“For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ.”(2 Corinthians 4:5)
“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching…” (1 Timothy 4,16)
Re: “Basic premise”
We are conscious that Mr. Kluge was confronted with extremely insufficient information sources. So its partly excusable if he reproduces our teaching distortedly. It is however noticeable that in his representation he simply looked for what is negative, and that he presents things that are basically positive as being worthy of criticism.
The method of citing separate statements, often coming from unsure sources in order to derive “the teaching of the Group” is neither serious nor worthy of a theologian. If we assessed Catholics and Protestants according to what we heard once from the mouth of one of their members, the result would prove much more devastating than it really is on the grounds of the official doctrinal documents alone. We place higher expectations on ourselves than on the official “churches”, therefore we expect every brother to know the biblical teaching well so that he can give it further reliably. But there have surely been situations in which some brothers or sisters couldnt explain some teachings sufficiently or even in some details expressed incorrect thoughts. More frequent, however, was probably the case that someone we were talking with misunderstood something, or because of prejudices wanted to misunderstand. As a theologically educated person Mr. Kluge ought to have been more critical of his sources.
Even if it is difficult for Mr. Kluge to determine the specific goal or the doctrine of “the Group”, what motivates us is not the rejection of others, but:
“Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:7-12)
The knowledge of God in Christ is what motivates us to study the Bible and to share in the fellowship with the brothers. It is very sad that many who call themselves Christians and Church do not strive for this knowledge which has been revealed by God, and that their preaching and practice contradict the New Testament. It would be loveless to remain silent on this matter.
Our positive commitment to Jesus leads to what Kluge criticises as an existence in “opposition to other Christians and churches”. Our driving force is not pessimistic criticism, but love that wants to show others the error of their ways. Whoever sees someone in danger and doesnt warn him makes himself guilty.
“If I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” and you give them no warning, or speak to warn the wicked from their wicked way, in order to save their life, those wicked persons shall die for their iniquity; but their blood I will require at your hand.”(Ezekiel 3:18)
Unfortunately Kluges own critical opposition becomes clear from his own article. This opposition is an attitude that has a long tradition in “Christian” history. Thankfully the days are long gone when the great “churches” persecuted their enemies with crusades, torture, by burning them at the stake, and in milder cases with banishment and dispossession. But this murderous attitude, which has for centuries characterised those who to this day pass themselves off as the true representatives of Christianity, has assured that the name of Christ is connected with the greatest criminals in history.
“For, as it is written, The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”(Romans 2:24)
We certainly dont exist in opposition to other Christians, on the contrary: We rejoice in every brother we get to know. The spirit of God leads the Christians from a diverse array of environments together into the unity of the body of Christ.
We are not a new church. For that reason we consider it praise that its said of us, “Only on rare occasions have they developed their own independent and positive initiatives.” We hold to the positive initiatives of Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas and James; i.e., to those of the New Testament.
We are not ashamed to adopt what people of former generations recognised to be right, for example about the Trinity, the teaching about Grace, the True Presence of Christ at Holy Communion etc., and to think it through again and again. What would Mr. Kluge reproach us of if we were really “theologically creative” like, for example, the Jehovahs Witnesses? All theological creativity must be confined to the realm of Gods revealed truth.(finds its boundaries within Gods revealed truth.) Whoever disregards these boundaries, as the aforementioned Jehovahs Witnesses, leaves the foundation of Christianity. No matter what one does, Kluge finds grounds for criticism.
Mr. Kluges ascertainment of a disinterest in theological discussions (how does he know this?) is not completely compatible with his confirmation that “discussions of this nature take place at quite a high intellectual level.” (The English version of Kluge’s work contains a misleading wrong translation. The right translation is as is quoted above and not “…discussions of this nature take place at quite a high intellectual naive”)
We agree with the three major Creeds of Faith of the ancient church (the Apostolic Creed, the Nicean-Constantinopolian Creed, and the Athanasian Creed), because they reproduce the authentic teaching of the Apostles, even though the church at the time of the formulation of those creeds had already distanced itself in many points from the principles of the first church.
Teaching and life form a unity. Theology without the pursuit of holiness is blasphemy. Pure concentration on leading an ethical life without corresponding theological foundation, leads to a humanistic concept and away from God. We are conscious that mental inertia/laziness in thinking ultimately destroys the moral foundations. We want to love God with all our mind (Mt 22:37), whereby thinking through the teaching is not just the task of a few theologically educated people. Every Christian endeavours to understand the revelation of God as well as possible, of course, each one according to the gifts given him and in humility, full of gratitude, conscious that God has revealed it to the simple. (Mt 11:25)