Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pristine Christianity - #2

In my previous blog I wrote about how different restorationist groups started with the espoused purpose of restoring "Pristine Christianity." They did not see themselves as being in the flow of Christian history, but rather a brand new beginning.

So, how did they do?

Well, the Quakers emphasized Christian ethics, but their pursuit of mystical insight opened them to all kinds of theological variations. Could all of these be "Pristine Christianity?"

The Stone-Campbell movement moved from a Presbyterian background to a more Baptist looking practice (baptism by immersion and congregational church government). But they also eschewed any written creed to clarify their interpretation of scripture. They generally hold to some form of baptismal regeneration and some are clearly teaching salvation through continued participation in church and weekly communion. Since they have no creed and don't respect any church history older than 1800, they also fracture into splinter groups as frequently as anyone. Is this "Pristine Christianity?"

Other restorationists have definitely come to beliefs that are certainly different from historical Christianity. The Latter Day Saints teach a polytheistic cosmology in which every man can become a god with a universe of his own to populate and rule. Salvation is by being a good LDS person and going through LDS rituals.

Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe that Jesus is Jehovah, but a man who became "a god." They don't believe in hell. They believe they are somehow the 144,000 Israelites mentioned in Revelation. Salvation is by being a good JW and working hard at their various ministries.

Other groups have landed on observing the Saturday Sabbath as essential. Others profess unitarianism (no trinity), or universalism (everyone is saved). Others insist that they have the first century gifts of healing and special revelation. They even claim they can raise the dead.

How can any of these be "Pristine Christianity?"

If you had someone come to you and tell you that he had special information or insight that would restore "Pristine Christianity," how could you be sure he was not in the right? Some people have been unbiblically gullible!
(1John 4:1) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

(2Corinthians 11:13-15) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

(Galatians 1:6-9) I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

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