By Jeff Ziegler
Published March 1, 1996
While evil is being codified at the highest level of American government, the Evangelical Church is undergoing an enormous and historic paradigm shift.
This realignment, which emphasizes a victorious ecclesiology and a biblically optimistic worldview, is nothing less than a renaissance of Puritanism, and is a precursor to the fuller acceptance of reconstructionism across the parched domain of American Evangelicalism.
The rise of a “generalized” Puritan worldview is of great importance to the reconstructionist agenda, for this sweeping resurgence. This renaissance is rapidly preparing the Church corporate in America as the agent for the most comprehensive societal reformation in this nations history. Indeed “neo-puritanism” is having its greatest effect among those evangelicals involved in the “revival prayer movement” which has “wet the appetite” of many sincere saints who earnestly long for a “golden age” of strapping Christianity.
Of special note, is the mounting momentum which Puritan thought is having among some charismatic churches, which despite their diversity and in some cases anarchy, have many in their number who are intuitively covenantal in church polity, with still others having a subjective appreciation for the “Dominion Mandate.”
Many charismatics too, are now overcoming an inbred prejudice of American anti-intellectualism to building in the objective theological moorings of Puritan thought and Christian Orthodoxy, which will inevitably bring an unflagging, optimistic and comprehensive worldview to their ranks. Given time this will shake the very social foundations of The United States.
However, I must caution, this encouraging movement among many evangelicals should not be viewed with a “Pollyanna” optimism. The existence of many entrenched strongholds of sin and blatant violations of orthodoxy within the Church must be vanquished in order to see genuine reformation. These fixed fortifications of indolence, ignorance and iniquity will not fall easily, for apostasy has been theologically rationalized, codified, and institutionalized by wide spread antinomianism (or contempt for the moral law of God), pietistic monasticism (or subjective, mystical, fatalistic and selfish private religion), and relational sentimentalism; with its inherently relativistic morality, emphasis on emotionalism as being superior to immutable biblical principle and an idolatrous notion of God being a self limiting seeker sensitive deity who is subjugated to the whims of autonomous man. It is also important to note that the existence of such evil, should not cause us to have a “give up the ship mentality.” Our Sovereign Lord has ignited the engines of the Puritan juggernaut throughout history, often; from a human perspective, “just in the nick of time.” Thus we as the Lord’s elect knighted ones, cannot cower in hopelessness nor retreat to the bunkers of fatalism.
While each Puritan renaissance has its particular emphases, characteristics and applications, there are elements which are common to each. The most common element of biblical truth which surfaces in Puritan revivals is a distinctly reformed soteriology or theology of redemption. Historically, reformed soteriology is sometimes accepted wholly and at other times in degree depending on the depth, force and fidelity of the particular Puritan resurgence in question. At the time of this writing an Augustinian-Calvinistic approach to the issues of salvation and sanctification is seeing a grass roots resurgence both among evangelical clergy and layman.
Once again, brave pulpiteers are proclaiming the majesty and supremacy of God over against mans absolute total depravity. This “goodness and severity” principle is provoking the saints to a fresh obedience to the “Law of God.”
Reformed soteriology and its application in reformation preaching is the surest antidote to the antinomian, pietistic, sentimental defeatist theology which has surrendered American society to hellish machinations.
Another element key to any resurgence of Puritanism, is a victorious ecclesiology, or triumphant view of the purpose, function and doctrine of the Church. Such an optimistic view of the Church would see her as victorious in time and history and would emphasize a covenantal approach to Scripture as well as a covenantal model as a basis for relations between the family, church and state.
This covenantal appreciation of Scripture can be described and summarized by the following; “The God who created the universe, reveals himself in history, lays down immutable fixed Biblical laws, brings predictable results, both blessings and sanctions in terms of these laws, and raises the elect to a place of victory in history.”
Some of the practical benefits of such a covenantal and triumphant worldview, will include actions by the Church which have not been in evidence since the days of John Knox.
For example, there will be an increase of cooperative ecclesiastical actions such as functioning pastoral presbyteries, which will enforce “The Crown Rights of Christ” over cities and geographic regions through covenantal imprecatory prayer and public proclamations. Also, practical cooperation between clergymen in covenantal relationships will be in evidence in such areas as church discipline, reformation think tanks, ecclesiastical courts and the sharing of resources to accomplish common goals.
Generally, an increase of Christian activism at the grass roots level will be in evidence though firmly rooted in Reformed Orthodoxy.
Socially, one can expect great reaction and upheaval from both the Church and society as the pluralistic, relationally sentimental, moral relativists within the Church and the secularist social Darwinists within the power structures of society rise in raucous denunciation of any movement which dares to proclaim and enforce the absolutes of God’s Law-Word and the Crown Rights of Christ. But such is the stuff of “Puritan storms,” for revival, reformation, and at times “Cromwellian” revolution are very close cousins indeed.
What has thus far been articulated is certainly short of full-blown reconstructionism. However, it is a transitional phase that does provide a sufficient paradigm shift allowing a platform for continued maturity and enlargement in the areas of Calvinism, Theonomy and Postmillennialism.
In conclusion, I will list a series of common attributes which depicts this time of transition. From this base, let us press forward to harness the “Puritan Storm” and reconstruct our apostate culture along Biblical lines.
Common Themes Now in Ascendancy
a) The Church is the only institution that advances Christ’s Kingdom on earth. No other institution is intimated.
b) Christ has furnished all the means to accomplish His work on earth through His resurrection, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
c) The witness of the early church in triumph over the Roman Empire, the success of Christian missions and today’s Third World awakenings are evidence of a victorious Church.
d) To intimate that the Church will fail in the Great Commission, dishonors the Gospel and the Holy Spirit.
e) The purpose of the Kingdom of God is to prevent the universal spread of idolatry, preserve the testimony of Christ’s Imperial Reign, gather the elect, enforce the covenants and the moral Law of God and finally, it is to triumph overall.
f) All nations will have an identifiable an indigenous witness of the Church.
g) Ethnic Jews will be reingrafted to the Christian Church in a large way.
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