Christianity

That body of truth which is now known as Christianity was identified by the early church as The Faith and This Way (Acts 9:2). According to Acts 6:7 a great company of the priests were "obedient to the faith," and Jude (1:3) contended for the faith once-for-all delivered. Not until Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107?) was the term Christianity introduced. It, like the word Christian, has come into general use today as a representation of that which the apostles revealed in the New Testament, and was itself brought into existence by virtue of Christ's death, resurrection, and present ministry in heaven, as well as by the advent of the Holy Spirit into the world. Of all the religious systems which have been fostered in the world, but two have the distinction of being designed, originated, and (eventually, though not as yet)

consummated according to the specific purpose of God. These are Judaism and Christianity. Though Covenant Theology, with its extended doctrinal influence, has either confused or ignored the distinctions which obtain between the two divinely fostered systems, a recognition of the difference between them is the essential foundation of any beginning or progress in the right understanding of the Scriptures. To demonstrate the truthfulness of this statement, it should be added that, while both of these systems incorporate instructions for daily life here on earth, it can be ascertained by reason of evidence which any unprejudiced person may trace that Judaism is a system belonging to one nation—Israel, that it is earthly in its scope, purpose, and the destiny which it provides, while Christianity is heavenly in its scope, purpose, and the destiny which it provides. It will be seen, as well, though including much that is common to both that they are alike the outworking of opposite principles, and that they are not and could not be in force at the same time. Judaism alone was in action from the call of Abraham to the death and resurrection of Christ and will again be the outworking of the divine purpose in the earth after the Church has been removed, but Christianity is the only divine objective in the present age, which age is bounded by the two advents of Christ. Too often it is assumed that Judaism has been terminated or merged into Christianity. A favorite expression of this notion is to the effect that Judaism was the bud and Christianity the blossom. Over against this misconception is the truth that both Judaism and Christianity run their prescribed courses unimpaired and unconfused from their beginnings into eternity to come. By far the larger portion of Bible prophecy concerns Israel with their land, that is, the nation, the Davidic throne, the Messiah-King, and His kingdom. This and much more together form the eschatology of Judaism. Here it can be seen again that it is exceedingly inaccurate to speak of Systematic Theology as Christian Theology, since the former incorporates vast ranges of truth which are wholly foreign in their primary application to that which belongs to Christianity. Because much theological teaching is confused in these fields of truth, it is essential that particular emphasis be added here.

Though it was given to the Apostle Paul to formulate and record the realities which together constitute Christianity, he did not himself make its initial announcement. Christ in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13:1-17:26) declared the new and vital features of Christianity. This occurred at the very end of His earthly ministry and was set forth as an anticipation of that which was about to be inaugurated. The earthly ministry of Christ was restricted, in the main, to Israel and carried on wholly within the scope of their covenants of promise. In the Upper Room Discourse are found the important factors of relationship to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit which are peculiar to Christianity. However, as divinely planned, the great Apostle was raised up to receive and formulate the new system, based as it is on the death and resurrection of Christ and the values gained at Pentecost.

At this point certain terms with reference to their shades of meaning may well be introduced:

1. New Testament Theology, which embraces that which is distinctively Christian in the New Testament. New chapters are added to Judaism in connection with the unfolding of that which constitutes Christianity.

2. Pauline Theology, which is doctrine restricted to the writings of Paul but which nevertheless unfolds much regarding Judaism, especially in its contrasts with Christianity (cf. the larger portion of the Epistle to the Hebrews).

3. My Gospel (Rom. 2:16), which designation is used by the Apostle when referring to all the revelation that was given him, namely, the gospel of saving grace revealed to him in Arabia (cf. Gal. 1:11 — 12) and also the revelation respecting the Church as the one Body of Christ composed, as it is, of believing Jews and Gentiles. To all this should be added the range of truth which sets forth the Christian's peculiar responsibility in daily life, with the new and incomparable provisions for holy living through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Apostle's designation, "my gospel," is equivalent to Christianity when a direct, constructive, and unrelated (to Judaism, etc.) consideration of Christianity is in view.

As a summarization, it may be restated that Christianity incorporates the gospel of divine grace which is based on the death and resurrection of Christ, the fact of the one Body with all its relationships and destiny, and the new and vital way of life through the Holy Spirit's enablement.

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