From Roman Catholicism to Christian Reconstruction
Rather than trace the beginning of Roman Catholicism, and the “divine” authority of the Pope, I will simply render an opinion that RC was based on a misinterpretation of Jesus’ words, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” That is why RCs believe that the authority of the Pope is directly passed down from the apostle Peter. Over time, power corrupts, and by the time of Martin Luther, the RC church had become thoroughly corrupt. More important, they taught salvation by a combination of human effort (works) and blessings of human RC authority, imbuing the latter with the power to forgive sins against God, a power given only to Jesus Christ. The RC Church was a great political and religious power in Luther’s time.
Martin Luther was a devout Christian monk, who was very disturbed by the corruption of the RC church, but didn’t know how to combat it. Then one famous day, he was reading a passage from the book of Romans 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God is revealed from faith, to faith: as it is written: ‘The just shall live by faith.” Luther’s heart, in his words, “became warm within me”, and came to understand justification–appropriating Jesus’ righteousness–as being entirely the work of God. Against the teaching of his day, Luther asserted that Christians receive that righteousness entirely from outside themselves; that righteousness not only comes from Christ, it actually is the righteousness of Christ, and remains outside of us but is merely imputed to us (rather than infused into us) through faith. “That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law,” said Luther. “Faith is that which brings the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ”. Thus faith, for Luther, is a gift from God, and “. . .a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.” This faith grasps Christ’s righteousness and appropriates it for itself in the believer’s heart.
Martin Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms (or two reigns) of God teaches that God is the ruler of the whole world and that he rules in two ways, both by the law and by the gospel. God rules the earthly realm through secular government, by means of law and the sword. As Creator God would like to promote social justice, and this is done through the political use of the law. At the same time God rules his spiritual kingdom, in order to promote human reconciliation to God. This is done through the gospel, according to which all humans are justified by God’s grace alone..'” Luther came to one of his most important understandings, that the “righteousness of God” was not God’s active, harsh, punishing wrath demanding that a person keep God’s law perfectly in order to be saved, but rather that God’s righteousness is something that God gives to a person as a gift, freely, through Christ. The last two paragraphs are the core, the primary doctrines of Protestant theology, the “protest” in Protestantism being against the doctrines of the RC church. Luther’s literal protest of the RC church practices was called the “95 theses”, which he mailed to the Archbishop of Mainz in 1517.
Unfortunately, human egos and designs being what they are, Protestantism eventually split into denominations, based on disagreements about the secondary doctrines, such as baptism, church government and so forth. So today we have Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal et al denominations and Episcopal, Presbyterian and Congregational church government structures. I consider myself non-denominational (no denomination) and lean to the Presbyterian form of government (elders guide and counsel but no bosses, like bishops) because that was how the original, apostolic church was governed.
There is another area of disagreement, centered around whether Jesus’ rule has already begun, or will begin in the future with His return to earth from heaven, after the rapture (instant transition of believers from earth to heaven). I don’t get into those controversies, there’s been enough written to defend both positions, but what matters is how we conduct ourselves during our time here. A general category of people who believe that Christ is already reigning from heaven, and expects His people to function as partners in the “family business” (Jesus is the owner, His sons and daughters are the partners) is called Christian Reconstruction. The best contrast between that philosophy and what I call the “Rapture Hope” philosophy is how we conduct ourselves in everyday faithfulness to our callings.
Our callings are, in order of priority, our faith, our family, our culture, our occupation. Since I am firmly in the CR/family business camp, I do not spend any time wishing for the rapture or speculation on when evil will be wiped out by Christ’ return. Rather, I am faithful to my callings, as a way of showing what the gospel looks like. Unfaithful Christians who don’t recognize their role in the Family Business live like they are waiting for Christ to come rescue them from their bad decisions, or they engage in futile speculation about Christ’s return, even though He has said “no one but the Father knows the time.” I don’t get discouraged about the evil I see, because I know the outcome. Death itself has been defeated by Jesus’ resurrection, evil has been conquered, though it should be understood through this lesson: He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.“‘” – Matthew 13:25-30
Evil is the weeds. They grow only for the inevitable day when they will be plucked out. Who will? I don’t pretend to know, nor do I speculate. My calling is to spread the good news of “freedom for the captives.”