A 10-Point Summary of Chris Brauns’s Book on the Principle of the Rope

Andy Naselli —  June 6, 2013 — 3 Comments

BraunsChris Brauns, Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 179–82:

In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis set out to write a Christian reflection on suffering. Soon enough, he arrived at the doctrine of original sin. . . .

Inevitably, a consideration of the doctrine of original sin brought Lewis face-to-face with the truth that all humanity was represented by Adam. Lewis allowed that it is hard for us to comprehend that Adam represented all his descendants, but he also noted that our inability to understand something does not mean it is untrue. . . .

Notice the emphasis here: there may be a tension between individuality and some other principle. I have named this principle “the principle of the rope.” In a sense, this entire book has been an extended reflection on Lewis’s observation that there must be some other principle. Summarized by chapter, the argument has developed as follows:

  1. Like it or not, the principle of the rope or corporate solidarity is an undeniable aspect of life taught in Scripture. No man is an island. We are bound together.
  2. The doctrine of original sin is the ultimate negative example of the principle of the rope. As The New England Primer summarizes, “In Adam’s Fall/we sinned all.”
  3. Union with Christ is the ultimate positive example of the principle of the rope. Those who believe in Christ are united to him. And Christ’s rope to save is stronger than Adam’s rope is to condemn.
  4. Scripture illustrates union with Christ by way of several key metaphors. We are united to Christ as stones to a temple, limbs to a body, branches to a vine, a wife to a husband, and adopted children to a father. Our relationship to Christ is even analogous to the relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  5. The principle of the rope does not teach fatalism, nor does it remove individual responsibility: “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). No one is necessarily doomed because of his or her parents.
  6. Part 2 begins at chapter 6, where we considered the application of the principle of the rope. It follows from the truth that we are bound together in Christ that we experience true joy only as we invest ourselves in Christ-centered community.
  7. Paul taught in Ephesians 5 that Christ’s relationship with the church of corporate solidarity and a husband and wife’s bond in marriage explain one another. The principle of the rope allows us to better appreciate the loveliness of marriage and to understand the deep pain of divorce and death.
  8. In terms of our families, we can be sure that the gospel rope is more powerful than the rope of sin. Live wholeheartedly for Christ; love him with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind—and know that God will do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine. But fear the consequences of turning your back on Almighty God, not only for yourself, but also for your family.
  9. Christians can face death without fear because we have legitimate solidarity with a champion who has won the victory. For the Christian, there is nothing remote about Christ because we are united to him.
  10. Only New Testament churches offer the theology combined with plausibility structures and the realities of community/fellowship necessary to legitimatize solidarity and counter the radical individualism unraveling the fabric of Western culture.

Related: Mike Wittmer reflects on Chris Brauns’s book.

3 responses to A 10-Point Summary of Chris Brauns’s Book on the Principle of the Rope

  1. I really enjoyed and was edified by Brauns’ interview on the Christ the Center podcast. Sounds like his work is not just academically careful but pointed directly at the service of the church.

  2. Mark,

    Thanks for your kind remarks. I am a pastor so it is my goal to relate directly to local churches. Preaching Romans 5 provided a lot of incentive for this project.

    Chris.

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