WHAT REACTIONARIES TEACH US
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 REACTIONARIES are people who overreact in a given situation. What they stand for, or what they oppose, may largely be right (or at least some truth in it). They have a just grievance. But in their obsession with their view and their opposition to the wrong, they have become like the pendulum in the old grandfather clock. They have gone to the extreme in the other direction. In trying to correct one evil, they have unintentionally become responsible for the introduction of another.
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 This can be seen throughout history. It can be seen in modern times. This is in evidence in religion as well as politics. It is to be found in the form of great movements, as well as on an individual basis.
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 The rise of monastic orders in ancient times was of a reactionary nature. Whether one investigates the Jewish Essenes of some 2,000 or more years ago, or the monasteries that came into being after the church had been here a few centuries, the truth is the same. The world, and even the supposed church, became so corrupt that sensitive and pious souls wanted no part of it. So they withdrew from society. A false asceticism came into being. But Christianity is to be lived in the world. Jesus prayed, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil" (John 17:15). They were to be Christís witnesses in the world, but they were not to be of the world. (In reference to the rise of this false asceticism, read Paulís prophecy in I Timothy 4:1-4).
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 The Protestant Reformation turned out to be a reactionary movement in many ways. If anyone ever had a legitimate and just grievance, those who spoke out against Roman Catholic apostasy did. In Catholicism they found God dethroned with the pope and priests in His place, the pope claiming to be the head of the church (and even called "Lord God the Pope") and the whole synthetic cleric system claiming the power to absolve sins. Men were supposedly justified by prescribed works of man as laid down by the Catholic Church. By all means, the sovereignty of God needed to be restored among men, the great doctrine of justification by faith needed to be heralded forth again, along with many other things. But the proverbial pendulum made its decided swing. Reactionary reformers began to preach the sovereignty of Almighty God to the point of irrevocable predestination (the Calvinistic version). Everything was so ordered that manís responsive works did not enter in. The characteristic and hallmark doctrine of Protestantism became "faith only." And of course, although having an element of great truth, all of these doctrines are out of harmony with the Scriptures (II Peter 3:9; II Peter 1:10; James 2:14-26; Romans 1:5; etc.). Man most certainly is justified by faith, but not by an inactive "faith only."
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 The world has been in an upheaval because of the reactionary political philosophy introduced by Karl Marx and others. No doubt, abuses that this man pointed out were to a large extent true at the time. No doubt, much of the religion, masquerading as Christianity that Marx came in contact with, needed criticizing. (It is a shame that this man was not exposed to real New Testament Christianity). From his feelings of desperation and hate have come what we know as Communism. It proposes, in essence, to enslave man and his spirit (at least that has been its record) and to remake the world after its own atheistic image. But, as it has been said, two wrongs donít make a right. What a shame! Mankind selling its soul and birthright for a measly mess of pottage, and in the end having neither!
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 Most modern religious movements are reactionary movements. This can be said of the so-called "charismatic movement." The pendulum continues to swing as time moves on. Division occurs, and consequently splinter group after splinter group comes into being (even among people professing to be the New Testament church).
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 To counter this, another reactionary movement comes into being. Some being tired of division and problems that seem insolvable, seemingly have thrown themselves open to unrestricted fellowship with almost anything and anyone religiously. Correct doctrinal teaching is downplayed, it seems, in trying to realize this longed for fellowship. Certainly improper attitudes and sectarian concepts may be barriers to fellowship, but we do not want to throw out respect for the truth to accomplish our goals. We have deep feelings that go out to anyone and all who are genuinely concerned about restoring the New Testament church among men. (But the problem is that many give this lip service fail to back up their claim). If we have really been "born again" according to the Scriptures, we have entered the kingdom of God wherever we are (John 3:5; Acts 2:38-47). However, we must go from there to be the Lordís church in reality and not just another denominational faction. There are teachings that some are presenting and others are not. There are truths that are being neglected. We practice the unity of the faith, not by compromise of the truth, but by sincerely examining the Scriptures and putting them into practice. Let us practice them in love and humility, not with arrogance and a sectarian attitude. The truth is for all to enjoy (to enjoy as truth and not as a tool for sectarianism).
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 Then "reactionaryism" can be a matter of individual experience. Men have gone forth preaching the truth of God, but perhaps with the wrong motive and attitude. Their being "strong" for the truth has been a youthful phase they have been going through. Really, some who have been thought to be "strong preachers" have been men with personality problemsóthey evidently enjoyed the attention they got by making abrasive, dogmatic statements in their flamboyancy. Then one day they grew up. They looked back over their lives. They didnít like what they saw. So, they changed their preaching (their message). Really, there basically had been nothing wrong with their message (just the man). It was their attitude, their arrogance, and the way they presented what they had to say. But the pendulum has made its swing, and we have a reactionary, fuzzy-minded liberal who has lost his mooring and sense of direction.
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 And, so we could go on pointing out different kinds of reactionaries. But what lesson, or lessons, do we learn from reactionaries? What do reactionaries teach us?
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 First, reactionaries teach us that a basic truth has probably been neglected. When we hear someone preach that we think is a little extreme in his views, it would be wise for us to listen instead of completely discounting and discrediting him. Almost all reactionaries have a legitimate point (up to a point) which needs to be considered. Look for it, and learn from it.
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 Second, it behooves us to be levelheaded students of Godís Word. Take a strong and decided (but mature) stand for the truth of God, but donít be unchristian in the way it is presented or the way you treat other people. (Sometimes the rebuke is in order, but not always). Otherwise someday you may be unhappy with yourself and meet yourself coming back. You may find that you have become a reactionary turning from the truth to become a compromiser. God forbid!
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 We can learn from reactionaries, but, at the same time, let us not be taken in by their simplistic overstatement. And let us not be reactionary in our reaction to reactionaries. 
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(Adapted from Volume 26, Number 1, 1988)
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