Christian Relaunch  

God's becoming a man does not change our task, it leads us to perform it.

As mentioned earlier, neither man's defection nor God's realignment abrogated any of our basic duties.

Like defection and realignment, salvation changes the circumstances in which our duties are to be performed. Salvation, like realignment, brings new opportunities, to which we need to adjust our attitude.

Perhaps the most obvious is that, while we should still celebrate the creative and realigning actions of "him who sits on the throne", now that the Mediator is manifest we should also revere "the lamb that was slain", that is, Christ (Revelation 5:13).

Less obviously, some of the modes of response to wickedness take new forms.

(1) Proper modes of response to our own wicked predisposition still include:

Self-reform. But now that God the Indweller has been "poured out", the form of this is rather different. As with restoration, I see no need for me to add to the literature on this theme.

(2) Proper modes of response to others' wickedness still include:

Separation. But now the ekklesia takes a new form, with Christ at its head and God the Indweller not only present but "poured out" (Acts 2.33).

(Latitudinarianism.) A relationship with God is first and foremost a personal thing, and different people are led in different ways. Unity is good, but complete separation would require a degree of uniformity among Christians that conflicts with the spirit of the New Testament.

On the contrary, such unity is presupposed throughout the New Testament. See Latitudinarianism.

(Christianoid Integrationism.) The New Testament encourages collaboration with distrusters in most fields, rather than the kind of separation you advocate.

See Christianoid Integrationism.

Persuasion. But a major new form of this mode is evangelism, in which Christians send evangelists to preach Christ to wrongdoers. This seems to be the usual means through which God realigns them.

I will add no further details here, as my focus throughout this site is on the content of evangelism rather than its method. Any defects in evangelistic method are less important, though they are not insignificant, and I hope at some point to add more on this topic.

(Most Evangelicals) You understate the importance of evangelism. Everything Christians do, jointly and singly, should be designed to attract new members.

This is putting the cart before the horse. Christian life cannot be defined in terms of evangelism, it has to be the other way round.

Evangelism is an invitation to join something. The invitation is empty unless we first understand what that something is. If I invite you to a party, you will want to know what kind of party it is; and it will be no use my saying "It's the kind of party that I am very keen to invite you to".

Counteraction. But now this mode is incorporated in what is sometimes called "non-resistance" but which I call seasoned resistance.

"Do not resist one who is evil."

The gospel accoring to Matthew, 5:39. If Christ meant this to be taken literally in all circumstances I think he was mistaken. But I doubt he was so naive. I regard his "pacifist" comments as deliberate oversimplifications designed to provoke thought. There is no record of his elaborating on the point, but I imagine him explaining: "Before resisting an evildoer, look for alternatives. Ask yourself what fighting will achieve. Show you want peace and are willing to forgive. Be ready to write off losses. Be creative. Treat reaction as a last resort. God's spirit is now at work creating new possibilities." John the Baptist before him had urged soldiers, not to cease soldiering, but to "rob no-one, and be content with your wages". Of course Christ corrected some of John's ideas, and he may have done so on this point, but I think it suggestive that there is no record of such a correction. Christ certainly had dealings with soldiers, and there is no hint that he regarded their job as inherently problematic. Thieves and harlots he urged to repent. Soldiers he did not.

Adaptation. The operations of this "backstop" mode are probably little changed by fulfillment. As with restoration, I see no major principle at stake and will say no more here.

Objections

("The Charismatic Movement", Pentecostals and others who used to be called "enthusiasts") You neglect miracles.

See Miracles.

(Otherworldalism) You neglect spirituality, expressed in Christ's words "My kingdom is not of this world" and "The kingdom of God is within you".

Most Christianoids destroy the coherence of reverical with other activities by elevating them to a realm of their own and calling them "spiritual". The New Testament word pneumatikos ("spiritual") refers to the godly alignment. In this sense all proper activity is spiritual, whatever its modality.

Both quotations are mistranslations. What Christ really said was "My reign is not from this world [but given by God]" and "The majesty of God is among you [in my person]". And once those two chestnuts have been roasted, the cupboard is bare.

(Churchianity) You neglect the church, which is a big part of how Christians express and develop their trust in Christ.

That depends on what you mean by "church". If you mean the ekklesia, what Paul of Tarsus called the "body of Christ", this entire Section of the Creed is about it. For other meanings see "Church".

(Ceremonialism) You neglect worship.

That depends on what you mean by "worship". If you mean the Christian attitude and activity as a whole, this entire Section of the Creed is about it. If you mean one kind of Christian activity among others, it is probably the one I call reverence. I agree that this is the "highest" expression of our attitude, and in a sense the most important, but it is still only one activity among others.

If you mean ceremonies of reverence, as in the traditional "worship service", see Ceremonies.

(Clericalism) You neglect Christian leadership.

It is true that the elders of an apostolic ekklesia had virtually unlimited authority as leaders of the undifferentiated new humanity in their localities. Their authority was appropriate to their circumstances, which do not resemble ours. Congregational officers are not "elders" in that sense.