What is the Chief Identifying Mark of NCCG that Makes it Attractive?
NCW 63, August-October 1999
Q. What would you say was the chief identifying mark of the New Covenant Church of God that would especially be attractive to new members?
This is really a very subjective kind of question because people are seeking for different things. Were I to identify what I believe to be the chief need in Christendom it would be the need for a WHOLE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE. Not everybody is, of course, seeking for this. However, I believe the Lord created this NC Church precisely for those Christians who want the whole biblical truth and not just the parts that seem to meet their particular circumstantial needs or answer fleshy cravings.
We are not, of course, the only ones claiming to offer the “whole package”, as it were. In fact, it is probably true to say that almost every Christian Church believes that it is offering the whole. Whether this claim is borne out by the Bible itself is another question.
The Norwegian writers Sidsel Øiestad Grande and Jan Fredrik Myklebust in their High School textbook, LOGOS: Religion, Life Purpose & Ethics (“Logos: Religion - Livssyn - Etikk”, J.W.Cappellens Forlag A.S., Oslo, 1992), in trying to paint a systematic picture of the diverse factions of Christendom, basically divide them into subjective and objective categories. In the former they include the Quakers (who have virtually no structure at all and almost as little doctrine as well), the Salvation Army (whose emphasis is on social help) and the Pentecostals (who stress the charismatic gifts). In the latter they have placed the Lutherans (who place an emphasis on doctrine - we could perhaps add the Baptists, Methodists and some others in this category too), the Catholics (for whom organisation and structure are vitally important, with the Pope as a sort of guarantee that doctrine is always current and correct), and the Eastern Orthodox Christians (who are highly ritualistic and mystical) (p.195).
In considering the Grande-Myklebust model I think it is true to say that the New Covenant Church of God contains important elements of all of these six traditions which may be respresented in diagrammatic form (see above).
Doctrine has always been important to New Covenant Christians. It was important to Christ and to the first apostles. Accordingly we, like Lutherans, Baptists and others, use much effort to ensure that our doctrine is comprehensive and biblically accurate. In this respect we have always looked up to the Baptists for their efforts to be true to the Word.
Charismata, beloved by Pentecostals but spurned by most other wings of Christianity, are also held in high regard by New Covenant Christians. We acknowledge all the New Testament spiritual gifts even if we do not necessarily agree with the interpretation given some of them by pentecostals and others. Contemporary revelation has always been a keynote of NCCG.
Meditative Christianity also also been a strong NCCG feature. Meditation and prayer are essential aspects of the Gospel - the “quiet Gospel”, so noticeably absent from some of the charismatic movements yet a strong feature of the Quakers and Catholic monastic orders. Our longest revelation is on meditation (OB 331). Each New Covenant Christian is taught to seek the voice of God in all that he does, to devote much time to this, so that he may discern the “still small voice” as guidance for his life.
Structure and organisation also feature strongly in NCCG. Like the Catholics and Mormons, we have a very well organised priesthood system though unlike the Catholics everybody plays a part, there being no Clergy-Laity divide. NCCG has both a pyramidal structure, on the one hand, and a horizonal structureless system on the other. We recognise that for good order, discipline and effeciency structure is absolulutely essential. However, we also recognise that such can crush the Spirit and accordingly this is balanced by an inner spiritual equality of all.
Mysticism, not to be confused with occultism, and which is such a strong feature of the Eastern Orthodox Church, figures strongly in the Holy Order of the New Covenant Church of God where the Priesthood members are trained and where communal living features. NCCG has its own liturgical tradition rich in symbolism that runs alongside the extremely simple form of common worship.
Social Action, in the form of helping the outcasts of society, is another feature of NCCG. Since our earliest times we have worked with orphans, alcoholics and drug addicts, and more recently with the victims of occultism. Here we take our inspiration from the Salvation Army and many other ministries who labour to bless and ease the plight of the oppressed.
In answering your question, then, as to what will attract people to NCCG, I can only say that for some (those who have a call to this Church) it will be the sum total of its aspects, and to others (who perhaps may only transition through it) it will be different parts, depending on their perceived needs. Obviously not all of these aspects will come to the fore until the Church is much larger (for example, social action) but others most certainly will attract.
Thus those coming out of highly organised and structured religions (Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Catholic Church, etc.) will find repose in the structure and orderliness of NCCG. Those coming from a Pentecostal/charismatic back- ground will find attraction in the openness, simple relationhips and revelatory character of the Church, perhaps finding a depth they did not find in their previous spiritual homes. Those with a mystical background will find easy passage into the Chavurah Bekorot, and those from a quiet background in Quakerism, Catholic holy orders, or a private belief system will find scope for enlarging their esoteric experience. But most importantly, ALL of these people will have their horizons considerably broadened by the shere scope of the New Covenant Christian vision and find themselves experiencing aspects of the Christian faith which perhaps their previous ecclesiastical allegiances denied them. And that, I believe, is the great attraction of NCCG - it offers so much and is literally a gathering place for those of varied experience as well as being an opportunity to really grow in Christ. It challenges ALL to change - NCCG is not a place of stagnation, but of continually “moving on” towards that spiritual fullness which is the goal of every Spirit-born Bible-believing Christian. Not all comprehend the scope of this work because they are in such a hurry to assess and judge it, but those who remain long enough to commit themselves to it are usually joyfully surprised.
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Last updated on 14 September 1999
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