Foreword: Attitudes and Constitutions

The basic question is: does Christianity have a constitution? Secondly, if so, what is the Constitution of Christ's Church (Matthew 16:18)? In other words, what is the body of fundamental principles or established precedents by which His organization is governed? The history of the first century church is found in the New Testament and it alone contains the constitution of New Testament Christianity. Christianity's Constitution consists of (1) Christ's commands given to His disciples (e.g. Matthew 28:18-20), (2) examples of what the first century church practiced and taught while under the direction of the Apostles (John 14:15-18), and (3) necessary inferences based on the above.

However, because there are so many views of Christianity today, it is necessary to search for the ancient order of things found in the New Testament. It is said we live in a "post doctrine" world (meaning it does not matter what you believe). Yet, there are some doctrines (such as the resurrection of Christ -- 1 Corinthians 15) so fundamental that Christianity is without a foundation in historical fact and function. As Paul points out (Romans 1:16-18), the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel and without obedience to it we are subject to the wrath of God.

When Supreme Court judge Scalia passed away, it focused a great deal of attention on our national constitution. As an avid constitutionalist, his death generated discussions on our foundation document that applies to the Bible as our fundamental religious document. Liberals contend that both the constitution and the Bible are "living documents." This means the originators' words are to be interpreted in the light of contemporary values rather than the meaning of the author. Constitutionalist or Christian fundamentalists, on the other hand understand that it is wrong to prostitute or wrest the author's words to mean what the originator never meant.

The apostle Peter warned against wresting the Scriptures or Christianity's Constitution (2 Peter 3:15-17) which would be to their own destruction. Jude, the brother of the Lord, admonished the early Christians to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3). The faith or Gospel was revealed to us in the New Testament, which is the Christian's constitution. It tells us of our common salvation and, as in the first century, the ungodly are "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4).

In conclusion, constitutions say what they mean and mean what they say. The true meaning is not what we want it to be, but rather, what the text says it to be!

Dale I. Royal, Elk City, OK