A Discussion among Christian Brethren (NCT Questions, Part 2)

Sadly, on account of non-essential theological differences, Christians too often hurl harsh, bitter invectives against those whom they should claim as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Pejorative epithets such as antinomian, legalist, anti-Semite, anti-Judaic, replacement theologianheretic, and others are frequently applied with little or no justification. In other instances, believers break fellowship or refuse to fellowship with fellow Christians due to differences regarding non-essential matters of the faith. Such behavior, not to mention the doctrinal divisions, both damages the public witness of the Body of Christ and significantly hinders the proclamation of the Gospel. In the words of the Apostle James, “My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10).[1] As believers in Christ, we must be able to lock arms together on all essential matters of the Christian faith, while agreeing to disagree in non-essential or disputable matters. We must remember that famous statement of Rupertus Meldenius, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”[2] When we fail to do so, we stand in direct violation of Christ’s command to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34; Matt 22:39). As long as we accept the absolute essentials of orthodox evangelical Protestantism, we should be able to agree to disagree with fellow believers on disputable matters (e.g. the non-essential differences between/within Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology, and New Covenant Theology).[3] If we are unable to respectfully[4] differ in Christian love with fellow believers on such disputable theological matters, we, including this author, have absolutely no business communicating our theological opinions. It is with this spirit that I approach the necessary task of fairly addressing the principal misconceptions (both popular and doctrinal) surrounding New Covenant Theology.

 

Notes:

[1]This quotation of James 3:10 is from the New International Version.

[2]Although frequently attributed to Augustine of Hippo, Schaff notes that the theological axiom “appears for the first time in German, A.D. 1627 and 1628” and “has recently been traced to Rupertus Meldenius, the otherwise unknown divine.” Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. VII: Modern Christianity and the German Reformation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1910; reprint 1974), 650.

[3]Although I would maintain that Dispensational Theology (in both its Classical and Progressive forms) is not the most accurate theological paradigm with which to approach the Scriptures, I wholeheartedly assert that Dispensational Theology is within the pale of orthodoxy and that I share (at certain points) theological common ground with both its versions. Likewise, although I would maintain that Covenant Theology (in both its paedobaptistic and baptistic forms) is not the most accurate theological paradigm with which to approach the Scriptures, I wholeheartedly assert that Covenant Theology is within the pale of orthodoxy and that I share a great deal of theological common ground with both its versions.

[4]Respectful disagreement excludes (but is not limited to) the following: ad hominem attacks; pithy, yet cutting, statements or responses; name calling of any sort; guilt-by-association arguments; fallacious accusations; derogatory remarks; disagreements which focus on individuals and not the facts at hand; etc. Whenever a Christian believer resorts to any of the aforementioned examples of disrespectful/adversarial argument, he or she displays a significant lack of Christian love, a significant lack of character, and a significant lack of scholarship.

2 Comments

  1. Manfred

    I am learning this principle more and more since getting the boot as a pastor by free will deacons who could not tolerate hearing Rev 13:8 in a sermon and joining a Christocentric dispensational church as the only biblical church within driving distance. The pastor is a dear brother who has repented of man-pleasing, seen his membership dwindle, yet stands on the solid rock. My soul rejoices in finding this fellowship, though I cannot comport with the pastor’s system of theology. Gently, I pray, the Lord will allow me to point out the Christotelic views of Revelation and Daniel and 1 Kings, et. al. as we discuss these in various Bible studies.

    1. zmaxcey (Post author)

      Amen. May the Lord enable you to do so. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the interaction.

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