Christian Fundamentalism – 3

We continue the series by Professor Malan on Christian Fundamentalism. The first installments dealt with: Recognition of Scriptural authority, a literal interpretation of Scripture, the rejection of over-spiritualizing of Scripture, the recognition of spiritual realities, theological conservatism, the biblical doctrine of creation, the hostile kingdom of Satan, dispensationalism, the restoration of Israel and continued reformation. – Anton Bosch.

Biblical Christology. Fundamental Christians believe in the full revelation of Jesus Christ in the Bible, and proclaim it accordingly. There must be absolute clarity on His eternal self-existence, His role in the creation of the world, the equal position which he occupies as God the Son in the Trinity, together with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, His virgin birth during His incarnation, the full significance of His atoning death on the cross, His bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension, His functions as Prophet, High Priest and King, as well as His revelation as King of Israel and the whole world at His second coming. Then He will rule the world in His millennial reign of peace from the throne of David in Jerusalem. His attributes should also, in a dispensational context, be correctly understood. In the church dispensation, the emphasis is on the crucified Christ who is rejected by the world, on His High Priestly role to intercede for us at the Father’s throne, and also on the special way in which He guides His disciples through the Holy Spirit, and empowers them for their commission to evangelise the world. During the millennium He will physically be on earth. Then, the emphasis will be on His role as King, and every knee will bow before Him.

Uniqueness of the Christian faith. In our relationship with the outside world we should take a strong stand on the uniqueness of the Christian faith. Nobody can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). “Nor is salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). No credibility whatsoever can be given to non-Christian religions; neither can ecumenical ties be forged with them. Brotherly relations cannot even be maintained with nominal Christian churches that do not have a clear confession of salvation based upon the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

Evangelical doctrine of salvation. The Bible clearly says that the condition for salvation is repentance and the receiving of Jesus Christ by faith as our Saviour (John 1:12; Acts 16:31). Through His death on the cross, Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (Acts 17:30; 1 John 2:2). A sinner should express his faith in the crucified Lord Jesus, who, through His resurrection, also conquered death and the grave and ever lives to make intercession for us. No person can be declared justified on any other grounds, e.g. on his good works, or his baptism and confirmation (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). There is no biblical basis for the common reformed view that the Lord has chosen certain people for salvation before the foundation of the world, and that their predestination is confirmed by the covenant baptism of infants. This is the Roman-Catholic doctrine of baptismal regeneration. The Bible plainly and repeatedly confirms that God wants to save all people (John 3:16; Acts 17:30; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9). The door of grace is open to everybody, and each person must decide whether he or she wants to enter in.

Sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit. The most important ministries of the Holy Spirit are related to conviction of sin, regeneration, empowering, teaching and comforting. We should have great sensitivity to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and heed it, also w hen He convicts us of sin, because He never enforces Himself upon people. He can easily be grieved (Eph. 4:30), which means that such believers act outside the will of God. We should also be cautious not to ascribe strange manifestations in the physical and mental dimensions to the work of the Holy Spirit, such as slaying in the Spirit. This phenomenon usually leads to trances and bizarre, drunken behaviour such as uncontrolled laughter, incoherent speech and the making of animal noises. When testing these strange manifestations in the light of Scripture (1 John 4:1) they are clearly proven to be inauthentic and in conflict with a fundamental interpretation of Scripture.

Freedom of the human will. God gave humans a free will, so they can decide between good and evil for themselves. He wants voluntary love from us, which means we must make a free decision to repent and to worship and love Him after being convicted by the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of predestination is unbiblical since it teaches that God manipulates all people in a predetermined way to act according to His will. The Lord Jesus refutes this doctrine when He says, “Let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires [or wishes], let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). He also said that He wanted to gather the inhabitants of Jerusalem to Himself, but they were not willing (Matt. 23:37). The fact that people can act in conflict with God’s will and grieve His Spirit, in no way undermines the sovereignty of God. He Himself has taken a sovereign decision to give people a free will so they can decide of their own volition who they want to serve (cf. Jos. 24:15; 2 Cor. 5:20). The Lord has foreknowledge on who will be reconciled to Him and then chooses (or appoints) them to holiness and fruitful service. That means that He appoints them in His kingdom and determines the nature of their service.

Biblical doctrine on sin. Man had been created in the image of God, but due to the Fall he died spiritually and acquired a perverted nature with immoral inclinations. His actions and thoughts that are at variance with the divine nature of God are described as sin. In the OT the law convicted Israel of sin, and the Holy Spirit convicts people in the present dispensation of sin in accordance with Scriptural norms and pronouncements. God wants to restore His divine nature in people’s lives, and for this to happen, repentance, regeneration and sanctification are needed. His call to Israel in the OT, and to all believers in the NT, is the same: “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). Since the Fall up to this day, the definition of sin has not changed, since it includes all forms of behaviour that are in conflict with God’s unchanging, holy nature. Human values can never become the standard for sin, as they are determined subjectively by people who are, in most cases, still dominated by their uncrucified, sinful nature. The Bible alone is the standard that defines sin. If the Bible says that homosexuality is sin (Rom. 1:26-27), it will forever remain a sin because God did not create people in that way. The Bible often discusses sin, amongst other things, as the fruit of the flesh which is the sinful nature of human beings. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), so we urgently need to be saved from our sins by Jesus Christ (Matt 1:21).

(To be continued).
Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa (February 2008)