Below is my response to my friend Dennis when he asked about the accuracy of some statements about R.J. Rushdoony.
You will find my responses below where you see Eugene writes*******
Sent: Saturday, November 09, 2013 2:16 PM
Subject: Jay, Eugene and Andrea… do you have clearer insight on this?
Hi Jay, Eugene and Andrea…
Thank you for taking a moment to help me get a clearer understanding on this. Since I received the new book from Lou Poumakis and talked to Lou, I’ve almost completed reading it and I’ve enjoyed it very much, thinking that it pretty much is in agreement with a truly Biblicist’s way of thinking about the future and our actions now. So I recommended it to my friend and radio co-host, Frank Stephens. He wrote me a reply (below) that I’m not quite sure how to process in my mind and felt that YOU could help me. That’s why I’m hoping that reaching out to you could warrant your taking a few minutes to correct any incorrect assumptions or statements in Frank’s letter. All of you have studied both Rushdooney’s and Gary North’s writings so I’m sure you can help me understand what’s true here. I’ve only read a small bit of their writings, mostly articles, to get a general idea of their beliefs but I did not realize they had a split between them as Frank describes in his letter.
Thanks for any corrections you know and suggestions of summary articles you may be able to recommend on this issue. If you haven’t yet read Lou Poumakis’ book, I think it could be a catalyst to engage a lively discussion for any thinking Christian leader in the coming generation.
Blessings to you…
Hi Dennis (writes Frank). I’ve ordered Lou Poumakis’ “Faith on Earth?”
I’ve also spent some time researching him to understand the perspective from which he is writing. He has an interesting religious background.
He was ordained as elder in the Christian Reformed Church and later as a minister in the Federation of Reformed Churches. What concerns me is that he studied and was heavily influenced by the works of R. J. Rushdoony at Chalcedon Foundation where he discovered Postmillennialism and Christian Reconstruction. I’ve very familiar with Rushdoony’s reconstructionist theology. And you will recall David Chilton was also strongly influenced
by Rushdoony and wrote his books and narratives based on much of Rushdoony’s teaching.
Rushdoony’s reconstructionist theology was front and center in George W. Bush’s administration and the Christian Right attempting to take over the Republican Party. Many people never understood the Bush administration because they never knew the influence Rushdoony’s reconstructionist theology was exerting on the decision making process.
Eugene writes**** He is utterly mistaken. Rushdoony himself and those who pattern their thought after Rushdoony to any considerable degree never did and do not advocate a takeover of the civil sphere and the forced imposition of a theocracy. You will not find such in the writings of R.J. or his son Mark Rushdoony who continues the ministry of Chalcedon. Chalcedon has and does teach that a reformation at grassroots level is the only way to bring about the rule of God in the earth. Without a righteous people (populace) themselves submitted to God’s law, the imposition of a top down theocracy would be fleeting, if possible at all. It must be the people, who, learning to obey all things whatsoever Jesus has commanded us, raise up from among themselves righteous rulers who understand that man is not allowed to pull law out of thin air (as our current legislature does), but all law must be grounded in the Law of God (Isaiah 8:20). Rushdoony never advocated a revolutionary takeover of civil government. He was, and Chalcedon is, in favor of Christians doing what they can to see God’s law rule wherever possible rather than arbitrary law pulled out of a magician’s hat (that is having no foundation in God’s law which is supreme).
Eugene writes****** Rushdoony did and Chalcedon does believe (I also do so believe) that kings and all authorities are required by God to be subject to God (Psalm 2). (((by the way, as I go along here, many more Scripture references could be added, but for time’s sake, I mention only a few))) Christians are required by God to be in submission to legitimate civil authority, but not to illegitimate authority (Daniel 6:10; 3:16-18; Acts 5:29). Civil government is required to be an extension of God’s righteous rule and compromises its legitimate authority when it rejects the authority of God.
Rushdoony’s theology is a call for Christians to take dominion over all aspects of the federal government and replace it with a theocracy. This is prevalent in the thinking of much of the Republican Party.
Eugene writes****** Not by any means in the way he suggests. Yes, indeed, we believe the righteous should rule, for then the people rejoice (Prov. 29:2). But we believe it would be futile to impose a government by revolt since an unrighteous populace could not long sustain a righteous government.
Eugene writes****** As for Bush seeking to impose a governmental takeover based on Rushdoony’s theology, this is absurd. Rushdoony never taught or called for any such action. (Near the end of his comments, Frank admits as much.)
Eugene writes****** Many Christians assume civil government is a neutral realm, and is therefore not subject to God and his law. This is a mistaken concept. The king (president, legislature) is required to be in submission to God and his law (Psalm 2; Psalm 110). This is what Rushdoony taught and Chalcedon teaches. According to Rushdoony/Chalcedon, civil government is required to subject to God and his law, and Christians ought to strive for this in righteous ways, but not by revolutionary takeover. Rushdoony/Chalcedon understand civil government is a reflection of the populace; we get the government we deserve. When we, the people are righteous, they will raise up righteous government.
Eugene writes******* It would take a book to work out all the implications and to mention all the caveats to clarify. I invite you to read Rushdoony himself: Institutes of Biblical Law; Law and Liberty; Foundations of Social Order and others.
The Postmillennialism popularized by Rushdoony and reconstruction is much different than that held by the Puritans. Postmillennialism today isn’t really postmillennialism, It is actually just an optimistic form of Amillennialism. Both believe the millennial rule of saints and binding of Satan is an allagorical representation of the last days, i.e. NT era. Puritan Postmillennialism teaches that the millennium is a prolonged period of time where Satan’s power in opposing the gospel is limited and the gospel advances exponentially. The first resurrection is the beginning of the 1000 years. The second resurrection is the end of the millennium and the beginning of “Satan’s little season” when the saints will be martyred for their testimony again. Then comes Jesus and final judgment.
Eugene writes******** Rushdoony’s Postmillennialism was no more than a clarification, or working out of the old Princeton theology of men like J. Gresham Machen (Machen started Westminster Theological Seminary after he was kicked out by the liberal takeover of Princeton). The working out/clarification indeed had to do with how do we get there from here. Getting there involves teaching all nations to obey whatsoever Christ has commanded us which includes the law of God (Matthew 5:17) after which civil law ought to be patterned, for the Law of the Lord is perfect, and if they speak not according to it, it is because they have not the beginnings of light, “no dawn” (Psalm 19; Isaiah 8:20). Those nations that order their civil life according to the law of God are wiser than other nations and to be envied (Deut. 4:6).
Since the movement’s emergence in the mid-1960s, Christian Reconstruction has always been a little different from other factions of American conservatism. Not surprisingly, the movement wins attention for Rushdoony’s call for the eventual end of democracy in favor of a Christian theocracy, and his insistence that a “godly order” would enforce the death penalty for homosexuals and those who worship false idols. Unlike Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, Rushdoony wedded his rigid theological perspective with a libertarian perspective that looked outside the boundaries of popular conservatism for answers to the problems facing the United States (recall Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and it all begins to make sense).
Eugene writes**** Rushdoony never called “for the eventual end of democracy”. Frank cannot produce one instance in which Rushdoony advocated this. On the contrary, Rushdoony taught that a righteous populace would raise up (chosen democratically; Exodus 18:21) from among themselves, “men who fear God”. With a righteous populace and righteous leaders raised up from among them, the civil government would be looking to the most perfect, righteous, just, merciful law system available, that which comes from the hand of God, and which is summarized in the Ten Commandments, and boiled down further to “Love God, love neighbor.”
Eugene writes**** This not to say that there are not “Reconstuctionists” who have hijacked Rushdoony’s teachings and turned them to their own idea of Christian revolution. Rushdoony should not be found guilty by false association with such as these.
Dominionist theology generally and Christian Reconstruction specifically would not be what they are today without Gary North. When he first met Rushdoony in 1962, the two grew so close that North eventfully married Rushdoony’s daughter, Sharon, in the early 1970s. As Rushdoony’s son-in-law, North proved to be a prolific and able popularizer of Rushdoony’s complex theological ideas. North demonstrated a willingness to reach out across sectarian boundaries in order to engage folks who were not quite as Christian as Rushdoony might have preferred, and directly engaged politically active conservatives, something Rushdoony largely avoided unless he could maintain strict control over their theological allegiances. As a result of his popular appeal and tireless advocacy of the Reconstructionist world-view, one could argue that North did more than any other Reconstructionist short of Rushdoony to reconstruct the world for Christendom.
North worked for the libertarian Volker Fund and the equally libertarian Foundation for Economic Education. So by the time North went to work for Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation in 1973, he was a bona fide veteran of the American libertarian movement. Rushdoony brought him to Chalcedon to research the relationship between biblical law and laissez-faire economics. North threw himself into a project that he has yet to finish. Since 1977 he has spent a minimum of ten hours a week, fifty weeks a year writing a commentary on biblical economics.
North, unlike Rushdoony, believes that the eternal human social institution is the Christian church. In the event of the catastrophic collapse of such transient institutions as the federal government, churches will step into the void left by its implosion. While this view of the emergent, decentralized church is consistent with North’s unique fusion of libertarianism and postmillenarian eschatology, it is sharply at odds with Rushdoony’s view. Rushdoony envisioned the church and family as two separate, exclusive spheres. For Rushdoony the family is the primary social unit while the church represents a limited ecclesiastical organization of believers in Christ. Conversely, North believed men owed their allegiances to a church first and the family second.
Eugene writes**** North and Rushdoony did have a difference in Ecclesiology. Rushdoony was not perfect, neither is North, neither am I, neither is Frank. Rushdoony and North both forged new territory (new to modern Christianity, not to Biblical theology of past centuries). Pioneers are often criticized because they did not do things as well as we can who now walk the road they cleared; we see vistas they made visible by their work. Should we who stand on their shoulders condemn them because they did not get every minutia exactly right? Or because they were not themselves completely sanctified so as to maintain perfect relationships with others?
Like all aspects of Reconstructionist theology, these two perspectives have real-world consequences. When translated into theology, North’s focus on the future role of the church led him to embrace a more active political agenda. Long before North and Rushdoony publicly parted ways, North had already aggressively sought out political influence. In 1976 he worked in Washington, D.C. as a staffer for Texas Representative Ron Paul. After Paul’s defeat, North wrote a testy screed warning Christians that Washington was a cesspool that can’t be changed overnight. He turned his back on national politics and began developing practical tactics for churches to deploy at the grassroots level. Unlike Rushdoony who focused most of his attention on ideas, North explicitly worked to pull together disparate church groups, most notably reaching out to charismatic and Pentecostal congregations in the South in an effort to fuse Reconstructionism’s grassroots activism with committed congregations. When American society collapses under the combined weight of massive foreign debt, military overstretch, and internal decadence, North hopes to have a network of churches ready to step into the breech. In preparation, he has written book after book aimed at educating Christians on how to live debt free, avoid electronic surveillance, and develop the skills necessary for surviving economic collapse. In short, North’s version of Reconstructionism blazed a path for the militia and Christian survivalist groups of the 1990s to follow.
Eugene writes******** My goodness! North is most certainly guilty! – for who in the right mind, would claim to be a Christian and also teach “Christians on how to live debt free, avoid electronic surveillance, and develop the skills necessary for surviving economic collapse”. Again, if others came after North and took his teaching further (unrighteously farther) than North himself, he cannot be held guilty. North indeed blazed a path, but North never advocated a revolutionary militia. However, should Western civilization collapse, we ought to be prepared in some good measure to survive the chaos.
For all their tension, North and Rushdoony did agree on one point: the Kingdom of God would emerge over time. They disagreed on the conditions of this emergence. Rushdoony’s perspective was patient. He argued that over the course of thousands of years God’s grace would regenerate enough people so that a Kingdom of reconstructed men would willingly submit to the strictures of God’s law. North on the other hand constantly warned of impending disaster. At the moment of cataclysmic collapse, Godly men could suddenly step forward and rule. God’s law was therefore a blueprint for reestablishing social order following the collapse of the current secular system. Both men agreed that the invisible hand of God’s grace and not the top-down imposition of authority would guide the process. In theory, men will submit to God’s law voluntarily, leaving no place for a ruling body of theocratic clerics.
Eugene writes********** After falsely accusing Rushdoony of advocating revolutionary demolition of democracy, Frank now says what I have been saying in my response all along. Frank now says, “Rushdoony’s perspective was patient. He argued that over the course of thousands of years God’s grace would regenerate enough people so that a Kingdom of reconstructed men would willingly submit to the strictures of God’s law.” Bravo Frank! That is right!
Of course, in practice, things are much more complicated.
In 1981, North and Rushdoony had a very public falling out and the two never spoke again. This dispute led to a deep rift in the Reconstructionist camp. North initially founded his Institute for Christian Economics (ICE) as a complement to Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation, but following their split North moved his operations to Tyler, Texas, and used ICE to popularize a dissident brand of Reconstructionism and spread its ideas to an ever wider audience. Interestingly, the rift between Rushdoony and North was arguably good for the movement because it led to a vital upsurge in competing publications.
Eugene writes***** “Dissident” by who’s standards? Why is Frank so accusatory? North saw some things differently than Rushdoony and wrote what he believed. But it is a large stretch to suggest North and Rushdoony were theological enemies. “Competing publications” is a good thing since no man has all the truth or is able to see all perspectives. And when a man sees some facet of theology as essential, he must express the difference between his belief and that which he opposes. This does not mean he is necessarily an enemy of the one who holds the other view.
While the short terms gains of the Rushdoony/North split temporarily reinvigorated the movement, a series of three critical setbacks in the 1990s weakened Christian Reconstruction. First, two of the movement’s most promising young theologians, Greg Bahnsen and David Chilton, died suddenly in 1995 and 1997 respectively.
Eugene writes******* The good effects of these two theologians continue today along with their publications, many of which I have on my bookshelf. And if Frank is suggesting that their deaths were the judgment of God for their theology, may I also die the death of the righteous! Bahnsen, not a perfect man, is one of my theological heroes, and I much admire the work of Chilton as well.
Eugene writes********* Postmillennial Reconstructionism is alive and well in American Vision and multitude of other ministries and continues to grow.
Bahnsen in particular had been an important rising star in the movement. His major theological work, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, was widely read and reviewed. Further, Bahnsen was a capable teacher who brought a level of intellectual respectability to Rushdoony’s ideas that few other Reconstructionists have managed. Second, as I noted above, Gary North managed to alienate himself from practically everyone inside and outside of the movement because of his overconfident tone and failed predications of looming societal collapse.
Anyway, this is too long and there’s much more that could be said, but it was a nice trip down memory lane and people I haven’t thought of for many years.
After Dennis read my response above, he wrote back:
Eugene… thanks very much for bringing clarity to Frank’s subjective and brief analysis of Rushdoony’s work. Because you are a scholar who has deeply studied postmillennial theology and Rushdoony’s work and have developed such excellent statements for the International Church Counsel on so many topics, your comments are well taken. It’s clear to me that people don’t read enough to know what and why they believe what they do. Reading Lou Poumakis’ book has spurred me to be more engaged in the discussion. Gary DeMar has many excellent video blogs that I’ve heard a few of lately and they are good too. It seems that many really intelligent people form strong opinions to take sides on complex issues without perfect and complete knowledge. I would rather keep the discussion alive by entertaining all the facts we truly know and help people to weed out assumptions and inaccuracies that are made by casual students of complex topics. If we honor the Bible as inerrant there is no way we can go wrong by reasoning in agreement with those who would try to make the square peg of their preconceptions fit into the round hole of the Word of God.
Another friend wrote:
I just read almost all of your long correspondence with Dennis’ friend Frank, whomever he is.
You did an excellent job, an erudite job defending Rushdoony and team mates.
Someone like Mark [Rushdoony] should probably pin a blue ribbon on your lapel. I was impressed with your input.
There is one small item I think Mark R. would mention if he mentions anything which is this. Both Mark and R.J. make it plain that they view a real, consistent “democracy” as an evil; essentially as mob rule or the dictatorship of the 51%, so R.J. thought of “democracy” as an evil idea.
It looks like God made you to fight theological, philosophical battles. You seem to enjoy it and are generally quite good at it. May God use that gifting for His glory and the advancement of the Kingdom.
And my wife wrote:
I am proud of you Mr. Clingman. I like Papa Jay’s comments that you quite enjoy it and are good at it . You are sure a warrior for the Lord! Go Forth my mighty man in the Lord!
I love you and sure glad married a warrior for Jesus Christ!
Below is some interaction with an astute friend regarding the current validity of God’s Law (the Ten Commandments and the accompanying case laws).
I too am glad for the opportunity to reflect and dialog together on these things.
I am honored that you have read the book and the paper I suggested. May the Lord continue to lead us into greater understanding of His truth and enable us more cogently and persuasively to speak the truth in love that we may be a blessing to His people!
I read through your entire email and must say that I think I am in essential agreement and that the distance between our understandings is more perceived than actual. I will respond phrase by phrase or section by section below. You will find my responses where you see **********.
You, XXXXX, wrote:
I appreciate the dialog. I read the book, God’s Ten Commandments and the article you suggested “God’s Law for All Societies.” I found them both quite thought-provoking. God’s Ten Commandments does a superb job of finding the heart of God and the reflection of his heart all over the scripture. I basically agree with almost everything stated in these works. At the same time, I am concerned where some of these lines of thought could lead believers. I was wondering if you would address some of my concerns and questions about the implications of what is written in these two pieces. My questions are below:
************* I am glad to be growing to know you and your care and concern for the people of God. Your desire to hold and promote truth that will lead believers in the right direction gladdens my heart and is the prayer for myself also.
1. It seems to me that the article “God’s Law for All Societies” leads the reader to a conclusion that the written code contained in the Bible defines what the Spirit of God might consider right and just. For me, the written code helps us to know what the Spirit is like, but the Spirit is not defined by the written code. Rather, the Spirit defined the written code. The text of the Bible describes what the Spirit is like, but does it really wholly define the Spirit? It seems to me that we are elevating “the letter” and proclaiming that it defines the Spirit.
************** I believe you correctly observe that the Spirit defines the written code and that the Spirit cannot be wholly defined by the written code. We as mortals, the created, not the Creator, are not able to wholly define the Spirit, nor are we able to wholly understand the Spirit. God is infinite and we are far from it. We are continually learning, He is the same yesterday, today and forever, unchanging, infinite, eternal. At the same time, the Spirit has given to us, in our limited (non-infinite) state, codes of moral conduct (e.g. “You shall not murder”). If we live in the Spirit, we will walk in love. Love does not murder; love is the fulfillment of the Law. Yet the law is not removed because there is love. The law endures, but we are called to love, not to a truncated view of the Law such as the Pharisees had (Mat. 5:22); They supposed that if they refrained from plunging a knife into the heart of someone, they had abstained from murder. The “Law is spiritual” says Paul (Rom. 7).
************** We make no claim that either our document or the Bible wholly define the Spirit. Yet that which is written is true and steadfast and unchanging, for God Himself is not changing or evolving.
You wrote: How do you interpret passages about the effects of legalism and letter-following? 2 Cor 3:6 ?
************* “who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 (NKJV). What is the New Covenant? Jesus told His disciples he was inaugurating the New Covenant on the night in which he was betrayed. When He spoke to them of the New Covenant, did they have any idea of what He meant? Did they have a context for Jesus words? Yes they did. The one and only OT book that mentions the words “new covenant” is Jeremiah (all the book of the Bible point to the New Covenant, beginning with Gen. 3:15). Jeremiah is the only one who uses the words “new covenant” (Jer. 31:31). What was that new covenant of which Jeremiah spoke? The New Covenant had to do with forgiveness of sins. But it had to do with God taking the Law that had been external (written on tablets of stone) and writing that same Law on hearts of flesh – clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:3 (NKJV) What was written on these hearts? Paul did not invent some new content. Paul spoke in context of Jeremiah’s understand of the New Covenant, which was also Jesus’ understanding of the New Covenant. The writing upon the hearts of the Corinthians was the same “stuff” Jeremiah spoke of – “…I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33 (NKJV) The Law which Jeremiah anticipated would be written on the hearts of God’s people was not a different law from that which was originally written on stone.
You wrote: 2. How would you interpret Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac? It’s clear to see how Isaac is a Christ-type in this account, but how do you deal with the fact that God asked Abraham to do something that seems to be murder? I don’t believe that this was a case of God asking Abraham to do something evil. But, what would a human court of law, using the decalogue as a basis do with Abraham’s case if he had killed Isaac? Wouldn’t they have righteously administered justice and convicted him?
************** Yes, I agree that this was not something evil God asked Abraham to do. Though God never intended for Abraham to follow through physically in putting Isaac to death, Abraham did not know this. Abraham, on the day he departed from home, put Isaac to death in his heart. It took three days for Abraham and Isaac to reach Mount Moriah. Isaac was dead for three days so far as Abraham was concerned. Thus Abraham received Isaac back from the dead “as a type” of Christ’s death, entombment, and resurrection (Heb. 11:19). So then, Abraham, so far as God was concerned, put Isaac to death; “…you have not withheld your son, your only son….” I am iterating this to point out that whatever Abraham did morally, he really did do (Mat. 5:22). If it was murder to obey God in this way, then Abraham really did murder. However, all killing of human beings is not murder. God authorizes killing of human beings for such offences as murder (the society that kills a murderer is not itself guilty of murder), homosexuality, adultery, etc.
You wrote: But, what would a human court of law, using the decalogue as a basis do with Abraham’s case if he had killed Isaac? Wouldn’t they have righteously administered justice and convicted him?
************* This question may fall into the same category as, “Can God create a rock so big that He cannot move it?” At the very least, it is a question that is needless to ask since Abraham did not kill his son, and because we understand that God never intended him to follow through with the killing of his son. To consider your question further, there was only one Abraham. God is not asking people to offer up their sons today, nor did He ever again after Abraham. Later in Israel’s history they did so (Ez. 16:21), and it was indeed murder, and such activity was indeed subject to the death penalty (Lev. 20:20).
You wrote: 3. In “God’s Law for All Societies,” I agree that “rescinded unless repeated” is a groundless interpretation of how the moral nature of the covenants transferred.
However, the interpretation that the moral law of the old testament is to be “maintained unless modified” seems problematic as well. For me this is a continuation of living by the letter of the law instead of living by the heart of the law.
************ I hope I answered “living by the letter of the law” above when addressing the writing of the Law on the hearts of New Covenant people.
You wrote: This is what Jesus criticized so strongly with the Pharisees.
************* Jesus never criticized anyone living in accord with God’s commandments. On the contrary, Jesus said the people should obey Moses (the Law), but be careful not do as the Pharisees did (Mat. 23:1-5 f.). The New Testament tells us of Zachariah and Elizabeth “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” Luke 1:6 (NKJV)
You wrote: They released themselves from living by the heart of the law by simply living by the letter.
********* The Pharisees, far from keeping the letter of the Law, wrote for themselves the commandments of men; these they kept while they “transgress the commandment of God” (Mat. 15:3-9 f.).
You wrote: This is wickedness. Our freedom from the letter of the law is not a freedom to do evil
********* The question arises—How do we define evil if we do not have the Law? Evil, “sin” is “transgression of the Law” (1 John 3:4).
You wrote: (freedom used to act licentiously isn’t freedom anyway–it’s slavery.) As I see it, our freedom from the letter is so that we might fully and accurately achieve the heart and spirit of the law.
*********** The continuing validity of the Law does not keep us from attaining all God intends for us morally. Perhaps a simile would serve to illustrate – The “law” of gravity that keeps the turtle on the ground gives ordered flight to the eagle. The turtle has no other law associated with its nature that would allow it to fly. The eagle has another law, the law of aero dynamics. Without the law of aero dynamics the eagle could not lift off, without the continuing law of gravity it would not be able to keep from spinning out of control and out into outer space.
You wrote: Our hearts are what God has been after this whole time, even in the Old Testament. David ate the consecrated bread. He danced in an ephod before the Lord. Jesus healed on the sabbath.(Jn 5:18-Jesus “breaking” the sabbath) (Col 2:16–judgment on others about a sabbath) Consider that Paul was “blameless” as to “righteousness under the law” (Phil 3:6) and yet his heart was not with God–he had fulfilled the letter but not the heart. Doesn’t all of this indicate that it’s the heart that matters as opposed to a legalistic righteousness?
************ Yes, the Law itself shows us that God has been/is after our hearts; even some of Jesus listeners understood this in some measure (Mark 12:33).
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NKJV)
And this love for God was into this response from those who would love Him:
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up…” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 f. (NKJV)
Paul was blameless in an outward way, the way the Pharisees designated “blamelessness”; a pharisaical viewpoint is Paul’s assumption. Paul understood the law as “spiritual” (Rom. 7:14). As you note, Paul says he was blameless, yet when Paul understands the “spiritual” nature of the Law, he come under conviction sin by means of the Law (Rom. 7:7-12).
Again, you wrote: Consider that Paul was “blameless” as to “righteousness under the law” (Phil 3:6) and yet his heart was not with God–he had fulfilled the letter but not the heart. Doesn’t all of this indicate that it’s the heart that matters as opposed to a legalistic righteousness?
************* Yes, it is most certainly a matter of the heart (eagle, aero dynamics). But the heart matter does not nullify the Law. “On the contrary, we establish it” (Rom. 3:31). It seems to me that Paul is speaking of “heart” issues in the context of Romans 3:31. He calls it “faith”, and it is faith that is the matter of the “heart”. The problem with the Pharisees was that they did not live in faith before God, “their heart is far from me” (Mat. 15:6-9). But genuine faith/heart does not “nullify the Law”.
You wrote: 4. It seems to me that the root of my apparent disagreements are found in where ultimate moral authority comes from. The article indicates that God is the ultimate authority and I agree with that. But the article also seems to indicate that we cannot trust when we are hearing that ultimate authority(the Spirit.)
************ We make no such claim. We claim that the Spirit, whatever He says today, is never in opposition to what He has said in the past. If someone genuinely hears from the Spirit of God, that hearing will not be contrary to what the Spirit has written in His Book. We can test our “hearing” by going to the Scriptures. When someone today says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Come, let us offer up our sons as Abraham did.’” We can go to what the Spirit has written (Lev. 20:20) and discover that the Lord is not actually saying this at all. We can know that this person has spoken presumption and rebellion against God. If we did not have the “written” of the Spirit, how could we know whether or not what someone is saying is “of the Spirit”?
You wrote: The hitch seems to be in this statement: “An individual’s personal understanding and sense of right and wrong (enlightened by that person’s understanding of how the Holy Spirit is guiding their life) is superior to the Christian Bible as a guide to issues of right and wrong.”
************** As you know, this statement is a “denial”. We deny that “An individual’s personal…” I believe in my response just above, I touch on this. We believe “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB). We believe God has given us the Scriptures that we might know what the Spirit has/does speak. The Spirit is able to give deeper insight into the Scriptures than we possess at this moment. But that insight “of the Spirit” will never be contrary to the writings of the Spirit, the Bible.
You wrote: I cannot unequivocally disagree with this statement. However, I would say unequivocally that an individual’s personal understanding as truthfully revealed by the Holy Spirit will be in complete agreement with the heart of God and the description of God’s heart as found in the Bible. My problem with the article’s statement is that it seems to suggest that we as believers cannot trust the Spirit to discern the correct path in moral matters. That we cannot know the Spirit’s voice in us.
************* We do not suggest that we cannot know the Spirit’s voice. I would suggest that our hearing the Spirit’s voice is not perfect and infallible (as you also acknowledge below in the “triangulation”); our supposed, “Hearing of the Spirit’s voice.”, ought ALWAYS be tested against Scripture.
You wrote: How then do you interpret 1 Corinthians chapter 2, especially verse 16?
************* Indeed, we have “the mind of Christ”. But does Paul say this without limitation for all Christians? I think not. He says of the Corinthians (I Cor. 3:1 f.) that they are carnal and he could not speak to them as “spiritual”. We all start out there. We cannot say to a man freshly converted, “You have the mind of Christ. Do whatever you think is good.” What do we tell the new convert? Learn of Christ. Desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow thereby. Learn the Word so you will be able to discern which thoughts are of God, and which are the devil’s fiery darts. We say to them, grow up into a “spiritual” man that you may be able to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 4:12 f.). We tell him, if you do not grow up, you will not be able to understand much of the things of God (Heb. 5:11-14). We should never tell him, “You have the mind of Christ. Run with it!”
You wrote: Don’t we have the mind of Christ? Doesn’t he go on to establish that the Spirit lives within us(1 Cor 3:16?) Should we make little of that? If we don’t trust the Spirit, how can we live and grow? Without the Spirit, we will simply apply fleshly, human wisdom in our interpretation of the scriptures. But we can trust the Spirit. Instead, we test the spirits by using all three: God’s word, the Spirit in other believers, the Spirit in us. Triangulate the truth.
********** “Triangulate the truth!” I like that. It is true. Iron sharpens Iron. I appreciate the opportunity to triangulate with you, xxxxxx. May God continue to help us and enlarge us for His greater glory, for the blessing of those around us, and for the humbling of our own hearts as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, learning evermore how much we have yet to learn!
************ (please forgive typos, goofy sentences, etc. I did this rather quickly as my time is much limited.) God bless you and yours! Eugene
I realize that the topic of this newsletter may seem academic to some. One might ask, Why the fuss? I would only say that if the Bible teaches something, even if we do not know all the reasons it is important, it is. If the Bible teaches it, in order to grow in godly knowledge, practice, and grace, we need to understand it and practice it. Though the benefits and blessing presently lie outside our purview, if we seek to understand and practice God’s Word and ways, the blessing and benefit will come.
In the last two articles (see left side-bar for link to previous articles) we looked at Abraham, the fountainhead of the faithful, the father of many nations, the inheritor of the world (Romans 4:13). As the fountainhead, we Christians are Abraham’s offspring (Galatians 3:29). To Abraham was given the covenant of circumcision which was to be applied to adults coming into the faith, and to eight day old infants born to those who believed. We saw that there is a correspondence between circumcision and baptism, the one being the sign and seal of the covenant under the Old Testament, the other the same under the New Testament. We also saw that because the foundation of the New Testament church is Jewish, the massive cultural momentum of including children in the covenant since the time of Abraham, if it had been changed at the start of the New Testament church, would have left skid marks, so to speak; there would be evidence of such a momentous change. But the New Testament does not show even the faintest skid marks. Instead, the first New Testament sermon preached, promised that as it had been in the past, so it would continue – “the promise is to you and to your children” (Acts 2:38-39). We also saw a number of verses that show how the New Testament assumes children are part of the church.
Old Testament Baptisms
In this article I want to look at the origin of baptism, its meaning and its mode. The New Testament (NT) tells us that baptism originates in the Old Testament (OT). Hebrews 9:9-21 tells us about these OT baptisms. Of the “first tabernacle” and its ordinances verse 9-10 says, “It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience– 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.” The word “washings” is the Greek word baptismos (Strongs #909; root #911). In his little book, The Meaning and Mode of Baptism (page 9), Jay E. Adams writes concerning this passage, “Ritual baptism is as old as the law. The law is replete with ceremonial purifications. These are baptisms. That fact must not be missed. John’s [the Baptist] baptism was nothing new to the Jews. From the days of Moses they had known the ceremony of baptism. There can be no question about this since the New Testament itself calls the Old Testament purifications “baptisms”…It is crucial to note that the law never required immersions, but frequently required “sprinklings.”
We see in the preceding paragraph that the New Testament says there were Old Testament baptisms. When we go and search the OT for baptisms, we find that never is there an example or ordinance for immersion baptism. Baptism is always by sprinkling or pouring.
|New Testament||Old Testament|
|Heb 9:13 – “…sprinkling the unclean…”||Num 19:17-18 – “…for purification…sprinkle…”|
|Heb 9:19 – “…sprinkled…all the people…”||Exodus 24:8 – “…sprinkled it on the people…”|
|Heb 9:21 – “…sprinkled…the tabernacle…”||Lev 8:19 – “…sprinkled…on the altar…”|
The New Testament calls these Old Testament sprinklings “baptisms”. In addition, the OT never once speaks of immersion baptism. We must conclude therefore that the mode of baptism in the OT is sprinkling, and this is the baptism the Jews were acquainted with and accustomed to when John the Baptist came on the scene. And since there is no evidence to the contrary, we would need to conclude that Jesus (His disciples) performed this same type of baptism of which the Jews were accustomed.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Water Baptism
An additional proof that NT baptism is pouring or sprinkling is seen in the close association of baptism to the Holy Spirit.
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13
By the Spirit each Christian is baptized into Christ (Rom 6:3), and consequently also into the body of Christ. By what mode does the Spirit baptize? Another way to ask this is How does the Spirit come in contact with a person? The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is poured out upon people (Acts 2:17, 33; 10:45; Rom 5:5; Titus 3:5-6), He falls upon people (Acts 8:16; 11:15), and He comes upon people (Acts 19:6). The Bible never suggests that people are immersed, dipped, or bathed in the Holy Spirit.
Baptism of the Spirit is the spiritual, inner reality that places us in Christ and His body. Spirit baptism is always by pouring or sprinkling and never by dipping, submerging, burying, or bathing. It is reasonable to assume that the outward sign of the inner reality ought to represent and picture the inner reality. Outward baptism ought to picture inward baptism, the symbol reflect the reality. Baptism then ought to be by pouring or sprinkling, not dipping, burying, or submerging.
Robert Rayburn writes, “To try to separate baptism from the work of the Holy Spirit is to do violence to the whole revelation of the Scriptures upon the subject. Real baptism is the work of the Holy Spirit, and water (ritual) baptism is that which symbolizes His work. Yet the most uneducated reader cannot fail to see that in the New Testament believers were not dipped into the Spirit, nor were they immersed in Him, nor plunged down into Him; but, to the contrary, the Spirit was shed forth, was poured out, fell, came, or rested upon them, and as a result they were baptized with the Holy Ghost. Baptism then is not the person’s being put into the element [water], but rather the elements being put upon the person. It is impossible to prove anything from Scripture if this point is not proved: that a person is properly baptized when the element [water] of the baptism is put upon him.”
We have seen two ways in which the Bible teaches the mode and meaning of baptism. First we saw that since early OT times, baptism has pictured cleansing and purification. These baptisms of purification were never done by dipping or submerging, but always by pouring or sprinkling.
Secondly we saw that because water baptism is a sign of the inner baptism of the Spirit, and because the Spirit always comes upon the person, and because the person is never dipped into or submerged into the Spirit, water baptism ought to reflect this reality. Water baptism ought to be by pouring or sprinkling in which the water comes upon the person, not by submersion in which the person is placed down into the water.
Does this mean that if you were dipped you need to now be sprinkled or poured upon? I believe the answer is, “No, you do not”. I also was dipped, and it has been a decade’s long journey to understand paedobaptism and the reasons for it. If you were baptized in the Triune Name, your baptism is valid whether dipped, sprinkled, or poured. Baptism in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is a good and valid baptism. Yet I believe a more Biblical baptism in which the water comes upon the person rather than the person being put down into the water is in keeping with the Biblical revelation, and teaches truths that will bless and benefit God’s people.
 What About Baptism?; Robert Rayburn; Baker Book House; 1979; pg 24.
If you did not read the last post, The Continuity of the Covenant, I invite you to read it as a foundation for this article.
We invite you to RSVP for the free summer conference to be held Saturday, August 18, 2012.
In the last post, we looked at Abraham, who is “the father of us all” (Romans 4:16). Abraham is the fountainhead, the father of both Jew and Gentile, that is, of all who believe in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:29). As such he is significant to Christians today, and the covenant God made with Abraham includes us, and continues through us to the next generation and to the end of the world (Genesis 28:14; Matthew 20:18-20). We saw that though the covenant with Abraham was one of the righteousness that comes by faith, yet eight day old children, who were not capable of cognitive faith, were included in it, for the sign of the covenant, circumcision, was applied to them.
As we consider the transition from the Old Testament (OT) church (Acts 7:38) to the New Testament (NT) church, we should keep in mind that the Gospel was “to the Jew first” (Rom 1:16; 2:9-10). When Paul came to a new town, he customarily went to the synagogue first, and normally some of the Jews responded and became the first members of the church in that town, along with the God-fearing proselytes – the Jewish converts who believed (Acts 13:42-43; 14:1; 17:10-12; 18:4; 19:8-10; etc.). In other words, the foundations of the NT Church are Jewish. Paul describes this transition from the Old Testament church to the New Testament church in Romans 11:15-24. He describes an olive tree with root and branches. Some of the Jewish branches were broken off during the transition from OT to NT and Gentiles were grafted in “among” the already existing branches to partake of the same root stump, becoming part of the already existing faithful people of God. The Church’s foundation is Jewish.
The fact that the foundations of the New Testament Church are Jewish is significant especially when it comes to the present topic. By God’s command, the Jews had included their children in the Covenant all the many generations since Abraham. If all of a sudden children were excluded, the New Testament would tell us about the challenges of working through that eminently significant change. As one respected theologian said, “There would be skid-marks” that would show where the momentum of this massive cultural practice had come to an end. However, there are no skid marks. There is no evidence of such a significant change. Instead, the first New Testament sermon told the Jews and Gentile proselytes their children would be included in the promises of the Gospel just as they had always been included in covenant relationship since Abraham (Acts 2:38, 39). There is a sense in which every page of the New Testament declares that God has ordained that children continue to be included as members of His church, no longer by circumcision, the OT sign of the covenant, but now by baptism, the NT sign of the covenant. In what way does it so speak? – In that there is not a single page of the New Testament where we find mention of the upheaval which would most assuredly have occurred if there had been such a momentous change. There is not the slightest whisper in the New Testament of such a change in the status of children. Instead, it is assumed throughout the New Testament that children are part of the church (Ephesians 6:1, 2; Acts 2:38, 29; 1 Corinthians 7:14; Matthew 19:14).
Widely respected theologian and churchman, Benjamin B. Warfield said, “God established His Church in the days of Abraham and put children into it. They must remain there until He puts them out. He has nowhere put them out. They are still then members of His Church and as such entitled to its ordinances.”
- God commanded children be included under the sign of the covenant in the Old Testament, and
- The first NT sermon preached assured the Jews and Jewish proselytes that their children are still included, and
- There is no mention or hint in the NT that Children have been excluded from the NT sign of the covenant, and
- The NT assumes children are included in the Church today (verses above)
We are confident therefore that God has ordained that our children be included under the New Testament sign of the covenant which is baptism. We also draw encouragement and confidence from the history of the church which demonstrates that from most ancient times in the New Testament church, children were baptized.
Why is this important?
Why is baptism of children important? If God intends our children to be included in the life of the church in ways we are excluding them, we are missing the mark, and only God knows the scope of the benefits we withhold from them. Jesus says to let the little children come to Him, and not to hinder them. We need to ask, do our church traditions hinder them? If God wants our children baptized, who are we to withhold baptism from them?
I invite you to prayerfully look up and study the verses in this article and compare them with the statements expressed in this article. A “Berean” is one who is “…fair-minded… in that [they receive] the word with all readiness, and [search] the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [are] so” (Acts 17:11). Each of us needs to be convinced by God’s Word, not by the position of our church or traditions or even our extended family (Deut. 33:9).
“God established His Church in the days of Abraham and put children into it. They must remain there until He puts them out. He has nowhere put them out. They are still then members of His Church and as such entitled to its ordinances.” Dr. B.B. Warfield
God’s grace to you,
Rev. Eugene Clingman, M.Min.
Colossians 2:11-12; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38, 39.
At the gates of Eden Yahweh spoke the Protoevangelium, saying to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). Echoing those words Paul wrote, “And the God of Peace shall soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
After the Protoevangelium we can trace the hope of salvation through Noah to Abraham. It was to Abraham God said, “In you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). Abraham became the fountainhead of blessing to the nations, which blessing finds ultimate fulfillment in the seed “who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). For this reason Abraham is of central importance. He became the father of all who believe, Jew and Gentile (Romans 4:11-12).
God’s covenant with Abraham extends to the second coming of Jesus Christ when He will judge the world in righteousness. The blessing of “all the families of the earth” continues through the preaching of the Gospel to all the “ethne” (Greek for peoples) of the earth (Matthew 20:18-20). We Christians are children of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal 3:29). God’s covenant with Abraham includes all Christians today (Gal. 3:16; Rom. 4:11-12).
Along with that covenant, and vitally connected to it, God gave Abraham circumcision (Gen. 17:11) – the sign and seal of the righteousness that comes by faith (Romans 4:11). God commanded that this sign and seal be administered to all in Abraham’s family, including newborn children eight days old (Gen. 17:12; 21:4). Though circumcision pertained to righteousness by faith, it was administered to eight day old infants who had no ability to give verbal testimony to faith.
The question arises – Why was the Old Covenant sign of circumcision applied to infants and children, but the New Covenant sign of baptism, in some churches, is withheld from them? They say, “Children cannot express their faith, and Christianity has to do with faith and godly living (righteousness), for this reason we do not include them in baptism, which is the sign of the New Covenant.” We say it is true that the covenant has always pertained to faith and righteousness. Nevertheless God commanded Abraham to include children in the sign and seal of the righteousness which is by faith (Romans 4:11; Gen. 17). Children were circumcised for inclusion in a covenant of righteousness by faith before they could evidence faith. Did such inclusion change with the institution of the New Testament?
Next time I hope to answer this question. We believe the ramifications are significant for us and our children, significant enough that it is one reason we believe a new church for the Ozarks is a fitting hope and effort.
We hope you will RSVP for the free conference. You will find information by clicking the link in the left side-bar. Whether or not you have any interest in participating in a new church for the Ozarks, we invite you to be our guests at this conference. This conference is for all who are hungry for the good things of God, for faithful worship of God, and for fellowship with God’s people.
Colossians 2:11-12; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38, 39.
Many churches have started up and failed here in the Ozarks. Why should Cornerstone be different? No one can guarantee success unless they can see into the future – and I cannot. Yet there are godly principles, which if followed, will open a pathway to God’s blessing which is the most necessary ingredient to the establishing of a church. One of those ingredients is that those men who believe God wants them to establish a church be accountable to other godly men.
As we desired and prayed about a new church, it came into my heart to make myself more accountable in this way. I was already accountable to godly men, even fairly prominent men, such as Dr. Jay Grimstead of Coalition on Revival (www.Reformation.net), and Jerry Nordskog of Nordskog Publishing (www.NordskogPublishing.com), and I am a friend of Mark Rushdoony, President of Chalcedon (www.Chalcedon.edu). But all of them are on the West Coast, from which I originate. I began to feel that I should make myself more accountable to local men.
We had been attending Christ the King (CTK) in Springfield, MO nearly every month for four or five years. We had come to know the integrity of the ministry and of the men who oversee the ministry. A couple years ago, I invited Mike Gaskins (a leading man in our hoped for church), to go with me to talk with the elders of CTK and so made an appointment for a Sunday afternoon after church. We spoke to them about our desire to see a new church planted in the Ozarks. At that time, I asked the CTK elders to hold me accountable, to ask me hard questions any time. I submitted myself and my ministry to them. They agreed to hold me accountable and to give their blessing and spiritual and moral support to our effort to establish a new church. I am telling you this to let you know that we who seek to establish this church are not lone rangers; we are connected, with proper and godly connections. I believe this is important and it is an additional safety for the sheep that join themselves to a new church.
The Ministry of Christ the King (CTK)
Christ the King (www.ChristTheKingKirk.com) was started about ten years ago with just a few families meeting for Bible study and fellowship. Rob Davis, an accountant who had attended seminary earlier in life, was the key man and the one who led the studies. Rob sought a connection with the CREC (then The Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches; the name recently changed to The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches). The CREC is the fellowship of churches to which our forming church will be also be connected. (See the CREC here: www.crechurches.org.) Beginning with Rob and his homeschooling family and a couple other homeschool families, Christ the King has grown to several hundred members.
These several hundred members are predominantly homeschool families. There is a tremendous environment of mutual encouragement and support in this church. Their pattern of worship is Reformed. A broad outline of a typical Sunday at CTK is like this: 1) Lord’s Day Worship with the Lord’s Table celebrated; 2) Potluck lunch and fellowship; 3) sometimes congregational song practice singing hymns in parts; 4) Sermon question and answer session; 5) Bible lesson given by the pastor, and question/answer session for Bible study; 6) Fellowship until one wishes to depart; there is no evening service. Christ the King is a “family integrated church” which means that they do not divide the family into age segregated classes; families participate in all aspects of the services; there is a nursery facility for mothers of nursing or small/noisy children.
A New Building for Christ the King
As a side note, CTK has been meeting in a Lutheran church’s gymnasium since its early years. Recently the Lutheran church decided they need that space for their own use. As CTK went about looking for new space, they approached a large church (about three miles from their present meeting location) about the possibility of renting the church facility that church was leaving (they had built a new larger facility on the edge of Springfield). To make a longer story very short, the church would not rent to CTK, but offered to sell them the three and a half million dollar facility for three hundred and fifty thousand dollars (10% of the appraised value). This is an amazing gift and grace of God! The large church trustees wished to pass the multi-million dollar facility to another Kingdom building ministry and so they made it financially accessible to CTK. Provided the transaction finalizes, CTK will be moving into that facility sometime in the near future. All this to say that it is wondrous what God will sometimes do for a people who are walking before Him.
We invite you to visit CTK on your own, or visit on a Sunday when we also will be there. They meet in the rear annex of Faith Lutheran Church at 1517 E. Valley Watermill Road, Springfield, Missouri 65803.
We cherish the hope of a new church for the Ozarks, a church where mutual support and growing in the things of God will take place in us and our children. If you desire to see God do something new, we invite you to visit our Men’s Study, or Family night meeting (see schedule below).
God’s grace to you,
Rev. Eugene Clingman, M.Min.
We are working and praying for a new church for the Ozarks. We hope you will visit a men’s study or one of our Family Nights. We invite you to pass this newsletter on to a family you know that doesn’t attend church, or that is looking for a church.
In ten months I will be sixty years old. For the greater part of my adult life I have been in ministry either as a pastor or an associate pastor in a local church. For the past fifteen or so years, I have not been a pastor in a church but been involved in other ministries (US Center for World Mission (www.uscwm.org), 1996-1999; The International Church Council Project (www.ChurchCouncil.org; 2000-currently)). Since my conversion at age 20, I have been a faithful church-attender/member. When we moved to the Ozarks, after visiting a number of churches in the area, and not finding a church I felt was fitting for us to attend regularly, we began to have church in our home. We invited others in the area and sometimes a family or two would join us in Sunday worship. However it was mostly my family only. I was not comfortable with this, knowing that we needed to be regularly meeting with other members of Christ’s Body. So I made some changes.
Today, we are sort of in a holding pattern, so to speak, as we pray and wait for the forming of a new church. The current pattern for the Clingman Family’s Sundays is generally like this: one Sunday a month we attend Christ the King in Springfield. Christ the King is our covering or sponsoring church for this church planting effort; two or three Sundays a month we hold a church service for the residents of Hilltop Haven, a live-in residence in Eminence; and one or two Sundays a month we attend the local Baptist church in Eminence. This pattern is not what I would call ideal, and we hope it will be only for a short time longer. I am telling you all of this for full disclosure. A man who thinks he is following the Lord in seeking to establish a new church needs to be open with those he hopes to win to his side.
There are other families in the Ozarks that do home church, often with no more than their own family in attendance. Gathering for Sunday worship as a family is honorable; it is certainly light years ahead of not doing church at all. But it is also leagues behind regular and faithful attendance in a church where believers meet with one another each Sunday to share the Lord’s Supper and fellowship together, learning together how to press into the worship of the True and Living God, and learning more of how to corporately serve Him as Christ’s Body.
We know the verse in Hebrews: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). And we are familiar with the phrase that appears dozens of times in the New Testament, “one another”. The Apostles assumed that God’s people would be meeting together regularly, and so they often exhorted the believers in “one another” admonitions and encouragements. We need one another, and in order to relate to one another, the New Testament assumes God’s people would be meeting together with one another on a regular (weekly basis).
If you are hungry for a new church, and for God to do a new thing, we invite you to visit one of our meetings. Touch and see what we are up to. We invite you to ask God whether you might be part of a new church for the Ozarks. Especially if you are doing home church on your own (by yourselves), we invite you to visit with us.
We invite you to RSVP for the Heart of Worship summer conference sponsored by this Cornerstone Church start-up effort. Pastor Eric Sauder, pastor of Christ the King, Springfield, MO will be the main speaker. See the brochure by clicking the link at the top of the right side-bar in this newsletter.
We have hope that God will establish a new church for the Ozarks.
Your servant in Christ our Lord and God,
Rev. Eugene Clingman, M.Min.
 Our covering/sponsoring church, Christ the King of Springfield, has asked us to gather six families before we launch Sunday services.
 This is not an independent action or effort of a single man. I relate to and am accountable to the Session (Elders) of Christ the King Church in Springfield, MO. The Session of that church, along with me, Eugene Clingman, will be the start-up elders of this new church for the Ozarks, Cornerstone Church (we look forward to establishing elders locally as God raises them up).
 When the Apostles spoke of Christ’s Body or the Body of Christ, it was in the context of the saints meeting together: 1 Corinthians 12:4-29; Ephesians 4:11-16; Romans 12:30-8.
There is often a tension between staying within to reform and coming aside to pursue a more perfect way. In 15th century England this tension was represented by the Puritans who believed God had called them to stay in the English state church to reform it, and the Separatists, who believed it was better to come apart and form a new church; the Mayflower Pilgrims of early American history where Separatists.
All of us (you and me) Protestants are part of a group that came apart from the established church structure to pursue a more perfect way. The Reformation or Protestant movement came out of the Roman Catholic Church because they believed it necessary. This includes Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc.
We who wish to form this church have this tension within ourselves, so that we both want to see the Church reformed from within, and at the same time feel that for our own sakes, but especially for our children, we ought to come aside, like the Pilgrims, to form a new church.
We acknowledge that the existing churches that name the name of Christ in purity and sincerity are part of the Body of Christ, God’s people. Yet we have concerns.
We are concerned that the modern, western church (Europe and North America) has become the handmade of the secular state. By sending their children to the government schools the children are being trained by the enemies of God, and are often recruited out of Christianity into secularism as a result. Because this has occurred for generations, the government school mentality has been imported into the church as those government school trained children have become adult leaders in the churches. Such churches are permeated with what I call the government school spirit. This government school spirit is evidenced (at least in the local church my family attends frequently) by the celebration of the government school baseball, football, track, or swimming team winning, and also by the frequent announcements about government school activities, and by the active support of the government school programs. We homeschool our kids so that they are not part of the government school system. But when they relate to the government school kids at the government school endorsing church, they are affected by the government school spirit. Not only this, they see the pastor and church leaders tacitly approving the government school training of the large majority of the church’s children.
Another concern is that the churches in our community have acquiesced before the corrupting culture, have culturally retreated to live within the four walls of the church, and have given up hope of reforming the culture. The eschatology of the churches contributes to this, or is largely responsible for this. They believe the devil and his people are winning and will win culturally. As for the Church, they say, Jesus will come and rescue us out before it gets too bad by means of the Rapture. One way this giving up on culture is evidenced is by the belief that Christians should not be involved in politics; some Christians even refuse to vote.
We however believe that Jesus Christ has called us and our children to “possess the gates of our enemies” (Gen 22:17) and that the “God of Peace will soon crush Satan under our feet”! (Rom 16:20) We believe that Christians are called to disciple the nations (Matt 28:18-20) and not the nations to disciple us (as it is in the government schools). We therefore believe that God calls Christians to places in society where a difference can be made politically and culturally by being involved in politics, the arts and media, medicine, law, and every legitimate realm of human endeavor.
We therefore are not content to retreat into the four walls of the church to wait until Jesus comes to take us out of this mess. We seek to equip ourselves and our children to take both sword and trowel (Neh 4:17) as we build the Church and contend for righteousness and Christ’s Kingdom on earth (Matt 6:10).
Here I have shared with you two reasons we hope to establish a new church. I hope to share more with you in time to come.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Eugene Clingman, M.Min.
 The Southern Baptists report that of those children in their churches who are government schooled, by the time they graduate, 85% leave the church, never to return.
 Each Christian life and occupation makes a difference and salts society. Politics is also an important place: “the gates” (Gen 22:17) is the place of control, of politics, and of judgment (court system).