Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #4

The Church is Jesus’ Church. He loved her and gave Himself for her. We always need to remember the place the Church has in God’s plan. To diminish the Church is to miss what God is doing in the world.

Yet, we also know that what Saint Augustine wrote rings true: “The Church is a whore and she is my moth-er.” The Church has not always been faithful to her first love, and yet without her we would not be part of God’s Kingdom today. It is through the Church that people experience the love and forgiveness of God.

Most of Chapter 2 of Introduction to the Restoration Ideal is a short Church history lesson. In this lesson author Marshall Leggett stresses just how far away the Church has gone from the ideal found in Scripture. Leggett writes:
“More and more, as time passed, Christians became secularized. One historian says, ‘the doors of the church were thrown open so wide, that the distinction between Christianity and the world was obliterated.’ Many Christians protested, but they could not stem the tide of secularism” (p. 19).
Secularism has destroyed the witness of the church because it prevents Christians from being salt and light in the world. It is hard to influence culture when Christians live no different from the rest of culture. The result of this reality is that the Church stopped looking to Christ Jesus as the Head of the Body and began doing things based on what seemed right by the standards of culture.

One of the consequences of secularism in the Church is the creation of numerous sects and denominations among the body of Christ. Our current Christian landscape reveals thousands of different groups that claim the name Christian, yet some are radically different from one another. In fact some groups are openly hos-tile to other groups.

It was to combat this disunity that brought about the Restoration Movement. Leggett writes:
“It is...a movement that began in the early part of the nineteenth century to seek Christian unit on a Biblical basis...It is called the restoration movement because it embodies the ideal to restore the essential marks of the New Testament Church to it pristine purity. It is founded on the premise that the true basis for unity is to return to the church as it was given to, and guided by, the apostles. Its adherents seek to be Christians and to follow the Bible only as they strive to be both Biblical and undenominational in faith ordinance, and live” (p. 24).

I agree with that sentiment except for the belief that there was a pristine New Testament church. The book of Galatians shows us that even among the apostles there was a struggle when it came to making disciples of all nations. In other words, and I think this is part of the beauty of the Church, is that the Church is constantly growing in her knowledge and application of Scripture.

The Restoration Movement is a response to the disunity in the Church and seeks to call people to be united in holiness and mission as we are guided by the Holy Spirit through the pages of Scripture. I think that is a very worthy calling, and I am glad to be a part of it.

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