Certain church groups’ historical underpinnings are blueprint-oriented: they emphasize divine “plan” and “pattern” they find in scripture. Such orientations are certainly not entirely off-base, yet they are frequently overemphasized.
For the last century or so, a Restoration Movement hermeneutical ideal (command, example, necessary inference) has been manifest in the desire of church leaders to convince outsiders that God has a scriptural blueprint or plan for everything. This desire, while in most cases pure-hearted, only goes so far. And it seems to shove the grace of God as shown in Jesus’ incarnation into a back seat, while men’s interpretation of scripture may be driving the car.
In the following letter, written nearly two decades ago, I attempted to say something that highlighted Jesus more than a supposed, legal “plan.”
Oklahoma City, OK
RE: Restoring the Plan
To the Editor:
Thanks to Stafford North for inviting us (through his “Thoughts” column in the July Chronicle) to look anew at the first century with a view toward Restoration. While my application of the principle of restoration seems somewhat different from his, the call to look at the foundation is a good one.
Let us all understand that when the earliest Christians “began to practice what was revealed,” that Revelation was in the person of Jesus the Messiah‑‑communicated personally and then through His specially inspired men‑‑since the New Testament scriptures had not been written. The “plan” for salvation, therefore, if God would ever have expressed it in such a term, is this: divine grace expressed through Jesus. Any other plan purported to suffice for our sin is blasphemous, and if we attempt to mandate mechanisms of our own design, Satan will laugh as he sees groups of initially well‑intentioned, Restoration‑oriented men and women on the descent into creedalized, sectarian Christianity.
In the Gospel Advocate (5/11/33), G.C. Brewer reviewed K.C. Moser’s The Way of Salvation with these comments:
“In the minds of some the divine has been completely ruled out and salvation made a matter of human achievement‑‑except that the ‘plan’ was divinely given. The gospel was made a system of divine laws for human beings to obey and thus save themselves sans grace, sans mercy, sans everything spiritual and divine‑‑except that the ‘plan’ was in mercy given. Mercy to expect man of his own unaided strength to save himself by meeting the demands of a system of perfect divine laws.”
Brewer continued, “Such teaching as that makes ‘void the grace of God’ (Gal. 2:21) . . . and counts his blood an unholy thing‑‑except as it is reached by a perfect obedience, and then it is not needed.
Jesus is our Cornerstone, our Life-Bread, and the Center and Soul of the sphere of Christians’ existence. Jesus is the Word. He is the Way. He is the Plan. May our relentless clinging be a holding to the Lord.