Reductionism is like a wheat crop with the brown rust blight. Shrivelled grain and monetary loss.
Reductionist thinking reduces things. Summaries are useful and software that reduces the size of your file makes more space on your computer. Condensed milk is convenient but does not mean that cows are tins. Reductionism reduces spirituality to legalism. In the realm of what is meant to be the expanding Kingdom of Christ reductionism reduces the incarnation to legalism and associated externalities. Reductionism reduces life in the Spirit – Christ come in the flesh – to the flesh. Reductionism reduces Christ our life to laws, regulations and religion. It reduces sons and daughters to workers and slaves.
Reductionism is the fall perpetuated by diminished Christianity. The law is reductionist because it makes people less than they are. In Christ your life you are always more than you think and actually more than you are.
The blight of institutionalism is an attempted life in the container rather than drinking the living water that is Christ Himself. Stressing the importance of living in Christ instead of the container prompts the rejoinder: ‘That’s a given,’ yet it clear that with most of the ‘that’s a given people’ what is given away is life in oneness with Christ in exchange for oneness with His Religion.
People make careers out of ‘church growth.’ Christ multiplies as people is the only authentic growth of His Real Church.
The default setting of most of us, until we have been born again is institutionalism, which is a variety of religion and a strain of legalism. I use the world ‘strain’ because it is like a virus and keeps differentiating itself into new forms. ‘Born again’ is not a change from bad guy to good guy. It is the change from religion to oneness with Jesus. His life is lived in the Spirit. Paul spoke of Christ in you. In the Spirit this is the person of Jesus expressed as you, George and Sharon.
DRAINED OF LIFE
You may have been unfortunate enough to have been a member of the church where living expressions of institutionalism insert themselves into church leadership and maintain themselves there for ever and a day – while the church – like the Murray-Darling basin at the hand of the unwise farmer, runs dry and the hirelings who have been in office begin to blame others for what they did to themselves.
THE LETTER: REDUCTIONISM NAMED
As indicated, institutionalism is a manifestation of the letter that kills which itself is a kind of ‘law’ being the culture of religion. Religion saves no one and usually results in insulating the Believer from the life that could be his or hers. When Christ is our life we are alive in His Spirit and the living expression of Jesus. We are not holy Joes or pious gits. We are fully human and fully alive as expressions of the Son of Man.
We are the church Jesus builds – without human hands. This is the genuine, non-letterised version of the Body of Christ. Such a church is the outward expression of the Christ within.
Paul speaks of Christ our life. This is not achieved by climbing a spiritual Everest. He is our life simply because we agree with Jesus and our Father that He is.
MORE THAN YOU ARE
Jesus says He is our life and Reverend Dr Gordon Moyes asserts that Christianity is not a religion but a person. Unless we know and live this we cannot expect to live more than a raisin like existence when our real self is to be a delicious bunch of grapes. C Baxter Kruger writes,
“Jesus Christ is not a doctrine, but a person who knows his Father. If this Trinitarian-incarnational understanding/revelation becomes only a doctrine, that would be a tragedy of the most serious proportions. We would be left with ourselves and another empty theological trend.
One does not just write love songs and poetry, or papers on the topic of love. People engage in the soul-baring process of being loved and loving each other. This is an ontological truth and experience. Love is about persons in relation, and so it is with Jesus Christ and us. Jesus is a person, and he shares with us his knowledge of the Father that no one else has or has had. He shares his heart and mind and being with us.
To reduce and truncate this personal sharing to a doctrine robs people of the power of the gospel, as it robs them of the Father’s love in Jesus and his relational healing. Without knowing the unconditional acceptance of the Father in Jesus, we are not able to drop our defence mechanisms, and as a consequence we will not allow our souls to receive His love and heal.” (1)
Living from a belief system or making a life from the attempt to pump up a denominational perspective robs us of our humanity and much of our sonship. Sure we can be sons notionally but if love has glued us to Christ our life we become fully human and fully alive in spirit and in truth. Like Jesus we are spirit and life.
As legalist we cannot enjoy real intimacy with each other. A degree of fellowship, sure, but not the union of spirit and soul that is ours when we are living in the interwoveness of the trinity who live in us. Living in the oneness of the trinity we gain the oneness that they are and live in oneness with each other – at least with those who live it.
‘I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me’ John 17.23 NIV.
To live from a law-based core is to rob every spiritual truth of content and make it a shrivelled remnant of its original self. It does this by robbing our relationship of God and extinguishing our relationship with ourselves and others. Cardboard is the characteristic soul of the Belief-System-Monger. In a version of the letter, can assure themselves that we are joined to the Body when we are joined to the fellowship of ourselves and our protective fictions.
Jesus is here to set us free from such a subtle and tenacious captivity.
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free’ Luke 4.18 NIV.
(1) Kruger, C. Baxter. Across All Worlds: Jesus Inside Our Darkness (Kindle Locations 147-156). Perichoresis, Inc. Kindle Edition.