Editor's Introduction: Most of the mainline Reformed and Presbyterian denominations are in the hands of liberals and apostates, and even the majority of the smaller, more conservative groups are hostile to, or at best diffident about, a vigorous Reformed Faith and Christian Reconstruction; in essence, they are generically evangelical. We thank God, therefore, that groups like the Association of Free Reformed Churches are springing up as a clarion call to all who are devoted to historic Reformed Orthodoxy and a robust, relevant application of the Faith in all spheres of life. We urge Christians of like mind to contact the AFRC and join the battle.
Q: It has been my observation both through the newspapers and in casual conversation that the churches of the AFRC (Association of Free Reformed Churches) are obnoxiously aggressive. It seems relationships with other churches are unimportant to you and that all you care about is conversion to your opinions, rather than accepting diversity in the body. What do you say to this?
A: It's true that AFRC churches are aggressive to proclaim the truth of Reformed Orthodoxy and Christian Reconstruction. It is also true that we aim to make converts of churches and clergy so as to reform both the church catholic and the world at large. That is what being "Reformed" is all about. In this context we have relationships with other congregations that are in doctrinal agreement and are committed to the same tasks and cause as the AFRC.
Our personal opinions and perspectives are irrelevant in this conversion process. The ministry in which we are engaged is not based on man-centered subjectivism, but instead on objective truth. Reformation ministry by definition means realignment of thought and action to sound doctrine. Unity is based on truth, which towers above "relationalism." Therefore, we can expect casualties along the dividing line of truth. It has always been that way and it will always be this way. The AFRC was founded to draw these distinctions, win converts to the Faith, and sanction and repulse heresy and heretics within our spheres of influence. This we will continue to do, by God's grace.
Q: I've recently left a church over severe doctrinal differences resulting from my acceptance of the Reformed Faith. I've been told by my former pastor that I "broke covenant," and that "while I may have many teachers, I only have one father." The father reference is to this same pastor. I have no lack of confidence in the decision I made but feel very guilty about this whole episode.
A: Of course you feel guilty! Guilt manipulation is what palsied pulpiteers resort to when they can't debate the issues. Now, leaving a church is a serious matter and should never be done for frivolous reasons. However, if conversion of a church to Reformed Orthodoxy and reconstruction seems remote, and you are not called as a "missionary" to that church, realignment with another church that supports and proclaims the truth is a noble act. This cannot be disparaged by weak, effeminate clergy no matter how much sentimental blather may dribble from their lips. As far as this man's being your "father," remember, you already have a Father in your Heavenly Father. We Protestants broke away from the Pope and have no need to create little ones of our own.
This kind of talk is endemic to various "shepherding movements" which were popular in evangelical ranks in the 70s and 80s. Thankfully, these man-centered, guilt-manipulating, authoritarian structures, bereft of sound doctrine, are all but extinct.
Q: Why do you feel it is necessary to "sanction" so-called heretics? And why do reconstructionists want to debate and win arguments all the time? Can't we all just get along?
A: No, we can't "all just get along." We're not followers of Rodney King's world-life-view. Truth matters, ideas have consequences, and we are willing to fight and die for the Faith we hold in sacred trust. Hence, we are eager to engage the strongholds of ignorance and iniquity, be they vain philosophies, anti-Biblical governmental policies, or treasonous clergymen who are leading men astray. This, according to Titus, is our plain duty in the sight of God: to sanction and reject the heretic. Reconstructionists are not "heretic hunters." Our primary task is to advance the Kingdom of God in all societal spheres. However, when an individual pastor or groups of churches teach and promote anti-orthodox notions
and through deception seek to influence others in a given locale, we will strike and strike hard and strike true.
Q: How do you view clergy who agree with the tenets you espouse yet do nothing to advance it within their own church.
A: That depends on whether the clergyman in question is struggling to master and implement the truth or is deliberately suppressing the truth lest it expose his own lack of adherence to it. It takes time to arrest bad theology and to rebuild sound theology. It's a growth process. Therefore, I have a great deal of empathy for pastors who are sincerely struggling to grasp and implement historic Reformed Orthodoxy.
However, for those who know the truth and choose to cowardly shirk their duty for fear of losing their reputation or congregation, I have nothing but disdain. Cowardice under fire is among the most reprehensible traits clergymen can exhibit. Granted, they may one day turn and act on the Faith which they've given mental assent to. When that day comes, my hand will be extended to them, no questions asked. But until that time comes, the coward must be shamed. There are lives at stake here and eternity is in the balance. The AFRC does not need moral cowards and will neither seek nor coddle them.
Q: I've followed your newspaper war with the Rev. J. W. I know that he is a liberal and that he's made absurd charges concerning the various Reformed ministries in northeast Ohio. Still, why must you respond in public? Shouldn't the church keep its infighting out of the public eye? Don't you think these fights will alienate readers from the Gospel? Finally, are you willing to stop the war?
A: Pardon me, but there is a battle and we are in the process of winning it. The war will stop when Christ exercises Lordship over all. We cannot and we will not allow liberal, homosexual-ordaining, abortion-promoting blasphemers like W. to carry the day in the public square. For too long the church has cowered in her pietistic-dualistic bunkers in the face of the enemy. She has ceded the plain of battle to the God-hating apostates without even firing a shot. The AFRC was founded to reverse such suicidal trends.
We respond in public, for that is where the fight is. No, I don't believe this causes division in the church, for W. isn't part of the body in the first place. Those evangelicals who are squeamish about our defense of the Faith, are so because in the heat of battle their own theological deficiencies are pointed out and their lack of action exposed. The plain fact is, when truth combats error, men are convinced one way or the other. AFRC churches have benefited both numerically and spiritually from "fighting the good fight" and we will continue to "march from victory unto victory till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord over all."
Q: I've heard that Reformed churches believe that you are saved through baptism. Is this true?
A: No, it is not true. We do not hold to "baptismal regeneration." Within the AFRC we have both Reformed Baptists who hold to "believers' baptism," meaning some verbal confession is first required, and Reformed Presbyterians who hold to paedobaptism or infant baptism. Paedobaptism from a Reformed perspective holds that children are baptized visibly into the covenant, meaning that they will be dealt with by God according to the terms of the covenant. There will be Jacobs and Esaus according to God's election, but both will be held to the same covenant requirements.
Q: What are the main tenets of Christian Reconstruction?
A: To paraphrase the Creed of Christian Reconstruction, they are Calvinism, theonomic ethics (adherence to God's Law), presuppositional thinking, postmillennial eschatology and dominionist orientation in social theory. For an introduction on the subject you may order from Chalcedon Andrew Sandlin's Reconstructionist Primer.
For information on an AFRC church near you, contact:
Rev. Jeffrey A. Ziegler
Christian Evangelistic Endeavors and Reformation Bible Institute
35155 Beachpark Dr.
Eastlake, Ohio 44095
- Jeffrey A. Ziegler
Rev. Jeffrey A. Ziegler is founder and president of Christian Endeavors and Reformation Bible Institute. Christian Endeavors was founded in 1983 as a Christian educational organization providing theological lectures and materials to help churches across the denominational spectrum develop a comprehensive Biblical world-life-view and to reconstruct an explicitly Christian civilization. Rev. Jeff Ziegler has lectured in over 600 churches and pastors' conferences comprising 18 denominations and spanning the North American continent, Great Britain and Germany.
Reformation Bible Institute was founded in 1985 as a means to train pastors and laymen in the theological pinions of the historic Reformed Faith and Christian Reconstruction. Specifically RBI focuses on Calvinism, Theonomic Ethics (Biblical Law), Presuppositional Apologetics, Knoxian Activism, Christian History and the disciplines of Protestant political-economic social theory. Since 1985 over 500 students have passed through the halls of RBI in northeast Ohio and many others have taken courses through correspondence.
Rev. Ziegler is also co-founder and moderator of the Association of Free Reformed Churches and the Ohio Reconstruction Society. He is an author with articles appearing on a regular basis in Christian periodicals such as The Christian Statesman, The Forerunner and The Chalcedon Report. He is the editor of both the "Revival Flame" newsletter and "The Puritan Storm " homepage and is a board member of the 135-year-old National Reform Association.
In addition to ministry duties, Jeff Ziegler is president of The Continental Group, a think tank for political activism and the culmination of over twenty years of political involvement. In this capacity Ziegler has been a campaign advisor and strategist, press secretary, campaign manager and has authored numerous position papers and legislation at the local and state level. He can be contacted at 216-289-2553 or [email protected].