Sunday, February 28, 2016

Christian Action Project – Notes and Asides - #3 – The Preface (Unconditional Surrender)

Before posting Study 5, I would like to further explain some of the fundamental structure of the whole series of CAP and the basic premise behind it.
Over the last 15- 20 years, I have read many books and watched some DVD series on Christian history and American politics. I have also tried to keep up with social, cultural, scientific and economic developments. As Christians, we should have a solid grounding in most of these areas.
So far, I have brought into play in this CAP series - two books and one DVD. I periodically draw from each, as I see the topic developing. If I had to select just one resource which encapsulates most of what I’ve learned and best expresses it in a readable style, it would be Gary North’s “Unconditional Surrender” book. In fact, he wrote it because he couldn’t find one which he could recommend to others.
This book has become the basic track on which our CAP series will run, in the short term at least. It is so well organized that we don’t have to read the whole book from beginning to end chronologically. Each topic has been helpful to me as an entity unto itself, with an excellent summary and conclusion. Some of you might want to order it yourself and I would certainly recommend it. The best price I have found is at American Vision. A free download is also available.
The basic premise behind this book is that we are now living in this phase of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus began upon His first advent. This is fundamentally in opposition to what a large percentage of Christians believe. That is why I have decided to post Mr. North’s Preface to his book.
(The following is from “Unconditional Surrender”.)
This book was born of necessity. In 1980, I was publishing a bi weekly economic newsletter, Remnant Review, which was sent to people who are interested in ways of preserving and increasing their capital. In my June 6, 1980 issue, I wrote about the "Four G’s” in investing: gold, groceries, guns, and God. I had plenty of recommendations on the first three, but when I came to the fourth, I got stuck. I wanted to recommend a good introductory book on the significance of Christianity for the modern world, and I couldn't think of one. There are books of many kinds, all dealing with one aspect or another of Christian faith and worship, but I couldn't think of one that was general, theologically accurate, comprehensive, and readable.
This began to bother me. At the time I was publishing seven newsletters - and writing four of them - so my time was extremely scarce. Furthermore, I ran the Institute for Christian Economics, and one of my continuing projects was writing a complete economic commentary on the Bible. Then as now, I spent a minimum of ten hours a week, fifty weeks per year, on this project. So I knew I didn't have much time to write a book. At the same time, I became convinced that an introductory book was needed.
To get the job done without ruining my schedule, I decided to write this book, but with a time limit. That limit was two weeks. I began on July 2, 1980, and I finished the first draft on July 14. In fact, I even had half a day to spare, since I finished in the afternoon.
This was the last book I ever wrote on a typewriter:  an IBM Selectric III.  By the end of the year, I had switched to a word processing program called SSI, which a year later became WordPerfect.  I used the SSI program that another ministry owned.  I plugged into its minicomputer by means of a wire strung across the street.  In those days, SSI sold for $7,500, which in today’s money is $20,000.  It ran on a $25,000 used minicomputer, which in today’s money is $66,000.  ICE bought it for me to use.  Mistake!  Within a year, it was possible to buy WordPerfect for $495, and an IBM PC for under $2,000.  I had bought too soon!  But in just one week, I doubled my output.  No other tool ever accomplished that in my lifetime.
I had James Jordan read the manuscript, and he made some important suggestions. I have included most of them in the final version. Still, the book is basically the product of two weeks of writing. The entire project took one month: from start to final draft.
I wanted it to be readable. Complexity makes books unreadable, so I wrote it rapidly: no notes, no outline, and with only the chapter headings in mind. But I had been studying the Bible for over twenty years before I began this project. (I used the King James Version for citations, since most readers own this translation.) With Jordan’s help, I made major revisions in the chapter on “Man”, in the section dealing with salvation. I am least happy with this section, since it's more complex than I had hoped, but I have been unable to figure out a way to make it shorter or easier. I wanted it to be accurate.
I simply didn't have time to be more thorough. I hope that my approach has at least made the book readable. Anyone who wants to pursue some of these topics in greater detail can follow through by reading further. No single handbook can serve as a final source on the meaning and implications of Christianity.
I decided originally to call the book Christianity: What Difference Does It Make? Some of my associates wanted me to call it Sheer Christianity, a title reminiscent of C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. But I stuck with Unconditional Surrender, since I think it comes closer to the major themes of this book.
I wanted to produce a handbook that could serve as an introduction to the basics of Christianity, as well as a study guide for people who are already Christians, but who have never spent much time considering the social, political, and economic implications of Christianity. It might be thought of as a fat tract. It might be thought of as a Christian manifesto. My hope is that it will at least be thought of.
The book is divided into three sections. The first section, "Foundations," covers the fundamentals of orthodox Christianity. These are the religious principles that set Christianity apart from all other religions. The second section, "Institutions," covers the implications of Christianity for the major institutions of human life. We should expect to find a very different approach in each major institution from what we would expect to find in non-Christian cultures. Finally, there is the third section on "Expectations." What should we expect in the future? How will we implement the principles we found in section one? Do we have time to develop the institutional base of section two? What is the proper plan of action? What are we required by God to do?
In the third edition, published in 1987, I added the chapter on “Time”, and in this edition, I have added another chapter, “Judgment”.  I did this because I recognized that the book should be structured in terms of the five points of the biblical covenant model.  This five-point structure was the basis of Ray Sutton’s book, That You May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant, which the ICE published in 1987.  The first three chapters of this book matched the first three chapters of his.
I knew in 1980 that this book will inevitably offend everybody. It breaks with most of what we know as "establishment Christianity." There are many establishment Christians who think they aren't part of a religious establishment, but they are. When they read this book, and if they think about what they are reading, they will either have to reject much of what I conclude in this book or else they will have to begin to labor long and hard to rethink the religious principles they have been taught for many years.
Any time a reader doesn't like what he's reading, he should check his premises. Then he should check out the documentation I provide. Errors in any human book are inevitable, but it's a question of reducing errors to a minimum. This book breaks with many of the current slogans of Christian churches, yet it was written in terms of this presupposition: the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It was perfect in the original manuscripts (autographs). It is because I believe the Bible is inspired with respect to both its historical data and its theological judgments, that I decided to write this book. I am convinced that much of what passes for conservative Christianity in the early twenty-first century is neither conservative nor Christian.
What I recommend to the reader is simple to state but difficult to achieve: respect for what the Bible says. Something isn't Christian because I say it is, but because the Bible says it is. At the same time, something isn't Christian just because some pastor or some familiar book says it is. Just because you haven't heard anything like the message this book presents doesn't mean it isn't an accurate message. You have to make up your own mind. Tradition is no substitute for personal responsibility. Slogans you learned in Sunday school may not be what the Bible really teaches. Just because you may have an outline at the foot of each page in your Bible doesn't guarantee that the text of the Bible teaches what's in those footnotes. You have to decide, not in terms of what men say, but what the Bible says.                           
                                                                                                                        -July, 2010