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WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT RECONCILIATION?

Reconciliation is a word that we hear often in South Africa.

Michael Cassidy of Africa Enterprise has started the "National Initiative for Reconciliation," Robert Mugabe has been extensively quoted as desiring to bring about reconciliation in his land torn by the strife of war for more than a decade; South West Africa/Namibia, now has a "Government of National Reconciliation;" certain National Party politicians speak increasingly of reconciliation in our troubled land; there is even here in Cape Town a "Broken Wall Fellowship for Reconciliation."

Inevitably in many of these situations, the verse "God ... reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-20) is cited, and strong emotions, either positive or negative, are evoked.

Two Opposing Definitions
This Biblical theme is absolutely vital because how one understands this word ‘reconciliation’ will affect not only your own personal life (especially your pocketbook), but also your views on all the institutions of our culture.

First of all, I would like to list the two different definitions of reconciliation that are used today. In addition, I would like to list the two assumptions concerning the cause of the separation which needs to be eradicated in order to bring the unity, peace, and justice which all agree is the end result of reconciliation.

Reconciliation, according to the first definition, "is to destroy all division and then to unify all the separated parts into one whole." When that occurs, peace, justice, and unselfish goodness inevitably appear. The assumption is that absolute unity is always good. Any separation, any boundary, or any group privilege, things which cause division, are selfish and evil by definition. "Evil," thus, is in the "divisive system" and in divisive structures outside of man's heart.

On the other hand, the second definition assumes that hostile acts and attitudes are the things that are "evil." Therefore, the second possible definition of reconciliation is "to pay for the alienating guilt which personal sin creates leading to a change in sinful hearts and actions." This brings loving unity, peace, and joy between the two opposing parties.

It is quite clear, if one thinks about it, that these two definitions and assumptions are exact opposites and cannot be reconciled any more than light and darkness or Marxism and Christianity can be reconciled! Any attempt to mix the two only destroys the power of the Gospel and inevitably leads to total apostasy if there is no repentance! 

The Bible's Answer
As Christians we are used to making logical distinctions such as confessing that evil and good are opposite and irreconcilable, that God is separate and distinct from his creation, that male and female are two different types of human beings to be legally treated differently (e.g. females are not called up for military service!). Until recently in Western history these God created divisions and boundaries were never questioned on a widespread basis.

This, then, is the uniqueness of Christianity! In the Godhead itself there is both distinction and beautiful unity! All paganism, however, in all its forms, is essentially hostile to any division. It always wants to remove external borders and boundaries to bring reconciliation and unity. A pagan says that it is illogical to have both unity and division! This is why paganism is hostile to the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:22, 4:1-6). Instead of seeing an absolute division between good and evil, true and false, paganism - whether secular or religious - teaches that even these distinct opposites can be reconciled. That which is good and true evolves, just as Hegel taught, by the melting of the two seeming opposites (the thesis and antithesis) into one new whole - the synthesis. Another name for this in modern philosophy is pragmatism - whatever works is true, even if that means the slaughter of over a million pre-born children a year to control population growth!

The point is clear. The Bible teaches that there are God created divisions and boundaries that cannot be removed without meriting His just wrath. After all, the Ten Commandments are divisive. They divide between truth and perjury, God and the creation, and God and man. It guarantees private, divided property from theft; divided, monogamous marriage from seducers, and so on. It is not selfish, nor evil, to protect these privileges! He gave us these things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17).

Now because God created and guaranteed certain divisions, such as the roles in the family, and those structures marking out a legal division between ethnic groups, there will never be absolute uniformity and equality. For example, God's Law, the foundation of the Western legal tradition, makes this perfectly clear concerning citizens and aliens. Citizens, those who alone have the right of the vote (i.e. of self-determination), are a blood and faith related group. All other groups are legally regarded as aliens. This applies even if the aliens are born within the arbitrary, man-created boundaries of a country. Remember, the Jews sojourned as aliens for four hundred years in Egypt. However, God's law also forbids any prejudice against aliens because, within one land, there was to be one law and justice system for all, the citizen is told to treat the alien with kindness as he would his own people, and the alien is allowed to assimilate into the citizen group.

To say, then, that reconciliation means that everyone must have "equal human rights," that is the right to vote and absolute equality, is to proclaim a pagan concept of reconciliation. Biblical reconciliation brings love, peace, and unity within the framework of God-created distinctions and structures.

The Bible's definition is, then, crystal clear. Every time the words reconciliation and reconciled are used in the New Testament, they are used exclusively in the sense of removing guilt, hostile acts, and attitudes (Between God and mankind: cf. Rom. 5:10-11, "For ... when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son ...."; 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Eph. 2:14- 17; Col. 1:19-22; between man and man, woman and man: cf. Matt. 5:24; Acts 7:26; 1 Cor. 7:11). Nowhere are these words used in the sense of removing God-created boundaries and divisions to form a new non-divided whole.

A Major Objection
Some might object to all of this by stating that the New Testament (cf. Eph. 2) speaks about the "middle wall of partition being broken down" so that out of two parties, one new man can be formed in Christ. These objectors will also quote those verses that state that in union with Christ there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, Scythian nor Barbarian for all are one (Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13). Some even quote Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives (John 17:21) in which He prays that "they would be one just as you and I are one."

The answer to these objections is quite simple. It comes when you decide whether you are in actual fact and practice an orthodox Trinitarian Christian. Unitarians and Pantheists, as we have seen, deny that division can be logical or good. An orthodox Christian believes that both unity and division can dwell together in peace. Thus in the same way, Trinitarian Christians confess that the one Church is also a Unity made up of many group distinctions. These verses teach that all of mankind's groups have now an equal access, by faith, to God through Christ.

That God sees group divisions within the One Church is obvious! Males and females are given differing responsibilities as groups (Gen. 3:14-19; Eph. 5:22f; 1 Tim. 2:8-15). Minor children are exhorted as a group to obey their parents. Families and households are to be discipled and baptized as a group (Acts 2:39; 11:14; 16:15; et al). Criminals remain slaves and the innocent remain free. Certainly Paul taught that Jews remain ethnic Jews. Paul was loyal to his Jewish ethnicity (Rom. 9:1ff). Surely Barbarians in the Church remain Barbarians and Scythians remain Scythians. Jesus commanded that the "peoples" be discipled as groups (Matt. 28:18f). Paul treated the Jews as a group and the heathen peoples as groups - with a different missionary strategy for each (1 Cor. 9:19-22). He also stated that God created the peoples (Acts 17:26-27; cf. Gen. 10-11) so that each may together seek the Lord, to be blessed or judged as a group. Paul singled out all Cretans (Tit. 1:12) as a distinct ethnic group meriting special treatment and rebuke.

Reconciliation That Destroys Group Solidarity is a Heresy
Thus the reconciliation that seeks to destroy group solidarity in the Church and society and sees both as a mere aggregation of individuals from one geographic area, is a pagan heresy. Just as Jesus and His Father are one, so is theunity of the Church, in essence, a spiritual unity. Church unity is made visible by love, discipline and sound doctrine (1 Cor. 5; Eph. 4:1-16) not by breaking down group boundaries and making out of the many a new uniform whole. What I am saying is that the reconciliation in Christ which forms the One Body, the one "Household of Faith" to which I give my first priority over my own family and people if I must (Matt. 12:46-50; Lk. 12:51f), does not create a new non-ethnic, non-capitalist, non-sexist humanity. Biblical reconciliation, instead, creates a multi-ethnic, dual-gender, multi-denominational Body which can own property. Each individual remains in his/her various groups and loves and respects those in other gender, language, and ethnic groups just as he loves and respects his own group! "Group" is not evil! Every time the "church" tries to enforce a visible non-group Unity, it always leads to an oppressive, centralised regime that enforces uniformity by forcing all into a one language, one culture, one tradition mode. Such a "unity" is rebellion against God, a redefinition of "evil," in short, it is man trying to be more clever than God just as he has tried to be ever since he first ate the apple!

Is it now clear? If reconciliation is the removal of "division," then the logical end result of that type of thinking is a centralised church/state like ancient Babel-Babylon. If one removes all division, then your property, children and wife will no longer be yours. They become "communal property." Your children will become the ward of the state, all women will work and sleep with whomever they wish in unisex barracks. Every person will be a mere number, a cog in the wheel of the Commune, forced to work and fight wherever the commissar says, or else. No one can own anything and there will be no money. All are equal - starving, restless, without meaning, law, justice, God, or hope. It is absolute slavery in the name of Liberation! It is The Brave New World and 1984 of Huxley and Orwell incarnated!

The Bible's Hope-Filled Vision for the Future
Mankind has always tried to restore this Babel (cf. Rev. 13; 17)! Only the mighty Gospel proclamation of Jesus Christ, the heaven reigning Lord, is the answer to Babylonian pagan unity. His is the Kingdom that was "cut out without human hands" and which smashes Babel and all other rebellious human kingdoms. His Kingdom is here now and is growing into a "mountain to fill the whole earth." "His glory shall certainly fill the earth as the waters cover the seas." His Kingdom, which began small as a tiny mustard seed is growing into a huge tree under which all peoples, nations, and tongues shall find their rest (Matt. 13; Dan. 2:35, 44-45; 7:13-14; Hab. 2:14). All mankind, not every individual, but every group will be saved (John 3:17; Rom. 4:13-14, 17; 11:11-12, 15, 25-27; 15:8-12; 2 Cor. 5:19).

Will all peoples really be reconciled to Him, and be incorporated into His Kingdom Universal and Victorious? Certainly! He is with us to do so. This age will not end with his return until all the peoples are discipled (Matt. 28:18-20; Ps. 2; 22:27- 31; Rom. 11)! Now that is a real hope and the Christian vision of reconciliation.

Mark Kreitzer, February 1988

Gospel Defence League
P. O. Box 587 Sea Point 8060
Cape Town South Africa
Tel/Fax: 021-510-6854



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