Mere Hegelianism Masquerading as Mere Christianity at Fulcrum
Kuhrt argues that so long as a leader declares himself a believer in Jesus Christ the church is “obliged” to treat him as such without regard to the content of his/her teaching and/or faith.
“At the centre of this doctrine [Justification by Faith], most clearly displayed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, is the conviction that once someone declares their faith in Jesus as Lord, we are obliged to regard them as a fellow brother or sister.”
This is the sort of thing that makes one wonder whether Stephen Kurht has actually read Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The letter begins with this declaration:
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:8-9)
Paul writes to the churches in Galatia in response to threat from the Judaizers. According to Acts 15, the Judaizers were people who claimed to follow Jesus as Lord but who taught:
“Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”(Acts 15:1)
The whole point of Paul’s argument is that false teachers proclaim a gospel that cannot save. Their teaching draws people away from the truth that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is the means by which God justifies sinners and toward a reliance on some admixture of lawkeeping and belief that proves utterly powerless. Following “another gospel” leaves sinners under God’s wrath.
Were Stephen Kurht writing to Galatia, he would say that the churches there would be “obliged” to receive Judaizing teachers as brothers and (as we’ll see) learn from them since they “profess faith in the Lord Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul, by contrast, says Justification by Faith is denied by the Judaizer so let the Judiazing teacher “be accursed” because he leads people into spiritual death. Dealing decisively with the false teacher protects and preserves the flock of God.
Kurht might not like that Paul refuses to accept the claims of the Judaizers, but the apostle is merely applying Jesus’ own instruction to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing, to be careful to identify and cast out false prophets. And “watching out” for wolves in sheep’s clothing cannot be reconciled with Kurht’s suggestion that the church take all sheep’s clothing at face value.
In addition to the obligation to accept all those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as legitimate members of the Body without regard to the content of their faith…Kurht tells us that we must also “learn from them”:
Fulcrum has simply been maintaining our position that a firm opinion can be combined with the ecclesiological conviction that fellow Christians always possess something that we need to learn from. Which is why dialogue is so crucial. Whilst our overall position may remain broadly the same, genuine dialogue between Christians will always leave both sides not only changed but in a major and significant way.
Just think of all the lessons we might learn from those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Marcion might teach us how to identify the sections of the bible authored by evil demiurge who created the material cosmos. We could sit under Arius as he regales us with tales of Jesus, the semi-divine Son who once was not. Then Pelagius might step forward with his pep-talk, calling us to stop whining about free lunches, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and bare knuckle it into the kingdom. Shooting forward in time we could hang with Joseph Smith and Maroni, and ascend with them to the celestial kingdom, becoming little gods. I’ve always wanted my own planet. In case we forget what Arius taught us we’ve got the teachings of the Watchtower Society to lean on. More happily, the enlightened liberal protestant will teach us that every sexual impulse we don’t choose is “inborn” and therefore “sacred”. And if we’re in for a little exoticism, a ride on the wild side, we might do a little indaba session with Jim Jones. But then again, maybe not. Kurht’ gotten there before us and it looks like he’s already downed all the Kool-aid.
Kurht’s apology for Fulcrum’s substance-free divinization of ecclesial unity is mere Hegelianism masquerading as mere Christianity: two antitheses “moderate conservatism” and “liberalism” must stick together so that a greater synthesis can be realized. The New Testament never goes there. Instead the teachings of the apostles and the prophets are the foundation of the Church, Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone. Christian unity with those who depart from that foundation and reject the Cornerstone is impossible.
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