The bandwagon toward restorationism has more unsuspecting believers jumping on than just about any other bandwagon that is railing its way through the church today. The Christian desire to see a better world, free from the suffering of poverty, sickness, abuse, and other evils, is the fuel that many have used to gain riders on the restoration bandwagon. We want–and should want–a better world.
The latest is a conference and book, both by the title, “Restoring All Things,” by Warren Cole Smith (World Publishing) and John Stonestreet (Colson Center and co-host of Breakpoint). These authors join a host of other “restoration movement” authors and speakers who have become prominent in the last decade. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I am sure that the leaders of the movement are not motivated by a book-selling, speech-giving, royalties-driven heart. Rather, they are leading out of an honest-to-goodness desire for a better world.
But their desire is totally misguided.
The “Restoring all Things” book and conference is built on the foundation of thought that believes that the church’s collective influence is what God will use to “restore all things.” Therefore, if we join hands in perfect harmony, we can end injustice and usher in a new world order, bringing God glory.
It’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t work.
It is a thought that those in the Calvinist / Reformed Theology movement are beginning to fully adopt, and quickly. This baffles me, since the Reformed Theology movement is a movement that so emphasizes the glory of God and the depravity of man. Yet the restorationist movement magnifies the strength of man and makes God dependent upon man’s collective strength for restoration of His created order.
Not only is it strange that the reformed movement is buying into this garbage, but the garbage is unbiblical at its core. We live in a fallen world that can only be redeemed and restored by the “zeal of the Lord of hosts.” A Biblical worldview is one which sees the brokenness of this world being restored in the cataclysmic return of the Lord, coming in judgment and bringing justice and restoration. (I am not surprised, therefore, that adherents of this theology almost always choose to speak of a “Christian worldview” rather than a “Biblical worldview.”)
While the book is not-yet-released, the back cover states that, “Through inspiring real-life stories of justice, mercy, love, and forgiveness in our communities and neighborhoods, you’ll encounter a God who is intimately involved in His creation and using His church to work out the redemption of this world” [emphasis mine]. I have no doubt that the church can be ambassadors of Christ, preaching the good news of reconciliation to God through Christ. I am fully convinced, however, that there is absolutely no means or manner by which the church can “work out the redemption of this world.” The book’s subtitle says all I need to know: “God’s audacious plan to change the world through everyday people.”
Folks, everyday people simply cannot restore all things, even if we all come together and pool our resources. Such restoration is reserved for the Son of Man, who will someday restore all things, as the second Adam, and finally present the restored work to the Father, for His glory.
The conference, which will be at venues across America, will feature speakers like Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, Rick Warren, Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation, Eric Metaxes, and Ed Stetzer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Christian Resources.
Christians can, and often should, be involved in politics, philanthropy, benevolent works, and other humanitarian issues. They should do this as opportunities to do good to all, especially to the household of faith. They should use these opportunities to give witness about the only hope for individuals and for society: Jesus Christ.
Here’s what you can expect from any books, conferences, or movements that have a restorationist vision:
- Ecumenical fervor – Evangelicals, protestants, and catholics all working together as if we had no theological differences.
- Justice initiatives – When you hear the word “justice” in the church today, you need to go on “red alert.” This is a code word for restorationism (but is really a new-wave of socialism).
- Stories – lots of them. And statistics. These movements work to grab the heart-strings. Don’t allow the stories and statistics to manipulate your feelings. Be Bible driven!
- Old Testament – The justice initiatives and restoration worldview are built on Hebrew prophecies of the coming Messianic Age (the Millennium). Using these Scriptures (and the Sermon on the Mount), teachers will misapply the description of things to come, creating a scenario in which such a scene is built by the church rather than, “the zeal of the Lord of hosts.”
- Twisted millennial views – Almost all restorationist work is built on the idea of creating the Millennial age by human effort. It is old-style post-millennialism re-crafted for a new day.
As a Southern Baptist, I bemoan the fact that the social gospel is no longer strongly condemned in our ranks. Now it is promoted by those who are either participating in this conference (Stetzer and Warren), or by those who have the same thinking (Russell Moore and David Platt). Whether you are Southern Baptist or not, I hope you will realize that “justice” sounds good, and a world of peace looks beautiful, but it is all the same agenda as the liberal social-gospel of old. The only change is that the liberal has now put on a cloak of conservatism. The pseudo-conservative agenda is just as misguided.
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