Archive for October, 2006

Whittaker Chamber’s Witness on Cult and Culture
W.H. Chellis

I am just now finishing reading Chamber’s remarkable book Witness. I highly recommend it to all readers and participants on the blog. Chamber’s “Letter to my Children” should be read in every seminary apologetics class.

I thought the following quote relevant to my October article on cult and culture.

“Communism is what happens when, in the name of Mind, men free themselves from God. But its view of God, its knowledge of God, its experience of God, is what alone gives character to a society or a nation, and meaning to its destiny. Its culture, the voice of this character, is merely that view, knowledge, experience, of God, fixed by its most intense spirits in terms intelligible to the mass of men. There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died.” Witness, pg. 16-17 (Regnery Gateway, 1980).

Thank you Mr. Chambers.


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Christendom & Church Union 3
D. Howe

Christendom & Education

I want to make three points: (1) educational institutions, even Christian schools, are best understood as secular institutions that must bend the knee to Christ as King, (2) Christian education (specifically, secondary and higher education) is at its best the work of a unified Christian church, and (3) evangelical Christianity is in no way ready to take on the responsibilities that come with educational choice.

(1) Educational institutions, even Christian schools, are best understood as secular institutions that must bend the knee to Christ as King. With the Principled Pluralist tradition I think education to be its “own thing” – Western schools at least as far back as the Athenian Academy have an identity, government, and structure of their own that is separate from either the family or the state (I am setting aside the relationship between school and church for the moment). Schools have their own cultures and education has its own culture. Guilds serve them, and practically always have. Even in what some would regard as the heyday of American theological education, when most ministerial training took place in an apprenticeship setting, solitary education was a colonial oddity that was set aside when denominations were able to set up proper schools. However, schools are contingent – the training of the young does not have to look like this. It did not in Jesus’ day and most of the young throughout history have gone without what we would call schooling. It is not a necessary or natural institution, like family or state. But like family and state, and in contrast to the church, it is a secular institution – that is, it can possibly last only as long as this world, and no longer; it is not eternal.

We must understand education in this framework, and consider its implications. One important implication is that it cannot be understood as a part of the church. Its goals are not salvific. Christian schools that set up a requirement of belief for admission are mistaken, in my view. The young are fairly silly. They need training in knowledge, including knowledge of the Christian faith, so that they will know what they are accepting or rejecting. Christian schools that use revival-style pressure tactics to bring about conversions or who foster a social climate where a facile Christian culture is de rigeur make an even more serious mistake. The best thing Christian schools can do is to act like schools: to impart knowledge.

But this imparting of knowledge must take place within a conceptual framework. It always does; and a school that attempts to recognize the kingship of Jesus Christ must accept the conceptual framework of the Christian metanarrative. This must be humble but explicit. One of the most abused dictums in Reformed circles is that “all truth is God’s truth”. I take this to mean that wherever one finds demonstrable truth, it fits into God’s world, since he is creator and reveals himself in Christ. We humbly acknowledge that we know in part, through a glass darkly, but maintain that we know. Some take this to mean that the truth must be carved to fit our understanding of Christianity, its toes chopped off to fit the glass slipper of my particular doctrinal minutiae. If we do violence to truth, we do not serve the kingdom of God. But we can go to another extreme. We can so revel in creational truth that we neglect redemptive truth, forgetting that the grace perfects and clarifies nature (with Irenaeus and Aquinas). This mistake is made by some of the most intelligent and academically respectable leaders in Christian education.

To bring this into the realm of the practical, let’s consider worship in schools (I have in mind particularly secondary schools, because I teach at one, but these principles apply elsewhere, I think). Ought Christian schools and colleges to hold chapel services? Some say yes, because Christian schools are full of Christians who need a time and place to express their love of God in worship. Some say no, because everything about the school belongs to Christ and besides, worship in school blurs the line between school and church. I think the answer is a resounding yes. This is not because all of the students are Christian and deserve a chance to worship (they aren’t, even if they say they are). That is a “gathered-church” approach to worship applied outside of the church. In that case chapel should be voluntary. It is rather because as an institution, a secular institution must bow to the eternal. Taking time from the day or week to worship is an acknowledgement of an institution’s place in the grand scheme of things. It is also an important part of providing the Christian conceptual framework. Daily or weekly reading (I recommend the lectio continua) shapes and forms, as it does in family worship or in church. It is different from church, however. The people are not the gathered and confessing church, and should not be treated as such.

(2) I will make my second point more briefly. Christian education (specifically, secondary and higher education) is at its best the work of a unified Christian church. Educational institutions that are founded by a particular denomination or religious group tend to reinforce divisions between that denomination or group and others – if they are behaving themselves. James Burtchaell in The Dying of the Light chronicles the inevitability of a decline in Christian identity following a downplay of denominational identity. In other words, a school which moves away from its Methodist, Catholic, etc. roots toward a “broader” Christianity tends shortly thereafter to move away from Christianity altogether. Countless colleges and universities could be listed in the United States. I don’t know if a similar study has been done of private secondary schools. So I am not in favor of denominational institutions moving toward a vague, self-guided “Christian” identity. But what about moving toward the founding of schools and colleges that are non-denominational but seek the involvement and support of numerous local churches? A strong charter, an independent board, and a clear statement of faith (such as the NAE Statement of Faith or the Westminster Confession) could form the backbone of a powerful program. This also relieves particular congregations of an unclear relationship with a school that is a de facto “wing” of the church and makes donors (Christian and non-Christian) more comfortable, since they don’t feel that they are subscribing to a particular denomination in supporting the school (this is increasingly important at a time when many, many Christians worship in non-denominational churches and denominational identity itself, e.g. in the PCUSA, can be taken in many different ways).

Will independence, as opposed to single-church affiliation, guard the school against erosion of its Christian identity over the long haul? Probably not. But neither has single-church affiliation. Nothing but countless decisions over a span of time can keep a school (or any institution) on the right track. But independence as I describe it could help a school serve the local population better by getting input and support from local churches that are “on the ground” (as opposed to, say, a lone Christian Reformed Church in the middle of a non-Dutch population), building a better donor base in order to serve needy populations (and make no mistake, providing a high-quality education to underprivileged kids is a huge undertaking), and bringing Christian service back to the local level, which is something that you should all value as good, granola people.

(3) My last point is that evangelical Christianity is in no way ready to take on the responsibilities that come with educational choice. For a
long time, and I have been tracking this for about fifteen years, many have argued for school choice. Dr. Charles Glenn of Boston University has surveyed European educational systems and has concluded that the USA is the only Western country without state funding for private religious education. Former New York Mayor Giuliani has been outspoken in his support of a voucher system. The charter school experiment of the last dozen or so years has been a mixed success at best. And yet school choice continues to sit on the back burner for Republicans and is ignored entirely by Democrats. Why? Giuliani, in a recent speech, pointed out that Republicans tend to live in suburban or rural districts where school quality is relatively high, and so have little incentive to stake tax dollars on an experiment that will at best benefit mainly the poor and at worst bring the poor into their own schools and neighborhoods. Democrats, meanwhile, coddle their addiction to money from the outrageous teachers’ unions. Some care not while others dare not.

I am wholeheartedly in favor of vouchers nationwide, and in particular for students in failing city schools. My school has many more applicants than it can take. Inner city parents want their kids out of dangerous, inadequate schools. They understand that education is indispensible for success in American society, and they also know that schools foster character development, for good or evil. I am at the point of saying that vouchers are a matter of simple, procedural justice.

But if vouchers were instituted tomorrow, would the evangelical world be able to handle the consequences? There are fears among many that “government money” would be followed closely by government interference. Their fears are not entirely unfounded, especially because it is unlikely that the fragmented evangelical world will be able to speak with a unified voice as to what defines a Christian education or even what defines a Christian. Is the problem with Christian education primarily money, or is it also expertise and direction? Is there a surfeit of deeply committed, high quality Christian teachers just itching to get into an inner city Christian school? There may be many, but there are not enough to go around. The truth is that if vouchers were instituted soon a barely significant minority of schools would be recognizably Christian after the first few years. Evangelicalism is thin. Evangelicals do not know their Bibles, do not understand what a Christian worldview is, and often do not lead lives that are recognizably different from those around them. Evangelicalism can seem like a “thick” culture because it occupies only a marginal place in the development of Western culture at this point. We are good at sniping from the sides and saying what is wrong. But if the reins of power were handed to us tomorrow, would we do a better job? I think not. We have lost sight of the kingship of Christ and are paying the price.

So, a couple of practical notes to close. First, base educational policy on the notion that education is a secular and not an eternal thing. Neither education nor the state itself are messianic, though both have aspirations to be (for Republican Christians as well as for humanists). Run consciously Christian schools, and reform once-Christian private schools, in such a way that Jesus is exalted and truth is prized. Insofar as there is a need for new Christian schools (and this is demonstrably an urban need), create and support independent boards rather than church schools. Prepare for the institution of a voucher system by ministering mercy and the Gospel in the name of Christ, and by creating a “thick” Christian counterculture in your church. Only a society that has by and large adopted a Christian conceptual framework can handle the burden of educating the nation’s children in such a framework. Support vouchers but be ready for the evangelical boat to be rocked. “May none that trust in Thee be shamed for my acts of disgrace.”

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Defining Our Terms
A. Matthews

Society, Civilization, and Culture

It’s important to sharpen our definitions in order to clarify how we differ. Therefore it is necessary to define what culture is before examining whether Christian culture is possible or not. In explaining his understanding of the relation between civilization and culture, Dr. Hart writes:

[A] civilization seems to me bigger than a culture. The former may apply to the civilization of the automobile – and I would argue that the car has become a civilizational force shaping a host of social and political developments… A culture is something that can apply in more local situations, like a family, a congregation, a neighborhood, and even a denomination.
Here, Dr. Hart seems to see culture and civilization as like things, but on a different scale. Things pertaining to civilization have influence over a wide range of smaller cultures. I suspect that defining the terms in this fashion is Dr. Hart’s way of emphasizing his preference for the local and particular.

However, this is not how I have understood civilization and culture. And I think this may be the source of some of our difficulty—though not all. While society and civilization are like things, so that civilization is best understood an advanced state of human society, civilization and culture belong to different categories.

Since civilization is nothing more than human society developed to a high degree of sophistication, I take society as the basic category to be differentiated from culture. This is because every society has its own complex, evolving culture that can be objectively studied by anthropologists, sociologists, and historians alike. Dawson’s definition of culture as “a common social way of life” makes sense to me here.

A society includes people, institutions, and artifacts, but these things alone do not a society make. A unifying spirit or matrix, if you will, is needed. This is culture, a common social way of life that involves shared beliefs & purposes, unifying rituals, and cooperative labor. For me, then, society is the totality of a shared human experience, animated by culture.

It is helpful to point out here that culture is a complex thing that encompasses and interacts with other cultures and subcultures. We may equally speak of counterculture, automobile culture, and even corporate culture. These are all subcultures. A national culture can even be a subculture of a larger civilizational culture.

Considering culture further, I want to highlight its dynamic character and propose a working definition for it. Culture arises when formerly isolated individuals are brought together to cooperate for the purpose of achieving a desired goal. The original society in Eden was created by God in order that Adam would be able to work out his original created purpose: to cultivate and keep the world. The woman was to be a helpmeet for the man. Therefore, all cultures—including that of the first family—have an historic alpha and a teleological omega. The working definition I’d like to propose is that culture is social life, the animating principle of society. As the spirit is to the body, so culture is to society.

Cult and Culture

From these considerations, it is plain that culture existed in the original Edenic state and is not a by-product of the “fracturing” of the original theocracy that occurred due to the Fall. Furthermore this definition of culture jeopardizes an absolute cult/culture dichotomy. If the original purpose of culture was to glorify God by building what Kline calls Megapolis, and that Megapolis was to be eschatologically transformed into Metapolis—human civilization suffused with divine glory—then the telos of culture has always been glorification.

As Kline admits, cult and culture were seamlessly unified in the Edenic theocracy. Work and worship were part of the same program. But according to his conception, redemptive cult is theocratic culture that has been disconnected from the cultural mandate. Where has the original cultural mandate gone? It appears that the original goal of human activity was derailed.

As an alternative to Kline, who has dispensationalized cult from culture in the Noahic covenant, I’d like to propose that culture’s purpose as originally intended has retained its focus because of God’s grace. I am grateful that Dr. Chellis has insisted on the dependence of culture upon cult, and has re-connected the order of “common grace” with the sacrifice that established it. But, I’d like to add that fallen human culture waits for redemption, the postlapsarian program of eschatological transformation. Human culture must eventually be purged of its wood, hay, and stubble.

The messianic Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Christ, has entered history. This kingdom is the coming meta-civilization we anticipate. What is commonly understood as redemptive cult, I identify as the meta-culture of Christ’s Kingdom. This meta-culture is actively imparting life and health to earthly cultures. As earthly culture is increasingly understood as insufficient in itself and re-oriented to a higher purpose, it becomes more and more conformed to the image of New Jerusalem descending.

Of course, Christ and the apostles were not merely hoping to launch a Christian civilization subject to the principles of this fallen and decaying world! They had a far loftier intention. They were looking for and hastening toward the coming Kingdom of God.

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Preserving Christian Culture
W. Edgar’s Response to W.H. Chellis’ “Cult and Culture”

“Ye are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said. We don’t have to try to be salt. We just are–until we are Christian in name only. Then Christ will cast us aside. How do Christians preserve Western culture just by being themselves?

We have children (in increasingly large families), give them to the Lord in baptism, and raise them for God. We give society its next generation of citizens and workers who will maintain it. (Woe to Europe, where not enough Christians remain to populate the next generation, and unbelievers have few offspring. They import workers from Turkey and Algeria but do not evangelize them.)

We do our work as unto the Lord, not as men pleasers or careerists, but honestly, without shortcuts. At the lower and mid-levels of our economy, organizations work as well as they do because Christians are there. Our motto is, “Do it right.” In aiming to do our work right, we are, in the eyes of many employers, both blessing and bane. And as long as enough Christians refuse to work on the Lord’s Day, we help to preserve a weekly day of rest for everyone and put a brake on our society’s mad rush for wealth.

We think God’s thoughts after Him, both as to what is true and how to behave. Thus, for example, we know that God created man male and female, two sexes only. Male and female is not a matter of culture-created “gender,” a term from grammar imposed to claim that our thinking about the sexes is arbitrary. God created exactly one Eve for one Adam. Marriage is His gift to mankind, not a humanly invented convention. We can’t help thinking and talking in these terms. Christians who can’t see any reason to oppose “gay marriage” have lost their savor and will land by the wayside. We know that abortion is murder and will not agree that the “abortion wars” are over until the law again protects all citizens.

We maintain a many-sided offensive against the gates of death: by radio, print, TV, internet, personal witnessing, regular preaching, and prayer, inviting men and women to inherit eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. We give generously when disaster strikes. We are involved in every part of our society. Unbelievers are not reliably safe anywhere from being reminded that God claims their lives, not even in Hollywood or our great universities.

By being the salt that God made us, we preserve society, giving God reason to continue His patient forbearance with our land. Yes, Western culture where it reflects God’s law is worth preserving. As for the rest, let it die along with all of this world that is passing away. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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Cult and Culture
W.H. Chellis

What is Christian culture? Until quite recently, Western culture was a Christian culture. Yet, this unimpeachable fact is decreasingly relevant to the daily life of the West. We live in the midst of a continuing cultural rebellion that began with the French Revolution, plateaued during the sexual revolution, and now marches forward as Christendom seems to gasp for life.

As the culture war rages around us, the church faces difficult questions: What is the relationship between Christ and culture? What should be the focus of the church’s witness to the culture? Is such a thing as Christian culture desirable or even possible?

From Cult to Culture
Historian Christopher Dawson defines culture as “a common social way of life—a way of life with a tradition behind it, which has embodied itself in institutions and which involves moral standards and principles” (Christianity and European Culture: Selections from the Work of Christopher Dawson, Gerald Russello, ed., p. 3). Dawson continues by noting the fragility of such an inheritance. “Every society can lose its culture either completely or partially, if it is exposed to violent or far reaching changes.” As the West stands upon the brink of cultural extinction, many Reformed Christians stand aloof from the fight, considering that the spirituality of the church demands her silence on cultural matters.

While the church must preserve its holy character as being separate from the world, this separation is never absolute. In fact, eminent historians and social critics such as Arnold Toynbee, Christopher Dawson, Eric Voegelin, and Russell Kirk have noted that culture develops from the cult (or worshiping community). Kirk writes:

“Once people are joined together in the cult, cooperation for many other things becomes possible. Systematic agriculture, armed defense, irrigation, architecture, the visual arts, music, and more intricate crafts, economic production and distribution, courts and government—all these features of a culture arise gradually from the cult, the religious tie. And especially a web of morals, rules for human conduct, is the product of religious belief” (The Politics of Prudence, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1993, p. 200).

Thus, while cult and culture must remain distinct, they can never be divorced. Therefore, while our Covenanter fathers once fought to define the proper distinction between church and state, our fight is to defend the biblical union between Christ and culture.

Fallen Nature and Common Grace
The biblical relationship between Christ and culture can be seen in the covenant of common grace made in the time of Noah. Following the Fall, the stability of God’s creation was fundamentally challenged. Groaning under the weight of sin, nature was twisted and marred. Sin had begun its terrible reign. Yet history did not come to an end. Rather, God declared to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). History will continue for the sake of the elect “offspring of the woman.”

Not all of history is redemptive history. God promised a seed to the woman, but also a seed to the serpent. The serpent’s seed would play an important role in history. Although the latter are not numbered among the elect, the consummation of their curse has been postponed. As they live, so they enjoy much good. In fact, the blessings of creative cultural advancement (in the sciences, arts, and agriculture) were all associated with the reprobate line of Cain (Gen. 4:17-22). As Jesus reminds us, “He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). We call these blessings common (that is non-redemptive) grace.

To speak of common grace is to speak of a more limited concept than redemptive grace. Redemptive grace fixes what is broken. Common grace only sustains. Like the cocktail often used to treat AIDS patients, common grace sustains but does not cure. Therefore, as the culture that existed after the Fall degenerated into absolute depravity, so common grace was replaced by common curse during the water deluge.

Covenant of Common Grace
As God poured forth the waters of judgment, Noah and his family found favor in His sight. Gathered in the ark of salvation, Noah and his family would bring forth a new humanity upon an earth cleansed of much evil. In response to divine deliverance, Noah humbled himself in worship. “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Gen. 8:20). Noah’s response is instructive. God redeems people in order to restore fellowship. Worship is the purpose of new life in Christ.

Interestingly, it is in response to the worship of His redeemed covenant community that God reestablishes the promise of history. We read, “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man” (Gen. 8:21). The altar alone assures life to a world deserving of death. It is the worshiping community, the mystical body of Christ, scattered across the ages and among the nations, that provides the reason for history.

We must, therefore, understand that the cross of Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of both redemptive and common grace. Paul refers to the living God as the “Savior of all people, especially those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10). What does it mean that God is the “savior of all people”? John Calvin notes, “For the word savior is here a general term, and denotes one who defends and preserves. He means that the kindness of God extends to all men” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 21, p. 113).

Where does such universal kindness, embracing the elect as well as the reprobate, come from? The answer is the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is the only source of God’s blessing on fallen man. If it were not for Christ, the world and its inhabitants would have been consumed in judgment at the time of the Fall. Yet, the world continues and history moves forward. It does so because of God’s redemptive grace displayed in His elect and His common grace displayed in all mankind.

That common grace, the servant of redemptive grace, is expressed by God’s declaration, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). This is a striking declaration in light of God’s assessment of mankind immediately prior to the flood. “The Lord saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (6:5). The same pattern of universal depravity that led to the Flood is cited as the reason for God’s vow not to curse the ground in response to mankind’s sin. Although the covenant family of Noah has been justified in Christ, the realities of sin and depravity have not been overcome. The seeds of sin have been transplanted from that time to this, because sin was an ever-present companion even in the midst of the ark of salvation. As sin is an affront to a holy God, in His justice He might bring forth a daily deluge. Yet, for the sake of His altar, for the sake of His worshiping community, God made a covenant promise to stay His mighty hand.

Rather than daily judgment, the creation, its laws, and its inhabitants are secured under the mediatorial authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. For His sake, and for the sake of His elect church, “seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). God’s promise is gratuitous, establishing that as redemptive history unfolds, it will do so against a backdrop of natural and moral stability. The hand of a gracious mediator will administer the natural law. Christ the king will ensure that fallen nature will be ultimately perfected by grace.

Lord Over Nature and Grace
Theologians refer to God’s promise of cosmic stability as the covenant of common grace. This is an appropriate title as long as we see that it is fully rooted in the covenant of grace and wholly subservient to it. Thus, Christ is Lord over nature and grace, over church and state, over secular and sacred.

This does not destroy the fundamental distinctions involved. Nations do not become the church because of Christ’s universal rule. The sacred does not swallow the secular because Christ is Lord of the workplace as well as the prayer closet. Rather, it simply recognizes that these distinctions do not change the moral responsibility of all areas of life to bow the knee to Jesus Christ, not only as Creator, but also as mediatorial King.

This universal kingship demands that all areas of life be subject to His authority and lordship. It is His power that preserves the order of nature with its orderly cadence of times and seasons. It is His grace that sustains and preserves life in all its diversity. Therefore, it is obnoxious ingratitude to dishonor the Savior through deafening silence. Christ is to be honored and worshiped by all nations and men. His name is to be called upon, and His law is to govern the affairs of men.

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Mercy Ministry and Union
Daniel Howe

The first practical route to pursuing unity in the church (and eventual union) is to cooperate in geographically local mercy ministry. Jesus commands us to care for our own poor, for the stranger, and for our enemies. Inter-congregational cooperation in this task will bind us together as well as increasing the effectiveness of our mercy and the glory of God in our cities and communities.

Markus Bockmuehl describes the origin of Christian public ethics in his Jewish Law in Gentile Churches. The earliest (and longest-lived) form of apologetics was simple description of what Christians do at their worship services and how they care for the poor – the pagan poor as well as their own. Emperor Julian “the Apostate” complained that “it is disgraceful when no Jew is a beggar and the impious Galileans support our poor in addition to their own; everyone is able to see that our coreligionists are in want of aid from us”.

When Christians turn their attention to the relief of the poor, they imitate God, who sends rain on the righteous and wicked alike. They also testify to grace and against legalism, since they understand their own blessings to be unmerited and therefore don’t withhold mercy from those who don’t “deserve it”. It is a symptom of how reactive church-based Protestant charity tends to be that for many of us, our primary contact with the poor is with those who systemically abuse kindness (e.g. someone who goes from church to church with a hard-luck story looking for handouts). If we were more proactive in our approach we would be at once more effective and less jaded.

Parachurch organizations have applied for years the common-sense observation that organized, unified relief is effective relief. In most cities common databases are kept so that clients and the care they receive are tracked and neither under- nor over-served. If Protestants are to be proactive in the relief of the poor, they must similarly cooperate in this basic matter. Further, there are many ways to show mercy that are impossible for a single congregation to do on its own. Even the burden of a weekend soup kitchen could break the back of a small church. The big projects must be the work of churches that are geographically proximate, done in humility and love for one another, as well as for the poor.

There are also cases in which one congregation sees or has a need but needs the resources of another congregation to meet it. A small or poor city congregation faces the prospect of its people and community being displaced en masse by gentrification in its neighborhood. A richer suburban church comes to its aid by helping finance and administer low-interest loans to help locals buy their apartments rather than be evicted. The suburban church ministers outside of its normal sphere of contact and both churches are enabled to bless their city and their members. This model is actually being pursued in Atlanta and other urban areas.

What we do in the name of Jesus Christ speaks louder than our words. If in our “mercy” we act as if other Christians do not exist we betray the unity of Christ and his church. If we treat one another as fellow-heirs and fellow-workers, we make a statement that will be heard.

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Christendom and Union
Daniel Howe

Lesslie Newbigin has often made a point that was echoed by D.A. Carson as he lectured on John 17 at this past weekend’s Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis: mission and unity go hand in hand. When mission is taken seriously unity will be pursued.

I would add that while perfect unity has never existed in the church, Christendom presumed its basic oneness – and indeed enforced and furthered it through the calling of counsels. It is the paradox of paradoxes that the kingship of Jesus is now viewed by many as a sectarian issue.

In our own day kings and all in authority will be unable to provide an appropriate response to the kingdom of God until the visible church more closely resembles that present and coming kingdom in its organizational and practical love and union.

Let me boil it down. Like Christendom? Pursue union. More thoughts on how to possibly do this will follow.

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