The Legality and Propriety of Commending the Historic Christian Faith in the American Public Arena

By David Clark Brand - Posted at The Christian Observer:

Defining the Faith

If the “historic Christian faith” is to be commended, it is important to understand just exactly what it is that is being commended, i.e., what exactly is meant by the expression “the historic Christian faith.” Is the “historic Christian faith” as broad as Christendom itself? Is it to be equated with what comes out of the Vatican or what is communicated via modern televangelism? Is it as broad as religion itself? Is it primarily a message about self-esteem or self-fulfillment, or a manifesto on miracle working that we are commending? Are we to commend the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Salem witch trials, Rome’s claims to possess both the temporal and spiritual keys of Peter, and of papal infallibility? Are we affirming every cult that appropriates the name “Christian” and every religious expression to which the Roman pontiff (or modern mainline Protestant leaders), gives the nod or embraces? Are we to include all creeds and confessions, and any and everything that claims support from the New Testament though some of those claims may involve another book which purportedly represents the key to understanding the Bible? Are we advocating those movements that claim the right to pick and choose from the writings of the New Testament? Are we to opt for what is commonly perceived in America as the pure, simple religion of Jesus while ignoring or disdaining the writings of Paul? After all, “Christianity” means different things to different people, and who is to say who is right? In America, we respect the right of everyone to express his own opinion.

But there is a serious pitfall that comes with allowing any and every religious expression to qualify as an expression of the “historic Christian faith.” Defining something so broadly is tantamount to refusing to define it at all. After all, we are not commending something that arose out of thin air or that emerged out of man’s democratic impulse. Rather we are defining a movement that arose in history as set forth in a group of primary documents, namely the 27 books of the New Testament. The foundational events associated with this movement purport to have been substantiated by the testimony of a core group of eye-witnesses. The writings of the New Testament record these events and provide the authoritative interpretation and application of these events to all nations and for all time.

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