You're ideas while interesting seem to lead toward some sort of Restorationism. Your ideas concerning theology and church history would seem to lead to that end. Aside from some doctrinal points, aren't you saying the same thing? Are you ultimately promoting some form of Restorationism? How do you differ?
And practically speaking, where do you draw lines? Sometimes reading your material I feel like with 'Confessionalism' being invalidated the possibilities seem, endless. But on the other hand it seems like you're condemning almost all of modern Christianity. Somewhere you said you attend a PCA, which seems strange considering at times you're quite hostile to Reformed theology and polity. Can you clarify some of this?
This group of questions was not presented to me in this exact form. These questions have been extracted from various question sets I have received both past and present. I have 'cut and pasted' them together here. In light of the last post, the question concerning the PCA has been answered.
Restorationism or Christian Primitivism is the idea that we're trying to get back to the New Testament Church. We're examining both theology (which includes philosophy) and Church History and essentially trying to Reconstruct the physical and spiritual constitution of the early Church.
In many ways this is an impossible task. There's simply too much historical water under the bridge and we live in a very different context. Although it could be argued our present context is in 'some ways' more like the era of the early Church than it has been for perhaps the past fifteen centuries. We live in a period of transition. Christendom has just about expired despite the efforts of those who would work to revitalize it.
In some ways yes, I'm advocating a form of Restorationism, and in other ways I'm not. In some ways I'm taking basic principles that many Restorationists employ but I'm also interacting with historical theology many Restorationists might eschew or completely disregard.
Historically I'm calling for a re-examination and re-interpretation of Church History. The Reformed faction would certainly accuse me of Ecclesiastical historical revisionism especially with regard to the pre-Reformation period. Although they themselves have even engaged in this to some degree. Over the past fifty years or so, many have come to view the previous generation's Whig histories as not only insufficient but in many cases dishonest.[i] These histories at times attempted to claim the proto-Protestant groups as being essentially in line with Protestantism post-Luther.
Again, in some ways this is true, but there are key differences. Today I more often encounter people who wish to 'claim' or 'identify' with Medieval Catholicism as 'The Church' and would view the proto-Protestants as well meaning aberrations. In some cases they will come out and say they were well meaning but ultimately schismatics who did not hold to a proper doctrine of Justification, a proper view of the Church, nor did they possess a Biblical Worldview with regard to culture. These are some of the same points with which they would take issue with me.
Theologically I'm trying to work out and justify the series of ideas and concepts surrounding Biblicism or Scripturalism which is different from the historical phenomenon known as Fundamentalism. There is some overlap, but rather than respond to the challenges and claims of Higher Criticism, and boil down the Bible to essential doctrines, I'm trying to reach further back and interact with the very few ideas we can extract from those who resisted the Medieval Church. Thus far (as of September 2012) I have not had the time to write as much as I would wish on the proto-Protestant sects.[ii]
Many Confessionalists sneer at the idea of Restorationism. Their concepts of the Church are not rooted in history in general sense, but specifically to post-Reformation events and the formulation of the creeds in the 16th and 17th century. The previous centuries were simply prologue, the real story begins post 1517, after Luther and Calvin. Most (but not all) of them would deny this when it's put that way...but I don't think they can escape the charge.[iii]
The most popular explanation is to me the most historically untenable. Many Protestants view the Roman Catholic Church as the "True Church" during the Middle Ages. And they only lost that status when they 'formally' and thus institutionally denied "Justification By Faith Alone" with the conclusion of the Council of Trent in 1563.
At that moment, in an instant the Sceptre (as it were) of the "True Church" claim passed from Rome to the Protestant bodies. Everyone went to sleep on December 4, 1563 and when on December 5, 1563 the Council closed and thus ratified their earlier proclamations (1547) about Justification....the Sceptre flew north of the Alps and landed in Wittenberg, Geneva, and Canterbury. Thus the argument that the Protestants are the 'true' continuation of 'The Church'.
This argument fails at numerous points I've elaborated on in other writings. Practically speaking Rome had been in denial of Justification by Faith Alone for centuries. In fact I would argue that's not even the issue. The issue is Authority and the Roman entity's claims vis-a-vis the Word of God. Sola Fide as formulated by Luther won't be found at any point in Church history prior to Luther himself.
This argument is also rooted in Sacral and Cultural concerns and views the Church in terms of Civilization and Institution. The position assumes many incorrect doctrines, and thus asks the wrong questions.
[i] D'aubigne and Wylie are examples of this. Their histories are helpful perhaps even necessary but narrative driven, very biased, and are guilty of glossing over things in some cases to the point of misrepresentation. With Wylie especially, the narrative is driven by a 'progress' narrative and all the historical characters are artificially united and all building toward the capstone of Reformation Christianity. There's a lot of dishonesty and anachronism is pervasive.
Most solid historians would discredit Wylie and consider his history to be somewhat childish. I'm also thinking of characters like John Knox who in the past have been elevated. Knox used to be one of my absolute heroes. But then upon close examination it is discovered that not only were many of his ideas erroneous, he at times seems almost unstable. His views of history and the way he tied 16th century happenings to the Bible would not be endorsed by anyone today. It is well known that he drew parallels between Edward VI and himself with Josiah and Jeremiah. Besides being patently wrong, when you look at his own statements and the glimpses we get of his own mind you start to see how really mistaken he was.
He literally thought of himself as some kind of predicative or inspired prophet and were he alive today would be completely discredited by the people who claim to follow and revere him. His history has been largely whitewashed by Reformed historians. If you're interested in Knox, see 'The Mind of John Knox' by Richard Kyle. His treatment of the Scottish Reformer is a bit less biased.
[ii] Ironically it was years of reading the Whig histories that drove me to examine such groups as the Waldenses, Lollards and Hussites. According to Wylie they were almost Reformed Christians before the Reformation. And in some ways this is true...with some of them. But the issues are more complicated and in time I came to identify significant differences not only among them but with the later Reformation. But what I realized was Wylie and others are being misleading in trying to 'claim' them as earlier historical versions of their ideas. It's not that simple.
I always found the narratives concerning the Waldensians to be tantalizing but I was always frustrated at the lack of attention and information. Why was this? It's almost like they were being mentioned but largely ignored. I've come to the conclusion that this has occurred for two reasons. One, they are not perfect replications of the post-Reformation Church, in fact there are significant fundamental differences. Two, to identify them as 'the Church' in the Medieval period is to cast down the Sacral-Dominion thesis and it's claims regarding Western Civilization.
The modern Dominion minded historian wants to be able to identify with the civilization that built the universities, the cathedrals, produced centuries of art and music, warred against the Islamic world, helped to create the Western concept of the state and prepared the way for the modern world...namely the civilization that for over a thousand years persecuted the people trying to uphold and adhere to the Bible alone.
[iii] Although I have lately seem some rather disgusting attempts by certain factions of Theonomists to try and hijack and 'claim' the Celtic Church. But listening to their discourse I am convinced they know very little of what they're talking about. The Celtic Church was not quite what someone like Wylie would have wanted. But they weren't Dominionistic Theonomists either! God willing I will address that in another piece.
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