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Christianity is NOT Religion

Christianity is NOT Religion

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The Latin word from which the English word "religion" is derived means "to bind up." Jesus did not come to bind us up in rules and regulations or rituals of devotion, but to set us free to be man as God inended.
The Latin word from which the English word "religion" is derived means "to bind up." Jesus did not come to bind us up in rules and regulations or rituals of devotion, but to set us free to be man as God inended.

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Published by: Luda on May 11, 2008
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05/09/2014

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CHRISTIANITY

IS NOT
RILIGION



IAMIS A. IOWLIR




TAßLI OI CONTINTS

s Chrislianily is Nol ReIigion
z; Chrislianily is Nol a ßook-ReIigion
ss Chrislianily is Nol MoraIily
8ó Chrislianily is Nol a ßeIief-Syslem
oa Chrislianily is Nol IpislemoIogy
so8 Chrislianily is Nol an IdeoIogicaI Oplion
ssa Chrislianily is Nol RoIe-IIaying
sso Chrislianily is Nol an 'ism'
sz8 Chrislianily is Nol IrobIem SoIving
sas Chrislianily is Chrisl!



© soo8 Iames A. IovIer
WWW.CHRISTINYOU.NIT
















Cnrisiianiiu nas nisiakcn|u |ccn !cjinc! an! !cscri|c! as a rc|igicn in unicn
ncra|iiu an! |c|icj-susicn in ccrrcspcn!cncc ic inc Bcck arc rcgar!c! as inc
|asis cj inc rc|c-p|auing an! prc||cn-sc|ting cj inc Cnrisiian |ijc.

Nci iruc!

Cnrisiianiiu is Cnrisi!


s
1 Chrislianily is Nol ReIigion


Thc nccd nI thc hnur is lo dislinguish and differenliale belveen "reIig-
ion" and Chrislianily. Mosl peopIe in lhe Weslern vorId have so Iong
idenlified lhese lerms and lhoughl lhem lo be synonymous and
equivaIenl, lhal il lakes a sharp can-opener of ralionaI argumenl, or lhe
sharper sliII "vord of God" (Heb. 4:12), lo reveaI lhe conlrasling di-
cholomy belveen Chrislianily and "reIigion." This allempl lo differen-
liale belveen lhe lvo may indeed be presumpluous, bul on lhe olher
hand il mighl be used of God lo bring lhe reveIalion of spiriluaI un-
derslanding lhal vouId aIIov someone lo make lhe imporlanl dislinc-
lion and en|oy lhe reaIily of Iesus' Iife.
Many erslvhiIe Chrislian lhinkers have made lhe dislinclion be-
lveen "reIigion" and Chrislianily. In confronling lhe sixleenlh cenlury
reIigionism of Roman CalhoIicism, Marlin Lulher expIained, "I have
oflen said lhal lo speak and |udge righlIy in lhis maller ve musl care-
fuIIy dislinguish belveen a pious (reIigious) man and a Chrislian."
1

The Danish phiIosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, vas exposing lhe nine-
leenlh cenlury reIigionism of lhe slale church in Denmark in his vork
enlilIed Aiiack cn Cnrisicn!cn, vherein he noled lhal il is mosl difficuIl
lo expIain lo someone vho lhinks lhal lhey are a Chrislian aIready,
vhal il means lo be a Chrislian.
2
German lheoIogian, Dielrich ßon-
hoeffer, slood up lo lhe spineIess reIigionism of lhe German Lulheran
Church during WorId War II and vas kiIIed by lhe Nazis. In his Iciicrs
an! Papcrs jrcn Priscn he sels up lhe anlinomy belveen failh and reIig-
ion and argues for a "nonreIigious" or "reIigionIess Chrislianily."
3

Iar and avay lhe cIearesl deIinealion belveen "reIigion" and Chrisli-
anily is dravn by lhe Sviss lheoIogian, KarI ßarlh, vho vas vilhoul a
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

z
doubl lhe grealesl lheoIogian of lhe lvenlielh cenlury. In his voIumi-
nous Cnurcn Ocgnaiics, ßarlh vrole lhal
"lhe reveIalion of God is lhe aboIilion of reIigion."
4

"Il is aIvays lhe sign of definile misunderslanding vhen an allempl is
made lo syslemalicaIIy coordinale reveIalion and reIigion...lo fix lheir
muluaI reIalionship.
5

"In opposilion lo aII 'reIigionism' lhe procIamalion of lhe grace of God
is inlroduced as lhe lrulh..."
6

"ReIigion is unbeIief. Il is a concern of...godIess man."
7

"ReIigion is cIearIy seen lo be a human allempl lo anlicipale vhal God
in His reveIalion viIIs lo do and does do. Il is lhe allempled repIace-
menl of lhe divine vork by a human manufaclure."
8

"Il is a feebIe bul defianl, an arroganl bul hopeIess, allempl lo creale
somelhing vhich man couId do. In reIigion man boIls and bars himseIf
againsl reveIalion by providing a subslilule, by laking avay in ad-
vance lhe very lhing vhich has lo be given by God. Il is never lhe
lrulh. Il is a compIele ficlion, vhich has nol onIy IillIe bul no reIalion
lo God."
9

"Whal is lhe purpose of lhe universaI allempl of reIigions bul lo an-
licipale God, lo foisl a human producl inlo lhe pIace of His vord, lo
make our ovn images of lhe One vho is knovn onIy vhere He gives
HimseIf lo be knovn."
10

"The reveIalion of God denies lhal any reIigion is lrue. No reIigion can
sland before lhe grace of God as lrue reIigion."
11

Irench socioIogisl, IegaI schoIar and lheoIogian, Iacques IIIuI, in Iike
manner affirms lhal,
"There is no palh Ieading from a IillIe bil of reIigion (of vhalever kind)
lo a IillIe more and finaIIy lo failh. Iailh shallers aII reIigion..."
12

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

;
"The opposilion belveen reIigion and reveIalion can reaIIy be under-
slood quile simpIy. We can reduce il lo a maxim: reIigion goes up,
reveIalion comes dovn.
13

"The cenlraI facl of lhe reveIalion of lhe God of Abraham, Isaac and
Iacob, lhe God of Iesus Chrisl, is lhal God descends lo humankind.
Never in any vay, under any circumslances can ve ascend lo God,
hovsoever sIighlIy."
14

The American IpiscopaIian priesl, Roberl Capon, has an inimicaI
slraighl-forvard vay of expIaining lhe difference belveen reIigion and
Chrislianily.
"AImosl aII peopIe, inside as veII as oulside lhe church, find lhal lhe
nolion of grace slands in conlradiclion lo everylhing lhey undersland
by reIigion."
15

"The gospeI of grace is lhe end of reIigion, lhe finaI posling of lhe
CLOSID sign on lhe svealshop of lhe human race's perpeluaI slruggIe
lo lhink veII of ilseIf. Ior lhal, al bollom, is vhal reIigion is: man's
veII-meanl bul dim-villed allempl lo approve of his unapprovabIe
condilion by doing odd |obs he lhinks some imporlanl Somelhing viII
lhank him for.¨
"ReIigion, lherefore, is a Ioser, a slriclIy faIIen aclivily. Il has a faiIed
pasl and a bankrupl fulure. There vas no reIigion in Iden and lhere
von'l be any in heaven: and in lhe meanlime Iesus has died and risen
lo persuade us lo knock il aII off righl nov."
16

"I vanl you lo sel aside lhe nolion of lhe Chrislian reIigion, because il's
a conlradiclion in lerms. You von'l Iearn anylhing posilive aboul reIig-
ion from Chrislianily, and if you Iook for Chrislianily in reIigion, you'II
never find il. To be sure, Chrislianily uses lhe forms of reIigion, and, lo
be dismaIIy honesl, loo many of ils adherenls acl as if il vere a reIig-
ion: bul il isn'l one, and lhal's lhal. The church is nol in lhe reIigion
business: il is in lhe GospeI-procIaiming business. And lhe gospeI is
lhe good nevs lhal aII man's fuss and fealhers over his reIalionship
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

a
vilh God is unnecessary because God, in lhe myslery of lhe Word vho
is Iesus, has gone and fixed il up HimseIf. So Iel lhal pass."
17

Many olher slalemenls from Chrislian vrilers couId be adduced, bul
lhese viII suffice lo represenl lhe avareness of lhe differenlialion be-
lveen "reIigion" and Chrislianily.
Backgrnund nI thc wnrd "rc!iginn"
A brief sludy of lhe elymoIogy of our IngIish vord "reIigion" viII
reveaI lhal ve mighl nol vanl lo aIIov lhe vord "reIigion" lo be asso-
cialed vilh Chrislianily. There are severaI Lalin vords vhich may
have served as lhe origin of our IngIish vord "reIigion." The Lalin
vord rc|igc meanl "lo lie or faslen."
18
A simiIar vord, rc|igic, vas used
lo refer lo "respecl, devolion or superslilion."
19
|c|igic vas a recogni-
lion lhal men are oflen lied or bound lo God in reverence or devolion.
Il can aIso convey lhe meaning of being bound or lied lo a sel of ruIes
and reguIalions, lo riluaIs of devolion, lo a creedaI beIief-syslem, or lo
a cause, ideoIogy, or rouline. Some have suggesled lhal "reIigion" may
be derived from lhe Lalin vord rc|cgcrc, vhich refers lo re-reading.
There is no doubl lhal "reIigion" is oflen associaled vilh repelilious
riles of Iilurgy and Iilany, and lhe reproduclion of creedaI formuIas
and expressions. Mosl elymoIogisls, hovever, regard lhe IngIish vord
"reIigion" lo be derived from lhe Lalin vord rc|igarc vhich is cIoseIy
aIigned vilh lhe rool vord rc|igc.
20
The prefix rc- means "back" or
"again," and lhe vord |igarc refers lo "binding, lying or allaching."
Olher IngIish vords such as "Iigalure," referring lo "somelhing lhal is
used lo bind," and "Iigamenl" vhich "binds lhings logelher," evidence
lhe same rool in lhe Lalin vord |igarc. The Lalin vord rc|igarc, from
vhich our IngIish vord "reIigion" is mosl IikeIy derived, meanl "lo lie
back" or "lo bind up."
The purpose of Iesus' coming vas nol lo "bind us" or "lie us" lo any-
lhing or anyone, lhough il mighl be argued lhal in lhe receplion of Ie-
sus Chrisl by failh lhere is a spiriluaI allachmenl of our idenlily vilh
Him. Iesus cIearIy indicales lhal He came lo sel us free free lo be func-
lionaI humanily in lhe fuIIesl sense, by aIIoving God lo funclion
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

s
lhrough us lo His gIory. To some beIieving Ievs, Iesus expIained lhal
"you shaII knov lhe lrulh, and lhe lrulh shaII make you free" (Iohn
8:32). Iurlher expIanalion of lhe personificalion of lhal "lrulh" in Him-
seIf vas lhen made vhen Iesus said, "If lherefore lhe Son shaII make
you free, you shaII be free indeed." To lhe GaIalians IauI affirms lhal,
"Il vas for freedom lhal Chrisl sel us free: lherefore do nol be sub|ecl
again lo a yoke of sIavery" by reverling back lo lhe bondage of Ievish
reIigion (GaI. 5:1). "You vere caIIed lo freedom, brelhren" (GaI. 5:13),
IauI excIaims. "Where lhe spiril of lhe Lord is, lhere is Iiberly" (II Cor.
3:17).
Iesus did nol say, "I came lhal you mighl have reIigion, and praclice
il more failhfuIIy," or "I came lhal you mighl have reIigion, and adhere
lo il more commiledIy," or "I came lhal you mighl have reIigion, and
define il more dogmalicaIIy," or "I came lhal you mighl have reIigion,
and defend il more vehemenlIy," or "I came lhal you mighl have reIig-
ion, and lhus behave more moraIIy." Whal Iesus said vas, "I came lhal
you mighl have Iife, and have il more abundanlIy" (Iohn 10:10). The
Iife lhal He came lo bring and express vilhin us and lhrough us is His
Iife. "I AM lhe vay, lhe lrulh and lhe Iife," decIared Iesus lo His disci-
pIes (Iohn 14:6). The aposlIe Iohn vrole lhal "He lhal has lhe Son has
Iife: he lhal does nol have lhe Son does nol have Iife" (I Iohn 5:12).
"Chrisl is our Iife," is lhe phrase IauI uses in vriling lo lhe CoIossians
(CoI. 3:4), for Chrislianily is nol "reIigion," bul lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl
expressed in receplive humanily.
Bib!ica! usagc nI thc wnrd "rc!iginn"
A cIoser Iook al lhe bibIicaI usage of lhe vord "reIigion" viII demon-
slrale lhal lhe vord is seIdom used vilh any posilive impIicalion, bul
generaIIy has a negalive connolalion.
When IauI lraveIed lo Alhens he observed an abundance of idoIs,
even an idoI lo an "unknovn god," Iesl lhey mighl have missed any.
IauI slands up and decIares, "Men of Alhens, I observe lhal you are
very reIigious in aII respecls" (Acls 17:22). Whal does IauI mean by re-
ferring lo lheir pervasive idoIalry as being "reIigious`" The Greek vord
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

ó
lhal IauI used vas !cisi!aincn, vhich is derived from lvo olher Greek
vords: !ci!c, meaning "lo fear or respecl," and !aincn, lhe vord for
"demon." Whal IauI vas saying vas lhal he had observed lhal lhey
had "greal fear or respecl for demons," and vere lhus very reIigious or
superslilious. Ieslus used lhe same Greek vord lo pe|oraliveIy refer lo
lhe Ievish reIigion, vhen he expIained lo King Agrippa lhal lhe Ievs
vho broughl charges againsl IauI "had some poinls of disagreemenl
vilh him aboul lheir ovn reIigion" (Acls 25:19).
In his epislIe lo lhe CoIossians, IauI vas confronling lhe regionaI re-
Iigionism of Asia as veII as lhe Iudaizing reIigionism lhal conslanlIy
foIIoved his minislry. He vanled lo shov lhe superiorily of lhe gospeI
of grace in Iesus Chrisl over aII reIigion. In referring lo lhe moraIislic
aclivilies lhal reIigionisls vere allempling lo impose upon lhe Chris-
lian beIievers in CoIossae, IauI asks, "Why do you submil yourseIf lo
decrees, such as 'Do nol handIe, do nol lasle, do nol louch!'` These are
mallers vhich have lhe appearance of visdom in seIf-made reIigion
and seIf-abasemenl and severe lrealmenl of lhe body, bul are of no
vaIue againsl fIeshIy induIgence" (CoI. 2:20-23). The vord lransIaled
"reIigion" is lhe Greek vord cinc|cinrcskia, vhich is a combinalion of
lvo olher Greek vords: cinc|c meaning "viII, desire, deIighl or pIeas-
ure," and inrcskcia meaning "vorship or reIigion." IauI is describing
such moraIislic reIigious aclions as "viII-vorship" of "seIf-made reIig-
ion:" aclivilies vhich man imposes upon himseIf and olhers, beIieving
lhal such viIIed seIf-efforl serves as a benefil before God in moraIislic
performance. IauI denies lhe veracily of such lhinking, regarding such
as mere "seIf-made reIigion," and of no benefil againsl lhe seIfish pal-
lerns of fIeshIy induIgence.
Iames expIains lhal, "If anyone lhinks himseIf lo be reIigious, and yel
does nol bridIe his longue bul deceives his ovn hearl, lhis man's reIig-
ion is vorlhIess" (Iames 1:26,27). The Greek vord lhal he uses is
inrcskcia. meaning "vorship or reIigion." Misrepresenlalion of lhe char-
acler of God in our behavior oflen indicales lhal ve are engaging in
"vorlhIess reIigion." Iames conlinues, lhough, lo use inrcskcia in a posi-
live vay vhen he refers lo "pure and undefiIed reIigion" (Iames 1:27),
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

/
vherein lhe vorlh-ship of God's characler is genuineIy expressed in
praclicaI minislry lo orphans and vidovs, and in lhe expression of lhe
purily of God's characler. In lhal case genuine Chrislian vorship lran-
spires as ve are receplive lo lhe aclivily of God and express lhe vorlh-
ship of His characler in our behavior.
In Iighl of lhe predominanlIy negalive inferences of lhe vord "reIig-
ion" in lhe Nev Teslamenl, ve shouId avoid appIying lhis vord lo
Chrislianily.
Christianity and "wnr!d rc!iginns"
IaiIure lo differenliale belveen Chrislianily and "reIigion" has
caused many lo Iump Chrislianily logelher as |usl anolher "reIigion" in
lhe sludy of comparalive vorId reIigions. Their crileria for lhe consid-
eralion of a "reIigion" is mereIy socioIogicaI, psychoIogicaI, creedaI, Ii-
lurgicaI or organizalionaI, aII of vhich are inadequale lo consider lhe
radicaI uniqueness of Chrislianily.
The slory is loId of Gualama ßuddha, vho Iived some four hundred
years prior lo lhe birlh of Iesus Chrisl. He vas dying. Some of his
devolees came lo ßuddha and asked hov lhey shouId perpeluale his
memory. "Hov shouId ve share vilh lhe vorId lhe remembrance of
you` Hov shaII ve memoriaIize you`" ßuddha responded, "Don'l
bolher! Il is nol me lhal mallers: il is my leaching lhal shouId be
propagaled and adhered lo lhroughoul lhe vorId."
Does lhal seem lo be seIf-effacing` Does lhal sound Iike a nobIe ideaI
lhal allempls lo avoid ego-cenlricily` "Don'l focus on me, |usl remem-
ber my leaching."
If Iesus had said somelhing Iike lhal, il vouId cerlainIy Iegilimize
much of vhal ve observe aII around us loday in lhe so-caIIed "Chris-
lian reIigion." The "Chrislian reIigion" lhal has formed around lhe
leaching of Chrislianily is invoIved in lhe propagalion of various un-
derslandings of Iesus' leaching as delermined by various inlerprela-
lions of lhe ßibIe. Mosl of lhose vho caIIed lhemseIves "Chrislians" lo-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

8
day seem lo lhink lhal Iesus advocaled lhe same lhing lhal ßuddha is
aIIeged lo have ullered. "Don'l focus on me, |usl remember my leach-
ing."
Iesus did nol say anylhing Iike lhal! In facl, vhal ßuddha said is con-
lrary lo everylhing Iesus laughl, and everylhing recorded in lhe Nev
Teslamenl scriplures. Iesus did nol say, "Iusl remember my leaching."
Iesus said, "I AM lhe resurreclion and lhe Iife" (Iohn 11:25). "I AM lhe
vay, lhe lrulh and lhe Iife" (Iohn 14:6). He did nol say, "I viII shov
you lhe vay: I viII leach you lhe lrulh: I viII give you lhe Iife." His
ovn indveIIing presence is lhe onIy vay for man lo be man as God
inlended. The reaIily of His person is lhe lrulh of God. The very per-
sonaI presence of lhe risen Lord Iesus is lhe Iife of lhe Living God, lhe
onloIogicaI essence of everylhing He came lo bring lo lhis vorId. In
ßuddhism lhe person of ßuddha may nol be of any imporlance excepl
for hisloricaI observalion, bul in Chrislianily lhe Iiving Ierson of Iesus
Chrisl is lhe reaIily of God's presence reslored lo mankind.
Anolher slory is loId of Sadhu Sundar Singh, a converl from lhe re-
Iigion of Sikhism lo Chrislianily, vho evenluaIIy became one of India's
mosl veII-knovn Chrislians. A Iuropean professor of comparalive re-
Iigions (vho vas himseIf an agnoslic) inlervieved lhe former Sadhu
one day, vilh lhe evidenl inlenlion of shoving him his mislake in re-
nouncing anolher reIigion for vhal he perceived lo be lhe "Chrislian
reIigion."
The professor asked Mr. Singh, "Whal have you found in lhe Chris-
lian reIigion lhal you did nol have in your oId reIigion`" Sundar Singh
ansvered, "I have Iesus." "Yes, I knov," lhe professor repIied some-
vhal impalienlIy, "bul vhal parlicuIar principIes or doclrines have
you found lhal you did nol have before`" Sunday Singh repIied, "The
parlicuIar person I have found is Iesus."
Try as he mighl, lhe professor couId nol budge him from lhal posi-
lion. He venl avay discomfiled bul lhoughlfuI.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

o
Sundar Singh vas righl. The reIigions of lhe vorId have some fine
leachings, bul lhey Iack lhe person and Iife of Iesus Chrisl, lhe dy-
namic presence of God in man.
A personaI friend of mine, ßiII Hekman, vas once sealed on an air-
pIane and slruck up a conversalion vilh lhe genlIeman sealed nexl lo
him. In lheir conversalion lhe feIIov-passenger expIained lhal he vas
a professor of IsIamic Sludies. ßiII Hekman indicaled lhal he vas a
Chrislian and had been a missionary lo Irian Iaya for lvenly years,
and lhal he vas relurning lo Indonesia lo engage in Chrislian leaching.
Their conversalion evenluaIIy incIuded a discussion of lhe exlenl lo
vhich lhe peopIes of Indonesia had converled from lhe predominanl
reIigion of IsIam lo Chrislianily, and a muluaI queslioning of vhelher
lhe Indonesian governmenl slalislics of lhe percenlages of MusIims
and Chrislians vere accurale. Then lhe professor of IsIamic sludies
said somelhing very surprising. He indicaled lhal he lhoughl lhal In-
donesia vouId someday be a primariIy Chrislian nalion. ßiII, lhough
obviousIy hopefuI of such, vas laken aback by such a prediclion, and
asked him vhy he lhoughl lhal lhis vouId lake pIace. The professor
repIied, "ßecause lhe Chrislians have |cn A||an." |cn A||an is lhe Indo-
nesian expression for lhe "Spiril of God." This professor reaIized lhal
lhere vas a dynamic and pover in lhe "Spiril of God" lhal vas beyond
anylhing lhal IsIam had in lheir beIief-syslem lhal lraced back lo lhe
leaching of Mohammed. Indeed lhere is, for lhe "Spiril of Chrisl" is lhe
vilaI dynamic of lhe Iiving Lord Iesus, vho as God comes lo Iive in lhe
Chrislian and empover him for lhe oulvorking of God's characler and
vork. May his surprising prediclion prove lrue!
There are many reIigions in lhe vorId, such as ßuddhism, Hinduism,
Taoism, Confucianism, Mohammed-anism (IsIam), and Iudaism. The
ideoIogies of humanism and communism have aIso been idenlified as
reIigions, as veII as lhe individuaIism of "The American reIigion."
21

The lenels of Chrislianily can aIso be incorporaled inlo a reIigion of
"Chrislianism,"
22
or lhe "Chrislian reIigion" as ve are referring lo lhis
phenomenon vilhin lhis sludy.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

so
Chrislianily cannol IegilimaleIy be compared lo any of lhese reIig-
ions, hovever. ReIigion and Chrislianily are as differenl as nighl and
day, dealh and Iife, ficlion and lrulh. To allempl lo incIude Chrislian-
ily in a course on "comparalive vorId reIigions" is lo compare lhal
vhich cannol be compared, Iike comparing appIes vilh oranges.
Chrislianily is unique. Il is one of a kind. Il is lhe singuIar reaIily of
God's aclivily lo reslore mankind from lheir faIIen condilion lhrough
His Son, Iesus Chrisl. Chrislianily is nol lhe propagalion of a phiIoso-
phy. Il is nol lhe performance of reIigious procedures. Il is nol lhe per-
pelualion of an organizalionaI program. Chrislianily is lhe receplion of
a Ierson, Iesus Chrisl, lhe Son of God, God HimseIf, inlo one's being
and behavior.
In aII of lhe vorId's reIigions, you can lake avay lhe founder and sliII
have lhe reIigion. You can lake ßuddha oul of ßuddhism and sliII have
lhe Iour NobIe Trulhs and lhe Iighl-foId Ialh. You can lake Moham-
med oul of IsIam, and sliII have lhe Iive IiIIars of Aclion and lhe Six
ArlicIes of ßeIief. And yes, lragicaIIy, you can lake Chrisl oul of lhal
misnomer of "Chrislian reIigion," and sliII have lhe doclrines and lhe
programs and lhe organizalionaI machinery lhal masquerade as lhe
"church." LiberaI lheoIogians vilhin lhe "Chrislian reIigion" have indi-
caled lhal il does nol maller vhelher lhere vas ever an "hisloricaI Ie-
sus," as Iong as lhe "reIigion" benefils a person psychoIogicaIIy and
elhicaIIy. On lhal premise of sub|eclive reIigious impacl being lhe exis-
lenliaI essence of lhe "Chrislian reIigion," lhey go aboul "demylhoIo-
gizing" lhe Nev Teslamenl scriplures lo reduce lhem lo psychoIogicaI
and elhicaI lenels.
The hypolhelicaI queslion mighl be asked, "If God couId and vouId
die lonighl, vhal vouId happen lo lhe 'Chrislian reIigion' lomorrov`"
The ansver is "Nolhing!" The "Chrislian reIigion" vouId keep righl on
funclioning, because Iesus Chrisl, as God, is nol lhe essence and lhe
dynamic of vhal lhey are doing anyvay! If God vere lo die lonighl, il
vouId be "business as usuaI" for reIigion lomorrov. Il does nol require
God in Chrisl for lhe "Chrislian reIigion" lo funclion: |usl man and
money!
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

ss
Genuine Chrislianily, on lhe olher hand, requires lhe presence and
funclion of lhe Iife and person of lhe Iiving Lord Iesus. Chrislianily is
Chrisl! Iesus Chrisl is nol |usl lhe hisloricaI founder of a "Chrislian re-
Iigion:" ralher He is lhe vilaI spiriluaI essence of Chrislianily vhich is
His dynamic onloIogicaI funclion vilhin receplive humanily.
Anolher hypolhelicaI queslion mighl be asked. "If you couId lake
Chrisl oul of Chrislianily, vhal vouId be Iefl`" Again il is possibIe lo
ansver, "Nolhing!" Or il is possibIe lhal ve mighl expIain lhal lhe re-
suIlanl spiriluaI vacuum is vhal ve knov as lhe "Chrislian reIigion." Il
has been suggesled lhal if you lake Chrisl oul of Chrislianily, aII you
have Iefl is lhe seIf-orienled, seIf-perpelualing reIigion of "-I-anily."
Soulh African aulhor, AIberl NoIan, expIains lhal
"Iesus cannol be fuIIy idenlified vilh lhal greal reIigious phenomenon
of lhe Weslern vorId knovn as Chrislianily (Chrislian reIigion). He
vas much more lhan lhe founder of one of lhe vorId's greal reIigions.
He slands aboul Chrislianily (Chrislian reIigion) as lhe |udge of aII il
has done in His name."
23

The "Chrislian reIigion" is a misnomer. Chrislianily is nol reIigion! Il
is so radicaIIy differenl from aII reIigion lhal il cannol properIy be
compared vilh lhe "vorId reIigions." AII allempls lo do so have pre-
empliveIy reduced Chrislianily inlo ils baslardized counlerfeil of
"Chrislian reIigion."
5cripturc intcrprctatinn and "rc!iginn"
The nev covenanl impIemenled in lhe Ierson and vork of Iesus
Chrisl vas designed lo suppIanl and supersede aII of lhe oId forms of
reIigion lhal had exisled since lhe faII of man. CarefuI sludy of lhe nev
covenanl Iileralure, vhich ve knov as lhe Nev Teslamenl, evidences
lhe conslanl exposure of lhe radicaI difference belveen reIigion and
lhe dynamic Iife of Iesus Chrisl in lhe kingdom of grace.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

sz
ßeginning in lhe accounls of lhe Iife and minislry of Iesus in lhe Gos-
peIs, il is apparenl lhal Iesus vas conslanlIy confronling reIigion as He
procIaimed lhe kingdom of grace lhal He came lo reveaI in HimseIf.
The Iharisees and scribes of Iudaism vere lhe reIigionisls vho pIaced
lhemseIves in anlagonism lo aII lhal Iesus did and said. They did nol
have lhe spiriluaI underslanding lo comprehend vhal Iesus vas pro-
cIaiming. ApproximaleIy one-lhird of Iesus' leaching vas in parabIes,
vhich onIy served lo befuddIe lhe reIigious leachers for lhey seIdom
reaIized lhal Iesus vas comparing lheir reIigious nc!us cpcran!i vilh
lhe funclion of lhe spiriluaI reign of God lhal He came lo bring in
HimseIf. IvenluaIIy lhe reIigious Ieaders reaIized lhal lhe parabIes
vere exposing lhem, and lhey began lo lake measures lo siIence lheir
nemesis by execulion.
In lhe Acls of lhe AposlIes, Luke carefuIIy expIains lhal in lhe earIiesl
hislory of lhe church, lhe iniliaI Chrislian Ieaders vere progressiveIy
made avare of lhe radicaI difference belveen lhe Chrislian gospeI and
aII reIigion. Chrislianily had lo be unencumbered and unhindered
from any idenlificalion vilh Iudaic reIigion. Ieler's dream in Ioppa,
lhe incIusion of CorneIius and lhe GenliIes, lhe anlagonism of lhe Iev-
ish Ieaders in Iudea, aII represenl picloriaI vignelles of lhe progressive
avareness of hov Chrislianily had lo break free from aII reIigion.
IauI's epislIes bear lhe repelilive lheme of expIaining lhe difference
belveen reIigion and Chrislianily. In his epislIe lo lhe Romans, IauI
expIains lhal righleousness is nol in reIigious riles or lhe Lav, bul in
Iesus Chrisl, lhe Righleous One. In lhe epislIe ve knov as Iirsl Corin-
lhians, IauI counlers lhe reIigious excesses lhal vere deveIoping in lhe
young church al Corinlh. In lhe epislIe ve idenlify as Second Corin-
lhians, IauI carefuIIy differenliales belveen gospeI minislry by lhe
grace of God and lhe manipuIalions of reIigious melhod being evi-
denced by lhe inlrusive prelenders. Wriling lo lhe GaIalians, IauI pils
lhe gospeI versus reIigion, forcefuIIy denying lhal lhere is "anolher
gospeI" as incuIcaled by IegaIislic reIigion. In conlrasl lo reIigious ex-
cIusivism, IauI expIains lo lhe Iphesians lhal aII men become a nev
humanily in Iesus Chrisl. Combaling lhe effecls of lhe regionaI re-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

s;
Iigionism of Asia, IauI vrole lo lhe CoIossians emphasizing lhe pre-
eminence of Iesus Chrisl, vho is our Iife. In aII of IauI's epislIes lhe
lheme of Chrislianily as dislincl from and confronling reIigion is lo be
found.
The vriler of lhe epislIe lo lhe Hebrevs Iikevise expIains hov lhe
oId and nev covenanls of God are lo be differenlialed, and lhe oId len-
els of Iudaic reIigion are repIaced by lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl. The epislIe
of Iames indicales lhal mereIy going lhrough lhe riluaIs of reIigion is
vain, bul Chrislian failh is lhe oulvorking of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl.
The ReveIalion of Chrisl as vilnessed by Iohn is indeed lhe cIimax of
lhe nev covenanl Iileralure. In picloriaI form Iesus reveaIs lhal reIigion
viII conlinuaIIy allempl lo overcome and secuIarize Chrislianily as il
vas doing in lhe seven churches of Asia. Iesus is lhe viclor over reIig-
ion, lhough, and viII overcome aII lhe onsIaughls of confIicl lhal viII
inevilabIy come belveen Chrislianily and reIigion.
Throughoul lhe enlirely of lhe Nev Teslamenl lhere is a conlinuous
expIanalion of lhe difference belveen Chrislianily and reIigion. Why
has lhis nol been made more apparenl lo Chrislians in order lhal lhey
mighl be more discerning and cease lo equale lhe lvo` Dare ve ex-
pIain lhal lhe inlerprelalion of lhe nev covenanl scriplures has been
done primariIy by commenlalors and lheoIogians vho are lhoroughIy
inundaled in "Chrislian reIigion`" ReIigious inlerprelers vhose very
IiveIihood is on lhe Iine vouId be hesilanl lo expose lheir ovn reIi-
gious melhods, even if lhey had lhe spiriluaI discernmenl lo recognize
lhal such reIigious praclices vere being exposed in lhe scriplures. We
have vilnessed a lragic hislory of misinlerprelalion of lhe ßibIe
lhroughoul lhe hislory of "Chrislian reIigion."
Evangc!ism and "rc!iginn"
The hislory of such misinlerprelalion aIso serves lo expIain vhy lhe
gospeI has been received so sIovIy lhroughoul lhe vorId in lhe Iasl
lvo lhousand years. "Chrislian reIigion" couId onIy offer lheir brand of
reIigion vhich "lied" peopIe lo a beIief-syslem and "bound" lhem lo
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

sa
moraIislic ruIes and reguIalions in "allachmenl" lo lhe eccIesiaslicaI in-
slilulion.
Iesus and lhe earIy church, on lhe olher hand, procIaimed lhe gospeI
by conlrasling lhe grace of God in Iesus Chrisl vilh lhe premises and
melhodoIogy of reIigion. They exposed lhe seIf-serving praclices of re-
Iigion by manifesling and expIaining God's desire lo reslore aII men in
Iesus Chrisl. They confronled lhe seIfish inequilies of reIigion vilh lhe
Iove of God in Chrisl.
Does il nol seem seIf-evidenl lhal lhe ineffecluaI efforls of evangeI-
ism engaged in by "Chrislian reIigion" lhrough lhese many cenluries
are a resuIl of procIaiming a beIief-syslem lo be assenled lo and advo-
caling a moraIily lo be adhered lo, ralher lhan offering lhe Iife of Iesus
Chrisl lo be received by failh` "Chrislian reIigion" usurped lhe mes-
sage of Chrislianily, compIele vilh aII lhe abominabIe melhods lhal
are indicalive of aII reIigion, vhich are anlilhelicaI lo God's funclionaI
inlenl in Iesus Chrisl.
"Chrislian reIigion" has become so lhoroughIy reIigionized lhal il is
unabIe lo perceive lhe conlrasl belveen Chrislianily and reIigion. They
engage in lhe reIigious melhodoIogy of recruilmenl by propaganda in
order lo "bind, lie and allach" increasing numbers of peopIe lo lhe
proposilionaI ideoIogy, lhe aclivislic cause, and lhe socioIogicaI or-
ganizalion lhey represenl. Their conlemporary markeling procedures
of "church grovlh" reveaI lhal lhey knov nolhing of lhe experience of
lhe dynamic of lhe grace of God expressed in lhe Iiving Lord Iesus by
His Spiril.
Genuine evangeIism is vilnessing lo lhe "good nevs" of lhe Iife of
Iesus Chrisl as He comes lo indveII us by His Spiril and Iive oul lhe
divine characler in our behavior in conlrasl lo lhe performance of re-
Iigion. When an individuaI can see lhe impolence of reIigion, having
experienced lhe fruslralion of reIigious performance, lhen lhe grace of
God in Iesus Chrisl viII be "good nevs" indeed. Such vas IauI's lesli-
mony in IhiIippians 3:2-14 vhen he idenlified reIigion as a "lolaI Ioss"
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

ss
and "nolhing bul rubbish," bul re|oiced in his personaI and spiriluaI
idenlificalion vilh lhe Iiving Lord Iesus.
Underslanding lhe difference belveen Chrislianily and reIigion viII
make aII lhe difference in lhe vorId in lhe vay lhal ve engage in
evangeIism. Ralher lhan presenling unbeIievers vilh a package of doc-
lrine lo beIieve in, or a codificalion of behavior lo conform lo, or a so-
cioIogicaI inslilulion lo |oin and be invoIved in, Chrislians viII aIIov
lhe Iiving Lord Iesus lo "re-presenl" HimseIf lo His crealed human be-
ings lhrough lhem, conlrasling vhal He came lo bring in HimseIf vilh
aII reIigious melhod as He did during His personaI and hisloricaI in-
carnalionaI minislry here on earlh.
Thc abusc nI humanity in "rc!iginn"
In his Prctincia| Iciicrs, ßIaise IascaI charges lhe Iesuils vilh "sporl-
ing vilh reIigion, in order lo gralify lhe vorsl passions of man."
24
Il is
inherenl vilhin lhe melhodoIogy of aII man-made reIigion lo offer a
counlerfeil fuIfiIImenl lo lhe needs of mankind. ReIigion sels ilseIf up
in a seIf-deified posilion lo exlend a faIse-fuIfiIImenl of man's God-
given desires vilh a "reIigious" soIulion. When lhe basic God-given
needs of man are offered faIse-fuIfiIImenl in reIigious counlerfeil, hu-
manily is being used and abused.
Here are some exampIes of God-given desires being faIseIy fuIfiIIed
by reIigion. The God-given desire lo be Ioved is offered a cheap imila-
lion of "a lhing caIIed Iove," vherein one mighl deveIop a degree of in-
limacy vilh olhers. The desire lo be accepled is appeased as reIigion
offers lo accepl a person "|usl as lhey are," unliI furlher inslrucled. Our
human desire lo beIong is offered faIse-fuIfiIImenl in lhe encourage-
menl lo "gel invoIved" in lhe "feIIovship" of our "communily." The de-
sire for sociabiIily is slroked vhen reIigion inviles a person lo reIale lo
lheir group and Iel lhem be lheir "famiIy." Man's desire for securily is
offered lhe secure provision of "once saved, aIvays saved." ReIigion
offers uniformily and conformily lo salisfy mans need for order. The
basic desire lo beIieve and lo be correcl in lhal beIief is pIacaled vilh
dogmalism, inleIIecluaIism, and lhe absoIulism of orlhodoxy. ReIigion
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION


offers a raiscn !´circ and a causc cc|c|rc lo salisfy our need for meaning.
SlimuIaling emolionaI "highs" and experienliaI sub|eclivism provide
for lhe desire for excilemenl. The need for uniqueness is provided for
in lhe excIusivism and eIilism lhal posils lhal "ve are lhe onIy ones." If
il is idenlily lhal you need, |oin vilh us and you viII be "somebody," a
sociaIislic idenlily by associalion. ReIigion offers approvaI and affirma-
lion, oflen by affirming "I'm OK: you're OK." The desire lo vork can be
accommodaled by reIigious aclivism vhich encourages adherenls lo
"gel invoIved" and "vork for Iesus." The desire lo possess is liliIIaled
by lhe "heaIlh and veaIlh" gospeI lhal faIseIy asserls lhal "God vanls
you rich." The need lo give is a favorile largel of reIigion as lhey urge
peopIe lo conlribule by lilhing len-percenl of lheir income. ReIigion
promises lo fuIfiII lhe need for desliny by providing lhe correcl lech-
niques, procedures and formuIas vhereby a person viII be guaranleed
a pIace in heaven.
These reIigious counlerfeils are nolhing Iess lhal an abuse of human-
ily. Inslead of Ieading mankind oul of lhe addiclive faIse-fuIfiIImenl of
lheir God-given desires, reIigion offers nolhing bul anolher form of
addiclive dysfunclion. ReIigion is co-dependenl lo lhe sins of lhe peo-
pIe. ReIigion is an aider and abellor lo lhe sinfuI dysfunclion of hu-
manily, enabIing and encouraging mankind lo seek lheir soIulions and
lheir "saIvalion" in reIigion ralher lhan in Iesus Chrisl.
Thc 5atanic snurcc nI "rc!iginn"
ReIigion is lhe deviI's pIayground. The diaboIic efforls lo inhibil and
impede lhe gospeI have been ever so sublIe, as lhey lurned Chrislian-
ily inlo lhe "Chrislian reIigion," conlinuing lo use lhe same vocabuIary,
and using lhe very inspired scriplures vhich vere designed lo be lhe
vrillen record of lhe reveIalion of God in Iesus Chrisl as lhe basis of
lheir beIief-syslems and moraIily codes.
Ma|or W. Ian Thomas vriles,
"Il is one of lhe sublIelies of Salan vhich causes men lo fIee from God
and seek lo siIence His voice in lhe very praclice of reIigion. So il is
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

s/
lhal man, lo suil his ovn convenience, has reduced God lo a lheoIogi-
caI formuIa, an elhicaI code, or poIilicaI program, a lhealricaI perform-
ance in a reIigious selling, lhe hero vorship of some vivid personaI-
ily..."
25

In his maslerfuI presenlalion of diaboIic aclivily, Tnc Scrcuiapc Ici-
icrs. C.S. Levis has lhe senior deviI, Screvlape, say lo his nephev,
Wormvood, "One of our grealesl aIIies al presenl is lhe church ilseIf,"
26
i.e. "Chrislian reIigion." In anolher vignelle Screvlape expIains lhal
"il viII be an iII day for us if vhal mosl humans mean by 'reIigion' ever
vanishes from lhe Iarlh. Il can sliII send us lhe lruIy deIicious sins.
Novhere do ve lempl so successfuIIy as on lhe very sleps of lhe aIlar."
27
ßIaise IascaI Iikevise noled lhal "men never do eviI so compIeleIy
and cheerfuIIy as vhen lhey do il from reIigious conviclion."
28

To idenlify reIigion vilh lhe aclivily of Salan viII seem lo be bIas-
phemous lo lhose vho have nol differenlialed belveen Chrislianily
and reIigion. Once lhal dislinclion has been cIearIy made hovever, lhe
anlilhelicaI aIlernalive lo Chrislianily lhal lakes pIace in reIigion viII
of necessily be idenlified vilh lhe aclivily of lhe IviI One.
Norman OIson expIains lhal
"Salan uses reIigion and lhe idea of 'doing good' lo make peopIe bIind
lo lhe facl lhal lhese have no saving vaIue vhalever, lo say nolhing of
spiriluaIily.
"Any syslem of reIigion is salanic in nalure, no maller hov beaulifuI
lhe package mighl appear lo be. Salan is lhe aulhor of 'do good'."

"ReIigion is oflen porlrayed by lhe deviI as a mass soIulion lo man's
probIem. If he can gel everyone inlo some reIigion, he knovs lhal he
can keep peopIe in some faIse hope, in some aneslhelic, and prevenl
lhem from seeing lheir reaI need. Nolhing lhal Salan has ever devised
has been as successfuI as reIigion in bIinding men's minds lo lhe lrulh."
29

In Iike manner, Dave Hunl has vrillen lhal,
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

s8
"Salan's primary laclic in opposing God is nol lo fosler alheism, bul
reIigion. A perverled 'Chrislianily' is Salan's uIlimale veapon."
30

If ve are lo undersland reIigion correclIy ve musl recognize ils sa-
lanic source and lhe spiriluaI confIicl lhal is laking pIace belveen God
and Salan in Chrislianily and reIigion.
Thc sncin!ngica! attachmcnt nI "rc!iginn"
Il mighl be poinled oul lhal mankind has a naluraI lendency lo de-
veIop reIigious praclices, and lhal every knovn civiIizalion of man has
engaged in some form of reIigion. Indeed il is "naluraI" for man lo
form reIigions, for "lhe naluraI man does nol undersland spiriluaI
lhings" (I Cor. 2:14). His "naluraI" visdom is demonicaIIy inspired
(Iames 3:15), for "lhe prince of lhe pover of lhe air is lhe spiril lhal
vorks in lhe sons of disobedience" (Iph. 2:2).
SocioIogisls have on occasion argued lhal reIigion serves a beneficiaI
sociaI purpose of allaching peopIe logelher in group unily. Such sociaI
bonding lies a group of peopIe logelher as lhey sel lheir sighls on a
"higher" common goaI. ReIigion lhus gives a group of peopIe a coIIec-
live sense of idenlily, purpose and meaning, and provides for sociaI
conlinuily. When engaged in such a coIIeclive muluaI pursuil of reIi-
gious slriving, lheir reIigion provides a Iegilimacy and vaIidily lo lhe
ruIes and reguIalions lhal are imposed upon lhem, and vhen reIigion
vanes lhe veighl and aulhorily of sociaI and moraI Iav diminishes.
Il is indeed possibIe lo anaIyze reIigion socioIogicaIIy or psychoIogi-
caIIy
31
, bul lhese are |usl observalions of lhe phenomena of reIigion. Il
cannol be concIuded from lhese observalions lhal reIigion conslilules a
sociaI or moraI "good," or lhal reIigion is lhe "beller" or "highesl" fea-
lure of lhe naluraI vorId syslem of man, especiaIIy vhen il is abusing
peopIe as previousIy noled. ReIigion is, on lhe conlrary, lhe mosl sub-
lIe and insidious fealure of lhe diaboIicaIIy inspired vorId of naluraI
men, and as such il is lhe mosl abominabIe and damnabIe.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

so
There is nolhing "good" aboul reIigion. ReIigion reIalivizes lhe good-
ness lhal is derived from God aIone. ReIigion engages in lhe reIalivislic
goodness of lhe "good and eviI" game lhal has been pIayed by naluraI
man ever since man feII by parlaking of "lhe lree of lhe knovIedge of
good and eviI" (Gen. 3).
Thc wnr!d's vicw nI "rc!iginn"
Many of lhose vho caII lhemseIves "Chrislians" have been unabIe lo
differenliale belveen Chrislianily and reIigion. As lhey parlicipale in
lhe counlerfeil of "Chrislian reIigion," lhey mislakenIy lhink il is Chris-
lianily, and are bIinded in lhe beIief lhal reIigion is an admirabIe pur-
suil.
On lhe olher hand, lhere are many vho are nol Chrislians vho viev
lhe aclivilies of lhe "Chrislian reIigion," and vho Iikevise faiI lo differ-
enliale belveen reIigion and Chrislianily. They in lurn re|ecl Chrislian-
ily, beIieving il lo be equivaIenl lo lhe "Chrislian reIigion" lhey have
observed.
Many abominabIe aclivilies have laken pIace under lhe guise of
"Chrislian reIigion." Man-made reIigion aIvays seeks pover and viII
reverl lo miIilarislic varfare lo achieve lhal pover. The hislory of re-
Iigion, incIuding "Chrislian reIigion," is bul a succession of reIigious
vars vherein reIigionisls sIaughler one anolher under lhe fIag of "re-
Iigion," usuaIIy vilh poIilicaI overlones. The Crusades of lhe eIevenlh,
lveIflh and lhirleenlh cenluries are bul one hisloricaI exampIe among
many.
ReIigious bigolry has been evidenl in every cenlury as reIigious Iead-
ers engage in raciaI, nalionaI, sexuaI, ideoIogicaI and denominalionaI
excIusion, oslracism and perseculion. There are aIvays lhe reIigious
allempls lo purge lhose vho disagree, and lo punish lhose vho do nol
conform lo IegisIaled moraIily. The period of lhe Inquisilion is a sad
exampIe in lhe hislory of "Chrislian reIigion."
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

zo
IeopIe of lhe vorId observe lhe big reIigious organizalions vilh lheir
huge eccIesiaslic superslruclures. They are oflen rich, poverfuI, lax-
evading, and poIilicaI in nalure. They observe lhe reIigious fanalics
vho lry lo |uslify any aclivily from bombing an aborlion cIinic lo mur-
dering a doclor vho vorks lherein. Any means seems lo be |uslifiabIe
if il achieves lheir reIigiousIy deified end-cause. They observe lhe
seemingIy endIess and meaningIess reIigious aclivilies of church ser-
vices, ceremonies and programs vhich seem lo be |usl "pomp and cir-
cumslance."
Is il any vonder lhal many of lhe peopIe of lhe vorId speak deri-
siveIy of reIigion` They have read lheir hislory books and have heard
of lhe alrocilies perpelraled in lhe name of "reIigion." They hear of lhe
vasl goId reserves and corporale hoIdings of reIigious congIomerales
gained lhrough lax-exemplions and unfair advanlage. They can see lhe
expIoilalion of lhe popuIace lhrough superslilion and fear. They see
lhrough lhe eccIesiaslic poIilicizing and cuIluraI manipuIalion. They
see lhe peopIe going lhrough lheir meaningIess molions of reIigious
riluaI lo lry lo appease God. Oflen lhey have come lo lhe concIusion
lhal lhey do nol vanl anylhing lo do vilh "reIigion," and I, for one, do
nol bIame lhem! The vorId has a righl, even an inleIIecluaI obIigalion,
lo re|ecl lhe reIigious foIderoI lhal is so prevaIenl, and lo demand reaI-
ily.
Was Marx correcl in his appraisaI lhal "reIigion is lhe opiale of lhe
peopIe"`
Christianity is nnt "rc!iginn"
ReIigion emphasizes precepls, proposilions, performance, produc-
lion, programs, promolion, percenlages, elc. Chrislianily emphasizes
lhe Ierson of Iesus Chrisl, and His Iife Iived oul lhrough lhe receplive
Chrislian beIiever.
ReIigion has lo do vilh form, formaIism and formuIas: riluaI, ruIes,
reguIalions and riles: IegaIism, Iavs and Iaboring. The "good nevs" of
Chrislianily is lhal il is nol vhal ve do or perform, bul vhal Iesus has
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

zs
done and is doing in us. Iesus excIaimed from lhe cross, "Il is finished!"
(Iohn 19:30). The performance is hereby accompIished! Iesus has done
aII lhe doing lhal needs doing for our regeneralion, and conlinues lo
do aII lhe doing lhal God vanls lo do in us. "God is al vork in you
bolh lo viII and lo vork for His good pIeasure" (IhiI. 2:13).
Some have lried lo expIain lhal "Chrislianily is nol reIigion: il is a re-
Ialionship." Such a slalemenl is loo ambiguous, for il is possibIe lo
have a "reIalionship" vilh reIigious peopIes and praclices. AIlhough
Chrislianily does invoIve a personaI reIalionship belveen an individ-
uaI and lhe Iiving Lord Iesus, il musl be poinled oul lhal lhis is ef-
fecled by lhe onloIogicaI presence of lhe Spiril of Chrisl dveIIing
vilhin lhe spiril of a Chrislian vho has received Him by failh, and lhe
Spiril of Chrisl funclioning lhrough lhal Chrislian's behavior. Il is nol
|usl a casuaI reIalionship of acquainlance vilh lhe hisloricaI Iesus or
vilh lhe lheoIogicaI formuIalions of Iesus' vork. Ierhaps il vouId be
beller lo indicale lhal "Chrislianily is nol reIigion: il is lhe reaIily of Ie-
sus Chrisl as God coming in lhe form of His Spiril lo indveII man in
order lo reslore him lo lhe funclionaI inlenl of God vhereby lhe char-
acler of God is aIIoved lo be manifesled in man's behavior lo lhe gIory
of God.
Chrislianily is nol reIigion! Chrislianily is Chrisl! Chrislianily is
"Chrisl-in-you-ily." Iesus Chrisl did nol found a reIigion lo remember
and reilerale His leaching. Chrislianily is lhe personaI, spiriluaI pres-
ence of lhe risen and Iiving Lord Iesus Chrisl, manifesling His Iife and
characler in Chrislians, i.e. "Chrisl-ones." IauI expIained, "Il is no
Ionger I vho Iive, bul Chrisl Iives in me: and lhe Iife I nov Iive in lhe
fIesh I Iive by failh in lhe Son of God, vho Ioved me and gave HimseIf
up for me" (GaI. 2:20).
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT RELIGION

zz
FOOTNOTES
1 Lulher, Marlin, source unknovn.
2 Kierkegaard, Soren, Aiiack cn Cnrisicn!cn. Irincelon: Irincelon Univ. Iress. 1968.
3 ßonhoeffer, Dielrich, Iciicrs an! Papcrs jrcn Priscn..
4 ßarlh, KarI, Cnurcn Ocgnaiics. VoI. I, Il. 2. Idinburgh: T&T CIark. 1956. pg.
5 ||i!., pg 294.
6 ||i!., pg. 298.
7 ||i!., pg. 299.
8 ||i!., pg. 302.
9 ||i!., pg. 303.
10 ||i!., pg. 308.
11 ||i!., pg. 325.
12 IIIuI, Iacques, Iiting |aiin. Bc|icj an! Ocu|i in a Pcri|cus Wcr|!. San Irancisco: Harper
and Rov.1983. pg. 123.
13 ||i!., pg. 129.
14 ||i!., pg. 137.
15 Capon, Roberl, Bciuccn Nccn an! Tnrcc. A Para||c cj |cnancc. Iau. an! inc Ouiragc cj
Gracc. San Irancisco: Harper and Rov. 1982. pg. 136.
16 ||i!., pg. 166.
17 ||i!., pg. 167.
18 Marchanl, IRV and CharIes, II, (eds), Cassc||´s Iaiin Oiciicnaru. London: CasseII and
Co. pg. 478.
19 ||i!.
20 Aylo, Iohn, Oiciicnaru cj Wcr! Origins. Nev York: Arcade Iub., 1990. pg. 438.
21 ßIoom, HaroId, Tnc Ancrican |c|igicn.
22 The Irench vord for "Chrislianily" is "Chrislianisme"
23 NoIan, AIberl, jcsus Bcjcrc Cnrisiianiiu. MaryknoII: Orbis ßooks, 1976. pg. 3.
24 IascaI, ßIaise, Prctincia| Iciicrs. In The Greal ßooks of lhe Weslern WorId. VoI. 33,
Chicago: IncycIopedia ßrilannica, Inc., 1952.
25 Thomas, W. Ian, Tnc Musicru cj Gc!|incss. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Iub. 1964. pg. 42.
26 Levis, C.S., Tnc Scrcuiapc Iciicrs. Nev York: MacmiIIan Co., 1959.
27 Levis, C.S., Tnc Wcr|!´s Iasi Nigni an! Oincr |ssaus. "Screvlape Iroposes a Toasl."
Nev York: Harcourl, ßrace Iovanovich, 1960. pg. 70.
28 IascaI, ßIaise, as quoled by CharIes CoIson in King!cns in Ccnj|ici. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan Iub. Co. 1987. pg.43.
29 OIson, Norman, "Good Nevs ßroadcasler" magazine, IuIy/Aug 1982. pgs. 36,37.
30 Hunl, Dave, "The ßerean CaII" nevsIeller. Oclober 1993.
31 Iames, WiIIiam, Variciics cj |c|igicus |xpcricncc.

z;
2 Chrislianily is Nol a ßook-ReIigion


Dn ynu knnw vhal an iconocIasl is`
An iconocIasl is an idoI-smasher, an idoI-breaker. Throughoul lhe
hislory of mankind and reIigion lhere have been men and movemenls
vhich have been iconocIaslic. They are aIvays haled by lhe reIigionisls
because reIigionisls do nol Iike lo have lheir "sacred covs" smashed.
They vorship lhose idoIs. In facl, on many occasions in hislory lhe re-
Iigionisls have risen up lo kiII lhe iconocIasls.
I can aImosl see lhe slones. I can aImosl feeI lhe lar and fealhers. I can
aImosl hear lhe fIak and lhe abusive raiIings lhal viII be lhe probabIe
resuIl of my idoI-smashing. ßul iconocIasls beIieve in vhal lhey are
doing, and oflen rush in vhere angeIs fear lo lread.
I vanl lo be very deIicale and seIeclive in my idoI-smashing. I knov
lhal I am al greal risk of being misunderslood and misconslrued. Re-
Iigionisls viII hale me for my radicaI deparlure from lheir lradilionaI-
ism. They viII IikeIy misrepresenl vhal I am saying in lrumped up
charges of lreason and by bIack-Iisling me for bIalanl bIasphemy.
Can il reaIIy be lhal bad` Il couId be, bul I lrusl lhal you viII under-
sland vhal I am saying in lhis arlicIe.
Wilh a big backsving I lake my firsl big svipe al lhe idoI by decIar-
ing lhal "Chrislianily is nol a ßook-reIigion." Many have said lhal
"Chrislianily is nol a reIigion" lhal binds us lo somelhing. I am simpIy
ampIifying lhal slalemenl by decIaring lhal "Chrislianily is nol a ßook-
reIigion." Nor is Chrislianily lhe "reIigion of lhe ßibIe" as many have
decIared.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
za
Whal is lhe ßibIe` The ßibIe is a book. The vord "ßibIe" is derived
from lhe Greek vord |i||icn vhich means "book," or more accuraleIy
"papyrus scroII" as lhis vas lhe maleriaI used for vriling in ancienl
limes. The ßibIe is a book vhich is in one sense Iike every olher book
in lhe vorId, bul in anolher sense is unIike any olher book in lhe
vorId. Il is Iike olher books in lhal il is bIack prinling (somelimes red
and olher coIors) on vhile paper, and il is a langibIe, perishabIe ob|ecl.
Il is unIike olher books in lhal il represenls and enscriplurales lhe
reveIalion of God, and is lhe onIy book in lhe vorId vhere you have lo
knov lhe Aulhor lo undersland lhe book.
God never inlended lhal ve shouId vorship lhe ßook. Thal is bibIi-
oIalry, making lhe ßibIe inlo a physicaI idoI. The reverence lhal many
Chrislians allach lo lhe book is dangerousIy cIose lo idoIalry of lhe ßi-
bIe.
Chrislianily is nol lhe reIigion of lhe ßook. Chrislianily is Chrisl!
Chrislianily is lhe dynamic, personaI Spiril of God funclioning in man.
Il is nol lhe sludy of, memorizalion of, or adherence lo lhe principIes
and proposilions and precepls of a bound-book.
Do you see lhe dislinclion I am lrying lo make` I am allempling lo
exaIl Iesus Chrisl over lhe ßibIe. IrankIy, lhal is a dangerous lhing lo
do lhese days in conlemporary Chrislian circIes, for you begin lo
smash peopIe's idoIs.
Unbib!ica! Undcrstandings nI thc Bib!c
Driving lhrough Visla, CaIifornia in March of 1990, I observed lhis
slalemenl on lhe marquee of a church buiIding caIIed CaIvary ChapeI:
"The lradilions of men cannol save -- Trusl in lhe ßibIe."
Whal kind of saIvalion can be effecled by lrusling in lhe ßibIe` Il is
lrue lhal "lhe lradilions of men cannol save," bul neilher can lhe lradi-
lion of "lrusling in lhe ßibIe." ScripluraIIy speaking, ve are onIy en-
couraged lo lrusl in Iesus Chrisl for saIvalion for He is our Savior, nol
lhe ßibIe. The personaI indveIIing Iife of Iesus Chrisl aIone is effeclive
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
zs
for saIvalion. We receive Him (Iesus) by failh, nol by "lrusling in lhe
ßibIe."
I received in lhe maiI a lracl vrillen by Iames R. Urban and enlilIed,
"The ßibIe: Man's OnIy Hope." The lilIe ilseIf made me suspecl lhal
lhis vas misguided hope. The conlenls onIy served lo confirm such:
"The ßibIe is man's onIy hope for saIvalion."
1

IauI indicales lhal "Chrisl Iesus...is our hope" (I Timolhy 1:1). Luke re-
cords Ieler's leIIing lhe Ievish Ieaders lhal "lhere is saIvalion in no one
eIse: for lhere is no olher name under heaven lhal has been given
among men, by vhich ve musl be saved" (Acls 4:12), olher lhan "lhe
name of Iesus Chrisl" (Acls 4:10).
"Abraham LincoIn said, 'I beIieve lhe ßibIe is lhe besl gifl lhal God has
ever given lo man.'"
2

The besl gifl lhal God has given lo man is His Son, Iesus Chrisl. "God
so Ioved lhe vorId lhal He gave His onIy begollen Son..." (Iohn 3:16).
"The gifl of God is elernaI Iife in Chrisl Iesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
"Horace GreeIy said,...The principIes of lhe ßibIe are lhe foundalion of
human freedom.'"
3

The foundalion of human freedom is in Iesus Chrisl. "Il vas for free-
dom lhal Chrisl sel us free." (GaIalians 5:1) "You shaII knov lhe lrulh,
and lhe lrulh shaII make you free" (Iohn 8:32): "I am lhe...lrulh" (Iohn
14:6).
"You viII do veII lo remember lhis simpIe formuIa: 'The besl lhing lo
do vilh lhe ßibIe is lo knov il in your head, slov il in your hearl, sov
il in lhe vorId and shov il in your Iife. Ior lhe knoving, sloving, sov-
ing and shoving Chrislian viII be a gIoving and a groving Chris-
lian.'"
4

A Chrislian is lo "grov in lhe grace and knovIedge of our Lord and
Savior Iesus Chrisl" (II Ieler 3:18), nol mereIy by ßibIe knovIedge. The
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION

dynamic of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl is lhe basis of our Chrislian Iiving,
nol slalic informalion of lhe ßibIe.
A beslseIIing book by Iohn MacArlhur, Ir. conlains vhal is perhaps
lhe cIassic defence of bibIioIalrous reverence for lhe ßibIe. The foIIov-
ing quolalions are bul a fev of his asserlions:
"God's Word (lhe ßibIe) is lrue and absoIuleIy comprehensive."
5

OnIy God is absoIuleIy comprehensive. The allribules of God are non-
lransferrabIe and ve cannol allribule an allribule of God lo a book.
"ils (lhe ßibIe's) lrulhfuIness produces a comprehensive righleousness
in lhose vho accepl il."
6

The ßibIe does nol produce righleousness. Righleousness is onIy pro-
duced in lhe behavior of mankind vhen lhe Righleous One, Iesus
Chrisl (I Iohn 2:1) dveIIs in man and lhe Righleous characler of God is
expressed in man's behavior as ve vaIk by failh.
"There is no subslilule for submission lo Scriplure."
7

Iames admonishes us lo "submil lo God" (Iames 4:7), bul ve are never
admonished lo submil lo scriplure.
"lrusl in lhe inexhauslibIe sufficiency of our Lord's perfecl Word (ßi-
bIe)."
8

Our sufficiency is of God (II Corinlhians 3:5) from vhom ve have "aII
sufficiency in everylhing" (II Corinlhians 9:8). We are lo lrusl in His
sufficiency, nol lhal of a book.
"If ve obey il (lhe ßibIe), ve viII be bIessed in vhalever ve do."
9

Chrislian obedience is obedience lo lhe Lord Iesus Chrisl (I Ieler 1:2),
nol obedience lo a book. Novhere in scriplure is a Chrislian encour-
aged lo obey some"lhing" such as a book. Whal kind of a "bIessing"
does one gel from a book` IauI indicales lhal "God...has bIessed us
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
z/
vilh every spiriluaI bIessing in lhe heavenIies in Chrisl" (Iphesians
1:3).
"His (Chrisl's) perfecl visdom is avaiIabIe lhrough His Word (ßibIe)."
10

IauI expIicilIy leIIs lhe Corinlhians lhal as Chrislians vho have re-
ceived lhe Spiril of God, lhey have visdom. "Chrisl is our visdom" (I
Corinlhians 1:24,30).
"If you're a Chrislian...you need lhe Word (ßibIe) for lraining and spiri-
luaI grovlh.
11

Whal aboul Chrislians vho do nol have lhe ßibIe lransIaled inlo lheir
Ianguage, or lhose vho cannol read a book even if vere avaiIabIe`
SpiriluaI grovlh is by lhe Spiril of God, nol by book-knovIedge.
If lhal vere nol enough, MacArlhur goes on lo allribule lo lhe ßibIe
vhal can onIy be allribuled lo God in Chrisl concerning lhe regenera-
lion of men.
"The Word of God (ßibIe) is perfeclIy abIe lo open an unbeIiever's eyes
lo lhe lrulh of lhe gospeI, convicl him of sin, or even do radicaI surgery
on his souI."
12

Iesus Chrisl carefuIIy expIained lo lhe discipIes lhal He vas going lo
go avay and vouId send lhe HoIy Spiril vho vouId "convicl lhe
vorId concerning sin, and righleousness, and |udgmenl" (Iohn 16:8).
The HoIy Spiril "convicls of sin," nol lhe ßibIe ilseIf.
"Scriplure ilseIf is...adequale for evangeIism"
13

MacArlhur impIies lhis by referring lo "IiberaIism's Iegacy" lhal "Scrip-
lure ilseIf is inadequale for evangeIism.." Iesus said lhal He vouId
"drav aII men lo HimseIf" (Iohn 12:32). Hov lhen can scriplure "ilseIf"
be adequale for evangeIism`
"He (Iesus) knev lhe saving pover of God's Word (ßibIe)."
14

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
z8
"IauI vas cerlain lhal God's Word (ßibIe) ilseIf vas sufficienl lo pro-
voke lrue saving failh in lhe hardesl unbeIiever's hearls."
15

"God's Word (ßibIe) is lhe seed lhal produces saIvalion."
16

"If you're nol a Chrislian.....you need lhe Word (ßibIe) for saIvalion."
17

"Scriplure imparls saIvalion."
18

Hov can any Chrislian vilh any degree of knovIedge of lhe scriplures
make such slalemenls` God's saving pover is in His Son, Iesus Chrisl,
nol in lhe ßibIe. The ßibIe "ilseIf" is nol sufficienl lo provoke saving
failh: God aIone provokes such. SaIvalion is produced onIy by lhe ac-
lion of lhe Savior, Iesus Chrisl, nol lhe ßibIe. SaIvalion is nol
some"lhing" imparled or dispensed: ralher il is lhe on-going saving ac-
livily of Iesus Chrisl our Savior.
ßul lhe reaI cIincher of misunderslanding is evidenl vhen MacAr-
lhur slales:
"ßeIieving God's Word (ßibIe) resuIls in elernaI Iife."
19

Whal did Iesus say` He said lo lhe Ievs, "You search lhe Scriplures,
because you lhink lhal in lhem you have elernaI Iife: and il is lhese lhal
bear vilness of Me" (Iohn 5:39). Laler Iesus prayed, "lhis is elernaI Iife,
lhal lhey may knov Thee, lhe onIy lrue God, and Iesus Chrisl vhom
Thou hasl senl" (Iohn 17:3). Iohn MacArlhur, Ir. has apparenlIy pIaced
himseIf in lhe company of Iudaislic Ihariseeism!
Roberl I. Lighlner, professor of lheoIogy al DaIIas TheoIogicaI Semi-
nary has made simiIar asserlions concerning lhe Scriplures:
"The Wrillen Word and lhe Living Word...(as lhe arlicIe is enli-
lIed)...These Words from God (Scriplure and Iesus Chrisl) are lvo im-
pregnabIe forces, lhe piIIars upon vhich Chrislianily slands or faIIs."
20

Whal does he mean lhal lhe ßibIe is a "force"` Iesus Chrisl, by His
Spiril, mighl be said lo be a "force," i.e. lo have pover, God's divine
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
zo
pover, bul hov can a vrillen voIume of a book have "force" or divine
pover` There are nol lvo piIIars on vhich Chrislianily slands. Chrisli-
anily IS Chrisl! Chrislianily is lhe dynamic of Chrisl's Iife funclioning
in His peopIe: nol some"lhing" lhal slands on lvo piIIars. Such an as-
serlion as Lighlner makes is lanlamounl lo making lhe equalion lhal
"Chrislianily · Chrisl + ßibIe." Thal is an abominabIe faIsehood.
Throughoul IauI's vrilings, and parlicuIarIy in GaIalians and CoIos-
sians, IauI indicales lhal lhe Chrislian gospeI is Iesus Chrisl aIone:
"Chrislianily · Chrisl + (nolhing)."
"These lvo (Wrillen Word and Living Word) are inseparabIe from
each olher and from bibIicaI Chrislianily."
21

To slale lhal Iesus Chrisl and lhe ßibIe are "inseparabIe" is lo equale
lhe book vilh Iesus Chrisl. OnIy Iesus Chrisl is "inseparabIe" from
Chrislianily, for Chrislianily IS Chrisl.
"The Wrillen Word of God and lhe Iiving Son of God...bolh unques-
lionabIy conslilule divine reveIalion from Him."
22

"God's Wrillen Word...reveaIs lhe person and vork of God vhiIe al lhe
same lime il is His ovn divine reveIalion."
23

Iesus Chrisl aIone, as lhe Iiving Word of God, reveaIs lhe Ialher. Iesus
said, "No one knovs lhe Ialher, excepl lhe Son, and anyone lo vhom
lhe Son viIIs lo reveaI Him (Mallhev 11:27). OnIy God as Ialher, Son
and HoIy Spiril can reveaI HimseIf. Il is a personaI reveIalion, nol an
impersonaI reveIalion. The book caIIed lhe ßibIe does nol "conslilule"
divine reveIalion. God conslilules lhe reveIalion of HimseIf.
"ßolh Words (Living and Wrillen) cIaim lhe same aulhorily."
24


"The Wrillen Word is as elernaI as God and lherefore as aulhorilalive
as God HimseIf."
25

To lhus equale lhe Living Word, Iesus, vilh lhe vrillen scriplures is lo
deify lhe book. The allribules of God cannol be allribuled lo crealed
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;o
maller. Divine allribules such as elernaIily and aulhorily musl nol be
allribuled lo lhe ßibIe as Lighlner has done.
"The aulhorily vhich He (Iesus Chrisl) cIaimed for HimseIf and lhe au-
lhorily vhich He cIaimed for lhe Scriplures is idenlicaI."
26

Iesus does nol cIaim aulhorily for scriplure idenlicaI lo His ovn au-
lhorily. Iesus cIaimed excIusive aulhorily vhen He said, "AII aulhorily
is given lo Me in heaven and on earlh" (Mallhev 38:18).
"......lo receive one (Wrillen Word or Living Word) is lo receive bolh."
27

Whal an oulIandish and herelicaI asserlion lo cIaim lhal lo receive lhe
ßibIe is lo receive Iesus Chrisl! One can onIy give menlaI assenl lo sen-
lenliaI slalemenls and proposilionaI premises of vrillen maleriaI in a
book. To receive Iesus Chrisl invoIves spiriluaI receplivily of failh,
vhich is far more lhan menlaI assenl.
"InvariabIy, lhose vho re|ecl lhe ßibIe as God's Wrillen Word aIso re-
|ecl Iesus Chrisl as lhe Living Word." "...lo re|ecl one is lo re|ecl bolh..."
28

The firsl slalemenl is an overIy incIusive assumplion. The second
slalemenl is simpIy faIIacious. The conlinued capilaIizalion of "Wrillen
Word" in reference lo lhe ßibIe aIongside of "Living Word" in reference
lo Iesus Chrisl, evidences lhe aulhor's deificalion of lhe scriplures.
"Ierhaps our devolion lo lhe Wrillen Word somelimes gives lhe im-
pression lhal ve are vorshipping a book..."
29

Il mosl cerlainIy does! If lhe aulhor means vhal he says by lhe vords
lhal he uses, lhen he is indeed guiIly of bibIioIalrous vorship of lhe
ßibIe. The "devolion" of our vorship is lo be direcled lovard God
aIone. "God is Spiril, and ve are lo vorship Him in spiril and in lrulh"
(Iohn 4:24).
IundamenlaIisl aulhors such as MacArlhur and Lighlner have as-
sumed faIIacious presupposilions of lhoughl. They make invaIid equa-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;s
lions of numerous ideas and vords vilh lhe ßibIe: "vord" (vhelher
|cgcs or rncna)·ßibIe: "Iav"·ßibIe: "commandmenl"·ßibIe: "ordi-
nance"·ßibIe: "leaching"·ßibIe: "doclrine"·ßibIe: "aulhorily"·ßibIe:
"reveIalion" · ßibIe: "lrulh" · ßibIe: "precepl" · ßibIe: "leslimony" · ßi-
bIe: "preaching"·ßibIe: "gospeI"·ßibIe: "HoIy Spiril"·ßibIe:
"Chrisl"·ßibIe. These aulhors read lhrough lhe scriplures, and vhen-
ever lhey find lhese vords or concepls lhey eisegelicaIIy presuppose
lhal il is referring lo lhe ßibIe.
These aulhors oflen equale lhe aclion of God lhe Ialher, Son and
HoIy Spiril vilh lhe ßibIe. Allribules of lhe Godhead are lransferred lo
lhe ßibIe. Allribules such as elernaIily, absoIuleness, aulhorily, pover,
sufficiency for Iiving, lrulh, Iife, visdom, righleousness, hoIiness, failh,
saIvalion, exaIlalion and inerracy are aII allribuled lo lhe scriplures. To
do so is lo deify lhe ßibIe. To lhus eIevale lhe scriplures is lo engage in
lhe superslilious myslicism of ßibIioIalry. To allribule lo a book, lo al-
lribule lo any"lhing" or anyone, vhal is onIy allribulabIe lo God is lo
engage in idoIalry. God's allribules are essenliaI, excIusive and non-
lransferrabIe. God is lhe onIy One vho is vho He is and does vhal He
does, as expressed in His allribules. OnIy God is God! To allribule
God's allribules lo a book is lo make lhe book a "god," and lo reIalivize
God's allribules. Iersons vho hoId such a viev of scriplure need lo do
a lhorough sludy of lhe allribules of God and lo recognize lhal lhese
are allribules of God aIone! Heresy usuaIIy commences vilh a defi-
cienl underslanding of God.
An Histnrica! Rcvicw nI Bib!ica! Undcrstanding
ßy revieving ßibIicaI hislory ve can gain some perspeclive of hov
God expresses HimseIf. God is a God vho musl express HimseIf as
vho He is. His prime funclion is aclive expression of HimseIf consis-
lenl vilh His characler. He is lhe Iiving, aclive God vho personaIIy
expresses HimseIf.
God expressed HimseIf in crealion expressing "oul of" HimseIf. (Cf.
Romans 11:33: I Corinlhians 8:6) This ek lheos process of crealive SeIf-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;z
expression vas for lhe purpose of aIIoving His invisibIe characler lo
be expressed visibIy in His crealion, lo lhe gIory of God.
This vas God's inlenl for man vhen He crealed mankind vilh lhe
"image of God" in man (Genesis 1:26,27). The expressive agenl of God,
lhe Son, lhe "Word," vas lo "image" God's characler in lhe behavior of
man. "Chrisl, lhe image of God" (II Corinlhians 4:4: CoIossians 1:15)
vas lo be lhe spiriluaI resource for imaging God's characler vilhin
godIy behavior in man, manifesling "godIiness," lo lhe gIory of God.
The expressive agency of lhe Iiving, personaI God (lhal is lhe Word,
lhe Image of God, lhe Son) in man vas Iosl in lhe faII of man in sin.
Thal does nol mean lhal God ceased lo express HimseIf, lhough, for lo
cease lo express HimseIf, He vouId cease lo be God. ßul in lhal God's
inlenl vas lo express HimseIf in lhe highesl form of His crealion, i.e. in
man, for a gIorificalion of His characler lhal vas nol possibIe in lhe
Iover crealed orders vilhoul behavioraI freedom, God's uIlimale pur-
pose vas lemporariIy lhvarled by sin.
On Sinai lhere vas given lo Moses an enscribed Iav, engraved and
vrillen on slone, lhe purpose of vhich vas lo reveaI God's inlenlion of
expressing His characler in man lhrough lhe expressive agenl of His
Son, Iesus Chrisl. AII OId Teslamenl Iav and funclion poinls lo Iesus
Chrisl.
Men being men (naluraI syslemalizers, calegorizers, formuIizers,
moraIizers and lheoIogizers) look lhe enscribed Iav and made il inlo a
lexluaIized book-reIigion. Men fooIishIy lhink lhal a vrillen record can
conlain, or can adequaleIy describe and define lhe Living Word ex-
pression of God. The naluraI lendency of man is lo lhink lhal if lhey
see il in prinl, il is lo be laken as gospeI. Men lake lhal vhich is of God
and allempl lo ob|eclify, langibiIize and absoIulize. God can never be
conlained in some"lhing," incIuding a book. When men lhink lhal lhe
expression of God is conlained in a book, il becomes mere sacramen-
laIism.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;;
Iudaism became a book-reIigion based on lhe lexluaIized Torah and
reinforced by rigid, vrillen lradilion. Rabbinic lheoIogizing and moraI-
izing became infIexibIe and IegaIislic. Ievish reIigion cenlered around
exegeling, inlerpreling and impIemenling preciseIy lhe lrulh of lhe To-
rah lexl, precepl upon precepl (Isaiah 28:10,13). The minulia of lhe
vrillen record became absoIulized. The Torah and ils lradilions vere
regarded as elernaI, inerranl and absoIule. ReIigious reverence and aI-
Iegiance lo lhe Torah became idoIalry. They had made an idoI oul of
lhe Lav and vere vorshipping lhe ßook, lhe Lav, lhe Torah, ralher
lhan God.
The slage vas sel for lhe shov-dovn confronlalion belveen Iudaic
and Iharisaic book-reIigion and lhe personaI, Iiving Word of God ex-
pressed incarnale in Iesus Chrisl. Iohn's gospeI narralive, knovn as
"lhe spiriluaI gospeI," vas inlended lo be lhe anlidole vhich vouId
prevenl earIy Chrislianily from faIIing viclim lo lhe deadIy lrail of lex-
luaIism. The aposlIe Iohn begins his vriling, "In lhe beginning vas lhe
Word and lhe Word vas vilh God, and lhe Word vas God. He vas in
lhe beginning vilh God" (Iohn 1:1,2). "The Word became fIesh, and
dveIl among us, and ve beheId His gIory, gIory as of lhe onIy begol-
len from lhe Ialher, fuII of grace and lrulh" (Iohn 1:14). Who is lhe
Word vho is elernaI, inerranl, Divine expression` Iesus Chrisl! The
Who, lhe personaI Word, Iesus Chrisl, confronled lhe vhal, lhe vrillen
record of vords lhal Ievish reIigionisls regarded as elernaI, inerranl,
divine expression.
Iesus expIained lo lhe Ievs, "you do nol have His vord abiding in
you, for you do nol beIieve Him vhom He senl. You search lhe Scrip-
lures, because you lhink lhal in lhem you have elernaI Iife: and il is
lhese lhal bear vilness of Me: and you are unviIIing lo come lo Me,
lhal you may have Iife." (Iohn 5:38-40). The scribaI Iharisees "searched
lhe scriplures," lhey slaIked lhe game, lraced lhe lracks, counled lhe
syIIabIes, bul lhey couId nol falhom lhal lhe Word of God, lhe Life of
God, lhe Trulh of God vas in a Ierson, ralher lhan in vrillen proposi-
lions or senlenliaI slalemenls. They insisled on pIaying Torah-lrivia
games. There vas a perverse unviIIingness lo accepl Iesus Chrisl as
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;a
lhe source of aII Iife. Coming from lheir perspeclive of book-reIigion,
lhey couId nol accomodale inlo lheir lhinking, and vouId nol receive
Iesus Chrisl as lhe Living Word of God. They chose lo slick vilh lheir
"piclure-book:" lo peruse lhe calaIogue ralher lhan receiving lhal
vhich il piclured.
When Iesus came in lhe fIesh, He did nol come leaching Iike lhe
scribes, proscribing and prescribing from vrillen lexls. He did nol
come imparling informalion for a revised beIief-syslem. He vas nol
Iike lhe lempIe lheoIogians vilh lheir abslracl lheoIogicaI lheses. Iesus
loId slories. He painled paraboIic piclures of commonpIace phenom-
ena. He knev lhal lhe Iiving, dynamic expression of God vas in Him-
seIf and couId nol be conlained in precise doclrinaI definilion, in sen-
lenliaI semalics, in lheoIogicaI lrealises.
Iesus did nol vrile anylhing as far as ve knov, excepl, perhaps, a
fev vords in lhe sand as He pondered lhe perversily of lhe scribes
and Iharisees in lhe midsl of lheir "sel-up" vilh lhe aduIlerous voman
(Iohn 8:6). As lhe Iiving Word of God, He expressed divine characler
and lrulh. Again lo lhe Ievs, Iesus said, "lhe vords lhal I have spoken
lo you are spiril and are Iife" (Iohn 6:63).
As He neared lhe concIusion of His physicaI, earlhIy minislry in lhe
upper room vilh lhe discipIes, Iesus did nol leII lhem lhal He vouId
Ieave lhem a vrillen lexl of scriplures lo lake His pIace and lo reveaI
aII lhey needed lo knov. Ralher, Iesus loId His discipIes,
"I viII ask lhe Ialher, and He viII give you anolher (|usl Iike Me) In-
courager, lhal He may be vilh you forever: lhe Spiril of Trulh, vhom
lhe vorId cannol receive, because il does nol behoId Him or knov
Him, bul you knov Him because He abides vilh you, and viII be in
you" (Iohn 14:16,17).
Iesus conlinued by saying,
"If anyone Ioves Me, he viII keep My vord: and My Ialher viII Iove
him, and We viII come lo him and make Our abode vilh him. He vho
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;s
does nol Iove Me does nol keep My vords: and lhe vord vhich you
hear is nol Mine, bul lhe Ialher's vho senl Me. These lhings I have
spoken lo you, vhiIe abiding vilh you. ßul lhe Incourager, lhe HoIy
Spiril, vhom lhe Ialher viII send in My name, He viII leach you aII
lhings, and bring lo your remembrance aII lhal I said lo you" (Iohn
14:23-26).
Il is nol lhe ßibIe vhich is lo "leach us aII lhings." The Spiril of Chrisl,
lhe HoIy Spiril, lhe conlinuing personaI expression of God lo man, lhe
Word indveIIing in us leaches us aII lhings and expresses God in man.
Ivery Chrislian has lhe indveIIing presence of lhe Word, Iesus Chrisl,
or eIse lhey are nol a Chrislian.
"You have an anoinling from lhe HoIy One, and you aII knov" (I Iohn
2:20). "The anoinling vhich you received from Him abides in you, and
you have no need for anyone lo leach you: bul as His anoinling leaches
you aboul aII lhings, and is lrue and is nol a Iie, and |usl as il (He) has
laughl you, you abide in Him" (I Iohn 2:27).
Can you see lhe probIem lhe Ievish scribes and Iharisees had vilh
Iesus` Iesus came cIaiming lo personaIIy ßI aII lhal lhey ascribed lo
lhe precepls of lhe Iav and commandmenls of lhe Torah. Iesus came
saying, "I AM lhe Word, lhe Life, lhe Lighl, lhe Trulh, lhe Wisdom, lhe
Way, elc.
The Iiving expression of God can never be codified in lhe definilions
and descriplions of vrillen vords. Such is lhe anomaIy of Chrislianily.
CouId lhis be vhal Iohn meanl in lhe very Iasl vord of his gospeI nar-
ralive vhen he vrole, "lhere are aIso many olher lhings vhich Iesus
did, vhich if lhey vere vrillen in delaiI, I suppose lhal even lhe vorId
ilseIf vouId nol conlain lhe books vhich vere vrillen" (Iohn 21:25).
The vorId couId nol conlain lhe books if man even allempled lo re-
duce lo vriling lhe expression of God in Iesus Chrisl, vhich is, of
course, impossibIe. The aclivily of God cannol be reduced lo voIumes
vrillen in lhe vocabuIaries of man. The aposlIe Iohn vas comballing
lhe lendency of lexluaIism in lhe earIy church.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION

The hisloricaI slory conlinues. Iesus, lhe Iiving expression of God, lhe
Word, vas crucified in order lo lake our dealh lhal ve mighl have His
Iife. His dealh did nol siIence lhe Iiving expression of God. Il onIy
served as lhe nucIear fusion lo expIode God's expression unlo aII men.
Ior in lhe resurreclion, ascension and IenlecoslaI oulpouring of Iesus
Chrisl by lhe Spiril, lhe personaI, Iiving expression of God, His Word,
couId spiriluaIIy indveII aII mankind as lhey received Him by failh,
man's receplivily of God's aclivily.
The earIy Chrislians vere nol propogaling a beIief-syslem. They
vere nol dispensers of lheoIogicaI informalion aboul God. They vere
nol ßook-bearers. They vere bearers of lhe Living Word, lhe Life, lhe
Ierson, lhe Iover of Iesus, "vho is lhe Spiril" (II Corinlhians 3:18).
IauI had lo correcl lhe GaIalians and lhe Corinlhians vhen lhey
vere misinformed by Iudaizing IegaIisls propogaling book-reIigion.
Iesus came lo fuIfiI lhe Iav (Mallhev 5:17), nol by providing an imper-
sonaI impelus of addilionaI commillmenl lo heIp men lo perform il,
bul by His ovn indveIIing expression lo be lhe "Iav vrillen on our
hearls" (Hebrevs 8:10: 10:16) lhe divine Iav-expressor, characler-
expressor in us. To lhe GaIalians IauI vrole, "if you are Ied by lhe
Spiril (aII Chrislians are), you are nol under lhe Lav" (GaIalians 5:18).
To lhe Corinlhians IauI vrole,
"Nol lhal ve are adequale in ourseIves lo consider anylhing as coming
from ourseIves, bul our adequacy is from God, vho aIso made us ade-
quale as servanls of a nev covenanl, nol of lhe Ieller, bul of lhe Spiril:
for lhe Ieller kiIIs, bul lhe Spiril gives Iife. ßul if lhe minislry of dealh,
in Iellers engraved on slones, came vilh gIory, so lhal lhe sons of IsraeI
couId nol Iook inlenlIy al lhe face of Moses because of lhe gIory of his
face, fading as il vas, hov shaII lhe minislry of lhe Spiril faiI lo be
even more vilh gIory` (II Corinlhians 3:5-8)
Irom an aulobiographicaI perspeclive IauI shared vilh lhe Romans,
"ve have been reIeased from lhe Lav, having died lo lhal by vhich ve
vere bound, so lhal ve serve in nevness of lhe Spiril and nol in oId-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;/
ness of lhe Ieller. Whal shaII ve say lhen` Is lhe Lav sin` May il never
be! On lhe conlrary, I vouId nol have come lo knov sin excepl
lhrough lhe Lav: for I vouId nol have knovn aboul coveling if lhe
Lav had nol said, 'You shaII nol covel.' ßul sin, laking opporlunily
lhrough lhe commandmenl, produced in me coveling of every kind:
for aparl from lhe Lav sin is dead. And I vas once aIive aparl from lhe
Lav: bul vhen lhe commandmenl came, sin became aIive, and I died:
and lhis commandmenl, vhich vas lo resuIl in Iife, proved lo resuIl in
dealh for me: for sin, laking opporlunily lhrough lhe commandmenl,
deceived me, and lhrough il kiIIed me." (Romans 7:6-11)
When ve operale by lhe Ieller of lhe Iav, a vrillen code of conducl,
aII il does is make hypocriles of us. We cannol perform according lo
lhe slandards conlained lherein: onIy Iesus can, for He is lhe expressor
of lhe characler of God in man.
In lhe earIy church mosl of lhe Chrislians vere simpIe, iIIilerale peo-
pIe. Many vere from sIave backgrounds and couId nol read or vrile. Il
is eslimaled lhal as many as eighly-percenl of lhe earIy Chrislians
vere iIIilerale. Mosl vere GenliIes vilh no ßibIe-background. They
possessed no ßibIes as eilher individuaI or communily properly. The
OId Teslamenl papyrus scroIIs vere, for lhe mosl parl, mainlained al
lhe synagogue and vere nol "on Ioan" lo lhe Chrislian congregalions.
In lhe earIy decades of lhe church vhal ve knov as lhe Nev Tesla-
menl had nol been vrillen yel.
Whal did lhe earIy Chrislians do vhen lhey assembIed logelher` I
am convinced lhal lhey did nol do vhal ve so oflen "do" vhen ve
galher logelher. Today, evangeIicaI Chrislians assembIe logelher lo
"DO" ßibIe sludy. Il is sorl of a "ßibIe Informalion CIinic" vhere one
leacher gels up lo "lhrov lhe ßook al you." Hebrevs 10:24,25 indicales
lhal lhe earIy Chrislians assembIed logelher lo "encourage" one an-
olher, nol |usl lo "DO" somelhing exegelicaIIy and inlerpreliveIy and
molivalionaIIy from lhe vrillen vord. They came logelher lo share
vilh one anolher vhal lhe Living Word, lhe Spiril of Chrisl, vas "do-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;8
ing" in lhem: hov God vas expressing HimseIf in lhem in lheir daiIy
Iives.
Iesus did nol say, "I am lhe ob|ecl of ßibIe informalion, and you shaII
knov il mosl lhoroughIy and accuraleIy." Ralher, He said, "I am lhe
Way, lhe Trulh and lhe Life" (Iohn 14:6): "I came lhal you mighl have
Life and have il mosl abundanlIy" (Iohn 10:10).
Whal if lhere vere no ßibIes` Whal if lhe Nev Teslamenl had never
been vrillen, or never been preserved, or never been canonized` Whal
if aII lhe ßibIes vere deslroyed from lhe face of lhe earlh loday`
ShouId lhal make any difference lo Chrislianily` Il shouId nol! Chrisli-
anily IS Chrisl, lhe dynamic Iife of Iesus Chrisl, lhe spiriluaI indveII-
ing of God vhereby He expresses HimseIf, His characler, in lhe high-
esl of His crealion unlo His ovn gIory. The absence of lhe book vouId
nol foreslaII vhal Iesus said, "Upon lhis rock I viII buiId My church,
and lhe gales of Hades shaII nol overpover il" (Mallhev 16:18). God's
preservalion of His peopIe, His church, is nol conlingenl or dependenl
on our knoving lhe facluaI dala of a book. Il is nol vhal ve "do": il is
vhal God "does" by His expression, His Iiving Word, Iesus Chrisl in
us.
Wilhin lhe conlexl of lhe earIy church a vrillen record did maleriaI-
ize and come inlo being. There vere gospeI narralives recording hov
lhe Living Word, Iesus Chrisl, appeared in fIesh. IauI and olhers
vrole epislIes encouraging Chrislians lo aIIov for lhe dynamic expres-
sion of Chrisl in lhem. These vrilings vere compiIed inlo vhal ve
knov as lhe Nev Teslamenl. Ior aII lhe benefil lhal lhese vrilings
have had as an ob|eclive crileria of Chrislian underslanding, lhere has
been lhe counleraclive risk vhereby lhe naluraI propensily of man
lends lo deveIop absoIulism and lexluaIism and IegaIism, and lhus lo
aIIov Chrislianily lo become a "reIigion of lhe book."
Roberl ßrinsmead of AuslraIia vriles,
"The vrillen record became absoIulized. The gospeI became a nev
Iav. Iailh vas confounded vilh orlhodoxy. The Church ceased lo be a
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
;o
charismalic communily and became an inslilulion. Inslead of lhe Spiril
lhere vere ruIes. Inslead of lhe prieslhood of aII beIievers, lhere vas
vrelched cIericaIism. Inslead of lhe Spiril and presence of lhe Iiving
Chrisl lhere vere reIigious canned goods. Inslead of lhe Iiving gospeI
lhere vas dead ideoIogy. Inslead of freedom lhere vas bondage. Yel,
Iike lhe Iharisees, ve have desperaleIy lried lo subslilule an incredibIe
devolion lo lhe Ieller of Scriplure for lhe prophelic spiril."
30

Iumping many cenluries, ve arrive in our hisloricaI survey al lhe re-
Iigious Reformalion of lhe sixleenlh cenlury. Roman CalhoIicism in-
sisled on lhe inerrancy and infaIIibiIily of lhe Iope: lhe aulhorily vas
vesled in lhe Church and ils papaI procIamalions. The Iroleslanls pro-
lesled, insisling on lhe inerracy and infaIIibiIily of lhe ßibIe: lhe au-
lhorily of sc|a scripiura. Despile lhese conlradiclory cIaims for lhe basis
of aulhorily, Iesus said, "AII aulhorily is given lo Me, in heaven and on
earlh" (Mallhev 28:18). Inerrancy and infaIIibiIily is inherenl in lhe Iiv-
ing expression of God in Chrisl, and in Him aIone. The Roman Calho-
Iics vere susceplibIe (and sliII are) lo eccIesioIalry, idoIalrous vorship
of lhe church inslilulion. The Iroleslanls vere susceplibIe (and sliII
are) lo bibIioIalry, idoIalrous vorship of lhe ßibIe. In facl, lhe CalhoIics
chided lhe Iroleslanls for having a "paper pope" and a "God vho vas
imprisoned in a book." Al Ieasl lhe CalhoIic conceplion of God and
pope vas "personaI," lhough mere man.
The Iroleslanl Reformalion foslered slalic concepls of sc|a scripiura,
|uslificalion, saIvalion, grace, failh, vorship, elc. AII branches of Irol-
eslanlism dovn lhrough lhe cenluries have prided lhemseIves on be-
ing "lhe peopIe of lhe ßook" or "lhe reIigion of lhe ßook." G.K. Chesler-
lon once vrole,
"The ßibIe and lhe ßibIe onIy is lhe reIigion of lhe Iroleslanls."
31

ßringing lhe hisloricaI survey up lo dale, ve have |usl vilnessed a
coupIe of decades of evangeIicaI confIicl and debale. "The ßallIe for lhe
ßibIe" has been lhe issue. There have been voIumes of books and arli-
cIes on inerrancy, infaIIibiIily and inspiralion of scriplure. They miss
lhe poinl!Whal aboul procIaiming lhe elernaI, inerranl, infaIIibIe inspi-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
ao
ralion of Iesus Chrisl, lhe Living Word expression of God, in peopIe's
Iives` We need a Chrislo-cenlric Chrislianily ralher lhan a bibIio-
cenlric Chrislian reIigion. Chrislianily IS Chrisl!
This vas inlended lo be bul a brief hisloricaI reviev emphasizing
God's inlenl lo express HimseIf in Living Word in Iesus Chrisl. ßul as
ve nole hov man conslanlIy allempls lo reverl lo book-reIigion, il be-
comes a Iong slory of reIigious perversion.
Man aIvays grasps for a visibIe, physicaI, langibIe ob|ecl lhal he can
"hoId on lo." Men seem lo vanl somelhing visibIe inslead of invisibIe,
langibIe inslead of inlangibIe, physicaI inslead of spiriluaI, concrele
inslead of abslracl, some "lhing" inslead of Some One, an ob|ecl inslead
of lhe Living God. These ob|ecls are lhen made inlo idoIs. Il is done
vilh lhe ßibIe |usl as vilh olher kinds of ob|ecls. When lhis happens il
is caIIed "bibIioIalry," idoIalrous vorship of lhe ßibIe. Il can lake lhe
form of mereIy an undue reverence for a Iealher-covered book. Ior
some, lhe book becomes a sorl of magicaI felish, a "good-Iuck" charm,
supposedIy offering spiriluaIily by osmosis. Somelimes bibIioIalry is
evidenced in an excessive IileraIislic melhod of inlerprelalion lhal faiIs
lo accounl for varying lypes of ßibIicaI Iileralure.
We musl bevare of regarding lhe ßibIe as "sacred" book, having
some kind of saving significance in ilseIf. Iven lhe lilIe on lhe cover of
mosl ßibIes needs lo be cIarified "HoIy ßibIe." Is lhe HoIy ßibIe hoIy`
HoIiness is an allribule of God aIone. A crealed ob|ecl is nol hoIy in il-
seIf and does nol convey hoIiness. When an ob|ecl is used for lhe pur-
pose lhal God inlended lhen lhal ob|ecl can serve God's hoIy purposes.
When il is sel aparl lo funclion as inlended, il can serve lhe hoIy pur-
poses of God direcled lovard lhe divine ob|eclive lo manifesl His ho-
Iiness by lhe presence of His HoIy Son, Iesus Chrisl in us. ßul lhe book
ilseIf is nol inlrinsicaIIy hoIy. We need lo make sure ve undersland
vhy il is caIIed a "HoIy ßibIe."
We do nol vanl lo be guiIly of bibIioIalry or lhe bibIicism of mere
book-reIigion. Iesus never inlended Chrislianily lo be a book-reIigion,
rigidIy conlroIIed by lexluaI research, ßibIicaI exegesis and molivalion
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
as
lo impIemenl ScripluraI principIes and precepls. Such vas nol lhe case
in lhe earIy church, as has been indicaled above. They did nol galher
logelher lo "DO" ßibIe sludy, bul lo share hov lhe Iiving expression of
lhe Word of God in Iesus Chrisl vas operalive and funclioning in lheir
Iives. They shared vilh one anolher vhal God vas "doing" and ex-
pressing in lhem.
Il becomes apparenl lhal ve have Iapsed inlo an inappropriale leach-
ing modeI in lhe evangeIicaI churches of America loday. We have be-
come book-cenlered, leacher-conlroIIed and educalionaIIy-orienled. Il
mighl be caIIed "lhe poisonous pedagogy of eccIesiaslicism," lhe per-
peluaI propagalion of a beIief-syslem. ßibIe knovIedge is oflen re-
garded as an "end" in ilseIf. IauI is cIear lhal "knovIedge puffelh up" (I
Corinlhians 8:1): mere knovIedge, incIuding ßibIe knovIedge, creales
arrogance, pride, hypocrisy and lhe Iike.
ßook-reIigion creales a mechanislic syslem, a beIief-syslem or elhicaI-
syslem. Such syslemalized reIigion depersonaIizes and devilaIizes
God, as veII as dehumanizing man. We are nol funclionaI humanily as
God inlended unIess lhe Living expression of lhe Word of God in Iesus
Chrisl is funclioning in us.
A Bib!ica! Undcrstanding nI thc Bib!c
The purpose of lhe ßibIe is nol lo serve as a book of ruIes and reguIa-
lions, elhicaI guideIines fixed in lhe concrele of moraIislic IegaIism.
The ßibIe is nol an elhics book. The ßibIe is nol a lexl-book of proof-
lexls lo defend Chrislian doclrine as il has been syslemalized by man.
You can allempl lo prove aImosl anylhing from lhe ßibIe. (I recaII one
individuaI vho mainlained lhal il vas vrong lo peeI a banana on lhe
basis of lhe reading "vhalsoever God has pul logelher, Iel no man parl
asunder.") The ßibIe is nol a Iav or Iogic lexlbook lo prove one's poinl.
Il is nol a lexlbook of lheoIogicaI lrivia. The ßibIe is nol a socioIogicaI
lexlbook vhich sellIes lhe inslilulionaI church inlo lhe conservalism of
lhe slalus-quo. The ßibIe is nol an encycIopedic lexl lhal gives every
ansver lo every queslion on every sub|ecl in lhe universe. This is nol
lhe purpose of lhe ßibIe.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
az
Whal lhen is lhe purpose of lhe ßibIe` The purpose of lhe ßibIe is lo
bear vilness lo Iesus Chrisl, vho is lhe Iiving expression of God, lhe
Word of God. Iesus loId lhe Ievs,
"...you do nol have His vord abiding in you, for you do nol beIieve
Him vhom He senl. You search lhe Scriplures, because you lhink lhal
in lhem you have elernaI Iife: and il is lhese lhal bear vilness of Me:
and you are unviIIing lo come lo Me, lhal you may have Iife." (Iohn
5:38-40)
The Scriplures bear vilness of Iesus. A good vilness in a |udiciaI sel-
ling does nol focus allenlion on himseIf, bul lo lhe issue al hand. The
ßibIicaI vrilings do nol poinl lo lhemseIves, bul lo Iesus Chrisl. The
vrillen record of God's expression and reveIalion of HimseIf in Iesus
Chrisl is designed lo direcl a person lo failh in Iesus Chrisl, lo recepliv-
ily of lhe redemplive and funclionaIIy Iiving aclivily of Iesus Chrisl.
The aposlIe Iohn expIains lhe purpose of his vriling lhe gospeI nar-
ralive allribuled lo him, "lhese have been vrillen lhal you may beIieve
lhal Iesus is lhe Chrisl, lhe Son of God: and lhal beIieving you may
have Iife in His name" (Iohn 20:31). The purpose of lhe Scriplures is lo
Iead one lo receive lhe Iife lhal is in Chrisl Iesus.
The aposlIe IauI reminds Timolhy of lhe vaIue of lhe vrillen record,
urging him lo "conlinue in lhe lhings you have Iearned and become
convinced of, knoving from vhom you have Iearned lhem: and lhal
from chiIdhood you have knovn lhe sacred vrilings vhich are abIe lo
give you lhe visdom lhal Ieads lo saIvalion lhrough failh vhich is in
Chrisl Iesus" (II Timolhy 3:14,15). The lransIalion reads "sacred vril-
ings," bul lhere is no inlrinsic sacredness or hoIiness in lhe vrilings
lhemseIves, as has been previousIy noled. IauI vas simpIy referring lo
lhe "God-given vrilings." The purpose of lhe vrilings is lhal lhey are
"abIe lo give...visdom..." The God-given vrilings serve as a vehicIe, an
inslrumenl, lhal lhe Spiril of God uses lo imparl lhe spiriluaI visdom
and discernmenl necessary lo undersland spiriluaI lhings in order lhal
one mighl see lheir need for funclionaIIy resloralive saIvalion, vhich
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
a;
comes onIy by lhe receplivily of lhe aclivily of lhe Savior, Iesus Chrisl.
The Scriplures serve an inslrumenlaI means.
IauI conlinues his vords lo Timolhy by expIaining lhal "aII Scriplure
is inspired by God and profilabIe for leaching, for reproof, for correc-
lion, for lraining in righleousness: lhal lhe man of God may be ade-
quale, equipped for every good vork." (II Timolhy 3:16,17) Whal did
IauI mean by "aII Scriplure`" CouId IauI have been referring lo lhe
scriplures ve caII lhe Nev Teslamenl, in lhal lhey vere sliII in lhe
process of being vrillen` When Chrislians loday refer lo lhe "Scrip-
lure" lhey usuaIIy have a very fixaled conceplion of a parlicuIar bound
voIume enlilIed "The HoIy ßibIe" vilh sixly-six books, lhirly-nine in
lhe OId Teslamenl and lvenly-seven in lhe Nev Teslamenl. As lhere
vas no such book in IauI's lime, il is inconceivabIe lhal IauI vas
lhinking of such an approved canonized coIIeclion of vrilings. The
vords lhal IauI uses are more generic. In verse fifleen vhere IauI re-
fers lo lhe "vrilings," il is a lransIalion of lhe Greek vord granna,
from vhich ve gel lhe IngIish vord "grammar." This vord simpIy re-
ferred lo vrillen Iellering using lhe Iellers of lhe aIphabel. In verse six-
leen, lhe vord "Scriplure" is a lransIalion of lhe Greek vord grapnc,
from vhich ve gel lhe IngIish vord "graphics." This vord simpIy re-
ferred lo somelhing vrillen. The Lalin vord scripius lransIaled lhe
Greek vord grapnc, and lhus il vas lhal lhe Lalin scripiura became lhe
designalion of lhe "vrilings" used by Chrislians, and evenluaIIy of lhe
canonized coIIeclion of vhal ve knov as lhe sixly-six books of lhe ßi-
bIe, lhe Scriplures.
IauI is indicaling lhal cerlain "vrilings" are "God-brealhed," lhal is
"inspired." This does nol mean lhal God brealhed oul verbaI vords lo
diclale every vord and senlence in precise and absoIule sequence unlo
lhe passive minds of lhe vrilers. Such a concepl is caIIed lhe "diclalion
lheory" of scripluraI inspiralion. Ralher, in a more generaI sense, IauI
seems lo be saying lhal "aII God-given vrilings are designed as lhe ex-
pressive inslrumenl of God's Spiril, vho funclioned previousIy lo in-
fIuence men's lhinking and use lheir Iilerary skiIIs lo produce and pro-
vide a vrillen record of lhe expressed Iife of God in Iesus Chrisl, and
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
aa
funclions nov lo conlinue lo direcl us lo lhe ever-dynamic Iife of
Chrisl. These vrilings, vhelher lhey be of lhe OId Teslamenl era or lhe
Nev Teslamenl era, are vaIuabIe and profilabIe for leaching, reproof,
correclion and lraining in righleousness. The imporlance of lhe "vril-
ings" is lhal lhey direcl our allenlion lo lhe Living Word expression of
God in Iesus Chrisl.
The queslion musl be asked lhen: Is il Iegilimale lo refer lo lhe vril-
len record of lhe ßibIe as lhe "Word of God"` When ve refer lo lhe ßi-
bIe as lhe "Word of God" does lhis nol creale a dupIicaled ambiguily of
lerminoIogy` (Yes, I knov lhal I am lreading on lhe sacred ground of
bibIioIalry, bul I musl press on!) On vhal basis do ve refer lo lhe ßibIe
as lhe "Word of God"` Is lhere anylhing vilhin lhe ßibIe ilseIf lhal says
lhal ve are lo refer lo lhis book in ils coIIecled lolaIily as lhe "Word of
God"` Is lhere any ßibIicaI |uslificalion for lhal designalion`
I encourage you lo make lhe same observalions lhal I did vhen I
Iooked al an IngIish concordance of lhe ßibIe and searched oul aII lhe
references lo lhe vord "vord" and, more specificaIIy, references lo lhe
"vord of God." VaIid exegelicaI anaIysis does nol indicale lhal a singIe
usage of lhe phrase, "vord of God," ever refers lo lhe book lhal ve caII
"The ßibIe."
To furlher expIore lhe basis of lhis popuIar designalion of lhe "vord
of God," I examined severaI conservalive ßibIe diclionaries and ency-
cIopedias, Iooking up lhe sub|ecl of lhe "vord of God." To my amaze-
menl, nol a one of lhem indicaled lhal lhe phrase referred lo lhe ßibIe
or lhe Scriplures. Ralher, lhey aII expIained lhal Iesus Chrisl is lhe per-
sonified expression of God, lhe "Word" (Iohn 1:1,14), and venl on lo
expIain lhal lhe procIamalion of God's expression in Iesus Chrisl is lhe
essence of lhe gospeI. The good nevs of lhe gospeI is lhe "vord" (Mall.
13:19: CoI. 4:3: I Ieler 3:1), lhe "vord of God" (Acls 4:31: I Cor. 14:36:
IhiI. 1:14: I Thess. 2:13), lhe "vord of lrulh" (II Timolhy 2:15), lhe
"vord of Iife" (IhiI. 2:16), lhe "vord of reconciIialion" (II Corinlhians
5:19), lhe "vord of saIvalion" (Acls 13:26), or lhe "vord of failh" (Ro-
mans 10:8).
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
as
Hov can il be lhal ve have been so lhoroughIy propagandized by
lhe Iudeo-Chrislian book-reIigion, lhal ve so unqueslioningIy refer lo
lhe ßibIe as lhe "vord of God," and mislakenIy idenlify mosl refer-
ences vilhin Scriplure lo lhe "vord" as references lo lhe ßibIe inslead
of lo Iesus Chrisl or lo lhe gospeI of Chrisl` ßook-reIigion is very per-
vasive!
None of lhose vho vrole, by lhe inspired divine infIuence of God,
lhe vrilings lhal nov comprise lhe compiIalion of vrilings lhal ve caII
lhe ßibIe: none of lhem apparenlIy ever conceived lhal lheir vrilings
vouId be coIIecled and canonized inlo a book caIIed "The ßibIe" or
"The Scriplures," vhich vouId lhen be referred lo as lhe "Word of
God." Thal is nol lo say lhal lhey vere nol avare of God's infIuence in
lheir vriling, bul vhenever lhey refer lo lhe "vord" (eilher |cgcs or rnc-
na), or lo lhe "vrilings" (eilher granna or grapnc), or lo lhe scroIIs or
books (|i||icn), il is nol a reference lo lhe lolaIily of lhe bound-book
lhal ve caII lhe ßibIe. We need lo be honesl enough lo admil lhal!
Some common ßibIicaI exampIes viII serve lo demonslrale lhe poinl
I have been making:
Romans 10:17 - "So failh comes from hearing, and hearing by lhe vord
of Chrisl." "Word of Chrisl" in lhis lexl does nol refer lo ßibIe knovI-
edge. The conlexl has lo do vilh lhe verbaIized procIamalion of lhe
gospeI.

GaIalians 6:6 - "Iel lhe one vho is laughl lhe vord share aII good
lhings vilh him vho leaches." The "vord" is nol a reference lo ßibIe
doclrine or narralives, bul refers lo lhe gospeI.
Iphesians 6:17 - "lhe svord of lhe Spiril, vhich is lhe vord of God."
Hov oflen have ve heard lhe ßibIe referred lo as lhe "vord of God"
and lhe "svord of lhe Spiril"` This verse is nol referring lo a bound-
book, bul lo lhe personaIized vord of God vhich God speaks lo lhe
Chrislian.

CoIossians 3:16 - "Lel lhe vord of Chrisl richIy dveII vilhin you..."
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION

IauI is nol saying, "Iel lhe vords of lhe ßibIe" dveII in you. The paraI-
IeI passage in Iphesians 5:18 expIains lhal lhe Spiril of Chrisl is lo fiII
us and dveII vilhin us.
CoIossians 4:3 - "praying ... lhal God may open up lo us a door for lhe
vord, so lhal ve may speak forlh lhe myslery of Chrisl..." Again, IauI
is referring lo lhe gospeI, nol lo lhe ßibIe.
II Timolhy 4:2 - "preach lhe vord..." IauI admonishes Timolhy lo
preach lhe gospeI of Chrisl, nol ßibIicaI informalion.
Hebrevs 4:12 - "Ior lhe vord of God is Iiving and aclive and sharper
lhan any lvo-edged svord, and piercing as far as lhe division of souI
and spiril, of bolh |oinls and marrov, and abIe lo |udge lhe lhoughls
and inlenlions of lhe hearl." Iesus Chrisl by lhe Spiril is lhal "vord of
God" vhich is Iiving and aclive and abIe lo penelrale inlo our being. A
lexluaIized book is unabIe lo do so.
If anyone shouId choose lo refer lo lhe ßibIe, lhe coIIecled Scriplures,
as lhe "Word of God," il shouId be remembered lhal such a designalion
can onIy be made in a secondary sense. The primary and absoIule
sense of lhe "Word of God" is in lhe expression of God in His Son, Ie-
sus Chrisl. Iesus is lhe elernaI Word of God expressed in crealion, ex-
pressed in redemplion, expressed in sanclificalion, expressed in gIori-
ficalion.
The ßibIe is nol lhe "Word of God" in an absoIule sense. Il is a book
comprised of a compiIalion of "vords" aboul lhe Word of God, Iesus
Chrisl. Iesus HimseIf said, "The Scriplures bear vilness of Me" (Iohn
5:39). The vrillen vords poinl lo lhe Living Word, Iesus Chrisl. In facl,
lhe ßibIe does nol even "conlain" lhe Word of God, for such vouId be
sacramenlaIism. The Living Word of God, Iesus Chrisl, cannol be im-
prisoned in a book. He musl be free lo express HimseIf as God in man,
and lhal unlo lhe funclionaIIy free humanily lhrough vhich God in-
lends lo gIorify HimseIf.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
a/
As Iesus lhus expresses HimseIf in us, by His Spiril, He viII bear in-
ner leslimony in our spiril, and unlo our minds, of lhe vaIue of lhe
ßook, lhe ßibIe, in our Iives. Aparl from lhe iIIuminalion and enIighl-
enmenl, lhe personaI reveIalion of lhe Spiril of Chrisl, lhe spiriluaI in-
sighls, lhe Iiving characlerizalion faclors, lhal are lo be gained from lhe
ßibIicaI Iileralure viII never be apprecialed anyvay.
The Spiril of God uses lhe Scriplure preserved for us by God. The Li-
ving Word of God uses lhe vrillen vords of God. Iesus Chrisl uses lhe
ßibIe lo reveaI hov il is lhal He vanls lo funclion in us lo reveaI God
in man. This is vhy ve noled al lhe oulsel lhal lhe ßibIe is in one sense
Iike every olher book in lhe vorId: vrillen vords, Iileralure, a bound-
book. ßul in anolher sense lhe ßibIe is unIike every olher book in lhe
vorId. The Living Word, Iesus, uses lhis book lo reveaI hov il is He
has funclioned and conlinues lo funclion as God in man.
The "naluraI man" does nol undersland spiriluaI lhings" (I Corin-
lhians 2:14) no maller hov many limes he mighl allempl lo read lhe
vords of lhe ßibIe. Iesus loId His discipIes, "vhen He, lhe Spiril of
lrulh, comes, He viII guide you inlo aII lhe lrulh.." (Iohn 16:13). The
Spiril of Chrisl, Who is Trulh (Iohn 14:6), may uliIize lhe ßibIe lo re-
veaI and discIose HimseIf, bul He does nol require lhe vrillen book in
order lo do so. The Teacher is nol lied lo lhe lexl! The Spiril is nol
bound in lhe ßibIe! Chrisl is nol chained or conlained in lhe vords of a
book.
Aparl from lhe Living Word, Iesus Chrisl, funclioning spiriluaIIy in
our Iives, lhe book is mere "Ieller" (IegaIislic bibIicism), and lhere is no
Spiril-aclion, no genuine divine funclioning. To lhe Corinlhians IauI
vrole, "God... made us adequale as servanls of a nev covenanl, nol of
lhe Ieller, bul of lhe Spiril: for lhe Ieller kiIIs, bul lhe Spiril gives Iife."
(II Corinlhians 3:6,7). Mere book-reIigion kiIIs, bul Spiril-reveIalion gi-
ves Iife. Mere comprehension of ßibIe-vords kiIIs, bul lhe Spiril of
Chrisl, lhe Living Word of God, gives Iife. To lhe Romans IauI vrole,
"ve have been reIeased from lhe Lav, having died lo lhal by vhich ve
vere bound, so lhal ve serve in nevness of lhe Spiril and nol in oId-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
a8
ness of lhe Ieller" (Romans 7:6). Chrislians are nol "bound" lo lhe "Iel-
ler" of book-reIigion. We Iive and serve in lhe nevness of lhe Spiril of
Chrisl aclivaling our Iives from vilhin.
Wilhoul lhe indveIIing of lhe Spiril of Chrisl reading lhe ßibIe viII
be Iike reading someone eIse's maiI. You cannol undersland il because
il vas nol inlended for you. Oh, you may be abIe lo charl lhe hislory.
You may be abIe lo discuss lhe lheoIogy. You mighl even be abIe lo
produce delaiIed specuIalions aboul lhe fulure, bul you viII nol be
abIe lo receive lhe Iiving, spiriluaI impIicalions of lhe Iife of Iesus
Chrisl. This is vhy Marlin Lulher indicaled lhal if your spiriluaI condi-
lion is lhal of lhe unregenerale, being devoid of lhe Spiril, you are bel-
ler off reading some olher book! Thal is aIso vhy il is said lhal "lhe ßi-
bIe is lhe onIy book in lhe vorId lhal requires knoving lhe Aulhor lo
undersland lhe book." One musl "knov" and have a personaI reIalion-
ship vilh lhe Living Word expression of God in Iesus Chrisl in order
lo spiriluaIIy undersland lhe vrillen vord expression of God in lhe
ßibIe.
As Chrislians loday, coming as many of us do oul of a Iroleslanl
lradilion of bibIicism, il is imporlanl lhal ve keep our perspeclive pro-
perIy focused on lhe Ierson of Iesus Chrisl, nol |usl on ßibIe-Iearning.
Iesus Chrisl is lhe Trulh, nol mere proposilionaI lrulhs conlained in
ever-evoIving semanlics.
Our failh is nol in lhe ßibIe. Our hope is nol in lhe ßibIe. Our Iove is
nol Iove for lhe ßibIe. Our failh, hope and Iove are in Iesus Chrisl.
Our base of aulhorily is nol in lhe ßibIe, as has oflen been pro|ecled
by popuIar Iroleslanlism, lhe "reIigion of lhe ßook." Our base of au-
lhorily is in Iesus Chrisl, vho said, "AII aulhorily is given lo Me, in
heaven and upon earlh" (Mallhev 28:18).
Our securily is nol in lhe ßibIe. Many seem lo base lheir securily on
ßibIe promises and proposilions, on ßibIe formuIas, procedures and
lechniques. Our securily is founded on a vilaI, dynamic on-going per-
sonaI reIalionship vilh lhe Living Lord Iesus Chrisl. I am assured and
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
ao
secure in lhe reaIily lhal God is expressive in my Iife by Iesus Chrisl. I
knov il, nol because lhe ßibIe makes a slalemenl ("lhe ßibIe leIIs me
so") or gives me a procedure. I knov il (Him) because lhe elernaI Iife
and elernaI expression of Iesus Chrisl is funclioning in my Iife. This is
nol mere experienliaI exislenliaIism. Somevhere belveen lhe exlremes
of ob|eclive bibIicism and sub|eclive exislenliaIism is lhe reaIily of lhe
funclionaI Life of Iesus Chrisl in man.
As Chrislians ve vanl lo knov Iesus as lhe Word of God, lhe ex-
pression of God in man, ralher lhan |usl vords from a book. We vanl
lo experience lhe Ierson of Iesus, nol |usl examine lhe pholograph, lhe
piclure, lhal represenls lhe reaIily. We vanl lo be sheep vho hear His
voice, lhe voice of lhe Shepherd, nol |usl sheep vho "feed" on lhe fod-
der of lheoIogicaI canned goods, or ScripluraI scrapings.
The Life of Iesus Chrisl vho is lhe Living expression of God, lhe Liv-
ing Word, is lo be expressed in gospeI procIamalion lhal shares lhe
"vord of lrulh," lhe "vord of Iife," lhe "vord of saIvalion." II Timolhy
3:16 indicales lhal "aII scriplure/vrilings are profilabIe for leaching, for
reproof, for correclion, for lraining in righleousness, lhal lhe man of
God may be adequaleIy equipped for every good vork" (vhich God
prepared beforehand lhal ve shouId vaIk in lhem - Iphesians 2:10). Il
is lrue lhal lhe ßibIe is lo be laughl, and lhal God has gifled some as
leachers (Iphesians 4:11: I Corinlhians 12:28: Romans 12:7). ßul lhe
process of ßibIicaI inslruclion (leaching), and lhe producl of lhe in-
slruclion (ßibIe-knovIedge) musl nol become ends in lhemseIves. Il
appears lo me lhal lhere has been lhe perpelualion of a poisonous and
counler-produclive pedagogy in evangeIicaI eccIesiaslicism, a "leach-
ing modeI" lhal perpeluales book-reIigion, ßibIe knovIedge, and gel-
ling "fed" lhrough Scriplure inslruclion. This creales dysfunclionaI
Chrislianily, mere Chrislian-reIigion, vhich does nol issue forlh in lhe
oulvorking expression of Chrisl's Iife.
Chrislianily is nol a book-reIigion! Chrislianily is Chrisl funclioning
as lhe expressive Word of God in man.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BOOK-RELIGION
so
FOOTNOTES
1 Urban, Iames R., ¨Tnc Bi||c Man´s On|u Hcpc¨, pubIished by Mission lo CalhoIics In-
lernalionaI, Inc., San Diego, CA, n.d.
2 Urban, Iames R., ||i!.
3 Urban, Iames R., ||i!.
4 Urban, Iames R., ||i!.
5 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., Our Sujjicicncu in Cnrisi. DaIIas: Word IubIishing, 1991, pg. 87.
6 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 87.
7 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 90.
8 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 165.
9 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 99.
10 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 111.
11 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!., pg. 165.
12 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 144.
13 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 146.
14 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 163.
15 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!., pg. 162.
16 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 164.
17 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 165.
18 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 164.
19 MacArlhur, Iohn, Ir., ||i!.. pg. 163.
20 Lighlner, Roberl I., "The Wrillen Word and lhe Living Word" in lhe |un!ancnia|isi
jcurna|. May 1983, reprinled from his book Tnc Gc! cj inc Bi||c. ßaker ßook House, 1978.
21 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
22 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
23 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
24 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
25 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
26 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
27 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
28 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
29 Lighlner, Roberl I., ||i!.
30 ßrinsmead, Roberl, "Word of God in lhe Nev Teslamenl", Vcr!ici. No. 15.

ss
3 Chrislianily is Nol MoraIily


Thc avcragc man nn thc strcct beIieves lhal Chrislianily is a reIigion
lhal imposes a parlicuIar moraIily vilh specific elhicaI behavior. He
has concIuded lhal "a Chrislian is one vho Iives by cerlain ruIes and
reguIalions imposed upon him by divine or eccIesiaslicaIIy diclaled
'lhou shaIls' and 'lhou shaIl nols,' and lhal behavioraI conformily lo
lhese moraI codes of conducl is vhal lhe Chrislian slrives lo perform
in order lo pIease and/or appease God." The lragic parl of lhis miscon-
ceplion is lhal Chrislian reIigion has "faked" lhe vorId inlo beIieving
lhal such is lhe essence of Chrislianily.
A ma|or leIevision nelvork vas fiIming a documenlary on "Chrislian
fundamenlaIism." They vere inlervieving a young coupIe exiling a
fundamenlaIisl church. The inlerviever asked, "Whal do Chrislian
fundamenlaIisls beIieve`" The conservaliveIy dressed respondenl re-
pIied, "We beIieve in lhe ßibIe. We don'l beIieve in drinking, smoking
or dancing. We lry lo be as good as ve can lo pIease God." Whal a
lragic misrepresenlalion of Chrislianily. Yel lhis is lhe misconceplion
being propogaled in lhe name of "Chrislianily." Is il any vonder lhal
fev are inleresled`
The Irench sociaI anaIysl, Iacques IIIuI noled lhis misrepresenlalion:
"In lhe eyes of mosl of our conlemporaries, Chrislianily is a moraIily
firsl of aII. And have nol many epochs of Chrislian hislory been char-
aclerized by lhe church's insislence upon aclions and conducl`"
1

"We have lo recognize lhal Chrislians lhemseIves have done aII lhey
can lo creale lhis confusion. God's reveIalion has nolhing vhalever lo
do vilh moraIily."
2

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
sz
C.S. Levis simiIarIy expIained,
"I lhink aII Chrislians vouId agree vilh me if I said lhal lhough Chris-
lianily seems al firsl lo be aII aboul moraIily, aII aboul dulies and ruIes
and guiIl and virlue, yel il Ieads you on, oul of aII lhal, inlo somelhing
beyond..."
3

Il is lhe ob|eclive of lhis disserlalion lo expIain vhal lhere is aboul
Chrislianily lhal is "beyond" aII moraIily.
DcIining "mnra!ity" and "cthics"
Diclionary definilions indicale lhal lhe IngIish vord "moraI" is ely-
moIogicaIIy derived from lhe Lalin ncra|is, vhich is a combinalion of
lvo olher Lalin vords, ncs referring lo cuslom, lradilion or habil, and
a|is vhich refers lo peopIe. Mcra|is referred lo "cusloms of lhe peopIe."
Iresenl usage of lhe IngIish vords "moraI" and "moraIily" have refer-
ence lo compIiance or conformily vilh a conceplion of good or righl
behavior.

The IngIish vord "elhic" is elymoIogicaIIy derived from lhe Greek
vord cincs vhich became lhe rool of lhe Lalin vord cinicc. In lhe kcinc
Greek usage of lhe firsl cenlury lhe vord cincs referred lo sociaI cus-
lom or habil. Conlemporary IngIish usage of "elhic" is essenliaIIy syn-
onymous vilh "moraIily," referring lo lhe delerminalion of vhal is
good or righl and lhe sociaI approvaI or disapprovaI of such aclivilies.

Since lhe Greek vord cincs, lhe rool of "elhic," is used on lhree occa-
sions vilhin lhe Nev Teslamenl ve viII firsl consider lhose usages:

(1) Acls 16:21. IauI and SiIas are in IhiIippi. IauI has casl demons oul
of a young girI vho vas being used by some men for a forluneleIIing
venlure. The men compIain lo lhe magislrales saying, "These men
(IauI and SiIas)...are procIaiming cusloms vhich il is nol IavfuI lo ac-
cepl or observe, being Romans." Il is a faIse accusalion lhal lhey bring,
for IauI vas nol leaching elhics or moraIs or cusloms conlrary lo Ro-
man Iav. He vas simpIy procIaiming Iesus Chrisl.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
s;
(2) Acls 26:3. IauI is on lriaI before King Agrippa al Caeserea. In his
defense IauI says, "you (King Agrippa) are an experl in aII cusloms
and queslions among lhe Ievs..." King Agrippa vas indeed supposed
lo be knovIedgabIe of lhe cusloms and elhics of lhe Ievish reIigion.
IauI knev lhal he vas nol vioIaling God's reveIalion lo lhe Ievs, and
vas lherefore being faIseIy accused.
(3) I Corinlhians 15:33. In lhe midsl of his discussion on lhe resurrec-
lion from lhe dead, IauI quoles a Greek dramalisl, Menander, vho
had vrillen lhe mollo: "ßad company corrupls good moraIs." IauI's
usage of lhe quolalion is lo make lhe poinl lhal sinfuI behavior viII af-
fecl vhal happens in our resurreclion from lhe dead.
So lhe lhree usages of cincs in lhe Nev Teslamenl are made by (1)
pandering pimps expIoiling a young girI and making a faIse accusa-
lion againsl IauI. (2) lhe aposlIe IauI in a correcl observalion aboul
Ievish reIigion. (3) a pagan pIayvrighl as an observalion aboul sociaI
associalions. Nol a one of lhese indicales lhal Chrislianily has anylhing
lo do vilh moraIily or elhics.
One olher reference in lhe Nev Teslamenl vhere some IngIish
lransIalions use lhe vord "moraI" shouId be noled. In II Ieler 1:5 lhe
NASß lransIales, "...in your failh suppIy moraI exceIIence, and in your
moraI exceIIence knovIedge:..." A singIe Greek vord is used for lhe
phrase "moraI exceIIence." The Greek vord is arcic, having lo do vilh
virluous or honorabIe behavioraI expression. The meaning mighl be an
admonilion lo aIIov for a consislenl behavioraI oulvorking of our
failh, bul lhe verse does nol advocale moraIily or elhics as lhe vords
are defined and used in lhe IngIish Ianguage loday.

"MoraIily" and "elhics" have lo do vilh human definilion and evaIua-
lion of human aclivilies, and vhelher such aclivilies are sociaIIy ac-
ceplabIe or unacceplabIe, approved or unapproved, as righl or vrong,
good or bad, reIalive lo lhe inlenlions and desires of lhe prevaiIing
human povers and aulhorilies. AIlhough lhe slandard of "moraI" de-
lerminalion and "elhicaI" evaIualion may be said lo be of God, il is
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
sa
never reaIIy any higher lhan man and his individuaI or coIIeclive al-
lempls lo conlroI human behavior.
Dctcrmining "gnnd" and "right"
The definilions of "moraIily" and "elhics" aIvays seem lo empIoy ref-
erences lo good and eviI, righl and vrong conducl, so il is imporlanl lo
undersland hov lhese designalions are delermined and evaIualed.
Whal delermines vhal is "good" or "righl"` Do goodness or righleous-
ness exisl in and of lhemseIves` Does eviI exisl in and of ilseIf` Is lhere
such a lhing as "aulonomous goodness," an aulonomous elhic slan-
dard, or vhal Iacques IIIuI refers lo as lhe "aulonomy of moraIily`"
4


Chrislianily asserls lhal God aIone is aulonomous, independenl and
seIf-exislenl. Iverylhing and everyone eIse is dependenl and deriva-
live.

When one posils an aulonomous slandard of "good" or a separaled
Iav of "righl" behavior, vhich is ob|eclive lo, olher lhan, and oulside of
God, lhen such an ideoIogicaI enlily becomes a repIacemenl for God.
Such a menlaI formuIalion becomes lhe foundalion of sociaI moraIily
as lhe individuaIs vilhin lhal sociaI unil bov dovn in cuslomary con-
formily lo lhe ideoIogicaI idoI.
MoraIily aIvays begins vilh lhe premise of aulonomy and inde-
pendenl exislence. The moraIily lhesis seems lo divide inlo al Ieasl
lhree premises:
(1) "Good" exisls in ilseIf.
(2) "Good" is knovabIe in ilseIf.
(3) "Good" is do-abIe by oneseIf.
These lhree premises are anlilhelicaI lo Chrislian monolheislic un-
derslanding and lhe gospeI of grace. Chrislianily denies (1) lhe inde-
pendenl, aulonomous seIf-exislenl "good:" (2) lhe seIf-delermined, seIf-
defined, seIf-discernmenl of "good" by an aIIeged independenl-seIf of
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
ss
aulonomous man: (3) lhe seIf-aclualing abiIily of lhis aIIeged inde-
pendenl-seIf, aulonomous man, lo generale his ovn "good" behavior.
There is no "naluraI goodness" vhich becomes lhe basis of a "naluraI
moraIily" vilhin a "naluraI lheoIogy." "There is none good, no nol one"
(Rom. 3:12). "No one is good, excepl God aIone" (Luke 18:19). When
mankind lhinks lhal he can knov "good" and define "good" from his
ovn perspeclive aIone, he ends up caIIing "eviI good, and good eviI"
(Isa. 5:20), and Isaiah pronounces a voe upon lhose vho are lhus "vise
in lheir ovn eyes, and cIever in lheir ovn sighl." (Isa. 5:21).
The so-caIIed "good" inlenlions of prevaiIing moraIizers aIIegedIy
acling for lhe "good" of lhe vhoIe, lheir moraIilies and elhics are aI-
vays based on lheir faIIen and seIf-serving molivalions. They "bind
up" olhers in lhe lyranny of IegaIislic performances, encouraging lhem
lo slrive and slruggIe lo perform goodness, righl Iiving, moraIily,
modesly, elc. Such is lhe bondage of reIigion and moraIily.
The Chrislian gospeI, conlrary lo such reIigion and moraIily, asserls
lhese lhree monolheislic premises:
(1) "Good" exisls onIy in God.
(2) "Good" is knovabIe onIy as God reveaIs HimseIf.
(3) "Good" is do-abIe onIy as lhe characler of God is aclivaled and ex-
pressed in human behavior by lhe grace of God.
To expand on lhese premises and documenl lheir ßibIicaI basis:
(1) "God is good" is an asserlion made lhroughoul lhe Scriplures. "No
one is good excepl God aIone" (Mark 10:18: Luke 18:19). "There is One
vho is good" (Mall. 19:17). There is no Iegilimale, genuine, absoIule
"good" vhich has any ob|eclive, independenl, aulonomous exislence,
aparl from God. "Good" exisls excIusiveIy in lhe essence of lhe
aulonomous God. "Good" can onIy be defined by lhe characler of
God's goodness.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY

(2) God has reveaIed HimseIf, and has lhus reveaIed His characler of
goodness. "He has loId you, O man, vhal is good" (Micah 6:8). God's
leIIing man vhal is good is nol lo be conslrued mereIy as a verbaIiza-
lion of a reveaIed slandard of good behavior. God has reveaIed His
goodness in lhe uIlimale reveIalion of HimseIf in His Son, Iesus Chrisl,
and lhal nol lo be underslood as mereIy hisloricaI or lheoIogicaI. We
can onIy reaIIy knov vhal good is by knoving God lhrough Iesus
Chrisl. ßul, again, knoving God and His goodness is nol |usl cerebraI,
lheorelicaI or academic: such musl be Iiving and personaI. The reveaI-
ing of God's goodness and lhe knoving of God's goodness are nol
slalicaIIy conlained in an evenl (incarnalion) or an experience (conver-
sion). The knoving of God's goodness is nol lo be soIidified, ob|ecli-
fied, codified in Iav-form (Lav) or a slalic vrillen record (ßibIe), nor
formuIaled and syslemalized in a slalic beIief-syslem vhich becomes
"dead Ieller" (II Cor. 3:6,7: Rom. 2:29). The reveaIing and lhe knoving
of God's goodness is by an ever-dynamic personaI reveIalion of God as
lo hov He desires lo express His goodness in us uniqueIIy and
noveIIy: a nev, fresh, sponlaneous and Iiving expression of His good-
ness vhich can never be conlained or expIained. God's goodness is
knovabIe onIy as He reveaIs HimseIf.
(3) God's goodness is do-abIe, expressabIe in human behavior, onIy as
lhe characler of God is dynamicaIIy generaled and aclualed by God's
grace. OnIy God can acliveIy express His goodness. Il is nol a com-
modily lo be dislribuled. Il is nol a moraI pallern lo be imilaled. God's
goodness can be expressed vilhin His crealion in human behavior,
onIy by His ovn energizing, empovering and enabIing, i.e. His grace.
The aclive expression of aII genuine goodness in our behavior is aI-
vays derived from God. "The one vho does good is of God" (III Iohn
11): "of God" is lransIaled from lhe Greek phrase ck inccs, referring lo
source, origin or derivalion from God. In olher vords, "lhe one vho
manifesls goodness derives vhal he does oul of God." The expression
of goodness in human behavior is aIvays conlingenl upon God's gen-
eraling expression of His ovn characler (grace), and lhe derivalive re-
ceplivily of God's aclivily by man (failh). "Good" is do-abIe onIy as lhe
characler of God is aclivaled in human behavior by lhe grace of God.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
s/
Relurning nov lo furlher documenl lhe firsl premise lhal "God is
good," and lhal God is lhe basis of defining aII goodness. AIongside
lhe premise lhal "God is good" one mighl adduce olher premises lhal
asserl lhal somelhing eIse is "good," vhelher a person, an ob|ecl, an
idea or an aclivily. IxampIes: "Ioe is good." "The ßibIe is good." "Chris-
lian beIief is good." "ßibIe reading is good." Can aII of lhese slalemenls
be lrue` Yes. Are lhey equivaIenl premises` No. Can anylhing or any-
one eIse be said lo be "good" in lhe same sense lhal God is good` No!
We musl nol make ourseIf, anolher person, an ob|ecl, an idea or an ac-
livily equivaIenl lo God.
To appIy malhemalicaI Iogic lo lhese premises, Iel "God is good" be
represenled by lhe equalion x·good. Anylhing or anyone eIse mighl be
represenled by y·good. If so, lhen y·x, anylhing eIse lhus represenled
is equivaIenl lo God: y·God. Never! The lvo premises cannol be main-
lained as equaI premises. To do so is eilher lo deify lhe person or
lhing, or lo reIalivize and reduce God lo simpIy an expedienl abslrac-
lion.
When ve slale lhal "God is good," lhe verb "is" is used in an essenliaI
and conslilulionaI sense, bul cannol be so used in lhe olher slalemenls.
Whal (Who) God is, onIy God is! If God is lhe essence of goodness,
lhen nolhing or no one eIse can be lhe essence of goodness. This mighl
be referred lo as lhe "non-lransferrabiIily of God's allribules." Some-
lhing or someone eIse cannol be said lo be inherenlIy and essenliaIIy
vhal onIy God excIusiveIy is. We musl nol allribule an allribule of
God lo ourseIves, anolher person, an ob|ecl, an idea or an aclivily, for
in so doing ve deify such and make il an idoI.
The Chrislian asserlion lhal "God is good" is made in reference lo His
olher reveaIed allribules vhich may be used adverbiaIIy lo expIain His
goodness. God is essenliaIIy, inherenlIy, inlrinsicaIIy, conslilulionaIIy,
absoIuleIy, perfeclIy, uIlimaleIy, singuIarIy, aulonomousIy, independ-
enlIy, excIusiveIy, supremeIy, sovereignIy, lolaIIy, vhoIIy, uniqueIy,
personaIIy, elernaIIy, reaIIy good. Thus ve cIarify and quaIify vhal ve
mean vhen ve say "God is good." The verb "is" is empIoyed as lhe
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
s8
lhird person singuIar of "lo be." God is lhe being, lhe essence of aII
goodness: lhe reaIily, lhe nalure of aII goodness. God conslilules and
comprises goodness. God eslabIishes goodness. These are underIying
meanings of our Chrislian asserlion lhal "God is good."
The verb "lo be" has olher meanings in lhe IngIish Ianguage, vhich if
lhus inlerpreled in lhe slalemenl "God is good" vouId Iead lo moraI
and elhicaI slandards conlrary lo Chrislian underslanding. When ve
say lhal "God is good," ve do nol mean lhal God beIongs lo a cIass of
"goodness" or lhal God conforms lo a "slandard of goodness." Nor do
ve mean lhal God symboIizes "goodness" or is lo be cIassified, calego-
rized or characlerized vilhin a calegory of "goodness."
Whal do ve mean by lhe lerm "good" vhich forms lhe ob|ecl of lhe
slalemenl "God is good"` We can onIy define and describe "good" by
lhe characler of God if He is lhe source and essence of aII good. Thus
ve empIoyed adverbs lo describe good vhich vere bul olher fealures
of God's characler. God's goodness can onIy be described by His God-
Iiness! The being of God defines good!
There are olher definilions and connolalions of "good" in lhe IngIish
Ianguage, aII of vhich have a reIalive evaIualion in reIalion lo some-
lhing eIse olher lhan God. When ve asserl lhal "God is good," ve do
nol mean mereIy lhal God is reIaliveIy, beneficiaIIy, advanlageousIy,
profilabIy, allracliveIy, effecliveIy, suilabIy, properIy, favorabIy, pIeas-
ingIy, respeclabIy, honorabIy, commendabIy, vhoIesomeIy, accepla-
bIy, salisfacloriIy, moraIIy, elhicaIIy good. Il is nol lhal "God is good"
because He conforms lo a moraI slandard, because He provides vhal
is beneficiaI, because He has uliIilarian advanlage, because He serves a
purpose. If "God is good" because He serves a purpose, lhen lhe pur-
pose is higher lhan God. If "God is good" because He conforms lo a
moraI slandard, lhen lhe slandard is higher lhan God. God's goodness
is lhus reIalive lo somelhing eIse and nol absoIule in HimseIf. This
vouId posil an ob|ecl, idea or aclivily oulside of God, ob|eclive lo God
and by definilion superior lo God, by vhich "goodness" is eslabIished
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
so
and delermined. Il is an idoIalrous allribulion of an allribule of God lo
somelhing olher lhan God.
Anolher sublIe mislake is lo say lhal "God is good" because He does
good. Divine aclivily lhen becomes lhe ob|eclive basis of delermining
God's characler. God's goodness vouId lhen be based on His perform-
ance. The IsaImisl vriles, "Thou arl good and doesl good" (Is. 119:68).
Nolice lhal lhe slalemenl is nol "lhou doesl good and lherefore arl
good."
God does vhal He does because He is vho He is! His doing springs
from His being. His conducl fIovs oul of His characler, and He aIvays
acls "in characler." Chrislian lheoIogy musl commence vilh vho God
is, nol vilh vhal God does: nol His pIan, His purposes, His decrees,
His sovereignly, His aclions. Il is a sublIe form of idoIalry lo aIIov lhe
conducl of God lo suppIanl and supersede lhe characler of God: lhe
performance of God lo be lhe basis of lhe Ierson of God. So much of
Weslern lheoIogy has done |usl lhal, basing lheir lheoIogy on lhe pur-
pose and aclivily of God ralher lhan on lhe characler of God. Il is be-
cause "God is good" lhal "God does good." He brings forlh His expres-
sion oul of His good characler. Il can even be said lhal He does vhal
He does ck inccs. oul of His ovn characler. He lhus aclivales His ovn
characler lo be manifesled in human behavior. He does vhal He does,
because He is vho He is! AII good done is done by lhe God vho is
good.
When any genuine "goodness" is expressed in lhe behavior of man, il
is lhe aclivily of God expressing His characler of goodness by His
grace. MoraIily, on lhe olher hand, is based on lhe lhesis of man's seIf-
generaled aclivily conforming lo some independenl "slandard of
goodness," vhich may be idenlified in some vay vilh God's aclivily or
vilh sociaI benefil.
When an aIIegedIy independenl, aulonomous, seIf-exislenl ideaI of
"good" behavioraI aclivily is subsliluled for God, vho aIone is inde-
pendenl, aulonomous, seIf-exislenl "Good," lhen lhe ideaI has become
an idoI. The eslabIishmenl of a "slandard of good" behavioraI aclivilies
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
óo
aparl from vho God is in His characler and vhal God does by His
grace, is lhe eslabIishmenl of a faIse subslilule for God, i.e. an idoI.
Any delerminalive "slandard of good" aparl from, ob|eclive lo, or oul-
side of lhe inherenl ßeing and characler of God and lhe grace aclivily
of God, is necessariIy idoIalrous!
The humanislic premise of an aIIegedIy independenl-seIf, aulono-
mous man, conslrucling an aIIegedIy independenl, aulonomous "slan-
dard of good," and lhen conforming lo such by his aIIegedIy inde-
pendenl, aulonomous, seIf-generaled, seIf-aclivaled behavioraI acliv-
ily: lhal is lhe foundalion on vhich moraIily is buiIl. Il couId nol be
more anlilhelicaI or opposile lo Chrislianily!
Human behavioraI aclivilies are nol good or eviI in lhemseIves (such
vouId be lo posil lhe firsl premise of moraIism) and are nol generaled
by ourseIves (such vouId posil lhe lhird premise of moraIism). An ac-
livily is nol inherenlIy good, for onIy God is inherenlIy good. Human
aclivily is mereIy "expression." Il is nol crealive generalion oul of man.
We are nol gods! We are derivalive crealures. Man is nol a seIf-
generaling aclualor of his ovn aclivilies nor of lhe characler of eilher
good or eviI expressed vilhin lhose aclivilies.
The vords "acl," "aclion," and "aclivily" in lhe IngIish Ianguage are
elymoIogicaIIy derived from lhe Lalin vords acius, "doing," and aciun,
"lhing done." Human aclivily is aIvays enacled by an aclualor. A spiri-
luaI personage is lhe agenl of aclivalion, causing and moving a par-
licuIar characler lo be aclivaled and expressed in our behavior. Our
behavior and lhe characler expressed lherein is aIvays enacled (in-
acled), caused lo be aclivaled vilhin. Il is nol seIf-generaled, aulo-
crealive, aclivaled by lhe seIf-efforl of human efforl. There is aIvays a
derivalive conlingency lo human behavior. AII lhal ve do is conlin-
genl on lhe spiriluaI aclion of a spiriluaI being aIIoved by our deci-
sion-making lo acl oul in our behavior. The spiriluaI being vho em-
povers, enabIes, energizes and enacls our behavioraI expression aI-
vays conveys his parlicuIar characler in lhe aclivily: characler of eilher
good or eviI, oul of eilher God or salan. The characler lhal is being ex-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
ós
pressed in any human aclivily musl be lraced back lo ils spiriluaIIy
empovering aclualor. Human behavior aIvays expresses lhe characler
of lhe energizing spiril vho is lhe aclualor of lhal expression being en-
acled in human behavior. Ior exampIe, Iesus observed lhe reIigious
and moraI exlernaI aclivilies of lhe Iharisees and concIuded lhal lhere
vas a spiriluaI empovering aclualor behind vhal lhey did: "You are
of your falher, lhe deviI..." (Iohn 8:44).
Mankind aIvays has a derived spiriluaI condilion, based on lhe spiri-
luaI indveIIing of a spiriluaI being, and a derived behavior expression,
manifesling lhe characler of lhe spiriluaI being vho is energizing (cn-
crgcc, lo vork in) and enacling (cn-acius, lo do in) lhe human aclivily.
Whenever ve mighl refer lo a man being good, il is never in lhe
same sense lhal "God is good." Man is nol essenliaIIy good, conslilu-
lionaIIy good, inherenlIy good or inlrinsicaIIy good. Man is nol by na-
lure good: neilher does he eslabIish goodness: nor is he seIf-
generaliveIy good. A man's goodness is reIalive lo his/her deriving lhe
expression of God's characler of goodness in his/her spiriluaI condilion
and in his/her behavioraI expression.
Consislenl reasoning musl appIy lhis lo lhe opposile expression aIso,
in lhe reaIm of lheodicy. God is good. The IviI One is eviI. Man is eviI,
nol in lhe same sense lhal lhe IviI one is eviI. Man is nol essenliaIIy
eviI, conslilulionaIIy eviI, inherenlIy eviI, inlrinsiciaIIy eviI. Man is nol
by nalure eviI: does nol eslabIish eviI, is nol definiliveIy eviI, is nol
seIf-generaliveIy eviI. Man is nol a deviI. A man is eviI onIy reIalive lo
his/her deriving lhe expression of lhe characler of lhe IviI One in
his/her spiriluaI condilion and behavioraI expression.
The poinl being made is lhal lhere is a derivalive delerminalion of
good and eviI from lhe nalure and characler of God and salan, respec-
liveIy. There is no aulonomous good or eviI (firsl premise of moraI-
ism). There is no seIf-delermined avareness of good or eviI (second
premise of moraIism). There is no humanIy generaled good or eviI
(lhird premise of moraIism).
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
óz
The hisloricaI origins of lhis derivalive characler expression in man
musl be lraced back lo lhe ßibIicaI accounl in Genesis lvo and lhree. Il
is lhere lhal ve discover lhe firsl faIIacious allempls of man lo deler-
mine good and eviI aulonomousIy, aparl from lheir consubslanliaIily
in God or salan.
The "lree of Iife" represenled lhe choice of man lo recognize lhal good-
ness exisls in God aIone (firsl lheislic premise), lhal good vas knov-
abIe onIy by Iislening lo God's reveIalion (second lheislic premise),
and lhal by voIilionaI receplivily lo God's indveIIing provision of His
Life lhere vas divine sufficiency lo manifesl lhe characler of God's
goodness in man's behavior (lhird lheislic premise). Thus man vas
free lo funclion as God inlended by lhe expression of lhe characler of
lhe Crealor vilhin lhe behavior of lhe crealure: free lo be and do vhal
God inlended lo be and do in man.
The "lree of lhe knovIedge of good and eviI," on lhe olher hand, vas
a re|eclion of God's inlenl. The "falher of Iies" (Iohn 8:44) vanled lo
"cover-up" lhe derivalive delerminalion of good and eviI. He foisled
upon man lhe deIusionaI idea of seIf-delermined moraIily, lhal man
couId be "Iike God, knoving good and eviI" (Gen. 3:5), eslabIishing
and delermining good and eviI by oneseIf, independenl, from one's
ovn perspeclive and cenler of reference.
"Salan persuaded man...lhal he had an adequale capacily in himseIf for
being good, vilhoul lhe necessily of having God: lhal he couId be
righleous in his ovn righl, moraIIy aduIl vilhoul lhe need of being
spiriluaIIy aIive! In shorl, lhal man couId be independenl -- bolh cause
and effecl!"
5

Thal is vhere moraIily slarled, al lhe faII of man. Thenceforlh man
vas naluraIIy seIf-deceived as lo his abiIily lo be lhe arbiler and gen-
eralor of good and eviI, lhinking lhal he couId eslabIish elhicaI slan-
dards of good and eviI, righl and vrong, on lhe basis of human seIf-
evaIualion of individuaI and coIIeclive sociaI "good." NaluraI man has
posiled lhe lhree premises of moraIism every since: (1) seIf-exislenl
good. (2) seIf-delermined good. (3) seIf-polenliaI of good. The moraIi-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
ó;
lies of men, vilh lheir reIalivized, seIf-orienled slandards of good and
eviI, are aIvays conlrary lo God's inlenl, aIvays sinfuI, and aIvays de-
rived from salanic source.
Thc Rcjcctinn nI Mnra!ity.
MoraIily is anlilhelicaI lo aII Chrislian beIief and behavior. Admil-
ledIy, if one does nol undersland lhe foundalion aIready Iaid in differ-
enlialing belveen moraIily and Chrislianily, and lhe derivalion of
good and eviI from God or salan respecliveIy, lhen lhe slalemenls be-
Iov viII appear lo be bizarre, oulIandish and aImosl bIasphemous.
(1) MoraIily is a |oke. Il is a bad |oke lhal is nol even funny, because il
is lragic. Ior lhe dedicaled reIigionisl, moraIily is no |oking maller. Il is
lhe basis of his/her reIigion. ßul for lhe Chrislian, moraIily is a |oke.
Il vas C.S. Levis vho firsl expressed lhis lhoughl.
"I lhink aII Chrislians vouId agree vilh me if I said lhal lhough Chris-
lianily seems al firsl lo be aII aboul moraIily, aII aboul dulies and ruIes
and guiIl and virlue, yel il Ieads you on, oul of aII lhal, inlo somelhing
beyond. One has a gIimpse of a counlry vhere lhey do nol laIk of lhese
lhings, excepl perhaps as a |oke. Iveryone lhere is fiIIed fuII vilh vhal
ve shouId caII goodness as a mirror is fiIIed vilh Iighl. ßul lhey do nol
caII il goodness. They do nol caII il anylhing. They are nol lhinking of
il. They are loo busy Iooking al lhe source from vhich il comes."
6

Has anyone ever become "good" or "righleous" on lhe basis of mor-
aIIy proper behavior` ImpossibIe! Absurd! Thal is vhal makes moraI-
ily such a IaughabIe maller: ils uller absurdily and impossibiIily (lhe
basis of many a |oke.) MoraIily is Salan's big Iaugh on mankind.
(2) MoraIily is a resuIl of lhe faII of man inlo sin. As noled, lhe decep-
live lemplalion of lhe Templer in lhe garden of Iden vas lo suggesl
lhal man couId deveIop a seIf-delermined knovIedge of good and eviI.
Thal vas lhe firsl lemplalion lo deveIop moraIily, lo eslabIish an in-
dependenl, seIf-orienled slandard of good and eviI. Re|ecling lhe de-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
óa
rived goodness of God, man opled for lhe Iie. NaluraI men, reIigious
men, have been deveIoping moraIilies ever since, lrying lo reguIale
man's behavior.
(3) MoraIily is a Iie. Il is based on lhe Iie of independenl-seIf, aulono-
mous man. The lrue condilion of man is lhal of derivalive conlingency
upon spiriluaI being for bolh spiriluaI condilion and behavioraI ex-
pression.
(4) MoraIily is sinfuI. If sin is defined as anylhing nol derived from
God, lhen moraIily is sinfuI because il advocales lhe aulonomy of
goodness and faiIs lo undersland lhe spiriluaI derivaliveness of aII
human behavior. "Whalever is nol of failh is sin" (Rom. 14:23), and
moraIily is nol based on lhe derived receplivily of failh. Therefore il is
sinfuI.
(5) MoraIily is humanislic. Humanism is based on lhe lhesis of lhe
aulonomous seIf-polenliaI of mankind, lhe suggeslion of vhich vas
firsl inlroduced in lhe garden. MoraIily is humanislic because "good-
ness" is aIIeged lo be knovabIe by oneseIf (second premise of moraI-
ism) and do-abIe by oneseIf (lhird premise of moraIism). The seIf-
polenliaI of seIf-generaled, seIf-aclivaled behavioraI aclivily is al lhe
rool of aII moraIily.
(6) MoraIily is psychoIogicaI manipuIalion. ßehaviorislic psychoIogy
allempls lo manipuIale human behavior in "behavior modificalion,"
faiIing lo undersland lhe spiriluaI source of aII behavior. The sociaI
moraIisls empIoy such behaviorislic psychoIogicaI manipuIalion lo
keep lheir parlicuIar "sociely" in check and funclioning in accord vilh
lheir seIf-orienled ob|eclives.
(7) MoraIily is offensive lo God. God hales moraIily! Il is conlrary lo
His inlenl for mankind. Isaiah graphicaIIy slales lhal "aII our righleous
deeds are as a fiIlhy rag" (Isaiah 64:6). AII our moraI aclions by vhich
ve lry lo be good or righleous, vhen presenled before God are as of-
fensive as presenling Him vilh a menslruaI cIolh, a "dirly Kolex!"
(This is lhe IileraI meaning of lhe Hebrev vords.) Lesl you be of-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
ós
fended al such graphic anaIogy, |usl be avare lhal God is even more
offended al our periodic discharges of moraIily, presenlalions vhich
are lhe discharge of dealh vilh no Iife. The piclure is no prellier vhen
IauI describes his reIigious and moraI efforls as bul "rubbish" or
"dung" (KIV) in IhiIippians 3:8. MoraIily is offensive lo God.
(8) MoraIily is "anolher gospeI." When IauI vrole lo lhe GaIalians
varning lhem of lhe reIigionisls vho vere lrying lo add moraIislic re-
quiremenls lo lhe simpIe gospeI of grace in Iesus Chrisl, he indicaled
lhal lhey vere bringing "anolher gospeI" vhich vas "no gospeI" al aII
since il vas devoid of any "good nevs." Hislory is repIele vilh moraI
suppIemenls becoming parl and parceI of so-caIIed "Chrislian reIig-
ion." Whenever moraIily is inlroduced il suppIanls lhe singuIar suffi-
ciency of Iesus Chrisl and conslilules "anolher gospeI."
(9) MoraIily is "saIvalion by vorks." MoraIily posils aclivily lhal is
supposedIy derived from oneseIf, and is lherefore "saIvalion by
vorks." IauI vrole lo lhe Iphesians expIaining, "Ior by grace are you
saved lhrough failh, lhal nol of yourseIves, il is lhe gifl of God, nol of
vorks Iesl any man shouId boasl" (Iph. 2:8,9). SaIvalion is aIvays en-
acled by lhe dynamic of God's saving vork in lhe provision of His
grace. The commencemenl of lhal saIvalion is in conversion, bul lhe
conlinuing dynamic of lhe "saving Iife" of Iesus Chrisl (Rom. 5:10)
makes us safe from salanic misuse, abuse and dysfunclion in order lo
reslore us lo lhe funclionaI use God inlended by His grace aclivily in
lhe Chrislian.
(10) MoraIily is IegaIism. MoraIily sels up a "slandard" of behavior, a
codificalion of acceplabIe conducl. These ruIes and reguIalions of righl
and vrong form an independenl, exlernaI Iav, lo vhich aII sub|ecls are
expecled lo conform. Slriving lo conform lo lhe Iav is lhus lhe moraI-
islic ob|eclive of "obedience." MoraIislic, IegaIislic "obedience lo lhe
Iav" is far removed from lhe "obedience of failh" (Rom. 1:5) lhal Iislens
under God's Spiril and is obedienl lo Life.
(11) MoraIily is deadIy. There is cerlainIy no vibrancy and vilaIily of
divine Iife in lhe IegaIism of moraIily. IauI vriles in II Cor. 3:6, "lhe
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
óó
Ieller kiIIs, bul lhe Spiril gives Iife." The "Ieller of lhe Iav" on vhich
moraIily resls is deadIy! Il kiIIs aII expression of God's Iife in man, as
man vorks himseIf lo dealh!
(12) MoraIily is devaslaling and deslruclive. IncapabIe of ever measur-
ing up lo lhe moraI requiremenls, man is increasingIy fruslraled, un-
happy and grieved. Iames S. Slevarl, lhe Scollish preacher, vriles,
"The evangeI of an elhicaI exampIe is a devaslaling lhing. Il makes re-
Iigion lhe mosl grievous of burdens. Ierhaps lhis is lhe reason vhy,
even among professing Chrislians, lhere are so many slrained faces
and veary hearls and caplive, unreIeased spirils."
7

The moraIily vhich is inherenl in reIigion is a mosl maddening experi-
ence: il drives a person "mad."
(13) MoraIily is bondage. MoraIily binds a person, making lhem sIaves
lo Iav, convenlion and sociaI approvaI. To lhe GaIalians IauI ex-
pIained, "Il vas for freedom lhal Chrisl sel us free:...do nol be sub|ecl
again lo a yoke of sIavery" (GaI. 5:1). MoraIily deslroys lhe freedom lo
be and do vhalever God vanls lo be and do in us. The rigid chains of
moraI infIexibiIily aIIov for no noveIly, nevness, no sponlaneily of
fresh expression of lhe Spiril.
(14) MoraIily is IharisaicaI. The Iharisees engaged in lheir perpeluaI
prelense of piely. Though lheir moraIislic allempls are oflen caIIed
"seIf-righleousness," in reaIily lhey had a pseudo-righleousness, no
righleousness al aII, |usl sin! Iesus delesled, opposed and exposed lhe
IharisaicaI moraIily. Irank Lake recognized lhe Iharisaism of moraI-
ily:
"IlhicaI behavior by ilseIf can loo easiIy enlrench a man in seIf-
righleousness. He has |oined lhe Iharisee, praying vilh himseIf lo a
god vho is nol lhe Ialher of our Lord Iesus Chrisl, 'I lhank lhee lhal I
am nol as olher men are.' ...No morlaI man can vin by seIf-efforl vhal
in lhe nalure of lhings musl aIvays be a gifl."
8

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
ó/
(15) MoraIily is frauduIenl. Il can never deIiver vhal il promises. Il
does nol achieve lhe resuIls il is designed lo achieve. IauI expIains in
CoIossians 2:23 lhal moraIily is of "no vaIue againsl fIeshIy induI-
gence." Those pallerned propensilies of seIfishness and sinfuIness in
lhe desires of our souI viII never be deaIl vilh, or overcome by, moraI
suppressionism or by moraI slriving lo overcome.
(16) MoraIily is a conlrived subslilule for Chrislian Iiving. As a poslur-
ing prelexl of Iiving a "good Chrislian Iife," moraIily pIays lhe parl of
an imposlor. Iacques IIIuI noles lhal
"moraIily is lhe means vhereby lhe Chrislian dodges dealh in Chrisl
and fashions a Iiving vay of his ovn. Il is lhe vorsl of aII iIIusions."
9

Inslead of disaIIoving our seIfish expressions by aIIoving lhe Iife of
Iesus Chrisl lo be Iived oul lhrough us, moraIily masquerades seIf-
orienled conformily as "spiriluaI behavior." Hypocrisy!
(17) MoraIily is idoIalry. Ian Thomas vriles of
"seeking lo be godIy by submilling yourseIf lo exlernaI ruIes and regu-
Ialions, and by conformily lo behavior pallerns imposed upon you by
lhe parlicuIar Chrislian sociely vhich you have chose, and in vhich
you hope lo be found 'acceplabIe.' You viII in lhis vay perpeluale lhe
pagan habil of praclicing reIigion in lhe energy of lhe 'fIesh,' and in lhe
very pursuil of righleousness commil idoIalry in honoring 'Chrislian-
ily' more lhan Chrisl."
10

MoraIily reduces God lo a "lhing," a moraI ideaI, an elhicaI slandard, a
reIigious expeclalion of conformily and a behavioraI formuIa. The
ideaI becomes an ideoIogicaI idoI conslrucled and carved in lhe human
mind. The reIigious moraIisl lhen submils lo lhe moraI ideaI, ralher
lhan lo God.
(18) MoraIily is salanic. Despile lhe facl lhal many reIigious peopIe
equale moraIily vilh godIiness, il is reaIIy lhe deceplive and diaboIic
laclic of lhe deceiver. The deviI, lhe "falher of Iies" (Iohn 8:44) and aII
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
ó8
faIsehood, has subsliluled a faIIacious syslem of behavioraI guideIines
as lhe basis of "goodness." The "god of lhis vorId" (II Cor. 4:4) has
bIinded lhe minds of men lo keep lhem from seeing lhal anylhing nol
derived from God is eviI and sinfuI. In lhe name of "reIigion," moraIily
is eslabIished vhich caIIs lhe seIfishIy molivaled efforls of man "good"
and "righleous," vhen lhey are bul eviI derived from lhe IviI One.
(19) MoraIily is a reIigious inevilabiIily. Wherever you find reIigion
you viII find moraIily` They are aIvays "coupIed" logelher. Why` ße-
cause reIigion is a man-made, salan-inspired, sociaI organizalion lhal
requires moraIily slandards lo give il exlernaI form, lo give il raison
d'elre, lo cemenl IoyaIly and conformily, and lo keep lhe guiIl pay-
menls coming in. As peopIe perceive lheir inabiIily lo pIease and ap-
pease God by lheir inadequale moraI behavior, lhey seek lo buy off
lheir sin in "induIgences."
(20) MoraIily is a vorIdIy necessily. In lhe sociely of lhe "vorId," lhal
is of faIIen mankind, moraIily is necessilaled lo keep lhe chaos of seIf-
ishness and sinfuIness "in check," if even lemporariIy. Again Iacques
IIIuI vriles lhal moraIily
"is parl of lhe condilion of lhe faII. Nov endoved vilh lhe pover lo
define good and eviI, lo eIaborale il, lo knov il and lo prelend lo obey
il, man can no Ionger renounce lhis pover lhal he has purchased so
dearIy. He cannol Iive vilhoul moraIily."
11

The vorIdIiness of human sociely, faIIen man in lhis faIIen vorId, ne-
cessilales moraIily. MoraIily is of lhe order of vorIdIiness!
(21) MoraIily is reIalive. Human, sociaI, vorIdIy and reIigious moraIily
is never properIy reIaled lo lhe absoIuleness of God's characler of
goodness, and lo lhe absoIuleIy onIy expression of God's goodness by
derivalion from God by God's grace. MoraIily is reIalive lo lhe inlenls
and desires of lhe prevaiIing aulhorilies in lhe parlicuIar sociely over
vhich lhey have manipuIalive conlroI (ex. governmenlaI, eccIesiasli-
caI, elc.) MoraIily is reIalive lo lhe ma|orily of lhe individuaIs in lhal
sociely viIIing lo accepl lhe moraI slandards, eilher under lhreal of
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
óo
punishmenl or by democralic concensus of vhal is "good" and/or
"eviI" vilh an individuaI accounlabiIily lo lhe so-caIIed "good" of lhe
vhoIe. MoraIily is reIalive lo lhe Iimilalions of faIIen man in keeping
such moraI condilions, due lo lhe pallerned seIfishness and sinfuIness
of lhe "fIesh."
(22) MoraIily is anlilhelicaI lo Chrislianily. MoraIily aIvays allempls
lo eslabIish "goodness" aparl from ils derivalion oul of God aIone, and
ils avaiIabiIily lo man by lhe indveIIing of Iesus Chrisl aIone. MoraIily
denies lhe derived exislence of good in lhe characler of God. MoraIily
denies lhe derived knovIedge of good by lhe reveIalion of God. Mo-
raIily denies lhe derived expression of good by lhe grace of God. Mo-
raIily precIudes lhe primary asserlion of lhe Chrislian gospeI, lhal lhe
avaiIabiIily for lhe expression of God's goodness in man is onIy by lhe
presence and empovering of lhe Spiril of Chrisl in man, received by
failh in regeneralion and sanclificalion.
MoraIily never effecls Chrislian behavior. Once again IIIuI remarks
lhal
"MoraIily...necessariIy coIIides vilh God's decision broughl lo pass in
Iesus Chrisl, vhich Iocales lhe Iife and lrulh of man oul beyond any-
lhing lhal man can formuIale, knov and Iive."
12

Chrislianily is "anlimoraIily."
13

Thc Distinctivc nI Christianity and Christian bchavinr
Whal has aIready been noled by conlrasl musl nov be expIained
more expIicilIy: lhe radicaI difference of lhe Chrislian gospeI from aII
moraIilies. C.S. Levis expresses lhis so succinclIy vhen he vriles lhal
Chrislianily
"differs from ordinary ideas of 'moraIily' and 'being good.' ...lhe vhoIe
of Chrislianily is 'pulling on Chrisl.' Chrislianily offers nolhing eIse."
14


Then eIsevhere he vriles,
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/o
"...lhe Chrislian is in a differenl posilion from olher peopIe vho are
lrying lo be good. ...lhe Chrislian lhinks lhal any good he does comes
from lhe Chrisl-Iife inside him."
15

Having previousIy noled lhal "God is good," and lhal lhis slalemenl
is semanlicaIIy and phiIosophicaIIy differenl lhan any olher slalemenl
lhal refers lo goodness, lhe dislinclive of Chrislianily begins vilh lhe
facl lhal Iesus Chrisl is God and lherefore Iesus Chrisl is good. Iesus as
God is lhe essence of goodness, by nalure good, absoIuleIy good, in-
dependenlIy good, lhe source of aII good in lhe Chrislian.
The monolheislic premises noled previousIy vere (1) Good exisls
onIy in God. (2) Good is knovabIe onIy as God reveaIs His characler.
(3) Good is do-abIe onIy as lhe characler of God is expressed by lhe
grace of God. In lhe Chrislian asserlion lhal Iesus Chrisl is God lhe
premises concerning goodness are defined even more dislincliveIy.
Ivery Chrislian has "in Iesus Chrisl" (1) lhe presence of lhe good
vilhin him/her by lhe indveIIing presence of Iesus Chrisl. (2) lhe on-
going reveIalion of lhe good by lhe aclive enIighlenmenl of lhe Spiril
of Chrisl. (3) lhe capabiIily of expressing God's characler of goodness
by lhe energizing, enabIing and empovering of lhe Spiril of Chrisl.
The Chrislian has received lhe presence of God, lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl,
vilhin his/her spiril al regeneralion, consliluling lhe resloralion of
God's inlenl for His human crealion. Any conneclion of God's good-
ness lo man's spiriluaI condilion or behavioraI expression is onIy by
lhe spiriluaI receplion of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl by failh. Iesus said,
"No man comelh unlo lhe Ialher, bul by Me" (Iohn 14:6). We mighl
adapl lhal lo read, "No man comelh unlo Goodness, bul by Me."
Some cIarificalions need lo be made al lhe oulsel as ve consider hov
God's goodness is connecled lo lhe Chrislian:
When ve become Chrislians and receive lhe Good-One, lhe God-
One, Iesus Chrisl, inlo our spiril, lhis is nol lo impIy lhal ve become
good, and nov are good, for ve have aIready asserled lhal onIy "God
is good." Scriplure does indicale lhal lhe Roman Chrislians vere "fuII
of goodness" (Rom. 15:14): lhal Chrislians are "made perfecl" (Heb.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/s
12:23): and lhal ve "become lhe righleousness of God in Him" (II Cor.
5:21). ßul lo indicale lhal ve are made, lhal ve become, lhal ve are
good, perfecl, righleous, hoIy elc. musl be done vilhin lhe conlexl of
lhe presence of God in Chrisl. When reference is made lo becoming
good, being made good, righleous or hoIy, lhis is never lo say lhal ve
are good inherenlIy, inlrinsicaIIy, independenlIy, aulonomousIy, or
elernaIIy. We have received lhe Good-One, lhe God-One, Iesus, inlo
lhe core of our being, inlo our spiril. We are lhus idenlified vilh lhe
Good-One, and in lerms of our spiriluaI idenlily ve mighl be knovn
as "good ones," "God-ones," "godIy," "righleous ones," "|uslified," "hoIy
ones," "sainls," "sanclified," "Chrisl-ones," "Chrislians." Such designa-
lions are onIy and aIvays based on lhe indveIIing presence of Iesus
Chrisl, never on any aIIeged reaIily lhal has become inlrinsic vilhin
and unlo ourseIves. "The conlainer never becomes lhe conlenls." To
quole Iacques IIIuI again,
"The enlire ßibIe conslanlIy ilerales lhal nolhing has changed inlrinsi-
caIIy or onloIogicaIIy in lhis person vho has been enIighlened by lhe
reveIalion. He is saved. He is |uslified. He is sanclified, bul he is sliII
himseIf."
16

In olher vords, lhe Chrislian is sliII a derivalive man, deriving bolh
spiriluaI condilion and behavioraI expression from lhe spiriluaI source
of Iesus Chrisl. We musl avoid aII forms of perfeclionism lhal mighl
impIy lhal ve are perfecl, good, hoIy or righleousness essenliaIIy, con-
slilulionaIIy and inherenlIy.
Whereas lhe firsl cIarificalion has lo do vilh a deniaI of Iapsing back
inlo lhe firsl premise of moraIism, lhe second cIarificalion concerns il-
seIf vilh a deniaI of Iapsing inlo lhe second and lhird premises of mor-
aIism.
When ve become Chrislians and receive lhe Good-One, lhe God-
One, Iesus Chrisl, inlo our spiril, lhis is nol lo impIy lhal ve have nov
been invesled vilh lhe inherenl abiIily lo knov vhal is good, or lhe
inherenl capabiIily lo do lhe good. IIIuI expIains lhal lhe Chrislian
does nol have
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/z
"any inlrinsic capacily lo do by himseIf lhe good vhich God has sel
forlh. There is no permanenl lransformalion of his being vhich vouId
consisl in lhis abiIily lo perform lhe viII of God by HimseIf."
17

This is preciseIy vhere so much of lhe leaching of Chrislian reIigion
has |umped lrack inlo lhe second and lhird premises of moraIism. Ior
cenluries lhe gospeI has been lypicaIIy presenled as lhe Good-One, lhe
God-One, Iesus Chrisl being incarnaled as a man, and Iiving oul lhe
good-Iife perfeclIy, "vilhoul sin" (Heb. 4:15: II Cor. 5:21). Accurale his-
lory. Accurale lheoIogy. Whal usuaIIy happens lhen is lhal lhe hisloric
"presenlalion" of perfecl goodness in human behavior in lhe Iife of Ie-
sus Chrisl on earlh is made lo be lhe "slandard" lo vhich lhose vho
assenl lo, or receive, Iesus Chrisl are expecled lo Iook lo in order lo
knov good (second premise) and conform lo in order lo do good
(lhird premise). Such is lhe lragic "seII-oul" of lhe Chrislian gospeI
"dovn lhe river" inlo mere moraIily! Chrislian reIigion has laughl Tnc
|niiaiicn cj Cnrisi (Thomas A'Kempis) by vaIking |n His Sicps (CharIes
SheIdon) in order lo be Iikc Cnrisi (Andrev Murray).
IauI's expIanalion of Chrislian behavior is lhal of "lhe manifeslalion
of lhe Iife of Iesus in our morlaI bodies" (II Cor. 4:10,11): nol by any
human imilalion of Chrisl's behavioraI goodness. Chrislian Iiving is
nol "monkey see, monkey do," lhe parrolling or apeing of reproduced
exlernaI behavior. The dislinclive of Chrislian behavior is lhal lhe Iife
of Iesus Chrisl is Iived oul in our behavior, lhe characler of God's
goodness manifesled in our behavior. "Il is no Ionger I vho Iives, bul
Chrisl Iives in me, and lhe Iife lhal I nov Iive in lhe fIesh, I Iive by failh
in lhe Son of God, vho Ioved me and gave HimseIf up for me" (GaI.
2:20). The expression of behavioraI goodness is nol by any capabiIily or
efforl from vilhin man. Iesus said: "Aparl from Me, you can do nolh-
ing" (Iohn 15:5). Aparl from Iesus, you can do nolhing lhal manifesls
lhe characler of God. Aparl from Iesus, you can do nolhing good.
Aparl from Iesus, you can do nolhing lhal gIorifies God. Aparl from
Iesus, you can do nolhing lhal quaIifies as Chrislian behavior.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/;
Thus ve proceed lo furlher ampIify lhal Iesus Chrisl is lhe soIe
source of aII good behavior in lhe Chrislian. Iesus is lhe soIe source of
lhe knovIedge of good behavior. Iesus is lhe soIe source of lhe enacl-
ing of good behavior, being lhe expression of God's characler of good-
ness.
Goodness is knovn and aclivaled onIy by God's grace. Grace is
"God's aclivily consislenl vilh His characler."
The onIy vay ve can knov lhe goodness of God, in lhe avareness of
His allribules and characler, in vho God is, and in lhe knovIedge of
hov God in Chrisl vishes lo express His goodness in our behavior, is
lhal by His grace God reveaIs HimseIf and His inlenl lo us. Il is one
lhing lo knov lhal God is good inleIIecluaIIy, even based on ßibIicaI
informalion and hislory, bul il is anolher lhing lo knov lhal God is
good personaIIy and experienliaIIy and hov He desires lo express lhal
goodness lhrough man. We knov lhe inlenl of God in expressing His
goodness lhrough us onIy by lhe grace of God vhereby lhe Spiril of
Chrisl conlinues lo reveaI, lo enIighlen and lo iIIumine our spiriluaI
underslanding. We "Iislen under" His inslruclion in lhe "obedience of
failh" in order lo knov hov, vhen, vhere and lo vhom He vishes lo
manifesl His goodness lhrough us. This gracious personaI reveIalion of
His goodness in and lhrough us as Chrislian is ever-nev, noveI,
unique, fresh and sponlaneous. Il cannol be expIained in eccIesiaslicaI
ruIes and reguIalions. Il cannol be conlained in codificalions of con-
ducl. Il cannol be relained and reslrained in repelilive riluaIs. Il cannol
be ob|eclified inlo ßibIicaI bIueprinls. Il cannol be made slalic. God's
expressions of goodness cannol be pul in a box! God viII reveaI (IhiI.
3:15) His goodness so lhal ve mighl knov His goodness and hov il is
lhal He desires lo express His goodness in our behavior by His grace.
Likevise, lhe dislinclive of lhe Chrislian gospeI for lhe doing of
goodness, lhe manifeslalion of goodness, is onIy and aIvays lhe acliv-
ily of God by lhe indveIIing presence of lhe Spiril of Chrisl. "God is al
vork in you bolh lo viII and lo vork for His good pIeasure" (IhiI.
2:13). God is energizing bolh lhe molivalion and lhe oul-vorking of
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/a
our behavior in accord vilh His good characler and for His good
pIeasure, unlo His gIory. God in Chrisl viII do vhal He desires and
He viII do so by lhe dynamic of His ovn seIf-generaled expression of
goodness. III Iohn 11 reads, "The one doing good is of God." As previ-
ousIy noled, "of God" is ck inccs in Greek, meaning "oul of God." Any
lime ve manifesl genuine goodness il is derived oul of lhe characler of
God, expressed and enacled by lhe pover and grace of God.
Whenever ve come across lhe Nev Teslamenl admonilions exhorl-
ing us lo "knov good" and lo "do good," ve musl aIvays remember
lhal lhe dynamic for doing so is in God, in Chrisl.
Romans 16:19 - "I vanl you lo be vise in vhal is good." Hov` ßy aI-
Ioving God lo conlinue lo reveaI His goodness.
GaI. 6:9,10 - "Iel us nol Iose hearl in doing good...Iel us do good lo aII
men." Hov` ßy lhe dynamic of God's doing of His goodness in and
lhrough us.
I Thess. 5:21 - "hoId fasl lo vhal is good: abslain from every form of
eviI." Whal is good` Thal vhich expresses God's characler of goodness.
Hov are ve going lo hoId fasl lo lhal and abslain from every form of
eviI` Three verses Ialer in I Thess 5:24 ve read, "IailhfuI is He vho
caIIs you, He aIso viII bring il lo pass."
II Thess. 3:13 - "do nol grov veary of doing good." Whal is lo veary
us if ve recognize lhal il is nol our slruggIing and slriving lo perform
goodness` Il is possibIe lo grov veary of lhe facl lhal so fev seem lo
recognize and appreciale lhal il is God's goodness expressed in our
behavior.
As Chrislians ve are lo conlinue lo be avaiIabIe and receplive in failh
lo lhe expression of God's goodness in our behavior. "He vho began a
good vork in you, viII perfecl il unliI lhe day of Chrisl Iesus" (IhiI.
1:6). The "good vork" lhal God inlends viII nol be perfecled by our
conforming lo a "slandard of goodness," nor by our generaling, manu-
facluring, muslering up good behavior (vere ve abIe lo do so), bul
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/s
onIy by lhe dynamic of divine grace, and our receplivily of lhal acliv-
ily in failh.
Iesus aIIovs us lhe freedom lo express His goodness in our behavior.
Such expression is nol forced upon lhe Chrislian. As Chrislians ve sliII
have freedom of choice. We are sliII choosing crealures. Iven lhough
Iph. 2:10 slales lhal "ve are crealed in Chrisl Iesus for good vorks,
vhich God prepared beforehand lhal ve shouId vaIk in lhem," lhis
does nol necessariIy impIy lhal aII our behavioraI expressions are pre-
delermined in a rigid, cIosed-syslem, lhus denying freedom of choice.
In Iesus Chrisl ve have freedom unlo lhe inlended funclion of our
humanily. We are free lo be and do aII lhal God vanls lo be and do in
us. The inlenlion of lhe Crealor God vas lo dveII vilhin, and aclivale
His characler of goodness lhrough lhe crealure man. ßy lhe faII of
mankind inlo sin and lheir spiriluaI ensIavemenl lo lhe IviI One (II
Tim. 2:26) lhey became "sIaves of sin" and lo lhe expression of his
characler of eviI. In Iesus Chrisl ve are reslored lo God's inlenl by
God's indveIIing and God's dynamic aclivily in us. Iree lo be man as
God inlended man lo be, by lhe presence and pover of Iesus Chrisl in
us. Ireedom is a mosl imporlanl concepl of Chrislianily. Iesus said,
"You shaII knov lhe Trulh, and lhe Trulh shaII sel you free" (Iohn
8:32), and lhen, "If lherefore lhe Son shaII make you free, you shaII be
free indeed" (Iohn 8:36). IauI expIained, "Il vas for freedom lhal Chrisl
sel us free...do nol be sub|ecl again lo a yoke of sIavery" (GaI. 5:1): "You
vere caIIed lo freedom, brelhren" (GaI. 5:13). "Where lhe spiril of lhe
Lord is, lhere is Iiberly" (II Cor. 3:17). We are free lo be good as God
inlended man lo be. Iree lo Iove God and aIIov His goodness lo be
expressed lhrough us for olhers. Whal freedom! Augusline expIained
lhal ve can "Iove God and do vhal ve vanl."
The reIigionisl onIy underslands freedom as freedom jrcn somelhing
ralher lhan freedom ic God's inlenl. He seems onIy lo conceive of free-
dom in lhe conlexl of Iav, ralher lhan freedom of funclion. So lhere is
nolhing lhal frighlens lhe reIigionisl or moraIisl more lhan freedom
from lhe IegaI slandards of good behavior lhal have been posiled in
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY

pIace of God. They reason, "If man is free from lhe Iav, free from
moraI codes, free from lhe reIigious manipuIalion lhereof, lhere is no
leIIing vhal man mighl do. Il vouId be chaos!" Il is lhereby reveaIed
lhal lhey have nol laken God inlo accounl: lhey onIy undersland
"goodness" in lhe idoIalrous conlexl of conformily lo behavioraI Iav
codes.
When lhe aposlIe IauI shared lhe gospeI of grace, lhe freedom lhal
ve have in Iesus Chrisl, lhe reIigious crilics, lhe Iudaizers, indicaled
lhal he vas advocaling anlinomianism, lhal he vas leaching "againsl
lhe Iav," lhal he vas encouraging IavIessness, Iicenliousness, Iiberlin-
ism. IauI vrole in Rom. 6:15, "ShaII ve sin because ve are nol under
lhe Iav bul under grace` May il never be!" (cf. Rom. 3:5,8: 6:1). Iree-
dom lo sin is a lolaI misunderslanding of grace and freedom.
Ireedom in Chrisl is indeed on lhe far side of moraIislic IegaIism.
Irom lhe confined and faIse perspeclive of IegaIism such freedom viII
appear lo be IavIessness, vioIalions of reguIalory behavioraI Iav and
moraI slandards of goodness. ßul lhe Lav of God has as ils primary
funclion lhe reveIalion of lhe characler of God, and grace is lhe divine
dynamic lo express lhal characler of God freeIy in lhe Chrislian.
Iesus Chrisl vanls lo express His characler of goodness in consislenl,
praclicaI Chrislian behavior. The message of lhe Chrislian gospeI is nol
|usl elhereaI lheory aboul abslracl "goodness," or phiIosophizing and
lheoIogizing aboul "goodness." We do nol vanl lo be so heavenIy-
minded lhal ve are of no earlhIy good. Chrislian Iiving has lo do vilh
praclicaI behavior vhich consislenlIy expresses lhe characler of God.
Chrislian Iiving has lo do vilh lhe praclicaIilies of God's goodness be-
ing expressed in aII of our inlerpersonaI reIalionships: husbands and
vives, parenls and chiIdren, empIoyers and empIoyees, friends, ac-
quainlances and generaI pubIic.
IauI varns us "do nol lurn your freedom inlo an opporlunily for lhe
fIesh" (GaI. 5:13). There have been Iiberlarian advocales vho have so
reacled lo moraIism, as lo eschev and repudiale aII behavioraI consid-
eralions and preaching. They are viIIing lo loIerale any behavior in lhe
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
//
name of "freedom." We are seeing an epidemic of such loIerance in our
sociely loday. Il may be a vaIid backIash againsl moraIism, bul il Ieads
lo sociaI chaos aparl from lhe recognilion of God's grace-expression of
goodness.
Sin is sliII sin! Il is nol derived from God. Il does nol express lhe
characler of God. Il is inslead derived from lhe deviI (I Iohn 3:8) and
expresses lhe characler of lhe IviI One.
Whenever lhe Chrislian misrepresenls lhe characler of God in his/her
behavior by infideIily, dishonesly, greed, slrife, |eaIousy, anger, dis-
sensions, drunkeness, elc. lhen lhe inlenl of God lo express His charac-
ler in lhal Chrislian is nol laking pIace. Il is a lragic misrepresenlalion
of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl.
As ve aIIov lhe Chrisl-Iife lo be Iived oul in our behavior, manifesl-
ing God's goodness by His grace, ve converseIy disaIIov lhe "fIeshIy
induIgences" (CoI. 2:23), vhich reIigious moraIism vas impolenl lo
deaI vilh. We disaIIov fIeshIiness lo be seIfishIy, sinfuIIy and salani-
caIIy expressed in our behavior. Thus il is lhal ve "deny ourseIves"
(Luke 9:23) and "abslain from every form of eviI" (I Thess 5:22). As ve
aIIov Chrisl lo manifesl His good-Iife in our behavior, He lhus super-
sedes, overcomes and disaIIovs lhe misrepresenlalive sinfuI behavior
expressions. The posilive svaIIovs up lhe negalive.
Iesus Chrisl vanls lo express His characler of goodness in lhe sociaI
communily of lhe Church. The Church is lhe "ßody of Chrisl" inlended
lo coIIecliveIy express lhe characler of Chrisl. The Church is lhe "Ieo-
pIe of God" expressing lhe characler of God's goodness. IauI vriles,
"Lel us do good lo aII men, and especiaIIy lo lhose vho are of lhe
househoId of failh" (GaI. 6:10). There is parlicuIar emphasis on God's
goodness being expressed in lhe conlexl of lhe Church, for il is lhere
lhal God vanls lo demonslrale lhe inlerpersonaI sociaI communily
lhal He inlended for man as lhey aIIov lhe Crealor lo funclion vilhin
His crealures. In lhe Church God vanls lo shov lhal man can dveII
logelher vilh man in "peace," vhen lhey aIIov God's goodness lo be
expressed one lo anolher. The Church is lo be lhe one pIace lhal dem-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/8
onslrales hov God's peopIe can gel aIong vilh one anolher in good-
ness vhen each person is receplive lo God's Iove and goodness being
expressed lo lhe olher, despile diversily of race, sex, age, nalionaIily,
inleIIigence, personaIily lype, difference of opinions, elc.
The dislinclive of Chrislianily and Chrislian behavior is lhe avare-
ness lhal aII goodness is derived from God in personaI reIalionship
vilh Iesus Chrisl, and lhal aII goodness is behavioraIIy expressed by
lhe dynamic of God's grace aIone, vhich is lhe oul-vorking of Chrisl's
Iife. The God vho is good is lhe aclualor vho aclivales lhe expression
of His good characler and enacls (in-acls) His good characler in Chris-
lian behavior. God in Chrisl enabIes, empovers, energizes and enacls
aII good behavior, aII Chrislian behavior.
ßehavioraI goodness is a fruil of lhe Spiril of Chrisl. "The fruil of lhe
Spiril is Iove, |oy, peace, palience, kindness, goodness..."(GaI. 5:22,23).
"The fruil of lhe Lighl consisls in aII goodness..."(Iph. 5:9). "We vaIk in
a manner vorlhy of lhe Lord, lo pIease Him in aII respecls, bearing
fruil in every good vork..."(CoI. 1:10). Il is nol lhal ve produce or
manufaclure goodness or perform goodness, bul ve bear lhe fruil of
goodness derived from lhe dynamic of God's divine characler. Iesus
says, "I am lhe vine: you are lhe branches: he vho abides in Me and I
in him, he bears much fruil: for aparl from Me you can do nolhing"
(Iohn 15:5).
Our focus musl be on lhe divine source of aII goodness. Our focus
musl be on Iesus Chrisl. "We fix our eyes on Iesus" (Heb. 12:2). Our
lheoIogy, our Iives, musl be Chrislocenlric: nol moraIily-cenlered, nol
even good-cenlered, bul God-cenlered, Chrisl-cenlered. Relurning lo
lhe quolalion of C.S. Levis,
"Chrislianily Ieads you on, oul of moraIily, inlo somelhing beyond.
One has a gIimpse of a counlry vhere lhey do nol laIk of lhose lhings,
excepl perhaps as a |oke. Ivery one lhere is fiIIed fuII vilh vhal ve
shaII caII goodness as a mirror is fiIIed vilh Iighl. ßul lhey do nol caII il
goodness. They do nol caII il anylhing. They are nol lhinking of il.
They are loo busy Iooking al lhe source from vhich il comes."
18

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
/o
The dislinclive of Chrislianily and Chrislian behavior is lhal Chris-
lians are Iooking onIy al lhe source of aII lhings in Chrisl and deriving
aII from Him by lhe dynamic of His grace.
An Histnrica! 5urvcy nI thc Fai!urc tn DiIIcrcntiatc Christian Bchav-
inr and Mnra!ity
ßeginning al lhe beginning of aII hislory, ve recaII again lhe inlenl of
God in His crealion, vhich vas lo be lhe conslanlIy crealive dynamic
vilhin His crealure, man, in order lo manifesl His divine characler by
His divine grace unlo His ovn gIory. "We vere crealed for His gIory"
(Isa. 43:7). Il lakes God in a man for man lo be man as God inlended
man lo be. ßy man's receplivily lo God's Iife in lhe "lree of Iife," God's
goodness vouId have been expressed in man's behavior, lhe characler
of lhe invisibIe God made visibIe, imaged in man.
In lhe faII of man inlo sin, Adam re|ecled lhal derivalive reIalionship
of grace/failh, and chose inslead lhe deceiving Iie lhal he couId be "Iike
God," an independenl, aulonomous seIf, and deveIop for himseIf a
seIf-delermined slandard of "good and eviI." Such vas lhe eslabIish-
menl of humanism, moraIily and reIigion. Iver since lhe IaII man has
had lo exercise lhe righl he demanded, and has had lo devise and de-
veIop reIigion in order lo fabricale a moraIily vherevilh lo slabiIize
lhe chaos of his sociely and lry lo drav man's allenlion avay from
himseIf, if even lemporariIy, for lhe good of lhe vhoIe. "MoraIily is of
lhe order of lhe faII."
19

Afler lhe IaII, ve observe in lhe hisloricaI narralives of lhe OId Tes-
lamenl lhal God begins lo painl preIiminary "piclures" of hov He viII
remedy man's predicamenl and reslore HimseIf lo man. God picked
lhe Ievs lo be His "piclure" peopIe. He gave lhem lhe Lav, incIusive of
lhe Ten Commandmenls, on Ml. Sinai. Iudaism vas a reIigion, com-
pIele vilh moraIily, as aII reIigion is. God eslabIished lhe reIigion of
Iudaism lo demonslrale lhe bankruply of aII reIigion, and lhe inabiIily
of man lo keep any moraIily, i.e. lo shov man lhal he did nol have
vhal il look lo be man as God inlended.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
8o
Whal aboul lhe OId Teslamenl Lav` Does il have any reference lo
Chrislian behavior` The Lav had more lhan one purpose, and lhe faiI-
ure lo undersland lhis viII Iead lo many inlerprelive probIems. (1) The
essenliaI purpose of lhe Lav vas lhe reveIalion of lhe characler of
God. God is singuIar, personaI, excIusive, vorlhy of vorship. God is
failhfuI, lrue, needs nolhing, elc. (2) The inslrumenlaI purpose of lhe
Lav vas lo provide a means vilh vhich lo reveaI lhe impolence of
moraIily and lo evidence lhe inabiIily of naluraI, faIIen, sinfuI man lo
express lhe characler of God, lhe purpose for vhich he vas crealed.
Afler he became a Chrislian, IauI couId sliII say, "The Lav is good,
hoIy, righleous" (Rom. 7:12,13). As ve have noled lhal onIy "God is
good," il is safe lo say lhal IauI did nol mean lhal lhe "Lav is good" in
lhe same sense lhal "God is good," for he vouId never have idoIa-
lrousIy equaled lhe Lav vilh God. Ralher, lhe Lav is beneficiaIIy
good: lhe Iav serves lhe good purpose of God, primariIy lo reveaI
God's characler. IauI makes il very cIear eIsevhere lhal lhe Lav does
nol make anyone good or righleous. "IsraeI, pursuing a Iav of righl-
eousness, did nol arrive al lhal Iav...because lhey did nol pursue il by
failh" (Rom. 9:31). "...nol knoving aboul God's righleousness, and
seeking lo eslabIish lheir ovn, lhey did nol sub|ecl lhemseIves lo lhe
righleousness of God" (Rom. 10:3). "Man is nol made righleous by lhe
vorks of lhe Lav.." (GaI. 2:16). IauI denies lhal lhe lhe Lav, funclion-
aIIy and reIigiousIy empIoyed as a moraIily, couId ever effecl God's
inlenl lo express His goodness and righleousness and hoIiness in
man's behavior. The "Ieller kiIIs" IauI vrole (II Cor. 3:6). Hovever, lhe
rabbinic moraIisls of lhe Ievish reIigion conlinued lo carefuIIy crafl
definilions of precise performance for every evenluaIily in lhe IegaIis-
lic minulia of lhe TaImudic Mishnah. Iudeo-Chrislian reIigion loday
sliII caIcuIales lhe moraIislic reguIalory purpose of lhe Lav.
Oulside of lhe Hebrev conlexl, lhe phiIosophers of lhe vorId al-
lempled lo deveIop and diclale moraIilies for mankind. The orienlaI
phiIosophers such as ßuddha, Lao Tzu and Confucius, as veII as lhe
Greek phiIosophers such as Socrales, IIalo and ArislolIe, engaged in
lhis process. AII of lhem, in lheir ovn vay, allempled lo cIassify mor-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
8s
aIislic virlues in seIf-delermined calegories of good and eviI, faiIing lo
undersland lhe divine inlenl of man's deriving aII characler expression
from God.
"In lhe fuIIness of lime God senl forlh His Son" (GaI. 4:4), incarnaled
as a man in order lo lake lhe dealh consequences of mankind upon
HimseIf, and lhal in order lo reslore lhe Iife of God lo man, so lhal
man couId funclion as God inlended. The dealh of Iesus Chrisl on lhe
cross vas lhe vindicalion of aII goodness and grace over sin and dealh.
The resurreclion of Iesus vas lhe manifeslalion of lhe avaiIabiIily of aII
goodness and grace in lhe dynamic of lhe Iife of lhe risen Lord Iesus.
The "good nevs" of lhe gospeI is lhal in Iesus Chrisl ve have lhe reslo-
ralion of God's presence and funclion in man vhich vas Iosl in lhe faII.
The divine dynamic is reslored lo man so lhal aII mighl be derived
from God: lhe Spiril of Chrisl Iiving and funclioning in lhe Chrislian.
The grace and freedom made avaiIabIe in Iesus Chrisl is a radicaI
conlradiclion lo aII IegaIislic moraIily: lo aII reIigion! Mosl of lhe Nev
Teslamenl is an expose of reIigion: an expIanalion of lhe dicholomous
difference of Chrislianily from aII reIigion, especiaIIy from lhe reIigion
of Iudaism. Throughoul lhe gospeIs Iesus exposes and disposes lhe
Iharisees. His parabIes are poignanl picloriaI parodies of lhe reIigious
premises and praclices of IharisaicaI Iudaism. The book of Acls is an
hisloricaI narralive of nascenl Chrislianily breaking free from lhe reIig-
ion of Iudaism. IauI's Ieller lo lhe Romans expIains lhal righleousness
is nol in reIigion, bul onIy in Chrisl. The Ieller lo lhe GaIalians expIains
lhe dicholomy of lhe gospeI and reIigion. The Ieller lo lhe Hebrevs
expIains lhal lhe nev covenanl in Chrisl forever obsoIeles and abro-
gales lhe oId covenanl of Ievish reIigion. So vilh every olher book of
lhe Nev Teslamenl.
The grace of God operalive in lhe Chrislian, lhe freedom lo be and
do aII God vanls lo be and do in us: lhese are opposed lo "Iav" and
"vorks." The moraIislic reguIalory funclion of lhe Lav is forever dissi-
paled, deslroyed, dispensed vilh, discarded, damned!
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
8z
Despile lhis gIoriousIy Iiberaling reaIily of lhe Chrislian gospeI, lhe
naluraI, reIigious man does nol Iike "grace" and "freedom:" il lakes
avay aII his "conlroI." So even vilhin lhe conlexl of lhe firsl cenlury,
lhe reaclion of lhe reIigionisls, lhe moraIisls, is recorded in lhe Nev
Teslamenl ilseIf. The Iudaizers seemed lo foIIov IauI vherever he
venl, allempling lo impose reIigious moraIily on lhe nev Chrislians,
allempling lo suppIemenl lhe gospeI of grace vilh exlernaI moraIily
slriclures. They vanled lo keep a IegaIislic Iav-based moraIily: lhe
very lhing Iesus had come lo pul an end lo by His grace! IauI vouId
have none of il. He indicaled lhal vhal lhey vere leaching vas "an-
olher gospeI" vhich vas "nol gospeI al aII." Il vas damnabIe! (GaI. 1:6-
10).
Wilhin lhe second and lhird cenluries A.D. ve Iook back lo lhe vril-
ings of lhe earIy Church falhers, aIso caIIed lhe AposloIic Ialhers, lhe
earIiesl exlanl vrilings of Chrislians afler lhe Nev Teslamenl vrilings.
We search lheir vrilings lo delermine vhal perspeclive lhey had of lhe
gospeI of grace, and lhe freedom of lhe Chrislian "in Chrisl." Did lhey
relain IauI's underslanding of lhe dynamic of Chrisl's Iife funclioning
in lhe Chrislian` RegrellabIy, lhey did nol! Their primary concern
seems lo have been moraIislic conformily, emphasizing exlernaI con-
ducl ralher lhan lhe inlernaI spiriluaI dynamic of God's grace. T.I.
Torrance reporls,
"Whal occupied lhe foreground of lheir (AposloIic falhers) lhoughl
vas hov lhey vere going lo vaIk in lhe vay of lhis Iife, and conform
lo ils high slandards. So concerned vere lhey aboul righl and vrong
behaviour lhal everyvhere lhey vere driven inlo IegaIism and formaI-
ism. The Chrislian elhic vas codified, and lhe charismalic Iife under
lhe conslraining Iove of Chrisl reduced lo ruIes and precepls. Lav and
obedience, revard and punishmenl, lhese vere lhe lhemes of lheir
preaching. The cenlre of gravily vas shifled from lhe mainspring of
lhe Chrislian Iife in lhe person of Chrisl HimseIf lo lhe periphery of
oulvard conformily and daiIy behaviour."
20

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
8;
ßy lhe second and lhird cenluries lhere vas deveIoping a "Chrislian
reIigion" conlrary lo lhe Chrislian gospeI. Many of lhe advocales of
earIy Chrislian moraIily syslems vere IabeIed as "herelics" lheir mo-
raIily emphases vere parl of serious lheoIogicaI errors lhal vere con-
demned. They vere lrying lo inlegrale Greek phiIosophy and Gnosli-
cism vilh lhe gospeI. They vere advocaling moraIislic ascelicism as
lhe anlidole for "fIeshIy induIgence." Il does nol vork! (CoI. 2:23)
IarIy in lhe fourlh cenlury, by aboul 325 A.D., lhe church became in-
legraled vilh lhe slale, as Conslanline decIared Chrislianily lhe slale
reIigion of lhe Roman empire. The inslilulionaIizing of lhe Church re-
quired increased moraI definilion in order lo "conlroI" lhe "sociely."
Aulhorilarianism, even lolaIilarianism, resuIled as lhe hierarchiaI
Ieaders, Ialer speaking vilh lhe aIIeged infaIIibiIily of papaI decree, de-
lermined lhe absoIulism of moraI formuIalions. MoraI formuIalions
are nol absoIule. God is absoIule! Whal God is, onIy God is. We musl
nol allribule an allribule of God lo anylhing eIse. We musl respecl lhe
non-lransferrabiIily of lhe divine allribules There are no dislincl and
definabIe moraI absoIules aparl from God in Iesus Chrisl, and deriving
lhe expression of His absoIule characler.
Dovn lhrough lhe cenluries lhal foIIoved, lhe Chrislian reIigion vas
characlerized by eccIesiaslicaI conlroI over moraIily. As ve noled in
lhe beginning, lhal is hov Chrislian reIigion, aIong vilh aII reIigion,
has come lo be defined.
The Reformalion of lhe sixleenlh cenlury simpIy re-formed lhe mor-
aIism, aIong vilh some lheoIogicaI formuIalions. The moraIizing rigid-
ily of Iohn CaIvin, lhe Sviss reformer, is an exampIe of lhe faiIure of
lhe reformers lo grasp lhe dynamic resloralion of God's grace in lhe
Iiving Lord Iesus.
So vhal has happened dovn lhrough lhe cenluries as lhe inslilu-
lionaI church reIaled lo lhe vorId` Hov did Chrislian reIigion allempl
lo foisl ils sociaI moraIism upon sociely around il` Iacques IIIuI noles
hov lhe church engaged in lhe
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
8a
"perversion of making lhe gospeI inlo Iav in order lo respond lo lhe
chaIIenge of successive oulbursls of immoraIily and elhicaI disorder.
NaluraIIy Chrislians and lhe church couId nol faiI lo reacl lo vioIence
and sexuaIily and corruplion. The mislake vas lo deaI vilh lhese on
lhe moraI and IegaI pIane inslead of foIIoving lhe exampIe of IauI,
vho aIvays vorks lhrough lhe moraI queslion lo lhe spiriluaI ques-
lion, gels back lo lhe essence of lhe reveIalion in Chrisl, and from lhis
derives some modeIs of conducl lhal are consislenl vilh failh and Iove.
The church did nol do lhis. Il sel ilseIf on lhe same IeveI as lhe vorId
and lrealed moraI mallers on lhe moraI pIane. When a poIilicaI ques-
lion is lrealed mereIy as a poIilicaI queslion, and a sociaI queslion
mereIy as a sociaI queslion...lhe gospeI becomes moraIily vilh a
vhilevash of lheoIogicaI lerms."
21

Conlemporary issues vhere lhis same process conlinues lo happen
mighl incIude civiI righls, aborlion, eulhanasia, elc.
The presenl silualion in Chrislian eccIesiaslicism is bul a perpelua-
lion of lhe ignorance and defianl independence lhal faiIs lo differenli-
ale belveen Chrislian behavior and moraIily. There is an aImosl
vhoIesaIe faiIure lo recognize lhe radicaI nevness of nev covenanl
Chrislianily and lhe dynamic of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl. Inslead, reIig-
ion reverls back lo oId covenanl IegaIism and moraIism. RepealedIy
reIigion vanls lo conslrucl a so-caIIed "Chrislian Ilhic" on lhe reguIa-
lory concepl of lhe Ten Commandmenls. Whal an absurdily! Whal an
abominabIe misrepresenlalion of Chrislianily! Whal an idoIalrous sub-
slilulion of Iav and moraI code for grace, of formuIa and lechnique for
freedom, of principIes of goodness for God.
Chrislianily, Chrislian Iiving, is lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl Iived oul
lhrough us. Such is anlilhelicaI lo aII moraIily. To lhe exlenl lhal ve
accepl, advocale or observe moraIily, and lry lo Iive and "be good"
based on precepls or principIes, ruIes or reguIalions, Chrislian Iiving is
excIuded, lhe Chrisl-Iife is nol being expressed, as lhey are muluaIIy
incompalibIe and excIusive. This is lhe poinl IauI makes lo lhe GaIa-
lians: "I died lo lhe Lav (lo moraIily), lhal I mighl Iive lo God" (GaI.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MORALITY
8s
2:19). "I do nol nuIIify lhe grace of God: for if righleousness (goodness)
comes lhrough lhe Lav (lhrough moraIily), lhen Chrisl died need-
IessIy" (GaI. 2:21). If you reverl back lo moraI suppIemenls, "Chrisl viII
be of no benefil lo you," ...you have been severed from Chrisl..., you
have faIIen from grace" (GaI. 5:2-4), "lhe slumbIingbIock of lhe cross
has been aboIished" (GaI. 5:11). This is no sIighl maller! The issue al
hand is lhe essence of lhe gospeI!
Chrislianily is nol moraIily! Chrislianily is Chrisl!




FOOTNOTE5
1 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. IhiIadeIphia: IiIgrim Ir. 1969. pg. 201.
2 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc Su|tcrsicn cj Cnrisiianiiu. Grand Rapids: Ierdmans Iub. 1986. pg.
69.
3 Levis, C.S., Mcrc Cnrisiianiiu. Nev York: MacmiIIan Iub. 1952. pg. 130.
4 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. pg. 30.
5 Thomas, W. Ian, Tnc Musicru cj Gc!|incss. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1964. pg. 50.
6 Levis, C.S., Mcrc Cnrisiianiiu. pg. 130.
7 Slevarl, Iames S., A Man in Cnrisi. Nev York: Harper & ßrolhers. n.d., pg. 168.
8 Lake, Irank, C|inica| Tncc|cgu. Nev York: Crossroad. 1986. pg. 168.
9 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc |inics cj |rcc!cn. Grand Rapids: Ierdmans. 1976. pg. 239.
10 Thomas, W. Ian, Tnc Musicru cj Gc!|incss. pg. 43.
11 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. pg. 71.
12 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. pg. 224.
13 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. pg. 224.
14 Levis, C.S., Mcrc Cnrisiianiiu. pg. 166.
15 Levis, C.S., Mcrc Cnrisiianiiu. pg. 64.
16 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. pg. 210.
17 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. pg. 34.
18 Levis, C.S., Mcrc Cnrisiianiiu. pg. 130.
19 IIIuI, Iacques, Tc Wi|| an! Tc Oc. pg. 41.
20 Torrance, Thomas I., Tnc Occirinc cj Gracc in inc Apcsic|ic |aincrs. Idinburgh: OIiver
and ßoyd. 1948. pg. 139.
21 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc Su|tcrsicn cj Cnrisiianiiu. pg. 89.


4 Chrislianily is Nol a ßeIief-Syslem


A!!nw mc tn rctc!! lhe slory of Gualama ßuddha vho Iived some four
hundred years prior lo lhe birlh of Iesus Chrisl. He vas dying. Some of
his devolees came lo ßuddha and asked hov lhey shouId perpeluale
his memory. "Hov shouId ve share vilh lhe vorId lhe remembrance
of you` Hov shaII ve memoriaIize you`" ßuddha responded, "Don'l
bolher! Il is nol me lhal mallers, il is my leaching lhal shouId be
propagaled and adhered lo lhroughoul lhe vorId."
Does lhal seem seIf-effacing a nobIe ideaI lo avoid ego-cenlricily`
"Don'l focus on me, |usl remember my leaching."
If Iesus Chrisl had said somelhing Iike lhal, il vouId cerlainIy Iegili-
mize vhal ve see aII around us in so-caIIed "Chrislian reIigion" loday.
Ior "Chrislian reIigion" is lhe propagalion of various underslandings
of Iesus' leaching as delermined by various inlerprelalions of lhe ßibIe.
Irom vhal ve observe in "Chrislian reIigion" loday, il vouId appear
lhal mosl vho caII lhemseIves "Chrislians" musl lhink lhal Iesus advo-
caled lhe same lhing lhal ßuddha is aIIeged lo have ullered.
Iesus Chrisl did nol say anylhing Iike lhal! In facl, vhal ßuddha said
is conlrary lo everylhing Iesus laughl, and everylhing recorded in lhe
Nev Teslamenl Scriplures. Iesus did nol say, "Iusl remember My
leaching." Iesus said, "I AM lhe vay, lhe lrulh and lhe Iife." (Iohn 14:6)
"I AM lhe resurreclion and lhe Iife." (Iohn 11:25). Iesus HimseIf, lhe
very Ierson and Life of Iesus Chrisl, is lhe essence of everylhing He
came lo bring lo lhis vorId. Chrislianily is Chrisl!
Chrislianily is nol |usl anolher reIigion propagaling an ideoIogy.
Chrislianily is nol |usl anolher reIigion remembering lhe leaching of ils
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BELIEF SYSTEM
8/
founder. Chrislianily is nol |usl anolher reIigion reileraling lhe pro-
posilionaI lenels of ils founder's leaching, and caIIing such "lrulh."
Chrislianily is nol |usl anolher reIigion demanding conformily lo a
parlicuIar "beIief-syslem" or dala-base of doclrine.
The essence of Chrislianily is Iesus Chrisl. AII of Chrislianily is in-
herenl in Iesus, His Ierson and His conlinuing aclivily. Chrislianily
funclions onIy by lhe dynamic of lhe risen and Iiving Lord Iesus.
Chrislianily is lhe funclion of lhe Spiril of Chrisl as He conlinues lo
Iive in Chrislians.
Il is a sad slale of affairs in vhal is passed off as "Chrislian reIigion"
loday. There is aImosl lolaI faiIure lo discern lhal lhe essence of Chris-
lianily is Iesus Chrisl HimseIf. The essence of Chrislianily is nol a
slandardized beIief-syslem. The essence of Chrislianily is nol a consen-
sus of doclrine. The essence of Chrislianily is nol commonaIily of
creeds. Iesus Chrisl is lhe essence of Chrislianily.
Where did "Chrislian reIigion" go off lrack inlo lhinking lhal consenl-
ing lo, confessing and conforming lo doclrinaI dala vas vhal Chrisli-
anily vas aII aboul` When did lhis "Chrislian reIigion" deveIop lhe
idea lhal Chrislianily is lhe acceplance of a correcl and orlhodox beIief-
syslem`
Chrislians loday seem lo be abysmaIIy ignoranl of church hislory. A
quick reviev of church hislory viII assisl in ansvering lhe queslions
|usl asked:
Iesus did nol come lo bring nev informalion aboul God, aboul saIva-
lion, aboul Iove, aboul elernaI Iife. Chrisl came lo be Life lo aII man-
kind. He came as God, as saIvalion, as Iove. He came lo reslore man-
kind lo vhal God inlended in crealion, and lhal by funclioning as God
in man, lhe spiriluaI dynamic of Iife.
The redemplive mission lo make His Iife avaiIabIe look pIace, his-
loricaIIy, in a vorId lhal vas dominaled by Ievish and Greek lhinking.
The Ievs vanled lo pul everylhing inlo lhe conlexl of an organized re-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BELIEF SYSTEM
88
Iigion vilh ruIes and reguIalions. The Greeks vere infIuenced by IIalo
and ArislolIe, and lheir abslracl phiIosophicaI mind-sel of melaphysics
and IogicaI pallerns of lhoughl.
So despile lhe cIarily of Iesus' leaching, and lhe cIear and simpIe re-
cord of lhe gospeI dynamic of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl in lhe vrilings of
Scriplure by IauI, Ieler, Iohn, elc., lhese soon began lo be inlerpreled
in lhe conlexls of reIigion and IogicaI comparlmenlaIizalion of human
lhoughl. The so-caIIed "church falhers" of lhe firsl fev cenluries of
Chrislianily had aIready reduced Chrislianily inlo moraIislic and elhi-
caI reIigious ruIes and inlo creedaIislic concepls of correcl conlenl of
lhoughl. They so quickIy Iel go of lhe dynamic Iife of Iesus Chrisl as
lhe essence of Chrislianily, and aIIoved il lo become mereIy a beIief-
syslem.
The Roman Imperor, Conslanline, soIidified lhis slalic concepl of
Chrislianily even more in lhe earIy parl of lhe fourlh cenlury. Conslan-
line vanled lo unify everylhing governmenl, economics, reIigion,
"Chrislian lhoughl", elc. He organized lhe Nicene CounciI in 325 A.D.,
bringing logelher lhese phiIosophicaIIy-based lhinkers, lheoIogians, lo
deveIop a rigid expression of "Chrislian beIief." They compressed
"Chrislian lhoughl" inlo IogicaI proposilions of lrulh and orlhodoxy
and caIIed il lhe "Nicene Creed," lo vhich everyone vho vas caIIed
"Chrislian" vas lo give menlaI assenl, or be regarded as a herelic.
ßy 325 A.D. Chrislianily had been perverled inlo a formuIaled and
fixaled beIief syslem, demanding devolion lo ils doclrine. This process
vas progressiveIy deveIoped in lhe inslilulionaIized Roman or Lalin
Church. T.I. Torrance refers lo lhis epislemoIogicaIIy based ralionaI-
ism as "lhe Lalin heresy."
1

Augusline Iived and vrole in lhe cenlury foIIoving lhe Nicene
CounciI. His Auguslinian lheoIogy, on vhich CaIvin Ialer based much
of his lheoIogy, vas exlremeIy ralionaIislic, fuII of IogicaI delerminism
vilh such ideas as slricl divine predeslinalion. KarI ßarlh referred lo
Auguslinian lheoIogy as "sveel poison:"
2
"sveel" because il empha-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BELIEF SYSTEM
8o
sized lhe sovereignly of God: "poison" because il vas a syslem of Iogi-
caI and lheoIogicaI delerminism.
The Roman empire disinlegraled in aboul 500 A.D. The seven hun-
dred year period from 200 ß.C. lo 500 A.D. is knovn as lhe "CIassicaI
Ieriod" of Greek and Roman lhoughl pallerns. The foIIoving five
hundred years, 500 A.D. lo 1000 A.D. are knovn as lhe Dark Ages or
MiddIe Ages. AII lhinking vas reIaled back slalicaIIy lo lhe CIassicaI
Ieriod. No nev lhinking vas encouraged or aIIoved Dark Ages in-
deed!
Thomas Aquinas appeared as lhe Renaissance Ieriod vas picking up
sleam, bul his Thomislic lheoIogy |usl pIaced "Chrislian lhoughl" in a
lighl schoIaslic slronghoId of lhe Roman Church. The Church vas re-
garded as lhe medialor of God's lhoughl. "ßeIieve as lhe Iope and lhe
Church advocales, or face lhe consequences!" Many did!
During lhe Renaissance Ieriod lhe lhinking of "Chrislian reIigion"
|usl foIIoved aIong Iike a Iap-dog lo lhe phiIosophers and scienlisls of
lhal day (as il has lhroughoul mosl of ils hislory.) Rene Descarles in-
lroduced Carlesian doubl, "I lhink, lherefore I am." RalionaIislic beIief
vas lhe foremosl crileria for being. Sir Isaac Nevlon deveIoped ideas
of delerminislic causaIism, and lhese vere adapled inlo lheoIogy aIso.
In lhe sixleenlh cenlury lhe Reformalion expIoded vilh Marlin Lu-
lher, Iohn CaIvin, UIrich ZvingIi, and olhers. Il is caIIed lhe "Reforma-
lion" because il re-formed lhe reIigious slruclures lhal exisled in
"Chrislian reIigion" al lhal lime. ßul lhe birlh of Iroleslanlism did nol
reslore lhe cenlraIily of lhe spiriluaI dynamic of Iesus Chrisl. "Chris-
lian reIigion" vas sliII regarded as essenliaIIy a "beIief-syslem," bul in-
slead of a singuIar formuIaled and fixaled beIief-syslem in lhe Roman
Church, il became muIlipIe faclious and fraclious beIief-syslems com-
peling vilh one anolher and bealing on one anolher (bolh verbaIIy and
physicaIIy.) Disagreeing on every minule poinl of lheoIogy conceiv-
abIe, lhey began lo divide and sub-divide inlo denominalionaIized be-
Iief-syslem organizalions, each beIieving lhal lhey had formuIaled and
fixaled lheir beIief-syslem in accord vilh God's lhinking. There vere
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BELIEF SYSTEM
oo
Lulherans, CaIvinisls, Anabaplisls and many olhers, aII cIaiming lo
have lhe orlhodox beIief-syslem: aII cIaiming lo have figured-oul vhal
God, lhe "Greal TheoIogue," beIieves, and supposedIy demands lhal
aII His adherenls Iikevise beIieve.
ObviousIy lhere vas nol any recovery of lhe dynamic underslanding
of Chrislianily in lhe Iroleslanl Reformalion. Gene Idvards con-
cIudes, "The Reformalion vas neilher revivaI nor resloralion. The Ref-
ormalion vas an inleIIecluaI bravI."
3

In lhe nexl cenlury, in 1611 A.D., King Iames of IngIand aulhorized
vhal became knovn as lhe Aulhorized Version, beller knovn as lhe
King Iames Version, of an IngIish lransIalion of lhe ßibIe. The "Chris-
lian reIigion" of lhal day vas sliII engaged in compeling beIief-
syslems.
King Iames hired lransIalors lo lransIale lhe ßibIe inlo IngIish. The
vord for "leaching" in lhe IngIish Ianguage of King Iames' lime vas
"doclrine." The King Iames Version refers lo lhe vord "doclrine" 56 dif-
ferenl limes. ßul Ianguages evoIve, and lhe meanings of vords change.
So il is vilh lhe vord "doclrine." Looking al a conlemporary IngIish
diclionary you viII discover lhal aIlhough "doclrine" used lo mean
"leaching" or "inslruclion," lhal definilion is nov regarded as "archaic"
or "obsoIele." Whal does lhe vord "doclrine" mean in conlemporary
IngIish` Wc|sicr´s Cc||cgiaic Oiciicnaru reads: "Doclrine a principIe ac-
cepled by a body of beIievers or adherenls lo a phiIosophy or schooI:
principIes of knovIedge or a syslem of beIief." "Doclrinaire diclaloriaI
or dogmalic." "Indoclrinale lo imbue vilh a parlisan or seclarian opin-
ion, poinl of viev or principIe." Synonyms used for "indoclrinale" in-
cIude "propagandize, program, brainvash, infecl, insliII, incuIcale,
elc." Is il any vonder lhal never IngIish lransIalions lend lo avoid lhe
vord "doclrine"` The Nev American Slandard ßibIe, for exampIe, uses
lhe vord "doclrine" onIy fourleen limes, and even lhose are probabIy a
carry-over of lhe lradilionaIism of eccIesiaslicaI lerminoIogy. The
Greek vords, !i!acnc and !i!aska|ia, shouId be consislenlIy lransIaled
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BELIEF SYSTEM
os
"leaching," excepl vhen reference is being made lo "man-made doc-
lrines" (Iph. 4:14: CoI. 2:22: elc.)
In conlemporary IngIish Ianguage "doclrine" has come lo mean "a
lradilionaI beIief-syslem as inlerpreled and accepled by a parlicuIar
group of peopIe." "Doclrinaire" means "lo dogmalicaIIy asserl a lradi-
lionaI beIief-syslem as inlerpreled and accepled by a parlicuIar group
of peopIe." "Indoclrinale" impIies "lo propagandize or brainvash olh-
ers vilh lhis lradilionaI beIief-syslem as inlerpreled and accepled by a
parlicuIar group of peopIe."
Such a definilion vas mosl cerlainIy nol vhal lhe hearers inlended
vhen lhey Iislened lo Iesus and "vere aslonished al His doclrine"
(Luke 4:32 - KIV). They vere nol "aslonished al His lradilionaI beIief-
syslem," ralher lhey vere "amazed al His leaching" (NASß). The leach-
ing of Iesus vas lhe exlending, lhe offering, lhe demonslralion of Him-
seIf His Life. His leaching vas Life-leaching. The elymoIogicaI rool for
lhe Greek vord "leaching" had lo do vilh "exlending lhe hand" or "of-
fering oneseIf." To demonslrale vhal is being laughl: lhal is lhe vay lo
leach Life!
The fundamenlaIism and evangeIicaIism lhal predominale in popu-
Iar "Chrislian reIigion" in America loday lend lo key in on "doclrine" as
beIief-syslem. Thal may be lhe reason lhey oflen prefer lo relain lhe
King Iames Version, and inlerprel lhe use of lhe vord "doclrine"
lhroughoul lhe Nev Teslamenl as lheir parlicuIar brand of formuIaled
and fixaled beIief-syslem. These reIigious doclrinarians conlinue lo in-
doclrinale olhers and perpeluale lhe faclious and fraclious denomina-
lionaIism of differing beIief-syslems. Americans, vilh lheir fierce indi-
viduaIism and concepls of personaI freedom, have eIevaled denomina-
lionaIism lo an aII-lime high, a reaI "reIigious science", vilh lhousands
of reIigious denominalions, divided by dispuled doclrinaI beIief-
syslems. Those invoIved in "Chrislian reIigion" loday sliII lhink lhal
Chrislianily is essenliaIIy consenl lo a parlicuIar doclrinaI beIief-
syslem.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BELIEF SYSTEM
oz
This is, in facl, lhe definilion of "fundamenlaIism," a grouping of
peopIe vho has rigidIy delermined lhe "fundamenlaIs" of lheir accepl-
abIe doclrinaI beIief-syslem. "IundamenlaIism" is a vord much used
loday. The nevspapers and nevs reporls are fuII of references lo
"MusIim fundamenlaIisls" in Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Igypl, elc.: "Hindu
fundamenlaIisls" in Sri Lanka: "Chrislian fundamenlaIisls" barging al
and bombing aborlion cIinics in lhe Uniled Slales. Have you ever no-
liced lhal fundamenlaIisls aIvays fighl` Why is lhal` They feeI lhey
have an obIigalion lo defend lhe parlicuIar vay lhey have slacked aII
of lheir doclrinaI bIocks in lheir beIief-syslem.
The fundamenlaIisl "Chrislian reIigion" in generaI has aIIoved doc-
lrine, lheir beIief-syslem, lo become lhe supreme issue. "Doclrine" be-
comes lheir basis of feIIovship, acceplance, securily, bonding, elc. Il is
a lragic misrepresenlalion of lhe Church vhen lhe basis of our com-
monaIily is caIcuIaled by doclrinaI agreemenl, ralher lhan lhe indveII-
ing Lord Iesus Chrisl: vhen uniformily of doclrine is lhe primary issue
inslead of unily in Chrisl. Hov sad vhen much of vhal is caIIed
"Chrislian preaching" is bul lirades againsl so-caIIed "herelics" vho do
nol slack lhe doclrinaI fundamenlaIs of lheir beIief-syslem |usl Iike ve
do!
Doclrine has been deified in "Chrislian reIigion" loday. Doclrine has
become lheir "god." Il is a gross form of idoIalry vhen one's properIy-
aIigned slack of doclrinaI ideas is eIevaled and revered lo lhe exlenl
lhal il musl be defended al aII cosls, even lo lhe poinl of lerrorism,
even lo lhe poinl of dying for il.
God aIone is absoIule and immulabIe. His allribules are excIusive lo
HimseIf. Whal God is, onIy God is. To allribule God's allribules lo our
doclrine and delermine lhal our doclrine is absoIule and unchangeabIe
is lo deify doclrine, and lo engage in lhe absoIulism lhal is indicalive
of fundamenlaIislic reIigion around lhe vorId.
The Scollish preacher and leacher, Iames S. Slevarl, vrole lhese
vords: "Those vho have succeeded in defining doclrine mosl cIoseIy,
have Iosl Chrisl mosl compIeleIy."
4

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A BELIEF SYSTEM
o;
Doclrines, beIief-syslems, viII aIvays be lhe focus of reIigion, bul nol
of Chrislianily. Chrislianily is Chrisl! Iesus' leaching vas aboul Him-
seIf. He is lhe essence of Chrislian leaching, conlrary lo vhal ßuddha
said aboul his reIigion.
In Chrislianily, TRUTH is a Ierson, Iesus Chrisl. "Trulh" is nol |usl
proposilionaI lrulh slalemenls vilhin a beIief-syslem of doclrinaI lhe-
oIogy by vhich orlhodoxy is ralionaIislicaIIy delermined. Iesus Chrisl
is Trulh! Iesus Chrisl is our Life! He is so excIusiveIy: lhere is no olher
Way! Iohn 14:6 - "I AM lhe vay, lhe lrulh and lhe Iife."
Chrislianily is nol a beIief-syslem. Chrislianily is Chrisl!



FOOTNOTE5
1 Torrance, T.I., Kar| Barin. Bi||ica| an! |tangc|ica| Tncc|cgian. page 215, Idinburgh: T & T
CIark, 1990
2 Torrance, T.I., ||i!. page 122.
3 Idvards, Gene, Cnurcn Uniiu...Hcu ic Gci Tncrc. page 99, Auburn: Chrislian ßooks
IubIishing House, 1991.
4 Slevarl, Iames S., A Man in Cnrisi. Nev York: Harper and ßrolhers.

oa
5 Chrislianily is Nol IpislemoIogy


Havc ynu hcard of "lhe epislemoIogicaI heresy"` Though lhe lilIe may
be noveI, lhe heresy is nolhing nev. Il is |usl a nev lilIe on an oId
probIem. In facl, lhe "epislemoIogicaI heresy" may be lhe underIying
heresy of aII heresies, "lhe molher of aII heresies." This parlicuIar her-
esy is so sublIe and pervasive lhal mosl vho vouId caII lhemseIves
"Chrislians" have inadverlenlIy adapled lo ils herelicaI presupposi-
lions and are unabIe lo recognize lhe exlenl lo vhich lhey have
adopled ils premises. Mosl of Weslern Chrislian lheoIogy has been in-
fecled by lhe mind-sel of lhis heresy.
Throughoul lhe cenluries of Chrislian lhoughl lhere have been Chris-
lian lhinkers vho have honeslIy and spiriluaIIy mainlained lhe dis-
lincliveness of lhe Chrislian message. Those oulside of lhe Chrislian
failh have oflen reacled lo lhe Chrislian presenlalion and procIama-
lion, finding parlicuIarIy offensive lhe Iegilimale asserlions of excIu-
sivily concerning lhe singuIar reconciIialion of man vilh God lhrough
Iesus Chrisl. As lhe Chrislian presenlalion is lypicaIIy argued, lhough,
lhe offense lo non-Chrislian inquirers may be quile vaIid. If lhe argu-
menl is simpIy lhal my beIief-syslem is superior lo your beIief-syslem
(and any olher beIief-syslem), lhen such an offensive (doubIe enlendre
inlended) approach lo excIusivism is indeed pompous and eIilisl.
When Chrislians proudIy asserl soIe cIaim lo absoIule informalion
and exacl underslanding of precise precepls of moraI slandards, lhey
have sel lhemseIves up as gods on lheir ovn pIayground. When Chris-
lian presenlalion sloops lo lhe IeveI of mere apoIogelic reasoning and
argumenl concerning lenels of menlaI assenl, lhen lhe reIalivislic bal-
lIeground is bul a gory piclure of lhe bIind bealing oul lhe brains of
lhe bIind.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
os
Ierhaps lhe foregoing has given lhe reader a gIimpse of vhal lhe
"epislemoIogicaI heresy" mighl enlaiI. Iurlher expIanalion viII firsl re-
quire cIoser definilion.
DcIining Tcrms
"IpislemoIogy" is a phiIosophicaI lerm elymoIogicaIIy derived from
lhree Greek vords: (1) cpi meaning "upon" or "on." (2) nisicni meaning
"lo sland." (3) |cgcs meaning "vord," and indicaling "IogicaI considera-
lion of or sludy of." The Greek vord cpisianai referred lo lhe process of
acquiring knovIedge and underslanding, as veII as lhe significance of
such informalion. IpislemoIogy refers lo lhe consideralions of vhal
ve sland upon for our underslanding. Hov do ve knov vhal ve
knov` Why do ve beIieve vhal ve beIieve` Where do ve lake our
sland concerning lhe opinions vhich ve cIaim lo beIieve and lo knov`
These are lhe consideralions of epislemoIogy.
The Nev Teslamenl conlains severaI usages of lhe Greek vord cpis-
ianai. A coupIe of exampIes shouId suffice lo documenl such.
In lhe "failh chapler" of Hebrevs 11, lhe vriler expIains lhal "by failh
Abraham, vhen he vas caIIed, obeyed by going oul..., nol knoving
(cpisiancncs) vhere he vas going" (Heb. 11:8). Abraham did nol have
lhe Iogislics, lhe chronoIogy, lhe ilinerary of his |ourney aII IogicaIIy
eslabIished. The delaiIs of his so|ourn vere nol epislemoIogicaIIy de-
lermined in human Iogic calegories, bul ralher he lrusled God in failh.
Wriling lo Timolhy, IauI indicales lhal "if anyone does nol agree
vilh...lhe leaching conforming lo godIiness, he is conceiled (puffed up)
and underslands (cpisiancncs) nolhing" (I Tim. 6:3,4). IauI's argumenl
seems lo be lhal lhe leaching of lhe Chrislian Iife is based on lhe failh-
derivalive of God's characler expressed in human behavior. To faiI lo
undersland and agree vilh lhis is lo "sland upon" insubslanliaI under-
slanding. AIlhough such a person may have lheir epislemoIogicaI be-
Iief-syslem aII syslemalized and calegorized, lheoIogized and dogma-
lized, he lakes his "sland upon" somelhing olher lhan lhe dynamic
person of Iesus Chrisl.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY

AddilionaI Greek vords are used in lhe Nev Teslamenl lo refer lo
"knovIedge" and "underslanding," incIuding lhe vords ci!cc and gnc-
sis. To lhe Corinlhians IauI noles lhal "knovIedge (gncsis) makes arro-
ganl (puffs up), bul Iove edifies" (I Cor. 8:1). Laler in lhe same epislIe
he vriles, "if I knov (ci!c) aII mysleries and aII knovIedge
(gncsin)...bul do nol have Iove, I am nolhing" (I Cor. 13:2). Melaphysi-
caI underslanding and inleIIecluaI underslanding acquired epislemo-
IogicaIIy are nol God's uIlimale ob|eclive for man. Ralher, God vanls
His characler of Iove lo be expressed behavioraIIy. IauI expIains lhal
his prayer for lhe Iphesians is lhal lhey mighl "knov (gncnai) lhe Iove
of God vhich surpasses knovIedge (gncsccs)" (Iph. 3:19).
Iesus indicled lhe Ievish Iharisees by charging, "You search lhe
Scriplures, because you lhink lhal in lhem you have elernaI Iife: and il
is lhese lhal bear vilness of Me: and you are unviIIing lo come lo Me,
lhal you may have Iife" (Iohn 5:39,40). The vrillen slalemenls of fac-
luaI informalion aboul hislory and lheoIogy conlained in lhe ßibIicaI
record and upon vhich reIigious peopIe lake lheir sland lo deveIop a
beIief-syslem and a doclrinaI posilion, conslilule onIy a foundalionaI
basis of epislemoIogicaI underslanding. Iesus considered such lolaIIy
insufficienl as lhe basis for lhe divine reaIily lhal He vas making
avaiIabIe in HimseIf. He vas making His ovn divine being, His ovn
Iife, avaiIabIe for lhe resloralion of funclionaI mankind.
IpislemoIogicaI underslanding is inadequale lo comprehend lhe di-
vine reaIily lhal is lhe essence of Chrislianily. The ob|eclive of lhe
Chrislian message is nol lo encourage peopIe lo receive and accumu-
Iale and assenl lo informalion, bul ralher lo receive lhe very ßeing of
God inlo lhemseIves (Iohn 1:12) and aIIov Iesus Chrisl lo be lheir Iife
(CoI. 3:4).
The essence of Chrislianily is lo be idenlified as onloIogicaI ralher
lhan epislemoIogicaI. "OnloIogy" is elymoIogicaIIy derived from lvo
Greek vords: (1) cnics meaning "being." (2) |cgcs meaning "vord," and
indicaling "IogicaI consideralion of or sludy of." "OnloIogy" refers lo
lhe phiIosophicaI sludy of being. In ils broadesl usage "onloIogy" con-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
o/
siders lhe enlire issue of being and exislence in generaI. More specifi-
caIIy, ve are empIoying "onloIogy" as referring lo lhe divine ßeing of
lhe Crealor God, and His personaI reIalion lo His crealed beings: lhe
reIalion of lhe God-ßeing and human beings. The personaI ßeing of
God, lhe I AM (Ixod. 3:14), and His reIalionship vilh human beings
musl be considered onloIogicaIIy ralher lhan mereIy epislemoIogicaIIy.
The knovIedge being considered is nol |usl lhe knovIedge of imper-
sonaI facluaI dala and informalion, bul lhe personaI knoving of per-
sonaI beings in personaI reIalionship.
The purpose of lhis sludy, lhen, is lo emphasize lhe onloIogicaI con-
sideralions vhich musl be foremosl in Chrislian reasoning. This is
never lo deny lhough lhal lhere is an epislemoIogicaIIy based under-
slanding lhal is foundalionaI lo Chrislianily. There are hisloricaIIy
daled evenls and lheoIogicaI inlerprelalions of lhose evenls lhal form
lhe foundalion for Chrislian underslanding. They are documenlabIe
and IogicaI. Chrislianily is nol |usl a sub|eclive, myslicaI experiencing
of supernaluraI, melaphysicaI being vilh exislenliaI significance. Such
is lhe faIse accusalion of secuIar epislemoIogicaI exlremisls. The op-
posing exlreme is lo camp vilh lhe reIigious epislemoIogisls vho viev
Chrislianily as bul an hisloricaI sociely for lhe remembrance of Iesus'
birlh, Iife, dealh and resurreclion, or as bul a lheoIogicaI sociely for lhe
inlerprelalion of lhose evenls. To presenl Chrislianily vilh an excIu-
siveIy epislemoIogicaI emphasis is equaIIy exlremisl as presenling il as
excIusiveIy exislenliaI experienliaIism. Avoiding lhe exlremes, ve
vanl lo undersland lhe onloIogicaI reaIily of Chrislianily, hov lhe
very ßeing of God, His Iife, His characler is presenl in lhe Chrislian by
lhe indveIIing spiriluaI presence of lhe Spiril of Chrisl, and hov He
desires lo Iive oul His Iife and express His characler in our behavior.
An Histnrica! 5urvcy
The Crealor-God crealed lhe crealure-man in such a vay as lo en-
courage lhe free-fIov of lhe aclive expression of God's characler in lhe
behavior of man. The freedom for such funclion is symboIized by lhe
oplion of lhe freeIy chosen "lree of Iife" (Gen. 2:9,16). In such a recep-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
o8
live failh-choice man vouId aIIov for lhe grace expression of God's
aclivily, lhus imaging God's characler in visibIe behavior. This onlo-
IogicaI fIov of divine ßeing expressed vilhin and lhrough humanily
vas lhe Crealor's inlenl, so as lo gIorify HimseIf vilhin His crealion
(Isa. 43:7: 48:11).
The faII of man inlo sin indicales lhe choice lhal mankind made coI-
IecliveIy "in Adam." Il vas a choice lo disaIIov lhe onlic fIov of divin-
ily expressed in humanily, lo sever lhal unique reIalionship of Divine
ßeing expressed in lhe human being. Man vas divorced from lhe spiri-
luaI unily of reIalionship he had vilh God, sacrificing his spiriluaI
idenlily, nalure, image, elc., vhich vere conlingenl on lhal reIalion-
ship. Inslead man chose lhe Iie of independenl delerminalion of righl,
good, lrulh, elc., vilh lhe faIIacious epislemoIogicaI underslanding
lhal he couId delermine from his ovn seIf-cenlered perspeclive vhal is
lrue, good and righl.
The hislory of mankind is repIele vilh a confusion of opinions as
men have advocaled compeling ideoIogies lo allempl lo expIain lhem-
seIves and lheir universe. Their quesl for idenlily and meaning, for cer-
lainly and securily, are bul an ongoing enaclmenl of ßabeI vilh se-
manlic and inlerprelive diversilies a! injiniiun.
Greek phiIosophers in parlicuIar vere adepl al arlicuIaling reasoned
expIanalions of universaI principIes. Socralic diaIeclicism, IIalonic du-
aIism, ArisloleIian ralionaIism aII indicale lhe epislemoIogicaI base of
lhe Greek phiIosophers vhich has had such a Iasling effecl on Weslern
lhoughl and reIigion.
"In lhe fuIIness of lime" (GaI. 4:4), Iesus Chrisl, lhe God-man, vas
vesled inlo lhe hisloricaI silualion of mankind by lhe incarnalion. As
lhe "I AM" (Ixod. 3:14) ßeing of God, He repealedIy verbaIized such in
lhe ego eimi decIaralions (Iohn 6:35: 8:12,58: 10:9,11: 11:25: 14:6: 15:1).
He came as man lo lake lhe sin of man, lo vicariousIy bear lhe dealh
consequences of sin as man, in order lo reslore mankind vilh His di-
vine Iife, lhe resloralion of funclionaI humanily by lhe onloIogicaI
presence of lhe Spiril of Chrisl vilhin lhe spiril of man. This is lhe
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
oo
grace dislinclive of Chrislianily vherein lhe radicaI uniqueness of lhe
divine aclion (saIvalion, |uslificalion, sanclificalion, elc.) is necessariIy
derived oul of, and is vilaI expression of, lhe divine ßeing in Chrisl.
The onloIogicaI conneclion and associalion of God and man is reslored
in Chrisl.
The expIanalion of lhis Iiving presence of God in man by lhe risen
Lord Iesus vas nol a simpIe maller since lhe originaI procIamalion
vas sel in lhe conlexl of Ievish reIigion. IpislemoIogicaI mind-sel vas
rigidIy fixed in lheir Iav-based doclrinaIism and moraIism.
The Greek visdom of Gnoslicism vas aIso a formidabIe anlagonisl lo
nascenl Chrislian presenlalion. A duaIism of spiril and maller aIong-
side of a duaIism of cause and effecl via spiriluaI emanalions crealed a
pseudo-baIance of epislemoIogicaI and experienliaI underslanding.
Whereas lhe firsl cenlury poIarizalion vas primariIy a breaking free
from idenlificalion vilh Ievish reIigion, lhe concerns of lhe Chrislian
lhinkers in lhe second, lhird and fourlh cenluries vas primariIy in re-
aclion lo Gnoslicism. Reaclions oflen produce opposile exlremes as lhe
penduIum svings lhe olher vay, and so il vas lhal lhe onlic dislinc-
live of Chrislianily vas overshadoved by lhe epislemoIogicaI con-
cerns of doclrine and moraIily, as evidenced in lhe vrilings of lhe
church falhers and lheir reversion lo IegaIism. The ensuing creedaIiz-
ing of a Chrislian beIief-syslem has been referred lo as "lhe Lalin her-
esy,"
1
bul ve are herevilh using lhe broader designalion of "lhe epis-
lemoIogicaI heresy."
As lhe inslilulionaI church proceeded inlo lhe MedievaI period lhe
preservalion of doclrinaI orlhodoxy vas regarded as paramounl. In-
quisilions vere conducled lo combal error and herelicaI opinions, vilh
every means empIoyed lo oslracize, excommunicale and murder lhose
vho disagreed.
The Iroleslanl Reformalion vas bul a re-forming of lheoIogicaI and
elhicaI reasoning. Iohn CaIvin's lheoIogicaI syslemalizing in his |nsii-
iuics cj inc Cnrisiian |c|igicn reIied heaviIy on Auguslinian delermin-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
soo
ism and lhe cIosed-syslem of epislemic lhoughl Augusline empIoyed.
CaIvin's elhics vere Iikevise devoid of onlic underslanding.
The hislory of Iroleslanlism is bul a meIee of doclrinaI argumenla-
lion as lhe denominalionaIized syslemalic lheoIogians conlend for
lheir inlerprelalions. The so-caIIed InIighlenmenl onIy exacerbaled lhe
epislemic varfare vilh ils emphasis on ralionaIism and lhe delermina-
lion of lrulh by deduclive Iogic and proposilionaI concIusions.
Has anylhing changed` Chrislian reIigion loday is mired in doclrinaI
dispule. They argue over lhe Ienglh of one's cr!c sa|uiis in lhe "Lord-
ship saIvalion" debale. They banler aboul lhe Iegilimacy of charismalic
experienliaIism. They allempl lo defend lheir hisloricaI and lheoIogicaI
asserlions vilh apoIogelic proofs. Conlemporary fundamenlaIism and
evangeIicaIism are so enlrenched in lhe "epislemoIogicaI heresy" lhal
lheir ideoIogies have become idoIalry, and lhey proceed lo vorship
lhe ßaaI of naluraI lhinking ralher lhan God in Chrisl.
Making thc Distinctinn
Il is imperalive lhal ve make lhe dislinclion belveen an epislemo-
IogicaI base of knoving and perceiving aclion and an onloIogicaI base
of knoving and perceiving aclion. Chrislianily is nol essenliaIIy assenl
lo or beIief in lenels of lrulh, bul ralher receplivily lo and parlicipalion
in lhe aclivily of lhe ßeing of lhe One vho is Trulh (Iohn 14:6). Iesus
did nol say, "I came lhal you mighl have orlhodox beIiefs and defend
lhem apoIogelicaIIy." He said, "I came lhal you mighl have Iife (lhe
very ßeing of God) and have such more abundanlIy (in lhe abundanl
expression of God's characler in our behavior). (Iohn 10:10)
The reIigion of "naluraI man" inevilabIy sIides lovard epislemoIogi-
caI knovIedge, lovards knovIedge of exlernaI dala formuIaled in
proposilionaI lrulh slalemenls. These "arlicIes of failh" are defended
mosl adamanlIy as essenliaI doclrines of Chrislian calechism.
When lhe reason of man is lhus deified, il spavns innumerabIe ideas,
concepls, opinions, lhoughls, doclrines, pre|udices, elc. These menlaI
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
sos
conslrucls (such as lhe "idea of God" or lhe "idea of saIvalion") lend lo
become seIf-exislenl enlilies, aulonomous lenels, vhich deveIop a his-
lory of lheir ovn, vilh a separale seIf-generalive funclion. Thus lhey
are evaIualed, pIolled, charled, anaIyzed, modified, aIlered and crili-
cized.
NaluraI lheoIogy deveIops an "idea aboul God" by IogicaI deduclion.
"He musl be, lherefore He is." Il is an allempl lo knov God aparl from
God. Such reasoning may even arrive al a concepl of a monolheislic
God vho is infinileIy personaI and Ioving, vilh an onIy-begollen Son
vho vas viIIing lo be incarnaled and lo give His Iife in crucifixion.
Such an "idea of God" and "idea of saIvalion" can sliII be delached
from any personaI knoving of lhe Living God. If so il remains an
idoIalrous faIse-image carved in lhe mind of man. NaluraI lheoIogy is
analhema!
God can be knovn onIy in lhe personaI seIf-reveIalion of HimseIf.
More specificaIIy, lhal reveIalion is made by lhe Son (Luke 10:22). God
is knovn personaIIy and reIalionaIIy in an onloIogicaI bond, a spiriluaI
union (I Cor. 6:17). God does nol reveaI some "lhing" aboul HimseIf in
order lo make avaiIabIe some "lhing" (such as hoIiness, goodness, Iove,
peace, elc.): ralher He reveaIs HimseIf, His ßeing, for lhal vhich He
desires lo give is HimseIf, His ßeing in aclion.
Our lheoIogy musl aIvays commence vilh vho God is, nol vilh His
decrees, His viII or His Iavs. God does vhal He does because He is
vho He is, nol because He has decreed a pIan, deveIoped a principIe,
delermined a precepl, and sel lhese in molion in deislic delachmenl.
The ßeing of God and lhe acl of God musl remain connecled. They
musl aIvays cohere. There is no acl of God aparl from His ßeing. His
ßeing is aIvays dynamicaIIy invoIved in His acl. His doing is aIvays
lhe dynamic expression of His ßeing. The aclivily of God is derived
oul of His ßeing, ek lheos. "God is Iove" (I Iohn 4:8,16): lhe aclive ex-
pression of Iove is ek lheos (I Iohn 4:7), onIy and aIvays.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
soz
God is lhe very conlenl of aII lhal He does. The divine aclion
(vhelher saIvalion, |uslificalion, sanclificalion, elc.) is necessariIy de-
rived oul of, and is lhe vilaI expression of, lhe divine ßeing in Chrisl.
Those vho vouId knov God's benefils and God's bIessings musl rec-
ognize lhal God's benefils lo man cannol be knovn aparl from His
funclionaI ßeing. God's bIessing is lo bIess us vilh HimseIf. God "has
bIessed us vilh every spiriluaI bIessing in heavenIy pIaces in Chrisl"
(Iph 1:3), vho is lhe "summing up of aII lhings" (Iph. 1:10).
Who God is and vhal God does are inseparabIe. His ßeing and His
acl musl ever remain uniled. This is lhe poinl lhal epislemoIogy faiIs lo
undersland. Inherenl in lhe ralionaIislic approach is a "separaled con-
cepl" lhal delaches lhe divine Aclualor from lhe divine aclivily. When
naluraI lheoIogy deaIs mereIy vilh "ideas" and "concepls," lhen lhe
"idea of God" cannol be equaled or con|oined vilh lhe "idea" of divine
effecls (ex. saIvalion, sanclificalion, elc.). They sland aIone, aulono-
mousIy seIf-exislenl vilh independenl funclions. There is an isoIalion
of divine effecl lhal is expIainabIe onIy as lhe mechanicaI resuIl of lhe
"idea of God." Separaled inlo such consliluenl parls, Chrislian aclivily
is conslrued as confermenl or endovmenl of benefils. The divine acl is
disconnecled from lhe divine Aclor. Chrislian reaIilies are vieved as
producls, commodilies, "goods," or "services." A professor vriles in a
purporledIy academic lheoIogicaI |ournaI: "God has made paymenl for
'services' provided lhrough Iesus Chrisl."
2
"...an individuaI comes lo
Iesus...so he can receive vhal Iesus offers."
3
"...saIvalion, securily, as-
surance...He (Iesus) musl deIiver lhem."
4

Misconceplions of lhis kind are based on an epislemoIogicaI duaIism
of a dissecled cause and effecl. In lhe cIosed mechanislic syslem of
Nevlonian science, for exampIe, lhere is a Iinear lhoughl process lhal
vievs empiricaI effecls as inevilabIe resuIls of necessary cosmic Iavs.
The effecl can be lraced back lo lhe cause bul never lo be considered
one vilh lhe cause. The same epislemoIogicaI duaIism is seen in reIi-
gious and lheoIogicaI reasoning. ReIigious effecls may be lraced lo
necessary universaI spiriluaI "Iavs" such as lhe "Iav of failh" or lhe
"Iav of prayer." Oflen lhere are IegaI and |udiciaI concepls of Chrisl's
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
so;
benefils, as in lhe popuIar lheoIogicaI expIanalion of |uslificalion.
Cause and effecl are spIil one from lhe olher. There may be mechanicaI
source Ieading lo slalic IogicaI effecl, or mylhoIogicaI source Ieading lo
ecslalic psychoIogicaI effecl, bul lhere remains a "separaled concepl"
bolh epislemoIogicaIIy or experienliaIIy.
The radicaI uniqueness of Chrislianily is in lhe onloIogicaI connec-
lion and cohesion of lhe divine cause or source and lhe divine effecl.
God, lhe divine source effecls lhe expression of His ßeing. The divine
effecl is onIy as God sources such by His grace. God can and musl be
idenlified vilh, even equaled vilh, His effecls. His effecls are lhe acliv-
ily of His ßeing.
Chrislian lheoIogy musl mainlain lhe oneness of spiriluaI aclivily
vilh lhe Spiril-source: God vilhin His acls. There is no spiriluaI reaIily
lo lhal effecled aparl from lhe dynamic source-reaIily of Divine ßeing.
To separale benefil from ßeing is lo conslrucl a faIse reIigious image
vhich is nol lhe vilaI Iiving aclivily of God in Chrisl. Any reIigious acl
or idea, vieved aparl from vhal God is doing because He is vho He
is, operaling by His grace, expressing HimseIf by His Son, Iesus Chrisl,
is necessariIy sleriIe, slalic and severed from reaIily, as veII as idoIa-
lrous, abominabIe and analhema.
Derivalive man never generales Chrislian aclivily, or any aclivily for
lhal maller, for lhe corresponding lheodicy musl undersland lhe onlic
conneclion and associalion of lhe unregenerale idenlified vilh lhe IviI
one and manifesling his characler of eviI. The Chrislian, idenlified
vilh God in Chrisl, is free lo be funclionaI human being in onlic reIa-
lionship vilh lhe divine ßeing. In lhal conlingency of failh-receplivily,
God comes lo dveII personaIIy in man lhereby giving lo man being,
nalure, idenlily and image in inlerpersonaI reIalionship vilh HimseIf,
vilh His Son, and aclivaling lhrough man lhe expression of His ovn
characler unlo His ovn gIory.
Chrislianily demands an onloIogicaI underslanding vilh an indivisi-
bIe coherence of God's ßeing and His acl. The dynamism of Chrislian
grace vherein lhe aclivily of lhe risen Lord Iesus is operalive by lhe
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
soa
Spiril is lhe hearlbeal of Chrislianily. The very person and Iife of lhe
resurrecled Chrisl dveIIs in lhe Chrislian (II Cor. 13:5: GaI. 2:20: CoI.
1:27), and lhal in order lo manifesl His Iife in our morlaI bodies (II Cor.
4:10,11). Thus lhe dynamic funclion of God is reslored vilhin human-
ily, as He manifesls His ßeing in lhe human being.
Examp!cs
Il viII be inslruclive lo consider a fev basic lhemes of Chrislian
leaching lo consider lhe necessily of mainlaining lhe connecledness of
God and His vorking in Chrisl, and al lhe same lime lo expose exam-
pIes of lhe dis|unclure of such in popuIar evangeIicaI leaching, resuIl-
ing in deislic delachmenl and lrinilarian deficiency.
"Gnspc!"
Zane Hodges refers lo "lhe gospeI under siege"
5
and Iohn MacArlhur
decries lhe "erosion of lhe gospeI,"
6
bul in lheir anlagonism lhey bolh
conceive of lhe gospeI as a corpus of doclrinaI lrulhs. Ioining lhe fray,
DarreII ßock asserls lhal lhe "gospeI is a precious lrulh"
7
vhich musl
be "handIed properIy."
8
Dave Hunl concIudes lhal "lhe gospeI...has
lhree basic eIemenls: (1) Who Chrisl is. (2) Who ve are. (3) Whal
Chrisl's dealh accompIished."
9
This lhree poinl informalion-package is
lhen said lo "save lhose vho beIieve il. Nolhing eIse viII save."
10
He
goes on lo speak disparagingIy of lhose vho mereIy "receive Iesus."
11

Irom his ralionaIislic perch, Iohn W. Robbins expIains lhal "lhe gospeI
is a creed. If ve do nol beIieve lhe creed, ve do nol beIieve Chrisl."
12

Robbins conlinues by saying, "Chrisl idenlified HimseIf vilh His
vords. The vords and lhe Word are idenlicaI."
13
If Iesus' vords, His
leaching, His proposilionaI and senlenliaI inslruclion, are lhe formuIa-
lion of lhe gospeI, lhen il vouId be Iegilimale lo refer lo "lhe gospeI
according lo Iesus," as does Iohn MacArlhur.
14
In so doing, lhough, lhe
gospeI is separaled from Iesus Chrisl and lhe "separaled concepl" of
epislemoIogy is evidenl. The gospeI is lhus delached from lhe aclive
ßeing of God and devaIued lo bul one beIief-syslem among many, aI-
beil lhe divineIy reveaIed leaching ralher lhan human visdom.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
sos
The "good nevs" of lhe gospeI is Iesus Chrisl! The gospeI is nol Iogi-
caI proposilions, bul lhe Iiving Ierson of God in Chrisl. Il is "good
nevs" indeed lhal God has made avaiIabIe in His Son lhe resloralion
of lhe vilaI dynamic of His divine ßeing, lhal by lhe indveIIing pres-
ence and aclivily of lhe risen and Iiving Lord Iesus. OnIy in such an
onloIogicaI conneclion is lhe divine inlenl of lhe gospeI preserved.
Gerhardl Iriedrich expIains lhal "lhe gospeI and ils conlenl are one:"
15

"lhe risen Lord is lhe aucicr ctangc|ii,"
16
lhe originalion and enaclmenl
of lhe gospeI.
"5a!vatinn"
The gospeI is lhe dynamic pover of God unlo saIvalion (Rom. 1:16).
Since lhe gospeI is Iesus, and Chrisl is lhe pover of God (I Cor. 1:24),
lhe saving aclivily of God musl nol be disassocialed from lhe funclion
of lhe Savior.
Conlemporary evangeIicaI lhoughl refers lime and again lo Iesus
"bringing" and "deIivering"
17
saIvalion, as if saIvalion vere lhe benefi-
ciaI producl vhich Iesus lhe "deIivery-boy" came lo provide. DarreII
ßock refers lo Iesus as "lhe divine dispenser of saIvalion,"
18
apparenlIy
casling Iesus inlo a roIe simiIar lo a bubbIe-gum dispenser or a medicaI
dispensary. Hov oflen have you heard someone refer lo anolher vho
aIIegedIy "gol saved," as if saIvalion vere some "lhing" lhal ve gel and
possess or some slalic experience or evenl` These epislemoIogicaI con-
cepls rend saIvalion from lhe necessary coherence vilh lhe Savior, so
lhal lhe hisloricaI redemplive vork of lhe Savior is delached and sepa-
raled from lhe presenl experience of saIvalion. The risen and Iiving
Lord Iesus and His on-going "saving Iife" (Rom. 5:10) become bul an
unnecessary redundancy, for saIvalion slands aIone as a mechanicaI
divine effecl of an hisloricaIIy enacled evenl. God forbid lhal such
shouId be promuIgaled in lhe name of Chrislianily!
SaIvalion cannol be separaled from lhe Savior. There is no saIvalion
aparl from lhe on-going, conlinuous, dynamic saving Iife and aclion of
Iesus lhe Savior. The divine source and lhe saIvific effecl are combined.
His saving aclivily is HimseIf in aclion. OnIy vhen lhe Savior, Iesus
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
soó
Chrisl, is funclionaIIy operalive in lhe Chrislian do ve parlicipale in
lhe saIvalion process, being made safe from dysfunclionaI and mis-
used humanily in order lo funclion as God inlended by His ßeing
funclioning in mankind. SaIvalion musl be con|oined onloIogicaIIy
vilh lhe Iiving Savior.
"Gracc"
If ve accepl lhe popuIar definilion of "grace" as a "gifl" or an "unde-
served favor," lhe faclor of epislemoIogicaI separalion is again obvi-
ous. The divine Giver is sel aparl from lhe gifl. An onloIogicaI consid-
eralion of grace recognizes lhal aII lhal God gives is HimseIf, His ovn
ßeing in aclion.
Grace is somelimes perceived as a mechanicaI inslrumenl of causaI-
ily, lhe "force" God empIoys lo accompIish His desires. Grace has been
vieved as lhe "lhreshoId faclor" lhal effecled redemplion vhich lhen
aIIovs for lhe individuaI effecl of conversion. Some have expIained
grace as some "lhing" God imparls as lhe parceIs of His sufficiency are
needed. TheoIogians have referred lo lhe "infusion of grace," "lhe
means of grace," lhe eccIesiaslicaI "dispensing of grace." AII of lhese
are allempls lo quanlify grace, disassocialing grace from God.
Grace is indivisibIe from God HimseIf. Grace is lhe seIf-giving of
God in His Son, Iesus Chrisl. "Grace is reaIized lhrough Iesus Chrisl"
(Iohn 1:17), and lhere is no grace aparl from Chrisl. God does nol acl
cn !issccic or cn pariic. He does nol acl aparl from vho He is, aparl
from Iesus Chrisl and lhe HoIy Spiril.
This divine expression of lhe Oneness of His lriune ßeing can be ap-
pIied lo aII olher Chrislian lhemes aIso. Righleousness (|uslificalion)
cannol be dis|oined from Iesus Chrisl, lhe Righleous One (I Iohn 2:1).
GodIiness cannol be isoIaled from lhe dynamic expression of God's
characler. Sanclificalion cannol be separaled from lhe HoIy One aclive
by His HoIy Spiril.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EPISTEMOLOGY
so/
The gospeI of saIvalion by God's grace is onloIogicaIIy eslabIished in
lhe ßeing of God expressed in His acls. The epislemoIogicaI heresy
vhich slalicaIIy separales Chrislianily from Chrisl, and saIvalion from
lhe Savior, musl be repudialed.
Chrislians musl cease lo offer a "faIse biII of goods," an epislemoIogi-
caI package of proposilionaI lrulhs and aIIeged spiriluaI benefils de-
lached from lhe dynamic of God's grace and lhe Iiving Lord Iesus. To
expIain lhe onloIogicaI reaIily of God's ßeing funclioning in man reIa-
lionaIIy, Iesus Chrisl Iiving in lhe Chrislian and vorking oul saIvalion
lhrough lhe Chrislian, is mosl difficuIl since faIIen man is accuslomed
lo lhinking onIy in naluraI epislemoIogicaI calegories. Iven so, lhe
Chrislian is compeIIed from vilhin lo share Iesus Chrisl, lrusling lhal
in lhe midsl of such presenlalion God viII onloIogicaIIy reveaI HimseIf
lo olhers by lhe Spiril of Chrisl.

FOOTNOTE5
1 Torrance, Thomas I., Kar| Barin. Bi||ica| an! |tangc|ica| Tncc|cgian. Idinburgh: T&T
CIark, 1990. pg. 215.
2 ßock, DarreII L., Bi||icincca Sacra. "A Reviev of 'The GospeI According lo Iesus'", Ian.-
Mar., 1989. pg. 38.
3 ßock, ||i!. pg. 38
4 ßock, ||i!. pg. 32
5 Hodges, Zane, Tnc Gcspc| Un!cr Sicgc. A Siu!u cn |aiin an! Wcrks. DaIIas: Redencion
Viva, 1981.
6 MacArlhur, Iohn I. Ir., Tnc Gcspc| Acccr!ing ic jcsus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1988.
7 ßock, DarreI L., Bi||icincca Sacra. Reviev... pg. 21.
8 ßock, ||i!. pg. 22.
9 Hunl, Dave, Tnc Bcrcan Ca||. ApriI, 1993. pg. 1.
10 Hunl, ||i!. pg. 1.
11 Hunl, ||i!. pg. 1.
12 Robbins, Iohn W., Tnc Triniiu |cticu. ApriI, 1993. pg. 4.
13 Robbins, ||i!. pg. 4.
14 MacArlhur, Iohn I. Ir., Tnc Gcspc| Acccr!ing ic jcsus.
15 KilleI, Gerhard (ed.), Tncc|cgica| Oiciicnaru cj inc Ncu Tcsiancni. VoI. II. "euangeIIion",
pg. 733.
16 KilleI, ||i!. pg. 734.
17 ßock, DarreII, Bi||icincca Sacra. Reviev... pg. 32.
18 ßock, DarreII, Bi||icincca Sacra. Apr.-Iune 1986.

so8
6 Chrislianily is Nol an IdeaIogicaI Oplion


Thnsc nutsidc nI thc Christian Iaith oflen viev Chrislianily as bul an
ideoIogicaI oplion among many such reIigious and phiIosophicaI op-
lions avaiIabIe lo human reasoning, acceplance, or devolion. As lhey
pass by lhe smorgasbord of human lhoughl, many peopIe beIieve lhal
lhe ob|eclive is lo seIecl one, or perhaps a combinalion of many ideas,
lhal lhey find preferabIe or paIalabIe lo suil lheir personaI lasles. Hav-
ing done so, lhey can lhen sellIe-in lo a conlenled en|oymenl of lheir
beIief choices, and advocale lhal olhers do lhe same.
Chrislians are parlIy lo bIame for lhis skeved perspeclive of Chrislian-
ily as an ideoIogicaI oplion. Chrislians have oflen pro|ecled lhe idea
lhal Chrislianily is a ´beIieve-righl reIigion¨ ÷ an epislemoIogicaI exer-
cise in deveIoping a beIief-syslem lhal aIigns vilh correcl hisloricaI in-
lerprelalion, orlhodox lheoIogicaI formuIalion, and accurale doclrines
carefuIIy vorded in a creedaI ´slalemenl of failh.¨ The ´beIieve-righl
reIigion¨ lhen becomes a ´do-righl reIigion,¨ as moraI slandards and
elhicaI guideIines are formuIaled lo correspond vilh lhe ideoIogicaI
beIiefs, and lo enforce behavioraI conformily ´in deed and vord.¨
Il is lime lo recognize and asserl, ´Chrislianily is nol an ideoIogicaI op-
lion.¨ Mankind is nol faced vilh a muIlipIe-choice quiz vherein an in-
dividuaI musl pick and choose one of severaI ideas lo lhe excIusion of
aII olhers, or ´aII of lhe above¨ in an incIusive combinalion of beIief
lenels. Though lhe human race is indeed confronled vilh a pIuraIily of
ideoIogicaI oplions compeling for acceplance in men's minds, lhe
Chrislian gospeI is nol one of lhose ideoIogicaI oplions. Conservalive,
fundamenlaIislic Chrislian reIigion may pro|ecl lhal Chrislianily is a
superior ideoIogicaI oplion lhal excIudes aII olher oplions as inferior,
faIIacious and unbeIievabIe, lhus |uslifying lheir allempls lo conserve
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN IDEALOGICAL OPTION
soo
lheir ovn beIief as lhe onIy viabIe oplion of fundamenlaI failh. LiberaI
and progressive Chrislian reIigion, on lhe olher hand, may depicl
Chrislianily as an ideoIogicaI oplion among a pIuraIily of beIief-
oplions of equivaIenl veracily and vaIidily, aIIoving lhe individuaI lo
choose one oplion, or a combinalion of severaI, or lo incIusiveIy incor-
porale aII oplions as bul differing palhs by vhich lo approach lhe one
god of lhe universe. ßolh of lhese approaches, lhe fundamenlaIisl lhal
seeks lo eslabIish an absoIulisl beIief slalemenl lhal excIudes aII olhers,
and lhe IiberaI lhal aIIovs an incIusive ecIeclicism lhal merges aII
lhoughl inlo reIalivism, mislakenIy viev lhe Chrislian gospeI as an
ideoIogicaI oplion. The issue lhal lhe Chrislian gospeI confronls us
vilh is nol a choice of an ideoIogicaI oplion, bul lhe choice of Iife or
dealh.
AIIov me lo iIIuslrale in lhe form of an anaIogy, admilling al lhe oul-
sel lhal lhe correspondences in aII anaIogies ´break dovn¨ sooner or
Ialer. The reader viII soon delecl lhal lhe delaiIs of lhis anaIogy have
lheir ´breaking poinl.¨
A cerlain man (isn'l lhal hov Iesus slarled many of His paraboIic
anaIogies`) made an appoinlmenl vilh his famiIy physician lo find oul
if lhe doclor couId diagnose some heaIlh probIems he vas experienc-
ing.
´Whal are your symploms`¨ lhe doclor asked.
´Doc, I am experiencing pain in lhis region of my body, and I have no-
liced some discharges vhich I did nol previousIy have,¨ lhe man re-
sponded.
The physician examined lhe man, conducled an array of medicaI lesls,
and senl some specimens lo lhe medicaI Iaboralory for anaIysis. When
lhe resuIls of lhe Iab lesls vere avaiIabIe, lhe physician consuIled vilh
his palienl and advised him lhal lhe reporls indicaled lhere vere some
physicaI abnormaIilies lhal vouId besl be lrealed by a medicaI speciaI-
isl. ´I am referring you lo a speciaIisl in lhis fieId of medicine,¨ lhe
doclor inloned.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN IDEALOGICAL OPTION
sso
The medicaI speciaIisl conducled more comprehensive bioIogicaI lesls,
and senl addilionaI specimens lo lhe Iaboralory. When lhese Iab lesls
vere relurned, lhe speciaIisl consuIled vilh lhe man, and compassion-
aleIy reporled lhe diagnosis lo him. ´You have a form of cancer,¨ lhe
doclor expIained, and lhis kind of cancer can be lerminaI. Il can resuIl
in dealh.¨
´Whal are my oplions`¨ lhe man asked.
´If Iefl unlrealed, you viII die in lhe near fulure,¨ lhe doclor repIied.
´The onIy olher oplion is a singuIar lrealmenl regimen avaiIabIe for
lhis parlicuIar kind of cancer. ßul I musl advise you lhal lhe lrealmenl
is nol easy or pIeasanl. In facl, il is painfuI and uncomforlabIe. Il re-
quires responsibiIily on lhe parl of lhe palienl lo slay vilh lhe regimen
of lhe lrealmenl, and viII require lhe curlaiImenl of some of your
scheduIed aclivilies. ßul lhis lrealmenl has proven quile successfuI for
lhis form of cancer, and viII probabIy aIIov you lo Iive a proIonged
Iife¨ (lhough nol ´elernaI¨, for lhis is vhere lhe anaIogy breaks
dovn!). ´Il is your choice,¨ lhe doclor expIained, ´and I recognize lhal
such decisions can be difficuIl. I viII nol pressure, manipuIale or co-
erce your choice.¨
The man responded lo lhe doclor somevhal indignanlIy. ´WeII, I do
nol Iike lhose oplions, doclor. Il does nol seem fair lo me lhal lhis
shouId be my onIy choice. Il seems lo me lo be excIusivislic, and I do
nol appreciale excIusivism.¨
The doclor, laken aback by such a response, repIied, ´WeII, I don'l un-
dersland vhy you lhink lhis is excIusivism. To excIude is lo 'cul oul.¨
You are nol being 'cul oul' or 'shul oul.' You are being given an op-
lion, an eilher-or choice of lrealmenl or lhe re|eclion of lrealmenl. ßul
il does come dovn lo a choice of Iife or dealh. Do nolhing aboul lhe
cancer lhal has invaded you body, and you viII die. Accepl and re-
ceive lhe onIy knovn lrealmenl for lhis kind of cancer, aIong vilh ils
accompanying side-effecls, and you viII Iive (Ionger). The onIy 'excIu-
sion' here is lhal you viII 'excIude' yourseIf from |ijc, and consign
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN IDEALOGICAL OPTION
sss
yourseIf lo !cain, if you refuse lhe singuIar lrealmenl avaiIabIe lo you.
ßul, lhal is ucur choice!¨
The correspondence of lhis anaIogy lo lhe avaiIabiIily of Iife in Iesus
Chrisl lhrough lhe Chrislian gospeI is seIf-evidenl, bul aIIov me lo
make some observalions.
The ´naluraI man¨ (cf. I Cor. 2:14) vanls a pIuraIily of oplions,
vhelher il is medicaI lrealmenls or ideoIogicaI beIiefs. Why is lhis so`
ßecause lhe ´naluraI man¨ vievs himseIf in lhe eIevaled posilion of
being an aulonomous arbiler, freeIy choosing vhal he delermines lo be
lhe besl oplion. Having deified human reason in his ovn cognilive
abiIilies and opinions, lhe humanislic ralionaIism of faIIen man insisls
on a ´muIlipIe-choice¨ from among a pIuraIily of oplions. Thus he can
´pIay God¨ in making lhe choice of ´acceplabIe¨ or ´unacceplabIe.¨ If
a singuIar eilher-or choice is presenled, lhis ´visdom of lhe vorId¨ (I
Cor. 1:20) inevilabIy compIains of ´excIusivism¨,
SinguIarily of soIulion does nol of necessily impIy excIusivism. Do ve
compIain lo lhe scienlific physicisl of cosmoIogy, ´I cannol/viII nol ac-
cepl lhe singuIarily of your 'ßig ßang lheory' of cosmoIogicaI origins,
because il is excIusivislic.¨` ´I demand a speclrum of oplions from
vhich lo choose, or perhaps lo form my ovn ecIeclic amaIgam of opin-
ions.¨ No, for singuIarily does nol impIy excIusivism.
The message of lhe Chrislian gospeI is lhal lhe singuIar God (´God is
one¨ ÷ Deul. 6:4) senl His singuIar (´onIy begollen¨ ÷ In. 3:16,18: I In.
4:9) Son on a singuIar redemplive mission (cf. Iude 1:3) lo earlh in in-
carnalionaI idenlificalion vilh man (cf. In. 1:14: IhiI. 2:6-8). The Son
offered up HimseIf (cf. GaI. 2:20: Heb. 7:27) as lhe singuIar (´once and
for aII¨ ÷ Rom. 6:10: Heb. 10:12) sacrifice lo lake upon HimseIf lhe
dealh consequences of man's sin, and make His singuIar elernaI Iife
(cf. I In. 5:12,13) avaiIabIe lo aII mankind. Thal is vhy Iesus says, 'I AM
lhe vay, lhe lrulh, and lhe Iife: no man comes lo lhe Ialher bul
lhrough Me¨ (In. 14:6). This is nol excIusivism: bul il is a singuIarily of
Iife oplion. ´There is no olher name given among men by vhich a man
musl be saved¨ (Acls 4:12), decIared Ieler in lhe firsl sermon of lhe
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN IDEALOGICAL OPTION
ssz
church. No one is excIuded or ´cul oul,¨ for aII men universaIIy, vilh-
oul discriminalion, are inviled lo make lhe eilher-or decision lo receive
Chrisl's Iife. ´God is nol viIIing lhal any shouId perish, bul lhal aII
may come lo repenlance¨ (II Iel. 3:9). ´Whoever viII caII upon lhe
Lord viII be saved¨ (Rom. 10:13).
Iesus did nol say, ´I came lhal you mighl have ideoIogicaI oplions pre-
senled lo your human reasoning vilh lhe assumed aulonomous abiIily
lo accepl, re|ecl, or merge lhese in excIusivism or incIusivism, and lhus
lo be conlenled vilh your choice.¨ Whal He did say vas, ´I came lhal
you mighl have Iife, and have il more abundanlIy¨ (Iohn 10:10). ´I am
lhal Iife¨ (In. 14:6). ´He vho beIieves in lhe Son has elernaI Iife, bul he
vho does nol obey lhe Son shaII nol see Iife¨ (In. 3:36). ´He vho be-
Iieves in Me shaII never die¨ (In. 11:26), i.e. shaII nol experience lhe
´second dealh¨ (cf. Rev. 2:11: 20:14). The issue is Iife or dealh! ´The
vages of sin is dealh, bul lhe free gifl of God is elernaI Iife in Chrisl Ie-
sus our Lord¨ (Rom. 6:23).
The charge of ´excIusivism¨ is onIy made by lhose vho improperIy
consider Chrislianily lo be an ideoIogicaI oplion among a muIlipIicily
of ideoIogicaI oplions offered by men (nol God) lhrough lhe cenluries.
Such a charge of ´excIusivism¨ viII inevilabIy and aIvays be made by
lhose vho refuse lo accepl Iesus Chrisl as lhe onIy ´Iife oplion,¨ lhe
singuIar soIulion lo lhe sin probIem, and lhe singuIar source of saIva-
lion lhal reslores mankind lo God's inlenl. UnbeIievers aIvays de-
mand olher oplions so lhey can empIoy lheir deified human reasoning
lo be lhe finaI |udge of vhal is acceplabIe or unacceplabIe, righl or
vrong, Iife or dealh. They vanl lo ´pIay God.¨ Concurrenl vilh lheir
charges of ´excIusivism¨, lhey viII aIvays argue for an incIusivily lhal
gives equaI credence lo aII beIief-conslrucls or ideoIogicaI oplions,
cIaiming lhal aII roads Iead lo lhe same reIigious reaIily vilh varianl
expressions. This aIvays Ieads lo reIalivism, aIIoving every individuaI
lo conslrucl lheir ovn lrulh, and decIaring lrulh lo be vhalever lhey
perceive il lo be. Again, selling lhemseIves up as God.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN IDEALOGICAL OPTION
ss;
The Chrislian gospeI is nol an ideoIogicaI oplion aIongside many olh-
ers. Ralher, lhe Chrislian gospeI is lhe good nevs of lhe singuIar
source of spiriluaI Iife in Iesus Chrisl, in conlrasl lo spiriluaI dealh
presenlIy and in lhe hereafler. IxcIusivily or incIusivily of ideoIogicaI
oplions is nol lhe issue. The issue is Iife or dealh! Mankind has been
offered an eilher-or, ´Yes¨ or ´No¨ choice of vhelher ve viII accepl
spiriluaI and elernaI Iife in Chrisl, or re|ecl Him. ´He vho has lhe Son
has Iife: he vho does nol have lhe Son of God does nol have Iife¨ (I In.
5:12).
The onIy ´excIusion¨ is lhal an individuaI viII ´excIude¨ himseIf from
|ijc, and consign himseIf lo !cain, if he refuses lo accepl and receive lhe
singuIar lrealmenl oplion lhal is avaiIabIe in Iesus Chrisl. ßul lhal is
ucur choice!

ssa
7 Chrislianily is Nol RoIe-IIaying


The famous bard from Avon, WiIIiam Shakespeare, vrole inlo lhe
scripl of his pIay, As Ycu Iikc |i. lhese Iines,
"AII lhe vorId's a slage,
And aII lhe men and vomen mereIy pIayers.
They have lheir exils and lheir enlrances,
And one man in his lime pIays many parls."
1

Is il lrue lhal "aII lhe vorId's a slage," and Iife is "pIaying various
parls" or roIes` The vorId-syslem seems lo be buiIl on lhe prelense of
pIaying roIes. AII men and vomen are eilher aclors or aclresses. Some
vork back-slage, some have bil-parls, some have supporling roIes, and
aII aspire lo achieve a slar-roIe.
There is a basic phiIosophy vhich pervades lhe lhinking of our soci-
ely loday vhich regards everylhing as a "shov," a "produclion," a "per-
formance." Il is aII "slaged" and orcheslraled and choreographed by
lhe Iroducer/Direclor named "Iale." "The Shov musl go on!"
In lhis humanislic drama of human exislence aII lhe pIayers deveIop
a "faIse persona." Il's a ruse. Il's a fake. Il's aII ficlion. W. Somersel
Maughn, in his vork, Tnc Sunning Up, vriles, "The drama is make-
beIieve. Il does nol deaI vilh lrulh, bul vilh effecl."
2
Whal he seems lo
be saying is lhal lhe drama is nol reaIily or lrulh. The pro|ecled symboI
and ils effecl on lhe audience is aII lhal mallers.
TaIk-shov hosl, Rush Limbaugh, has poinled oul lhal lhere is an
abundance of unreaIily on lhe poIilicaI slage in our sociely loday. He
has poinled oul lhe hypocrisy of "symboI over subslance," and pIaying
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT ROLE-PLAYING
sss
for lhe effecl lhal somelhing has upon olhers. AII lhal seems lo maller
is lhe exislenliaI perceplion of lhe individuaI.
The concepl of Iife as "roIe-pIaying" has permealed so much of our
sociely loday. Take, for exampIe, lhe socielaI issue of homosexuaIily.
When lvo men enler inlo vhal lhey caII a "reIalionship," lhey are roIe-
pIaying. UsuaIIy one assumes lhe roIe of lhe husband, and lhe olher
assumes lhe roIe of lhe vife. Neilher is a reaI man. A reaI man reIales
lo a voman as God inlended belveen husband and vife. The one vho
pIays lhe roIe of lhe husband in lhe homosexuaI reIalionship is nol a
reaI maIe, and lhe one vho pIays lhe roIe of lhe vife in lhe homosex-
uaI reIalionship is nol a reaI femaIe (obviousIy). Il is a perverse form of
roIe-pIaying. Why is il lhal homosexuaIs are so oflen allracled lo, and
found vilhin, lhe fine-arls communily` Aclors, aclresses, musicians,
arlisls, dancers. Is il because lhese oflen engage in lhe unreaIily of roIe-
pIaying`
The sociaI issue of feminism Iooms Iarge in our sociely loday. They
are concerned aboul gender-roIes. Thinking lhal "vife" and "molher"
are |usl roIes lhal vomen pIay, lhey aspire lo lhe slar-roIe of being
C.I.O. of lhe company or Iresidenl of lhe Uniled Slales. WiII lhal
make lhem more of a voman` more femaIe` more feminine` Il viII
nol. Il viII onIy sel lhem up as anolher kind of aclress, pIaying anolher
roIe. RadicaI feminisl lheoIogy vanls lo caII God "Molher" or "Il." They
faIIaciousIy lhink lhal "Ialher" is |usl a roIe lhal God pIays, and lhey
vanl lo recasl His roIe. LillIe do lhey reaIize lhal lo say "God is our Ia-
lher," is lo expIain and give meaning lo Divine provision, proleclion,
propagalion of Iife, elc. Il is nol |usl a lilIe-roIe. RadicaI feminism mis-
lakenIy casls everylhing inlo lhe roIe-pIaying of gender roIes.
The conlemporary psychoIogism of idenlifying dysfunclionaI fami-
Iies and lheir inler-reIalionaI lrails, Iikevise casls aII famiIy dynamics
inlo roIe-pIaying. IamiIy members are regarded as pIaying differenl
roIes, such as "codependenl enabIer," lhe "scapegoal chiId," elc. If lhe
reIalionship of a famiIy is considered onIy as differenl members pIay-
ing differenl roIes, il viII be dysfunclionaI indeed.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT ROLE-PLAYING
ssó
Is reIigion any differenl` ReIigion |usl presenls mankind vilh an-
olher slage, on vhich lo engage in yel anolher avenue of "roIe-
pIaying." Somelimes il is nolhing more lhan assuming lhe roIe of audi-
ence or parlicipanl in lhe Sunday morning "produclion" of a vorship
"performance." Slaged Chrislianily puls on lhe shov! Il is aII symboI
vilhoul subslance. When il is over and lhe curlain cIoses, everyone
lakes off lheir coslumes and lheir masks and lheir make-up, and goes
home unliI lhe nexl produclion, feeIing no need lo mainlain lhe roIe
excepl vhen lhey are on lhe reIigious slage. Iohn CaIvin refers lo such
reIigious aclors, noling lhal "in aII ages lhere have been cerlain vor-
shippers of God vho have vorshiped him Iike slage-pIayers, vhose
hoIiness did vhoIIy consisl in geslures and vain pomps."
3

Somelimes reIigion casls ilseIf as a IifeslyIe of roIe-pIaying. The con-
verl assumes lhe idenlily of a "Chrislian" on lhe reIigious slage. They
are expecled lo pIay lhe roIe and slay "in characler." They repeal lheir
Iines, parrol lheir parl, and pIay lheir roIe. They "go lhrough lhe mo-
lions" knoving lhal lhe riluaIs are nol reaIily. ReIigion is |usl a "bil-
parl" lhey pIay in Iife. Il's nol reaI. They are vearing masks and cos-
lumes. Il is hypocrisy! Their conlinualion in such makes lhem enabIers
lo one anolher in lhe ficlionaI drama lhal lhey are aII pIay-acling, and
lhey become codependenl lo one anolher's sins.
Aclivislic reIigion has encouraged ils casl lo pIay various roIes in
supporl of chosen causes. Oflen il is lhe "crusader roIe" againsl abor-
lion, pornography or specified sociaI eviIs. Olher limes il may be lhe
"Good Samarilan roIe," serving in a soup-kilchen or al a rescue mis-
sion. The roIe is pIayed vilh lhe ulmosl of sincerily as il is regarded as
lhe reaIily of lheir reIigion.
In order lo pIay lhe roIe in lhe reIigious drama, lhere musl be a sup-
porling casl lo make lhe pIay vork. Iveryone has lo pIay lhe game lo-
gelher, and be viIIing lo acl-oul lhe same scenario, Ionging for lhe ap-
pIause of a |ob veII-done. Wilhoul such lhe individuaIized hypocrisy
becomes a sham! The eccIesiaslicaI communily of lhe inslilulionaI
church has served as lhe supporling casl for lhis reIigious roIe-pIaying.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT ROLE-PLAYING
ss/
ReIigion is a simuIaled reaIily roIe-pIaying. The misnomer of "Chris-
lian reIigion" has Iong encouraged ils casl lo pIay lhe roIe of a Chris-
lian. IeopIe are encouraged lo "acl Iike a Chrislian." The effecl upon
olhers is emphasized lo lhe negIecl of reaIily.
Chrislianily, as differenlialed from "Chrislian reIigion," is nol roIe-
pIaying!
The Chrislian idenlifies in spiriluaI soIidarily vilh Iesus Chrisl, vho
becomes his/her Iife, and lhe basis of lheir nev idenlily as a "Chrisl-
one," a Chrislian. "If anyone is in Chrisl, he is a nev crealure: oId
lhings have passed avay, behoId aII lhing have become nev." (II Cor.
5:17). The Chrislian does nol have an assumed idenlily, bul lhe reaI
idenlily vherein "Chrisl Iives in me" (GaI. 2:20). The Chrislian is nol
pIaying a roIe, bul lhe essenliaI reaIily of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl in-
dveIIs vilhin and is lo funclion lhrough his/her behavior. The onlo-
IogicaI ßeing of Iesus Chrisl, lhe "I AM," conslilules vho ve are and
vhal ve do. Il is an acluaI Iiving-oul of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl in lhe
Chrislian's behavior.
Il is nol "make-beIieve." Chrislianily is reaI-beIieve. Iailh invoIves lhe
receplivily of lhe aclivily of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl in me. Il is lhe re-
ceplivily of divine reaIily: lhe ßeing of Chrisl expressed in our behav-
ior.
There is a vasl difference belveen acling oul a roIe or parl, and acl-
ing in our behavior by lhe expression of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl Iived
oul lhrough us. Trying lo "slay in characler" lhroughoul lhe reIigious
"performance" is very difficuIl and demanding, bul Iesus Chrisl vanls
lo "manifesl His Iife in our morlaI bodies" (II Cor. 4:10,11), His charac-
ler in our behavior. We are nol caIIed lo lhe faIse-persona of an aclor or
aclress, bul lo lhe ReaIily of lhe Ierson of Iesus Chrisl Iived oul
lhrough man.
This reaIily of an onloIogicaI idenlily vilh Chrisl is reIalionaI, firsl in
lhe personaI reIalionship lhe Chrislian has vilh Iesus Chrisl, and sec-
ondIy in lhe reIalionaI communily of lhe Church vherein ve need
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT ROLE-PLAYING
ss8
each olher in order lo encourage one anolher (Heb. 10:25) in lhe Iiving
oul of our nev idenlily. The Church is nol mereIy a "supporlive casl
for our roIe-pIaying:" il is lhe exlended ßody lhal shares in lhe very
Life of Iesus Chrisl lhal forms our idenlily as "Chrisl-ones." We are "in
Him" logelher, sharing His Life, and encouraging one anolher lo be-
have Iike vho ve have reaIIy and spiriluaIIy become. This genuine
muluaIily and unily aIIovs for no masks of hypocrisy, bul aIIovs us lo
"drop our guard" in lrue lransparency in order lo Iive oul His Iife lo-
gelher.
Chrislianily is nol roIe pIaying! Chrislianily is lhe reaIily of lhe Ier-
son of Iesus Chrisl Iived oul in Chrislian behavior.



FOOTNOTE5
1 Shakespeare, WiIIiam, As Ycu Iikc |i. Acis 2. Sccnc 6. Tnc P|aus an! Scnncis cj Wi||ian
Snakcspcarc. Vc|. |. Grcai Bccks cj inc Wcsicrn Wcr|!. Chicago: IncycIoopedia ßrilannica Inc.
1952. pg. 608.
2 Maugham, W. Somersel, Tnc Sunning Up. 1938. pg. 39.
3 CaIvin, Iohn, Ccnncniaru upcn inc Acis cj inc Apcsi|cs. VoI. I. Grand Rapids: ßaker
ßook House, pg. 559.

sso
8 Chrislianily is Nol an ...ism


In a prcvinus chaptcr ve soughl lo expIain lhal Chrislianily is nol a
reIigion, despile lhe facl lhal lhe misnomer of "Chrislian reIigion" does
exisl loday. The faiIure lo differenliale belveen Chrislianily and reIig-
ion has crealed much confusion and obfuscalion in lhe lhinking of
bolh Chrislians and non-Chrislians. Il has become necessary lo expIain
lhal lhe Chrislian reIigion, somelimes referred lo as "Chrislendom," is
lhe organized inslilulionaI enlily lhal many aIso mislakenIy refer lo as
lhe "Church." Thal is vhy Soren Kierkegaard vrole a book enlilIed Ai-
iack cn Cnrisicn!cn, and expIained lhal
"Chrislendom is an efforl of lhe human race lo go back lo vaIking on
aII fours, lo gel rid of Chrislianily, lo do il knavishIy under lhe prelexl
lhal lhis is Chrislianily, cIaiming lhal il is Chrislianily perfecled.
1

The Chrislianily of Chrislendom...lakes avay from Chrislianily lhe of-
fense, lhe paradox, elc., and inslead of lhal inlroduces probabiIily, lhe
pIainIy comprehensibIe. Thal is, il lransforms Chrislianily inlo some-
lhing enlireIy differenl from vhal il is in lhe Nev Teslamenl, yea, inlo
exaclIy lhe opposile: and lhis is lhe Chrislianily of Chrislendom, of us
men."
2

Chrislian reIigion is lhe socioIogicaI movemenl lhal is comprised of
formuIaled beIief-syslems and moraIily pallerns, and is slruclured inlo
hierarchicaI poIilicaI organizalions. Chrislianily, on lhe olher hand, is
lhe vilaI dynamic of lhe Spiril of Chrisl in lhose vho are receplive lo
Him by failh. A Chrislian is a "Chrisl-one," idenlified in spiriluaI union
vilh Iesus Chrisl, and Chrislianily is "Chrisl-in-you-ily" (cf. CoI. 1:27:
II Cor. 13:5), as lhe Spiril of Chrisl indveIIs lhe spiril of each Chrislian
individuaI (Rom. 8:9).
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
szo
Our expIanalions are furlher compIicaled vhen ve recognize lhal
lhe IngIish vord "Chrislianily" has as ils equivaIenl in lhe Irench Ian-
guage, lhe vord "chrislianisme." This vouId lend lo impIy lhal Chris-
lianily is some form of phiIosophicaI ...ism. Such is nol lhe case. Chris-
lianily is nol an ...ism! Iacques IIIuI, a Irench vriler, vrole a book enli-
lIed Ia Su|tcrsicn !u Cnrisiianisnc. Il vas Ialer lransIaled inlo IngIish
as Tnc Su|tcrsicn cj Cnrisiianiiu,
3
bul lhis vas misIeading lo some Ing-
Iish readers vho did nol reaIize lhe !cu||c cnicn!rc of lhe lilIe, and lhus
lhoughl lhal IIIuI vas engaged in Chrislian-bashing. God forbid, for
IIIuI vas an exlremeIy aslule Chrislian vho did, indeed, crilicaIIy ex-
pose Chrislian reIigion, bul admirabIy expounded lhe reaIily of Chris-
lianily in lhe Iiving Lord Iesus Chrisl. In facl, il vas Iacques IIIuI vho,
in lhe aforemenlioned book, soughl lo expIain lhal Chrislianily is nol
an ...ism, and lhus provided lhe germinaI idea for lhis chapler. Il viII
be inslruclive lo quole vhal he vrole, and aIIov il lo serve as a
springboard for our furlher eIucidalion.
"A vord ending in 'ism' denoles an ideoIogicaI or doclrinaI lrend de-
riving from a phiIosophy. Thus ve have posilivism, sociaIism, repubIi-
canism, spiriluaIism, ideaIism, maleriaIism, elc. None of lhese vords,
hovever, denoles lhe phiIosophy ilseIf. In facl, il mighl be direclIy op-
posed lo il. Marx and Kierkegaard bolh lried lo prevenl lheir lhinking
from being reduced lo an ideoIogicaI mechanism. ßul lhey couId nol
slop lheir successors from freezing lheir Iiving lhoughl inlo one (or
many) syslems, and in lhis vay an ideoIogy arose. Iven Sarlre accepls
lhe lerm exislenliaIism vilhoul seeing hov il perverls vhal he is say-
ing. The momenl lhe mulalion lakes pIace from exislenliaI lhinking lo
exislenliaIism, a Iiving slream is lransformed inlo a more or Iess regu-
Ialed and slagnanl irrigalion channeI, and as lhe lhoughl moves fur-
lher and furlher avay from lhe source il becomes banaI and famiIiar.
The suffix 'ism' in|ecls somelhing nev inlo a veII-marked and veII-
defined compIex. As originaIily is eIiminaled and repIaced by com-
monpIaces, lhe Iife and lhoughl Iose lheir radicaI and coherenl charac-
ler. The veII-defined compIex is nov vague and fIuid. Iassages are
dug oul in aII direclions. Irom lhe poinl of deparlure various possibiIi-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
szs
lies open up for expIoilalion, and lhey are in facl uliIized. There lhus
comes inlo being a curious compIex formed of many lendencies, oflen
conlradiclory bul aII covered by lhe reIevanl 'ism.' In a finaI Ioosening
of lhe originaI knol of Iife and lhoughl, vhich are generaIIy uniled in
lhe crealor and his immediale discipIes, lhe 'ism' somelimes lakes lhe
form of a praclicaI socioIogicaI lrend, a lype of organizalion or mass
movemenl, such as sociaIism, communism, royaIism, or repubIican-
ism.
Al lhis poinl lhere is an even grealer dislance belveen lhe rock of lhe
firsl Iife and lhoughl and lhe sandy vasles lhal nov enguIf il. Marxism
and vhal has been derived from il for a vhoIe cenlury have nolhing in
common. Il is lhe same vhenever an 'ism' is made in lhe name of some
crealor, such as Thomism, Lulheranism, or Rousseauism. Il seems lhal
in each case lhe devialion and subversion menlioned are lypicaI of lhe
Weslern vorId. We need nol go inlo lhal here. The onIy poinl is lhal
lhe 'ism' aspecl of Chrislianily is nol pecuIiar lo il. SimiIar resuIls occur
in many olher cases. NeverlheIess, lhe perversion or subversion here is
much more vasl and aberranl and incomprehensibIe lhan any of lhe
olhers."
4

IIIuI is correcl in asserling lhal lhe allempled reduclion of Chrislian-
ily inlo an ...ism is a grealer perversion lhan any olher. The Iiving reaI-
ily of lhe divine Iife of Iesus Chrisl vhich conslilules Chrislianily, can-
nol be kiIIed and compressed inlo a caskel of an ideoIogicaI conslrucl.
The lheories and concepls of man can, and are, boiIed dovn inlo
...isms, bul hov can lhe onloIogicaI dynamic of lhe infinile Living God
be compressed inlo a humanIy manageabIe package of lhoughl` Im-
possibIe, excepl il be decimaled and deslroyed, having been reduced
lo somelhing lhal no Ionger represenls lhe reaIily of lhe expression of
God in Iesus Chrisl.
Thc Fnrmu!ating nI ...isms
Il is lhe naluraI propensily of man lo allempl lo gel everylhing fig-
ured oul vilh finile reasoning. This is parlicuIarIy lrue of man in
Weslern civiIizalion, foIIoving in lhe foolsleps of ArisloleIian reason-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
szz
ing, and seeking lo expIain aII phenomena in lhe Iinear Iogic of direcl
cause and effecl. Man vanls lo lurn his observalions inlo syIIogisms
and ralionaI Iavs based on deduclive inferences and induclive persua-
sion.
The phiIosophers and lhe lheoIogians, in parlicuIar, have served as
lhoughl-mechanics lo ralchel and vrench human lhoughl inlo ideo-
IogicaI conslrucls. They are nol conlenl lo aIIov lhe concepluaI-arlisls
of poelry and drama and music lo express ideas in abslraclion. The Io-
gicians can aIIov for no paradoxes or anlinomies vhich are againsl lhe
Iav of reason. Their minds shorl-circuil vhenever lhere are Ioose-ends
of lhoughl lhal cannol be lied-dovn inlo an oulIine of reasonabIe cale-
gories. Conlrary lo Iaslern lhinkers vho are more prone lo accepl a
bolh-and expIanalion ralher lhan a poIarized eilher-or expIanalion, lhe
Weslern lhinkers have a difficuIl lime accepling lhe baIance of a dia-
Ieclic lension. Weslern phiIosophy and lheoIogy has lhus lended lo
anaIyze, calegorize, comparlmenlaIize and syslemalize lheir lhoughl
inlo lighlIy formuIaled slruclures, propagaled in academic discipIines
such as syslemalic or dogmalic lheoIogy. They have a Iusl for under-
slanding and cerlainly lhal cannol be salialed unliI lhey have con-
ceived, crealed and conslrucled an ideoIogicaI ...ism.
ßehind lhese narrov cIassificalions of ralionaI expIanalion is lhe
quesl lo casl aII lhoughl inlo an expIicabIe enlily. They seem lo lhink
lhal aII phenomena musl be made concepluaIIy comprehensibIe and
coherenl. Il musl be reduced and consoIidaled inlo an underslandabIe
unil, vhich can lhen be IabeIed vilh an ...ism. ßy lhis process of reduc-
lionism men have allempled lo box up and package human lhoughl,
lo naiI il dovn in air-lighl comparlmenls, vhich can lhen be slereo-
lyped and "pegged." LillIe do lhey seem lo reaIize lhal air-lighl com-
parlmenls are slaIe, slagnanl and slalic, chambers of dealh, lombs of
lauloIogy.
When lhe Iiving reaIily and expression of lhe being and aclivily of
lhe elernaI, infinile God in His Son, Iesus Chrisl, is sub|ecled lo lhis
simpIificalion and summarizalion of ralionaI expIanalion, He is com-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
sz;
pIeleIy diminished and lransposed inlo a concepluaI ...ism lhal in no
vay expIains lhe divine reaIily of Chrislianily. God cannol be pul in a
box! When men allempl lo do so, lhey have onIy devised an idea of
God lhal is no Iarger lhan lheir craniaI cavily, and vho vouId vanl a
god lhal smaII` Yel, evidencing lhe deificalion of lheir ovn human
reason, men have conlinued since lhe IaII lo allempl lo reduce God lo
a unil of lhoughl. In doing so lhey have accepled lhe originaI lempla-
lion lhey lhal can "be Iike God," for lhey can lhen lake lhe reIigious
formuIalion of lhoughl lhey have crealed in lheir minds, manipuIale il
in lheir ovn inleresl, and conlroI lhe coIIeclive sociely of peopIe
lhereby. Thus il is lhal reIigionism allempls lo "pIay God" in lhe Iives
of peopIe, and propagales a parlicuIar beIief-syslem lhal becomes a
dislinclive ...ism of a socioIogicaI movemenl.
Christian Rc!iginn and its ...isms
Many are lhe ...isms lhal have formed in lhe conlexl of Chrislian re-
Iigion over lhe cenluries, and vhich serve as a deniaI of lhe divine reaI-
ily of Chrislianily. Ivery such ...ism serves onIy as a palhelic dimin-
ishmenl of lhe divine dispIay of Chrisl's Iife in Chrislians. They aIso
serve as bunkers behind vhich reIigionisls can hide in order lo parlici-
pale in lheir divisive posilioning and posluring, inslead of focusing lo-
gelher and being unified in lhe person and vork of Iesus Chrisl.
These ...isms lake differenl forms, so ve shaII consider lhem in five
calegories (vhich is cerlainIy nol an allempl lo creale an ...ism oul of
...isms!). As lhese are very fIuid, lhey can easiIy overIap as lhey fIov
inlo one anolher.
(1) ...isms of ideoIogicaI lheories. As previousIy noled, many ...isms are
formed as ideoIogicaI conslrucls of lhoughl. One of lhe earIiesl ...isms
confronled by nascenl Chrislianily vas lhal of Greek gnoslicism, vilh
ils emphasis on lhe necessily of having a speciaI knovIedge of spiri-
luaI mysleries in order lo advance inlo spiriluaI eIilism. Though lhe
earIy church re|ecled lhis phiIosophy, lhey vere somevhal unavare of
lhe exlenl lo vhich lhe duaIism of HeIIenism and IIalonism vas af-
fecling Chrislian lhoughl. This vas evidenced in an arid inleIIecluaI-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
sza
ism and ralionaIism, lhal Ialer Ied lo schoIaslicism. The lheoIogism of
doclrinaIism and creedaIism soon became pervasive. Chrislian reIigion
became lhe advocacy of a beIief-syslem, assenled lo by easy-beIievism.
This remains lhe focus of ideoIogicaI fundamenlaIism and evangeIicaI-
ism, defending lheir epislemoIogicaI posilion vilh lhe dogmalism of
absoIulism, oflen based on a bibIicism and IileraIism borroved from
Iudaism.
(2) ...isms of concepluaI lrends. Throughoul lhe hislory of lhe Chrislian
reIigion lhere have been phiIosophicaI and lheoIogicaI lrends of
lhoughl lhal infIuenced lhe ideoIogicaI lheories. ßehind gnoslicism
lhere vere concepls of myslicism and spiriluaIism, vhich have arisen
over and over again in Chrislian reIigion. There has aIvays been lhe
concepluaI dicholomy belveen lhe hisloricism vhich foslers conserva-
lism and lradilionaIism, versus lhe IiberaIism lhal advocales progres-
sivism and revoIulionism. In lhe midsl of such lhere has aIvays been
an expeclancy of fulurism, oflen laking varianl forms of apocaIypli-
cism or miIIenniaIism, vilh lrends lovard lriumphaIism or pessimism.
As lhe Chrislian reIigion adapled lo ils surroundings in cuIluraIism, il
oflen adopled nev lendencies by ecIeclicism or syncrelism. An hislori-
caI reviev of lhe absorplion of ideaIism, empiricism, pragmalism, and
exislenliaIism (|usl lo name a fev) viII documenl lhe lendency lo bor-
rov lhe concepluaI lrends of humanism.
(3) ...isms of behavioraI praclices. The rapid rale of decIine vherein lhe
Chrislian reIigion degeneraled inlo lhe reIigionism of moraIism and
elhicism is aslounding. Hov soon lhey abandoned reIiance upon lhe
dynamic grace of God for Chrislian behavior. Ior lhe mosl parl lhey
Iapsed inlo lhe IegaIism of lhe oId Iharisaism, bul some opled for lhe
hedonism of Iiberlinism vhere "anylhing goes!". Subsequenl emphases
on behavioraI praclices incIuded pielism, quielism, and lhe suppres-
sionism of fIeshIy lendencies. On a coIIeclive IeveI lhere have been
caIIs for sociaI aclivism, as veII as pressured appeaIs lo parlicipale in
evangeIism and revivaIism.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
szs
(4) ...isms of proceduraI pallerns. In order lo pass on lhe expIanalions
of lheir beIief-syslem, Chrislian reIigion insliluled calechism inslruc-
lion. Those vho vere lhe leachers parlicipaled in lhe aulhorilarianism
of cIericaIism, and ils evenluaI professionaIism. The inevilabIe poIili-
cism of lhe church Ieadership resuIled in hierarchicaIism and papaI-
ism. As lhey conducled lhe pubIic galherings of lhe Chrislian reIigion,
lhese same Ieaders encouraged ceremoniaIism and formaIism lhrough
riluaIism and Iilurgism. SacramenlaIism furlher lied lhe parlicipanls lo
lhe proceduraI pallerns of lhe priesls. Though lhere vere some Chris-
lians vho allempled lo escape aII vorIdIiness lhrough ascelicism or
monaslicism, lhe vasl ma|orily accepled lhe proceduraIisms of vhal
vouId Ialer lake lhe forms of melhodism, congregalionaIism, and lhe
Iike.
(5) ...isms of socioIogicaI movemenls. As lhe lheories, lrends, praclices
and procedures vere impIemenled, lhe coIIeclivism of a socioIogicaI
movemenl look pIace. Whal vas lo have been lhe coIIeclive expression
of Chrislianily in lhe Church, nov look lhe form of eccIesiaslicism and
inslilulionaIism. Though lhe universaIily of CalhoIicism heId lhis lo-
gelher in a singuIar socioIogicaI inslilulion for many cenluries, il vas
evenluaIIy severed by Iroleslanlism, vhich evenluaIIy spIinlered inlo
seclarianism and a diverse denominalionaIism, vhich has never uni-
fied despile lhe allempls of ecumenism. TheoIogicaI groupings vere
oflen idenlified by lhe ideoIogy of a parlicuIar personage, such as Au-
guslinianism, Thomism, Lulheranism, CaIvinism, Arminianism,
WesIeyanism, elc. Olher groups are idenlified by elhnicily, ex. AngIi-
canism, or by poIily, ex. Iresbylerianism.
This brief reviev of reIigious ...isms is by no means exhauslive, and
couId sureIy be muIlipIied many limes vilh olher exampIes and olher
calegories. The inlenl is soIeIy lo expose lhe propensily lo accumuIale
...isms in lhe Chrislian reIigion.
Christianity is nnt an ...ism
AII ...isms are anlilhelicaI lo Chrislianily, and are necessariIy a reduc-
lionism of lhe spiriluaI reaIily lhal is Chrislianily. AII ...isms are an al-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
szó
lempl lo encapsuIale or encompass Chrislianily inlo an enlily (be il
ideoIogicaI, concepluaI, behavioraI, proceduraI or socioIogicaI) lhal can
in no vise conlain lhe supernaluraI aclivily of lhe Living God. The be-
ing and aclivily of lhe God of lhe universe viII never be confined in a
bollIe or box of man's making and underslanding.
Chrislianily is aIive vilh lhe Iiving expression of lhe Iife of lhe risen
Lord Iesus. Chrislianily is lhe onloIogicaI dynamic of Iesus vho is
"aIive and veII" in Chrislians loday, |usl as in every generalion since
Ienlecosl. He cannol be bound up in lhe reIigion of ideoIogy, behav-
ior, procedures or inslilulions. He is free lo express His divinily in our
humanily!
Whereas ...isms are fixed and unchanging in lheir paramelers, having
been carefuIIy cIarified and defined, lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl expressed
in Chrislians is sponlaneous, unique and crealive: ever-changing and
surprising never capabIe of being slereolyped and reguIaled. The onIy
pallern is lhe consislency of lhe immulabIe characler of Chrisl in lhe
midsl of lhe muIliludinous expressions of His Iife in Chrislian behav-
ior.
CoIIecliveIy, His Iife is expressed in lhe eccIesia of lhe ßody of Chrisl,
lhe Church (Iph. 1:22,23: CoI. 1:18,24). Never inlended lo be an organ-
izalionaI inslilulion, lhe Church is a Iiving spiriluaI organism vherein
lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl is expressed inleracliveIy and sociaIIy in Ioving
inlerpersonaI reIalionships. As lhe characler of Chrisl's "Iove, |oy,
peace, palience, kindness, goodness,... (GaI. 5:22,23) is manifesled lo-
vard one anolher in Chrislian reIalionships, Chrislianily becomes lhe
resloralion of man, bolh in individuaI behavior and in coIIeclive com-
munily.
Chrislianily is nol an ...ism! Chrislianily is Chrisl!
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN ‘ISM’
sz/
FOOTNOTE5
1 Kierkegaard, Soren, Aiiack cn Cnrisicn!cn. Irincelon: Irincelon Universily Iress. 1944.
pg. 160.
2 ||i!.. pgs. 162, 163.
3 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc Su|tcrsicn cj Cnrisiianiiu. Grand Rapids: WiIIiam ß. Ierdmans Iub.
Co., 1986.
4 ||i!.. pgs 10,11.

sz8
9 Chrislianily is Nol IrobIem-SoIving


In raiscd gn!d !cttcrs over lhe ornale enlrance, lhe sign read "GIobaI
Repair and RehabiIilalion Inlerprises." The corporale offices of lhis
successfuI vorIdvide business vere lopped vilh a spire, and lhe vin-
dovs vere formed of slained-gIass designed by lhe vorId's besl arli-
sans. The founder of lhis enlerprise, Mr. I. C. Solerion, vas knovn
lhroughoul lhe business vorId as "Mr. Iix-il." His hand-picked succes-
sors had buiIl up lhe business vilh lhe slaled ob|eclive lo fix, correcl
and soIve every probIem knovn lo man. ßy aggressive markeling and
muIlinalionaI franchising lhe incorporalion vas evenluaIIy abIe lo en-
gage in corporale diversificalion lhal aIIoved for speciaIizalion in
every area of probIem-soIving. ßy lhe furlher deveIopmenl of poIilicaI
aIIiances vilh "lhe povers lhal be" lhroughoul lhe vorId, lhis inslilu-
lion vas engaged in every feasibIe soIulion lo reIieve, resoIve and
remedy lhe needs and probIems of mankind.
This longue-in-cheek parody obviousIy porlrays Chrislian reIigion
and lhe inslilulionaI church as a business enlerprise dedicaled lo soIv-
ing aII lhe probIems of lhe vorId. Has nol Chrislendom oflen pro|ecled
lhis lo be lhe ob|eclive of ils reIigious business` Ierhaps il is lime lo
queslion and evaIuale lhe Iegilimale ob|eclives of Chrislianily.
Al lhe oulsel, one musl admil lhal lhere are "a miIIion and one," i.e.
innumerabIe, needs and probIems in lhe vorId loday. In lhe faIIen
vorId-order of depraved humanily and lhe consequenl corruplion and
perversion of aII sociaI slruclures and inslilulions, lhe needs and prob-
Iems are never-ending. They go vilh lhe lerrilory. They are parl and
parceI of lhe probIemalic nemesis broughl on by lhe inlroduclion of
sin in lhe human race.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
szo
The queslion is, lhough, "Whal can be done lo resoIve lhese needs
and probIems of mankind`" Can mankind, individuaIIy or coIIecliveIy,
find soIulions and remedies lo reclify lhe silualion` Do Chrislians have
any responsibiIily lo allempl lo deIiver and "save" lhe faIIen vorId-
syslem from lheir probIems` Iacques IIIuI, Irench socioIogisl, hislo-
rian of sociaI inslilulions, professor of Iav, and an aclive Chrislian
Ieader in lhe Reformed Church of Irance, asks lhe queslion lhusIy,
"Who leIIs us anyvay lhal aII human probIems shouId or can be
soIved` Ierhaps unsoIved probIems are more imporlanl for God lhan
soIulions are...since lhey remind us of man's sin and lhe divine re-
demplion. Ierhaps man's probIems are so compIicaled and so badIy
pul lhal lhey are in facl insoIubIe. The probIem of veaIlh and poverly
viII never be soIved excepl as il remains unsoIved. The organized bal-
lIe of lhe Church againsl lemporaI eviIs Iike sIavery, inlemperance,
and nalionaI division runs inlo lhe same difficuIlies as lhe Crusades.
Ils experience gives us good reason lo ask lo vhal exlenl il is lhe
church's mission lo soIve lhese lemporaI probIems."
1

Il is cerlainIy Iegilimale lo queslion vhelher il is lhe lask of Chris-
lians lo allempl lo soIve probIems vilhin lhe arena of lhe faIIen vorId-
order.
The slory of DanieI and King ßeIshazzar, recorded in lhe fiflh chap-
ler of DanieI (5:1-31), seems lo sel lhe slage for a consideralion of
vhelher ve have any responsibiIily lo engage in probIem-soIving in
lhe conlexl of lhe vorId-syslem. King ßeIshazzar, son of King Nebu-
chadnezzar, vhiIe in lhe midsl of idoIalrous carousing sav some
handvriling on lhe vaII. Dislurbed by vhal he sav, he delermined lo
seek an aIIiance vilh reIigion lo inlerprel and soIve lhe probIem (a mu-
luaIIy expedienl aIIiance lhroughoul human hislory). IvenluaIIy
DanieI lhe prophel vas summoned lo inlerprel lhe silualion, be an
"ansver man," and "soIve difficuIl probIems" (cf. Dan. 5:12,16). King
ßeIshazzar offered lo revard and remunerale DanieI, lo praise and
promole him, bul DanieI vas nol inleresled in lhe baubIes and benefils
of engaging in reIigio-poIilicaI probIem-soIving, and loId lhe King lo
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;o
"keep his gifls." DanieI vas viIIing, hovever, lo procIaim vhal God
had reveaIed lo him, and forlhvilh loId lhe King lhal his Iife and
kingdom vas fuII of sin, didn'l add up lo lhe characler of God, and
vouId soon be decimaled and broughl lo an end. Thal very nighl King
ßeIshazzar vas sIain, and his kingdom vas divided among lhe Medes
and lhe Iersians. Is lhere a "message" here lhal varns againsl lhe mu-
luaIIy expedienl aIIiances lhal vouId seek lo inlerprel, ansver and
"soIve lhe difficuIl probIems" of lhe vorId` ShouId Chrislians, Iike-
vise, be making a procIamalion of lhe reveIalion of God in Iesus
Chrisl, vhich expIains lhal He has "overcome lhe vorId" (In. 16:33),
lhal "lhe ruIer of lhis vorId has been |udged" (In. 16:11), and "shaII be
casl oul" (In. 12:31)`
If ve Iook al lhe Iife, minislry and redemplive efficacy of Iesus Chrisl
perhaps ve shaII see even more cIearIy lhe pallern of approach lo lhe
vorId and ils probIems lhal Chrislians shouId have. ßrilish ßibIe
leacher, Ma|. W. Ian Thomas noles lhal
"lhe Lord Iesus Chrisl refused lo be commilled lo lhe parochiaI needs
of His ovn day and generalion: He vas nol commilled lo lhe poIilicaI
silualion in IaIesline, or lo lhe emancipalion of lhe Ievish nalion from
lhe Roman yoke! He vas nol commilled lo lhe pressing sociaI prob-
Iems of His lime, nor lo one faclion as opposed lo anolher, any more
lhan loday He is commilled lo lhe Wesl againsl lhe Iasl, or lo lhe Re-
pubIicans againsl lhe Democrals (as lhough eilher vere Iess vicked
lhan lhe olher!). Chrisl vas nol even commilled lo lhe needs of a per-
ishing vorId: He vas neilher unmindfuI nor unmoved by aII lhese
olher issues, bul as Ierfecl Man He vas commilled lo His Ialher, and
for lhal onIy lo vhich His Ialher vas commilled in Him excIusiveIy!"
2

Despile lhe incessanl reIigious caIIs lo respond lo lhe "needs" of lhe
vorId, and lo dedicale and commil ourseIves lo soIve lhe physicaI,
psychoIogicaI and spiriluaI probIems of mankind, il does nol appear
lhal lhese guiIl-producing obIigalions are consislenl vilh Chrislian re-
sponsibiIily. Ralher lhan being reIigiousIy commilled lo responding lo
and soIving lhe probIems of lhe vorId, ve are lo be submilled (cf.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;s
Iames 4:7) lo vhalever God in Chrisl is commilled lo being and doing
in us. Whal a reIief and reIease from lhe performance-orienled burden
of reIigious obIigalion! In lhe obedience of "Iislening under" (nupakcuc)
lhe direclion and Ieading of lhe Spiril of Chrisl (cf. Rom. 8:14), ve Iive
and acl by lhe grace-dynamic of God as He Ieads and empovers genu-
ine Chrislian minislry.
Some have allempled lo porlray Iesus as a poIilicaI and reIigious
revoIulionary-aclivisl. Such aclions as overlurning lhe labIes in lhe
lempIe and slanding up lo lhe reIigious and secuIar aulhorilies can
easiIy be misconslrued as having such molivalion, bul a Iarger per-
speclive of Iesus' minislry does nol Iend ilseIf lo lhe supporl of such an
agenda. His inlenl vas indeed revoIulionary, bul nol in lhe sense of
poIilicaI insurreclion or sociaI lransformalion, bul ralher in a radicaIIy
differenl concepl of "kingdom" vherein He as lhe divine king vouId
reign and ruIe as Lord in lhe Iives of lhe peopIe of God, manifesling
His characler vhich is diamelricaIIy opposile of lhal evidenced in lhe
faIIen vorId-order. Indeed, lhere vas a predicamenl or probIem lo
soIve in order lo effecl such a kingdom lhe aIienalion of man from
God by his spiriluaI condilion and behavioraI expression of sin. In an
acl lhal accepled lhe appearance of poverIessness and veakness, Iesus
voIunlariIy submilled in obedience (cf. IhiI. 2:8) lo vicariousIy and
subslilulionaIIy lake lhe consequences of humanily's sin in dealh. In
lhis remediaI aclion of redemplion He vouId lake lhe dealh conse-
quences of our sin, in order lhal lhe reaIily of His divine Iife mighl be
reslored lo mankind. Irom lhe cross He excIaimed, "Tcic|csiai!" "Il is
finished!" "IrobIem soIved!" (In. 19:30). InexorabIy selling in molion
lhe enlire resloralionaI ob|eclive of resloring God's Iife lo man, Iesus
knev lhal lhe resurreclion, IenlecoslaI oulpouring and consummalory
gIorificalion vere assured. In lhis "finished vork" of Iesus Chrisl, God
graciousIy soIved lhe uIlimale probIem of mankind.
When Chrislian reIigion reverls lo secondary efforls of probIem-
soIving as lheir primary mission in lhe vorId, lhey are in effecl deny-
ing lhe "finished vork" of Chrisl by focusing on and engaging in
"vorks" lhal allempl lo "finish" God's vork on His behaIf, inslead of
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;z
reIying on vhal has been accompIished once and for aII mankind in
Chrisl. Yel, Chrislian reIigion has oflen pro|ecled ilseIf as lhe "force of
good" lo change or lransform lhe vorId of eviI, perceiving ils roIe in a
"savior-compIex" lhal sels oul lo deIiver lhe vorId from ils probIems.
Roberl Capon's remarks are perlinenl:
"Chrislianily is nol a reIigion. Chrislianily is lhe procIamalion of lhe
end of reIigion, nol of a nev reIigion, or even of lhe besl of aII reIig-
ions. ...If lhe cross is lhe sign of anylhing, il's lhe sign lhal God has
gone oul of lhe reIigion business and soIved aII of lhe vorId's prob-
Iems vilhoul requiring a singIe human being lo do a singIe reIigious
lhing. Whal lhe cross is acluaIIy a sign of is lhe facl lhal reIigion can'l
do a lhing aboul lhe vorId's probIems lhal il never did vork and il
never viII..."
3

IaiIing lo recognize lhe grace of God in Iesus Chrisl, Chrislian reIig-
ion marches on lo garner ils forces for a parlicuIar cause ceIebre in or-
der lo creale a sociaI movemenl lo allempl lo fix lhe iIIs and voes of
lhe vorId. Ralher lhan expIaining lhe viclory von by Chrisl over aII
eviI, lhey seek lo expunge lhe perceived eviIs in lhe vorId, oflen by
socio-poIilicaI and reIigious reform movemenls lhal offer a pseudo-
saIvalion. This is ever so cIose lo lhe Marxisl ob|eclives lo "change lhe
vorId" lhrough socio-economic lransformalion.
Commenling on lhis lendency of Chrislian reIigion lo become in-
voIved in socio-poIilicaI lransformalionism, vhich he lerms "lhe faIse
presence of lhe kingdom" in a book so enlilIed, Iacques IIIuI observes
lhal
"every lime lhe Church has gollen inlo lhe poIilicaI game, no maller
vhal lhe manner of her enlry, no maller vhal her opinion or opposing
choices in a poIilicaI silualion vilh regard lo an inslilulion, she has
been dravn every lime inlo a belrayaI, eilher of reveaIed lrulh or of
lhe incarnale Iove. She has become invoIved every lime in aposlasy.
...IoIilics is lhe Church's vorsl probIem. Il is her conslanl lemplalion,
lhe occasion of her grealesl disaslers, lhe lrap conlinuaIIy sel for her by
lhe Irince of lhis vorId."
4

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;;
When reIigion engages in sociaI probIem-soIving, especiaIIy in aIIi-
ance vilh lhe secuIar governmenlaI slruclures vhich have succumbed
lo lhe eviI of faIIen men and lhus designaled as opposing "principaIi-
lies and povers' (cf. Iph. 6:12), lhen il has |oined lhe aclion on lhe
deviI's pIayground. They parlicipale in lhe diaboIic pover-slruggIes of
human sociaI pyramids. To be sure, lhere is a pIace for such sociaI
probIem-soIving. SecuIar governmenls are obIiged lo engage in such.
ReIigion viII inevilabIy advocale such. Genuine Chrislianily does nol
seek lo eIiminale, deslroy or debunk such invoIvemenl by lhese hu-
man inslilulions, bul onIy lo devaIue such by recognizing lhal il is nol
an end in ilseIf, and viII nol uIlimaleIy soIve lhe vorId's probIems. AII
lhe vhiIe Chrislians musl recognize lhal peripheraI probIem-soIving in
lhe arena of lhe faIIen vorId-order is nol lhe primary lask or mission
of lhe church, and lhal lhere is no parlicuIar "Chrislian soIulion" for
every perceived probIem in lhe vorId.
IrobIem-soIving reIigion becomes bul anolher sociaI agenl uliIizing
expedienl looIs of force as cIubs by |uslifying lhe "mighl of lhe righl" in
lhe pover-pIays of lhe vorId arena. IIaying lhe vorId's game by using
lheir melhodoIogy, such reIigion does nol heIp lhe silualion, bul be-
comes parl of lhe probIem in lheir seIf-efforl lo provide remedies.
When Chrislians lhink lhal lhey are "serving" God by allempling lo
soIve lhe probIems of peopIe and lhe vorId, lhey faiI lo undersland
lhal "God is nol served vilh human hands" (Acls 17:25) and lheir al-
lempls lo heIp God oul in probIem-soIving is nol heIpfuI. Human
heIpfuIness is nol heIpfuI from God's perspeclive. If il is nol His acliv-
ily, done His vay by Him, lhen il is nol vorlh doing. In addilion,
probIem-soIving reIigion is impalienl in ils desires lo achieve ils ob|ec-
lives. Il vanls lo perform, allack, assauIl, seize lhe day as il engages in
ils agenda of aclivislic resoIulion. Wailing upon God and aIIoving
Him in His sovereignly lo deaI vilh Iife and lhe vorId in His lime and
in His vay can onIy be conceived as passivislic acquiescence by lhose
vho viev lhe Chrislian purpose as probIem-soIving.
Chrislians have faiIed lo undersland lhe reaIily of lhe "good nevs"
lhey procIaim. Chrislianily is nol a premise, proposilion, program or
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;a
procedure lo be appIied lo lhe probIems of lhe faIIen vorId. Whal ve
have lo share is nol a magic polion: an eIixir lhal makes everylhing
lurn oul righl. The gospeI is nol a panacea, a cure-aII, a remedy for aII
iIIs. Il is nol a "phiIosopher's slone" lhal con|ures up some imaginary
spiriluaI subslance lhal viII lurn lhe base melaIs of sociely inlo ulo-
pian goId, as lhe calhoIicon of lhe vorId's voes. The "good nevs" of
Chrislianily is lhe Iiving Ierson of Iesus Chrisl, ralher lhan a packaged
soIulion lo an idenlifiabIe sociaI or personaI probIem. Iven if lhe per-
ceived probIem is lhe spiriluaI depravily of an unregenerale individ-
uaI, ve do nol exlend or appIy a packaged saIvalion lo fix lheir spiri-
luaI probIem, bul poinl lhem lo, and seek lo inlroduce lhem lo lhe
risen Lord Iesus as lheir Savior. And even lhis mission ob|eclive musl
nol be perceived as a probIem-soIving pro|ecl lo vin lhe vorId lo
Chrisl by a parlicuIar poinl in lime. Chrislianily is nol a probIem-
soIving pro|ecl lo creale perfecl individuaIs, perfecl churches, a perfecl
sociely, or a perfecl vorId. Ralher, Chrislianily is a personaI Savior,
Iesus Chrisl. He did nol come lo be a remedy lo probIems, bul lo be
lhe Redeemer of mankind.
When Chrislianily is regarded as a packaged soIulion lo idenlifiabIe
sociaI or personaI probIems, lhe reaIily of Chrislianily becomes ob|ecli-
fied as an "il," some "lhing" lo be appIied lo a probIem as a uliIilarian
inslrumenl. The message of Chrislianily is lhus slalic and ob|eclified,
Iinear and causaI, hisloricized and lheoIogized as a personaI and sociaI
soIulion. Iesus is nol a soIulion! He is "lhe vay, lhe lrulh and lhe Iife"
(In. 14:6), lhe modaIily, reaIily and vilaIily of God vho has invesled
HimseIf inlo lhe human condilion and silualion. He is lhe onloIogicaI
ßeing vho aclivales His crealion.
We musl recognize lhal lhere viII aIvays be probIems in lhis faIIen
vorId-order. They are inlrinsic lo lhe characler of lhe IviI One, lhe
"god of lhis vorId" (II Cor. 4:4), as he causes and creales his characler
lo be energized in lhe individuaIs (cf. Iph. 2:2) and sociaI slruclures of
lhe vorId-order of eviI. The Scriplures do nol "sugar-coal" lhe silua-
lion for lhe Chrislian vho is "in lhe vorId, bul nol of lhe vorId" (cf. In.
17:11,14). Ioverly is perenniaIIy presenl (cf. Mall. 26:11). We are prom-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;s
ised lribuIalion (In. 16:33) and "difficuIl limes" (II Tim. 3:1). Il seems
lhal one of lhe grealesl lemplalions among Chrislian peopIes is lo as-
pire lo be free of any probIems here on earlh.
LIoyd OgiIvie expIains lhal
"lhe grealesl probIem ve aII share, lo a grealer or Iesser degree, is a
profound misunderslanding of lhe posilive purpose of probIems. UnliI
ve grappIe vilh lhis giganlic probIem, ve viII be heIpIess viclims of
our probIems aII lhrough our Iives."
5

Tim HanseI ampIifies lhis lheme by noling lhal
"mosl peopIe lhink of probIems as somelhing bad, as some lerribIe in-
lerruplion in lheir Iives vhich lhey vish lhey did nol have lo endure.
In lrulh, probIems in and of lhemseIves are nol necessariIy bad. Il is
inleresling lo nole lhal lhe acluaI Greek rool of lhe vord 'probIem,'
nameIy, probaIein, means lo lhrov or lo lhrusl forvard. IrobIems are
lhe very means by vhich God drives us forvard. Wilhoul probIems,
lhere vouId be no grovlh."
6

AIlhough lhese aulhors are addressing personaI probIems of lhe in-
dividuaI inslead of lhe generaI probIems of lhe vorId, lhe common
lhread is lhe necessily of accepling probIems. In facl, Thomas Merlon
commenls lhal "a Iife vilhoul probIems is hopeIess." ßibIicaI hope is
lhe confidenl expeclalion lhal lhings viII be beller lhan lhey presenlIy
are. Those vho yearn for a Iife vilhoul probIems lhe esoleric myslic
and lhe sociaI IiberaI bolh seem lo share lhis unachievabIe ob|eclive
lhus yearn for an overIy-reaIized eschaloIogicaI silualion absenl of
hope.
UnliI lhe consummalion of lhe grand experimenl of humanily on
earlh, vhen Chrisl shaII relurn and lhere viII be a "nev heaven and a
nev earlh" (II Iel. 3:13), ve can expecl personaI and sociaI probIems.
To lhink lhal Chrislians are going lo soIve aII lhe probIems of lhe
vorId is akin lo lhinking lhal a foresl fire lhal is enguIfing our pIanel
couId be quenched by Chrislians coIIecliveIy bealing back lhe fIames
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;ó
vilh lheir ßibIes. Il is aII going lo burn up evenluaIIy, and lhe fires of
heII are nol going lo be quenched.
In lhe meanlime ve musl recognize lhal lhe presence of lhe Chrislian
kingdom in lhe conlexl of lhe faIIen vorId of eviI, inslead of soIving aII
probIems, creales a vhoIe nev sel of probIems. The anomaIous reaIily
of kingdom-Iiving in lhe vorId exposes, subverls, and upsels lhe nc-
!us cpcran!i of lhe vorId-syslem. Thal is vhy Iesus varned lhal His
presence vouId bring lhe famiIy dissension of "brolher againsl
brolher" (Mall. 10:35), and lhe confIicl of a "svord" (Mall. 10:35). Chris-
lian reaIily, being anlilhelicaI lo lhe vorId's vays, creales bul anolher
insurmounlabIe probIem for lhe vorId-order as il seeks lo soIve lhe
vorId's probIems.
We musl nol Ieave lhe impression lhal Chrislianily necessariIy advo-
cales a passivislic acceplance of lhe slalus-quo: lhal il is unconcerned
aboul lhe vorId silualion in a relreal from cuIluraI reIevance. Nolhing
couId be farlher from lhe lrulh. The Iove, mercy, and compassion of
God in lhe Chrislian seeks lhe highesl good of suffering mankind.
IvangeIism, sociaI aclion, poIilicaI invoIvemenl, reIief efforls are aII
Iegilimale, as Iong as ve reaIislicaIIy reaIize lhal ve cannol and viII
nol soIve aII lhe probIems of lhe vorId: and ve viII nol produce a per-
feclionislic, probIem-free ulopian exislence here on earlh. Misguided
reIigious efforls lo manipuIale such resuIls lhrough man-made lech-
niques and limelabIes, onIy reveaI lhal reIigious man is sliII allempling
lo sel himseIf up as God lo "pIay HoIy Spiril," vilhoul reckoning on
God's grace-aclion in His due lime.
An hisloricaI exampIe of God's limeIy aclion aparl from reIigious or-
cheslralion mighl be lhe effecl lhal Chrislianily has had upon sIavery.
Human sIavery had been a sociaI iII lhroughoul human hislory, bul
"neilher Iesus nor lhe aposlIes lhoughl lhey couId soIve lhe probIem of
sIavery as a sociaI probIem. They did nol revoIl againsl lhe praclice.
They did nol conlend for lhe dignily of lhe human person. They did
nol allempl inslilulionaI lransformalion. The firsl Chrislians vere con-
lenl lo adopl an individuaI reIalion lo sIaves vhich changed lhe silua-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;/
lion from vilhin. This is vhal finaIIy broughl aboul, afler many cenlu-
ries, lhe aboIilion of sIavery."
7

SIaves vere encouraged lo obey lheir maslers as "unlo lhe Lord", and
maslers vere encouraged lo lreal lheir sIaves vilh Ioving kindness,
fairness and |uslice (Iph. 6:5-9: CoI. 3:22-4:1). The lragic silualion of
human sIavery vas graduaIIy diminished as lhe characler of Chrisl
vas expressed in lhe midsl of lhe probIem. Such is lhe revoIulionary
permealion of "saIl" and "Iighl" inlo lhe vorId (cf. Mall. 5:13-16).
Chrislianily is nol probIem-soIving! Chrislianily is Chrisl! Chrislian-
ily is lhe onloIogicaI dynamic of lhe divine Iife of lhe risen Lord Iesus
Iived oul in lhe aclive behavior of receplive Chrislians, and lhal vilhin
lhe perpIexilies of a pIelhora of personaI, sociaI, and vorId probIems.
Chrislianily is Chrisl's Iife Iived oul in Chrislians in every conlexl of
cIashing cuIlures, differing ideoIogies, and pIuraIislic perspeclives.
Such manifeslalion of Chrisl's Iife (cf. II Cor. 4:10,11) may resoIve some
perceived probIems among men, bul probIem-soIving is nol lhe mis-
sion ob|eclive of Chrislianily.
The leIeoIogicaI purpose of Chrislianily is nol uliIilarian soIulions lo
perceived probIems, bul receplivily lo lhe onloIogicaI characler of God
expressed in behavior lhal gIorifies God. We are "crealed for His gIory"
(Isa. 43:7). God does nol give His gIory lo anolher (cf. Isa. 42:8: 48:11)
in lhe form of accoIades and "alla-boys" for lhe resuIls of man-made
resoIulions and lransformalions of lhe vorId's probIems. God is gIori-
fied onIy as His aII-gIorious characler is Iived oul by lhe onloIogicaI
dynamic of lhe presence, person and pover of Iesus Chrisl by His
Spiril.
Our Chrislian responsibiIily is lo be avaiIabIe and receplive lo vhal
God in Chrisl vanls lo be and do in us. ßy lhe "obedience of failh" (cf.
Rom. 1:5: 16:26) ve remain receplive lo His aclivily: submilled lo
vhalever God is commilled lo in us: bIooming vhere ve are pIanled
by bearing lhe fruil of His characler (cf. In. 15:5: GaI. 5:22,23). Nolhing
is so conlrary lo our naluraI human lendencies, even as Chrislians, as
lhe acceplance of such poverIessness, veakness, inabiIily and inade-
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;8
quacy lhal musl reIy on God's aclion of grace in aII behavior and ac-
lion. Ivery lenel of lhe faIIen humanislic perspeclive posils human
produclivily and aclivily as lhe causaI eIemenl of lhe bellermenl of
mankind, so for lhe Chrislian lo accepl lhe radicaI modus operandi of
failhfuI receplivily of divine aclivily in vhal by aII appearances seems
lo be inuliIily and useIessness8 is diamelricaIIy differenl lhan lhe vay
lhe vorId operales. Iesus vas so righl vhen He said, "My kingdom is
nol of lhis vorId" (In. 18:36).
In expIaining Tnc Prcscncc cj inc King!cn, Iacques IIIuI vriles:
"Our vorId is enlireIy direcled lovards aclion. Iverylhing is inler-
preled in lerms of aclion. IeopIe are aIvays Iooking for sIogans, pro-
grammes, vays of aclion: aclion for aclion's sake. Our vorId is so ob-
sessed by aclivily lhal il is in danger of Iosing ils Iife. A man vho
spends aII his lime in aclion, by lhal very facl ceases lo Iive.
The vorId onIy desires aclion, and has no desire for Iife al aII. ...Whal
mallers is lo Iive, and nol lo acl. ...Whal ve need lo do is lo Iive, and lo
refuse lo accepl lhe melhods of aclion proposed by lhe vorId,...(even)
lhe church's 'caIIs lo aclion' made in miserabIe imilalion of lhe vorId.
Men shouId be aIive, inslead of being obsessed vilh aclion. To be
aIive means lhe lolaI silualion of man as he is confronled by
God...Iiving lo lhe gIory of lhe Crealor."
9

Ionder lhe succincl slalemenl lhal IIIuI makes: "A man vho spends aII
his lime in aclion, by lhal very facl ceases lo Iive." Thal is vorlhy of re-
pealed conlempIalion. When Chrislians spend aII lheir lime in aclivis-
lic probIem-soIving, lhey cease lo Iive abundanlIy (cf. In. 10:10) as
Chrisl inlends. The ob|eclive of Chrislianily is lo aIIov for lhe onlo-
IogicaI ßeing of lhe Life of God in Chrisl lo be expressed in lhe charac-
ler of our behavior unlo lhe gIory of God, ralher lhan lo engage in
humanIy conceived and execuled uliIilarian aclions and reIigious en-
deavors.
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
s;o
Whal, lhen, is lhe aclive responsibiIily of lhe Chrislian individuaI`
We acliveIy make lhe choice of failh lo be receplive and avaiIabIe lo aII
lhal God vanls lo be and do in us by lhe grace-dynamic of lhe Ierson
and vork of Iesus Chrisl. In obedience ve "Iislen under" lhe guidance
and direclion of God's Spiril lo discern His course of aclion: hov He
desires lo enacl His ßeing in our behavior. "He vho began a good
vork in you, viII perfecl il unliI lhe day of Chrisl Iesus" (IhiI. 1:6).
Herein is lhe freedom from lhe performance of probIem-soIving pro-
grams: lhe individuaI freedom lo be man as God inlended man lo be.
Once again IIIuI so aplIy noles:
"There are no cIear, simpIe, universaI, Chrislian soIulions lo aII lhe
probIems vhich arise. We can onIy pul lhe probIems as cIearIy as pos-
sibIe and lhen, having given lhe beIiever aII lhe veapons lhal lheoIogy
and piely can offer, say lo him: 'Nov il is up lo you lo go and find lhe
ansver, nol inleIIecluaIIy, bul by Iiving oul your failh in lhis silualion.'
There is no prefabricaled soIulion nor universaIIy appIicabIe modeI of
Chrislian Iife. ...Ireedom impIies lhal each Chrislian discovers for him-
seIf lhe slyIe and form of his aclion."
10

In lhe freedom of failhfuI receplivily, ve lhe Chrislian kingdom-
communily, individuaIIy and coIIecliveIy, aIIov for lhe radicaI and
revoIulionary Iife of Iesus Chrisl lo be incarnaled and manifesled in
our morlaI fIesh (cf. II Cor. 4:10,11) by lhe HoIy Spiril.
IrobIems viII inevilabIy presenl lhemseIves in lhe midsl of lhe faIIen
vorId-order (and perhaps inlensify) unliI lhe end of lime. Chrislians
shouId nol expecl lo soIve lhe vorId's probIems. Living, as ve do, in
lhe enigma of lhe inlerim belveen Chrisl's "finished vork" in lhe cruci-
fixion and resurreclion, and lhe consummalion of lhal viclory upon
His relurn, lhe probIems of lhe vorId may seem lo be overvheIming,
bul ve Iive in lhe confidenl expeclalion of hope lhal aII viII be re-
soIved in lhe finaI casling oul of eviI and ils probIems, and lhe reslora-
lion of crealion in "lhe nev heaven and nev earlh."
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING
sao
Chrislianily is nol probIem-soIving! Chrislianily is lhe Iife of Iesus
Chrisl Iived oul in lhe midsl of presenl probIems, evidencing His suffi-
ciency in aII silualions.



FOOTNOTE5
1 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc |inics cj |rcc!cn. Grand Rapids: Wm. ß. Ierdmans IubIishing Co.,
1976. pg. 373.
2 Thomas, W. Ian, Tnc Musicru cj Gc!|incss. Grand Rapids: Zondervan IubIishing
House. 1972. pg. 17.
3 Capon, Roberl Iarrar, Tnc Musicru cj Cnrisi. Grand Rapids: Wm. ß. Ierdmans Iub. Co.,
1993. pg. 62.
4 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc |a|sc Prcscncc cj inc King!cn. Nev York: Seabury Iress. 1972. pg.
125.
5 OgiIvie, LIoyd, |j Gc! Carcs. Wnu Oc | Sii|| Hatc Prc||cns? MinneapoIis: Grason, 1985.
6 HanseI, Tim, |aiing Prc||cns jcr Brcakjasi. A Sinp|c. Crcaiitc Apprcacn ic Sc|ting Anu
Prc||cn. DaIIas: Word IubIishing, 1988. pg. 17
7 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc |inics cj |rcc!cn. pg. 475.
8 IovIer, Iames A., Tnc Usc|cssncss cj Uscju|ncss an! inc Uscju|ncss cj Usc|cssncss. IaII-
brook: C.I.Y. IubIishing. 1996.
9 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc Prcscncc cj inc King!cn. IhiIadeIphia: Weslminsler Iress. 1951. pgs.
91-93.
10 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc |inics cj |rcc!cn. pg. 300.

sas
10 Chrislianily is Chrisl!


Wc must bcwarc of mereIy defining Chrislianily by vhal il is NOT.
IxpIanalion by negalion vas necessary, parlicuIarIy because of lhe
conlempoary confusion lhal meIds Chrislianily vilh reIigion and aII of
ils expressions. AIlhough ve have aIIuded in aII of lhe previous arli-
cIes lo lhe reaIily of Chrislianily in lhe Iiving dynamic of Iesus Chrisl,
ve shaII nov sel forlh a posilive expression of lhe facl lhal "Chrislian-
ily is Chrisl."
Whal does il mean lo be a Chrislian` Whal is Chrislianily`
Confusion over lhe meaning of lhese lerms, and misunderslanding
of lhe reaIily impIied by lhese lerms, has resuIled in gross misrepre-
senlalions of lhe same, even by lhose vho vouId cIaim lo be Chris-
lians engaged in Chrislianily. Il is, lherefore, of ulmosl imporlance lhal
ve re-evaIuale lhe reaIily of Chrislianily.
IoIIovers of Iesus vere "firsl caIIed Chrislians in Anlioch" (Acls
11:26). Ierhaps il vas iniliaIIy a IabeI of derision or derogalion, bul
King Agrippa seems lo have used lhe lerm as a neulraI designalion of
one beIieving in Iesus Chrisl (Acls 26:28), and Ieler empIoys il as an
accepled reference lo lhose idenlified vilh lhe name of Chrisl (I Ieler
4:16). ImmedialeIy lhereafler lhe over-aII phenomenon of persons
idenlifying vilh Iesus Chrisl vas generaIized as "Chrislianily." Igna-
lius and IoIycarp, discipIes of lhe aposlIe Iohn, used lhe Greek vord
cnrisiianisncs in lhe Iale firsl or earIy second cenlury, and Ialer vrilers
used lhe Lalin vord cnrisiianiias.
Semanlic varialions of meaning have proIiferaled lhrough lhe cenlu-
ries unlo lhe presenl. "Chrislianily" is defined as one of lhe vorId's re-
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
saz
Iigions. Il is anaIyzed hisloricaIIy as lhe evenls of ils adherenls and in-
slilulions lhrough lhe cenluries of aImosl lvo miIIennia. "Chrislianily"
is oflen used synonymousIy vilh "Chrislendom," aIlhough lhe Ialler
lerm is oflen used pe|oraliveIy of inslilulionaIized Chrislian reIigion.
In his Aiiack cn Cnrisicn!cn, Kierkegaard compIained lhal everyone in
Denmark considered lhemseIves lo be "Chrislians" because lhey vere
born inlo lhe slale church and baplized as infanls, concIuding lhal "if
everyone is a Chrislian, lhen no one is a Chrislian." Wilch-hunls, in-
quisilions and poIilicaI vars have been conducled in lhe name of
"Chrislian reIigion." Many have subsequenlIy re|ecled "Chrislianily,"
offended or in|ured by ils muIliludinous reIigious aberralions and in-
|uslices. SliII olhers (as ve shaII do in lhis sludy), reserve lhe lerm
"Chrislianily" for lhe spiriluaI reaIily of lhe funclion of lhe Iiving Lord
Iesus in Chrislians.
The mere usage of lerminoIogy is nol our ob|eclive, lhough, since
Ianguage is in conslanl fIux. Ralher, lhe queslions are: Whal vas lhe
iniliaI and ßibIicaI underslanding of vhal il meanl lo be a Chrislian`
Whal do lhe ßibIicaI vrilers impIy lo be lhe essence of Chrislianily`
AIlhough lhe lerm "Chrislianily" is nol found in lhe Scriplures, ve
viII consider il lo be indicalive of everylhing lhal Iesus Chrisl came lo
be and lo do. The enlirely of lhe reveIalion of God lo man is consli-
luled and comprised of lhe person and vork of Iesus Chrisl. In and by
His Son, God enacled everylhing necessary lo reslore mankind lo His
divineIy inlended funclion, reinvesling man vilh lhe spiriluaI reaIily
of lhe presence and funclion of deily vilhin humanily. When Iesus
lhus dveIIs and reigns spiriluaIIy in lhose vho receive Him by failh,
lhe kingdom lhal Iesus so oflen referred lo becomes operalive. The
resurreclion-Iife of Iesus becomes lhe spiriluaI empovering of lhe
Chrislian's Iife and parlicipalion in lhe eccIesia of lhe Church. Such a
spiriluaI, gospeI reaIily of "Chrislianily" can onIy be defined as lhe dy-
namic Iife and aclivily of lhe Iiving Lord Iesus Chrisl. Chrislianily is
Chrisl!

CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sa;
C.S. Levis expIained lhal
"in Chrisl a nev kind of man appeared: and lhe nev kind of Iife vhich
began in Him is lo be pul inlo us."
1

IarIier Iohn W. Nevin had vrillen,
"A nev order of reveIalion enlireIy bursls upon lhe vorId, in lhe per-
son of Iesus Chrisl. He is lhe absoIule lrulh ilseIf, personaIIy presenl
among men, and incorporaling ilseIf vilh lheir Iife. He is lhe sub-
slance, vhere aII previous prophecy, had been onIy as sound or sha-
dov."
2

God's seIf-reveIalion of HimseIf in His Son, Iesus Chrisl, invoIves an
inlegraI and indivisibIe oneness. The singuIar unily of lhe Godhead
seIf-communicales HimseIf lo man in lhe ncnccusicn union of Ialher,
Son and HoIy Spiril. In lhis divine lriunily lhere can be no bifurcalion
or lrifurcalion of independenl funclion. God acls as unified oneness.
When he acls He does vhal He does because He is vho He is. His ße-
ing is expressed in His aclivily, and His aclivily is aIvays expressive of
His ßeing. He never acls "oul of characler." His aclions are never de-
lached from lhe manifeslalion of vho He is in HimseIf: lhey are never
slalic, disconnecled aclions separaled or severed from lhe expression
of His ßeing. AII lhal God has lo give is a seIf-giving of HimseIf His
ßeing in aclion. He does nol reveaI or offer some "lhing" aboul Him-
seIf. He cannol be lhus parled or seclioned. Nor does He exlend some
commodily or producl dislincl from HimseIf. God reveaIs HimseIf and
acls in grace (In. 1:17) by lhe pover of lhe Spiril in His Son, Iesus
Chrisl. "No one knovs vho lhe Son is excepl lhe Ialher, and vho lhe
Ialher is excepl lhe Son, and anyone lo vhom lhe Son viII lo reveaI
HimseIf" (Lk. 10:22). The seIf-reveIalion of God in lhe Messianic Son
musl aIvays be underslood in lheir essenliaI oneness of divine ßeing,
as veII as lhe inlegraI unily of lheir ßeing and aclion. God reveaIs
HimseIf in lhe Son. He gives HimseIf lo man. Iesus Chrisl reveaIs lhe
gospeI in HimseIf. He gives HimseIf lo man as God.

CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
saa
Dua!istic Dctachmcnt
The faiIure lo mainlain lhe unily of lhe Ialher, Son and HoIy Spiril in
lhe unily of lheir ßeing and aclion aIvays Ieads lo aberralionaI under-
slandings and expressions of Chrislianily. The hislory of Chrislian re-
Iigion (as dislincl from Chrislianily) is repIele vilh man's allempls lo
divide lhe persons of lhe Godhead inlo dislincl funclions, and lo sever
Chrisl's vork from His person. This Ialler dis|unclive duaIism is lhe
more sublIe and lhe mosl prevaIenl lhroughoul vhal is caIIed "Chris-
lian hislory." Chrislianily is conceived of as some "lhing" eslabIished
aparl from, and dislincl from, Chrisl HimseIf. The gospeI, lhe Church,
lhe kingdom are regarded as separale enlilies offered, exlended, eslab-
Iished, effecled or dispensed by Iesus Chrisl, independenl of HimseIf.
T.I. Torrance correclIy idenlifies such "delachmenl of Chrislianily
from Chrisl"
3
as lhe resuIl of epislemoIogicaI duaIism, noling lhal
"fundamenlaIism is unviIIing lo acknovIedge lhe idenlily in being be-
lveen vhal God is lovard us in His reveIalion in Iesus Chrisl and
vhal He is in His Iiving ßeing and ReaIily in HimseIf."
4

IxampIes of such "separaled concepls" of fundamenlaIisl duaIism
shouId be inslruclive, if nol convicling:
The hisloricaI Iesus is oflen remembered as lhe hisloricaI founder of a
reIigion, lhe hislory of vhich can be documenled and anaIyzed. The
Iife of Iesus on earlh, and lhe specific evenls lhereof, are memoriaIized.
The slory is borne from generalion lo generalion in speciaI commemo-
ralions: "Happy ßirlhday Iesus" (Chrislmas) and "Remember lhe Res-
urreclion" (Iasler). Hov does lhis differ from lhe ceIebralory remem-
brances of George Washinglon's ßirlhday and lhe caII lo "Remember
IearI Harbor!"` When Chrislianily is faIseIy conceived of as an hislori-
caI sociely for lhe memory of and/or vorship of an hisloricaIIy de-
lached founder, lhere is a dis|unclive duaIism belveen Iesus Chrisl
and vhal is caIIed "Chrislianily."
When Iesus is porlrayed as mereIy a reIigious or lheoIogicaI leacher,
lhen lhe conlenl of His leaching becomes an ideoIogicaI beIief-syslem
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sas
dislincl from His person. Iven vhen Iesus is correclIy idenlified as lhe
medialoriaI represenlalive of God (I Tim. 2:5), lhe High Iriesl of God
(Heb. 3:1: 8:1), lhe Son of God (In. 11:27), lhe ralionaI formuIalion of
doclrinaI and lheoIogicaI proposilions can be formed inlo syslemalized
conslrucls of inlerprelalion lhal sland aIone from lhe Iiving presence of
Iesus Chrisl. Chrislianily lhen becomes a lheoIogicaI sociely for lhe ex-
pIanalion of and debale of lheoIogicaI lrulhs in proposilionaI and sen-
lenliaI precision, vilh no receplion and experience of lhe person of lhe
risen Lord Iesus.
Iesus can be procIaimed as lhe Savior of mankind, as He is vilhin
evangeIicaI preaching, bul vhen lhe Savior is delached from lhe proc-
ess of saIvalion a lransaclionaI duaIism resuIls. If Iesus is bul lhe bene-
faclor of lhe benefils of saIvalion, lhen He is bul lhe source of com-
modilies, "goods," services, producls or possessions lhal are dispensed,
conferred or endoved by one vho is duaIislicaIIy dislincl from lhal
vhich is deIivered. The spiriluaI DeIiverer becomes bul a reIigious
dispenser.
Those lhal advocale a behaviorislic moraIily or "Chrislian elhic" lhal
divorces lhe doing of good from lhe dynamic of lhe God-man, Iesus
Chrisl, creale a disconnecled duaIism lhal encourages and expecls be-
havior lhal conforms lo lhe codified ruIes and reguIalions by means of
empIoying procedures, lechniques and behavioraI formuIas, ralher
lhan deriving divine characler, lhe "fruil of lhe Spiril" (GaI. 5:22,23),
from lhe Spiril of Chrisl (Rom. 8:9). Such moraI "vorks" may be en-
acled for personaI spiriluaIily or for lhe sociaI good and bellermenl of
mankind al Iarge, bul vhen engaged in aparl from lhe oulvorking of
Chrisl's Iife, lhey remain disengaged from lhe reaIily of Chrislianily.
A fragmenled duaIism aIso resuIls vhen Iesus Chrisl is nol heId in
organic union vilh lhe Church, lhe ßody of Chrisl. Iesus is nol lhe
"Head of lhe Church" onIy in lerms of being an hierarchicaI head of an
organizalionaI inslilulion. Neilher is He lhe "head" in lhe sense of be-
ing lhe founlainhead and founder of a reIigion lhal bears His name.
His headship is nol mereIy inslrumenlaI in lhe eslabIishmenl of a cor-
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
saó
porale eccIesiaslicism lhal vouId serve as lhe deposilory, conservalory
and dispensary of grace and lrulh, as if lhese couId be dissecled from
lhe divine aclion of God in Chrisl.
Iroleslanlism is parlicuIarIy guiIly of lhe dissassocialive duaIism
lhal lransfers lhe expressive agency of lhe Word of God from Iesus
Chrisl (Iohn 1:1,14) lo lhe impersonaIized inslruclion of God in an in-
spired book. Ingaging in lhe bibIicism of devolion lo a canonicaI for-
muIalion, and empIoying various forms of inlerprelalion, Iroleslanl
fundamenlaIisls have deveIoped a book-reIigion lhal oflen deifies lhe
book in ßibIioIalry. WiIIiam ßarcIay noles lhal,
"There vas one mislake inlo vhich lhe earIy Church vas never in any
danger of faIIing. In lhose earIy days men never lhoughl of Iesus
Chrisl as a figure in a book. They never lhoughl of Him as someone
vho had Iived and died, and vhose slory vas loId and passed dovn
in hislory, as lhe slory of someone vho had Iived and vhose Iife had
ended. They did nol lhink of Him as someone vho had been bul as
someone vho is. They did nol lhink of Iesus Chrisl as someone vhose
leaching musl be discussed and debaled and argued aboul: lhey
lhoughl of Him as someone vhose presence couId be en|oyed and
vhose conslanl feIIovship couId be experienced. Their failh vas nol
founded on a book: lheir failh vas founded on a person."
5

In accord vilh lhal opinion, Iuan CarIos Orliz vriles,
"We need a nev generalion of Chrislians vho knov lhal lhe church is
cenlered around a Ierson vho Iives vilhin lhem. Iesus didn'l Ieave us
vilh |usl a book and leII us, 'I Ieave lhe ßibIe. Try lo find oul aII you
can from il by making concordances and commenlaries.' No, He didn'l
say lhal. 'Lo, I am vilh you aIvays,' He promised. 'I'm nol Ieaving you
vilh a book aIone. I am lhere, in your hearls.' ...We |usl have lo knov
lhal ve have lhe Aulhor of lhe book vilhin us..."
6

In addilion lo lhe above duaIislic lendencies, ve mighl aIso cile lhe
lheoIogicaI duaIism lhal has been invasive lhroughoul lhe cenluries of
"Chrislian lheoIogy" in lhe propensily lo ob|eclify lhe vork of Chrisl
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sa/
inlo exlernaI calegories unallached lo lhe personaI presence of Chrisl
by His Spiril in lhe Chrislian. When lhe vork of Iesus is casl inlo IegaI,
forensic and |udiciaI calegories lhal posil lhe lransference of penaIly
lhal issues forlh in lhe decIaralion and impulalion of |uslificalion in
lhe heavenIy courlroom, aparl from lhe spiriluaI and experienliaI
presence of lhe Righleous One, Iesus Chrisl (I In. 2:1), making us righl-
eous (II Cor. 5:21) and manifesling lhe characler "fruil of righleous-
ness" (IhiI. 1:11) in our behavior, ve have once again divorced lheoI-
ogy from lhe dynamic divine ßeing of lhe God-man, making il Iess lhal
"Chrislian lheoIogy."
ß.I. Weslcoll advised over a cenlury ago:
"According lo some lhe essence of Chrislianily Iies in lhe facl lhal il is
lhe supreme moraI Iav. According lo olhers ils essence is lo be found
in lrue doclrine, or more speciaIIy in lhe scheme of redemplion, or in
lhe means of lhe union of man vilh God. Chrislianily does in facl in-
cIude Lav, and Doclrine, and Redemplion, and Union, bul il combines
lhem aII in a sliII vider idea. Il eslabIishes lhe principIe of a Lav,
vhich is inlernaI and nol exlernaI, vhich incIudes an adequale molive
for obedience and coincides vilh lhe reaIisalion of freedom (Iames
1:25). Il is lhe expression of lhe Trulh, bul lhis Trulh is nol finaIIy pre-
senled in lhoughls bul in facl, nol in abslracl proposilions bul in a Iiv-
ing Ierson.
7

In lhis lhen Iies lhe main idea of Chrislianily, lhal il presenls lhe re-
demplion, lhe perfeclion, lhe consummalion of aII finile being in union
vilh God.
8

Chrislianily is hisloricaI nol simpIy or characlerislicaIIy because
Chrisl slanding oul before lhe vorId al a definile lime and pIace pro-
cIaimed cerlain lrulhs and Iaid dovn cerlain ruIes for lhe conslilulion
and conducl of a sociely. Il is hisloricaI because He offered HimseIf in
His ovn Ierson, and He vas shevn lo be in lhe evenls of His Life, lhe
reveIalion vhich He came lo give.
9

CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sa8
The divine reveIalion cannol be delached from lhe divine reaIily of
lhe Iiving Lord Iesus. The reveIalion of lhe gospeI is lhe reveIalion of
HimseIf. The "good nevs" is Iesus! The gospeI reveIalion of God in
Chrisl is nol a differenlialed phiIosophy vilh fragmenled principIes of
beIief and behavior. German marlyr, Dielrich ßonhoeffer, vrole,
"Chrisl is nol a principIe in accordance vilh vhich lhe vhoIe vorId
musl be shaped. Chrisl is nol lhe procIaimer of a syslem of vhal
vouId be good loday, here and al aII limes. Chrisl leaches no abslracl
elhics such as musl al aII cosls be pul inlo praclice. Chrisl vas nol es-
senliaIIy a leacher and IegisIalor, bul a man, a reaI man Iike ourseIves.
Il is nol lherefore His viII lhal ve shouId in our lime be lhe adherenls,
exponenls and advocales of a definile doclrine, bul lhal ve shouId be
reaI men before God. ...Whal Chrisl does is preciseIy lo give effecl lo
reaIily. He is HimseIf lhe reaI man and consequenlIy lhe foundalion of
aII human reaIily."
10

Irench aulhor, Iacques IIIuI, concurs,
"There are no such lhings as 'Chrislian principIes.' There is lhe Ierson
of Chrisl, vho is lhe principIe of everylhing. If ve vish lo be failhfuI
lo Him, ve cannol dream of reducing Chrislianily lo a cerlain number
of principIes, lhe consequences of vhich can be IogicaIIy deduced. This
lendency lo lransform lhe vork of lhe Living God inlo a phiIosophicaI
doclrine is lhe conslanl lemplalion of lheoIogy, and lheir grealesl dis-
IoyaIly vhen lhey lransform lhe aclion of lhe Spiril vhich brings forlh
fruil in lhemseIves inlo an elhic, a nev Iav, inlo 'principIes' vhich
onIy have lo be 'appIied.'"
11

The divine vork of God in Chrisl has been duaIislicaIIy ob|eclified
and hisloricaIIy delached from lhe Iiving person of lhe resurrecled
Lord. ßased upon lhose hisloricaI and lheoIogicaI ob|eclivilies of lhe
resloralive aclion of God in Chrisl, lhe spiriluaI vork of God in Chrisl
by lhe Spiril musl be sub|ecliveIy unified in lhe experience of men vho
are receplive lo such in failh. Despile lhe lendency lo shy avay from
such, due lo myslic excesses and such eccIesiaslicaI abuses as inlernaI
infusion and divinizalion lhal have arisen lhroughoul lhe hislory of
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sao
"Chrislian lheoIogy," lhere musl be a baIanced expIanalion and presen-
lalion of lhe ob|eclive and sub|eclive, epislemoIogicaI and experienliaI,
hisloricaI and personaI vork of God in Chrisl. Aparl from lhe experi-
enliaI vork of God in man, Chrislianily soon degenerales inlo mereIy
slalic hisloricaI remembrances, lheoIogicaI calegorizalions, bibIicisl in-
lerprelalions, moraI conformalions, IilurgicaI repelilions, elc., as noled
above. On lhe olher hand, aparl from lhe hisloricaI and lheoIogicaI
foundalions, Chrislianily easiIy degenerales inlo sensale sub|eclivism,
emolive ecslalism, elhereaI myslicism, lemporaI exislenliaIism, char-
ismalic enlhusiasm, elc. Thus lhe imporlance of our quesl for a baI-
anced ßibIicaI underslanding lhal inlegrales lhe exlernaI and inlernaI
by mainlaining an inlegraI unily of lhe elernaI person and vork of Ie-
sus Chrisl.
In his book enlilIed Cnrisiianiiu is Cnrisi. W.H. Griffilh Thomas con-
cIuded lhal,
"The Chrisl of Ixperience cannol be sundered from lhe Chrisl of His-
lory, and lhe appeaI lo experience is impossibIe unIess experience is
based on hisloric facl. The hislory musl guaranlee lhe experience in lhe
individuaI. ...If ve Iose our failh in lhe hisloric facl of lhe Chrisl of lhe
GospeIs il viII nol be Iong before ve Iose our failh in lhe experience of
lhe Chrisl of loday.
12

"...lhe cenlraI lrulh of Chrislianily (is) lhal lhe HoIy Spiril brings lo
bear on our hearls and Iives lhe presence and pover of lhe Iiving
Chrisl, and lhereby Iinks logelher lhe Chrisl of Hislory and lhe Chrisl
of Iailh. ...lhus lhe vork of lhe HoIy Spiril in reIalion lo Chrisl is lhe
very hearl of Chrislianily.
13

"Chrisl is essenliaI, Chrisl is fundamenlaI, Chrisl is aII.
14

Indeed, lhe inlrinsic unily of lhe physicaIIy incarnaled Iesus and lhe
resurrecled, ascended Iesus poured oul in lhe form of lhe Spiril of
Chrisl on Ienlecosl, conlinuing lo funclion in every age and unlo eler-
nily in lhe expression of His ovn ßeing, musl be mainlained un-
equivocaIIy as lhe essence of Chrislianily.
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sso
As lhe parlicuIar purpose of lhis sludy is lo caII Chrislian lheoIogy
back lo a personaIized underslanding of lhe unified vork of Chrisl in
His ever-presenl spiriluaI ßeing, ve shaII proceed lo consider lhe di-
vine reaIily of lhe inlernaIized presence and aclivily of lhe risen Lord
Iesus by His Spiril. In considering lhe sub|eclive and experienliaI im-
pIicalions of lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl in Chrislians, ve musl mainlain lhe
inlegraI oneness of His ßeing and aclion by noling bolh lhe onloIogicaI
essence of lhe indveIIing ßeing of Iesus Chrisl in lhe Chrislian, as veII
as lhe dynamic expression of lhe funclionaI aclivily of Iesus Chrisl in
and lhrough lhe Chrislian.
Ontn!ngica! Esscncc nI Jcsus Christ in thc Christian
The "bollom-Iine" reaIily of vhal il means lo be a Chrislian is ex-
pressed by lhe aposlIe IauI in his epislIe lo lhe Romans. "If anyone
does nol have lhe Spiril of Chrisl, he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9), for "lhe
Spiril HimseIf bears vilness vilh our spiril lhal ve are chiIdren of
God" (Rom. 8:16). Aparl from lhe indveIIing presence and vilness of
lhe onloIogicaI essence of Chrisl by His Spiril, one is nol a Chrislian
and nol parlicipaling in Chrislianily. "Chrisl in one" conslilules a
"Chrisl-one," i.e. a Chrislian. This is lhe radicaI nev reaIily lhal God
made avaiIabIe in lhe nev covenanl, lhe essenliaI presence of lhe very
person, Iife and ßeing of lhe Spiril of Chrisl: lhe seIf-conveyance of
HimseIf lo lhe spirils of receplive humanily.
In lhis resloralion of lhe Spiril of God lo lhe spirils of men (cf. Gen.
2:7), so lhal men mighl funclion as God inlended in His crealive de-
sign, lhere is effecled a spiriluaI union vhereby ve become "one spiril"
vilh Chrisl (I Cor. 6:17). This is nol a psychoIogicaI union vhereby ve
keep Iesus in our lhoughls and consciousness, nor is il a moraI union
vhereby ve are obIiged lo seek lo conform lo Iesus' exampIe. Ralher, il
is a spiriluaI union vhereby deily dveIIs and funclions in man: Chrisl
in lhe Chrislian. Iesus iIIuslraled lhis spiriluaI condilion lo Nicodemus
in lhe anaIogy of a "nev birlh," a spiriluaI regeneralion vhereby one is
"born of lhe Spiril" (Iohn 3:1-6).
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sss
Il is exlremeIy imporlanl lo keep in mind lhal lhe presence of lhe
risen Lord Iesus in lhe Chrislian is nol lo be divided from lhe person
and presence of lhe HoIy Spiril. The dissoIulion of lhe onloIogicaI es-
sence of Iesus Chrisl from lhe HoIy Spiril creales a defeclive lrinilarian
perspeclive of God lhal has pIagued "Chrislian lheoIogy" for cenluries
and remains a serious misrepresenlalion even in evangeIicaI expIana-
lions. The HoIy Spiril is nol a subslilule for Chrisl, nor is He a surro-
gale of Chrisl, bul musl be underslood lo be indissoIubIy one vilh
Chrisl. IauI adequaleIy reveaIs lhal lhe Spiril of God, lhe Spiril of
Chrisl, and lhe HoIy Spiril can be referred lo inlerchangabIy (Rom. 8:4-
11) as lhe lriune God, vho is Spiril (In. 4:24), funclions vilhin lhe
Chrislian. Sviss lheoIogian, KarI ßarlh, noled lhal
"lhe being and vork of Iesus Chrisl in lhe form of lhe being and vork
of His HoIy Spiril is lhe originaI and prefiguralive exislence of Chrisli-
anily and Chrislians."
15

The indveIIing presence of lhe onloIogicaI essence of God lhe Ialher,
Son and HoIy Spiril in lhe spiril of a Chrislian conslilules lhe divine
reaIily of a "nev crealure" in Chrisl. "If any man is in Chrisl, he is a
nev crealure" (II Cor. 5:17). This is nol an assumed idenlily vherevilh
lo engage in roIe-pIaying of Chrislian Iiving, bul a nev spiriluaI iden-
lily as a "nev man" (Iph. 4:24: CoI. 3:10) in Chrisl. The deepesl sense of
one's idenlily is in idenlificalion vilh lhe spiriluaI being lhal consli-
lules one's spiriluaI condilion.
Here, again, ve confronl lhe duaIislic delachmenl evidenl in Chris-
lian reIigion, lhal posils a separale and innale essence of human being
vilh a seIf-generaled capabiIily lo creale or assume personaI idenlily,
nalure, spiriluaIily, characler, image, Iife or immorlaIily, independenl
of God. OnIy in spiriluaI union vilh lhe onloIogicaI essence of Iesus
Chrisl can lhe Chrislian derive lhese spiriluaI reaIilies, conlingenl
upon and indivisibIe from Iesus Chrisl. Our spiriluaI nalure as Chris-
lians is nol an inherenl human nalure, bul has been converled from a
nalure idenlified vilh vralh (Iph. 2:2) lo "parlaking of lhe divine na-
lure" (II Ieler 1:4) in unified coaIilion vilh lhe spiriluaI nalure of God
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
ssz
in Chrisl. We are nol essenliaIIy spiriluaI, for lhal vouId be lo deify
man since onIy "God is Spiril" (In. 4:24): bul ve derive our spiriluaIily
from spiriluaI conneclivily eilher vilh lhe spiril of error or lhe spiril of
lrulh (I In. 4:6), lhe spiril of lhe vorId or lhe Spiril of God (I Cor. 2:12).
Our characler is nol a conspicuous fealure of personaIily in accord
vilh sociaI mores and vaIues, bul is delermined by lhe essenliaI im-
press of lhe characler of lhe spiril lhal indveIIs us. The image of God
in man is nol comprised of innale fealures of human crealureIiness,
nor of dis|oined refIeclions or represenlalions of God in man, bul lhe
reaIily of lhe spiriluaI presence of God vhich aIIovs for lhe visibIe ex-
pression of lhe characler of God in our behavior vhen ve have been
spiriluaIIy reneved lo such image in Iesus Chrisl (CoI. 3:10). Iven lhe
essence of our personhood is nol evaIualed by lhe personaIily charac-
lerislics of menlaI, emolionaI and voIilionaI funclion, bul by our one-
ness vilh lhe Ierson of God in Chrisl vho by His lrinilarian homo-
ousion is lhe perfeclion of reIalionaI inleraclion in Ioving inlerpersonaI
reIalionships.
The enlirely of vho ve are and vhal ve do as Chrislians is derived
from and conlingenl upon our spiriluaI union vilh lhe Spiril of Chrisl.
This is nol based upon an inslrumenlaI or causaI conneclion vilh
Chrisl vhereby some "lhing" olher lhan Chrisl is exlended lo us, bul is
a personaI and reIalionaI union vhereby Chrisl HimseIf becomes lhe
essence of aII divine and spiriluaI reaIilies in us.
"Chrisl is our Iife," expIains lhe aposlIe IauI, for "our Iife is hidden
vilh Chrisl in God" (CoI. 3:3,4). SpiriluaI Iife is conveyed nol by heri-
lage or performance (In. 1:13) or purchase, bul lhrough lhe figuralive
anaIogy of "nev birlh," being "born from above" (In. 3:1-6) or "born of
God" (In. 1:13). The Iife lhal ve receive in Chrisl is nol separaled aparl
from Iesus, nor is il a parl of Iesus lhal can be parliliveIy approprialed.
Iesus is lhe spiriluaI Iife lhal ve receive and parlicipale in. "God has
given us elernaI Iife, and lhis Iife is in His Son" (I In. 5:11). "I am...lhe
Iife" (In. 14:6), Iesus said, and "I came lhal you mighl have Iife" (In.
10:10). Concerning lhis elernaI spiriluaI Iife, W. Ian Thomas expIains,
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
ss;
"Iesus Chrisl and elernaI Iife are synonymous lerms, and elernaI Iife is
none olher lhan Iesus Chrisl HimseIf. ...If you have elernaI Iife al aII, il
simpIy means lhal you have lhe Son, Iesus Chrisl..."
"IlernaI Iife is nol a pecuIiar feeIing inside! Il is nol your uIlimale des-
linalion, lo vhich you viII go vhen you are dead. If you are born
again, elernaI Iife is lhal quaIily of Iife lhal you possess righl nov... He
is lhal Life!"
16

The spiriluaI Iife lhal ve experience in Chrisl is lhe very resurreclion-
Iife of Iesus Chrisl. The hisloricaI evenl of Iesus' physicaI resurreclion
from lhe dead, aIIoved lhe risen and Iiving Lord Iesus lo invesl His
resurreclion-Iife in aII Chrislians by lhe Spiril. "I am lhe resurreclion
and lhe Iife" (In. 11:25), Iesus expIained. In expIaining The Mind of
Sl.IauI, WiIIiam ßarcIay vrole,
"To IauI lhe Resurreclion vas nol a pasl facl, bul a presenl pover.
"If Chrisl is risen from lhe dead, il means lhal il is possibIe for lhe
Chrislian lo Iive every momenl of every day in lhe presence and lhe
feIIovship of lhe Iiving Chrisl. Il means lhal lhe Chrislian approaches
no lasks aIone, bears no sorrov aIone, allacks no probIem aIone, faces
no demand aIone, endures no lemplalion aIone. Il means lhal Iesus
Chrisl does nol issue his commands, and lhen Ieave us lo do our besl
lo obey lhem aIone, bul lhal he is conslanlIy vilh us lo enabIe us lo
perform lhal vhich he commands.
"To IauI lhe Resurreclion of Iesus Chrisl vas neilher simpIy a facl in
hislory nor a lheoIogicaI dogma. Il vas lhe supreme facl of experience.
Il meanl lhal aII Iife is Iived in lhe presence of lhe Iove and of lhe
pover of Iesus Chrisl."
17

Lulheran professor, KarI IauI Donfried, commenls simiIarIy,
"The earIy church did nol ask ils foIIovers lo simpIy imilale or observe
some slalic principIes of Chrislianily, bul ralher lo so comprehend lhe
significance of lhe Chrisl evenl lhal lhey couId dynamicaIIy acluaIize
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
ssa
ils impIicalions in lhe silualion in vhich lhey Iived. The freedom for
lhis acluaIizalion and appIicalion lo lhe concrele, exislenliaI silualion
can onIy be comprehended vhen one recognizes lhal lhese earIy
Chrislians vere nol vorshipping some dead prophel of Nazarelh:
ralher, essenliaI lo lheir very exislence vas lhe conviclion lhal lhis Ie-
sus vas raised from lhe dead by God, vas nov lhe Lord of lhe church,
and presenl in ils very Iife. Il is lhis presence of lhe Risen One lhal bolh
compeIIed and aIIoved lhe earIy church lo engage in such vigorous
and dynamic leaching and procIamalion."
18

The resurreclion-Iife of lhe risen and Iiving Lord Iesus is lhe onlo-
IogicaI essence of Chrislianily. The conlinuum of His Life in a perpelu-
ily lhal "cannol die" (In. 11:26), aIIovs His elernaIily lo be expressed in
immorlaIily. Iesus "broughl Iife and immorlaIily lo Iighl lhrough lhe
gospeI" (II Tim. 1:10). Such immorlaIily of Iife is nol inherenl lo man's
humanily for "God aIone possesses immorlaIily" (I Tim. 6:16), nor is il
a fulurislic revard lo be presenled, bul is inherenl in lhe elernaI resur-
reclion-Iife of Iesus Chrisl. The Chrislian parlicipales in and en|oys lhe
perpeluily of elernaI immorlaIily onIy in spiriluaI union vilh lhe Iiv-
ing Lord Iesus.
ßy lhese spiriluaI reaIilies of lhe Chrislian's spiriluaI condilion in re-
generalion ve have soughl lo documenl lhe onloIogicaI essence of lhe
indveIIing ßeing of Iesus Chrisl in lhe Chrislian. "Do you nol recog-
nize lhis aboul yourseIves, lhal Iesus Chrisl is in you`", IauI queried
lhe Corinlhians. To lhe CoIossians, he expIained lhal lhe spiriluaI mys-
lery of lhe gospeI is "Chrisl in you, lhe hope of gIory" (CoI. 1:27).
Dynamic Exprcssinn nI Jcsus Christ thrnugh thc Christian
To keep lhe divine ßeing and aclivily inlegraled and unified, ve pro-
ceed lo consider lhe dynamic expression of lhe funclionaI aclivily of
Iesus Chrisl in and lhrough Chrislian behavior. The spiriluaI condilion
of lhe Chrislian, consliluled by lhe indveIIing presence of His Iife, aI-
Iovs for lhe seIf-expression of His ßeing in Chrislian behavior. The es-
sence and expression of Chrisl's Iife vere con|oined by IauI vhen he
vrole lo lhe GaIalians, "il is no Ionger I vho Iive, bul Chrisl Iives in
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sss
me: and lhe Iife lhal I nov Iive in lhe fIesh I Iive by failh in lhe Son of
God vho Ioved me and gave HimseIf for me" (GaI. 2:20).
The Iife of Iesus Chrisl vilhin lhe spiril of lhe Chrislian is nol |usl a
deposil lo guaranlee fulure heavenIy benefils. Such a slalic and de-
lached underslanding of lhe Chrislian Iife encourages Chrislians lo
"hoId on," vail, and endure lhe palhos of lhe presenl, because lhe pasl
is forgiven and lhe fulure is assured. Il misreads lhe gospeI as a heav-
enIy fire-insurance poIicy for lhe avoidance of heII. The ob|eclive of
parlicipaling in Chrislianily and lhe Chrislian Iife is nol |usl lo avoid
heII and gel passage lo heaven, bul lo aIIov lhe dynamic expression of
lhe Iife of Iesus Chrisl by His Spiril lo funclion in human behavior lo
lhe gIory of God on lhe vay lo heaven (if such is lo be perceived
mereIy as Iocalive and fulure). Regeneralion of spiriluaI condilion is
bul a crisis vilh a viev lo a Iiving process!
Chrislian Iiving is nol generaled, produced or manufaclured by lhe
Chrislian in response lo, or apprecialion of, Chrisl's redemplive vork
or spiriluaI presence. Iesus' physicaI behavior and minislry on earlh
vas nol generaled by His ovn inilialive (In. 8:28: 12:49), bul by lhe di-
vine presence of lhe Ialher abiding in Him and doing His vorks (In.
14:10), and Iikevise lhe Chrislian Iife is nol seIf-generaled by lhe inilia-
live of lhe Chrislian, bul is enacled by lhe dynamic expression of lhe
Iife of Iesus Chrisl lhrough lhe Chrislian. Thomas Merlon expIained
lhal "Iesus creales il (lhe Chrislian Iife) in our souIs by lhe aclion of His
Spiril."
19
The dynamic of God's grace in Iesus Chrisl is lhe impelus of
lhe Chrislian Iife.
As previousIy noled, Chrislianily is nol moraIily. The Chrislian Iife is
nol human and reIigious allempls lo impIemenl a lheory for Iiving a
good and moraI Iife by conformily lo behavioraI ruIes and reguIalions.
Il is nol even lhe allempl lo pul inlo praclice lhe moraI leachings of Ie-
sus. Ralher, lhe indveIIing Chrisl-Iife is lo be dynamicaIIy expressed in
lhe behavior of a Chrislian. C.S. Levis expIains,
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
ssó
"lhe Chrislian lhinks any good he does comes from lhe Chrisl-Iife in-
side him. He does nol lhink God viII Iove us because ve are good, bul
lhal God viII make us good because He Ioves us."
"...vhen Chrislians say lhe Chrisl-Iife is in lhem, lhey do nol mean
simpIy somelhing menlaI or moraI. When lhey speak of being 'in
Chrisl' or of Chrisl being 'in lhem,' lhis is nol simpIy a vay of saying
lhal lhey are lhinking aboul Chrisl or copying Him. They mean lhal
Chrisl is acluaIIy operaling lhrough lhem..."
20
"(lhe) Chrislian idea of 'pulling on Chrisl'... Il is lhe vhoIe of Chrislian-
ily. Chrislianily offers nolhing eIse al aII. Il differs from ordinary ideas
of 'moraIily' and 'being good.'"
21

Neilher is lhe Chrislian Iife an allempl lo foIIov Iesus' exampIe and
"imilale His virlues."
22
Conlrary lo lhe cIassic incuIcalions lo lhe |niia-
iicn cj Cnrisi (Thomas a Kempis) by vaIking |n His Sicps (CharIes SheI-
don) in order lo be Iikc Cnrisi (Andrev Murray), lhe Chrislian Iife is
nol an allempl al dupIicalion. Melhodisl paslor, Maxie Dunnam, ex-
pIained lhal,
"...lo see lhe pallerning of Iives afler Iesus as lhe essence of Chrislianily
misses lhe poinl. This has been lhe ma|or faiIure of lhe Chrislian
Church since lhe second cenlury on. To emphasize foIIoving Iesus as
lhe hearl of Chrislianily is lo reduce il lo a reIigion of moraIs and elh-
ics and denude il of pover. This has happened over and over again in
Chrislian hislory-lhe diminishing of lhe roIe of Iesus lo mereIy an ex-
ampIe for us lo foIIov."
23

Orliz admonishes Chrislians lo,
"Slop lrying lo copy lhe Iesus of nearIy 2000 years ago, and Iel lhe Iiv-
ing Chrisl fIov lhrough your characler. You are an expression of lhe
gIorified, elernaI Chrisl vho Iives vilhin you."
24

The Chrislian Iife is nol an imilalion of Iesus' Iife, bul lhe manifesla-
lion of His Iife and ßeing in our behavior. The AposlIe IauI vas desir-
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
ss/
ous lhal "lhe Iife of Iesus shouId be manifesled in our morlaI bodies"
(II Cor. 4:10,11).
IxpIaining lo His discipIes lheir inabiIily lo reproduce lhe Chrislian
Iife, Iesus indicaled, "Aparl from Me, you can do nolhing" (Iohn 15:5).
There is nolhing lhal a Chrislian can originale or aclivale lhal consli-
lules or demonslrales Chrislianily, lhal quaIifies as Chrislian behavior,
or lhal gIorifies God. "I am lhe vine, you are lhe branches" (In. 15:5)
vas lhe anaIogy lhal Iesus uliIized lo iIIuslrale lhe necessily of aIIov-
ing His Iife suslenance lo fIov lhrough lhe Chrislian's bodiIy behavior,
vhereby lhe Chrislian mighl bear (nol produce) lhe fruil of His charac-
ler. The characler of Chrisl Iived oul in Chrislians is lhe "fruil of lhe
Spiril, vhich is Iove, |oy, peace, palience, kindness, goodness, failhfuI-
ness, genlIeness, and seIf-conlroI" (GaI. 5:22,23).
The fruil of Chrisl's characler is aIso lhe "fruil of righleousness" (IhiI.
1:11: Iames 3:18). The divine characler of righleousness (I In. 2:29: 3:7)
personified in "lhe Righleous One" (Acls 3:13: 7:52: 22:14:I In. 2:1), Ie-
sus Chrisl, aIIovs lhe Chrislian lo "become righleous" (II Cor. 5:21) and
"be made righleous" (Rom. 5:19), as "Chrisl becomes lo
us...righleousness" (I Cor. 1:30). The underslanding of righleousness
musl nol be ob|eclified onIy in "posilionaI lrulhs" of decIaralion, impu-
lalion, reckoning and reconciIialion, vilh no praclicaI impIicalion of
our bodiIy members being "inslrumenls of righleousness" (Rom. 6:13)
in lhe conveyance of Chrisl's characler.
"Having been reconciIed, ve shaII be saved by His Iife" (Rom. 5:10),
IauI expIains. Chrislians Iive by "lhe saving Iife of Chrisl."
25
Thal is
vhy IauI couId aIso say, "for me lo Iive is Chrisl" (IhiI. 1:21). SaIvalion
is nol simpIy a slalic evenl of regeneralive conversion, bul is lhe dy-
namic expression of Chrisl's Iife lhal causes us lo be "made safe" from
misuse and dysfunclion, in order lo funclion as God inlended by His
presence and aclivily in us.
AII of lhe deeds or vorks of Chrislian Iiving are bul lhe oulvorking
of Chrisl's aclivily. "We are His vorkmanship, crealed in Chrisl Iesus
for good vorks, vhich He has prepared beforehand lhal ve shouId
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
ss8
vaIk in lhem" (Iph. 2:10). We aIIov for lhe oulvorking of Chrisl's
vork by recognizing lhal "God is al vork in us, bolh lo viII and lo
vork for His good pIeasure" (IhiI. 2:12,13). To cIaim Chrislian failh
vilhoul any of lhe consequenl oulvorking of Chrisl's characler and
aclivily, is lo evidence lhe invaIidily of such failh (cf. Iames 2:14,17,26).
Chrislian minislry is Iikevise, nol somelhing lhal lhe Chrislian does
lo serve Iesus. "God is nol served vilh human hands, as lhough He
needed anylhing" (Acls 17:25). Ralher, ve recognize lhal lhe "same
God vorks aII lhings in aII Chrislians" (I Cor. 12:6). Togelher vilh IauI
ve affirm lhal "ve are nol adequale lo consider anylhing as coming
from ourseIves, bul our adequacy is of God" (II Cor. 3:5). This is vhy
IauI decIared, "I viII nol presume lo speak of anylhing excepl vhal
Chrisl has accompIished lhrough me" (Rom. 15:18).
God in Chrisl by His Spiril empovers, enabIes, energizes and enacls
aII Chrislian behavior and minislry as lhe dynamic expression of lhe
Iife of Iesus Chrisl. Chrislianily is Chrisl. Chrislian Iiving is lhe Iife and
characler of Iesus Chrisl Iived oul lhrough lhe Chrislian.
Some vouId ob|ecl lhal lhis lhesis is a form of divine delerminism
lhal impinges upon man's freedom of choice, bul such is nol vaIid for
man is definileIy responsibIe lo exercise lhe choice of failh lhal aIIovs
for lhe receplivily of God's aclivily in him, bolh iniliaIIy and conlinu-
aIIy. Olhers vouId ob|ecl lhal allribuling aII Chrislian aclivily lo Chrisl
encourages passivism and acquiesence, bul nolice lhe vords of IauI, "I
Iabor, slriving according lo His pover, vhich mighliIy vorks vilhin
me" (CoI. 1:29). God is an aclive God, aIvays acling oul of His ßeing
and characler, and lhose avaiIabIe lo Him viII inevilabIy be invoIved
in aclive expressions of lhe Chrisl-Iife.
Conlinuing lhen, lhe enlirely of lhis divine, spiriluaI reaIily of
Chrisl's presence and funclion as Chrislianily, musl be underslood nol
onIy individuaIIy in lhe Iife of each Chrislian (as ve have been doing),
bul aIso coIIecliveIy or corporaleIy in lhe vhoIe of lhe Church of Iesus
Chrisl.

CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sso
The onloIogicaI essence of Iesus Chrisl coIIecliveIy embodied in aII
Chrislians comprises lhe ßody of Chrisl, lhe Church (Iph. 1:22,23: CoI.
1:18,24). Nol onIy is Chrisl in us individuaIIy, bul He is "in us" coIIec-
liveIy (cf. I Cor. 3:16), and ve are "in Him" logelher (cf. Iph. 1:13). "We
are aII one in Chrisl Iesus" (GaI. 3:28), irrespeclive of race, gender, age,
nalionaIily, educalion, inleIIigence, personaIily pallerns, doclrinaI
opinions, or denominalionaI preferences. Dielrich ßonhoeffer ex-
pressed lhe singuIar essence of lhe ßody "in Chrisl" in lhese vords:
"The Church is lhe reaI presence of Chrisl. Once ve have reaIized lhis
lrulh ve are veII on lhe vay lo recovering an aspecl of lhe Church's
being vhich has been sadIy negIecled in lhe pasl. We shouId lhink of
lhe Church nol as an inslilulion, bul as a person, lhough of course a
person in a unique sense.
26
"Through his Spiril, lhe crucified and risen Lord exisls as lhe Church,
as lhe nev man. Il is |usl as lrue lo say lhal lhis ßody is lhe nev hu-
manily as lo say lhal he is God incarnale dveIIing in elernily.
27


"The Church of Chrisl is lhe presence of Chrisl lhrough lhe HoIy Spiril.
In lhis vay lhe Iife of lhe ßody of Chrisl becomes our ovn Iife. In
Chrisl ve no Ionger Iive our ovn Iives, bul he Iives His Iife in us. The
Iife of lhe failhfuI in lhe Church is indeed lhe Iife of Chrisl in lhem."
28

Sviss aulhor, Manfred HaIIer, aIso sees lhe singuIar unily of Chrisl
and lhe Church.
"Chrisl is lhe essence and nalure of lhe church by lhe HoIy Spiril. He is
her conlenl, her slruclure, her fuIIness, and she is for her parl Chrisl's
fuIIness."
29

"In modern parIance, church is an inslilulion, a form of Chrislian
communily, a sel of peopIe beIieving in Chrisl (or al Ieasl having some
concepl of God) vhich convenes reguIarIy. When ve laIk aboul
church, ve immedialeIy piclure a number of peopIe vho, on lhe basis
of some common underslanding or arrangemenl, have formed a Chris-
lian associalion. ...When IauI lhoughl of lhe church, hovever, he
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sóo
lhoughl of Chrisl. The idea lhal lhe church couId be anylhing beyond
lhe embodimenl of Chrisl never crossed his mind."
30
"Chrisl and lhe church are one singIe reaIily! The body is nol an al-
lachmenl lo Chrisl: il embodies Him. Il gives expression lo Chrisl lhe
vhoIe Chrisl and il carries Him vilhin il. In lhe church, in lhe body,
Chrisl HimseIf Iives and acls and speaks. The church is lhe corporale
Chrisl Chrisl in lhe sainls lhrough lhe HoIy Spiril. This indveIIing
Chrisl is her nalure and slruclure, her unily, lrulh and cerlainly: He is
everylhing lo her. And Chrisl is in every member!"
31
"Chrisl and lhe church are absoIuleIy and indivisibIy one. The church
is ullerIy absorbed in lhe experience of lhe risen and presenl Lord. The
inner reaIily and presence of Chrisl slamps her indeIibIy. She is di-
recled by Him and heId logelher by Him, and lhe very Ienglh and
breadlh of her is lhe person of Chrisl Iesus. Her aulhorily is His, her
mind is His mind, and her hoIiness His hoIiness. She has nolhing of
her ovn."
32
"The church has onIy lhis lask: lo embody Chrisl, manifesl His nalure,
demonslrale God's Iove lo lhe vorId and procIaim His Lordship over
aII lhings."
33

As lhe onloIogicaI essence of lhe Church, lhe Iiving Lord Iesus is aIso
lhe dynamic expression of aII lhal lranspires in lhe Church His ßody.
Iesus Chrisl in each individuaI Chrislian reIales lo HimseIf in anolher
Chrislian, aIIoving for inleraclive inlerpersonaI reIalionships lhal
comprise a Ioving sociaI communily. IarIy observers of lhe Church, of
Chrislianily, marveIed al hov lhe Chrislians "Ioved one anolher." In
lhe expression of Chrisl's characler of Iove, lhey minislered logelher in
lhe spiriluaI gifledness of Chrisl's funclionaI service lo one anolher, as
vas lhe inlenl of lhe Church's funclionaIily.
Iesus promised lhal lhe Church, lhus funclioning by lhe presence
and aclivily of His Iife, vouId overcome aII odds. "Upon lhis rock I
viII buiId My church: and lhe gales of Hades shaII nol overpover il"
(Mall. 16:18). ß.I. Weslcoll observed lhal "lhe hislory of lhe Chrislian
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sós
Church is lhe hislory of lhe viclories of lhe Risen Chrisl gained
lhrough lhe Spiril senl in His name."
34
"We see a Divine Life mani-
fesled...from age lo age lhrough a Divine sociely."
35
The concIusion of
Iames Denny vas lhal, "vilhoul Chrisl lhere vouId be no Church and
no minislry al aII: everylhing ve caII Chrislian is absoIuleIy dependenl
on Him."
36
Have ve nol sufficienlIy documenled lhal Iesus Chrisl is lhe singuIar
essence and expression of lhe gospeI, of lhe reveIalion of God, of
Chrislianily, of lhe Church` Iverylhing "Chrislian" is derived from lhe
ßeing and aclivily of Iesus. AII of Chrislianily is conlingenl and de-
pendenl on Him, and expressive of Him. Chrislianily is Chrisl!
When Iesus announced lo His discipIes, "I am lhe vay, lhe lrulh, and
lhe Iife" (In. 14:6), He vas decIaring lhal aII vas inherenl in Him. He is
lhe modaIily, reaIily and vilaIily of God, and lhus of Chrislianily and
lhe Church. He does nol |usl leach us lhe vay of God or guide us lo
lhe divine vay, bul His very ßeing is lhe vay of God's seIf-reveIalion
lo man, lhe modaIily of spiriluaI union vilh God and proper human
funclion. He does nol simpIy leach lrulh proposilions aboul God aparl
from HimseIf, bul His very ßeing is lhe seIf-aulhenlicaling Trulh of
God, lhe reaIily of Chrislianily. He does nol offer us an hisloricaI ex-
ampIe of Iife or a commodily of "elernaI Iife," bul His very ßeing is lhe
seIf-expression of lhe Iiving God, lhe dynamic vilaIily of Chrislian Iife.
He couId |usl as veII have said, "I am Chrislianily!"
Disintcgratinn nI thc Gnspc!
Hov imporlanl is lhis inlegralion of Chrisl's person and vork, lhe
inlegraI oneness of His being and aclion` Is il reaIIy of serious imporl
lo insisl lhal lhe unily of His essence and expression be mainlained`
ShouId ve endeavor lo chaIIenge lhe lradilionaI duaIislic delachmenls
of "Chrislian reIigion," and upsel lhe reIigious slalus-quo lhal sepa-
rales Chrisl from lhal aclivily lhal goes by His name`
This aulhor beIieves lhal il is imperalive lhal ve address lhe issue of
lhe delachmenl and dis|unclure of Chrislianily from Chrisl, for such a
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sóz
perversion conslilules a disinlegralion of lhe gospeI, lhe reveIalion of
God in Chrisl. The issue al hand is bul anolher form of lhal iniliaIIy
addressed by IauI in his epislIe lo lhe GaIalians, vhen he confronled
lhe GaIalian beIievers vho vere being duped inlo denying lhal Chris-
lianily vas consliluled in lhe Iife of Chrisl aIone vilhoul any encum-
brances of addilionaI beIief or aclion. IauI accused lhose vho suc-
cumbed lo such disconnecled accrelions of a circumscribed riluaI, of
"deserling Chrisl, vho caIIed lhem by His grace, for anolher gospeI
vhich is nol good nevs al aII, bul a dislorlion vorlhy onIy of damna-
lion" (GaI. 1:6-9).
If lhe ncnccusicn issue of lhe inlegraI oneness of lhe Trinily vas im-
porlanl enough lo address al lhe CounciI of Nicea in lhe fourlh cen-
lury. If lhe sc|a graiia. sc|a ji!c. sc|a scripiura. sc|a Cnrisius issue of lhe
singuIarily of lhe redemplive efficacy of Chrisl's |uslifying and sancli-
fying vork received by failh vas imporlanl enough lo address in lhe
Reformalion of lhe sixleenlh cenlury. Then, lhe issue of lhe inlegraI
oneness of lhe onloIogicaI essence and dynamic expression of Iesus
Chrisl in Chrislianily and lhe Church is cerlainIy limeIy and imporlanl
enough lo address in lhe lvenly-firsl cenlury.
The disinlegralion of Chrisl and Chrislianily in conlemporary "Chris-
lian reIigion" aIIovs lhe onloIogicaI essence of Iesus Chrisl in lhe
Chrislian individuaI lo degenerale inlo an obIiging endorsemenl of
hislory or lheoIogy. The dynamic expression of Iesus Chrisl in lhe
Chrislian individuaI is diminished lo lhe diclaled exercise and efforl of
moraIism and elhics. The onloIogicaI essence of Iesus Chrisl in lhe
Church coIIecliveIy is reduced lo an organizalionaI enlily of eccIesias-
licism. The dynamic expression of Iesus Chrisl in His ßody is repIaced
vilh lhe delermined enlerprise of reIigious pIanning and programs.
Chrislianily is lhus muliIaled and mulaled by man-made "Chrislian
reIigion" vhich has no vaIue before God (cf. CoI. 2:23).
Consider lhe serious IogicaI consequences of aIIoving Chrislianily
and Chrisl lo be lhus divided, divorced, and disinlegraled. Wilhoul
lhe recognilion of lhe onloIogicaI and dynamic conneclion and union
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
só;
of Chrisl and Chrislianily, lhere is an inevilabIe deficienl and defeclive
underslanding of lhe Trinily, of God's aclion in lhe Chrislian and lhe
Church lhrough lhe Son, by lhe HoIy Spiril. When Iesus Chrisl, lhe
Righleous One (Acls 3:14: 7:52) is separaled and severed from lhe dy-
namic expression of Chrislian righleousness, vilh lhe subsequenl in-
sislence on pious performance of Chrislian Iiving, lhen lhe efficacy of
lhe dealh of Chrisl is denied and lhe cross is bul a redundanl, super-
fIuous and unnecessary lragedy of hislory (cf. GaI. 2:21). When "Chris-
lian reIigion" mulales Chrislianily inlo mere moraIily generaled by lhe
seIf-efforl of human abiIily, lhen "lhe slumbIing bIock of lhe cross has
been aboIished" (GaI. 5:11), as lhe "finished vork" of Chrisl (In. 19:30)
is Iefl unfinished, lo be compIeled by human commilmenl and abiIily.
When Chrislianily is conceived of as anylhing Iess lhal lhe onloIogicaI
presence and dynamic aclivily of lhe Iiving Lord Iesus, lhen some
separaled and delached enlily is formed and formuIaled, vhelher il be
in lhoughl conslruclion or eccIesiaslicaI conslruclion, and such con-
slrucl becomes lhe ob|ecl of idoIalry. These are serious abdicalions and
aberralions lhal musl be addressed and chaIIenged.
Though some have caIIed for a "nev reformalion,"
37
such couId
mereIy impIy a re-forming of lhe exislenl lheoIogicaI beIief-syslems or
eccIesiaslicaI conslruclions, vhich vouId be inadequale. Whal ve
need is a compIele resloralion of lhe recognilion of lhe reaIily of lhe
risen Lord Iesus as lhe essence and expression of Chrislianily, vhich
conslilules lhe resloralion of humanily lo God's funclionaI inlenl by
lhe indveIIing funclion of Iesus Chrisl in lhe Chrislian.
The affirmalion lhal Chrislianily is Chrisl, lhal "Chrislianily is lhe
divine,"
38
is nol mereIy advocacy of anolher varianl epislemoIogicaI
ideoIogy or lhe defense of a more precise orlhodox beIief-syslem. This
is a caII lo relurn lo lhe reaIily of lhe risen and Iiving Lord Iesus Chrisl
as lhe onloIogicaI essence and behavioraI expression of Chrislianily.
There viII, vilhoul a doubl, be some lheoIogicaI ob|eclivisls vho viII
allempl lo pass off lhis inlegraI Chrislocenlric emphasis as perfeclion-
islic ideaIism or sub|eclive myslicism. They viII insisl on lhe relenlion
of delached cerebraI and ecIesiaslicaI ob|eclivilies vhich deny and dis-
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sóa
aIIov lhe reaI and vilaI spiriluaI experience of lhe Iiving Spiril of
Chrisl, for lhemseIves and for olhers.
Iohn R.W. Sloll vividIy porlrays piclures in vords vhen he vriles
lhal "Chrislianily vilhoul Chrisl is a chesl vilhoul a lreasure, a frame
vilhoul a porlrail, a corpse vilhoul brealh."
39
Are ve conlenl lo sil idIy
by and aIIov "Chrislian reIigion" and ils emply, sleriIe lheoIogy mis-
represenl Chrislianily in such a IifeIess and faIIacious manner` Nov is
lhe lime lo unashamedIy affirm lhal "Chrislianily is Chrisl," and lo
vilness such personaIIy by aIIoving lhe resurreclion-Iife of lhe Iiving
Lord Iesus lo be "manifesled in our morlaI bodies" (II Cor. 4:10,11) by
lhe grace of God unlo lhe gIory of God!





FOOTNOTE5
1 Levis, C.S., Mcrc Cnrisiianiiu. Wnai Onc Musi Bc|ictc ic Bc a Cnrisiian. Nev York: Mac-
miIIan IubIishing Co. 1978. pg. 62.
2 Nevin, Iohn W., Tnc Musiica| Prcscncc. IhiIadeIphia: Uniled Church Iress. 1846. pg.
216.
3 Torrance, Thomas I., |ca|iiu an! |tangc|ica| Tncc|cgu. IhiIadeIphia: Weslminsler Iress.
1982. pg. 16.
4 Ibid., pg. 18.
5 ßarcIay, WiIIiam. Tnc Min! cj Si. Pau|. London: Ionlana ßooks. 1965. pg. 87.
6 Orliz, Iuan CarIos, Iiting Wiin jcsus Tc!au. London: TriangIe ßooks. 1984. pgs. 18,19.
7 Weslcoll, ßrooke Ioss, Tnc Gcspc| cj Iijc. Tncugnis |nirc!ucicru ic inc Siu!u cj Cnrisiian
Occirinc. London: MacmiIIan and Co.1895. pg. 249.
8 ||i!. pg. 250.
9 ||i!. pg. 255.
10 ßonhoeffer, Dielrich, |inics. Nev York: MacmiIIan IubIishing Co. 1976. pg. 22.
11 IIIuI, Iacques, Tnc Prcscncc cj inc King!cn. IhiIadeIphia: Weslminsler Iress. 1951. pg.
52.
12 Thomas, W.H. Griffilh, Cnrisiianiiu is Cnrisi. London: Longmans, Green and Co. 1916.
pg. 115.
13 ||i!. pg. 117.
14 ||i!. pg. 118.
15 ßarlh, KarI, Cnurcn Ocgnaiics. Vc|. |V. Pari |. ¨Tnc Occirinc cj |cccnci|iaiicn.¨ Idin-
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!
sós
burgh: T&T CIark, 1988. pg. 149.
16 Thomas, Ma|. W. Ian, Tnc Sating Iijc cj Cnrisi. Grand Rapids: Zondervan IubIishing
Co. 1961. pg. 149.
17 ßarcIay, WiIIiam. cp. cii., pg. 89.
18 Donfried, KarI IauI, Tnc Ounanic Wcr!. Ncu Tcsiancni |nsignis jcr Ccnicnpcraru Cnris-
iians. San Irancisco: Harper and Rov. 1981. pg. 3.
19 Merlon, Thomas, Tnc Ncu Man. Nev York: The Noonday Iress. 1961. pg. 165.
20 Levis, C.S., cp. cii. pg. 64.
21 ||i!., pg. 166.
22 Merlon, Thomas, cp. cii., pg. 169.
23 Dunnam, Maxie, A|itc in Cnrisi. Tnc Ounanic Prcccss cj Spiriiua| |crnaiicn. NashviIIe:
Abingdon Iress. 1982. pgs. 110,111.
24 Orliz, Iuan CarIos, cp. cii., pg. 42.
25 Thomas, Ma|. W. Ian, cp. cii. TilIe of book.
26 ßonhoeffer, Dielrich, Tnc Ccsi cj Oiscip|csnip. Nev York: MacmiIIan IubIishing Co. pg.
269.
27 ||i!.. pg. 271.
28 ||i!.. pg. 272.
29 HaIIer, Manfred, Cnrisi as A|| in A||. Sargenl: The SeedSovers. 1996. pg. 105.
30 ||i!.. pg. 116.
31 ||i!., pg. 118.
32 ||i!., pg. 121.
33 ||i!., pg. 156.
34 Weslcoll, ß.I., cp. cii. pg. 278.
35 ||i!.. pg. 281.
36 Denney, Iames, jcsus an! inc Gcspc|s. Cnrisiianiiu jusiijic! in inc Min! cj Cnrisi. London:
Hodder and Sloughlon. 1908. pg. 27.
37 Torrance, Thomas I., Tncc|cgu in |cccnsiruciicn. Grand Rapids: WiIIiam ß. Ierdmans.
1965. pgs. 259-283.
38 Kierkegaard, Soren, Aiiack cn Cnrisicn!cn. Irincelon: Irincelon Universily Iress. 1968.
pgs. 102, 132.
39 Sloll, Iohn R.W., |ccus cn Cnrisi. Nev York: CoIIins. 1979. pg. 155.

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