Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Those Who Fail to Learn from History . . .

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' nine conclusions, following extensive examination of the key texts, reproduced from his address, "The Basis of Christian Unity":

1. Unity must never be isolated, or regarded as something in and of itself.

2. The question of unity must never be put first. We must never start with it, always bearing in mind the order stated so clearly in Acts 2:42, where fellowship follows doctrine.

3. We must never start with the visible church or with an institution, but rather with the truth, which alone creates unity.

4. The starting point in considering the question of unity must always be regeneration and belief of the truth.

5. An appearance or a facade of unity based on anything else, and at the expense of these two criteria, or ignoring them, is clearly a fraud and a lie.

6. To do anything which supports or encourages such an impression or appearance of unity is surely dishonest and sinful.
The world will not be impressed by a mere coming together in externals while there is central disagreement about the fundamentals of the faith. It will interpret it as an attempt on the part of the church authorities to save their institution in much the same way as it as it sees business men forming combines and amalgamations with the same object and intention. The question the world is asking is, What is Christianity? What is your teaching? Have you anything authoritative and powerful to offer us? It is interested in this rather than in organizational matters, and rightly so. It is also ready to respond to it.
In other words, MLJ believed that Christian unity in the fundamental doctrines is "missional."

7. To regard a church, or a council of churches, as a forum in which fundamental matters can be debated and discussed, or as an opportunity for witness-bearing, is sheer confusion and muddled thinking.

8. Unity must obviously never be thought of primarily in numerical terms, but always in terms of life. Nothing is so opposed to the biblical teaching as the modern idea that numbers and powerful organization alone count.

9. The greatest need of the hour is a new baptism and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in renewal and revival. [I'm quite sure I'd disagree with MLJ's understanding of the baptism of the Spirit, but I suspect I'd agree with the main thrust of his point.]

I do wonder how the last few decades of church history, perhaps even the last few weeks, might have been different if we took the Doctor's proposals seriously.

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