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RECONCILIATION

"Reconciliation" has become the watchword of our times, especially in South Africa. We have heard of the "National Initiative of Reconciliation", of the "Government of National Reconciliation" in Namibia, and now of the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission".

What is actually meant by "Reconciliation"? There are two opposing definitions, even within the Church. The Holist understanding of reconciliation is: to reconcile divisions, i.e. divisions which exist between creeds, genders, classes, nationalities, ethnic groups, etc. The aim is an absolute unity of humanity. The Christian understanding, on the other hand, is: to reconcile the divisions caused by sin, first the divisions between man and God, and secondly the division between man and man. "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God," says the Bible, "and your sins have hid his (God's) face from you so that he does not hear." (Isaiah 59:2)

Holistic Reconciliation
The holist reconciliation has nothing to do with sin as Christians understand it. The real sin is seen in division, and Holists demand that every division be destroyed: every class division, every gender division, every economic division, every ethnic division, and every religious division. Thus we find that the chief recommendation which the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" is making to the Churches is: "Different religious groups (should) seek ways to communicate with one another as a basis for... promoting inter-religious understanding... (i.e. they should break down the divisions/distinctions between the religions) Forms of worship be explored which transcend language (i.e. they should break down ethnic, national, and language divisions) and cultural differences..." (i.e. they should break down cultural distinctions) Churches, says the TRC, should develop "theologies designed to promote reconciliation..." and articulate "a global ethical foundation (break down the division between the world's religious value systems) which is in keeping with the major beliefs of the various religions." (TRC Report, Extract 5: Recommendations) Thus the Holists see sin not as coming from the heart of man, but they see sin in the divisive social, religious, and cultural structures. This is the same idea as has long been promoted by the Liberation Theologians, of whom a fair number serve on the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission".

Biblical Reconciliation
The Bible makes provision for two kinds of reconciliation - between man and man - and between man and God. If a man has offended against another, he is to make restitution according to God's Law. For instance: "If any one sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbour... or through robbery, or if he has oppressed... he shall restore what he took by robbery, or what he got by oppression... and shall add a fifth to it... And he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD... and he shall be forgiven for any of the things which one may do and thereby become guilty." (Lev. 6:1-7, Ex. 22) - If a man has offended against God, the eternal restitution for his sin must be paid with an eternal ransom price. The Bible describes it like this: "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith." (Rom. 3:21-26) With such restitution comes loving unity, peace, and joy, between the two opposing parties.


These two views of reconciliation are exact opposites and cannot be reconciled with one another!

God given Distinctions and Divisions
God's Word makes logical distinctions between opposites. It separates light and darkness, truth and falsehood, good and evil, God and creation, God and man, male and female, old and young. Until recently these God-created divisions were not widely questioned, but since the rise of the New Age Movement and Secular Humanism things are changing. Yet it is these divisions and distinctions which make Christianity unique. For God Himself, being One, embodies distinction, being God in three Persons, the Holy Trinity. The principle of unity in diversity, which also pervades the whole created order, is unknown in other religions. Pagan religions are hostile to division. To them God is one, and all other things must be one, too. This is why paganism is hostile to the Trinity - to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Apostle John puts it like this: "Who is the liar?" he asks. "It is the man who denies that Jesus (the man) is the Christ (the eternal Person from heaven). Such a man is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son (i.e. that they are distinct yet one)... Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God..." (1 John 2:22; 4:1-6)


Secular and religious paganism, including Holism, claims that even the absolute distinction between good and evil, true and false, can be reconciled. Paganism teaches that "good" and "truth" evolve by the melting of two opposites - that a thesis and antithesis make a synthesis.

The point is clear. The Bible teaches that there are God-created divisions and boundaries that cannot be removed without causing His just wrath. The Ten Commandments, too, are divisive. They divide between truth and perjury, God and creation, and God and man. They guarantee private, divided property from theft; divided monogamous marriage from seducers. It is not selfish nor evil to protect these privileges! God has appointed them! "God richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy." (1 Tim. 6:17) Our duty is to use the things He has created in the way He has commanded. - Because God has created and guaranteed divisions there will never be absolute uniformity, unity, and equality. Look at the gender rules in the family! The Bible says: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honour your father and mother'... that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.'..." (Eph.5:21-6:9)

The reason why the New Age and One World movements are so implacably hostile to Christianity is because they perceive Christianity as "divisive". The "Truth and Reconciliation Commission", too, finds fault with "religious proselytising and religious-based nationalism" and accuses the Churches of "having sown the seeds of inter-religious suspicion, distrust and strife" - an accusation which is quite absurd. For Christians reach out to people of other faiths, obeying the Great Commission of Christ to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," teaching them to observe everything that God in His Word has ever commanded. (Matt. 28:19-20)

Reconciled to God and Man
Christian Reconciliation does not remove God-created distinctions. It removes guilt, hostile acts, and attitudes between God and man: "While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son..." ( Rom. 5:10-11) "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ..." (2 Cor. 5:18-20) - "In him ( Jesus Christ) all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (Col. 1:19-22)


True reconciliation also removes guilt, hostile acts, and attitudes between man and man, woman and man: "If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Matt. 5:23-26; Acts 7: 26; 1 Cor. 7:11) - Nowhere are these words used in the sense of removing God-created boundaries and divisions in order to form a new non-divided whole.

The concept of Reconciliation promoted by the TRC, and indeed throughout the world, is not a Biblical one, but a Secular Humanistic one. It says NO to Trinitarian Christianity. When the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" calls the Churches to "Reconciliation" it calls them to a pagan socialism and to coercive equality. - The South African Churches are well advised to make a serious study of the TRC's "Recommendations", in order to get a glimpse of the spiritual battle that lies ahead. But, while putting on the whole armour of God, do not forget that Christ said: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me... I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matt. 28:18-20) - D.S.



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