Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Unity of the Body of Christ – what sort of Priority? (Part 1)

The Unity of the Body of Christ – what sort of Priority?                                                          


Chapter 1 Unity as a divine Biblical Principle     
Chapter 2 Diversity in Unity
Chapter 3 Division as Demonic Strategy
Chapter 4 Jews First!
Chapter 5 Honour for the Despised
Chapter 6 Obstacles to Unity
Chapter 7 Antidotes to Disunity
Chapter 8 Plurality and Diversity
Chapter 9 The Word unites the true Church
Chapter 10 The Moravians in Church Unity Endeavours
Chapter 11 Outreach to Jews down the Centuries
Chapter 12 Responses to an unbiblical Unity
Chapter 13 The Word as uniting Dynamite
Chapter 14 Cape Pioneers of Church Unity  
Chapter 15 Outreach to Jews as a unifying Factor
Chapter 17 Racial Prejudice and Correction Attempts
Chapter 18 Evolving International Prayer for Unity
Chapter 19Two Sides of the Racism Debate
Chapter 20 South Africa as a Case in Point  
Chapter 21 Transformation at the Cape in the 21st Century

Appendix 1 Precedents of South African Church Leaders
Appendix 2: (Draft) Declaration on Christian-Muslim Relations 2010

Foreword                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ashley Cloete's life is the best foreword to this book: he lives the message of servanthood reconciliation. But I am happy to add my commendation as well. What you hold in your hands is the result of thousands of hours of research about the efforts of great men and women who paid a great price to demonstrate the love of God.

One reason I was especially eager to read this book was to understand what saved the nation of South Africa from a horrific civil war. Ashley tells the stories of behind the scenes activities of dedicated men and women who acted courageously to forestall a bloodbath in South Africa. Hundreds of thousands of lives were saved by those who believed and subsequently obeyed Jesus' teachings.

I was also rewarded with a sweeping history of people down the ages who laid down their lives to obey the words of the Lord Jesus to "love your enemy, to bless those who curse you". I was particularly moved to read about the Moravians and how they promoted unity in the body of Christ. They were amazing people.

I found this book fascinating and convicting and inspiring. It fuelled my desire to be one of those people I read about, to not just espouse nice words about love, but to live them out in my daily life. I believe you will be as well.

Floyd McClung,
All Nations,
Cape Town, South Africa

Main Abbreviations used in this Book

ANC - African National Congress
CCM - Christian Concern for Muslims
CCFM - Cape Community FM (radio)
CSV - Christen Studentevereniging
DRC - Dutch Reformed Church (NG Kerk)
Ds – Dominee (equivalent of Reverend)
DTS - Disciple Training School
FFA – Friends from Abroad
GCOWE - Global Consultation for World Evangelisation
OM - Operation Mobilization
PAGAD - People against Gangsterism and Drugs
SIM - Society of International Ministries/Serving in Missions
TEASA - The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa
UCT - University of Cape Town
UDF - United Democratic Front
UNISA - University of South Africa
UWC - University of the Western Cape
WCC - World Council of Churches
WEC -Worldwide Evangelization for Christ
YWAM - Youth with a Mission

The title of this book might sound somewhat presumptuous - a priority in activities for all followers of Jesus? I attempt to show from Scripture why this should definitely be the case.
To unite people in any situation is as much part of the nature of God as is the opposite, namely that satan always wants to divide and destroy. A golden thread going through the Bible is that God loves the world and that he chose the tiny nation of Israel, to bring salvation to the whole world. From this nation, one person - the Messiah – has been chosen to bring millions from all tribes, peoples and nations in voluntary faith back to the Creator, the Father and supreme ruler of the universe. God was active all the time in revealing Himself, working through prophets and kings. Other ancient non-Jews, such as Jethro and Job, are held in high regard in the Hebrew tradition. In the 'New Testament'[1] oriental 'Wise men' came to worship King Jesus when he was still a newly born infant. That was in line with the Messianic prophetic Isaiah 60 where we read 'All those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the Lord'. The same context mentions also Nebaioth, Kedar (the two eldest sons of Ishmael) and the 'camels of Midian'. Nebaioth, Kedar and Midian give an indication of the harvest to come from the descendants from those wives of Abraham other than Sarah. In our day and age thousands of Arab Muslims from the Orient have been coming to the Lord. Isaiah 60 is being fulfilled so to speak in our day and age.
          The unity of the body of true believers has been attacked already from Creation. The arch enemy - called in Scripture a murderer from the beginning, a father of lies and one whose native language is lying (John 8:44) - caused estrangement all around. He brought a rupture in the relationship between man and his Maker, between the first human beings. Friction between man and nature was caused simultaneously. God's original plan for the creation of man was intimate relationship - communion with mankind! Satan, the deceiver, liar and diabolos (separator), robbed humanity in this way.
          God's reply to this onslaught was redemption. The Bible explains redemption by using pictures or models such as how God freed the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. The Almighty thus became their redeemer. This exodus event was however only a forerunner of the great redemption still to come. Universally mankind needed redemption. The 'salvation' of the small nation of Israel was like a demonstration of God's loving nature and care for man. What the arch enemy has stolen – sweet intimate communion with the Almighty - had to be redeemed. Redemption has been defined as 'to recover possession or ownership'. To do this, God became flesh, coming to the earth in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, who reconciled the World with himself (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus shed His precious blood to deliver mankind from the bondage of sin.
         Pleading with the Corinthian believers to be reconciled to God, Paul, the missionary apostle and autor of these lines, asked that followers of Jesus should consciously step into this tradition. As God’s ambassadors substituting for Christ, we are requested to invite men and women everywhere to get reconciled to God. In the extension of this, every believer in Jesus Christ is challenged to be or to become an agent of reconciliation, consciously also addressing all visible and perceived rifts. On the basis of the foundation that in Christ the 'dividing wall of hostility' between Jew and Gentile has been broken down (Ephesians 2:14), the Church should be a conduit for the breaking down of all man-made and demonically inspired barriers.
         The Church has unhappily not fulfilled its biblical role in this regard. All too often people from the ranks of churches have caused rifts, separating themselves. Some Christians have consciously chosen to be partisan or biased, even in cases where the biblical message is clear enough. One of the most striking but tragic examples in this regard is the situation in the Middle East.
         The Bible teaches that a special blessing was given to both Isaac and Ishmael separately. If there had been some rift between Abraham's two sons – which would have been natural after all that had transpired with Hagar and her son, this was probably amicably resolved in their life-time. At the funeral of Abraham both sons buried their father together (Genesis 25:9) - reconciled to all intents and purposes. The notion that the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael have been eternal enemies (and should remain that way?) has only a very limited biblical basis.[2] Instead of being an agent of reconciliation, e.g. by bringing together Jews and Muslims who got reconciled through common faith in Jesus and working with followers of Jesus Christ from those backgrounds, Church leaders have all too often jumped on the bandwagon of taking sides in the age-old tussle of Israel and ‘Palestine’.
         However, unity does not imply uniformity. Unity in diversity, one-ness through our faith in Christ demonstrates to the spiritual powers in the heavenlies ‘the manifold wisdom of God’ (Ephesians 3:10). The Church world-wide will possibly only really come into its own if the unity of the Body of Christ in all its diversity is restored across all man-made barriers. The next verses and the following chapters of Ephesians give us an extraordinary glimpse of the universal Body of Christ, the whole family in heaven and earth (3:14) as Paul prayed for the believers – together with all the saints - to be empowered by the four-dimensional love of Christ (3:14-19). In his epistle to the Ephesians Paul gives us powerful practical tips to implement unity in our walk with the Lord and in general interaction with other believers.

         Biographical details of books mentioned in the course of this work which are not listed in the selected biography can be found in the unpublished manuscript spiritual and ideological dynamics at the cape, accessible at www.

Some Features of the Book
In Chapter 1 of this book I attempt to expound why diversified unity has to be regarded as a biblical priority. In this section I endeavour to highlight Jesus' yearning for the complete unity of his followers. I also attempt to show how fruitless discussion and bickering over trivial matters can be. How Zinzendorf and his contemporary Moravians in Herrnhut (Saxony) implemented biblical principles to great effect is depicted in Chapter 6. The Word is very powerful to unite followers of Jesus, but also how the arch enemy attempts again and again to abuse issues around the holy Scriptures to divide and rule. We also look at the outreach to Jews as a possible unifying factor as well as at the negative results of the racism debate of the 1970s which followed the WCC initiated Program to Combat Racism. We highlight cases where the unity of the Body of Christ operated well at the Cape, but we will also note a few instances where blessing stopped because rivalry and competition had reared their head. Chapter 11 shows how Transformation at the Cape started at the beginning of the 21st century, ushered in by the Global Day of Prayer on 21 March 2001. We finally touch on recent and present moves to facilitate the visible unity of the Body of Christ at the Cape.
         This publication has been partly inspired by my admiration for Bishop Jan Amos Comenius, Count Zinzendorf and Dr Andrew Murray. For all three great men of God the functioning of the unity of the Body of Christ was quite important. Seventeenth century Comenius proposed that we should erect signposts which point to the millennial reign of the coming King. This was very inspiring to me. Thus it became not so important any more to me to see any immediate fruit or result.[3] Similarly, the example of Count Zinzendorf through his day-to-day Umgang mit dem Heiland (conversing with the Lord) - along with his high view of the Jews - really challenged me in a significant way.  I have been intensely blessed by the heritage and commitment of Dr Andrew Murray at the Cape when I engaged in intensive research and studies of the run-up and aftermath of the 1860 revival of the Boland town Worcester and its surrounds.
            I am convinced that God himself will ultimately remove the veil from the eyes of Jews (and Muslims) in a clear supernatural way. I do believe however, that we can erect signposts, to be instrumental in ushering in the final global reign of the Messiah. But he is possibly waiting for the real Church to rise in unity and obedience to the challenge that the Lord himself has set as priority: But seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The word ‘seek’ implies active pursuing the things of God. Seeking His Kingdom first means that we must stop building our own little kingdoms – parishes or denominations – and pursue His Kingdom as our first and primary priority.
          We continue to hope and pray that the Church in the Cape Peninsula might grasp new chances to get out of its complacency, indifference and lethargy to reach out lovingly to Muslims, Jews and those foreigners from the nations in our midst.

Cape Town, May 2016
                              The Unity of the Body of Christ - what sort of Priority?

Chapter 1 Unity as a Divine Biblical Principle

Few people would dispute that God is a multi-dimensional indescribable unfathomable complex entity. Attempts to define His nature doctrinally caused many a friction or problem. As an example we will show later (in chapter 6) how the attempt of the revered North African Church Father Tertullian - to get a grip on God's nature philosophically in the second century AD - caused immense problems in subsequent centuries.
Too Simplistic traditional Apologetics
Some traditional apologetic efforts to explain the Trinity are much too simplistic. To highlight that water can have three forms - as a gas (vapour), as a solid entity (ice) and as a fluid – is surely helpful, but when other tools are used like to say that a tree consists of roots, a trunk and branches, one notices easily the limitations because there are also leaves and roots. At different times in the development of a tree there are also other components like buds, blossom and flowers.
            A male can have more than three different functions than son, father and brother.  If we refer to the three dimensions of space – length, breadth and height – we limit the Almighty. What about the dimension of time? We use the unit light years to approximate the distance to stars! To counter the flawed argument of Unitarians and Muslims that 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 with a multiplication equation instead of addition - that God is rather like 1 X 1 X 1 = 1, is still limiting God.  If we want to use Mathematics, we should rather go for an exponential equation.[4] This would however possibly still not capture the true character of God.  The three notes of the perfect musical chord that produces harmony - like C, E and G - is a helpful tool because any other note added brings about discord. But we also know that discords make music exciting. They give an extra flavour to any song or musical item.
Better Models of the Trinity in Nature
There are of course other models which approach the complex inexplicable nature of God better. I want to mention only two of them which have a clear biblical tangent.  One of the attributes of the Almighty in the Bible says God is Light.[5] Apart from the fact that all natural colours can be derived by mixing the three base colours red, yellow and blue, Thomas Edison discovered that white light sent through a small hole can be broken by a glass prism into the whole spectrum of the rainbow. A second prism on the other side of the prism can unite those rays again into white light. This sounds to me very much like unity in diversity and diversity in unity, which is in line with Ephesians 3:10 where Paul teaches that the Church radiates the multi-coloured, complex nature of God. William Barclay (New Testament Words, 1973:234) noted that the original Greek word for the adjective describing the divine wisdom, poikilos (meaning literally multi-coloured), 'describes anything which is intricate or complex.'
          Another model of the Trinity in nature can be found in the mysterious phenomenon we call fire. Fire needs three things in order to survive or exist! It needs heat, fuel and oxygen. God appeared in the form of fire many times in the Bible, to Moses He appeared as the fire in the burning bush without actually burning the bush. Yet again with Moses, the Almighty appeared as the pillar of fire (Exodus 13: 21–22), guarding and guiding the Israelites. In Exodus (19:18) Mount Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke because Yahweh had descended on it in the form of fire and later when God appeared again to Moses on Mount Sinai. To the watching Israelites the Glory of Yahweh looked like a devouring fire on the Mountain top (Exodus 24:18). In the 'New Testament' we see that God the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday in the form of "Tongues of Fire" (Acts 2:3–4).
Restoration of the Harmony of the human Race
Restoration of the harmony and unity of the human race seems to be part of the Messianic vision that the prophet Isaiah passed on (chapter 2). But also in the here and now God commands his blessing where we live and operate in love and harmony (Psalm 133). The 'New Testament' offers a powerful potential equivalent through the unity of believers in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Jesus regarded the unity of His followers as something of great importance. In the Gospel of John it is recorded that our Lord prayed for all those who would follow Him, to be one (John 17:21). He proceeded to intercede fervently that his followers 'may be brought to complete unity’ (John 17:23).

Networking as the biblical Counterpart of Division
According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the temple was constructed under King Solomon in an interesting model of networking. When Solomon became king, he enlisted the aid of his ally Hiram, the king of Tyre (980-946 BC), in the construction of the Temple. In return for wheat, oil, and wine, Hiram supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress wood, as well as gold. Hiram also sent Solomon artisans and craftsmen to aid him. During Solomon's reign, the Temple was the focal point of all Jewish rituals and pilgrims came to it from all the tribes of Israel. The worship of Yahweh was thus an important element of unity. It became problematic though when pride got into the mix and the Jews started to despise other nations that worshipped in different ways.
          The biblical modus operandi of Church Unity is networking, uniting towards a common goal. One of the best biblical examples of the principle is the building of the Jerusalem wall under the leadership of Nehemiah. Two parallel 'NT' references are the 'networking' of the disciples of Jesus as recorded in Luke 5 and Paul's teaching on unity in Ephesians 3 and 4.
          In Luke 5:6ff, Peter and the fishermen colleagues in his boat hauled in a great multitude of fish on the rhema, the word of the Lord. Their net threatened to break when they had the presence of mind to call their colleagues in the other boat to come and assist them. Had they carried on independently, they probably would have lost the catch. When they were ready to drop their independence, the big catch could be brought to the shore. In spite of this obvious lesson in 'networking', the bulk of pastors and churches still carry on building their own little kingdom, prodding on independently!
          The words of Jesus just prior to his ascension, respectively recorded in Matthew 28: 19-20 and Acts 1:8 he encouraged his disciples – and in extension us as his followers – to network in the spreading of the Gospel, to make disciples far and wide. This could be concentric, starting locally with the own ‘Jerusalem’, but then moving further and further through barriers of culture, ethnicity and nationality - ultimately even to ‘the ends of the earth’.
          In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul referred to different non-competitive functions of leaders and believers. The one plants, another waters but God gives the growth. Mutual love and respect, along with the acceptance of any differences in gifting and character, should be the bottom line. Thus Paul could put forward the challenge and teaching that the ‘NT’ Church radiates the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).

Jesus reconciled opposing Factions                                                                                                        
Even within the close circle of the disciples Jesus had to reconcile opposing factions. We do not understand fully why John always referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Or was John pushing himself to the front, like at the last supper? Even after the Lord’s resurrection, the rivalry between him and Peter continued. Thus John, generally accepted as the one he euphemistically referred to consistently as the one whom Jesus loved, made a point of it to report twice in his gospel that he outstripped Peter in the ‘race’ to the grave (John 20:4 and 8). The few verses which are recorded about the meeting of Jesus with the eleven at Lake Tiberias likewise indicate the mutual dislike of Peter and John clearly enough (Acts 21:20-22). The two could have become bitter rivals for the leadership after the Lord’s ascension.
          The Holy Spirit is powerful to reconcile people who would normally be at loggerheads constantly. This was evidently the case with the vastly different disciples. In Acts 3:1ff it is reported how the two, John and Peter, operated as a team. This exposes the lie of using incompatibility as an excuse for separation - to suggest that it is utterly impossible to work together with a certain Christian because of this. If both parties are open to the work of the Holy Spirit, reconciliation would be the eventual result and even teamwork is possible thereafter.
.             Of course, God can also use an amicable parting of ways - albeit that it is almost always painful - to multiply the evangelistic effort. That Paul and Barnabas parted ways because of the inclusion of John Mark is fairly well known, sometimes used as an example for amicable parting. I suggest that here was some carnality involved – in this case Paul's unforgiving attitude. (One of the very special examples of modern times along these lines was when Brother Andrew had to leave WEC International for health reasons, but pioneering Open Doors later.) All this is part and parcel of God's ‘mysterious ways’. How often He has over-ruled obvious human mistakes. Thus God used a donkey to reprimand Balaam; if needed, he can spank quite well so to speak with a crooked rod.

Attempts to Disrupt the Unity of the Circle around Jesus
Attacks on the unity of followers of Jesus by the arch enemy should be no surprise to us. We read in John 3 about a quarrel around ceremonial washing.  The disciples of John the Baptist were evidently upset, complaining as they used a half truth: ‘Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - look, he is baptising, and everyone is going to him’ (John 3:26). How easy it would have been for John to get upset. But none of it! The baptiser would not give the enemy of souls an opportunity to create a rift between him and the Lord, his cousin. John the Baptist’s greatness comes through when he answered coolly: ‘You yourselves can testify that I said, `I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ He even surpassed this when he added: 'He must become greater; I must become less' (John 3:30). We find these words in the run-up to the narrative of the Samaritan woman where John 4 starts with a rumour that was possibly spread by Pharisees, also about (the number of) people baptised. The enemy of souls seems to have displayed a predilection for using water baptism as an issue to split followers of Christ. Jesus appears to have just ignored the issue initially. There were more important issues to see to – a harvest among the Samaritans was awaiting them. He was not going to be bogged down in a debate or side-tracked by minor issues! Jesus opposed the prejudice towards Samaritans in various ways, notably in the Gospels of Luke and John.


Chapter 2 Diversity in Unity

          Recognising diversity, the Bible does not teach uniformity. The 18th century German, Count N. L. Zinzendorf, the founder of the renewed Moravian Church, saw in the various denominations evidence of God’s providential care for the different temperaments and needs of His children. He thus clearly saw the phenomenon of diversity as an expression of the Church radiating the multi-coloured[6] wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). The bottom line in this scenario is however the absence of rivalry and a competitive spirit. These tenets must be fiercely opposed.  Let us recognise and applaud the rich variety of believers and the varying approaches to spread the Good News instead of judging others. Let us embrace and cherish diversity.
          Having said that, it does not mean that any denominational group has a right to elevate themselves in any way. Paul opposed the formation of factions (1 Corinthians 1:10-11): 'And so, in effect, you have broken Christ into many pieces' (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, Living Bible).  At best, the phenomenon of factionalism can be regarded as a concession to the flesh, a compromise for different tastes. But it is nevertheless therefore diabolic; the Spirit of God unites whereas the arch enemy rips asunder. His prime tactic is divide and rule. Almost all denominations started with a negative split of some sort, all too often with dire consequences. It often brought in its train an arrogant 'better-than-thou' or judgemental attitude. A variation of the theme is a kind of indifference, allowing for 'the weakness of some'. Here at the Cape satan[7] abused this compromise at a Dutch Reformed Church Synod in 1857 to set the precedent of a separate racially defined ('Coloured') sector of the denomination. The carnality at St Andrew’s in 1842 which resulted in the breakaway and the formation of the slave church St Stephen’s can be regarded as the formal start of Church apartheid. (There were some prior examples of petty apartheid issues when e.g. a visitng dominee refused to christen the baby of a slave in 1666, when slaves stopped attending the Groote Kerk by 1800 and when colonists of Wynberg did not want to use the same up with slaves at the Lord’s Supper.)

Evangelisation and Social Involvement belong together
Jesus inter-acted with the whole social spectrum of the society of his day. Jesus had no scruples to socialize with rich people. He entered the house of the wealthy Zacchaeus, dined with the Pharisee Simon (Luke 7), who probably was not a pauper either. The affluent Joseph of Arimathea regarded himself as one of Jesus’ friends, so much so that he offered his tomb after the crucifixion of Jesus. Likewise Peter visited the influential Cornelius and Paul never made a secret of the fact that he hailed from the Pharisee establishment. This group belonged to the upper class of their society. The message is clear: rich people should be challenged to share their wealth in a dignified way.  This however outlaws a paternalistic ‘Father Christmas’ attitude of giving or - even worse - to donate conditionally, with strings attached.
          At the same time the dual content of mission work, spiritual and social, is evident. Missionary endeavour can never be limited to mere economic or social upliftment. By His life-style Jesus demonstrated that evangelisation and social involvement belong together. He taught and preached the Gospel of the [His] Kingdom and healed all illnesses (Matthew 9:35). His disciples were expected to do likewise: According to this report of His public ministry, Jesus asked them to pray for more workers for the white harvest. This happened just after He had been demonstrating sensitivity to the general depravity of the shepherd-less masses. His practical compassion for the despised immoral woman that came at midday to Jacob’s well, ushered in the harvest of Samaritans. After Jesus and His disciples lived among the Samaritans for two days, they discerned that he was the Saviour of the World (John 4:42).  Concern for the practical needs is more than merely a valid reason for evangelization. Jesus looked at the whole person: we should do likewise.

Unprofitable Bickering                                                                                                                           
Jesus did not allow himself to be trapped in fruitless discussion around trivial matters, like to whom tax should be paid (Matthew 22:17f). Sometimes we use religious arguments in defence, just like the Samaritan woman, when she referred to where one should worship (John 4:20). Jesus encouraged the disciples to get rid of the dust on their feet if the message of the Kingdom was rejected (Matthew 10:14). The reason why a Samaritan village refused the disciples accommodation and fellowship – because they were heading for Jerusalem - (Luke 9: 51-4ff) should not be dumped or discarded as petty. On the contrary, we should learn from it to be culturally sensitive in all outreach. At another occasion, Jesus passed through Sychar (John 4:4) in the northerly direction, coming from Jerusalem. I surmise that this advice was given as a safeguard, in lieu of debating the merits of their mission or trying to convince people through intellectual efforts. When a rumour about the number of people He had baptised came to Him, Jesus appears to have preferred to walk away, instead of engaging in debate around a petty issue (John 4:1).
          Intellectualism not only often leads to unprofitable bickering (2 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 6:3,4), but it also supplies an opening for the demonic, just like the arts and the sensual (see Genesis 3:6: The fruit of the forbidden tree were luscious, they were a feast for the eyes and able to impart wisdom. Many a theological student lost biblical truth when the quest after worldly academic learning got a grip on his mind. Paul echoed this wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1: 27-29: ‘God has deliberately chosen to use ideas the world considers foolish and of little worth in order to shame those people considered by the world as wise and great...' In fact, Paul suggests that we should be content with limited debating skills from a spiritual point of view: ‘We are glad all our dealings we have (depended) ...not on our own skills' (2 Corinthians 1:12).

Jesus practised Flexibility
In His personal example and teaching to the disciples, our Lord focussed on Jews (e.g. Matthew 10:5). Yet,
Jesus was so open and accessible that even strangers had no qualms to come to Him for help. Thus the Roman military chief from Capernaum had the liberty to approach Him (Matthew 8:5). Jesus was immediately prepared to go to his house.  The apostles took the cue from their Master.
            We note how diverse our Lord’s approach was to the many people He met. There ws no fixed scheme. He treated every person individually, concentrating on their needs. The flexibility, which our Lord displayed, was actually taught by Paul as strategy. In 1 Corinthians 9:19ff the missionary apostle stressed how he adapted to the various groups of Jews and Greeks ‘in order to win at least some of them.’ 
          However, Jesus spent much time with His disciples. Fellowship was evidently very important to Him, not only as a strategy in His ministry. His teaching was practical, using mundane examples for His parables. (The West is catching up with the rest of the world in discovering that story telling is a much more effective tool in preaching than the traditional three-point sermon. The interactive type of sermon has been gaining ground in recent years via the house church movement. Of course, the Lord himself has practised this sort of thing centuries ago already, using parables and object lessons.)
          In obedience to the nudging of the Holy Spirit, Philip had no qualms to speak to a seeking foreigner, an Ethiopian official, about his soul (Acts 8:26ff). But Peter had some difficulties to step down from his pedestal of pride and condescension towards Gentiles. Paul kept in touch with the churches he had planted with letters of encouragement. But he also had the courage to rebuke them where it was appropriate.

Turning the other Cheek
Jesus gave us the example of how to handle a perceived or supposed rival. We know how John the Baptist approached the matter (He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30). In similar manner Jesus praised his cousin 'behind his back.'  Lesser minds would have reacted differently to a supposed rival (or even opponent): For I say unto you: Among those that are born to a woman, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11).                                                                                                                                          
          Our Lord taught enemy love, the opposite of retaliation as a way of response to a personal attack. Because Jesus clearly toned down revenge, made him extremely unpopular. The author Luke especially picked up this facet of Jesus' ministry. The absence of revenge runs like a golden thread throughout the Gospel of Luke.  This - perhaps more than anything else apart from nationalist pride - was probably a major reason for the change of atmosphere during Jesus’ sermonette in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:18). By quoting Isaiah 61, the Lord stopped short of the reference to vengeance and ‘the wrath of our God.                                                                                                   
          What caused the complete change of mood that day in the Nazareth synagogue? Was Jesus’ implied opposition to vengeance the only cause or were there other reasons?  Within a matter of a minute or two their pride over their prodigious villager swung over into fierce anger. The positive reference of our Lord to foreigners – perhaps above all else - rubbed his Jewish townsfolk up the wrong way. This obviously angered them in a xenophobic way, so that they wanted to push him over the cliff.
         Jesus surely did not endear himself to His Jewish compatriots by quoting Leviticus 19:18 ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ when he narrated the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Jews traditionally despised Samaritans fiercely because they mixed pure worship of Yahweh with elements of the Baal cult). This parable is only recorded in the Gospel according to Luke, not even referred to in any other gospel. It is very clearly a teaching on ‘enemy love.’
         The reaction of Jesus to the exclamation of the Samaritan woman of John 4 – she was probably angry or at least indignant - that he as a Jew dared to ask her for a drink, could be interpreted as an example of ‘turning the other cheek’. Instead of retaliating, the Master initiated a discussion on water.
         Heaping coals of fire on the head of the one who offended you (Romans 12:20) is the corollary of turning the other cheek. A modern Afrikaans translation of this phrase renders this aptly, viz. maak hom vuurrooi van skaamte (shame your opponent that he blushes as red as fire).

The radical Quality of Jesus’ Love
Jesus personified God's inclusive love (John 3:16).  The quality of the Lord’s love is especially shown by the incidents at his crucifixion. His first words of love from the Cross - even before he addressed his friends - were forgiving words directed at his enemies. After His resurrection, the Lord rushed to those who had denied and rejected him in the hour of his deepest need. Jesus has every right to put forward the high standard of sacrificial love because he had demonstrated this through his life and death. He showed the way to be prepared to sacrifice your life for your friends... and for your enemies.
          Jesus set the example in his attitude towards the Samaritans. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them (Luke 9:52-54). Paul echoed this injunction in one form or another, emphasizing refraining from retaliation in almost every epistle.                     
          Within this framework the beatitude encouraging us to be peace-makers (Matthew 5:9) follows naturally. How powerful this dynamic can be, was demonstrated in Saxony's Herrnhut in the run-up to 12 May 1727. Count Zinzendorf succeeded in bringing the fighting factions together. The ultimate reconciliation was possibly the most important ‘ingredient’ towards the ultimate revival three months later (see below in Chapter 9 more about this development).
The broken Wall                                                                                                                                     
Paul, the great missionary apostle, stressed that the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down through the atoning death of Jesus on the Cross. That ushered in the one new man in Christ (Ephesians 2:14). In the Church of Christ there should not even be any social divisions. A new unity, also between slaves and their masters, between husband and wife becomes possible through a common faith in Jesus Christ. And most radical of all, there is the new unity between Jew and Gentile through faith in Yeshua Hamashiach - Jesus, the Messiah.
         The Church universal should learn to put the priorities where Jesus put them in His prayer life. Jesus deemed it fit to pray in His high priestly prayer for His disciples and for those who would believe in Him because of their message, ‘that they may be one’ (John 17:11,21). It is possibly no exaggeration to state that all sorts of disunity in the body of Christ boils down to crucifying Him once more. We should take to heart that we have to be in unity ‘so that the world will believe’ that Jesus was sent by God, also as a sign that we take his last testament seriously.
         The Lord was actually only echoing what Psalm 133 had expounded so powerfully centuries before him, namely that God commands His blessing where there is unity, where siblings live in harmony. In that psalm the unity is depicted as an image for the anointing of the high priest, bridging hundreds of kilometres (From Mount Hermon near Damascus in Syria to Mount Zion, Jerusalem).

A special Role for marginal People   
Jesus’ ministry was inclusive, bringing salvation to all. The Gospel according to Luke highlights how Jesus assigned a special role to marginal people. This is especially true of the third synoptic Gospel, Luke. This is clear already in the narratives around Jesus' birth. Whereas Matthew highlights the magi who came to see the new-born king – in tradition they are known as kings from the Orient – Luke described how lowly despised shepherds were divinely called to witness the birth of the Saviour of the world (Luke 2:14). The gospel of John links the same discovery to the Lord’s interaction with an outsider of the Samaritan village of Sychar (John 4:42). By sitting next to the well, Jesus displayed identification with the Samaritans. He did not stand condescendingly above them like other Jews would normally have done.
          Luke is the only Gospel to record a saying of Jesus that there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine who have no need of repentance (15:7). The scribes and Pharisees – as well as many customs of His society - erected barriers between people, but Jesus addressed and attacked those dividing walls. He wanted to reveal the love of God to all people and show all people that God loves them equally. Therefore Jesus broke through social taboos or the restrictions of the society and the Jewish religion of His time.
Jesus broke down Barriers                                                                                                                     In Luke’s Gospel in particular we see Jesus breaking down barriers. He broke down partitions between God and people known to be 'sinners' such as tax collectors. Luke also highlights His uplifting of Samaritans and women. Jesus went to have a meal and lodged with the intensely resented tax-collector Zacchaeus, a representative of the hated collaborators with the Roman oppressors and He used a despised Samaritan (Luke 10:30ff) as an example of border-crossing charity. The Master challenged the establishment of His society by bringing them in contact with the gifts of the marginal people. In the Gospel of Luke, the Pharisee Simon becomes a witness to the devotion and dedication of an ex-prostitute (Luke 7:36-40). Due to common prejudice, by far not everybody would have been excited to find Jesus in the normal company of a Pharisee, let alone to hear that our Lord actually dined with him. The Lord’s presence there brought a very improbable visitor into the house of Simon. What an example the Master gave, what a challenge for Christians to bring together whosoever belongs together, namely the body of Christ, regardless of social status! Even more, Jesus dared to praise the prostitute and he reprimanded the Pharisee. What a reappraisal of their prejudicial value system there must have been for everyone who witnessed this encounter!
Outlawing of Hero-Worship
Hero-worship and idolizing of charismatic figures often lead to disunity. At the outset of his ministry Jesus chose not to be flattered by the adoration of his Nazareth townsfolk. Instead of surfing on the crest of the wave of praise, he swam against the stream in their synagogue, risking his life in the process (Luke 4:14-30).   
         When a multitude of Jewish worshippers wanted to forcefully make Jesus their worldly king after the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:15), he refused this adulation. Instead, he left the multitude who hailed him as a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15,18). (Through Moses' mediation the Israelites had been divinely fed in the desert.)
         In John 6 it is recorded how the Lord responded with a 'hard' word, after which the crowd left him en masse (John 6:66). The hard word seems to have been that he said I am the bread of life, alluding to his divine nature. Jesus' divinity is still a problem, not only to Jews. (The Unitarian movement within Christianity e.g. separated themselves from the rest of Protestantism because of this tenet and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.)
         With the advantage of historical hind-sight, it is much easier for us to discern that our Lord opposed superficial hero-worship because he does not only feed hungry stomachs, but also hungry hearts – people hungry for love, yearning for forgiveness, striving after justice, peace and joy!
         In Mark 1 it is reported how many people came to see Jesus already in the morning. Simon and his companions went to look for him. When they found him, they said, "Everyone is looking for you." The Master did not seem impressed by the obvious adulation. Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else…to the nearby villages… so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come."

Jerusalem Believers acted in one Accord
After our Lord’s ascension, his followers were united in prayer (Acts 1:14a). The Greek word homo-thumadon, which has usually been translated as ‘of one mind’, indicates a common purpose, a common goal, an emotional and wilful agreement. ‘Of one mind’ is a characteristic of ‘New Testament’ leadership. This unity in prayer formed the natural base for the revival at Pentecost.  But also after Pentecost the Jerusalem believers acted in accord, ‘of one mind’ (see Acts 2:45, 46; 4:24; 5:12; 6:2; 15:25). The new-found unity was grounded in their trust in God, which minimized possible differences - perhaps even cancelled some of them. Thus the regular meeting locally or in some geographical unit - primarily for prayer to get God’s mind for their city or town - should be a priority of pastors and all serious followers of Christ.
          It is no co-incidence that 10 of the 11 'NT' occurrences of the phrase ‘of one mind’ occur in the Acts of the apostles.[8] If we consider how important unity was for the first church - no, how important it is in God’s eyes - we cannot stress it too much.
          The 'NT' gives us a wonderful balance between orthodoxy which keeps unity intact on the one hand and necessary correction or reprimand on the other hand. Speaking the truth in love is a characteristic of those who are no longer spiritual infants (Ephesians 4:14,15).

 Chapter 3 Internal Division as Demonic Strategy

           Lying and its accomplice dishonesty are main contributors to disunity, also in the Church. The enemy often succeeds to add misunderstanding to the mixture. If the disunity is not properly addressed, bondage ensues. We must recognise that division is the paramount strategy of satan. He masqueraded as a serpent in the Garden of Eden deceptivelywith distortion, causing disruption and disunity. The arch enemy attempted to cause division among the disciples of Jesus through unhealthy rivalry. If he can abuse the Church and its leaders, he would never hesitate. Through the ages the arch enemy has succeeded to sow division in lively gospel-minded churches again and again. The blessings that God could have used to bring millions to the cross have become a curse in many a case. The ‘flesh’ in some Christians, who want to assert themselves through exhibitionism or sheer arrogance, have been contributing handsomely to that end. However, in no way it is suggested that biblical principles should be compromised. 

Unintentional Division of the Body of Christ
Much of the fragmentation of the Body of Christ has been unintentional. The first significant shift developed between Jewish Christians and other strands of first century Jews after James, the leader of the Church in Jerusalem and the brother of Jesus, was executed by a group of Jews that acted on the instructions of the High Priest Ananus. The stoning of James, with the collaboration of the Sanhedrin and the High Priest, was a bitter pill to those contemporary Jewish and Gentile Christians who still attempted to engage in dialogue with the Synagogue. 
         On two occasions Paul refers to believers as infants/children in the context of petty bickering and a lack of unity (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Ephesians 4:13-15). He did not mince his words, calling those believers who hero-worship strong personality’s babies in the faith (1 Corinthians 3:1-5). So often Christians quote the latter part of 1 Corinthians 11 in the context of the Lord’s Supper, completely ignoring or forgetting that Paul used those words within the framework of the disunity of the believers at Corinth and the discrimination of some of them (see 1 Corinthians 11:17ff).

The Pattern for doctrinal Bickering
The Samaritan woman of John 4 evidently also subtly tried to use the common ancestry to digress, to get away from the topic of her life-style. Her intention was probably not to use the arch fathers as common ground, but rather to emphasize the difference in the location, hoping perhaps that Jesus would walk into the trap of a theological argument.
The reference to the local mountain set the pattern for a doctrinal argument. The possibility of a doctrinal quarrel about places of worship highlights an age-old problem. Soon after the apostles had spread the Gospel throughout the Middle East - possibly even as far as India - the sheer humanity of Jesus became a problem to some of those who believed that Jesus was only divine. Learned men argued that if He were God, he could not have become an infant. Consequently, he purportedly could not display human characteristics. This argument went so far that the Early Church soon ran into trouble about Jesus’ deity. Arius, a 4th century Church elder, deemed it necessary to state clearly that Jesus was made (i.e. created), not begotten.
The misunderstanding with his bishop Alexander - who suggested that Arius propagated two gods - set the pattern for doctrinal quarrelling in the Middle East, which continued for centuries thereafter. Islam picked this tenet up, with the Qur’an stressing that Jesus was created - like Adam – divinely, by the word ‘Be’ (Surah 3:59).
          Of course, Jesus had clearly taught ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30). That He displayed human qualities does not make him less divine. In fact, Jesus invited His audience to get a glimpse of the Father by looking at him (John 14:9-11). It should have been clear - even from the oral traditions - that Jesus did things like forgiving sins, which only God can do. Uncovering the sinful life of the Samaritan woman was of course another divine quality - to look right into the inner precincts of the heart of man.

Divine Over-ruling of the demonic Strategy
We must recognize that division is the paramount strategy of satan. Through the ages the arch enemy has succeeded to sow division also in evangelical churches. The ‘flesh’ in some Christians who wanted to assert themselves saw to that. The first Jerusalem Apostolic Church seems to have handled the supernatural gifts of the spirit in a more balanced way (see Acts 2:42-47). Both Peter and Paul did not shun confrontation. When principles were at stake, they were no slow coaches to engage in heated debate. Acts 6 and 15 reflect conflict-laden situations. In both cases the end result was a sharing of responsibilities and a doubling of the work. If conflict is handled well, it has the potential to spread the Gospel even more widely and the work load can be delegated among more people. After Peter had been taught by God that he should cease despising those nations which he had regarded as ritually impure, he was prepared not only to act upon it by going to Cornelius (Acts 10), but also to defend his action before his colleagues.
          The end result of the delicate situation in Acts 6 was the appointment of Greek-speaking deacons. The heated debate in Acts 15 resulted in church planting, where their best men were ultimately sent (Verse 22). A lesson that can be derived is that big differences – if tackled properly and lovingly – can lead to expansion and improvement.

Interaction between Jews and Samaritans
The rivalry between the Jews and Samaritans is found throughout the Bible. Simon Magus, mentioned in Acts 8, was a Samaritan. After his disappointment with the apostles he became what has been described as a heresiarch, the founder of the heretic Simonians. (The Simonians worshipped Simon Magus like Zeus. He was a sort of god to them.) Simon Magus' successor, said to have been a certain Menander, was also a Samaritan. The Gospel of Luke in particular highlights how Jesus put things in perspective, giving the despised and rejected Samaritans a special place in the sun, advocating in this way for their inclusion.
          Second century Justin, also called the Martyr (100-165 AD), has generally been hailed in Christian circles as a great apologist. Few would regard him as heretical. However, his attitude towards Jews possibly contributed to the gradual side-lining of the nation that the Bible calls the apple of God’s eye. He is on record as the one who contributed greatly – albeit probably unintentionally - to what became known as 'Replacement Theology'. The learned Samaritan Justin Martyr[9] possibly did not have their side-lining in mind when he suggested that the Church had replaced Israel.
          Justin was very much a child of his day when he went overboard in his haughty intellectual arrogance, teaching that the Greek philosophers and the ‘barbarians’ such as Abraham... all who at any time ‘obeyed the same guidance, were really Christians’ (Walker, 1976:47).[10] The arrogance and haughtiness of Gentiles were also addressed by Paul when he highlighted that the Gentiles were only grafted into the true Olive Tree, Israel. In due course the Church was nevertheless quite widely but fallaciousy seen as the new Israel that replaced the Jewish nation.

Rivalry between Alexandria and Antioch
The parallel rivalry in the Early Church was that between Alexandria and Antioch. This is most evident in the oldest Bible manuscripts. Tracing the biblical manuscripts back to their origins, there are two geographical sources - Antioch and Alexandria.  Text types that represent a time period or location are traceable back to one of two families of manuscripts - the majority text and the minority text - the majority text originating in Antioch (Syria) and the minority text originating in Alexandria (Egypt).
The majority text from aliteral point of view includes approximately 99% of the 5,000+ extant manuscripts (meaning manuscripts that are in existence today).  These manuscripts have a high level of agreement with each other.  The minority text includes the remaining less than 1% of extant manuscripts.  These manuscripts have a high level of disagreement between each other (Thus Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, the two principal Alexandrian manuscripts by far, disagree with each other in over 3,000 places in the four gospels).          
Keeping in mind the law of first mention, a principle wherein the first mention of anything in the Bible generally sets the tone for the use of that word throughout the whole Bible, one sees a significant difference.  There are four occurrences of Alexandria, all with a negative connotation: It is a place from where people came who disputed with first Christian martyr, Stephen (Act 6:9). From Alexandria came one who had received sub standard Bible teaching.  Apollos was learned in the scriptures but he knew only the baptism of John.  Aquilla and Priscilla had to explain bsics of the gospel - that Jesus was the Christ – correcting his inferior theology (Acts 18:24).
By contrast, Antioch in Syria is a city only mentioned with a positive connotation in the ‘New Testament’. It is a place from which a man of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom came, and who was appointed over church business (Acts 6:3-5). At Antioch, they preached to the Grecians and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord (Acts 11:19-21). The Cypriot Barnabas was sent to Antioch and positive things resulted (Acts 11:22-24).  In Antioch the headquarters of the New Testament Church was established.  Barnabas looked for Saul and brought him back to Antioch (Acts 11:25,26).

The Seed of Bickering by North African Theologians
The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest theological school in the world. Jerome (347 – 30 September 420) suggests that the Christian School of Alexandria was founded by Mark himself. (There is however another more viable opinion that the school was founded mid-second century, perhaps only around 190 AD. Students were taught by scholars such as Athenagoras, Clement, Didymus and the great Origen, who was considered the father of theology and who was also active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies.
Origen of Alexandria (185—254 C.E.), one of the greatest Christian theologians of all time, is famous for composing the seminal work of Christian Neoplatonism, his treatise On First Principles. Origen lived through a turbulent period of the Christian Church, when persecution was wide-spread and little or no doctrinal consensus existed among the various regional churches. Gnosticism flourished in this environment. Origen was the first philosophical thinker to offer an alternative Christian system that was more rigorous and philosophically respectable than the mythological speculations of the various Gnostic sects.
Whatever rivalry there had been in biblical times between Antioch and Alexandria, the subsequent School of Philosophy in Alexandria that was possibly founded by either Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–211/216) or Origen, seemed to have generated debatable translations.
The Catechetical School at Alexandria reached its zenith under the tutelage of Origen. His work is said to have ‘marked a significant milestone in the doctrinal expression of the Trinity‘. He emphasized the hypostatical distinctions between the persons of the Trinity, providing the ‘key’ that the Son is homoousios to the Father, of one substance or essence with the Father. But Origen was speculative in his theology and carried his interpretations beyond the literal content of Scripture to allegorical extremes. This would in due course bring the big theological skirmish around the question whether the Son was of the same substance or similar in substance to the Father.
The problem became acute when theologians tried to explain the Trinity. The efforts of capable early church scholars like Irenaeus and Origen were unfortunate, speaking of the Son and the Spirit as the ‘two hands’ of God. The so-called Cappadocian Church Fathers of the fourth century hardly changed things for the better, using all sorts of learned words.  When Sabellius made a serious effort to explain how the Father suffered on the Cross, it was labelled as Patripassianism (It is derived from Latin, and means ‘the father suffers.’ The name refers to the teaching that God the Father suffers on the cross as Son — since the two are different modes of the same person. This would happen in a form of modalism, the teaching that there is only one God, who appears in three different modes (as opposed to the orthodox teaching that there is one God, who exists in three persons). In antiquity divinity was generally assumed to be above human passions or weaknesses, so this attribution of human experience to the creator deity was considered to be wrong, when instead this should be attributed to the human nature of the incarnate Son.
Origen’s other major work is the Hexapla, a six column side by side record of the Hebrew ‘Old Testament’ with various interpretations of it in Greek. Fragments of the Hexapla are the primary record of the mythical Septuagint, which is said to be a pre-Christian Greek copy of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus (the three primary manuscripts underlying many modern translations) are believed to be copies of columns from Origen's Hexapla. Vaticanus was found, and remains secluded, in the Vatican.  Sinaiticus was found in a garbage can in a monastery in the Sinai.  These works are filled with errors, strike-outs and contradictions. This would become the basis of the substantially flawed Latin Vulgate of Jerome that was only corrected by Desiderius Erasmus in the 16th century.

Disunity stifles spiritual Renewal
Disunity often stifles spiritual renewal and biblical revival. We cannot stress it enough: the spirit of separation and disunity is a demonic principality. Disunity wielded in few parts of the world such power as in South Africa. The apartheid practice was only one visible expression of this division. The denominational disunity, rivalry and mutual distrust of churches and pastors are two less visible ones. True unity is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, but if denominational and racial disunity proceed unchecked, a potential spiritual awakening will be given a major setback.
         Disunity in the Church and competitiveness must never be regarded as minor flaws, but recognized for what it really is in the light of the Bible: sin! Not for nothing Jesus prayed for His disciples and for those who would believe in their message (i.e. we, the spiritual off-spring): ...That all of them may be one (John 17:20f) and ‘that they may be brought to complete unity’ (John 17:23).
         Through the ages the enemy has succeeded to sow division in churches. The blessing, which God could have used to bring millions to the Cross, has sadly become a curse in many a case.

Disunity - a Demonic Stronghold? 
Not only to people from other religions the denominational and doctrinal disunity has posed a problem of no mean dimension. The unity in Christ must be practised and seen to be a reality in the lives of believers. On the other hand, ecclesiastical disunity must be recognized for what it really is - sin! We quote the words of the Indian Bishop Azariah in 1927 at the Faith & Order conference in Lausanne: ‘The divisions of Christendom may be a source of weakness in Christian countries, but in non-Christian lands they are a sin and a scandal.’ Cindy Jacobs, an intercession leader from the USA, has put it even stronger. She referred to the 'idolatry of denomination and pride in doctrine' as sectarianism, calling it a demonic stronghold (in Wagner, 1993:90ff). Viv Grigg wrote very aptly: ‘The spiritual unity of believers is a key to spiritual power... The Holy Spirit may not work significantly in a situation where he is grieved due to disunity’ (in Wagner, 1995:26). One of the best positive examples of the principle at the Cape to date was the run-up to the first stadium event of Newlands, that took place on 21 March, 2001.
          The honest words of Bishop Azariah in 1927 have not been completely without effect. At the 75th anniversary of that Lausanne conference, Dr Mary Tanner summarised: 'We rightly celebrate the fruits of the conversations; the convergences, even consensus, reached between churches in areas that were causes of division and which once seemed intractable. And we can celebrate the fact that this theological conversation has gone on in an ever more inclusive circle and amidst increasingly friendly relationships of trust and confidence...' (This has been taken from the internet). Practical implementation followed the resolutions of Lausanne III! In this way it was quite different to so many other conferences and seminars which merely churned out lots of paperwork! There have been examples of networking and cooperation of believers and Christian organisations since then all over the world, with wonderful results. May this multiply hundred-fold and more!
Another Brand of Apartheid?           
We South Africans in general have allowed a sectarian brand of Christianity to cloud the issues. We have neglected to communicate properly the true message of the 'New Testament', e.g. that all walls of partition between human beings have been broken down through Jesus Christ. In fact, the first church in Jerusalem consisted of people from extremely diverse cultural backgrounds, although all of them were of Jewish extraction. Acts 13 shows how various nationalities were represented in the leadership at Antioch, the first congregation that was formed after the persecution that scattered the initial Jerusalem Church.
            I had no good answer ready when one of my secondary school learners of Hanover Park asked me in 1981, 'Why do you have so many churches?' I have to confess that even at the present time Christians are still allowing doctrinal differences to confuse people of other religions. I call the disunity and rivalry among church fellowships a demonic heresy[11]‑ another brand of apartheid ‑ because Jesus saw the unity of His followers as something of great importance.

No Door-Mat
A related issue is the fallacy that servility could be a Christian virtue.  Because Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, some people deduce that Christians should always be willing to be a sort of door-mat. Far from it! In John 4 it is reported how a rumour was brought to the Master that John was baptising more converts. What the motives of those people were who came to Him with the rumour is not clear. The dynamite contained in it is nevertheless quite evident. His clashes with the religious establishment, equating the leaders with white-washed tombs that contain dead bones - along with His overturning the tables in the temple – are well-known.
          When Jesus spoke confidently in reply to a question of the High Priest Caiaphas about his teaching, he was slapped. His reply was interpreted by one of the high priestly officials as rudeness (John 18:19f). The Lord promptly challenged the official to point out what he said wrongfully and if not, why did he strike him? Much anger can be averted if we use our authority in Christ, not to allow others to trample on us.
          Matthew (Chapter 23) highlighted our Lord's criticism of the Pharisees, influential religious leaders of the synagogues - a full chapter of it!  These random examples demonstrate that Jesus was nowhere the softy certain people have asserted. The Master was however not always on confrontation course with these leaders during His lifetime either. Our Lord was radical, but nowhere merely a trouble-shooter.
         In our dealings with people from other faiths, some loving straight talk might be necessary. Senseless debating should be avoided, but Muslims, Hindus and whatever other religious groups and sects who normally never heard the Gospel message clearly, also have a right to hear the truth spoken in love. It is however not always easy to discern whether the conversational partner in religious matters is a sincere seeker after truth.
          Resentment towards Muslims among Christians became fairly wide-spread, especially since the PAGAD (People against Gangsterism and Drugs) era at the Cape and the September 11, 2001 event in New York, along with the atrocities of ISIS, Boko Haram and Al Shabbab.  If we dare to oppose that mood, we should not be surprised to be castigated or side-lined, even by Christians. (This may however not be construed as any support for the syncretist Chrislam movement in North America which I regard as very unfortunate and a very bad compromise, unworthy of the Gospel of our Lord.) Among Africans the follower of Jesus who dares to oppose the worship of ancestors will suffer the same fate. With very little biblical substantiation opposition to Replacement Theology is regarded as not theologically correct. We dare not take support from rank-and-file Christians for granted. And yet, we have no option if we take the Bible seriously. If one attempts to love everybody, even one’s 'enemy' – we find them sometimes within our own ranks - we must not be surprised when fierce opposition follows, especially when one expresses love for Jesus and support for Israel and the Jews.  

The Leader Servant
A leader can make or break unity on different levels. If a pastor does not take the lead to network with other fellowships locally, the chances are slim that members of his congregation will do it. The biblical model is the servant leader, or better still as Mike Burnard has been teaching us, a leading servant – a leader in serving (The 18 inch Principle, 2011:25).
            Jesus himself set the pace when he washed the feet of His disciples (John 13). In so doing he performed the menial task that was usually done by slaves. The importance John attached to this act of love is amplified when one considers that the report of the feet washing takes place in the context of the last supper in the fourth Gospel.
            The Gospel according to Mark depicts the fact that Jesus regarded his atoning death as a duty done by a servant: ‘And whoever wants to be greatest of all must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to help others, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:44f). 
            In a different way Paul penned the following in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-8): "Your attitude should be the kind that was shown to us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross."    Both Peter and Paul called themselves a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. We note the order. In his salutation to the believers in Rome the prime biblical epistle writer introduced himself as Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle. He wrote to Titus in a similar way. Peter started his second epistle with Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1).


Bondage of Denominationalism

Bondage can also come in by the back-door. Paul clearly taught that religious practice can develop into bondage, into slavery. Instead of being a guideline, God’s laws then become a choking legalism. In this context we read that the letter of the law kills (2 Corinthians 3:6). Coming from the background of having been a Pharisee, the apostle discerned how the law can blind (2 Corinthians 3:14ff): ‘the same veil remains when the old covenant is read’. He had to become blind first, so that his spiritual eyes could be opened. That is why Jews and Muslims find it so hard to break through into living faith.                                                           A sad thing with regard to bondage is that there are many Christians who got bound through religious practices. This does not only occur in the Roman Catholic Church where traditions with an occult background and doubtful ingredients have been passed on from generation to generation. Also in Protestant-evangelical circles certain traditions have brought along legalism unwittingly, keeping Christians in bondage, without them even realizing it. The best example is probably those traditions which were given the tag sacraments. The practice in churches often deviates considerably from the obvious scriptural origin or the spirit of the gospels.           
            Unscriptural usage often caused unnecessary ‘theology’ to justify the practice of certain ‘sacraments’, causing church splits in its wake. A case in point may be baptism. On the one hand the followers of Luther and Calvin often became legalistic on the issue of ‘re-baptism.’ Baptists on the other hand, have often enough refused church membership to those believers who have not been immersed. Some of them have been doing it with an uncharitable legalistic attitude. (In Scripture itself, there is an instance (Acts 19,1-5) where the believers were baptised a second time. It seems rather semantic to stress that they have previously been baptised with the baptism of John.[12] What should Christians do in countries where there is an absolute water shortage and/or drought? The legalism and arrogance of some Baptists and Pentecostals, (ab)using Scripture to convince others that christening of infants and confirmation are unscriptural, have so often been very uncharitable. This is possibly a case of applying truth without grace and love (Compare Ephesians 4:15).     
Church Disunity as Sin
We repeat that denominational disunity must be recognised for what it really is in the light of the Bible: sin! Not for nothing Jesus prayed for His disciples and for those who would believe in their message (it is thus applicable to us, the spiritual off-spring): '...That all of them may be one... and that they may be brought to complete unity' (John 17:21, 23). Paul did not mince his words either, calling believers babies in the faith who hero-worship strong personalities (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-5). But there is light at the end of the tunnel. In South Africa we have seen in recent decades some remarkable bridging of doctrinal positions, especially with regard to baptism, like Methodists who have been going to an Apostolic Faith Mission church building to practise immersion. Yet, events like this happen still very rarely.

A Pope asking Forgiveness for Sins                                                                                                     On the issue of denominational differences, the Roman Catholic Church led the way during the last two decades. No less than Pope John Paul II conceded in May 1995 with the encyclical Ut unum sit that the disunity of the Church is a major hindrance to the spread of the Gospel. He explicitly asked forgiveness from God for the sins against the unity of the body of Christ   The next major follow-up move by Pope John Paul II occurred in 2000 AD. Defying warnings from some theologians that the unprecedented apology would undermine the church's authority, Pope John Paul II as a 70-year old took the most audacious initiatives of his papacy, asked God to forgive the persecution of the Jews. "We are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood." From the altar of St Peter's Basilica in Rome he led his denomination into unchartered territory by seeking forgiveness for sins committed against Jews, heretics, women, Gypsies and native peoples. "We forgive and we ask forgiveness. We are asking pardon for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth, and for attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed towards followers of other religions."

          We are thankful for the increasing recognition of our Jewish roots among Christians. A note of warning has however to be verbalised. Not everything in Jewish culture is scriptural. Whatsoever Jesus taught should be our norm in all disciple-making.

Chapter 4 Jews First!

            For centuries an exegesis of Romans 1:16, that argues for a ‘missional priority’ for Jewish evangelism, was generally ignored. Evangelical Christianity used the first part of the verse a lot. That the Gospel is the power of God for salvation has been emphasised in evangelism and quoted in sermons. In many a Sunday School children memorised ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes…That the verse goes on with the words to the Jew first, and also to the Greek’, remained by and large unknown.

Concentration on the Jews
With regard to missionary strategy we note that Jesus concentrated on Israel and the Jews. Although he praised the faith of the Gentile Roman centurion of Matthew 8:10 (Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith,), the Lord also inferred in His reaction to the request of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Matthew 15:21f) where He saw a priority in His healing ministry: Let the children first be fed, since it isn't good to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to the dogs! In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus constantly refers to His ministry as fulfilment of prophecy. In my view our Lord’s concentration on the Jews has not been taken seriously. It is not clear why Jesus instructed the twelve disciples to stick to the house of Israel in Matthew 10:5f, omitting this specific instruction to the seventy (Matthew 11:20-24). Or is here already the expansion and spread of the Gospel - ultimately to the ends of the earth - implied?[13] It is clear that Jesus concentrated on the Jews in his ministry.
         Paul followed Him in this, by always starting his visits in a new town or city in the synagogue. This should be a pointer to our careful and sensitive use of the Hebrew Scriptures in interaction with Jews. In fact, the use of the Word of God as such is a powerful tool. Jesus demonstrated it in His life, by quoting from the Scriptures time and again. A deduction from our Lord’s last commission could be that the spreading of the Gospel should start in Jerusalem, in the case of the Jews among the Jewry (Acts 1:8, also Luke 24:47), and spread from there to the ends of the earth. This may not be interpreted in absolute terms, i.e. that evangelistic outreach should occur in a concentric or spiralling way from your home town or city. It does put a question mark though next to a practice whereby people are eager to engage in missionary outreach far from home but do nothing about reaching out lovingly to their neighbours and in their home town.
         It could be argued that our Lord’s involvement with the Jews was not missionary, not border-crossing at all; that He concentrated on his home culture. The first disciples initially appeared very reluctant to obey the Great Commission, only staying in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1). Right from his very first public appearance in Nazareth, Jesus however showed the way to the acceptance of the other nations and the mission to them. In fact, this may have been one of the main reasons why the Nazareth congregation rejected Him (Luke 4:29). According to the Gospel of Luke, the examples of Jesus with the Samaritans seem to have been intended to soften the nationalistic Jews up because of their unhealthy pride and prejudice.

The Gospel to the Jews first
Paul wrote already in the first century: I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek’ (Romans 1:16). Instead of recognizing the need to minister humbly and respectfully to the apple of God's eye (Deuteronomy 32:10; Zechariah 2:8), the Church in general neglected the loving and compassionate outreach to Jews completely. Starting with Justin Martyr in the second century, their rejection was emphasised, overlooking that Paul clearly taught that this was merely temporarily, that in the completion of God's perfect timing '...all Israel will be saved' (Romans 11:26; Jeremiah 31:1).
         We will point to a few individuals down the centuries who stressed the special eschatological role of the Jews, and the need of the Church to provoke them in a loving and positive way to fulfil their prophetic destiny.
         Paul practised what he preached, including the notion that the Gospel should be brought to the Jews, his nation, first. In every city that he came to on his missionary journeys, he first went to the synagogue. That Paul fought for the right to bring the Good News also to the Gentiles, sometimes clouds this sense of priority. Paul advised in Romans 11:25 that the Gentiles should not be conceited, reminding the Roman followers of Jesus from Gentile stock that they are merely branches that had been grafted into the true olive, Israel.
A Choice between Jews and Muslims?
A notion has been circling in some Christian circles that if one wants to reach out lovingly to people from the two other Abrahamic religions, then one has to make a choice between Jews and Muslims; one can either support the Palestinians or the Jews in Israel! That Christians could have a reconciling role to play, does not feature in such thinking. Some Christians are even surprised to hear that the sons of Abraham buried him together (Genesis 25:9). We stress that the widely accepted notion - that the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael have been eternal enemies - has hardly any biblical basis. We regret that many a Church leader have all too often compounded the age-old problem of Israel and Palestine in an unreconciling way, instead of being an agent of reconciliation. While I concede that this is very personal and subjective, I contend that one of the best bases for bringing together Jews and Muslims is when we include those from their ranks who got reconciled with God through faith in the atoning work of His Son. And yet, there are no quick fixes in such reconciliation. A lot of patient waiting on the Lord in prayer is required. Ultimately only He can really change hearts, prejudices and fixed mind-sets. Some dialogue would be perfectly in place, but cheap proselytism is outlawed in this field of outreach.

Major Problems of Judaism and Islam
All this does not address the major problems of Judaism and Islam, viz. to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus and to acknowledge Him as the Son of God. Basically only the Holy Spirit can illuminate to adherents of these religions the loving Father-heart of God. If we practise sensitivity in our dealings with the followers of Judaism and Islam, the Lord could use a loving approach to weaken or even remove some of their prejudice against ‘offensive’ Christian doctrine. To some of them it is only a matter of (mis)understanding. (Many Muslims e.g. have a literal comprehension of Jesus as the physical son of God.) The sharpness of any hostility could be reduced or even removed by pointing out for instance that the words ‘only begotten’ Son comes from the Greek monogenos. This word is more accurately translated in the context of John 3 as the unique Son. A parallel is found in Genesis 22:1 where Isaac was to be sacrificed as such - a unique son. Furthermore, the use of son as a metaphor - in this case for the divine character of Jesus - is not completely unknown. 'Son of the Road' and similar expressions are well known in the Orient. Along the same lines a loving non-confrontational approach could assist to open up Jews (and Muslims) to discover why Yeshuah is indeed Ha Mashiach, the Messiah.
               Judaism has a problem to regard a human being to be the Lamb of God. All the more it is interesting how the concept of the Trinity developed in the Middle East. The oral tradition of the audible voice at the baptism of Jesus and the dove descending on Jesus circulated very widely. This could have contributed greatly to the tenet of the Holy Trinity which has no clear proof in Scripture as such. God, the Father, is generally taken to be the voice speaking at Jesus' baptism. This was widely regarded as the crowning occasion of Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah. All four Gospels refer to the dove as the visible demonstration of the Holy Spirit descending on the Son. In the fourth Gospel we read how John the Baptist pointed to Jesus in the same context as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29,36). Attributes of multiple manifestations and functions of God like truth (John 7:28, Revelation 3:7 and 1 John 5:6) and goodness (Romans 2:4, Nehemiah 9:20) can be found throughout the Bible. These attributes can also be traced in the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

Consultation with the Church Leadership
An issue which was forcefully demonstrated in the life of Paul, the apostle, was the relationship to the local church. Paul showed how valuable a healthy relationship to the church leadership can be. Even though God had already revealed it to him previously to bring the Gospel to the heathen nations, Paul did his missionary work in consultation with the church leaders (Galatians 2:2ff). Initially they did not share his vision and views. The result of the consultation was a doubling of the outreach: They initially agreed that Peter would concentrate on ministering to Jews while Paul would pioneer the work among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). Because he did not do his own thing unilaterally, Paul and Barnabas eventually received the right hand of fellowship. Finally they were commissioned and sent out by the body, the Church at Antioch (Acts 13:3).
It is a pity that the other apostles had nobody to record their missionary journeys as Paul had, viz. the physician Luke. A single verse, 1 Peter 5:13, gives an indication of his rock-like presence in Babylon. About the activities of Thomas in India and Mark in Alexandria (Egypt) we have to rely on oral traditions. From the Gospel records we sense that Philip must have been a powerful evangelist. Yet, we have only Acts 8 as a written report of some of his ministry.
            With regard to ongoing consultation with the church leadership, this was part and parcel of life in Herrnhut in East Germany. There the revival of 13 August 1727 led to the flowering of the missionary endeavour of the Moravians; in fact, it was the laborious writing of diaries and reports, which have enabled later generations to get such a good picture of church life there and of Moravian missionary work in general.

The different Parts of the Body
Paul evidently deemed the unity of the body of Christ as of prime importance. He taught not only about the different parts of the body (Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12) but he also wrote ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:3). Paul knew that unity is something at which we must work unceasingly. Earnestly he appealed to the bickering believers in Corinth where factions had developed. He reprimanded not only the followers of Apollos and Peter, but also his own fans in the fellowship for hero-worshipping him. God alone must be worshipped because he alone can give growth. The flesh in us loves to get recognition, likes to build the own kingdom. Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church included a moving plea: ‘I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ... that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Corinthians 1:10-13 and 3:1-6). Paul’s plea was obviously an extension of the teaching of the Master himself: If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand (Mark 3:24-25).

                                      Chapter 5 Honour for the Despised

         There is a tendency by fellowships in the more affluent parts of our country to look down condescendingly upon township congregations and even more so on to those churches from the refugee communities. I suggest a complete rethink on this, to come in line with the Word. We have such a lot to learn from those at the bottom end of our social scale.
          A tenet that runs through the Bible is that God honours the lowly and despised who put their trust in Him. Jesus and Paul display the nature of God on this issue. The Hebrew Scriptures are full of examples of how God used despised/rejected people.

Biblical Misfits used by God
The Hebrew Scriptures are full of examples of how God used despised/rejected people. Joseph was initially rejected by his brothers; Moses was a fugitive and murderer when he was called by God. Ehud stemmed not only from the minute tribe of Benjamin, but he was also left-handed to boot. But he was raised by God to be a deliverer of his people, as was Gideon who suffered from a serious inferiority complex (respectively in Judges 3 and 6).
            Gideon had an inferiority complex needing a ‘fleece’ in two different ways for reassurance. Jephtha, a prominent leader during the time when Israel was ruled by the judges, was the despised bastard son of a prosti­tute and initially rejected (Judges 11:1+2). Saul, the first King of Israel, came from the weakest tribe and the smallest family in the tribe (1 Samuel 10:21).
Eli, the priest, was wise to discern that Samuel could be raised to become a divine tool already as a boy and David, the shepherd boy, was clearly initially overlooked as a future king of Israel. God had to teach Samuel in the process not to look at the outer looks and size, that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:1-12). David was clearly regarded as an outsider of the family at first and over­looked to become the future King of Israel.
            At a time when females counted for nothing, Deborah led the Israelite army (Judges 4 and 5). What distinguished the rejected and despised ones was their availability for God. Rahab and Ruth are specially mentioned in the lineage of Jesus, although they were originally a pagan prostitute and a despised Moabite respectively (Matthew 1:5).
            Paul refers to his own unimpressive stature and lack of luster in his public speaking (2 Corinthians 10:10). In His divine wisdom God deemed it fit to save those who believed through the preaching of the Cross, that was being regarded in the world as stupidity (1 Corinthians 1:21). Furthermore, Paul also stated clearly not only ‘when I am weak, I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:10), but also that the foolishness of the Cross is actually God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18). It looks as if this has generally been forgotten or overlooked. The jet-setting big names are as a rule some of the eloquent sought after speakers.
            Jesus and Paul display the nature of God on this issue. The Lord entered Jerusalem on an inexperienced colt, the foal of a donkey – not on a horse or a camel, the more fancied transport animals of the day. Even today the animal is more known because of its obstinacy and stupidity than in any other way.
         Our Lord praised the faith of the centurion who came from the ranks of the oppressing Romans. Groups usually looked down upon are refugees and vagrants. That Jesus was a refugee as a baby and homeless as an adult, should at least give us some food for thought.

The biblical Condition
With the Moabite Ruth, the biblical condition becomes clear: faith in the God of Israel is the criterion. Rahab, the prostitute, is a very special case. She must have had special revelation to declare to the spies: ‘I know that Yahweh has given you the land’ (Joshua 2:8) and in Joshua 2:11 ‘Yahweh, your God is God in heaven above and on the earth’ ... To use scarlet, the dye which was known for colouring flax, was known for its durability, a colour of permanence, was prophetic. A piece of scarlet cloth  that turned white on the Day of Atonement gave a similar prophetic message. Centuries later the prophet Isaiah (1:18) would use that image for the divine cleansing and forgiving of sins. No sin is too big for God to forgive!
         When Philip interacted with the influential eunuch from Ethiopia, the equivalent of a Finance Minister, this gay man was probably the vehicle to bring the Gospel to our continent, next to Mark who evangelised in Alexandria (Egypt) according to oral tradition. (Eunuchs were known to be 'gay', men who could be entrusted to the private chambers of highly ranked females like queens).  
It is remarkable that God seems to have a special place for young people who are ready to go all out for him. In fact, it has been generally overlooked that Jesus drove out the religious establishment – with animals and all – so that there could be place for despised, for those coming from the nations,[14]the lame, the blind and the children (Matthew 21:14). All too often the religious church people have to be driven away so that God can be worshiped in spirit and in truth.

The Messianic Stone initially rejected
In the picture of a dome, Jesus is also described as the capstone that holds the building together, with believers as 'living stones' (1 Peter 2:4ff). Simultaneously, Jesus is also the Messianic stone that was rejected by the builders, it became the cornerstone of the divine edifice. That the nation of Israel has been rejected – albeit as punishment for their non-recognition of Yeshuah (Jesus) as Messiah – contains some Messianic trait as a precursor variously cited by the Lord himself.  This wisdom, appearing first in Psalm 118:22, recurs at Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7.  Of course, also the Messianic Isaiah 53:3 speaks about the same thing. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  The Gospel writer John summarised the phenomenon thus: He came to his own people, and even they rejected him (John 1:11).
         The living stones are also a chosen people, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). To be a priest is to be consecrated to God and fellow-man. This is the calling of every Christian. If this functions well, the Church would automatically cease to be an institution chiefly concerned with maintaining forms and traditions. It would meet the world as a united, Spirit-empowered witnessing fellowship.

Fellowship also for the Despised
Jesus offered fellowship to people who were despised by their society. Seeing her deepest need, He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) who was probably so ashamed to be seen by others that she went to fetch water at a time when there was the least chance to meet other villagers or be seen by them. In meeting her deepest need, Jesus turned the social outcast into one of the first evangelists of the Messiah of all time, causing a people movement among the inhabitants of the little Samaritan town of Sychar. Breaking with all custom of the time, He spoke with the woman in public. The Western rationally-inclined mind would regard the speaking about ‘koeitjies en kalfies’ (trivialities) as wasting of time. Jesus demonstrated how the opening up of a conversation with a stranger about a mundane thing like water can break down walls of prejudice (John 4:10).

Inclusion of the Outsider and Fearful                                                                                                    
Jesus led by example in His loving ministry to the doubting, the outsider and the fearful. This is a divine quality. The Master had an eye and a heart for the doubting Thomas. It seems as if Western theological tradition has overlooked that Thomas was prepared to go and die with Jesus (John 11:16). Many only see him as the ‘doubting Thomas’ or even ‘die ongelowige Thomas’ (the unbelieving Thomas). In general, it has hardly been recognized that Thomas was not the only one among the disciples to doubt. It has been reported that '...some doubted' (Matthew 28:17). We note that this happened just before the Ascension of our Lord, i.e. after some of them had been walking close to Him for many months. The Master took doubts seriously, reassuring the hovering disciple in this way.  Jesus saw behind the impulsive Peter also his qualities as a potential leader. The Bible teaches that God specifically uses the fearful when they trust Him, even more so when they become completely dependent on Him. This is wonderfully depicted in the life of Gideon (Judges 6-8). He could easily be described as a coward with a serious inferiority complex. Coming from the poorest family of the half tribe of Manasse and youngest of all, he thought he had ample reason to shy away from an awesome task. 

Foreigners and Strangers in the Bible
In the Hebrew Scriptures the Israelites are repeatedly admonished to be hospitable to strangers. About Abraham it is specifically mentioned that he was a stranger in various places (Genesis 12:10; 17:8; 20:1). Likewise were Isaac (Genesis 26:3), Jacob (Genesis 32:4), Joseph (Genesis 37ff), Moses (Exodus 2:15ff) and Nehemiah. In fact, it can be argued with some substance for David and Moses, that their years as a refugee served as training ground for later service. The Israelites were strangers in Egypt. Repeatedly they were reminded of this fact. Exactly because they had been oppressed there, they were commanded to refrain from oppressing foreigners. Leviticus 19:33,34 includes the astounding verse Love the stranger as you love yourself. In fact, the Law commands more than once to treat the stranger as an equal (for example Leviticus 24:16, 24). If the foreigner/stranger is destitute, he should be supported and afforded hospitality (Leviticus 25:35).
The Hebrew Scriptures furthermore depict clearly how foreigners became a blessing to the people of God. The prime example in this regard is Joseph who was an Egyptian in the eyes of his brothers when he reminded them of the God of their forefathers. The Ethiopian servant Ebed-Melech, an official in the royal palace, rescued Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:7-10) after he had been lowered into a cistern, where the prophet would have died. Rahab, the prostitute (Joshua 2:1ff), is another example of quite a few ‘foreigners’ who are mentioned favourably in the Hebrew Scriptures. Both of them were rewarded when their lives were spared in the respective sacking of Jerusalem and Jericho.
          The Italian Cornelius is mentioned positively as someone used by God to help Peter to recognize his religiously tainted prejudice and pride. This was part and parcel of the divine move to bring the Gospel to Gentiles, God's method to provoke the Jews to ultimately discern who is the divine choice - sent by Him as the Messiah and Saviour of the World.
          But God also used other nations to chastise the ‘apple of His eye’, the Israelites, when they strayed from Him. God wanted His people to be a blessing to the nations. The idea of the ‘New Testament’ Church as a replacement, a spiritual Israel, is nowhere clearly taught in the Bible, but the inference is nevertheless correct that Israel is the example to the Church. The body of Christ - his Bride - should also bless the nations but there is a need for correction in its other role. As the one new man (Ephesians 2:15) - by His nullifying the tradition of the commandments by decrees, so that He could create the two, Jewish and non-Jewish, into One New Man, establishing peace - all followers of our Lord should willingly and gladly witness together with Messianic Jewish believers, perhaps be ready to be led by them.

An honoured Place for Refugees
The Bible assigns an honoured place to refugees. Moses became a refugee and fugitive because of his choice to stand with the Israelites. Acts 7:22 points to the fact that he enjoyed the best education of his day and age in Egypt. The letter to the Hebrews 11:25 highlights how Moses displayed the Spirit of our Lord to prefer suffering to share in the oppression of his people, instead of enjoying the conveniences of an Egyptian prince. He became just like Jesus who voluntarily left the Father's glory, not counting it robbery to become man and ultimately experience the death of a criminal on the cross (Philippians 2:5ff). That David roamed the country, staying in caves and at times living among the enemy with a bunch of rogues, makes him the equivalent of a modern-day gangster. More than once someone from the ranks of the despised and rejected groups - for example a gangster, drug lord or prostitute - was exactly the one God used to make others spiritually hungry, thirsty and inquisitive.
         The refugee status of the baby Jesus should fill us with compassion towards all refugees. During his earthly life Jesus was so to speak homeless, only at home with his Father. In fact, already as a twelve year-old he referred to the temple as ‘my Father’s house’ (Luke 2:49). As an adult the Master replied to someone who wanted to follow him: ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ (Luke 9:58). When traders defiled the Temple, Jesus jealously guarded the sanctity of its precincts. It had to be a house of prayer. He drove the traders out because ‘… you are making it a den of robbers’ (Matthew 21:13).

An Eye for Down and Outs
Few groups in history had an eye for the potential of down and outs, the outcasts like the homeless, refugees and exiles as the compassion displayed by Count Zinzendorf and his Herrnhut Moravians in the 18th century.       
         Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, and David, as well as many prominent figures in Church History like Amos Comenius had all been out of their home country against their will for one or another reason. The Herrnhut congregation was banned from Saxony. The jealousy of other traders in the Wetteravia, caused them to be also driven from there. We should be quite aware that God can turn seemingly difficult circumstances to the good, to His end. I suggest that the presence of refugees should be regarded as a challenge and a chance. At any rate, they should definitely not be regarded as a threat to our jobs and livelihood.

A special Place for Inexperience, for Women and Youth
The divine creation gender model was equality between male and female. The Hebrew Scriptures swam against the stream of ancient Oriental culture when they depicted how individual women like Jochebed, the mother of Moses and complete outsiders like Rahab, a pagan and a prostitute, played a special role in Jewish history. At a time when females counted for nothing, Deborah led the Israelite army (Judges 4 and 5). The teenagers Esther and Mary, the mother of Jesus, are very special in God's wisdom. This goes against the grain of our human ideas.  At the same time, the wisdom of experience and age should be appreciated and highly valued. 
         The Lord entered Jerusalem on an inexperienced colt, the foal of a donkey – not on a horse or a camel, the more fancied transport animals of the day. It is remarkable that God seems to have a special place for young people who are ready to go all out for him.

Engaging so-called non-Entities in Mission
After the 18th century Moravians and Methodists, the next spiritual giant who engaged so-called non-entities in missionary work significantly was Hudson Taylor, a British Protestant missionary to China, and the founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM, now OMF International). James Hudson Taylor (Chinese: 戴德生) (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905) spent 51 years in China. The agency that he founded was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country. He started 125 schools and his ministry resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions. More than 300 stations of work were established with more than 500 local helpers in all eighteen provinces of China.
            Hudson Taylor was known for his sensitivity to Chinese culture and zeal for evangelism. He wore native Chinese clothing even though this was rare among missionaries of that time. Under his leadership, the China Inland Mission (CIM) was exemplary non-denominational in practice, accepting members from all Protestant groups, including individuals from the working class and single women, as well as multi-national recruits. Primarily because of the CIM's campaign against the opium trade, Hudson Taylor has been referred to as one of the most significant Europeans to havelived in China in the 19th century. Historian Ruth Tucker (2004:186) summarises the theme of his life: 'Few missionaries in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematised plan of evangelising a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor'.

Thumbs down to hierarchical Church Structures

In the ‘NT' Church[15] plural non-hierarchical leadership seems to have been the norm. Presbyters and deacons were not regarded as titles but valued and used respectively as a gesture of respectful honour and a function in serving. Apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists were in Paul's teaching functions as equals in the four- or five-fold ministries. He took for granted that each one in the church received grace[16] (Ephesians 4:7), from which flows one or more of these functions. In his first letter to the Corinthians (14:26) Paul states as a given that in the ekklesia, the church, each one should edify each other (oikodomeo, build each other up) whenever the believers congregate.
         The only permissible 'NT' 'hierarchy' would be to see Jesus Christ as the capstone, the head of the Church. In various ways the image of a building is used in Scripture.  In Matthew 16 Jesus himself said that he will build (oikodomeo is the verb) his church. Paul notes that he intends to operate like a master builder with Christ as the foundation stone. In another picture the Gentiles and Jews form together God's house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. The cornerstone is Christ himself (Ephesians 2:20) that holds together these two functions, the apostolic and the prophetic dimensions.
         These two functions have to complement each other with Jesus as the connecting link. To be an apostle means throughout the fulfilling of a function, those sent from the bosom of the church. From here the word missionary was derived (via the Latin missio). The model of the apostle/missionary was the ambassador of Rome. In a similar way every follower of Jesus is an ambassador and emissary/missionary who has to attempt to inculcate and represent the culture of the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Foreigners as a Blessing
A phenomenon is highlighted in the Scriptures, viz. that foreigners can be a blessing to any nation if given the opportunity.
         The persecuted French Huguenots of the late 17th century and the Moravian-Bohemian refugees of the early 18th century are well-documented examples of this phenomenon. God can turn around tragedy into a massive blessing to those who give refuge to followers of Jesus who had been persecuted for their faith. The Cape profited in a big way from the French Protestants who came here from 1688. The Moravian-Bohemian refugees were divinely used to usher in the modern missionary movement after Count Zinzendorf gave them refuge on his estate in 1721. That became the village of Herrnhut.
         In recent decades this also happened in the Netherlands. In the 1970s Holland was heading for a spiritual precipice. The country was deteriorating from a biblical point of view, fast resembling a spiritual desert because of liberal teachings at their theological institutions. God used foreigners like the Switzerland-based American national Francis Schaeffer (via the TV) and Floyd McClung, the well-known American Youth with a Mission leader who started ministering there in the 1970s. McClung linked up with a fringe minority of Dutch evangelicals. A national impact followed the Campus Crusade-inspired Er is Hoop (There is Hope) campaign of the early 1980s. The big conferences for evangelists in Amsterdam of 1983, 1986 and 2000 - sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – had a world-wide influence. Evangelists from all parts of the globe converged on the Dutch capital. In some cases indigenous evangelists came from remote villages which one would not even find on a map. 
         The converse also happened simultaneously. God used Hein Postma, a local Dutchman, whom I met when he was the principal of the Moravian primary school in Zeist. He challenged me when I was still very much a disgruntled anti-apartheid activist and embittered exile in Holland. That laid the foundation for the start of a local evangelistic agency, the Goed Nieuws Karavaan and the Regiogebed, in which we played leading roles. This in turn had a blessed effect on South Africa via a prayer meeting on 4 October 1989. (I referred to this event in the introduction of this book). The impact of Hein Postma on me also served as a model to me to start Friends from Abroad at the Cape in 2006/7, a ministry to impact and equip foreigners who have been coming to our shores.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Chapter 6 Obstacles to Unity                                                                                                                 

            The apostle Paul advised: "Every Scripture is ... useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). In the first letter to the Corinthians he wrote about the wisdom of the world, which they should definitely not strive after. In the same context (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) Paul applies Isaiah 29:14, to stress how futile philosophy is: 'Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.' God would ultimately baffle and destroy the useless learning and wisdom of the Greeks. The Early Church Fathers unfortunately did not always latch onto this advice. In fact, a few of them went overboard in futile debate and discussion. Tertullian, a jurist who joined the Christians of North Africa in 207 A.D., discerned very wisely that philosophy was a major culprit: ‘heresies are themselves prompted by philosophy ... After Christ Jesus we desire no subtle theories, no acute enquiries after the Gospel...’?[17] Against the advice of Paul not to get involved in futile philosophical arguments, the very same Tertullian however brought the element of polemic bickering into the equation like few others before or after him.  In this chapter we will touch on issues which divide the three Abrahamic religions. Theological squabbling has been a major culprit in this regard.

Semantics as a Disservice to the Church
Tertullian rendered the Church a disservice when he introduced the terms ‘trinitas’, ‘substantia’ and ‘personae’. These semantics, playing with words, was his effort to describe the Trinity, the nature of Christ and the different manifestations of God in the Son and the Holy Spirit. His terse descriptions ‘one substance but three persons’ and ‘two natures, one person’ were nice-sounding, but they basically ushered in theological polemics. It is clear that the early Christians professed both Christ and the Spirit to be Lord and there are indications of the equating of the three ‘persons’ in the ‘NT’. Tertullian’s philosophical theologising was not helpful however. After the heretic Marcion – who was clearly outlawed by the Church – the lion’s share of the bickering that led to the Arian controversy and later to the unfortunate quarrels around the formulation of the Holy Trinity, has possibly to be attributed to Tertullian.

Limited scriptural Backing for the Trinity
Taken from a position of faith, the Trinitarian formulae have much clout, but they have limited scriptural backing. Ephesians 4: 4-6 speaks of ‘one Spirit… one Lord …one God and Father of all.’ In 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6 Paul writes of the same Spirit, the same Lord and the same God. Peter chips in with his words ‘the foreknowledge of God, the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:2). Yet, that is rather meagre as a basis upon which to build the whole doctrine of the Trinity. A little bit more substance we find in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 as evidence of the granting of spiritual gifts, different kinds of service and different kinds of expression and manifestation, noting that 'to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good' (1 Corinthians 12:7). 'There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work'. The Holy Spirit will reveal to those people searching after truth that there are so many characteristics of the triune God in which He has revealed or manifested himself when we read and study the Holy Scriptures.
          It is surely true that the Holy Spirit is much more than merely a force like electricity or the wind. In my view it is completely redundant to debate about its nature. Count Zinzendorf described all this as odium theologicum, the bad smell of theology. He suggested rather hyperbolically that all the essential theology can be written with large characters on one octavo sheet’ (Cited in Lewis, 1962:15), i.e. on half a page.

The Use of Latin
Another unwitting problematic contribution of Tertullian was his use of Latin, moving away from the prevalent practice in theological circles of using Coptic and Greek. Cyprian followed in the footsteps of his master Tertullian. Their prior training in Law may have played an important role, in contrast to the Church leaders of Egypt who wrote in Coptic, thus indigenising the national expression of the body of Christ. The Berber Augustine also treaded the same treacherous path of Tertullian and Cyprian, weakening the North African Church tremendously. The uncompromising attitude of Cyprian and Augustine led to the break with the Donatist believers. These Church Fathers can be said to have introduced denominationalism to the African continent.

Introduction of Greek Thought Patterns
Tertullian was not the only one guilty of the introduction of Greek thought patterns which divided the Church. Origen (184 -254 AD) was a giant amongst the early Christian thinkers. He tried to interpret Christian concepts in language familiar to the Platonic tradition, 'mingling philosophical discussion with expositions of biblical cruxes' (Chadwick, 1969:100).  Possibly unwittingly, he undermined the Hebrew thought pattern in this way. Hebrew thinking is more inclusive, wary of false alternatives. A typical example of Origen's attempt is how he would play down the dissention between Peter and Paul at Antioch, suggesting that is was merely 'edifying play-acting' (Chadwick, 1969:100). In Galatians 2:11 (Amplified ersion) Paul recorded a different story: ‘Now when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him face to face [about his conduct there], because he stood condemned [by his own actions].
      The NT has no problem in mentioning a strong difference of opinion between two other role players, Paul and Barnabas that ultimately led to a doubling of the missionary effort. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.  But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.… (Acts 15:38-40).[18]
         The Church Father Tertullian apparently had little vision for the unity of the Body. Chadwick (1967:91) notes that Tertullian’s Apology does not merely include apologetic defence of the Christian doctrine, but also ‘militant and trenchant attack on the corruption, irrationality and political injustice of polytheistic society. This statement could still get wide approval, but Chadwick goes on to highlight that every page of Tertullian’s work ‘is written with the joy of inflicting discomfort on his adversaries for their error and unreasonableness, but in such a manner as to embarrass his own friends and supporters.The doctrinal bickering of the North African Church had catastrophic long term results.

Religious Arrogance spread 
Religious arrogance was spread by Justin Martyr in the second century. He stressed that the nation of Israel had been ‘rejected’ by God because of their disobedience.  In Romans 11, Paul clearly stated that God did not reject the Jews totally and finally. Their limited temporary time of 'rejection' was also intended to bring the Gentiles to the Father. Upon seeing Gentiles enjoying a relationship with God aroused a sanctified envy among the Jews. In addition, although the first day of the week was called ‘the Lord’s Day’, specially honoured as a day of special celebration of His Resurrection, there was still real dialogue between Christians and Jews in the second century. Justin’s record of his interaction with Trypho, a Jew, testifies to this.                                                                                                                                                                         The next major schismatic group displaying religious arrogance was those Christians who allied themselves with the doctrines of Novatian. He was a Roman priest who elevated himself into a rival pope, one of the first antipopes. He held that lapsed Christians, who had not maintained their confession of faith under persecution, may not be received again into communion with the Church. The Novatians went so far as to re-baptise their converts.[19] They were labelled by Rome as schismatics. Novatian was an advocate of the traditional view that to those guilty of murder, adultery and apostasy the Church had no power to grant remission, but only to intercede for divine mercy at the Last Judgement.

East-West Rift: the Result of Semantics
The arch enemy of the Church abused semantics, playing with words, to sow disunity. A single letter caused the Arian controversy. Affirming the divinity of Jesus, the Council of Nicaea  (325 AD) delegates turned their attention to the question of how Jesus relates to the Father. This sparked petty semantic bickering. The historian Eusebius suggested at that occasion that Jesus had a nature similar to that of the Father (homo-ousos). Bishop Athanasius, who was not invited to the proceedings, had earlier already stated that this would be a compromise which would minimize the full teaching of Christ’s divinity. The Lord was homo-ousios, of one and the same substance, not merely of similar substance. The whole discussion boiled down to a debate over the difference between the Greek words for similar and same, about the presence of the letter i of the Greek alphabet. In the extension of this debate the doctrine of our Lord's divinity, the issue of Jesus’ Sonship (of God) and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity were later drawn into the discussion.
          Worse was to follow centuries when the theologians tried to formulate the position and origin of the Holy Trinity within the Creed. The Western form of the Nicene Creed affirms that the Holy Spirit '...proceeds from the Father and the Son'. Eastern Orthodox theologians formulated the same truth as: We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life … who proceeds from the Father.
          Massive disagreement arose about the part of the Father and the Son in sending the Spirit, causing division in AD 1054. Because the difference boils down to the phrase … and the Son (filioque in Latin), the disagreement became known as the filioque controversy.
          This was of course mere semantics, completely unnecessary as Thomas Smail has pointed out so clearly. In his contribution The Holy Spirit and the Resurrection[20] Smail described very lucidly how the biblical account of the resurrection is 'an act in which God reveals himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each acting in a distinctive way but in the closest possible relationship and … in unity with one another' (Walker (ed), 1988:65). He furthermore showed how the message of the Trinity is fairly centrally included not only in the discovery of the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Lord, 'but also the ascension and exaltation of Jesus to the Father's right hand and the imparting of the Spirit to the Church' (Walker (ed), 1988:67).
Abuse of Sound Doctrine   
Sound doctrine, however, has sometimes also been abused to bind people denominationally. Even a virtue like humility can become a negative tenet if someone becomes proud of it. The follower of Jesus should display humility, but he is no door-mat. Humble submission is a virtue, but slavish servility is sinful. The believer in Jesus may assert his authority in humility, but he does not have to allow anybody to abuse him as a slave (2 Corinthians 11:20). If we have been liberated by the Son of God, we are free indeed (John 8:36). There is thus a subtle difference between biblical submission and bondage due to servility. Under the guise of submission expected by wives or congregants, Church leaders sometimes also become guilty in this regard. Those who are trampled upon in this way are however not blameless either, because a followers of Jesus should not allow himself to be brought under a yoke of slavery, under a new bondage (Galatians 5:1). After all, believers may invoke the anointing of the Holy Spirit to break every yoke of bondage (compare Isaiah 10:27).                                                                                                             
               A good check in every denominational situation is whether there is a good balance with regard to freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord reigns there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). If there is a lack of freedom for adherents and members to associate with believers from another Bible-based denomination, the red light should flicker. If unbiblical prohibition of any sort is present, like with Jehovah’s Witnesses or the New Apostolic Church, the lack of freedom is clear. But we should not allow it to come even near to that stage. On the other hand, the freedom to which Christ has liberated us contains a healthy restraint. We must refuse to be brought into any new bondage. Overdrawn and enforced loyalty to strong personalities and their often one-sided interpretation of Scripture - in combination with their teaching of these interpretations - has also been another major cause for ecclesiastic splits.
Attempts at the Veneration of Mary in the ‘NT’                                                                               
Attempts at the veneration of Mary were already present in the ‘New Testament’. There were at least two efforts during Jesus’ lifetime to put Mary on a pedestal in a wrong way. In both these instances Jesus deemed it necessary to rectify his audience. They are recorded in Luke 11:27-28 and Matthew 12:46-50.
            In the afore-mentioned Scripture, Luke 11:27-28, a woman from the crowd called out to Jesus: ‘Blessed is your mother - the womb from which you came, and the breasts that gave you suck!’ Jesus basically agreed to these sentiments in his reply, but he put things in perspective: ‘Yes, but even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.’ This reply of Jesus was in a sense an echo of what Mary herself said at the wedding in Cana when Jesus started his ministry. In John 2:5 we read how she said to the servants: Do whatever he tells you!
            In the second Scripture reference, Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus was speaking in a crowded house when his mother and brothers wanted to talk to him. When someone told him they were there, he remarked: Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? Look! he said, These are my mother and brothers. Then Jesus added, anyone who obeys my Father in heaven is my brother, sister and mother.
            So we see that even during the Lord's lifetime, He had to rectify people who wanted to make more out of Mary than what she had herself perceived to be primarily, namely the maid servant of God. At the same time, it joins all people who want to do the will of the Father, who worship Jesus as the Son of God. They become a big family, as brothers and sisters of each other. Thus we could even interpret Jesus’ reply as a stinging attack on all forms of sectarianism and denominationalism.                                                                          The prophetic word of the aged Simeon that a sword would pierce her soul was possibly pointing to her experience decades later at the feet of the Cross, where she would witness how her Son would die cruelly and innocently.
            In spite of Jesus’ own words - which were of course not yet freely available - Mary was worshipped before long almost like a goddess, at the expense of her son. An idolatrous worship followed a practice which was later to be imitated also in respect of ‘saints’ in certain denominations.  As a rule, these revered (wo)men of God were devoted Christians who themselves had pointed people to Jesus. Mary herself did just that when she said: Do whatever he tells you (John 2:5).

Deification of Mary
The Early Church went overboard in many ways. Thus the mother of Jesus very soon got more reverence than what the Bible ascribes to her. The main culprit at this time was the idolatry that followed the worship habits of the Orient. Isis and Astarte were mother gods that were worshipped by surrounding nations.
          The arch enemy of souls had a field day when the theologians started quarrelling, not only about the deity of Jesus. The agreement of the Council of 325 in Nicaea, just South of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) - that Jesus had ‘the same substance’ as God - appeased the conflicting parties temporarily. A little more than a century later other churchmen agonised with the problem, coming up with the title of 'theotokos' (God bearer) for Mary. That became 'Mother of God' in the mouth of laymen and -woman. However, the pattern of differing on doctrinal issues became almost endemic. When the Church in the early Middle Ages started to call Mary the mother of God and theotokos, meaning the bearer of God, the intention was basically good, but the effect was catastrophic. It resulted in a veneration of Mary, which led to idolatrous worship at the cost of her Son.
          The title of Jesus as ‘the Son of God’ was derived from the Bible. However, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was one of the doctrinal issues that caused splits. The Collyridians were a Christian sect which worshipped Mary almost as a goddess, spreading the notion that the Holy Trinity consists of God the Father, the Mother of God and the Son. It is no wonder that the result of these quarrels also found their way into the Qur’an.
It should have been clear for all and sundry that Jesus is both man and God. In fact, this is what the theologians of the Early Church came up with in the end. It had been a case of looking at false alternatives.
          Intellectualism not only often leads to unprofitable quarrelling (2 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 6:3,4) but it also supplies an opening for the demonic, just like the fine arts and the sensual faculties (We compare Genesis 3:6 ‘The tree had luscious fruit, was a feast for the eyes and able to impart wisdom’).

Continued Worship of Mary
Too much influenced by the Reformation, Protestants are in general very negatively inclined towards Roman Catholicism, especially with regard to anything that honours the mother of Jesus. Because of this, Mary is perhaps more highly regarded by Muslims in general than by the average Western Protestant. Many Muslims see Mary and Jesus as the only two sinless people to ever have traversed the earth. The influence of Roman Catholicism in this view is all too obvious.
          We can be thankful for Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which could have rectified our view to appreciate the mother of our Lord more. The indirect indoctrination which we in the West experienced – especially in the 'cold war' era – possibly blinkered many of us so much that this tenet got out of sight of our Protestant churches and seminaries, often mingled with suspicion of Communist influence. 
         Thankfully there are individual Protestants who did attempt to value the biblical truths highlighted in the veneration of Mary. Richard Wurmbrand (If Prison Walls could speak, 1972:41) thus pointed to a beautiful hymn sung in the Orthodox churches on Good Friday, to express the awe which her Son inspired in Mary. (Wurmbrand preached to the prison cell walls without having access to a Bible). The Holy Spirit revealed some profound truths to Wurmbrand, such as that Mary believed in the Lord, whereas his own physical brothers did not (John 7:5). Of course, two of the brothers, James and Jude, did subsequently become believers. (The former became even the general leader of the Jesus' Movement.) In a balanced way Wurmbrand argues with ‘my Orthodox and Catholic friends’, noting that ‘they seem to forget sometimes how unspeakably small the Virgin Mary felt herself to be, and how unworthy, when she held the infant in her arms.
          Protestants are often quick to put the blame for the idolatrous honouring of Mary on the Roman Catholic Church. It is sobering to remind ourselves as Protestants that this early development is part and parcel of our common Church History, many centuries before the Reformation. This is an integral part of our common guilt.
          The Roman Catholic Church however has to take full responsibility that there has hardly been any effort to rectify the idolatrous worship of Mary. In fact, apart from the unfortunate occult connections that Catholicism appears to have inherited from the ancient mithrash cults, two doctrines were added in this denomination, which have no biblical basis, namely the immaculate conception of Mary and her supposed ascension. Crooked circular reasoning caused the Roman Catholic Church to refuse recognising James, the epistle writer, as a brother of Jesus. As a 'perpetual virgin' Mary was not supposed to have had other children. (The unholy veneration of Muhammad and his ‘ascension’ could be traced to this development.)                                                                                                      


The Danger of futile Debate and Discussion
In his interaction with the Pharisee rabbi Nicodemus, Jesus compared the Holy Spirit with the wind, which is something inexplicable. The wind blows where it wills, you cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes to (John 3:8). The wind is a reality and yet one cannot explain it. To explain how it works to get 'born again' is thus likewise futile. Why do people start to try and explain inexplicable things, thereby merely causing confusion? I suggest that satan himself has been at work, because argumentation all too often leads to the lie via exaggeration and distortion. And this almost invariably brings with it demonic division, tragically often also within the Body of Christ.

The Denial of the Cross in Church Tradition
Various aspects of the application of the Cross - for example the crucified life of believers - could be mentioned which are negatively affected, sometimes even cancelled by church traditions. The evasion of persecution because of one’s faith would be among the most important ones. Paul reprimanded the Galatian Christians who tried to lure new believers, by avoiding persecution and compelling new believers to be circumcised (Galatians 6:12).
         In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Donatists of North Africa similarly despised Christians who had wilted under the pressures of persecution. The Donatists were the followers of Donatus and those Christian theologians who made suffering for Jesus' sake and for the cause of the Gospel such a virtue that nobody who had wilted once under persecution was allowed to take an office in the Church.
          Nik Ripkin, a former missionary in East Africa among Somalians, as well as our fellow South Africans Mike Burnard and Keith Strugnell, are Western missionary leaders who have been used by God to teach the Church in recent times about the normality of suffering for the sake of the Gospel. They have been highlighting how followers of Jesus in Communist and Islamic countries have often had to pay the ultimate price for their convictions.
          The name Salah Farah got known in news bulletins in many parts of the world in December, 2015. He was a passenger on a bus from Mandera to Nairobi and celebrated in the news reports as a Muslim who saved a group of Christians from being massacred by Al Shabaab terrorists who hijacked the bus. The terrorists wanted to separate the Christians from the Muslims to slaughter the Christians, but Salah told the passengers to stick together so that such a separation would not result in death for a single group of passengers. Through this courageous gesture he attempted to shield the Christians. Together with a few of the passengers Salah was caught in the crossfire. On 17 January he die tragically as a result of this. It subsequently surfaced that he had actually been a secret Christian believer. Bursa, a fellow passenger, who listened to his discovery of the belief in Jesus as the Son of God and how he got to it via the book God’s Apprentice, subsequently also  became a follower of Jesus. But also he was murdered. The seed of the martyrs is due to geminate big time among Somalians.
          It is Somalia’s day, yesterday it was that for Iran! For China it was the day before yesterday. An MBB couple in the West have started teaching the new believers every Thursday via Skype. In a bulletin of March 2016 the couple wrote that around 25 people join them every week. We are very much aware that the devil does not appreciate the way that the Kingdom of God is gaining ground among the Somalis. Persecution is very severe, notably in East Africa.
The Abuse of Scripture
A typical example of modern-day abuse of scriptural debate could be doctrinal differences around the meaning of the Greek words logos and rhema. What purpose does it serve to go to some length to explain for example that logos is said to refer to the written word and rhema to the spoken word? A closer study would show that they are used interchangeably in Scripture.[21] But what would be the purpose of such a study? Through academic ‘stone throwing’ about nothing, much energy is lost that could rather be used to spread the Gospel. It should suffice to know that Jesus is God’s Word incarnate, which must be passed on as the Good News, a power of God unto salvation for those who believe in Him (Romans 1:16). What a sad indictment that many have not heard the preached Word because Christians were entangled in theological and doctrinal wrangling (Compare Romans 10:15, ‘How can they hear without someone preaching to them?’) In fact, the sharp edge of the Word is blunted in this way. On the other hand, instead of senseless semantics, e.g. around rhema and logos, the investigation of the use in the original languages could be so enriching, e.g. pneuma and ruach,[22]the respective words for breath and wind in Greek and Hebrew - as well as glõssa, the word for tongue. With the availability of the Internet, such studies can nowadays be undertaken quite easily.   

The fallacious Elevation of the ‘New Testament
One of the early attacks on the Unity of the Body has been the elevation of the 'NT' canon at the cost of the Hebrew Scriptures. Not only the Hellenic and Roman Church of the first centuries, but also the body of Christ in general, rightly highlighted the contributions of Jesus and Paul. Simultaneously however, more often than not, it was omitted to stress that these spiritual giants were Jews. Who dares to contradict the German theologian Klaus Berger, that pastors have been silent in mentioning the Jewish side of the Bible? This has started to change. The Jewish background of the Bible is fortunately getting recognised increasingly.
         In the radical suggestion by Jesus to ‘turn the other cheek’, one finds an excellent example of a crooked misconception that developed out of the flawed elevation of the ‘New Testament’at the cost of the 'OT'. [23]  Thus I personally thought for many years that Jesus’ instruction to ‘turn the other cheek’ was new and innovative. How big was my surprise to discover that Jesus was actually merely quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Bible book Lamentations (of all places) Jeremiah identifies himself fully with the sins, the idolatry of his people, which resulted in the exile. Then he writes: ‘Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him and let him be filled with disgrace’ (Lamentations 3:30). The suffering servant of Isaiah, who is widely accepted as a prophetic foreshadowing, a type of the Messiah, likewise displays these characters: ‘I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting’ (Isaiah 50:5-6). Over-sensitivity to criticism – is a major obstacle to unity.
Deeper theological Truths
The sad side-effect of such unnecessary semantic squabbling is that deeper theological truths are then missed or obscured. That Jesus is the Logos in John 1 is generally duly recognised and understood that he was part of the Godhead at creation. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. To highlight the philosophical use by the gospel writer within a Gnosis context, only darkens the fact that the divine element involved was also discerned by people outside of the Judeo-Christian frame. The Gentile Roman centurion of Matthew 8:9 definitely understood something of the divine authority that Jesus possessed. He knew that the Master just needed to speak a word. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” He believed that a word from the Master would suffice to heal his sick slave.
              A quite surprising fact is that the Qur'an – possibly not intentionally – contains this tenet, e.g. in the special chapter Surah Imran 3. There we read in aya 59: The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". The emphasis is clearly to stress that Allah created by speaking the word 'Be'. In Surah An-Nisa 4:171 we read Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was a Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers.[24]                                                                                 
            The Qur’anic Allah comes close to Yahweh as the planner, as we read in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Allah himself is being described as a schemer, ‘cunning.’(Surah 3: 54). Genesis 3:1 tells us that “the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field,” while Gen.3:12 records Adam’s words to God, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.” There is an interesting play on words in the Hebrew text in Genesis 3:12 Adam’s words to God are recorded, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.”  In vs.1 the word translated “cunning” is the Hebrew word arum while in vs.12 the word translated “naked” is the Hebrew word erom. Both are from the identical root (the letters ayin, resh, mem). The devil was arum, Adam was erom. Our arch ancestors sought to become like God, but their disobedience caused them to become like the devil! In the Qur’an, due to theological semantics, Allah himself is being described as a schemer, cunning. ‘And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers.’ (Surah Imran 3: 54). It would be disrespect and unfair to refer to this verse scornfully. The idea in this context is that Allah outwits the disbelievers, e.g. the Jews when they wanted to kill Jesus.
The Use of Force and Side-lining Jews
Two of the worst examples of semantic gymnastics we find with the use of force by Christian theologians. Using force to ‘make’ Christians was a total aberration of what the Master taught about the expansion of his kingdom. The parables about the kingdom is the model which Jesus handed down, for example 'The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground... the seed should sprout and grow up, he knows not how...' (Mark 4:26ff). It spreads the clear message: it is not man’s labour and effort which bring about the kingdom.
          The Emperor Constantine used brute violence at least, it seems, without citing some scripture in the 4th century. With the revered North African theologian Augustine this is not the case. The highly regarded Church Father abused the Bible, requesting the secular authorities to use force to bring the erring Donatists back into the fold of the Church. To motivate his position, Augustine quoted Luke 14:23, ‘Force them to come in.’ The fruit of this twisting of the Word is seen in the defence of war. In his book The City of God Augustine used the term ‘just war’. The Just War doctrine must be attributed to him.
Muhammad is reported to have said often: ‘The Holy War means cunning, imposture and betrayal’ (e.g. Al-Bukhari, Jihad 157). Muslims were initially advised to go to the People of the Book in case of doubt (Surah 10:94). In the early Medinan period Jibril (Gabriel) was still revealing ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ (Surah 2:256). Later however one reads: ‘Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day (even if they are) of the People of the Book…until they pay the Jizya (poll-tax) …’ (Surah 9:29). Nine hundred years after Augustine, Thomas Aquinas — an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism — used the authority of Augustine's arguments to set out the conditions under which a war could be ‘just’.
The ultimate distortion of Jesus’ words followed his rectification of Peter, with the recipe for his followers: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matthew 16: 24-5). The most pointed travesty of this command was when a Christian leader incited his church people to take up the cross - and the sword - to kill Muslims and Jews. That happened at the start of the crusades just over 900 years ago. Centuries later the French philosopher Pierre Bayle rejected the use of scripture to justify coercion and violence: ‘One must transcribe almost the whole New Testament to collect all the proofs it affords us of that gentleness and long-suffering, which constitute the distinguishing and essential character of the Gospel.Bayle would influence Count Zinzendorf profusely.

            Elsewhere we show how a mere hint by Paul, the apostle, in his strong opposition to the Judaizers, referred in Galatians 6:16 somewhat ambiguously to the Church as the ‘Israel of God’. In due course Christian theologians started to see the Church as the new Israel. Arguably the most prominent of the early theologians was the Samaritan Justin ‘Martyr’, a second century apologetic. On this seedbed an odium theologicum (bad theological smell) could flourish, notably via the side-lining of the biblical Sabbath and Jews.

More Cases of semantic Squabbling
We have already shown how the whole discussion at the Council of Nicaea  (325 AD) boiled down to a debate over the difference between the Greek words for similar and same, about the presence of the letter i of the Greek alphabet. Mere semantic squabbling and distortion followed at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD where Mary was declared theotokos, the bearer of God – later understood as the Mother of God. Her elevation to become a sort of goddess caused confusion, notably amongst illiterate people of those days who came to understand Mary as the third person of the Holy Trinity. This confusion in rank and file Christianity around the deity of God and the Holy Trinity is reflected in the Qur’an, eventually robbing Islam of the image of God as a loving and a forgiving Father. The misunderstanding of God, the Mother of Jesus and her Son as the Trinity was clearly used by the arch enemy to withhold Muslims from seeing God not only as a comforting Father, but also as a caring and loving Mother.
       Worse semantics, playing with words,  would follow the elevating of Mary, who in due course became identified with  the pagan Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:18, 44:19) and with the Woman and her child of Revelation 12. ‘And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman … And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.’ Protestant theologians down the ages have also been guilty of exegetic gymnastics to interpret allegorically that the Church is the woman of Revelation 12:1f. Conceding that exegesis of the book of Revelations has never been easy and straightforward, it is very problematic to say that as Israel is God’s wife (cf. the book of Hosea and quite a few other scriptures) in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Church replaced Israel in the ‘NT’ because the Church is depicted there as the Bride. A much better exegesis is to see Israel as the woman in these verses as well. The Church did not bring forth Christ, but rather He brought forth the Church. It makes much more sense theologically to see the woman of Revelation 12 representing Israel, and her child is Christ, the Messiah (12:5; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 66:7.8; Micah 5:2; Romans. 9:4,5).                                                                                                                                                    I now want to briefly mention two more examples of unfortunate doctrinal squabbling of recent decades: the preaching of females from the pulpit and gay men as preachers. For centuries it has been recorded in the Bible that Mary Magdalene was the first female to spread the Good News of the resurrection of our Lord according to the Gospel of John (Chapter 20) and also in Mark 16. A eunuch was one of the first carriers – possibly the very first – of the Good News to Africa. Even though this may nowhere be abused to support practising gays as preachers of the Word, it should also not be (ab)used in any semantic exercise. There are too many other scriptures that clearly oppose a life-style that contradicts the biblical definition of a marriage as one male with one female.         If we keep in mind that everyone should be ready to contribute, be it with a revelation, an instruction, a hymn, a psalm or song whenever believers congregate (1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19), the whole discussion of female or gay preachers become redundant.                               Elsewhere I highlight that both the traditional monologue-type of preaching and a hierarchical form of (local) church government do not have 'NT' backing.
Haughtiness and Arrogance as Barriers
Great barriers to the unity of the body of Christ are haughtiness and arrogance. A critical spirit has damaged and stifled not only the witness of many individuals, but also harmed effective outreach in communities. Few groups would openly vocalise that other churches or denominational groups are second-class or inferior. Yet, speaking of 'mainline churches' and mission agencies as 'para-church' – with the inference that real churches are the Pentecostal type or at least those who are really evangelical, display a haughty spirit. Alternately, these groups are often typified by their counterparts with a condescending vibe as 'happy clappy'. Sometimes nice-sounding excuses are used patronisingly for exclusivity, e.g. that one does not want to confuse young believers being taught in churches that have 'not yet' come to the 'true biblical message'. Would it not be more dignified to allow people to make their own choices, or guiding the new believers to a good personal choice? After listing 17 ways in which groups and ministries are written off as second-class by Christians without realizing it, George Verwer says in his book Drops from a Leaking Tap (2008:144) 'The list can go on...'  Among African Blacks the view of ancestor worship has created a wall of mutual suspicion which reminds one of the days when 'ecumenicals' and evangelicals would not even speak to each other. Studying the Word together instead of blunt mutual condemnation could still turn the tide.

What about secret Believers?
When Jesus pointed to the elevated serpent in the desert in the Numbers 21 event during the nightly visit of Nicodemus, the religious leader possibly knew exactly that this was Messianic. There was no long monologue necessary. Didn't Isaiah (45:22) pen the divine words 'Look to me and be saved'. Those who had been bitten by the snakes merely had to look in obedience to the serpent on the pole! God's very nature has always primarily been love for the perishing (John 3:16). It seems that Nicodemus remained a secret believer until the death of our Lord. Only at the cross (John 19:38-42) he and his friend Joseph from Arimathea, another secret believer, showed that they stood by the man of Nazareth who had been crucified. Whereas it should possibly not be encouraged, we may nevertheless not be judgemental if certain Jews or Muslims do not have the courage to break with their religious upbringing immediately. Some find it quite easy to do this, but others have great difficulty to get over the hurdle.  A Cape lady from Muslim background that we know very well from our ministry took twenty one and a half years before she could tell her husband of her decision to become a follower of Jesus. (He had discovered a photo of her baptism after about ten years, but he preferred to hear her confession from her own mouth.)

Paul’s Insensitivity to Jewish Christians                                                                                                
Paul, the great apostle, was not completely innocent in creating the impression that he was insensitive to the sentiments of the Jewish Christians. Even more so he was to those of the other Jews. When he came to Jerusalem with his contingent, according to the report in Acts 21, the leaders there could really empathise with the group, rejoicing at what God had done through Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles. James promptly referred to the ‘many thousands of Jews’ (who) have believed, ‘and all of them zealous for the law (v. 20). Strikingly, James brought over to Paul what was the talk of the town: ‘They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs’. James tried to quell the flames of anger with a suggestion how Paul could show the Jews that he was not a fully-fledged apostate of the law. It did not help much. Incited by malicious opponents, furious Jews almost killed Paul. Whether there was miscommunication or not, the tension radiated by the allegations brought against Paul had spoken a language of its own.
          From what has been handed down, it is clear that these allegations had a lot of substance. Words from Paul like the comparison in Romans 7:1-6, are quite unfortunate: You are no more under the law’ (v.6).To compare the Law of Moses to a marriage when the husband has died, is apt to send many a Jewish heart boiling in anger. Paul, the prolific letter-writing missionary, did not always practice what Jesus preached, for example when he spoke about his adversaries. To refer to anybody as ‘dogs’ does not radiate enemy love. (Jesus did say of course some biting things to the face of the Pharisees and Scribes, but possibly never behind their backs derogatively.) What is worse is that Paul probably referred scathingly to other believers in the context of his letter to the Philippians. The words ‘...those dogs, those men who do evil’ (Philippians 3:2) could still have pertained to anybody – even thugs for that matter - but ‘those mutilators of the flesh’ is evidently a word play, a reference to the prime representatives of circumcision (katatome and peritome respectively). Paul deliberately attacked the Judaizers’ insistence on circumcision, by sarcastically calling it mutilation. For those believers who had lost the significance of circumcision and who insisted that it was a rite for Christians, it was merely a 'mutilation of the flesh'. This Paul follows up in the same context with ‘For it is we who are the circumcision (3:3). A touch of haughty arrogance can be detected easily. He probably unintentionally widened the rift between Jewish and Gentile Christians in this way.
Was Paul divisive?
A strong case could be made for suggesting that a rather controversial Paul caused division in the Early Church.  His initial reaction to the onslaught of the Judaizers was possibly not lovingly enough. It is nevertheless unfair that Paul is singled out if we consider that Jesus also really called a spade a spade. Here and there Paul’s carnal reactions would flare up such as in Acts 18:6 But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.'      
               However, he must have gained his composure soon thereafter. He moved to Ephesus where he kept his cool perseveringly in spite of provocation. Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord (Acts18:8-10). Paul was just plainly only human, not perfect – just like all of us.
          The allegation that Paul was divisive, has to be qualified. If there was one who had a vision for the unity of the body of Christ, it was Paul. In his early letters, especially in the letter to the Galatians, Paul was possibly not following in the Master’s footsteps meticulously in this regard. We have noted how he referred to opponents as dogs and ‘those mutilators of the flesh’. This must be seen however against the background of the Judaizers, who went around giving the impression that James had sent them, but without proper authorization (Acts 15:24), thus disturbing the unity of Jesus' followers.
          The assertion that Paul contributed to the retention of the rift between the Judaizers and the rest of the body of Christ clearly has some validity in his letter to the Galatians, but it is also true that Paul mellowed his tone in later letters. By the time of his writing the second letter to the Corinthians, he beseeches ‘by the meakness and gentleness of Christ (10:1ff), emphasising that spiritual warfare must not be applied with carnality. Paul’s teaching to the Gentile churches on unity was excellent, but possibly even he could not succeed to restore the strained relations between him and the Jewish Christians. The question is however whether they would have allowed him to do so in the light of his track record. The prejudice of society was heavily stacked against him because of his label as an apostate, perceived as someone who had left the Jewish faith to become a follower of the blasphemer Jesus. (In the rank-and-file Jewish view of the day Jesus was posing as the Messiah, who also claimed blasphemously to be the Son of God. The followers of Jesus started off as a peripheral minority.)
         Modern opponents of Paul, as well as those down the ages, seemed to have overlooked that the Jerusalem Council arrived at some consensus after the issue of circumcision had been heavily debated. Because of prior differences Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem in obedience to consult with the apostles. In Acts 15 it is recorded how the Judaizers’ insistence on circumcision was first opposed by Peter, thereafter by Barnabas, Paul and James. In Acts 21:17ff it is reported how Paul attempted to follow up James’ advice meticulously. But he was nevertheless almost killed by the Jews, who were furious because of his teaching on the law and circumcision. Furthermore, although Paul was so firm about not wanting to enforce circumcision for the Gentiles, he baptised Timothy himself (Acts 16:3) ‘because of the Jews’. He thus demonstrated that he was neither dogmatic nor legalistic about it at all.

Paul misinterpreted
The Gentile majority – possibly influenced by the teaching of Paul - considered the continued observance of the traditional customs and rites of Judaism as ‘works’. Coming from his Pharisee background Paul did have a serious objection against the legalistic bondage of the law, but he did not dump 'works' completely. He emphasised grace in this connection as an antidote to uncharitable boasting: 'For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast' (Ephesians 2:8f). But he immediately goes on to refer to the basis of good works: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works...(v.10).
          Another teaching of Paul, namely that the barrier between the Gentile believers and the Jewish-descent Christians was broken down by faith in Jesus Christ, was by far not known universally in his lifetime and subsequent decades. Early compatriot Jewish Christians, who saw things differently in many ways, called themselves Ebionites. (From this source many an Islamic doctrines evolved.[25])
         Talmudic Judaism remained fairly close to Christianity at least ideologically until the rule of Emperor Constantine. More than one targum - Aramaic commentary on the Scriptures - sometimes even pointed to the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is for example the suggestion in targums on Genesis 22 that Isaac carried the wood like someone would carry a cross. Another one suggests that Isaac passed out when Abraham lifted the knife on Mount Moriah - to be resuscitated when the voice stopped Abraham in his tracks.


Economic Justice as the biblical Pattern
Jesus was definitely deeply influenced by the thought pattern of economic justice. David Bosch notes that the idea of the year of Jubilee permeates the Gospel of Luke (Bosch, Goeie Nuus vir armes ... en rykes, 1990:41).[26] That the nation of Israel did not heed the laws given to them, may never be an excuse for us to perpetuate the historical pattern of greed and exploitation, but it should rather be a challenge for us to adapt economic justice for our time and situation.
          The first Christians spread a tradition and culture of generosity and sharing. Thus the Macedonians sent aid to the poor brethren and sisters in Jerusalem. Visser ‘t Hooft calls this inter-church aid ‘.. a witness to the solidity of the bond between all who belong to Christ(Visser ‘t Hooft, 1959:49).
          Paul, the apostle, also came from the same school of thought. Thus he laid a link in the economic sense, as can be seen in his wording of 2 Corinthians 8. Here he radicalizes the idea: ‘Though they (the Macedonian churches) have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others. They gave not only what they could afford, but far more...and not because of nagging on my part (verses 2 and 3)... Now I want you (wealthy Corinthians) to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving (v.7)...You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was: though he was so very rich, yet to help you he became so very poor, so that by being poor he could make you rich … (v.9).’
         Also in the teaching of John, the Baptist, sharing is mentioned. When his listeners asked him what they ought to do as a token of their repentance, he identifies their sin in terms of the preparedness to share their possessions with the poor. This means that riches as such are not condemned out of hand. Job, Abraham, Joseph, David and a few other personalities in the Hebrew Scriptures are examples of affluent people who were nevertheless mentioned as positive examples.
          But Jesus warned against riches that could make it almost impossible for someone to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23- 26). Also Paul saw riches as a snare, as a temptation. The love for money is described as ‘the root of all evil’ (1Timothy 6:9, 10).

Quality rather than Quantity
Sheep stealing and the conscious attempts to increase the number of adherants belong to the great obstacles to unity. From John 3 and 4 and also from other Gospel narratives we can safely surmise that Jesus was not interested at all to boast with an impressive number of followers. Thus, when ‘many disciples turned back and no longer followed him’, Jesus offered to the twelve in John 6:67, “You do not want to leave too, do you?’ On another occasion, one of the disciples cried 'wolf' after they had seen someone driving out demons in Jesus' name. Significantly, this disciple objected that the person was 'not one of us.' Opposing this sectarian spirit of exclusivity and arrogance, the Master responded coolly with ‘Don’t forbid him...Anyone who is not against us, is for us’ (Mark 9:38f). In one of the Moravian litanies Count Zinzendorf included a significant prayer: ‘Save us from unholy growth.’ (Literally[27] guard us from an unholy getting big).

Discipling in Depth as a Priority
Without neglecting the masses, the Master sent away those who wanted to follow him for ulterior motives, for example because of signs and wonders. As we have just seen, He even offered this generously to the twelve disciples. (Compare this with Saul who became nervous and disobedient when His soldiers deserted him, 1 Samuel 13:11). Our Lord invites us to follow him for what He is and not for what we hope to get out of the deal. Jesus taught the few, who had to become multipliers. In mission strategy, discipling in depth should always have the priority over evangelising in breadth.
          Jesus led by example rather than by precept. In so many words, servanthood - feet washing - became the example, which His disciples had to follow (John 13:15). The Master probably spent more time with His disciples than with everybody else put together. Whether He addressed the masses or whether He spoke to the Scribes and Pharisees, the disciples were close at hand to observe and to listen.

Religious Leaders causing Splits                                                                                                            
Religious leaders through the ages fell into the trap of allowing themselves to be hero‑worshipped or causing rifts (or both). They often caused splits and division through a strong emphasis on some doctrinal tenet. By way of a strong emphasis on some special doctrinal teaching or distortion of the Word, they however sometimes polarised believers, blurring the vision for the unity of the Body of Christ and causing splits instead. Many denominations started in this way. We lose out and miss the blessings God wants to give, because He is eager to command His blessings when there is unity (compare Psalm 133:1,3).
              It is sad to see the low morals that religious leaders can display when their influence appears to be threatened. Instead of doing introspection, the Pharisees of Jesus' day started a smear campaign. And because they could not successfully hit at Jesus’ moral quality, they tried to play Him out against John, the Baptist (John 4:1ff). The aim of their endeavours was evidently to get Jesus out of the way. Is it too far-fetched to suggest that the beastly intrigue, which preceded the death of John the Baptist, had its origin with the religious leaders? From what we read in the gospels about the Baptist, he might just as well have told Herodias or Herod to their face what he thought of their incestuous marriage. But some incitement by certain leaders would also have fitted perfectly into the picture. Let’s face it: some of the things that the Master said to those Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him were not readily palatable.[28] 
In South Africa many a prominent Christian leader become a victim of fame. In a subtle way the heresy of apartheid caused some believers to lose their sense of biblical priorities. Quite a few Church leaders, who started off as committed followers of Jesus, were side-tracked in the struggle against apartheid. Many a pastor lost his passion and urgency to reach the spiritually lost. (I was one of those who nearly lost my way in this regard.)
                                                   Chapter 7    Antidotes to Disunity

          Let us deduce some lessons from our Lord’s handling of conflict. Right from the start of His ministry, Jesus was involved with conflict. The narrative of the temptation in the desert in Matthew 4 is a high-powered confrontation between the forces of darkness that wanted to woo the Lord into a compromise, in an exchange for power. His challenge to the fishermen to follow Him was likewise conflict-laden. The report of the changing of wine into water (John 2:1-11) contains a potential conflict of priorities between His earthly mother and His heavenly Father. Jesus' respective response demonstrated the authority, sovereignty and flexibility of Father and Son.

Getting the Priorities Straight
Our Lord had his priorities perfectly in place. From His intimate relationship to his Father His behaviour flowed and followed. A life of commitment to Him, the light, automatically leads to conflict and confrontation with the forces of darkness. Because our Lord is the truth, the tempter - who is the father of the lie (John 8:44) - tried to catch Him out through a distortion of the Word.  As the only person who did not die again after having been resurrected, Jesus is the way to eternal life – indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). He is the ladder on which angels go up and down, through whom we can have constant communion with the Father (John 1: 33,50, Genesis 28).
          A good example of our Lord’s complete mastery of priorities is given in John 4 where it is reported how a rumour (instigated by Pharisees?) was brought to Him that He was baptising more converts than John the Baptist. The motive of those people who came with the rumour is not clear, but the explosive gun-powder contained in the question is quite evident. In verses 1and 2 of John 4 we discern at least three issues in the rumour which could have drawn a negative response from anybody else. There was the suggested number of people baptised, who performed it and the comparison with John the Baptist. Instead of allowing himself to be drawn into a petty, unproductive discussion, our Lord ‘left Judea’. A possible inference that he walked away cowardly, has to be rejected when we look closely at the verses that follow these words.
         The remarkable verse 4 squashes any idea that the Master dodged difficult issues: ‘He had to go through Samaria’. If our Lord had been the type of person to circumvent problematic matters, here was a good opportunity. Our Lord faced the issue of the despised Samaritans head-on. Not only did He go to the town of Sychar, but He went to sit next to the cultic explosive well of Jacob. Hardly any Jew of those days would have done a thing like that. That was tantamount to looking for trouble! And thereafter he and his disciples stayed with the Samaritans for two more days.

Handling Conflict                                                                                                                                   
On the other hand, we see in the enfolding narrative how Jesus handled confrontation in such a skilful way that the Samaritan woman was completely turned around in the process. When she used religion as a cover-up after the Lord had cornered her on her lifestyle, He challenged her in a respectful way. To this day His reply challenges religious people everywhere: The Father seeks true worshippers... those who worship in Spirit and in truth. It is not so difficult to find Christians in our day and age who adore the act of worship instead of worshipping the triune God.
          Another special lesson of our Lord is how He handled disputes. In almost classical style He could unmask wrong alternatives; more correctly, we should say He often radicalized false alternatives. When the Master was put on trial on the issue of the paying of taxes - when His questioners tried to put Him in a spot of bother - He coolly replied that both God and the Caesar had to get the due of their respective allegiance (Matthew 22:21). When His disciples became involved in petty bickering about rank, He challenged them with service as the qualification for rank: whosoever perceives himself to be the greatest, should be the servant of all (Luke 22:24ff).
          How our Lord operated cross-culturally in a loving way, should be our model, not shying away from confrontation. The word tolerance has sometimes been abused in this regard. Whilst this is a virtue which should generally be the aim of every believer, we note from our Lord’s example that it is far from absolute. God hates sin but He loves the sinner. In the same context in which Jesus speaks about thieves who rob (John 10), He calls himself the door. Whereas there might be different avenues to get to God, Jesus made it clear to which highway these minor roads should lead to: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes unto the Father but by me’ (John 14:6). This might sound intolerant to some ears, but this is nevertheless the only way, the only door. It thus becomes a matter of take it or leave it. It would be fruitless to debate about the matter.

Mediation in a Conflict
The Master gave practical and clear teaching for mediation of a conflict. We refer especially to the prime example, Matthew 18. Sometimes pastoral counsellors forget to check out the very basic step, viz. whether the complainant had been attempting to resolve the matter by approaching the other party, the purported offender, first. The Master gave us an example how to handle such mtters with the way he reprimanded Martha when she complained the inactivity of Mary when she was running around with household chores.
          Of course, it is usually not easy to confront the person who has offended you - unless one is of the type that likes to squabble and fight. Those who come to us for counsel after a break in any relationship, have to be taught to check out their assumptions. Instead of accepting any loaded or hurting information passed on as truth, a good practice and principle is to ascertain if the spirit in which the story has been conveyed, has not perhaps been distorted. How much anger and hurt can be prevented in interaction among people – also in Christian circles - if this teaching of Jesus is adhered to.
          There is of course the very real situation where the opposing party reacts indifferently or even aggressively upon personal confrontation. Jesus’ advice to take one or two witnesses along for this eventuality makes such a lot of sense. Yet, how often is this practised? The same thing applies to the next step of church discipline, viz. the exclusion from the fellowship if anyone persists with gross sinful behaviour and/or is not remorseful and refuses bluntly to mend his/her ways.
         I suggest that we take our day to day interaction as human beings as a point of reference. How does one handle conflict in a biblically responsible way? Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18 is in my view the valid paradigm in this regard. An important lesson from this teaching is that it is not wise to wait on the other party to offer an apology. If you know there is some discord between you and a brother or a sister, you should just make the start to get the air cleared, starting with an apology if that is feasible and applicable. In pastoral counsel offering forgiveness must be inculcated and taught. This is also the route to be taken, even if one thinks that one's own part in the development of the rift is minimal and the other party’s guilt is gross. The biblical way is always to be the least, to serve rather than expect to be served. If there are things to be set right, we have to do it promptly and generously. (Zacchaeus was ready to return the fourfold of what he had taken from some people!! (Luke 19:8).

Sanctified Anger
An important facet of conflict management is the issue of anger. Fallaciously some Christians seem to believe that it is sinful to become angry. On the contrary, there is definitely such a thing as holy anger. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures one can read how God reacted with wrath and anger because of the idolatry and sins of His people. Similarly, Jesus got really angry when He saw how the Temple was desecrated by traders. (He was clearly very much angered that the lame and the blind (Matthew 21:14), the foreigners and other proselytes that habitually visited that part of the temple precincts, had been pushed out).
          There are general cases and circumstances where we should fight the good fight (of faith) (Timothy 6.12). In Jude 1:3 we are encouraged and advised to 'contend earnestly for the faith' and 2 Peter 3:17 warns us to 'be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness'. However, if we feel inclined to whip certain people with the tongue – we should take the advice to heart that Dr David du Plessis passed on. Deducing that Jesus had been totally distraught by what he had seen in the temple, Du Plessis highlights that Jesus had wept before he went into the temple: ‘Don’t ever try to whip anybody – to reform them – until you’ve wept’ (A Man called Mr Pentecost, 1977:216).
          3 John 9,10 highlights that evil people in the church must be exposed. Because Diotrephes did not recognize the authority of John, the generally accepted author of the short epistle. The apostle John wanted to expose the arrogant behaviour of Diotrephes when he would visit the fellowship. The evil-minded brother engaged in bad-mouthing and he was refusing to welcome the brothers (the traveling missionaries). Diotrephes hindered the others in the church who wish to help the missionaries and he also expelled those church people who aided the missionaries. Church leaders – in fact all of us - should keep in mind the lesson of weeping first before attempting to whip.

          The nature of God is such that He is swift to forgive, but ‘slow to anger and rich in steadfast love and truth’ (Exodus 34:7). In the Psalms it is repeated more than once that God is ‘slow to anger’ At issue is how we handle our anger, or better still, how we get our anger sanctified. In fact, it would be a complete distortion of the Pauline verses (1 Corinthians 13:4-6) to say that love should cover up sinful behaviour. Paul takes it for granted that we can get angry, but we should be careful not to sin when we are angry. We must rectify things and clear the air before the sun sets (Ephesians 4:26). We should guard our temper, pray for a guard to be put before our mouth (Psalm 141:3). Paul actually encourages us to actively oppose anger in our midst by not only putting off anger and other carnal traits (Colossians 3:8), but instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:23,24), i.e. through the sanctifying work of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
          In his epistle James (1:19, 20) passed on some practical teaching in this regard: be slow to get angry. This ties in with Romans 12:2 which defines the renewing of our thoughts as a transforming process that the Holy Spirit must perform in us. Rather than a quick fix, it is a metamorphosis.[29]

Good Listening
In the same context James (1:19) taught us Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak. In all communication we have to learn to take responsibility for what we listen to, what we tell others and for our behaviour afterwards. In order for us to hear what someone is trying to communicate, we will have to first stop talking! I take liberty to quote almost verbatim from a devotional message shared on 18 May 2016 by Anthony Lackay, a believer who was raised in the Cape township Hanover Park:
To make sure we've really heard the point being made, we should often stop and repeat the conversation to the person speaking to us. Especially if it is an important conversation and - a sharing of personal things and experiences, maybe an instruction to be implemented - the person is seeking counsel or a listening ear. We can ask the following questions:
      "Is this what you're trying to tell me?"
      "Is this the point you're making to me today?"
      "Is this what you want me to get from this conversation?"
      "Is this what you want me to do after we're done talking?"
      "Is this how I need to respond?"
      "Is there anything else I need to know about this?"
When we ask these questions we will know whether we misunderstood or missed anything important from the conversation or discussion. The person we speaking to will also be assured that they had our complete and total attention. Another reason why listening to people is important for Believers, is that it simply means that we might have an overall listening challenge. If we struggle with listening to people, the chances are that we may be struggling to hear what God is trying to tell us too.
Apology instead of Defence
It sounds almost too mundane and so down to earth to highlight that it is much better to offer an apology instead of defending yourself when you are wrong or made a mistake. Yet, the flesh in us does not like that. How much heat can be taken out of a conflict if the guilty party apologises. Of course, apologies should not become cheap. Nevertheless, one could rather err on this side than refuse to apologise in a stubborn attitude of ‘What have I done wrong?’

Remorseful Confession as an Important Biblical Mandate
It is my conviction that confession is one of the most important biblical mandates in countering any guilt incurred in respect of Muslims (and Jews). Next to that, forgiveness always plays an important role to set parties free who have struggled under or are living through any form of strife or conflict. Wherever restitution is needed, we should attempt to rectify our part of the guilt as promptly as possible. Apologies without evidence of remorse and serious attemts towards restitution are not oggd enough. It is even worse when others are blamed.
          Confession and repentance for our uncharitable and general judgemental damaging attitude of sectors of the Body of Christ is surely called for in many places all around the evangelical world. Apologies, remorseful confession and the corollary  of forgiveness are indeed powerful antidotes to disunity.

8. Plurality and Diversity

The ancient Romans proclaimed divide et impera (divide and rule) as the supreme method to subjugate groups and nations. In politics divide and rule is also known as divide and conquer. It is a strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into smaller chunks. That includes playing people out against each other so that they can be subjugated. By its very nature this oppressive method is thus divisive and diabolic. It is not surprising that this has been a prime method of the arch enemy, using conflict as a tool. To our shame the Church (and missionaries) have often imitated and used this tool, colonising and subjugating people groups and nations, robbing them of their land and their dignity. Has this been sufficiently and/or appropriately confessed by representatives of the Church universal?

Plurality and Diversity

It is interesting that Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in North Africa from 248-258 CE, already saw the importance of the unity of the Church, yet allowing for plurality. He wrote: ‘The church is a unity, yet by her fruitful increase she is extended far and wide to form a plurality; even as the sun has many rays, but one light; and a tree many boughs but one trunk, whose foundation is the deep-seated root... So also the Church, flooded with the light of the Lord, extends her rays over all the globe; yet it is one light which is diffused everywhere and the unity of the body is not broken up....yet, there is but one head, one source...’ (cited n Bettenson, 1967(1943)::77) The sad side of the picture is that Cyprian was also labelled as the 'champion of episcopacy.'  The importance that he attached to the local bishop, supported an unbiblical hierarchy which would have its most extreme form in the Roman Catholic echelon with the pope at the summit, ruling over the of cardinals, archbishops, bishops and other Church dignitaries. There is always a place for oversight, but ruling should be by a group of leaders.

'No' to fruitless theological Discussion                                                                                                                            
The modern concept of pluralism is untenable in biblical terms. This aspect of plurality implies dialogue where it is understood and expected that no party must take an absolute stand. An important snippet of advice from Paul, which he passed on through his letters, is not to indulge in fruitless theological discussion, which too often merely divides the Body of Christ (for example 2 Timothy 2:14ff; 2 Timothy 6:3-6). This was neither heeded nor followed generally. If the Church through the ages had heeded this advice, a lot of tragedy could have been avoided or averted. Here I refer not only to the many splits which account for the multitude of denominations, but especially also to the doctrinal and petty bickering of Church leaders that have been confusing Christians down the centuries.

The one necessary Thing
The Bible speaks of diversity based on unity. Comenius, the last bishop of the old Czech Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) wisely discerned in the 17th century German that there should be unity in essentials. Differences over minor issues should be allowed. They can even help us to bond better. Comenius wrote a booklet Unum Necessarium (the one necessary thing).[30]
          A common element with all great reformers of the Church has been their close relationship with the Lord. Referring to Psalm 27:4 which expresses the wish of the Psalmist as the one thing he desires, to be in God's presence forever. The Master highlighted the choice of Mary compared to that of her sister Martha (Luke 10:38-42), Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. The world must be changed and renewed. Restoration and renewal of man and humanity can take place via the one necessary thing, sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ, the restorer of His Church. The 18th century German Count Zinzendorf took it further. He spelt it out that differences could even serve towards mutual enrichment. There have been only a few people like Count Zinzendorf who practised and preached the unity of the body with such verve. He for one was unhappy when his group was more or less forced to become a denomination, to enable them to operate in Britain.

Run-up to Replacement Theology
The rift between Judaism and Christianity probably started with the expulsion of Paul from the synagogue. His contact with Gentiles was just one too much for the legalists among the Jews.[31] But Jesus had already warned his disciples that this day would come (John 16:2): They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. It became increasingly clear that 'NT' Christianity on the one hand – with the strong stamp of Pauline emphasis of the freedom in Christ - and the legalistic interpretation of the Law on the other hand, were by and large strange bedfellows.
            Some Gentile believers went overboard, rejoicing too much in the rejection of Jews after the religious leaders in Israel had refused to recognise Jesus as the Messiah. Paul had to rebuke those Gentile followers of Jesus who adopted a haughty attitude towards Jews. He reminded them that they were merely wild olive branches, grafted into the true olive tree, Israel (Romans 11:17).[32]
            Paul however may unwittingly have caused the start of the development of so-called Replacement Theology, e.g. by his strong opposition to the Judaizers, who wanted to impose circumcision on the Gentiles. In this context he referred in Galatians 6:16 somewhat ambiguously to the believers as the ‘Israel of God’. In due course Christian theologians started to see the Church as the new Israel.
            The haughty arrogance of Gentiles towards Jews increased, especially after the destruction of the second temple by Titus in 70 CE and the sacking of Jerusalem. This will have increased even more after all the men who had been circumcised were prohibited to enter Jerusalem. It had become the pagan city Aelia Capitolina in 135 CE, after Emperor Hadrian had temples built to the Greco-Roman gods. (Christians retreated to Pella.) With no means of quick dissemination of the rectification of Paul via his letter to the Romans at the disposal of first century Christians, human carnality seems to have won the day.
         Yet, some dialogue continued, such as that between Trypho, a Jew, with whom Justin ‘Martyr’, a second century apologetic, had possibly been engaging. It has been recorded as the Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew. But this seed was dangerous, basucally empty semantic bickering

Two rival Interpretations of Scripture
Two rival interpretations of Scripture brought about a rift between the primal Church of the new era and Judaism. Christological explanation of the Hebrew Scriptures brought an anti-Jewish exegesis in its train. In an effort to legitimate itself, the young Church sketched the official Judaism as a fallen apostate Israel. Official Judaism on the other hand dropped the concept of a dual Messiah generally. Old sages had foreseen the Messiah as the Son of Joseph and as the Son of David. This could have been accepted as the equivalent of two Messianic appearances. The former Messiah, the Son of Joseph, could be easily linked to the 'suffering servant' of Isaiah 49 - 53. … ‘But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed…. The other Messiah was the Son of David, the all-conquering Prince of Peace of Isaiah 2:3ff and 11:2ff who will reign supremely. Then even the lamb and the lion will graze peacefully next to each other. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. In this structure the 'suffering servant' was neither fashionable nor acceptable.

            In the Talmudic era (ca 200-500 AD) two consecutive Messiahs crystallized. The Messiah, Son of Joseph, was killed in the Battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38,39).  He was then succeeded by Messiah, Son of David. Ultimately Isaiah 53 was also removed in Judaism from the weekly Sabbath Haftorah, the reading from the Prophets, obviously because of its resemblance to Yeshuah from Nazareth: 'NT' explanations of words like He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth are all coming from the first verses of Isaiah 53. John the Baptist pointed to the one on whom the Holy Spirit had descended like a dove as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World (John 1,29,35). Isaiah 53 was however too embarrassing for the Jewish Scribes. The all conquering Prince of Peace was a much better proposition.

Catastrophic Results of Doctrinal Bickering
The dispute in the Church in the third century around the deity of Christ caused the followers of Arius to be side-lined. Later this caused the development of doctrine, which became one of the major problems that Islam still encounters with biblical teaching.  There were undoubtedly some problematic matters in Arianism, but how Arius and his followers were treated was not Christ-like. That was diabolic seed.
         Docetism, the doctrine stating that it merely appeared to spectators of Jesus' crucifixion that he died on the Cross - along with other doctrinal tussles - caused a significant weakening of the North African Church. This opened the door for Islam to sweep across the continent in the 7th century. This is not even mentioning the obvious: a significant delay, as Africa seized to be a missionary force into Europe and further afield. One can only speculate what could have happened if the Christians had followed the example and teaching of our Master and of Paul to reach out in love to Jews first. (In Alexandria there were many Jews at that time.)

The Germ of religious Arrogance                 
We have noted already how the germ of religious arrogance was disseminated by Justin Martyr in the second century. According to him, the nation of Israel had been ‘rejected’ by God because of their disobedience. He might have picked this up from oral tradition such as recorded in Acts 13 where Paul and/or Barnabas reacted revengefully in an emotional moment of rage. Jews 'slandered and argued against whatever Paul said' (verse 45) on his first missionary journey. In Acts 13:46 Paul and Barnabas reportedly said - it is unlikely that they said this in unison - 'It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to Gentiles'![33] In Romans 11, written a few years later probably from Corinth,[34] Paul rectified that rather rash statement, clearly stating that God did not reject the Jews completely. Their limited and temporary time of ‘rejection’ was meant to also bring the Gentiles to the Father. This might in turn provoke the Jews in a more loving way, especially when they would see the descendants of Abraham via Ishmael and Esau becoming followers of Jesus. In recent years thousands of Muslims have been coming followers of Jesus, often in spite of harsh persecution and sometimes in the wake of it.
          It does speak for Justin Martyr that he dared to pass on the views of Trypho, a Jew, quite candidly. Whether fictional or not, Trypho's account of his faith is typical of any Jew: ‘But this is what we are most at a loss about: that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves better than others, are not in any particular way separated from them, and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that you observe no festivals or sabbaths, and do not have the rite of circumcision; and further, resting your hopes on a man that was crucified, you yet expect to obtain some good thing from God, while you do not obey His commandments. Have you not read that the soul shall be cut off from his people who shall not have been circumcised on the eighth day? And this has been ordained for strangers and for slaves equally. But you, despising this covenant rashly, reject the consequent duties, and attempt to persuade yourselves that you know God, when, however, you perform none of those things which they do who fear God. If, therefore, you can defend yourself on these points, and make it manifest in what way you hope for anything whatsoever, even though you do not observe the law, this we would very gladly hear from you, and we shall make other similar investigations.’    

Heresy turned into a negative Term
An interesting variation of pluralism occurred via Irenaeus, a respected theologian from Lyon (France), who died around 200 CE. He turned around the neutral Greek verb haireomai (αιρεομαι) into a negative term. Originally heresy (derived from haireomai, meaning to "choose") meant either a choice of beliefs or a faction of believers, or a school of thought.[35] It was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his tract Against Heresies to describe and discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. He described his own position as orthodox (from ortho = straight + doxa = belief). His stance eventually evolved into a proud and elevated position of the Early Church. The effect was devastating nevertheless.
          During the first three centuries, Christianity was effectively outlawed by requirements to worship the Roman emperor and Roman gods. Consequently, the Church labelled its enemies as heretics, casting opponents out of its congregations or severing ties with dissident churches. However, those called "heretics" were also called a number of other things (e.g. "fools," "wild dogs," "servants of Satan"). Thus the word "heretic" got very negative associations.
          The Church Father Cyprian of Carthage, who was beheaded in AD 258, taught ‘whoever ... is not in the Church of Christ is not a Christian’ (Cited in Walker, 1976:67). According to Cyprian the Church is the sole ark of salvation, without which one could not have God as one’s Father. On this basis the unscriptural concept of 'baptismal regeneration' was developed - that man, i.e. also infants - can be born again through baptism.
          The Samaritan Justin Martyr possibly did not have separation in mind when he suggested that the Church came in the place of Israel.[36] By stressing the fact that Israel was punished by God for their idolatry in his Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew – and ignoring the promises of their return to Yahweh – this was an unfortunate by-product.

Chapter 9 The Word unites the true Church

               The Church of the Middle Ages remained in darkness because the Word was not only obscured, but it was also hidden from the masses on purpose. Only priests were allowed to read the Bible. This was a demonic ploy, also repeated in the Orthodox Church of Greece and in the East. It was abused by the Roman Catholic Church as well as by Islam, to keep adherents in religious bondage. Judaism and its Rabbis succeeded to make suspect anything that has to do with the 'blasphemer' Jesus. Jewish adherents were told that the document that the Christians call the 'New Testament', was a 'forgery'. No good Jew should touch that book, let alone read it. Roman Catholicism and Islam followed this pattern, suggesting that Protestants or Christians have changed the scriptures – often without giving proper substantiation for the accusation.  (Some Catholics point to the apocryphal books that are not in the Bibles used by Protestants. It is significant that the Roman Catholic Church includes apocryha almost lock stock and barrel although Jerome, the translator responsible for the Vulgate, the Latin translation, had serious reservations about some of them.)

A power of God unto Salvation           
Paul wrote that the Gospel is a power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), but it had to get to the people. Even the great apostle could only be at one place at any moment. By way of contrast, in recent years we have seen how the mere translation of (parts of) the Word into the spoken language of previously unreached people groups - be it on paper or through tape cassettes, CDs and DVDs - have changed the lives of thousands dramatically. Yet, it was hardly discerned that Paul also wrote in the above verse, Romans 1:16, 'to Jews first and also to the Gentiles.'  It had been Paul's own practise to first go into synagogues in every town he came. Jesus instructed his disciples in a similar way (Compare Matthew 10 and Luke 10:1-24, if we take these events to have been sequential.) The Church down the centuries succumbed to the temptation – with a few individuals and the Moravians of the 1740s to 1770 as striking exceptions - to concentrate on easier targets than the difficult Jews (and Muslims). This only changed to some extent after the Six Day War of 1973 in Israel. With regard to Muslims, significant change transpired after the Desert Storm War in 1991. Ten years of prayer, initiated internationally by Open Doors, brought exceptional results. Muslims came to the Lord in their thousands the last decade or so.

The Rediscovery of the Word
Any input from rank and file believers was high-jacked by Church authorities in the Middle Ages. It belongs to well-known Church History that it took centuries for the Word to be translated into the vernacular of nations. Waraqah bin Naufal, the cousin of Mohammad's first wife, appears to have been one of the first to attempt such a translation - into Arabic. There is no known record of what he actually translated before he became blind. The rediscovery of the Word through people like Wycliffe and Luther caused a major wave of spiritual renewal in Europe. Britain's John Wycliffe was an early advocate for translation of the Bible into the common tongue. He completed his translation directly from the Latin Vulgate into vernacular English in 1384. Wycliffe also gave oversight to a hand written translation of 150 copies of the Wycliffe Bible.
         The official Roman Catholic and Holy Roman Empire abhorrence of seeing Bibles translated into the vernacular can be derived from historic quotes: Thus Archbishop of Canterbury Arundel declared: 'That pestilent and most wretched John Wycliffe, of damnable memory, a child of the old devil, and himself a child and pupil of the anti-Christ...crowned his wickedness by translating the Scriptures into the mother tongue.' Henry Knighton, a contemporary Catholic historian, wrote: 'John Wycliffe translated the Gospel from Latin into the English ...made it the property of the masses and common to all and...even to women...and so the pearl of the Gospel is thrown before swine and trodden under foot and what is meant to be the jewel of the clergy has been turned into the jest of the laity...'
         The Council of Constance declared Wycliffe a stiff-necked heretic, banning him on 4 May 1415. But Magister Jan Hus, teaching in Prague, had already been deeply influenced by Wycliffe's writings.  After the martyr's death of Jan Hus two months later on the fire stake on 6 July 1415, the great Hussite movement arose so to speak from the ashes, leading to the Bible translation into the Bohemian vernacular and the first printed Bible. The Hussite Reformist movement spread through Middle Europe like a simmering fire, ultimately impacting Germany's Martin Luther and Switzerland's John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. The very special contribution of Luther to the Reformation was that he made the Word accessible to the rank-and-file German Christian.

Legacy of Wycliffe at Oxford

In the 1490s Thomas Linacre, another Oxford professor, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in the original Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, 'Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.' The Word had become so corrupted that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel. Yet the Church still threatened to kill anyone who would read the scripture in any language other than Latin - although Latin was not an original language of the scriptures.
In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek. He translated it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could understand, that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in! Fortunately for Colet, he was a powerful man with friends in high places, so he amazingly managed to avoid execution.
Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam
In considering the experiences of Linacre and Colet, the great scholar Desiderius of Rotterdam was so moved to correct the corrupt Latin Vulgate, that in 1516, with the help of printer John Froben, he published a Greek-Latin Parallel 'New Testament'. The Latin part was not the corrupt Vulgate, but his own fresh rendering of the text from the more accurate and reliable Greek, which he had managed to collate from old Greek 'New Testament' manuscripts he had acquired. This milestone was the first non-Latin Vulgate text of the scripture to be produced in a millennium… and the first ever to come off a printing press. The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek ('New Testament') and original Hebrew ('Old Testament') languages to maintain accuracy… and to translate them faithfully into the languages of the common people, whether that be English, German, or any other tongue. No sympathy for this 'illegal activity' was to be found from Rome.

Martin Luther, the great Reformer
Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 - February 18, 1546) was a Christian theologian and Augustinian monk whose teachings inspired the Protestant Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestant and other Christian traditions. 
The demands of study for academic degrees and his preparation for delivering lectures drove Martin Luther to study the Scriptures in depth. Luther immersed himself in the teachings of the Scripture and the Early Church. Slowly, terms like penance and righteousness took on new meaning. The controversy that broke loose with the publication of his 95 theses placed even more pressure on the reformer to study the Bible. This study convinced him that the Church had lost sight of several central truths. To Luther, the most important of these was the doctrine that brought him peace with God.
With joy, Luther now believed and taught that salvation is a gift of God's grace, received by faith and trust in God's promise to forgive sins for the sake of Christ's death on the cross. This, he believed was God's work from beginning to end.
             He declared his intolerance regarding the Roman Church’s corruption on 31 October 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to get rid of him.

Luther’s 95 Theses
On 31 October 1517, Luther changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic Church of heresy upon heresy. Luther's action was basically a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest. Luther's charges also directly challenged the position of the clergy in regard to individual salvation. Before long, Luther’s 95 Theses of Contention had been copied and published all over Europe.

Here I Stand

Luther's Protestant views were condemned as heretical by Pope Leo X in the bull Exsurge Domine in 1520. Consequently Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm them at the Diet of Worms on 17 April 1521. When he appeared before the assembly, Johann von Eck, by then assistant to the Archbishop of Trier, acted as spokesman for Emperor Charles the Fifth. He presented Luther with a table filled with copies of the writings of the reformer. Eck asked Luther if he still believed what these works taught. He requested time to think about his answer. Granted an extension, Luther prayed, consulted with friends and mediators and presented himself before the Diet the next day.
When the counsellor put the same question to Luther the next day, the reformer apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings, but said that he could not deny the majority of them or the teachings in them. Luther respectfully but boldly stated, "Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."
On May 25, the Emperor issued his Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther ‘vogelfrei’, an outlaw. This ban implied that persons sentenced thus were not to be granted any accommodation.

Luther in Exile at the Wartburg Castle

Luther had powerful friends among the princes of Germany, one of whom was his own prince, Frederick the Wise, ruler of Saxony. The prince arranged for Luther to be seized on his way from the Diet by a company of masked horsemen, who carried him to Wartburg, a castle, where he was kept about a year. There he grew a wide flaring beard; took on the clothing of a knight and assumed the pseudonym Jörg. During this period Luther was still hard at work with his translation of the Bible, though he couldn't rely on the isolation of a monastery. During his translation, Luther would make forays into the nearby towns and markets to listen people speaking so that he could put his translation of the Bible into the language of the people.                    Although his stay at the Wartburg castle kept Luther hidden from public view, Luther often received letters from his friends and allies, asking for his views and advice.
Martin Luther's German Bible
He subsequently translated the New Testament into German for the first time from the critical Greek 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, a text which was later called textus receptus and published it in September 1522. The translation of the ‘Old Testament’ followed, yielding an entire German language Bible in 1534.
               Luther’s translation of the Bible helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation. Luther's hymns sparked the development of congregational singing in Christianity. His marriage, on June 13, 1525, to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, began the tradition of the marriage of clergy within several Christian traditions – in opposition to the celibate life-style that was taught and practised by the Roman Catholic Church.
      Martin Luther was the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people. Luther also befriended William Tyndale, an academic from Cambridge, giving him safe haven and assistance when Tyndale fled from England.
God's Exile – a very special Martyr
The first Bible printed in English was illegal and the Bible translator, William Tyndale, was burned alive for the crime of translating God's Word into English. William Tyndale produced the first English translation from the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.  Because of the persecution and the determined campaign to uncover and burn these Bibles, few copies remained. William Tyndale was introduced to the writings of Luther and Zwingli at Cambridge University. Tyndale got his M.A. at Oxford. Thereafter he was ordained into the ministry, serving as a chaplain and tutor. He dedicated his life to the translation of the Scriptures from the original Hebrew and Greek languages.
            Tyndale was shocked by the ignorance of the Bible prevalent amongst the clergy. To one such cleric he declared: 'I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spares my life, before many years pass I will make it possible for the boy who drives the plough to know more of the Scriptures than you do.' After he had failed to obtain any ecclesiastical approval for his proposed translation, Tyndale went into exile to Germany. He noted that 'not only was there no room in my lord of London's palace to translate the New Testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England.'
                   Supported by some London merchants, Tyndale sailed in 1524 for Germany, never to return to his homeland. In Hamburg he worked on the 'New Testament', which was ready for printing by the following year. As the pages began to roll from the press in Cologne, soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire raided the printing press. Tyndale fled with as many of the pages as had been printed. Tyndale moved to Worms where the complete 'New Testament' was published the following year (1526). King Henry VIII sent out his agents to offer Tyndale a high position in his court, a safe return to England and a great salary to oversee his communications. However, Tyndale was not willing to surrender his work as a Bible translator, theologian and preacher merely to become a propagandist for the king!
       He became a new version of John the Baptist when he argued against divorce and specifically dared to assert that the king should remain faithful to his first wife! Tyndale maintained that Christians always have the duty to obey civil authority, except where loyalty to God is concerned. King Henry VIII's initial enthusiasm for Tyndale turned into rage. Tyndale was hereafter an outlaw both to the Roman Catholic Church and its Holy Roman Empire - and to the English kingdom!
                   In 1535 Tyndale was betrayed by a fellow Englishman, who gained his confidence only to treacherously arrange for his arrest. Tyndale was taken to the state prison in the castle of Vilvorde, near Brussels. For 500 days, he suffered in a cold, dark and damp dungeon and then on 6 October, 1536, Tyndale was taken to a stake where he was burned. His last reported words were: "Lord, open the king of England's eyes”.
Tyndale's Dying Prayer Answered                                                                                                          A year after Tyndale's death the Matthews Bible appeared. This was the work of another friend and fellow English Reformer, John Rogers. Because of the danger of producing Bible translations, he used the pen-name Thomas Matthews which was an inversion of William Tyndale's initials – WT instead of TM. In fact, at the end of the ‘Old Testament’ he had William Tyndale's initials WT printed big and bold.
       At Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's request, Henry VIII authorised that this Bible be further revised by Myles Coverdale and be called The Great Bible. And so in this way Tyndale's dying prayer was spectacularly answered. The sudden, unprecedented countrywide access to the Scriptures created widespread excitement. Just in the lifetime of his famous compatriot William Shakespeare, 2 million Bibles were sold throughout the British Isles. About 90% of Tyndale's wording passed on into the King James Version of the Bible. This was also referred to as the Authorised Version, which became a powerful divine tool of unifying the body of Christ when ‘Brittania ruled the waves’ for centuries.
The Reformation Spreads to Switzerland
Many people in Switzerland were also dissatisfied with corruption in the Church. The selling of indulgences led to wealth that contributed to demoralization in the clergy. Official duties were delegated to others who had not been educated. As the ideals of Luther spread, the unhappy laypeople of Switzerland joined in the demand for reform and discipline. At the forefront of this movement was Huldrych Zwingli. Zwingli agreed with Luther that the Catholic Church emphasized the administration of sacraments, which were rituals that would affect God's grace on a person. However, while Luther said that church tradition was not overtly contrary to the Bible, Zwingli said that every ritual that was not mentioned specifically in the Bible should be abolished. This included five of the seven sacraments currently practiced by Catholics. Zwingli upheld the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist.
John Calvin who settled in Geneva and Guillaume Farel came a little later, but they had a certain independence and were more radical. As in Germany, the Reformation began in Switzerland as a religious renewal movement and ended in a deep political division between the progressive cities of northern and western Switzerland and the conservative rural areas of central Switzerland.
In reformed regions moral behaviour of the population was soon controlled more strictly (and hypocrisy flourished as well ...) while in Catholic areas joy of living, sensuality and public amusements like dancing were more likely to be tolerated. On the other hand, the Reformation did not bring about more freedom - neither privately (freedom of conscience or religion) nor politically (democratic rights). Though demands of this kind were raised repeatedly, freedom in a modern sense was not granted until the 19th century.

Lack of religious Tolerance
It is sad that the great Reformers of the 16th century also displayed a lack of religious tolerance. The most important personalities in Germany and Switzerland, Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, remained at loggerheads to all intents and purposes. The lion’s share of the rift has to be apportioned to Luther. He refused the right hand of reconciliation of Zwingli when the latter said there is nobody in the world with whom he wanted to link up more than with those from Wittenberg.  Luther's curt reply was: 'You have a different spirit from us.'[37]  The failure of the Marburg Colloquy of 1529, where Protestant leaders Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli failed to negotiate their respective differences concerning the Lord’s Supper is one of the lowest points ever of Church co-operation.         
Wilhelm Reublin (1484–ca.1559) was a leading figure of the Swiss Brethren movement. In 1521, after studying theology in Freiburg and Tübingen, Reublin became the pastor at St Alban in Basel and began to advocate reform. St Alban was soon the centre of the evangelical movement in Basel. In the autumn of 1522 Reublin was expelled from the city for his Reformation sermons and moved to Witikon in 1524, where he became the local pastor.

A dark Side of the Reformation
Sadly, rank-and-file followers of Luther physically attacked the Anabaptists, killing many of them after being encouraged by the reformer through flawed teaching to do so. It is all the more tragic that these very same Anabaptists had originally been inspired by him and Zwingli to examine the Scriptures. But when the outcomes differed with their own convictions, the leaders ordered the Anabaptists to be eliminated. Even more outrageous were Luther's views on Jews when they refused to convert to Christianity.
          In the fight against the Anabaptists, a semblance of reason can be detected by one of its proponents, Balthasar Hübmaier. In a disputation with Zwingli in Zürich in October 1523 he had set forth the principle of obedience to the Scriptures, writing inter alia: 'In all disputes concerning faith and religion, the scriptures alone, proceeding from the mouth of God, ought to be our level and rule.' Hübmaier was committed to abandon infant christening, a practice for which he could not find support in Scripture. Yet, he held the position that where the Scriptures appear to contain contradictions, both truths are to be held simultaneously. But this did not save him ultimately.
      Together with Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, Wilhelm Reublin was one of the midwives of the Anabaptist movement in Zürich in January 1525. Reublin took part in a disputation on 17 January 1525 after which Grebel, Mantz and Reublin were given eight days to leave the canton.[38] Even in Zürich, the bastion of the Swiss Reformation, Ulrich Zwingli decreed in 1526 for Anabaptists to be drowned. In similar fashion Martin Luther had no scruples to fight Anabaptists violently and John Calvin ordered the Spaniard Michael Servetus to be killed because he opposed the doctrine of the Trinity.
            In April 1525 Wilhelm Reublin baptised Hübmaier and sixty others. In Waldshut, Hübmaier's Anabaptist views gained him the disfavour of Prince Ferdinand. That would eventually lead to Hübmaier's martyrdom. He initially went to Schaffhausen (Switzerland), to find protection against the Prince. In December 1525 Hübmaier fled once again, this time to Zürich to escape the Austrian army. Under the torture of the rack in prison, he offered the required recantation. With this, he was allowed to leave Switzerland, journeying to Nikolsburg in Moravia. This weakness, having recanted under duress, troubled him deeply, leading to his Short Apology in 1526. This includes the following: 'I may err … I am a man...but a heretic... O God, pardon me my weakness.'
            In Nikolsburg, Hübmaier's preaching soon brought converts to Anabaptism out of the group of Zwinglians who lived in the area. Political fortunes turned however, and Prince Ferdinand, to whom Hübmaier had already become an enemy while in Waldshut, gained control of Bohemia. Thus Hübmaier was once again put under Ferdinand's jurisdiction. Hübmaier and his wife were seized by the Austrian authorities and taken to Vienna. He was held in the castle Gratzenstein until March 1528. There he suffered further torture on the rack, and was tried for heresy and convicted. On March 10, 1528, he was taken to the public square and executed by burning. His wife exhorted him to remain steadfast. Three days after his execution, his wife, with a stone tied around her neck, was drowned in the River Danube. 
            The dynamic Luther also uttered the most despicable words in the latter part of his life in his reference to Jews. (Much of this has been published via his table-talk.[39]) In the light of the 500th anniversary of the posting of his 95 theses, some corporate confession by Protestants of the Lutheran/Calvinist type would be appropriate for this dark intolerant period of the Reformation.

Legalism sneeks in by the Back Door
In an internet article about celebrating and worshipping on Sunday one can read: 'Sunday… was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship.. . Sunday was emphatically the weekly feast of the resurrection of Christ, as the Jewish Sabbath was the feast of creation. It was called the Lord's Day, and upon it the primitive church assembled to break bread.’ No regulations for its observance are laid down in the New Testament nor is its observance prescribed.
            Christian creeds of the 4th century onwards did much to keep heresy out of the Church, but lamentably, some of their references to the Lord's Day did encourage legalism in the observance of the Lord's Day. The unity achieved was seriously undermined through this. Thus the Council of Gangra (c. 350 A.D.) condemned fasting on the Lord's Day as well as staying away from the 'House of God' and attending any non-Christian assembly. The Council of Laodicea (363 A.D.) condemned the observance of the Jewish Sabbath and Sunday was commanded to be a day of rest from labour: 'Christians must not act like Jews by refraining from work on the Sabbath, but must rather work on that day, and, if they can, as Christians they must cease work on the Lord's Day, so giving it the greater honor'.
         By the time of the Reformation legalism was widespread. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin opposed this legalism fiercely. The Reformers were determined to make the Lord's Day a celebration of the resurrection yet again and to free it from being the burden which it had been becoming. This is especially true of the German/Swiss Reformation.
         Calvin stressed the dangers of seeing the Lord's Day as a Sabbath. The Swiss Reformer Heinrich Bullinger, who came from Bremgarten near Zurich, had a 'high view' of the law. His views would become normative within the later Calvinism. For Bullinger, Sunday was to be observed in the same way that the Sabbath was adored among Jews. Calvin, on the other hand, clearly held that Sunday is not the Sabbath. The later "Calvinism" chose to follow Bullinger rather than Calvin on this point. As a result, the Lord's Day as a Sabbath was destined to greatly influence the Church worldwide.
The Puritans
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. During the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) the Puritans appeared as a reforming movement. Politically, they attempted unsuccessfully to have Parliament pass legislation to replace the hierarchical episcopal church structure with a congregational form of church governance. By the end of Elizabeth's reign, the Puritans constituted a self-defined group within the Church of England who regarded themselves as the godly; they held out little hope for those who remained attached to papal 'superstitions' and worldliness.
          Puritans were blocked from changing the established church from within, and were severely restricted in England by laws controlling the practice of religion. However, their views were taken by the emigration of congregations to the Netherlands and later to New England, and by evangelical clergy also to Ireland and later into Wales. Their views were spread into lay society by preaching and to parts of the educational system, particularly by certain colleges of the University of Cambridge. They adopted distinctive views on clerical dress and in opposition to the episcopal system. The conclusions of the Synod of Dort of 1619 were resisted by the English bishops.
          Puritans felt that the English Reformation had not gone far enough, and that the Church of England was tolerant of practices which they associated with the Roman Catholic Church. They identified with various religious groups, advocating greater 'purity' of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and group piety. In church policy, some advocated for separation from all other Christians, in favour of autonomous gathered churches. These separatist and independent strands of Puritanism became prominent in the 1640s. The Puritans largely adopted Sabbatarian views at that time.
          After the English Restoration of 1660 and the 1662 Uniformity Act, almost all Puritan clergy left the Church of England, some becoming non-conformist ministers. The nature of the movement in England changed radically, though it retained its character for much longer in New England in the New World where many of them settled.
The Quakers
A spliter group of the 17th century with a massive effect was the Quakers. They based their message on the religious belief that "Christ has come to teach his people himself", stressing the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers.[12] They emphasized a personal and direct religious experience of Christ, acquired through both direct religious experience and the reading and studying of the Bible. They would take a special role in philanthropic efforts, including abolition of slavery, prison reform, and social justice projects.
George Fox and the Quakers
Puritanism was fundamentally anti-Roman Catholic, taking the cause of the Reformation further. However, the Quakers had little vision for the unity of the body of Christ. One who came from their ranks was George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. George Fox was born in the strongly Puritan village of Drayton-in-the-Clay, Leicestershire, England in July 1624. He knew people who were 'professors' (followers of the standard religion), but by the age of nineteen he had begun to look down on their behaviour, in particular their drinking of alcohol. Driven by his "inner voice", Fox left Drayton-in-the-Clay in September 1643, moving to London in a state of mental torment and confusion.  
          He also came to what he deemed a deep inner understanding of standard Christian beliefs. Among his ideas were: a) Rituals can be safely ignored, as long as one experiences a true spiritual conversion. b) The qualification for ministry is given by the Holy Spirit, not by ecclesiastical study. This implies that anyone has the right to minister, assuming the Spirit guides them, including women and children. These ideas were not completely new but nevertheless revolutionary. Using female preachers was out of the box for the time and the practice of silent listening instead of preaching was innovative.  The Quaker practice of silent waiting on the inner voice had a powerful emulation in the 20th century via Frank Buchman and the Moral Rearmament (MRA) movement. (MRA played a prominent role in the reconciliation of Germany and France after World War II.)
            However, though Fox used the Bible to support his views, he went overboard. He reasoned that because God was within the faithful, believers could follow their own inner guide rather than rely on a strict reading of Scripture or on the word of clergymen. In this way he diminished the power of the Word. His provocative style was also not a good advertisement for the Gospel.
                        Fox’s powerful preaching began to attract a small following. It is not clear at what point the Society of Friends was formed but there was certainly a group of people who often travelled together. Fox seems to have had no desire to found a cult, but only to proclaim what he saw as the pure and genuine principles of the Christian faith in their original simplicity. There were a great many rival Christian groups holding very diverse opinions; the atmosphere of dispute and confusion gave Fox an opportunity to put forward his beliefs through his personal sermons. His controversial style was however not conducive to building unity with other believers.
Quaker and Puritan Differences
In New England the Puritans and the Quakers could not see eye to eye. Sadly, the Puritans were there the most active of the persecutors of the Quakers. The Puritans wanted religious freedom but they left no room for other beliefs and doctrines that differed to their interpretation of Scripture. Both Quakers and Puritans thus contributed negatively to the unity of the Body of Christ.
First Day Sabbatarianism as a unifying Factor                                                                                             
The tag First Day Sabbatarians was given to those Christians who believe that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, to be observed in accordance with the 4th commandment. In its strictest form, this was largely the conviction of the Scottish and English Reformers, especially John Knox. The Scottish Presbyterians and the Puritans brought their views to the New World colonies, where rigorous sabbath laws were decreed and penalties were often severe. First Day Sabbatarianism not only made Sunday a new Christian Sabbath day but they often applied all kinds of legal sanctions and regulations (apparently failing to learn the lessons from the Pharisees, who made the Mosaic Sabbath Day such a burden). (In the Netherlands some of these strict Reform groups are known as zware kerken, heavy churches.) These Christians were undoubtedly sincere, but their views were tainted with the sort of legalism which tended to undermine the vital Pauline teaching of justification by faith alone. Taking their eyes from the warnings of Scripture, especially in the epistles, they lost sight of the fact that our works cannot save us.
Dubious Peace Agreements
Religious wars impacted nations over many centuries. Muhammad's victories brought millions under religious bondage. Military defeat brought Islamic expansion to a halt. From Rome a choking and burdensome Catholicism had been exported to colonies already from the times of the 'Holy Roman Empire'.      After the Thirty Years war in Europe (1618-1648) the power taken by King Ferdinand III of Spain, in contravention of the Empire's constitution, was stripped and returned to the rulers of the Imperial states. This rectification allowed the rulers of the Imperial states to independently decide their religious preference. The status of Protestants and Catholics were redefined as equal before the law, and Calvinism was given legal recognition. All parties would recognize the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, in which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state. The options were Catholicism, Lutheranism, and thereafter also Calvinism (the principle of cuius regio, eius reliogio[40]). The unity achieved in this way was very fragile, causing many problems all around the world.
         The religious wars of Europe would have a significant impact down the centuries in South Africa. A sad sequel transpired after 1652, thus only a few years after the Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648), when the ruling Dutch enforced their Reformed version of Christianity. They even refused the German Lutherans permission for decades to have their own church building. On the positive side of the equation, the French Huguenots, fleeing persecution in their home country, turned out to be a mighty blessing to the Cape. 
         The British colonizers after 1806, notably via the governor Lord Charles Somerset, endeavoured to neutralize the influence of the Dutch Reformed Church. As part of his effort to anglicize the Cape Colony, Somerset brought in Scottish Presbyterians clergymen. However, they subtly opposed the anglicizing policy of the governor. Instead of enforcing English down the throats of the congregants, they learned Dutch. The Presbyterian Scottish ministers put a stamp of rare piety in our part of the world. The Murray clan was a very special breed in this context. Graaff Reinet, that had been a boozing centre of the region with more liquor outlets than houses, was cleaned up after the arrival of Ds. Andrew Murray (sr.). His faithful prayers for revival, that stretched over decades, was the seed-bed on which the famous 1860 revival, that was spearheaded by his renowned namesake son, could germinate.

Dealing with the so-called Higher Criticism
Evangelicals usually make a special point of the inerrancy of the Word. It is however important to remember that the various biblical authors were human beings who were not infallible. It is unwise to try and defend God’s Word to the hilt in the face of opposition. Playing around with the words inerrancy and infallibility, it could then easily develop into unfruitful semantics.  In 1896 Andrew Murray responded to an article in the British Weekly about the dearth of conversions (Du Plessis, 1917:471). His diagnosis of the evil went beyond superficial symptoms; he suggested that the main cause was not the influence of the Higher Criticism, nor the lack of evangelical sermons, but the lack of the Holy Spirit.  In this way he was reaching for the ultimate causes, teaching a lesson or two in dealing with the so-called Higher Criticism.
         There are inconsistencies in the Bible which cannot be explained away easily. If any seeker is really keen to get to the truth, we may trust that God is fully capable to meet such a seeker on his own terms. George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization, put succinctly what has been the experience of believers down the ages: ‘I do believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, but I cannot say that I’ve arrived at that belief without a struggle, or without many, many questions and doubts over passages in both the Old and New Testaments’ (Verwer, 1993:57).
         One of the best examples of the power of the Word happened in the ministry of Dr Billy Graham. He was seriously challenged in 1949 as a Youth for Christ evangelist to delve deeper into academic biblical studies. He had started to doubt the authority of Scripture. On the other hand, he noted how the quoting of Scripture in sermons and at other occasions so often evidently had an effect beyond human arguments. The turmoil in his spirit led to deep soul searching. In a spirit of absolute surrender before God, he cried out, 'Oh God, I cannot prove certain things. I cannot answer some of the questions... but I accept this Book by faith as the Word of God.'[41] This divine intervention in his life led to the famous Los Angeles Campaign a few days later, an event that effectively stopped the rot towards theological liberalism, not only in the USA, but in different countries of the Western world. Dr Graham would be God’s special instrument again in the run-up to major conferences in the cities of Berlin (1966), Lausanne (1974) and Amsterdam (1983 and 1986), events that can be regarded to be the effective catalyst for the slowing down of the worldwide march of atheist Socialism and Marxism, and ultimately for the smashing of the ‘iron curtain’ in 1989.

Monopoly of Monologue-Type Sermons
The monologue-type sermon received a monopoly as a way of communication in church services. Mutual fellowship suffered because it became habitual for congregants to leave immediately after church services in many a fellowship. Thus the efforts of churches to reach new people were nullified by this bad tradition. New believers who got used to interactive church events, e.g. during the Alpha programme, could not discover any link to the formal Sunday services.
          There appears to have been constant dialogue in Jesus' days, even at a mass meeting with thousands present, as we can read in John 6. The 'I am' divine hint that our Lord was the Bread of Life - recalling the epochal manna event in the Sinai Desert - was too much for many of the Jewish listeners. Jesus didn’t make a fuss when hundreds of those who had been offended, walked away. In fact, he gave the faithful twelve the option to follow the example of the masses (John 6:67). We note how Paul took for granted that all believers have something to contribute when they congregate for fellowship (1 Corinthians 14:26). Yet, in most churches monologue sermons, without any active participation of congregants, is not only standard practice, but it still seems completely unchallenged. (Attempts have been made to use modern technology to break through this pattern via roving microphones or short messages of mobile phones, but these are still very much the exception.
The Length and Mode of Scriptural Exposition
It is unfortunate that the length and mode of sermons have been reasons for controversy.  Why do we still debate matters when the examples and teaching in the Word are clear enough? The synagogue at Capernaum in Jesus' day apparently also knew this practice (see Luke 4:22ff).[42] After his reputation had gone ahead of him, he must have disappointed his Nazareth audience thoroughly when he not only aborted the prescribed reading from Isaiah, but that he also merely said that the prophecy of Isaiah had been fulfilled that day (Luke 4:21). In this case, when the Lord discerned the surprised reaction, he more or less entered into dialogue with the audience.
          Unfortunately it seems as if the tradition that developed through the ages that one person delivers a lengthy monologue, became the accepted practice within a set liturgy of some sort. In many other cases, for example when our Lord used parables, he used dialogue.
          A scriptural reference that has been abused to justify long monologue-type sermons is Acts 20:7ff. We read there that Paul was speaking until midnight because he would leave the next day. But to translate Acts 20:9 as the Living Bible did - ‘Paul was speaking on and on’ – is rather deceptive. The verb used in Greek – dialegomai – just refers to speaking, perhaps even implying dialogue-ing with the others, due to the special circumstance of his eminent departure.
          Also Paul intimated some prior preparation by fellowship members, but then by everybody, and not by only a single preacher. Whenever believers come together, everyone should be ready to contribute, be it with a revelation, an instruction, a hymn, a psalm or song (1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19).
          In the beginnings of the Moravian village of Herrnhut in the 1720s, Pastor Rothe practised a revolutionary mode of worship which turned out to be a great attraction. The preaching was followed by a general conversation between the pastor and his hearers (Langton, 1956:68). 

Was Zinzendorf a Separatist?                                                                                                                
It seems as if the flesh in us prefers to build our own kingdoms, just like Saul built a monument to himself (1 Samuel 15:12) – followed or accompanied by pious pretences. Because of his vision for unity, Count Zinzendorf and his Moravians were attacked, often for opposing reasons. John Wesley criticized the Count for following the teachings of Luther slavishly, but he definitely did this wrongfully when he accused Zinzendorf for being a separatist (Praamsma III, 1980:125). The Pietist Lutherans sent Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg on purpose to America to counter Zinzendorf’s vision of Church unity, abusing his motto of ecclesia planta (church planting). Zinzendorf furthermore did not follow Luther's teaching of anti-Semitism. On the contrary, the 18th century Moravians were known to be philo-semitists, with a high regard and love for Jews, reaching out to them lovingly in the US and Holland with their best people.  The most conspicuous break of Zinzendorf was the difference with Philipp Jacob Spener, his godfather, and August Francke. (Spener became known as the pioneer and Father of Pietism.) Zinzendorf was definitely influenced deeply by the movement when he attended the boarding school of Francke in Halle as a teenager. However, Zinzendorf and his Herrnhut Moravians clearly distanced themselves from the austerely prescribed 'Busskampf' of the Pietists. In fact, under the leadership of his son Christian Renatus in the Wetteravia period - after the group had been banned from Saxony in the mid-1730s – the Moravians went overboard at Herrnhaag in their frivolity. This gave the Moravians  a bad name all around Europe.

Dialogue to be Refused?       
Dialogue as such is not the ‘be all and end all’ of missionary inter-action. Not all dialogue edifies. Sometimes dialogue has to be refused. If it is clear that the opposing conversational partners just want to talk - without any clear purpose - we would do well to emulate Nehemiah in the Bible. Nehemiah refused to talk to the likes of Tobia and Sanballat. It sounds so nice when someone invites: ‘Come let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono’ (Nehemiah 5:2). Translated into modern idiom, this could sound like the following: ‘Come let us have inter-faith dialogue at a neutral venue!’ The prayerful church leader will discern whether the potential dialogue partners are genuine in this encounter or whether the invitation for dialogue is just a ploy to hold up God’s work. Nehemiah replied: ‘I cannot come down.’ He saw through the enemies’ strategy, that they wanted to take away the leader so that all the followers would stop working. They wanted to talk and talk until no time was left for work. All too often it is forgotten that the real enemy of God’s work is not outside the realms of religion. Sanballat was an Ammonite and Tobia was an Arab - so to speak inter-faith candidates.
          A valid application for our time is to be wary of the enemy in the own camp. How many pastors and mission leaders get their time swallowed up with endless meetings and discussions. How often people phone the pastor just to complain over matters which do not even warrant a proper hearing. How valuable it is that we have the Holy Spirit at our disposal to guide us, enabling us to distinguish between genuine seekers after truth and those who merely love to hear their own voice or those who want to trip one up like the Scribes and Pharisees who came to Jesus with all sorts of questions. Cape Town experienced an abuse of dialogue on 11 December 2009 when a Christian-Muslim “Debate” took place in the Sea Point Civic Centre. In a rather one-sided way the Islamic Propagation Centre of Durban organised the event without any prior consultation with CCM (Christian Concern for Muslims), a national organisation.  The topic was ‘Is the New Testament the Word of God’ - without putting the same question to the Qur'an. Dialogue without level playing fields is questionable. However, the follower of Jesus can always look prayerfully to divine intervention, even if the above premise is not given.  (This actually happened on 11 December 2009. The electronic projector remained stuck for quite a while, depicting on the screen the victorious Jesus, complete with the dove above his head, thus clearly confirming the biblical message: 'This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased'. It is well known that Islam and the Qur'an deny the tenet of Jesus as the Son of God.)

A Pioneer of true Ecumenism                                                                                                                        David Johannes du Plessis (1905 –1987) was a South African-born Pentecostal minister. He is considered one of the main founders of the charismatic movement, in which the Pentecostal experience of baptism with the Holy Spirit spread to non-Pentecostal churches worldwide. He was ordained in 1928 by the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of South Africa. In 1935, he became the general secretary of the denomination where he advocated closer ties between the AFM and South Africa's Afrikaner Reformed denominations.
The dynamic South African took true ecumenism in the 1950s to the world scene. He worked closely with the Amreican Donald Gee to promote cooperation among Pentecostal groups and was involved in organizing the first Pentecostal World Conference (PWC) in 1947. A year later, he resigned as secretary of the AFM to become organizing secretary for the PWC. He served in this capacity for nine years until 1959. Originally shunning other movements, he became an active believer in ecumenism, beginning his efforts in the 1950s to share the Pentecostal experience with Christians in the historic denominations, chiefly Roman Catholicism. His main avenue into ecumenism was through his friendship with John McKay, then President of Princeton Seminary, New Jersey. McKay invited Du Plessis to address the International Missionary Council in Willingen, West Germany, in 1952. There he got the nickname "Mr Pentecost".
He was a member of staff and Pentecostal "observer" at the World Council of Churches in 1954 and 1961, respectively, and was invited to serve as Pentecostal representative at the Second Vatican Council. In 1962, he surrendered his Assemblies of God preaching credentials under pressure from the denominational leadership who opposed his ecumenical efforts. He remained a member of an Assemblies of God fellowship in Oakland, California, and in 1980 his credentials were restored. Arguably his greatest contribution to true ecumenism was when God used him to challenge the Vatican to make the Bible accessible to every Catholic in his own language (A man called Mr Pentecost, 1977:213). A cataclysmic resolution was subsequently passed at the Second Vatican Council to implement this. This resulted in at least one continent changing its spiritual complexion. In due course South America changed from a continent that had been almost completely Roman Catholic to one where today there are millions of evangelical followers of Jesus.       David du Plessis entitled his autobiography The Spirit Bade Me Go, as he believed God had commanded him to take the Pentecostal message to other denominations, and in particular to the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Semantics around Dialogue?
A debate has been raging in evangelical circles around dialogue. Especially the talking and discussions with people from other religions have been maligned. The criticism definitely has some justification because so many councils, conferences and synods have swallowed up hours of discussion without anything substantial coming out of them. Yet, we should keep in mind that there is a definite case to be made out for missionary dialogue. Biblical examples are Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4) and Paul’s dialogue with the debating club on the Aeropagus (Acts 17). A condition for missionary dialogue is an openness to listen to the other point of view without a rigid stance. But it does not imply an absence of a principled stand. Flexibility to listen to the other point of view does not expect quick fixes, but this does not mean an absence of a goal. The ‘New Testament’ follower of Jesus does not believe that one can come to the Father in any random way, but he/she will not expect people from other faiths to start following the Lord through our arguments immediately.  We do have the privilege though to expect the Holy Spirit to open up biblical truths to anyone. In such dialogue our own attitude to adherents of other faiths is apt to change as well. In recent decades Brother Andrew took no small risk when he interacted with Islamic leaders of Fatah and Hamas.

Mother Tongue Translation of the Word

Translation of the Word into different languages progressed rather slowly. A major difference occurred with the dynamic British missionary William Carey. From 1793-1834 he and his colleagues translated Scriptures into more than 40 languages of India and Asia.
            By the nineteenth century, Bible societies that were formed focused on furthering Scripture translation and Scripture distribution. Many languages were discovered, but translation progress slowed down. Only in the 20th century the process picked up again. Two spiritual giants tower above almost everybody else in this regard. Efrain Alphonse, the first African-American Bible translator, grew up in Panama while his father worked on the canal. He was one of the greatest missionary translator pioneers of the 20th century. Eugene Nida says of Efrain Alphonse in his book, God’s Word in Man’s Language, 'Of all the missionary translators in the Western Hemisphere probably no one has entered more fully into the rich realms of aboriginal speech than this humble African American servant of God who (worked) untiringly among a needy people.'             Cameron Townsend was the second gigantic 20th century Bible translator. A missionary to the Cakchiquel Indians of Guatemala, William Cameron Townsend caught the vision for translation after Cakchiquel-speaking men expressed their concern and surprise that God did not speak their language. Townsend resolved that every man, woman and child should be able to read God’s Word in their own language. Borrowing the name of the Reformation hero, John Wycliffe, who first translated the Bible into English, Townsend founded Camp Wycliffe in 1934 as a linguistics training school. By 1942, "Camp Wycliffe" had grown into two affiliate organizations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL).                                                                                                                          Today, SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators work together to translate Scripture, train field personnel and promote interest in translation. More than 700 translations have been completed, and hundreds more are in the process. William Cameron Townsend inspired a new generation to continue Bible translation until every man, woman and child has God’s Word in a language they can understand. Other Bible translation organizations were formed subsequently. Translation progress became steady, but much more has yet to be done to get the word available in the vernacular of every tribe and nation.
The Smuggling of Scriptures
The smuggling of sacred writ has a long history. In the 16th century William Tyndale had the English Bible printed in Germany and then smuggled into England in bales of cotton.
            The smuggling of Scriptures came only really of age during the 'cold war' era.[43]  It was a major source of spiritual power, dynamite that eventually caused the demise of the Communist ideology. The gift of one million Bibles to the Orthodox Church at the occasion of their one thousandth year anniversary – together with the seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union from 1984 - caused the ultimate dismantling of the ‘iron curtain’. As a member of the official Dutch delegation at a conference on human rights in the 1980s in the conference centre De Burcht in the Dutch village of Heemstede, Brother Andrew offered one million Bibles to the Russian Orthodox Church for their coming millennial celebration on behalf of Open Doors. Furthermore, the translation of Scripture into indigenous languages not only opened many primitive tribes to modern civilization, but it also gave them dignity.       
            A noteworthy achievement of recent church history was a breakthrough affected by a Bible School graduate, an anonymous ex-Muslim in a North African country. He pushed aside all his intellectual knowledge from theological seminary, concentrating rather on communicating the Word to Islamic countrymen. Using the Muslim custom of learning the Qur’an by heart, he used a verse from Scripture repeatedly every time he visited his Muslim compatriots. The Word is still sharper than a double-edged sword, which can penetrate the strongest resistance; it also judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17).                                                              

God’s Word not welcomed                 `                                                                                                  On the other hand, we must be realistic enough to know that God’s Word will not always be welcomed with open arms. This is nothing new. In fact, the tearing up or burning of Bibles has a Hebrew Scriptural precedent. In Jeremiah 36:16ff it is reported how the king’s secretary and other officials were alarmed by a prophecy to the extent that they thought the king himself should also hear it. However, in callous contempt King Jehoiakim cut off the parts from the scroll which had been read with a knife and threw it into the fire (Jeremiah 36:23). The message of the scroll almost sent Jeremiah to prison.                                                         On the other hand, Martin Luther might have fared even better, if he had taken the Pauline advice more seriously, to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). His courageous bold stand is laudable, but we should not forget that his rough divisive demeanour caused the rift which brought great damage to the unity of Christianity. Luther was not even prepared to cooperate with the Swiss reformed believers. (Even if we take into account that he was risking his life and that his testimony at the Diet of Worms in January 1521 was possibly blown up to mythical proportions, we should compare Luther’s attitude with the clear stand of people like Francis of Assisi and brave Christian women in the Middle Ages. Even popes went to these saintly followers of Jesus for counsel.[44]) This should not be construed however as support for scripturally indefensible doctrines like papal infallibility ex cathedra (from the papal chair) or worship of Mary as the ‘mother of God’.

The Sword blunted
The arch enemy would of course never sit still as he recognised the dynamite power of the double-edged sword, the Word of God. The subtle serpent used not only obvious instruments like cults, e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses, to change the biblical wording to suit their particular doctrine, but also materialism. Worldly publishing companies counterfeited King James Bibles. These companies made minor changes to the standard text so that they can please certain groups, which could translate into extra sales for them. (more details about this phenomenon cn be accessed at
                  The reason for Matthew 17:21, This kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting, to be deleted from many a Bible translation, also the NIV, has been given as the omission of it in some manuscripts. Some demonic interest could however definitely also be suspected. This smacks so much of the practice in Judaism when Isaiah 53 is skipped in their Sabbath reading cycle.

Biblical Injunctions watered down

It is clear that the 'NT' Church cut through all man-made separation like social strata. A typical example of how Western theology watered down the impact of the Word has been theologizing of the saying ‘The poor you have always with you’ (Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, Deuteronomy 15:11).
           This Bible verse has all too often been abused to justify economic disparity. The context of these words shows that Jesus praised the lavish warmth and love of an unknown woman. Was it perhaps too radical for male-dominated (male-domineering?) society to accept readily that this act - the anointing of the Messiah - was actually performed by a socially despised woman? What makes the narrative even more remarkable is that this happened to the Master while he was enjoying the hospitality of another outcast, a leper in the parallel Gospel report of Mark 14. (According to the Gospel of John a similar event took place at the house of Lazarus and his two sisters.)
         Ideology has clearly influenced an Afrikaans Bible translation in this country. The watering down thus crept into the 1983 Bible translation of the beatitude ‘blessed are the poor’ (Luke 6:20), giving a spiritualized rendering of this beatitude: Blessed are they who know how dependent they are on God.[45] Thus the intention of the Greek metaphor has been eradicated. According to the original text, the poor is blessed, full stop.                                          
         The translation of Proverbs 22:2 is another example. Earlier versions brought the rich and the poor into close proximity of each other. The Afrikaans translation, which was still reprinted in 1983, translated the notion that rich and poor[46] meet, but the Nuwe Afrikaanse Vertaling (1984) and the more recent English ones, for example the NIV and the Living Bible, simply note that God has created both rich and poor. I suspect that we westerners have fitted the words to what we like to hear. Paul, the apostle, describes this phenomenon in 2 Timothy 4:3 as follows: ‘what their itching ears want to hear’.
            On the other hand, this should not be interpreted as a one-sided interpretation as if God only has the poor in mind, even though it is surely correct to speak of some preference. The missionary verse par excellence, John 3:16, speaks of God’s love for the world, which culminated in the sending of his unique Son. Christians should however be careful with their handl­ing of this verse. (It is repugnant to Jews and Muslims, the two world religions which are the closest to Christianity, because both of them cannot accept Jesus as the Son of God.)   Yet, the context of John 3:16 gives us some idea of the inclusive missionary heart of God. It is placed between the narrative of the Lord’s ministry to Nicodemus, a high-ranking Pharisee (John 3:1-17) and that of His ministry to the Samaritan woman (John 4, see also chapter 11). The message is clear: the Gospel is meant for all social strata, for the influential people of His day and for the ethnic minorities like the Samaritans and for social outcasts of society.
Opposition to Cost-effectiveness                                                                                                            
In the parable of the poor widow (Mark 12:41-44) Jesus uses a typical sample of the despised of his society as an example of radical giving. The Gospels clearly show that the poor have a lot to give, especially immaterial gifts like love, warmth, devotion and hospitality. Jesus taught that giving should not always be measured in terms of its (cost)-effectiveness. This goes completely against the grain of typical Western thinking, where we might for example be tempted to ask how effective it is to give to the poor. A typical Western expression is ‘a drop in the ocean.’
          In God’s eyes the love and devotion to Him could have unintelligible ‘waste’ as result! When his disciples[47] (or Simon the Pharisee) were ready to condemn the ‘wasteful giving’ of the precious nard ointment by the unnamed prostitute, Jesus praised her affection as a prophetic act. Prayer journeys to strongholds of the arch enemy might not look very ‘cost effective’, but they may turn out to be more ‘productive’ than years of toil, of writing books and compiling costly video productions.
         Jesus was of course taught by rabbi’s, who used the Hebrew Scriptures as a basis. In fact, the verse about the poor among us (Matthew 26:11), is simply Deuteronomy 15:11 quoted by Jesus. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures God is depicted as the champion of the materially poor. If they were treated unjustly and exploited by the wealthy, they could call on the king who would have been compelled to intervene on their behalf. Special laws were divinely promulgated to make sure that nobody would starve. Thus the people of Israel had to let land lie fallow during the Sabbath year and told to ‘let the poor among the people harvest any volunteer crop that may come up’ (Leviticus 19:10). The Sabbath year (every seventh year) and the Jubilee year (the year after the 7th Sabbath year) were intended by God to be equalizers, so that everybody should get a chance to start anew.
          In the history of missions there are many examples of devout followers of our Lord who 'wasted' many years of toiling on barren soil. All the more we are thankful for researchers and authors who demonstrated that the story of the gentleman, who laboriously threw starfish back into the ocean that would have perished if they were allowed to die on the beach, should be the Christian model. Jesus himself held up the model of seed that have to die first before it can produce fruit. A discovery of recent times is how the seed germinated that was sown by a Swedish missionary, Svea Flood. She died in the Belgian Congo (now called Zaire) while giving birth to a baby who later became known as Aggie Hurst. The only convert of Svea and her husband David – a little boy – became God's instrument to lead hundreds of other villagers and folk from his tribe to the Lord.[48]

Diluting the Word
Accommodating our comfort zones could even creep into Bible translations, but diluting the sharp edges of the Word. The American ‘Inclusive Version’ translates away terms like God as Father and Jesus as Son. Also in other languages ‘offensive’ terms have been scrapped. The question is whether all this is not a case of getting what itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).
          In Holland the Willibrord translation of 1995 stirred up emotions because the commentary to the text clearly reflects accommodation to modernist New Age thinking. In recent years a syncretist tendency in the US - popularly known as Chrislam – appeared to take away the sharp edges of the Gospel for Muslims.
          In a controversy a few years ago the reputable Wycliffe Bible Translators and Frontiers were attacked. In an attempt to make the Word palatable to Muslims, Christian books were published where God as Father and the Son-ship of Jesus seemed to be compromised. Concern was expressed that the changing of fundamental words of Scripture such as "Father" and "Son" might also fuel the Muslim claim that the Bible is corrupted, full of errors.  The issue at stake is not a matter of mere semantics.

Light at the End of the Tunnel?
We know that division is the paramount strategy of satan. If he can use the Church and its leaders for this purpose, he will never hesitate. Not only to people from other religions, the denominational and doctrinal disunity poses a problem of no mean dimension. The unity in Christ must be practised and seen to be a reality in the lives of believers. The highly respected Bishop Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah, the first Indian to be consecrated as an Anglican bishop, said already at the The First World Conference on Faith and Order, which took place from 3-12 August in 1927 in Lausanne (Switzerland): ‘The divisions of Christendom may be a source of weakness in Christian countries, but in non-Christian lands they are a sin and a scandal. (Quoted in Visser ‘t Hooft, 1959:44)..

The Rapture as a divisive doctrinal Tenet
The rapture is a reference to believers being caught up, referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  The dead in Christ and we who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord. The only other reference in the Bible used to defend the doctrine is Matthew 24:40,41 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. The context of the latter verse is saying something totally opposite. Jesus explained an event that would be 'As in the days of Noah...when the flood came" (vv. 37-39). In that context those who were "taken" from the earth were the evil, unbelieving people and Noah and seven others, 8 in all, were saved for a new beginning.
            The term 'rapture' is used in at least two senses in traditions of Christian eschatology; in pre-tribulation views, in which a group of people will be left behind before the great tribulation.
            There are varying views among Christians regarding the timing of Christ's return (including whether it will occur in one event or two), and diverse views regarding the destination of the aerial gathering described in 1 Thessalonians 4. Some 'mainline' denominations believe in a rapture only in the sense of the final resurrection generally, when Christ returns.
            Pre-tribulation rapture theology was developed in the 1830s by British evangelist Jon Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren and popularized in the USA in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible.
          I propose that Christians handle the doctrine of the rapture very carefully, especially in attempting to propose the time for it to happen. The pre-tribulation concept, during which it is taken as a given that the Jews as a nation would especially have to suffer – ostensibly when they would discover that followers of Jesus have disappeared. Hereafter many Jews would come to recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zechariah 12:10). This has an uncharitable un-Christlike triumphalist ring around it. Would it not be more loving to recognise our own responsibility to share the Gospel with Jews as an urgent matter, so that they can be raptured with all other believers from the nations? Is it really so important whether the rapture happens before or after the tribulation?

 It is very easy to discern how wrong or one-sided interpretation of Scripture - or words taken out of its context - accounted for the bulk of denominational splits. (This is not taking those splits into account which transpired because of personality or personal differences.) Conversely, it is to be expected that the veil will fall from the eyes of millions to whom the Word has been obscured. They can now read for themselves who the incarnated Word really is. Because of the Internet, people around the world can now not only read the Word for themselves in so many languages, but they can also read where all the doctrinal confusion came from.

A possible Correction?
Thankfully there are a few positives to report in this area. A very important recent correction to highlight the Jewish roots of Christianity, is The One New Man Bible. This translation has the potential to bring a greater understanding and appreciation of the power given to believers for their daily walk. The Jewish roots of our faith come to life in this translation. Hebrew is a very expressive language. The One New Man translation attempts to bring out much of the power that has been omitted from traditional English translations.
          The One New Man Bible has been written to help present-day believers move toward God’s perfect plan to create one new man (Ephesians 2:15), bringing Jewish and non-Jewish believers together. The Hebrew Scriptures are in the traditional Jewish book order which would help to make Jewish readers more comfortable. Many Jewish sources were studied to bring the Scriptures to life. These studies also give more insight into the thinking of the New Testament authors and the Apostles.

Chapter 8  False Alternatives
The example of the Greek philosophers to create alternatives would impact the theology of the West deeply.
One of its bad fruit was the stressing of a Bible verse, taking it out of its context. The stressing of one verse at the expense of the full biblical revelation is not limited to the founders of sects. In a rather debatable way Martin Luther for example did that as well. The highly respected reformer possibly undermined the unity of the body of Christ through his sectarian interpretation of Romans 1:17 “but the righteous man shall live by faith.” He emphasised the verse in an overdrawn way - sola fide, by faith alone - putting works in a rather negative light. Elsewhere we discuss this unfortunate polemic interpretation. Furthermore, I propose that the rivalry between the respective followers of James and Paul have often been inappropriately blown up and exaggerated. Martin Luther for one blew into that horn. In the extension of this concept, grace and law came to be perceived as opposites. Very simplistically, in this construct, the 'OT' would radiate 'Law' and the 'NT' stands for 'Grace'.
The flawed Grace versus Law Dichotomy
Paul's distinction between Isaac as the son of the promise and Ishmael as the son of the bondwoman is unquestionably very valid, just as that between grace and law. It caused however a tragic by-product, a haughty condescending attitude towards Islam and Muslims, as well as a sickening arrogance of Western Protestants towards Roman Catholics.[49] Many Protestant theologians were taken on tow by the teaching of Martin Luther through his going overboard. He created the impression that grace and law are mutually exclusive. Subsequently some theologians have been suggesting that Torah (Law) belongs to the ‘Old Testament’ and charis (grace) to the new covenant. In Galatians 5:4 Paul did of course warn against those who believed that they could be justified by faith - those legalists have fallen away from grace. That was the closest he came to propagate a so-called contradiction between law and grace.
         The flawed legal and forensic interpretation of Torah[50] – preferably only with negative connotations and in contrast to the Jewish understanding of loving and protective teaching - led to a caricature. The sad part of this is that this construction even found its way into Bible translations. The King James version – generally regarded as one of the best English translations - fell into the trap by translating John 1:17 incorrectly. The word but is used, thereby indirectly implying that there is a contradiction between the law given by Moses and the grace and truth which came through Christ. (In the original Greek the word used is the conjunction kai; it should thus be translated as the law AND grace.
         In spite of Paul's warning against a lackadaisical attitude towards sin – he actually said in Romans 8 'far from it', licentiousness and even grave sin cannot be tolerated with excuses such as 'grace abounds' or 'die liefde bedek alles', (love covers everything). In so many churches remorse because of sinful practices and a clear evidence of breaking with sinful and immoral practice are nowadays hardly required or expected. In Reformed churches the dichotomy is weakened to some extent when the law is read every Sunday in their liturgy in some form. Following Paul, the apostle, this is followed up by a pronouncement of grace. All too often, however, this amounts to an empty ritual. Nevertheless, the perception grew in many a congregant to regard the ‘NT’ as superior to the ‘OT’.
            In more than one instance the Hellenist upbringing of the prodigious Paul comes through. Greek philosophic thinking loved the either/or combination. Coming from his personal experience of a legalist interpretation of the Torah - against which our Lord protested strongly - Paul proclaimed the law to be an educator to bring one to faith in Christ. Hebrew thinking is more inclusive, wary of false alternatives. Under this influence Paul wrote to the Galatians (3:5) along similar lines with regard to the gift of the Holy Spirit: ‘... by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith.’ (Elsewhere we examine the false assumption of works and faith as alternatives.) This verse, along with Galatians 3:2 could be abused to support the grace versus law argument.  Paul basically argues indeed that the gift of the Holy Spirit was not imparted to them in consequence of the observance of the Law of Moses, but in connection with a faith response to the preaching of the gospel. Evangelicals will generally have no problem with this. In his later letters to the Ephesians and the Philippians he made quite clear what is at issue: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9). Faith is not of yourselves but it is instrumental to salvation. It is not your own human achievement or effort. It is the gift of God. To the Philippians (2:13) Paul wrote “…for it is GOD which works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure”. God provides Christians with the willpower and motivation to do His good pleasure. The real issue here is thus not grace OR works. Neither is it grace OPPOSED to works. Nor is it grace in place of works. It is simply Grace FOLLOWED BY works.
         Be it as it may, already in the first century Ignatius, an early Bishop of Antioch, said in The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians (ca. 110 A.D.): ‘…For if we continue to live in accordance with Judaism, we admit that we have not received grace. For the most Godly prophets lived in accordance with Christ Jesus.’
Faith as Work or Works of Faith?
For many centuries the 'works of faith' teaching was evidently not always understood properly. How else was it such a revolutionary experience for Martin Luther to discover in Romans 1:17 that ‘the righteous shall live by faith alone’? We note that this Pauline verse was merely citing Habakkuk 2:4. The esteemed Luther however definitely over-interpreted Paul. The accusations of Jewish theologians against Paul – all too often selectively and abusively emulated by Muslim scholars – have like-wise been overdrawn. The prolific epistle writer possibly never intended to play works out against faith as Martin Luther (see below) and other theologians since him have been doing. In fact, in his beautiful song on love, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul ends with ‘Faith, hope and love... and the greatest of these is love.’ Are not love and works almost identical in this context, albeit that he attacked works in that chapter which are not motivated by love?
         From the letter that the second century Church Father Policarp wrote to the Philippians, it can be deduced that he must have known at least the bulk of the writings of the 'New Testament'. It is evident that he picked up the gist of Pauline teachings accurately when he described the relationship between faith and love (works) as follows: ‘Faith is the mother of all, it is followed by expectation (hope) whilst the love to God, Christ and the neighbour leads the way.’

A Serious Misconception                                                                                                                        
Some Christians have been led to believe that according to the Hebrew Scriptures (‘OT’), salvation is accomplished only through works. This is definitely a misconception. The Hebrew word most often translated with ‘grace’ or ‘favour’ is chen. Chuck and Karen Cohen - two Messianic Jews, i.e. followers of Jesus with a Jewish background, have clarified the meaning of chen in biblical context:the stronger coming to the help of the weaker... (The stronger) acts by a voluntary decision, though he is moved by the dependence or the request of the weaker party’ (The Roots of our Faith, p 22). An excellent example of how it works in practice is how Moses interceded for the idolatrous Israelites after the experience of the golden calf in Exodus 32. In the exchange between God and Moses the word chen is used nine times. Moses knew that it was not by any merit on the part of the Israelites that he could approach the Lord and intercede for them. It is significant that God met him on that basis, even stating that it is His divine nature to be ‘gracious’ (Exodus 34:6). Tragically, the Jewish Christians, already excluded by their fellow-countrymen because of their faith in Jesus as their Messiah, became isolated from their Gentile co-believers as they continued with the observance of Sabbaths, circumcision and other Jewish feasts and thereby perpetuating the misleading conception that they thereby reduced Christ's sacrifice.
Paul versus James
Martin Luther has possibly to be given the bulk of the blame for making works of faith suspect. He even went to the extreme of calling the Epistle of James 'straw-like'.[51] Luther changed the order of the 'NT' books in his Bible translation in such a way that the Epistle of James was moved to the back of the Bible, just before the book of Revelations. Many believers since Luther went to another extreme. Thus some evangelicals reacted in opposition to the so-called 'Social Gospel' of the early 20th century. They over-emphasised faith, sometimes even side-lining works of compassion. No less than the Master himself showed where the priority should lie, viz. on parity when he said, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His Righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The Bible teaches the combination of faith and works, or better still, it highlights works of faith. Jesus’ example of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25ff) is the prime paradigm, where the ritually and doctrinally ‘incorrect’ Samaritan - in the view of Jesus’ Jewish audience - put the Levite and the Priest to shame. The probable view of the law expert, who had questioned Jesus in the context of the parable, would have been legalist. James stressed in his epistle that our faith should be derived from our works - faith without deeds is dead (James 2:14-26). In this passage James highlights the action of the harlot Rahab, that she was performing a deed of faith when she was still a pagan.
            It is possible that James deemed it necessary to give this correction because of an extreme interpretation of Pauline teaching. Paul possibly merely meant that works should not be abused to boast with or attempting to earn rewards with them. But he did not discard them either. In fact, 1 Corinthians 3:14 shows that he did reckon with rewards: If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. In that context however, the rewards are not material. Elsewhere Paul gives an idea what he means with the remuneration the believer should be looking at, e.g. Philippians 4:1 I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. Paul thus pointed to the committed mature believers of Philippi as ‘You... my crown’. Nevertheless, we may take for granated that nothing we ever do for the Lord goes unrewarded. God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labour of love. It has become proverbial that the Lord is no man's debtor
         In his second letter to the Corinthians the believer is challenged to aspire to be ‘transformed into his (the Lord’s) likeness’ (3:18) and in 1 Corinthians 9:25 he writes about a crown that will last forever. The crown refers to a reward. The quality of the material used in building on the foundation Jesus Christ, was important, whether it would stand the test of fire (1 Corinthians 3). Thus believers who have been discipled well, would be the sort of reward Christians should be aiming for. At the same time, building on any other foundation than Jesus, is disqualified for any reward. Timothy Keller (Generous Justice, 2010:98) summarized the various positions of Paul and James succinctly: 'The contradiction is only apparent. While a sinner can get into relationship with God by faith only (Paul), the ultimate proof that you have saving faith is the changed life that true faith inevitably produces (James).[52]
Semper Reformanda
Although Martin Luther caused arguably the biggest church split in history, he is not to be given the blame that Protestants later made a shibolleth,[53] a test of orthodoxy, out of his catechisms. They were intended for teaching young people the basics of the Christian faith. Luther emphasised ecclesia reformata semper reformanda (literally it means a reformed church is always reforming), suggesting that we should never remain static in our church practices and traditions. We should always continue the process of evaluation and we have to be ready for constant change and reformation. There he is on sound 'New Testament' ground. No less than our Lord himself set the standard for looking at rules and regulations like traditions and rituals such as washing of hands, offerings and fasting (e.g. Mark 7:13ff, 'Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down...) Matthew Henry comments aptly and concisely on Mark 7:1ff, 'One great design of Christ's coming was, to set aside the ceremonial law; and to make way for this, he rejects the ceremonies men added to the Law... Those clean hands and that pure heart which Christ bestows on his disciples, and requires of them, are very different from the outward and superstitious forms of Pharisees of every age. Jesus reproves them for rejecting the commandment of God.'
             Our Lord attacked long exhibitionist prayers. Even the Sabbath Law came under scrutiny. The functionality should be primary, without losing the core. If functionality becomes convenience, the Lord may deem it fit to drive us out of our temples.  How many churches got stuck in rigid formalism and tradition! However, if we feel inclined to whip – we must keep in mind that Jesus wept before he went into the temple Luke 19:41).
          Jesus also led the way in flexibility, getting his cue from the Father. The communion with Him gave our Lord the liberty to change the water into wine, although he initially deemed it inopportune to go public with miracles and wonders (John 2). Although his stated strategy was to stick to the House of Israel, the Lord broke his own rules by helping the Roman centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman when he discerned true faith. He challenged the norms of the society of his day by dining with the despised chief tax collector Zacchaeus and allowing a prostitute to anoint him and use her hair for drying purposes.
 Chapter 10 The Moravians in Church Unity Endeavours

         In this chapter we examine in some more detail how Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf and the 17th century believers in Saxony’s Herrnhut implemented biblical principles, adapting them to their time.                                                                            
         Ever since Peter, the apostle, was challenged to step down from his condescending attitude in obedience to the command of the Holy Spirit to enter the home of the Roman soldier Cornelius, there can be no excuse for permitting any artificial social barriers in the Church of Jesus Christ. Any effort in this regard would be tantamount to disobedience to the teaching of the Word. It has perhaps not been appreciated sufficiently that real, meaningful contact between master and servant contains the seed of radical mission work.
         Jesus himself had set the standard when he called his disciples friends, no longer servants: No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15). Paul blew into the same horn with his teaching of the broken wall and the one new man (Ephesians 2:14f) with its result There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

Obedience rather than Glamour
A sign of great personalities is that they choose suffering rather than glamour when the chips are down. At the outset of his ministry Jesus chose not to be impressed by the adulation of his Nazareth townsfolk. Instead of riding on the crest wave of praise, he swam against the stream, risking his life in the process (Luke 4:14-30). When a multitude of Jewish worshipers wanted to forcefully make Jesus their worldly King (John 6:15), he refused this praise. Instead, he left the multitude. In the same chapter it is recorded how he responded with a hard word, after which the crowd left him en masse (John 6:66).
         When Peter merely faintly suggested that Jesus should escape his innocent death, the Master had to rebuke him strongly, seeing no less than satan behind this idea (Mark 8:33). Although he was the Son, the Lord had to learn obedience to the Father (Hebrews 5:8). By the time of the Gethsemane struggle he had obviously learned the lesson when he was required to empty the cup, the content of which ultimately took our Lord from the presence of His Father, so much so that he ultimately used the word forsaken. In the agonizing prayer of the Garden, He responded thrice with ‘not my will but your will be done…’ (Mark 14:36). Jesus chose the road of suffering, to be ultimately crowned with thorns. His Kingdom is not of this world.
        One of the most self-effacing gesture in Church History was performed by Francis of Assisi. He was asked to pray for a spastic child in an Italian village whose body was all twisted. He initially didn’t want to pray for the child because he didn’t want to receive any glory if the child was healed. After persistent pleas by the village folk, he prayed a simple prayer. the young child thereafter just ‘unwound and relaxed’.  The people were ecstatic. After five minutes they were looking for Francis because he was nowhere to be found. He believed that all glory belonged to God
        The line between acclamation and rejection can be very thin at times. Choosing for absolute truth often makes the difference. Compromise could sometimes prevent persecution or rejection. When Bishop Comenius had received secular recognition via the invitation to become the rector and pioneer of the newly established Harvard University near Boston in the ‘New World’, he declined, preferring to stay with his small persecuted flock in Poland.

To Follow Christ means Stepping Down
The most profound example of the principle in well-known mission history is probably the instance when Count Zinzendorf ‘stepped down’ to speak to the slave Anton at the occasion of the coronation of Christian VI of Denmark in 1731, after the mediation by one of his Herrnhut believers. Meaningful dialogue[54] ensued because Anton, the slave who hailed from the West Indian island St Thomas, challenged Zinzendorf, the aristocrat, in no uncertain way. The Count responded in a positive way by inviting Anton over to Herrnhut to repeat his challenge to the congregation that had been hearing repeatedly of the worldwide mission need.[55] Although the Herrnhut believers were apparently still very much in the revival mood, they needed the slave Anton to get them moving to the mission fields. What will the reaction of the more affluent South Africans be if their poorer compatriots challenge them to share their lives meaningfully in partnership, to become servants, the equivalents of slaves?[56]
          In Herrnhut the slave Anton did not mince his words either. He stated unequivocally that any prospective missionary to St Thomas, the island in the West Indies from where he originated, should be prepared to become like one of them; the missionary candidate had to be prepared to become the equal of a slave. The Moravians of Herrnhut, through their child-like faith in Jesus, accepted the challenge spontaneously. In the next few decades they left the little village in their hundreds to places all over the world.
            The socializing of Count Zinzendorf with the slave Anton was definitely not an one-off occasion. This was in line with the charismata,[57] the spiritual gifts of Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and the five-fold ministries of Ephesians 4, that they are not only given to leaders. Moreover, it was part of Zinzendorf's life-style to converse with kings and slaves alike, whoever came across his path. For almost a decade the Count had been ‘on everyday terms with artisans and peasants’, confirming his instinctive conviction that spiritual gifts are independent of social rank (Weinlick, 1956:96). This was evidently part and parcel of the original DNA of Moravian missionaries.
A Blemish
Through the ages missionaries have understood that to follow Christ meant ‘stepping down’, being prepared to forego privileges and being prepared to be humiliated for the sake of the Lord. Unfortunately, but definitely not in the spirit of Christ - an air of heroism was attached to being sent out as a missionary. Biographies have been very selective. Those missionaries who fitted the western role expectation like David Livingstone and Mary Slessor, were put on a pedestal, but ‘troublesome’ missionaries like Dr John Philip, who rocked the boat of British (and South African) society by speaking out on behalf of the oppressed, were branded as ‘political.’ (Dr Philip did however blot his copy-book by not being completely truthful, exaggerating here and there). Similarly, South African Christian mission history displays bias against the missionaries Johannes van der Kemp and James Read. Armed with a background in European and classical philology, van der Kemp pioneered the study of Xhosa and Khoikhoi languages. It was however not appreciated that he and James Read married non-White women. In the case of Van der Kemp the age difference – his freed female slave wife was no less than 45 years his junior - complicated matters. The immoral behaviour of James Read, fathering a child outside of wedlock via infidelity, is of course completely unacceptable in any community. (Without condoning his behaviour, we know that the society of Jesus’ days also had a problem with a religious leader who socialized with ‘sinners’, the lower ranks of their day.) With God the condition of the heart is decisive. Thus David was still called ‘a man after God’s heart in spite of his serious moral failures. David displayed genuine remorse and that is what God honoured.
Servant Leadership                                                                                                                                
Count Zinzendorf demonstrated what servant leadership entails. Although it becomes clear from all reports that he was a dominant aristocratic figure in the fellowship, his style was nowhere autocratic or domineering. Thus he regarded the way Friedrich Martin treated his Caribbean congregants as too strict, but Zinzendorf did not oppose him in the least (Spangenberg, 1773-75:1177). Even though he disagreed fiercely on some issues, it seems that Zinzendorf hardly ever imposed his will on others. Although he was for example very dissatisfied about a financial transaction which was enacted in his absence - and against which he protested as soon as he heard about it, the Count assisted to scratch the capital together (Spangenberg, 1773-75:1490).                                    The Count excelled at integrating the initiatives of congregants. Centuries before cell groups were rediscovered in the 20th century, the Herrnhut congregation was divided in 56 small bands where an informal atmosphere encouraged innovation. Thus the cup of the covenant - whereby the cup would pass from hand to hand - as well as the dawn service on Easter Sunday became standard practice in the denomination as a whole (Weinlick, 1956:85). Both traditions were initiated by the group of the single brethren.                              Zinzendorf instructed candidate missionaries to have a servant attitude: ‘You must never try to lord over the heathen, but rather humble yourself among them, and earn their esteem through the power of the Spirit...’ How seriously they took the instructions is borne out by the fact that Matthaeus Freundlich, a first generation missionary in St Thomas, married the mulatress Rebecca, at a time when non-Whites were still called ‘Wilden’, also in the literature of the Brethren. The missionary had to seek nothing for himself. ‘Like the cab-horses in London, he must wear blinkers and be blind to every danger and to every snare and conceit. He must be content to suffer, to die and be forgotten’ (Lewis, 1962:92). Zinzendorf demonstrated what it means to regard the other higher than yourself. Spangenberg recorded how the Count praised the North American indigenous believers. In his diary the following entry is found for March 9, 1729: ‘...I spoke earnestly with our servant Christoph and was deeply humbled by his testimony concerning him­self. He is far in advance of me’ (Lewis, 1962:90).                
Teachability and Humility
It has been reported how Count Zinzendorf was getting challenged in his faith in the Holy Scriptures from a very early age. He became deeply involved with questions around the authority of God's Word from the age of seven (Beyreuther, 1962:84). Zinzendorf discovered that whosoever is prepared to face uncomfortable questions and then take a step of faith, can only grow through it spiritually. He had the courage to speak bluntly of transcription errors, of geographical and chronological mistakes in Scripture. He saw it as no major tragedy that the apostles erred in their imminent expectation of the second coming of the Lord. The Count even proceeded to say: ‘Misunderstood prophecies can and should not be defended, but they should rather be pre-empted and acknowledged’ (Cited in Beyreuther, 1962:89).                                                                              Count Zinzendorf was quite radical. He believed that the Holy Spirit can empower anybody to interpret the Word for himself according to his own capacity and circumstances. Not only the professional teacher had the right to expound Scripture, because the paraclete (The Holy Spirit) ‘will teach you everything’ (John 14:16).
            It is evident that the lessons were thoroughly learned and put into practice. John Wesley was struck by the humility of the Moravians. In his first confrontation with Moravians who were with him on a ship bound for North America, John Wesley was deeply impressed: ‘... I had long before observed ... their behaviour... performing servile offices for the other passengers which none of the English would undertake.’                                  Zinzendorf also taught that the leaders had to be teachable themselves. ‘Only when the ‘Amtsträger’ (clergyman) becomes a brother amongst brethren and accept from them fraternal help in comfort, encouragement, complimenting, admonishment, correction and prays with and practises brotherliness as one of them, then brotherhood is realized' (Beyreuther, 1962:193).                                                                                                                                Through his example Zinzendorf inspired others. His teachability inspired noblemen and professors to go and sit at the bare feet of the potter Martin Dober. His example of putting the Kingdom first found a following when learned men declined high academic posts.
Teaching by Example
Count Zinzendorf not only taught, but he also displayed that he was teachable. Thus he became willing to go to Dresden in 1721, although that was really the last of the places where he wanted to serve the Lord, after the godly Magister Schwedler had spoken to him (Beyreuther, 1957:231).
         When Zinzendorf was offered a full-time post as one of the cabinet ministers of the Danish throne, he declined, citing his commitment to Herrnhut as a reason. (Earlier he had aspired to go to Denmark.) He was willing to be employed in some lesser capacity, so that he would have time for free-lance religious activ­ity. He really understood the bibli­cal injunction ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.
His example was duly followed by other Moravians. Spangenberg refused an offer as professor of Theology at Jena. Arved Gradin, a prominent Swedish academic of Theology and Philology, declined the call to a professorship at Uppsala University, coming to the village of lowly Herrnhut instead. Samuel Lieberkühn who had studied Hebrew thoroughly in Halle and Jena, preferred to go and work among the Jews in Holland, rather than accepting an offer to become professor of Semitic languages in Königsberg.
More Examples of the biblical Principle       
Similarly, Andrew Murray declined the invitation of Dwight Moody to address the World Church and Mission Conference in New York in 1900. In view of the South African War he stood in the middle of the warring parties with his Scottish background but his intense love for the Boers. His obedience to the Holy Spirit bore ample fruit through The Key to the Missionary Problem, which he wrote in 1901. He wrote the booklet after he had requested the papers that had been delivered in New York. In them Dr Murray discerned the lack of an emphasis on prayer and missions. In a similar way, the German martyr and pastor Dr Dietrich Bonhoeffer returned from the USA to the lion’s den of Hitler’s Nazi regime, knowing full well that he could soon be in trouble there. Watchman Nee voluntarily went back into the despotism of Mao Zedong in 1949. Richard Wurmbrand on the other hand was used by God after his release from Nicolai Ceascescu’s dictatorship in Romania to expose the cruelties of that regime.

The Biblical Model of Fellowship Practised
In the course of my studies in Church history I became very much aware how demonic hierarchical structures really are. The biblical model of mutual fellowship has hardly been practised better ever than among the Moravians of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) in the ‘new world’ in the 1750s. ‘Seldom has even the most easy service (been) executed with such holy reverence... a brother in the stable or in his manual work can ever think that he does nothing for the Saviour; whoever is faithful in the outward (things) is just as well a respectable servant of Christ as a preacher or a missionary.’ The joy with which they performed mundane tasks, interspersed with love feasts, was part of their DNA. Even at work they would sing. Thus Bishop Spangenberg could write: ‘In our economy the spiritual and physical fit together like the body and soul of man...’                                                                                                              Hierarchical church structures have sadly conditioned leaders to become bosses. The dictum coined by Lord Acton (1834-1902) that 'power tends to corrupt, but absolute power corrupts absolutely', is so true, also in religious contexts. This is however alien to the spirit of biblical servitude. Loving brotherhood, (or rather siblinghood), should be the hall-mark of Church work, where the leader's endeavours should result in the empowering of the congregants.                                                                                                     
            The early Moravian missionaries evidently understood this very well. They discerned that ‘New Testament’ life had to be demonstrated. In the Caribbean they bought slaves free, took them into their houses and worked alongside them on the plantations (Spangenberg, 1773-1775:1177). On the other hand, the Herrnhut fellowship respected the culture gender pattern of their day, whereby a distance of mutual respect had to remain intact. The sisters called each other by the familiar ‘Du’ (you) but used the polite ‘Sie’ (thou) when they addressed the brethren. Among the males the same thing happened. But also the Bishop was not addressed with a title, but merely as brother so and so. (In fact, the Bishop's role in the Moravian Church to this day is merely that of the pastor of the clergy, without an administrative function).[58]
Winning Sectarians over Through Love
God commands his blessing where brethren live in love and harmony (compare Psalm 133:1,3). The enemy of souls is therefore always on the lookout to cause disruption and disunity.                                                       It is no wonder that Herrnhut received its fair share of sectarians, who quite soon converged on the village after 1722 from all geographic and spiritual directions. The practice of winning sectarians over through love eventually won the day. The refugees from Moravia refused to be drawn into religious quarrels until a separatist with the name of Krüger came to Herrnhut in 1726. He described Count Zinzendorf as the ‘beast from the Abyss’. Krüger dubbed Johann Rothe, the Lutheran pastor of the neighbouring town Berthelsdorf a false apostle. Even Christian David, the faithful pioneering refugee from Moravia, was misled. Ultimately only three brethren remained with Zinzendorf. When the Count discerned that the fiery Pastor Johann Rothe merely aggravated the situation with his sermons, he requested leave from his lawyer’s office in the city of Dresden to move to Herrnhut at 'Easter' 1727. Hereafter he spoke laboriously to the erring members individually with patience and love. In public he shed heiße Tränen, (hot tears) because of the evident disunity.                                              
The big About-Turn
The revival of August 1727 in Herrnhut is often romanticized. It is often overlooked or forgotten that Count Zinzendorf went to the little village on his estate in April 1727 explicitly ‘that he might give all his time to the healing of the discords and to caring for the souls whom the Lord had led to his estate’ (Lewis, 1962:51). The summer of 1727 could only flourish after a major conflict had been resolved. The Moravian refugees wanted their original denomination - the Unitas Fratrum - restored, whereas Zinzendorf preferred a small fellowship evolving that would display a significant ‘leaven’ presence within the bigger Lutheran Church. A good compromise was reached when the statutes were finalized on 12 May 1727, including the radical statement: ‘Herrnhut shall stand in unceasing love with all children of God in all churches, criticize none, take part in no quar­rel against those differing in opinion, except to preserve for itself the evangelical purity, simplicity and grace.                         The big about turn came when the Count called all the inhabitants of the village Herrnhut to a public meeting on May 12, 1727. He taught them for three hours in the new statutes - the rules and regulations. Everybody who wanted to live on his property had to sign their agreement to abide by the statutes. The general tone of these statutes was significant. The brothers and sisters of Herrnhut were enjoined to live in love with the children of God in all churches. Internally, the mere critical judging of each other would be regarded as a ‘Greuel’, an abomination, to be fiercely opposed. He ‘discoursed on the sole ground of salvation – without entering into the various notions which had caused confusion and division among them’ (Langton, 1956:72). One after the other the members agreed until only a few stubborn separatists were left. (On 12 May 1748, twenty one years later, the Count recalled how the village had been weighed.  He used to call the 12th May, 1727 the ‘critical day’ upon which Herrnhut would prove to be either a ‘nest of sects’ or a vibrant fellowship of Christ.) The inhabitants were required to sign the statutes, the Manorial Injunctions and Prohibitions, promising with this act to end their sectarian quarrels, and to live in fellowship with Christians of all beliefs and denominations.                                                                                                                                    Twelve Elders were elected who had control over every department of life, and enforced the Injunctions and Prohibitions with an iron hand. They levied the usual rates and taxes to keep the streets and wells in order and supervised the care of widows and orphans, while keeping a watchful eye over the relationships of single young men and women. They also followed the actions at the inn closely and they reprimanded the narrators of evil tales. All who disobeyed the laws, or conducted themselves in an unbecoming, frivolous or offensive manner, were requested to leave Herrnhut.
Small Cells of Mutual Trust                                                                                                                    
On Sunday 9 July 1727 the tide had almost turned, but Zinzendorf was not yet completely happy. He noticed that there was still not warm mutual trust and love. Hereafter he endeavoured to meet every member of the community individually, sometimes with one other person who had their trust, discussing the respective spiritual condition of the person concerned. He sought to link them up in small groups of two, three or more from the same sex who could console, encourage and rectify each other. This was the beginning of the 'bands', by which not a single soul was left out in the cold. This developed into small cells of mutual trust where transparency prevailed.
            On the 5th of August Zinzendorf 1727 conducted a moving all-night prayer event on the Hutberg, the hill just outside the village. Sunday 10 August they had another lengthy afternoon meeting of song and prayer that went on until midnight. The remaining separatists were finally pulled in. Three days later the congregants went to Berthelsdorf for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, where a ‘sea of tears’ - mutual love and forgiveness - drowned the occasion. It seems as if God was only waiting for the unity to let the revival break out in force!

       Taking Critics Seriously

A major problem in Church History has been that leaders often responded to critics inappropriately. All too often these critics were either not listened to properly or Church leaders over-reacted, giving people the option to leave the fellowship if they were not satisfied.
            Count Zinzendorf was exemplary in listening even to critics of the Gospel. Although he was self-confessingly not an avid reader, he stayed a humble learner throughout his life. Erich Beyreuther, in his hey-day professor in Munich and a prominent biographer of Zinzendorf, saw the greatness of Zinzendorf amongst other things in how he would even look for help during his personal religious struggle at the work of Pierre Bayle, an eminent 17th century harsh critic of the Church.[59] Beyreuther shows quite convincingly how Zinzendorf understood Bayle much better than anyone before or after him, better even than the renowned philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. Whereas Bayle kept on waiting and hoping for new revelations of faith in the churches, Zinzendorf surged forth towards the realization of it (Beyreuther, 1965:233). It testifies of special grace that Zinzendorf could throw ‘a conciliatory light on the tragic figure of Bayle’ after the lonely fighter had bravely put forward uncomfortable views, heavily attacked thereafter (Beyreuther, 1965:233). That Zinzendorf candidly confessed that he was reading Bayle’s works as a close second to the Bible, did however not earn him acclaim. This was yet another reason for clergy of other denominations to castigate Zinzendorf.

The bad Smell of Theology                                                                                                                     

Count Zinzendorf’s views on certain doctrinal issues - to let love prevail instead of clinging to official Church doctrine and the letter of the law - could have averted much pain if they had been taken seriously by the Church of his day (and ever since). He detested the 'bad smell of theology'. He stated that ‘all the essential theology can be written with large characters on one octavo sheet’ (Cited in Lewis, 1962:15). Zinzendorf was very concerned at the development at the Herrnhut Theological Seminary during his absence in America, fearing that ‘the brethren would move away from simplicity, that their bishops would start filling the young people with learnedness’ (Spangenberg, 1773-1775:1492). In one of his Fetter Lane Lectures in London, the Count made the astonishing remark that the philosophers and theologians ‘have made that which was before obscure so pitch dark that, if earlier, before hearing it explained, one did understand a little bit; now after the explanation one no longer has the slightest idea what to make of it.’ In the sentence just prior to this remark, Zinzendorf offers the reason that was so typical of him: ‘they have been intent on hunting for expressions outside of Scripture in order to expound... those passages of Scripture which they found obscure’(Zinzendorf, Nine Lectures, 1746). The Count referred to the vain academic theological practices and exercises as odium theologicum (bad theological smell). To put the record straight: the Bible does not teach that intellect must not be appreciated. Paul sat under the feet of the famous Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), but he only became a spiritual giant after his mental capacity came under the rule of Christ. Thus the warning is possibly just as apt for our day and age as in by-gone times. (In South Africa many a Bible School suffered in spirituality when academic accreditation was frantically sought because of government requirements for lecturers in the democratic era of our nation.)

Doctrinal Differences cause a Rift
Zinzendorf taught missionary candidates not only to refrain from getting involved in doctrinal disputes, but rather to try and diminish the differences between churches (Spangenberg, 1773-1775:1272). In an age of tremendous Protestant bigotry, he wrote:                                                                                                                     ‘I have been severely censured for not acknowledging the Pope to be the Antichrist, as I am sure he is not, and cannot be deemed so upon the authority of the Bible...’ In the same context the Count said ‘...Every church bearing the name of Christ... (is) to be (seen as) a congregation formed for his sake; more or less erroneous … I never will boast of it (my church) and despise others’ (Cited in Lewis, 1962:20).                                                                              The people of Herrnhut caught the broad vision. They sought nothing for themselves, wanting only to be ‘used by the Lamb of God as a leaven of his unity wherever he might call them’ (Lewis, 1962:61).              Zinzendorf however fell into the enemy’s trap himself through a doctrinal tussle with John Wesley. In his journal Wesley recalls the interaction at Marienborn in the Wetteravia in 1738:… the Count insisted that “to be justified is the same thing as to be born of God.” I take issue with this.’ (JOHN WESLEY, His Life and Theology, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1978:207). But there was no serious immediate rift between the two great men of God as yet. Wesley reported a few years later quite positively (p.209): ‘Before leaving Marienborn I had opportunity to observe another intercession day. The ninety brethren from the community (though gathered out of many nations) - together with many strangers (from different parts) - met for prayer and fellowship. I remember writing: “O how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”                                                                      The Methodists however ultimately went their separate way. Count Zinzendorf himself caused estrangement to the Reformed folk in Holland by stating in a weak moment that he regarded predestination as a 'cursed doctrine' with which he would never be able to get reconciled (Praamsma III, 1980:126). Of course, Zinzendorf was the one who had the vision that every denomination possessed a specific ‘tropos paideia’ (practise field), from where they should be linked into a common bond of mutual respect and communication. Jonathan Edwards, a great contemporary, also seems to have discerned the need of unity as a counterfoil to the attacks of the arch enemy.[60]                                                                                             
In a similar way, the renowned Dr Andrew Murray was caught in the web of doctrinal disputes, albeit not at all of his own volition. Having been elected as Dutch Reformed moderator for the first of a record seven times in 1862, he became involved in a fierce theological skirmish arising from the alleged liberal tendencies of two Western Cape clergy colleagues. (This dispute even landed in court.)

Co-operation in Missionary Endeavour

A major contribution of Zinzendorf in missionary strategy - which has often been over-looked by many ‘faith mission’ agencies at their own peril - was that he succeeded in getting other denominations to co-operate in the support of the Moravian missionary endeavours. Already in Germany he exploited the Moravian tradition of music to the full when their groups were invited to conduct ‘singstunden’ (singing hours, devotional meetings with songs around Bible verses, the daily texts, as the 'sermon') in both Reformed and Lutheran congregations. Zinzendorf’s emphasis on the Body of the Messiah was not appreciated everywhere, Committed believers nevertheless joined them from almost every denomination of the time. In England he could call on support from Anglicans, Methodist and Quakers. At the first Pennsylvania Synod of the Reformed Church the representatives of the denomination were called upon by one of their leaders to support the non-denominational Moravian work for the furtherance of the Gospel in the Americas and the West Indies. Little groups of contributors were organized in Philadelphia and New York and in the homes of many synod members (Lewis, 1962:149). Similarly, some Moravians worked alongside the Lutherans. In the teaching of Zinzendorf to his missionaries he made it clear: ‘You must not enroll your converts as members of the Moravian Church, you must be content to enroll them as Christians’ (Lewis, 1962:95). At a Moravian church conference in ‘s Heerendijk (Holland), Zinzendorf stated emphatically: ‘I cannot ... confine myself to one denomination, for the whole earth is the Lord’s and all souls are His; I am debtor to all’ (Lewis, 1962:143). As the reason for this activity the Count expressed himself thus in 1745: ‘For thirty years I have yearned that all may be one in the Lord’ (Nielsen I, 1951:44).

The Love of God as the only valid Motivation
We note the repeated statement of Andrew Murray: ‘The missionary problem is a personal one.’ It is not the sheer effort which will get missionaries to the fields, but the love of God personified. He allowed His Son to die for our sins. After seeing the Ecce homo painting of Christ in the museum of Düsseldorf with the challenging words,[61] the youthful Zinzendorf was deeply moved. He knelt before the painting, pleading that the Lord might ‘draw him forcefully into communion with his sufferings.[62] He surrendered his whole life to the Lord and the Cross: his name, rank and fortune became relative. He was more determined than ever to give his everything in the service of the Lord. Andrew Murray took the cue from the Herrnhut Moravians: ‘Get this burning thought ofpersonal love for the Saviour who redeemed me’ into the hearts of Christians, and you have the most powerful incentive that can be had for missionary effort’ (Murray, 1901:44). Or in different wording: ‘Missions was the automatic outflow and the overflow of their love for Christ. It was to satisfy Christ’s love and express their own love that they brought to Him souls that He had died for to save(Murray, 1901:158). This somehow also puts a question mark to some modern-day 'worship' services, which all too often resembles a glorified concert, with musicians amplified too much on a stage and the congregation hardly singing along. It seems to me very problematic when loving Christ is expressed vocally, but where the logical consequence - like loving outreach to the needy and spiritually lost - is conspicuous by its absence.

Zinzendorf’s Vision for Church Unity
Count Zinzendorf had a tremendous vision for the unity of the Body of Christ. He envisioned the believers around him not as a separate denomination, but as a dynamic renewal society which would serve to revitalize existing denominations and help create new work in mission areas. There are numerous churches in Pennsylvania where Moravians had started a church and school for the settlers and native Americans, and then turn it over to the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Church, or whatever denomination they perceived to be the strongest in that area. This also happened in other parts of the world, such as Greenland and Australia.


Modern Ecumenicals in the biblical Mode

Count Zinzendorf has been described as the first ecumenical after the Reformation,[63] but then it should be remembered that his ecumenical theology arose from the religious experience among those who ‘have experienced the death of Jesus on their hearts(Lewis, 1962:15). It was a ‘heart religion’  that he preached: ‘without it, all efforts towards unity he regarded as unfounded and doomed (Lewis, 1962:15). Visser ‘t Hooft, the first General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), quoted Zinzendorf: ‘All fellowship which is only based on agreement of opinions and forms without a change of heart, is a dangerous sect’ (Visser’t Hooft, 1959:27). Increasingly however, the leaders of the WCC after Visser ‘t Hooft did not heed this warning.
            Zinzendorf was however for many Christians too difficult a customer. He was too unconventional, fraternizing with Roman Catholics while remaining on very friendly terms with those who are coming from the opposite doctrinal pole of the Church spectrum. Even in our day many Christians would be unhappy with someone who straddles the Church boundaries as Zinzendorf did. In my view the only persons who approached that ecumenical evangelical spirit ever since were Dr Billy Graham and Dr David du Plessis. (The Cape-born but Free State-raised South African who was dubbed ‘Mr. Pentecost’, became the instrument that God used to usher in the breaking down of the wall not only between Pentecostals and other Protestants, but also between Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s.)                                                             Being a reconciler has never been easy. Dr Billy Graham has been fiercely criticized by evangelical leaders, notably for going to speak in Communist countries and meeting the Pope (see for example Drummond, 2001:97).
Making Use of All Generations
It seems that the Reformation did not bring major revision with regard to the making use of all generations. The Moravians were once again exemplary; nobody was excluded. Even children had a role to play. Gifting and ability was primary so that teenagers were given leadership functions. When Melchior Nitschmann was nominated to become one of the four chief elders of the Herrnhut fellowship, Count Zinzendorf had reservations. He thought that they should not have included the teenager into the lot because of his age. The Count apparently did not know Melchior Nitschmann that well. The bare-footed youngster evidently had the trust of the congregants, demonstrating a steadfast attitude that soon enough impressed Zinzendorf (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:95). Anna Nitschmann was given the leadership over the single sisters although she was only fifteen (Weinlick, 1956:84). Eighteen single females under her leadership lived solely for the Lord. Along with Anna Nitschmann, Susanna Kühnel would be a special channel that God used in the 1727 revival among the children. In 1731 Martin Linner, a seventeen year-old, became the ‘Älteste’ - the elder - for the unmarried young men.

An independent Biblical Line                                                                                                                     In various matters Zinzendorf took an indepen­dent line from Martin Luther, although he was deeply influenced by the great reformer. The most striking difference is perhaps their respective views on Jews. Martin Luther initially emphasized the Jewishness of Jesus, urging Christians to love all Jews for the sake of Jesus. Towards the end of his life, however, Luther not only gave up on converting Jews to Christianity, but he also wrote one of the most anti-Semitic tracts. Whereas Adolf Hitler abused the latter writings of the Wittenberg reformer to execute the Holocaust, Zinzendorf’s contemporaries from the Jewish nation regarded him as their great friend! In various other ways he demonstrated an independent spirit; he wanted to be dependent on the Lord alone.      He did not follow the austere strict 'Busskampf' (painful struggle on conversion) of Jacob Spener, his godfather, who became known as the father of Pietism. Instead, the Herrnhut Moravians became known for their frivolity and joyous worship with lots of singing. Those Pietists, who insisted on the Bußkampf of the Halle tradition, had problems with the joyful practice of the child-like faith that the Herrnhut Moravians displayed.                                                                                                                        With regard to another accusation - that Zinzendorf strived after a unified Church - these fears were completely unfounded. The Count actually encouraged the believers to remain in their churches, to rather be the ecclesiola, little churches within the bigger Lutheran denomination (Spangenberg, 1773-1775 (1971):1462). In America the Moravians worked so closely with the Reformed Frelinghausen, who had been there since 1720, that Frelinghausen was regarded as one of them. Of course, Zinzendorf remained a pain in the neck for all denominationalists because of his wide vision of the Body of Christ.
          The Moravian missionaries sent out from Herrnhut in the 18th century were required to fend for themselves. They received just some pocket money, together with a coffin. They were expected to be ready to die in the tropics in the service of their Saviour after a few years due to the health conditions and the absence of medical facilities. The missionaries were required to identify fully with the slaves and indigenous people among whom they would be working. They were expected to empower the slaves and indigenous people where they brought the Gospel, without getting politically involved in skirmishes with the slave owners or local authorities.
          William Carey, who revived this missionary spirit from 1792, and the generation of missionaries that came through in the next fifty years, spread the same vision.

Moravian Inclusivity
If one considers how inclusive Count Zinzendorf and his Moravians were – and how he viewed grace - we understand why they were arguably the most successful ever in the outreach to Jews. The celebration of the Singstunde (singing hour) on Saturday evening was a tradition that they had brought along from the early Herrnhut days, which they adapted from the Jewish practices, where the Sabbath starts on Friday evening. The abounding grace that went ahead of the emissaries to the ‘heathen’ nations enabled the Count to be bold enough to see the same grace at work in the christening of infants. In America they put so much grace in practice to accommodate the Sabbatharian habits of the indigenous population that they practised two days of rest, Saturday and Sunday.
            Zinzendorf was profusely influenced by Pierre Bayle, a French Philosopher who he did not regard toleration as a danger to the state. To the contrary he said: ‘If the multiplicity of religions prejudices the state, it proceeds from their not bearing with one another but on the contrary endeavouring each to crush and destroy the other by methods of Persecution. In a word, all the Mischief arises not from Toleration, but from the want of it.’
Count Zinzendorf took matters further, spelling it out that differences could even be used to serve towards mutual enrichment. Sigurd Nielsen, a bishop of the Moravian Church in South Africa and originally a Danish national who served for many years in the Transkei, examined the idea of tolerance in Zinzendorf's theology. He summarized the tension with the word homopoikilie, a term which expresses the unifying in diversity and the diversity in unity (Nielsen I, 1951:60).
Various Approaches
It was the rich variety of believers and the varying approaches to spread the Good News which led Zinzendorf to appreciate the various denominations: they were to him clear evidence of God’s providential care for the different temperaments and needs of His children. He thus clearly saw in this an expression of the Church radiating the multi-coloured[64] wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). Within the Church of the Lord Zinzendorf distinguished various tropoi: Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist (Mennonite) and Anglican. He expected every group to retain their own identity and distinctive within a multi-coloured 'rainbow' constellation.
            Nevertheless, Zinzendorf did not ride roughshod over the ecclesiastical disunity, and we should not do do so either. According to him the main ecumenical task was a deep sense of repentance and need of forgiveness because the holiness and the unity of the Church had been broken by the narrowness, bigotry and pride of nominal Christianity (Lewis, 1962:108). But Zinzendorf was too far ahead of his time. The other church groups did not trust him. In fact, when he tried to create one denomination in the United States among the German speakers, Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg was specially sent from the Pietist stronghold of Halle to counter this influence. Zinzendorf was however much too ambitious and activist, organising no less than six non-denominational conferences or synods in half a year in 1742 (Praamsma III, 1980:125).
An accommodating View on Baptism
It is well-known how the followers of Luther persecuted the 'Anabaptists'. For four centuries the 'Anabaptists' as a group were labelled as folk who preached false doctrine and who led people into apostasy. Followers of Zwingli in Switzerland were among the first to persecute the 'Anabaptists', decreeing in 1526 that some of them should be drowned.
            During Zinzendorf's life-time the christening of infants was common and the immersion of believers was regarded as sectarian, associated with re-baptism. Yet, the Count advised Georg Schmidt in Baviaanskloof, the later Genadendal of the Cape Overberg in a letter of ordination: ‘Baptise him where you shot the rhino’. Georg Schmidt evidently understood this advice as an encouragement to baptise the new convert in the river, because one can read in his diary entry of 31st March, 1742: ‘Then I said to him to go and stand in the water and I baptised him.[65] The context does not indicate whether the water was deep enough to immerse Wilhelm, but this action was already revolutionary for the time. Georg Schmidt used the precedent of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff) when he was challenged soon hereafter why he baptised someone at a venue outside the confines of a church building. In the same letter of ordination Zinzendorf referred to the christening of the children of believers. He thus did not take an absolute stand. The Moravians refrained from getting involved in divisive debates about the mode of baptism.Be it as it may, the Reformed Church folk both at the Cape and in Holland were furious, because there was no congregation present at the Sergeant's River event at Baviaanskloof. The Cape Reformed ministers regarded this as absolutely necessary for the practice of baptism.                                                                                                                                                       To interpret that the Count was playing it safe in case he could have been labelled an Anabaptist, would definitely not be applicable. He took many a life-threatening risk!
Unity on God’s Terms
Ephesians 4:4,5 (There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism...) shows that Zinzendorf was probably too accommodating. Biblically, there is no such thing as unity at all costs. There is only unity on God’s terms. The issue of ‘one baptism’ to which Paul refers among others in the verse quoted, may bear out the above theory in the years to come. Devoid of a dramatic ‘Here I stand’ position of Baptists and Pentecostals, the Holy Spirit has brought movement on this issue which was unthinkable a decade or two ago. The loving acceptance of divergent views - allowing God to bring about the shifting of positions through his Holy Spirit - is apt to bring about more unity than heated synod discussions on doctrinal issues. (Nehemiah 3, the building of the wall, does demonstrate that different (church) groups can work towards a common goal. Various groups worked next to each other, each with a clearly defined goal within the bigger purpose: the completion of the wall around Jerusalem. Thus the Bible underscores unity in diversity.) A united front against abortion and the legalisation of prostitution are issues where Bible believing Christians may even be challenged to join hands with people of other faiths. Capetonians from diverse backgrounds have ben doping this in 2011 when they attempted the name change of Devil's Peak. Victory on this score has not been achieved as yet!                                  

In Search of the Invisible Church                                                                                                          
Count Zinzendorf looked on the one hand seriously for evidence of the 'Invisible Church', but he also deemed it a priority to work towards visible expressions of it. As he put it: 'The church cannot live on the long run from an invisible and uncommitted brotherhood(Beyreuther, 1962:193).
            Zinzendorf also believed that the unity should become concrete, that believers had the task to make the Church of Christ visible. The challenge is to bring together all those who are already united in Christ in some ‘field of encounter’ (Lewis, 1962:108). All the denominations have only relative value, they could only point to the ecclesia invisibilis, the invisible church (Lewis, 1962:108). At the same time, Zinzendorf believed in ‘the manifoldness of life.’ He said for instance: ‘... souls must not be forced; we must not expect them all to be measured by the same yardstick or to share exactly the same development of inward experiences ... It is not Gospel-like to prescribe rules, methods and dispositions, or require equality of souls’ (Lewis, 1962:102).
Spirit-wrought Unity the Name of the Game
Count Zinzendorf’s desire for Church unity was influenced by the tragedy of the fragmentation of the Body of Christ. He referred to his own church as Secta Morava (Spangenberg, 1773-1775:1230).  And if he may still have erred in being too accommodating, Zinzendorf made up for it by going out of his way to take differing theological positions really seriously. He succeeded in a special way with a great balancing act, succumbing neither to engage in squabbling nor by offering cheap compromises. In his activism, he was however sometimes too hasty. When he wanted to include Roman Catholics in a unifying process without clear indication that their leaders were prepared to address Mariolatry, he was definitely expecting too much from other Protestants.
Count Zinzendorf discerned that overt co-operation could never be a substitute for unity wrought by the Holy Spirit through prayer and supplication. He knew only too well that men could join in the same ‘outward ceremonies and duties of religion, but in reality deny the truth of it.’ The Count realized that we should not strive after an organic union of denominations, but work towards unity which transcends all church divisions. The ‘unity of His wounds’, of common faith in the crucified and risen Christ, will ultimately determine all other kinds of unity' (Lewis, 1962:99). Therefore, it is not surprising to find the Count attacking righteousness and piety that come out of our own efforts. Without the blood of Jesus they are like ‘ein beflecktes Kleid’, a stained garment (Spangenberg, 1773-1775:1451). This is of course a reference to Isaiah 64:6 where human righteousness is described as filthy rags.
No Christianity without Fellowship
Zinzendorf showed by his example that his philosophy: ‘Ich statuiere kein Christentum ohne Gemeinschaft’ (I state that there is no Christianity without fellowship), was no empty theory. It has been suggested that Zinzendorf added fellowship as a third sacrament in the Protestant Church (Lewis, 1962:66). Yet, it must be stressed that the Count did not expect fellowship to be man-made; it was a gift of the Lamb. ‘It is not so much a fellowship of kindred minds but fundamentally of kindred hearts’ (Lewis, 1962:66). It was therefore natural that he expected believers who were linked to Herrnhut to get involved with fellowship locally, wherever they lived. Although Zinzendorf broke with Pietism in many other ways around 1734, the small ecclesiolae within the bigger churches remained a part of the Moravian practice in the diaspora. This was definitely in line with the teaching and example of the Master.
Concentration on a few dedicated Believers
The Herrnhut Moravians had a good missionary strategy, concentrating on a few dedicated believers who could work alongside the missionaries to evangelise their own people. In fact, Count Zinzendorf encouraged His missionaries to be especially on the lookout for those individuals whom the Holy Spirit had already prepared.
            Count Zinzendorf was one of the few people in Church history who really discerned the importance of this principle. He saw on the one hand the untiring will to reform of the ‘children of the world’, but on the other hand he also saw the ‘sleeping churches and their inactive congregations.’ Little has changed since then. Influenced by the principle of the ecclesiolas (small fellowships inside the big churches) of the Pietists, the Count organized the Herrnhut community in small ‘bands’ and ‘choirs’, which would of course be easier to handle. He also put a lot of emphasis on young people. He guided and nurtured them, even during conferences so that they could grow into the Church work, but he also used them for experimentation, because thus he could also stop any new endeavour more easily when it did not succeed. Following the Master, the vibrant Herrnhut church openly discussed the success (or lack of it) of missionary ventures.
In recent decades the house church movement has been making great strides, notably in different Asian countries. Will the lessons derived really be heeded or are we just going to continue or - just as bad - are we going to proceed with pouring new wine into old bags, wasting the precious wine?

Count Zinzendorf cared for the Individual
Following the habits of the Master, Count Zinzendorf had an eye for the individual. At the Danish court he defied the custom of the time to have fellowship with a slave, a person of low social status. By doing this, he discovered the spiritual quality of the West Indian slave Anton. This act and the subsequent visit of Anton to Herrnhut were major catalysts of the world missionary movement that started from Herrnhut in 1732.                   Spangenberg reports how Zinzendorf not only noticed the absence of a particular organist in a British congregation, but he immedi­ately went to go and pray with him afterwards when he heard that the brother was terminally ill (Spangenberg, 1971:1963). About Zinzendorf's relationship to the single brothers, Spangenberg reported : 'His first aim was to know every one of them... very well' (Spangenberg, 1971:1912). An incident shows the pastoral eye of the Count, when he looked through the list of men in the church. He thereafter requested information not only on those who had left the church, but also about those who had been sent away for various reasons.             
Utilizing Diversity of Gifts                                                                                                                    An important part of a personalized approach is working towards the development of latent gifts in others. Zinzendorf ‘was swift to recognize the diversity of racial and individual gifts, and from the beginning he insisted on the enlistment of native ‘Helpers’ wherever possible' (Lewis, 1962:96). The graves of native Christians from all over the world at Herrnhaag, where the Count and his retinue found refuge after their banishment from Saxony, bear witness to the fact that this idea was also put into practice.                                                                       Special in this regard was the Count’s eschatology where he saw it as the duty of missions to bring in the ‘first fruit’, the first converts from all tribes and nations. He believed that the evangelizing believers could hasten the Lord’s return in this way. His personal sojourn among the Indians of North America taught him to be happy and contented to see individuals come to the Lord, but also to search for those who are also fully sold out in His service. From the ranks of the nations the individuals who had been fished, were expected to take the message to their peoples. The day of using the net to catch fish (Matthew 13:47) would come. Zinzendorf thus taught what would be highlighted at the turn of the 21st century in the Church Planting Movement, where the missionary is constantly on the look-out for and praying to meet the person of peace (taken from Jesus command to the 72 disciples he had sent out two by two in Luke 10).[66]
Separation of Church and Missions                                                                                                                     
In 1786 a young William Carey was told at a conference of Baptist ministers in Northampton, England: 'Sit down young man. When it pleases the Lord to convert the heathen he will do it without your help or mine.' Carey refused to be silenced completely. Evidently inspired by the research of Bishop August Spangenberg, he wrote his monumental An enquiry into the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of the heathen. This book singularly ushered in missions like no other work before it. With regard to a holistic approach – i.e. including social involvement – Carey became the ‘Father’ of modern missions, following in the footsteps of the Moravians in many a way. Carey established the Serampore Mission, a Christian community that had an impact on all of India after he had been more or less insultingly treated in Britain by his fellow Baptists. Carey not only translated many Christian and secular works in India, but he also fought to bring an end to the practice of sati, the burning alive of widows on their husband’s funeral pyre. He furthermore influenced young British civil servants to deal with the Indian people in a just and culturally sensitive way. The Anglican Church Mission Society that was founded in 1799, also faced stern opposition from their denominational leadership. Their leader was refused an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury when they sought to explain their aims (Thomas, 2002:5).
          In Britain those early 20th century clergy and laity interested in missions, resorted to setting up para-ecclesiastical bodies to provide a financial base for the new enterprises. In its wake Protestant Christianity was hereafter however characterized by a split between what was seen to be the work of the church and that of missions. The church/mission dichotomy emerged with racial implications. Church became associated with Christians in the White Western world and Mission with people of colour in the areas that had been colonised.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Word as uniting Dynamite

[1]     As Christians we have been referring to the Hebrew Bible as the 'Old Testament', a term that knowledgeable self-respecting Jews consider denigrating. I try to avoid the term because of the negative connotations. It somehow creates the impression that the 'New Testament' ('NT') either augments the Hebrew Scriptures or even that it makes them redundant. For lack of a better term (Jewish scholars sometime refer to the 'NT' as Christian Scriptures, but that terminology does not sound to me accurate enough), I endeavour to use 'NT' (in inverted commas).
[2]     Genesis 25:18 e.g. refers to hostility of Ishmael's sons to their brothers. More enmity evidently also developed over the centuries as the prophet Isaiah attested to seventeen hundred years later. But Isaiah 60:7 mentions Ishmael's two eldest sons positively in a Messianic prophetic context. I propose that we should take that as our cue rather than the negative tradition of strife and enmity.
[3]This included some trepidation at premature publication of the results of my studies and research. I had become quite wary to cause unhealthy strife and dissent. I have come to accept that few believers have understanding that the timing of any publication has been so important to me. I resent the proliferation and production of inferior or redundant books –  aware that many books are predominantly intended to be (unread) gifts or heading for library shelves. I am thankful for the modern availability of the Internet where I have deposited much of my computer and pen fruits. They are accessible at www.
[4]     We should rather think in the direction of something like an exponential multiplication. This could even include any number to the power of zero and 1 to the power of any number to infinity. All equals ONE.  In Mathematics they even came up with a method to work with unreal numbers like the square root of a negative number.   
[5]     In many ways the statement that God is light is the thesis of 1 John 1. It includes a definition of God's character as well as implications for the life of Christian discipleship. Because God is light the Christian should walk in the light.
[6] I am alluding here to the literal translation of the words in Ephesians 3:10, that has been usually rendered with manifold wisdom of God.
[7]I have no hesitation to write satan throughout – except at the beginning of a sentence of course, without a capital ‘s’. I consciously choose to do this on ideological grounds, not wanting to give any honour to the arch enemy. Furthermore, I have taken note that ‘satan’ is always preceded by the definite article in the Hebrew Scriptures. From this we can thus deduce that ‘satan’ was more a designation of his character than an actual personal name.
[8] There are however also other phrases with the same idea, especially in the letters of Paul.
[9] His grandfather, Bacchius, had a Greek name, while his father, Priscus, bore a Latin name, which has led to speculations that his ancestors may have settled in Neapolis soon after its establishment or that they were descended from a Roman "diplomatic" community that had been sent there
[10]In a similar way Abraham and Adam have been incorporated in the Islamic faith because of their submission to Allah.
[11]    I discuss this in greater detail in the treatise Church Unity – a top Priority?, accessible on our blog
[12]    There are also other instances in Scripture where a solemn act has been repeated, for example the anointing of David (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3), the renewal of the covenant (1 Samuel 23:16ff; 1 Samuel 18:3), the pleas of Abraham on behalf of Lot and that of Jonathan on behalf of David. Twice David refused to kill Saul as God's anointed king (1 Samuel 24:7; 1 Samuel 26:11).
[13]    We could say that the real border crossing started at Jesus' crucifixion. There one of the murderers and the Roman centurion both discovered something of his divine nature. His crucifixion was in another way a double pointer to the Church. The women who faithfully stood by him until the very end represented the 'old' Jew and the Roman was the new Gentile believer. In this way the crucified one draws people from different directions and nations.
[14] Isaiah 56:7, the verse to which Jesus refers, speaks of a house of prayer for the nations.
[15]    Obviously the model is the house church. The hierarchical structure in the Church evolved from the Temple with High Priest etc.
[16]    The Greek word here is charis, with its plural charismata, usually translated as spiritual gifts.
[17]    Tertullian, De praescriptione haereticum (c.200) in Bettenson, Henry S. -Documents of the Christian Church
[18] The sharp difference between Paul and Barnabas was highlighted via a forgery, the Gospel of Barnabas
[19]The lapsi were those who had renounced their Christianity under persecution, but who later wanted to return to the church. Re-baptism has subsequently become standard practice in more than one denomination and sect when someone joined their ranks, not recognizing the baptism performed in any other denomination.
[20] Published in Different Gospels, edited by Dr Andrew Walker, C.S. Lewis Centre (UK),1988
[21]    Compare for example 1 Peter 1:23+25 and the Septuagint version of Jeremiah 1:1f where in the one verse rhema is used and in the other logos.
[22]    It is interesting that the same word in Greek, pneuma, denotes breath, wind and spirit. The breath of God brought life to Adam. The Holy Spirit brings new spiritual breath for man to be born again.
[23] In respect of the ‘OT’, Christians have been misled, to regard the Hebrew Scriptures as inferior and viewing the ‘NT’ as superior! The Bible is a unit. The Hebrew Scriptures and ‘NT’ belong together, even though possibly well over 90% of sermons in churches are still taken from the ‘NT’.
[24] The context emphasizes though that this must not be construed that Jesus is part of a Trinity. The verse goes on, Say not "Trinity": desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: glory be to him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.
[25] This is highlighted in my manuscript THE SPIRITUAL PARENTS OF ISLAM - the influence of heretical Christianity and sectarian Judaism on the religion. The document is accessible at
[26] Literally: Die hele Lukasevangelie is met die idee van die jubeljaar deurdrenk.
[27]In German: bewahre uns vor unseligem Grosswerden.
[28] Not all Pharisees were bad folk. However, it is sad that a few rotten potatoes sometimes do influence a whole bag. The 'NT' probably distorts the picture of a group of people who generally had a good reputation amongst their compatriots, comparable to the damage certain paedophilic and adulterous clergymen inflicted on the image of their profession or the distorted negative portrayal  of the role of the pastor in the average Hollywood film.
[29]    The original Greek translated as “be transformed” contains the word metamorpheste.
[30] Traditionally prayer has been regarded as The Unum Necessarium (the one necessary thing), as the most important thing a Christian can engage in. Before Comenius, Jeremy Taylor, (1613-67) had also written a booklet with the same title. Jeremy Taylor has been called the Shakespeare and the Spencer of the pulpit.
[31] An uproar resulted once after they had accused him of bringing a gentile into the sacred precincts of the temple (Acts 21: 28ff): For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple (v.29).
[32]    Some interpreters saw the olive tree as the new body of Christ comprising of Jew and Gentile believers.
[33] It is probable that Paul lost his cool like this also on other occasions. In Acts 18:6 we read e.g: But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.'  He soon thereafter apparently recovered, going to Ephesus, ministering there for more than two years undeterred by the Jewish taunts and provocations.                                                          
[34] The majority of scholars propose that the letter to the Romans was written in late 55/early 56 or late 56/early 57.
[35]    I do not dispute in any way though that our understanding of heresy is nevertheless valid.
[36]  Bickering and fighting about certain doctrines ultimately led to various Islamic fallacies. I examined this in some detail in the hitherto unpublished manuscript THE SPIRITUAL PARENTS OF ISLAM (accessible at, which highlights the influence of heretical Christianity and sectarian Judaism on Islam.
[37]    Praamsma (De Kerk van alle Tijden, II, 1980:113).
[38]    A canton is a territorial/administrative subdivision in some countries. The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848.
[39]    Some of this, of which we as Christians now unfortunately have to be ashamed, can be accessed on the Internet, such as his table-talk. Hitler abused Luther's negative views of Jews for propaganda purposes.
[40]    Cuius regio, eius religio is a Latin phrase commonly translated as "Whose realm, his religion ", meaning the religion of the ruler of a region or colony dictated the religion of the ruled. The rulers of the German-speaking states and Charles V of the Roman Emperor, agreed to the principle in the The Peace of Augsburg (1555), which ended armed conflict between the Catholic and Protestant forces in the Roman Empire.  The principle originally only extended legitimacy to two religions within the Empire, Catholicism and Lutheranism. By 1648 Calvinism and Anglicism were afforded similar privileges.

[41] Quoted in Lewis Drummond, The Evangelist, the worldwide Impact of Billy Graham, 2001:??
[42] In Part 3 we shall examine in more detail how the charismatic fellowship of Herrnhut implemented biblical principles.
[43]    The 'Cold War' was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition existing after World War II(1939–1945), primarily between the Soviet Union and its satellite states, on the one hand and the powers of the Western world, particularly the USA, on the other hand.
[44]    Martie Dieperink, Dochters naar mijn hart, (Kok Voorhoeve, Kampen (Netherlands), 1995), p.187-191
[45]    Afrikaans Translation: Geseënd is dié wat weet hoe afhanklik hulle van God is.
[46]    Afrikaans: Rykes en armes ontmoet mekaar, which in itself is of course also valuable in terms of reconciliation.
[47]    Judas in John 12.
[48]    The moving story can be found on the internet as an excerpt from the book 'Fresh Power' by Jim Cymbala.
[49] There is possibly also a comparable haughty attitude by some Catholics towards Protestants as well, contending that the Bible which Protestants are using, has been changed.
[50]The root word jarah pertains to shooting and aiming pointedly, to hit the target.
[51]The outspoken Martin Luther had no qualms to put on paper what did not suit him. He also declared: ‘I am so hostile to the Book of Esther that I would it did not exist.’ 
[52]    In a commentary to the Letter of James, p. 141f, D. Moo gives a very helpful explanation of the 'contradiction'. He said with regard to justification by faith: 'James and Paul use 'justify' to refer to different things. Paul refers to the initial declaration of a sinner's innocence before God; James to the ultimate innocence pronounced over a person at the last judgement.'
[53]    This is a word or phrase identified with a particular group or cause; a catchword. The Gideonites used the word shibolleth as a test of pronunciation to check whether the Ephraimites could pronounce the sh sound (Judges 12:4-6).
[54] I do not make any excuses for using the word dialogue, which has been maligned in some evangelical circles. From the context I shall attempt to show that there is definitely a very positive side to it.
[55]This happened for example at a prayer meeting on 10 February 1728, when Zinzendorf especially referred to distant lands - Turkey, Morocco and Greenland. Twenty six men thereafter started preparing for missionary work, even though there was no immediate prospect to leave for some mission field). We note that this challenge to missions of February 1728 occurred only half a year after the widely reported revival of 13th August, 1727.
[56] In Greek the word doulos is used for both slave and servant. The basic differences between the two concepts like coercion and choice became less stark over the centuries.
[57]This is the plural form of charis (grace), given to every follower of Jesus, according to Ephesians 4:7.
[58]    On the mission fields this model however did not function at all. The teaching was somehow not imparted efficiently to empower the indigenous towards leadership. The bishop who invariably was a gifted leader, also became an administrator in the absence of trained indigenous candidates. The original model was restored in South Africa in recent years. (Bishop Errol Moos had never been a member of the Moravian Church Board.)
[59] Via his Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (Historical and Critical Dictionary) Bayle expressed his view that much that was considered to be ‘truth was actually just opinion, and that gullibility and stubbornness were prevalent.
[60]    This treatise should however not be interpreted as a plea for unity at all costs. Richard Lovelace ably described splits after spiritual renewal. He also notes that there is the genuine case when separation sometimes becomes necessary in his book Dynamics of spiritual Life (Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, 1979).
[61]The painting, by Domenico Feti, was titled Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) and it showed Jesus with a crown of thorns on His head. At the bottom of the picture, the artist added the inscription: This I have done for you. What have you done for Me?
[62]P.M. Legene, Graaf van Zinzendorf, de man die maar één passie had (Voorhoeve, Den Haag, 1900) p.50.
[63]No less than the universally acclaimed Karl Barth called Zinzendorf not only ‘the first genuine ecumenist’, but also ‘the only genuine Christocentric of the modern age in his Church Dogmatics, (Edinburgh: T.T. Clark, 1956, Vol. 1:683).
[64] I am alluding here to the literal translation of the words in Ephesians 3:10 that has been usually rendered with manifold wisdom of God.
[65] Georg Schmidt, Das Tagebuch und die Briefe von Georg Schmidt, (Weskaaplandse Instituut vir Historiese Navorsing, Bellville, 1981) p.344
[66]    In Matthew 10 the twelve disciples had to be looking out for the 'worthy' person. It was the standard practice of Zinzendorf and the Herrnhut Moravians to send missionaries out in twos or in small teams. Georg Schmidt was the exception, sent to the Cape alone as punishment for allegedly recanting his Protestant faith during his imprisonment in order to be set free.


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