Monday, February 19, 2007

Christian Exodus Is Not a Sect

My Fellow South Carolinians,

I invite you to consider for a moment the recent disparagement of Christian Exodus within the pages of our local papers and on our local radio talk shows.

I will admit, the idea seems radical, and on the face of it the notion seems dangerous. Dangerous if we accept the secular hobgoblins we are presented.

Let us address those hobgoblins - the idea that this is some perversion of our Christian Religion into a political movement hell-bent on establishing a tyrannical theocracy complete with the reintroduction of the burnings at the stake.

The description of Christian Exodus as a "Christian sect" or any other such similar term is patently false. Consider for a moment the analogy presented first by C.S. Lewis of the hallway with doors. He described "Mere Christianity" as extant within that hallway; his description of the term included all of the basic tenets required to comprise mere Christianity. In his description, denominations branch off from the hallway and diverge into more dogmatic theology, but Christianity cannot exist without a connection and adherence to mere Christianity.

Lewis did not endeavor to elaborate on ecclesiology, that is the realm of the space behind the doors along the hallway he describes. He does go to great length to establish that to exist within the hallway a Christian must accept that Natural Law is real, and focuses his definition of Mere Christianity on "the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times". These beliefs, uncolored by man-made dogma and edicts are essentially the Christianity of those that followed Jesus and those that worshipped in the early church. Lewis' definition did not advocate a return to such simplicity, rather he stated that Christianity is simpler than our Churches have defined it.

Would any of us deny that Mere Christianity must have existed before the Church? The Apostles had Mere Christianity before they went off to fulfill their charges. No matter how adamant we might be about our own particular style of worship, the belief system of our denomination or our definition of various points of ecclesiology would we deny that there is a possibility that there are other Christians other than the ones' we worship with on Sunday morning? I hope this is not the case.

Christian Exodus cannot be a sect because its own statement of faith is extant within many of the doorways leading off of Lewis' hallway. Read them for yourself. There is nothing of a distinct sect within a belief in the trinity, the full deity/humanity of Christ, the fall of Man, The Substitutionary Atonement and Bodily Resurrection of Christ, Salvation by Faith Alone in Christ Alone, The Physical Return of Christ or The Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture.

In fact, if one were to exclude the inerrancy of the Scripture portion (a point that was not applicable to the earliest Christians) these points comprise the tenets of Mere Christianity. This is what the early church believed and this is generally accepted as "the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times."

Who then can righteously argue that the brand of Christianity held out by Christian Exodus is that of a sect? In fact the CE statement of faith is less a statement of dogma and more a tent under which all real Christians can agree to stand. CE is a political, not a religious organization and as such it does not desire to advocate a particular dogmatic stance. It seeks political change.

Nobody can make these points if they stand within Lewis' hallway or behind one of the doors leading off that common ground. The contention people really have with Christian Exodus cannot be with their position statement on Christianity or the notion that this group wishes to establish some new form of Christianity via political means. Contention comes in the shape and form of the groups intention.

Nobody, in America, would deny any number of like minded groups the right to cooperate and collaborate. Our very system of government demands the right to free association. We see this all around us, secular groups cooperate all the time. Who complains that a secular group is trying to "take over" government when they form political associations - beyond a few brave pastors?

Do we honestly believe that a group that sees human reason and secular values as more worthy to self-associate and cooperate than a group that merely wishes to vote and act according to Natural Law? Our political parties owe no allegiance to any principle other than pragmatism - is this principle better or more noble than adherence to Christian morality and values.

Many proclaim that Christians are to be just good citizens and participants in the governments of the world. Those that hold this view fail to fully explain just what they mean. Should we vote? If so who should we vote for? Should we refrain from voting for candidates that proclaim that they are Christians that will seek the guidance of God? Perhaps voting for such people would be pushing our beliefs too far. Why would a person say it is ok to actually vote but then say it is not ok to cooperate in the political process? Why is voting for someone that enacts laws ok but it is not ok to vote for people that will enact specific laws? Do you see the logical fallacy of such arguments? We are either a part of the political process, with all of the rights and privileges of every other group or we are not. Why should we self-restrict ourselves from participation. The phase "I see no Biblical justification" for this is often used, the people uttering such phrases never bother to offer Biblical justification for Christians self-restricting ourselves from influencing the process.

This sort of thinking would make us all patsies to a system we have decided to only partially participate in. Our own Declaration of Independence acknowledges that nations and governments exercise just power and legitimacy from God. Our own SC Constitution recognizes God as the provider of our liberties and for the ordination of our form of government. If we actually mean those words, then God has provided us with a representative republican democracy; if we then choose to not utilize the systems he has provided then the shame is upon our own foolishness.

Enough of all of this disparagement and nay-saying regarding the Christian nature of Christian Exodus. It is in fact a "Mere Christian" political organization. Some people in South Carolina may disagree with the political motives, but no Christian can righteously disagree with the statement of faith.

More to come soon on the political aspect of this group.

El Cid

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