions. Second, we want to set the record straight by defining terms. What do Christian reconstructionists really believe?5 Third, we clearly show that Christian reconstructionists have always distanced themselves from the distinctive of New Age humanism and all movements that teach any degree of human autonomy, that is, that man is a law unto himself, independent from the rule of God in his life, This is so clear in the writings of prominent reconstructionists that it hardly needs to be mentioned in another book, but mention it we will. Fourth, we hope to show that the eschatological view of post-millennialism held by most Christian reconstructionists is in the theological mainstream and has been for centuries.6 A study of church history will make this crystal clear. Christian reconstruc-are not teaching a new view as some might suppose. Fifth, while we differ with a number of Christians on various theological issues, we have not designed this book to be an attack on any man's relationship with Jesus Christ. This is an intramural debate, a dispute within the "household of the faith" (Gal. 6:10). This will be
5. R. J. Rushdoony, a noted reconstruction scholar, responded to an article in the Fall 1986 issue of Policy Review that misrepresented his position with these words: "I was amazed to read 'Apocalypse Now?' in Polity Review. I learned things about myself from reading the article that I never knew !" Policy Review, Winter 1987, p. 88. Rev. Rushdoony went on in his letter to clear up the points of misinformation.
6. George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism: 1870-1925 (TVewYork: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 85-92.
hard for some people to see because there are a good number of references to the critics of Christian reconstruction. Since Dave Hunt's books have precipitated The Reduction of Christianity, some will see our critique as being directed at him personally. This is not our intent, and we believe that a careful reading of this book will show that we have done our best to separate the man from his message.
The church has been marked by division since its inception. The Apostle Paul writes that "there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you" (1 Cor. 11:19). The purpose of these "debates" is to sort out what we believe and then assess whether these beliefs are in accord with the Bible.' Again, these debates are not new to the church. The church has been fighting theological battles for centuries. But how did the early church go about solving its serious theological differences? We can learn a lot from earlier attempts to the church under the banner of the truth of God's Word.
In the midst of mounting secularism and odd religious sects, Mr. Hunt has issued a courageous call for a much-needed "return to Biblical Christianity. ne Most of what he says is very accurate and needed to be said. He has recognized the seemingly heretical implications of statements made by some recognized charismatic leaders and non-charismatic "self-esteem" advocates, and his description of biblical Christianity is generally accurate. Mr. Hunt's books, however, raise an important series of questions. What are the central doctrines of biblical Christianity? How do we know what those doctrines are? How do we decide who is within the Church and who is outside? Where do we draw the lines? Who decides? Can individual Christian writers declare other Christians to be heretical? If so, on what basis?
7. In a letter to the authors, dated August 6, 1987, Dave Hunt agrees: "I appreciate your sincerity and fairness [in sending me a copy of the manuscript before publication] and assure you that I am as determined to see this discussion through as you are."
8. Hunt, B90nd Seduction, chapter 1.
Mr. Hunt's books thus raise the broader issue of Christian unity. On what basis are Christians united with one another? Should we be striving for greater unity? Or, is unity something that will be achieved only in the millennium?
We could describe the unity of the Church from several different perspectives. Ultimately, we are united with one another because all of us who are Christ's are united to Christ, and Christ is not divided (1 Cor. 1:13). Christians are also united sacramentally, because we all participate in the one baptism (Eph. 4:4-6), and we all eat of the one loaf (1 Cor, 10:17), and drink of the same Spirit (1 Cor. 12: 12-13). Thus, there are several senses in which all Christians are a/ready united with one another. Most Christians, however, see unity in terms of doctrinal beliefs. Those who hold the same beliefs are unified. This is the basis of denominationalism. Denominations often start over a disagreement on one doctrinal variance. Many consider the proliferation of denominations as evidence that unity does not exist. Others, despising denominationalism, suppose that they can escape it by being 'independent." Independency is nothing more than single-church denominationalism.
The issue, then, is whether this unity should take on visible form. Obviously, Christians must strive for visible unity, because the Lord of the church prayed for a unity that the world could see (John 17:21). This does not, however, solve all the problems. What form should this unity take? Should denominations dissolve their boundaries and unite in a single administrative structure? Or, should Christians simply cooperate across denominational lines, without any formal union?
Troth and Unity
These are complex questions, and we do not provide a full treatment of them here.9 Rather, we simply wish to make several
9. See the discussion in James B. Jordan, The Sociology of the Church (Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, 1986), pp. 60-82. For a scriptural exposition of unity see D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Basis of Christian Unity: An Exposition of John 17 and Ephesians 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962).
observations about the basis for Christian cooperation and unity. When the question of unity is raised, many conservative Christians immediately object that unity can only be on the basis of truth. We have no quarrel with this, but it is a distortion of the biblical position to set truth and unity in opposition to each other. The church is to be characterized by both, because it is both the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15) and the one body of Christ (Eph. 4:4). We believe that it is sometimes necessary to break ties of cooperation and fellowship as when a church has become apostate. But this raises again the question of how to determine when a church is apostate.
How can the church faithfully hold fast to the truth and still be unified in the faith? One important way to do this is to determine which doctrines are essential to the Christian faith. In one sense, of course, every doctrine of Scripture is necessary, and distortion of one leads to a distortion of all. Yet, the church has always recognized that some doctrines are closer to the core of biblical religion. Certain doctrines are absolutely foundational. Thus, we can cooperate with those who profess the same essentials, while recognizing that there are many, often important, issues on which we may disagree and debate. This has been the vision of the church for centuries: In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity. 10 This does not mean that we ignore our differences, nor should we be indifferent to them. We should strive for unity in all doctrine, "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph. 4:13). In the meantime, though, we should not break fellowship with other Christians over non-essentials. 11
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