10 July 2010

Why am I talking about all this? How did I get here? Part 5

Sacralist Dominion and Worldview

Chuck Colson is the epitome, sort of the poster child in my mind of everything I think is wrong with conservative American Christianity. I'm not even counting Joel Osteen and people like that. I have listened to Colson's daily radio piece for years. It is amazing. I can only think of maybe once or twice that I have actually agreed with him.

We have very different worldviews. Why?

Even when we might agree on something, his reasons and how he got there are totally different. It's rare to find someone like that….someone you just completely disagree with right down the line. Well, why do I listen to him then? I want to hear what he's saying. I want to be challenged. Why I would want to just listen to someone who will tickle my ears? To me Colson is the enemy. That may sound harsh, but when you understand what Sacralism is....you cannot downplay the danger. This doctrine will destroy the church. It has before.

Also, I might add, as I've alluded elsewhere, Sacralism creates an additional category to the Visible Church. We acknowledge there will always be unbelievers within the confines of the Visible Church, but their number should be few. If their numbers are large, which of course is not always easy to tell....then either the Bishops have failed to discipline, or the Word is not being taught. If the Word is preached, people will either change, be offended and leave, or their sins will expose them and must be dealt with.

The result is, we will have Christians, and then we have 'christians'....people who adhere to cultural norms, equating the label with nation or culture, but don't acknowledge the supremacy of the Word. This is an abuse of the visible church. The answer isn't to turn Baptist and deny the distinction...thus making the visible church the true (essential) church, like Rome does...a theological rejection of invisible Universal form.

The answer is to reject the additional level the Sacralist model adds. During medieval times and the Reformation, the answer was MAKE everyone be part of the church, and thus eliminate this extra tier. None but the most deluded would suggest this today. I think, I hope that lesson has been learned in the church even if it hasn't in terms of culture. To think we can make people act like Christians in a manner that would please God (worship) is to deny the gospel, to make the cross of Christ of no effect.

So then, if we have a nation of somewhat moral people that are willing to be identified Christian, is that desirable? Should we include them as a corollary, an additional category? Is there Biblical warrant to do so?
Colson uses this erroneous model as a basis for his ecumenicism. You'll catch him talking about the need of being born again and having a Biblical understanding of the gospel, but then he also refers to everyone Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist, Liberal,...whatever as Christian. The only people I've heard him express doubts about are those who reject his model, and those who aren't Nationalistic. Sign me up. I don't want Chuck Colson to think I'm a Christian.

Colson aside, I hope maybe my point comes through. I am concerned…greatly concerned on multiple levels of what's happening to the Christian mind. Colson says the exact same thing. He does, but means something totally different.

His answer….more propaganda. He'll train you at his Colson center so you can have a Christian worldview. He'll come at you every day on Christian radio to tell you what to think. The problem is…..his worldview isn't Christian. It's Sacralist. It's Constantinian. I appreciate his honesty. He comes right out, just like Gary North and says there are two gospels. Maybe North would be a little more careful with his words and try to say something like it's a two-fold gospel unity….I remember reading that in North many years ago. Colson though, says there are two. The Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate, it's right there in Genesis 1.

Dominionists insist on this despite the curses in Genesis 3 that shows the mandate of Genesis 1 won't be fulfilled until the seed of the woman crushes the head of the serpent…..We have to have a new Eden, a new heavens and earth before the Genesis 1 Cultural Mandate can every function again.

It is repeated after the flood…a typological re-creation, but hardly the Eschaton. It's recast in light of curse. It's not dominion like in Genesis 1….it's fear, dread, blood…quite different. It's a hope resting in Common Grace…and it is here we find the prototype or seed of the magistrate. The magistrate of the Mosaic code, is Theocratic, God Himself ruling the people. That changes later in form. But that's why the propets would come and bring the covenant lawsuit to the kings. The nation was Theocratic, they were supposed to the representatives of God.

Other nations had theocracies (please not the distinction), but they were not true Theocracies. We use the word theocracy as a political arrangement, but when we use it in reference to the Bible, it is a theological term. Today, no nation can be a Theocracy but the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world.

The magistrate of Noah is common for mankind. We live in a time like the days of Noah and when we attempt to sanctify the magistrate we end up with Sacralism.

Continuing my pilgrimage, I read The Reformers and their Stepchildren by Verduin and despite some of the flaws in his book and despite the fact that I know all is not rosy with Amish and the other Anabaptist groups……I was now determined. I wanted to begin constructing in my mind a way to deal with all these issues and ideas. It's difficult to get someone to understand where you're even coming from. What the Reformation was bad? Yes and no. Usually it would then be assumed I'm some kind of Anglo-Catholic or something….far from it.

The Reformation was a bright and shining light compared to the Middle Ages as far as the gospel and doctrine…as far as numbers of people being converted.
But it also repeated some large errors and re-cast them in the new order, sometimes made things worse. And then in time by necessity, thinking changed and historical circumstance changed and some of these problems accentuated.

I have no hope of Reforming institutions like the PCA or OPC. It's impossible….and one level I don't care…they're man-made constructs anyway. A General Assembly, offices with computers and file cabinets a 501c, and a Book of Church Order doth not a church make. The church is not a form…I have found so many of the people in those ranks seem to think they can hold their dominations together with forms. The Confessions are used as restraning chains rather than guides and like it or not, the theology of these bodies is not exactly the same as the 17th century men and I'll say it, the confessions are wrong in some places. But when we've committed to a form like that....there's not much you can do. By using the confession as a boundary instead of a help, you've bound the Bible.

So what can I do? For years I did nothing. So now, I'm writing some of these things down. No one's going to actually sit and read it all, but I hope a few people might read some of it….might try and understand what I'm saying…..and be encouraged to prayerfully think.

I hope some people read what I say and interact so that we both can benefit.
Is there a second head to the gospel, the cultural mandate? Is that the mark of the Church as Chuck Colson or Gary North would seem to have it? If you don't follow them, they call you Gnostic…pagan. But if they're wrong, what are they doing to the body of Christ, to the Kingdom of God?


Teresa said...

Hi John, I am working my way through your articles and they are quite illuminating. A few years back you posted a few time on my old blog "Scattered Sheep" which is no more. I think back then all of your ideas and research were so far over my head, the thought of trying to weed through church history and your ideas was kind of scary to me. I have come over the past few years to some of the same conclusions as you, but you have put into words ideas or theories merely floating around my head. I appreciate your hard work here, and I will check back in from time to time after I have read more. God bless you and thank you again for your efforts.

Protoprotestant said...


Sure I remember Scattered Sheep. It disappeared!

Thanks for the encouragement. Don't be scared and feel free to ask questions. You can email me privately if you don't want to do it in public.

You're not going to agree with everything I say, but maybe I can help you work through things by throwing ideas out there.

I enjoyed your blog. Have you started another?

Oh I see there's a link on your name....I'll check it out.