July 16, 2007 § 6 Comments
Hello folks! I have created a community for those individuals interested in Church history, and how it impacts us today. It is called earlychurch. I want to invite all of you to join, and if you do, to also post this invite into your own journal to your Christian filter (should you have such a thing!)
The focus of this group is to study the writings of our earliest brethren from the first couple of centuries– the pre-Nicene writings of such as Tertullian, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement and the like. The purpose of our discussions is to explore how their writings might inform our understanding of Scripture. It is important that they not supersede Scripture, but be used as a tool to better understand how those of the first two or three centuries lived the faith that was handed down to them by the Apostles, and see how (and if) we measure up in our faith today.
Some sites to visit for more information of what the earliest believers actually believed and practiced are Scroll Publishing, which also has links to local churches that are attempting to get back to this primitive faith and practice; The Guide to Early Church Documents; The Works of Tertullian; Earlychurch.com; and a link to the first 10 volumes of the Ante-Nicene Writings.
Some other sites of interest are: Blueprint for a Revolution by Reed Merino, Nonresistance.org which has writings from Christians and non-Christians about the peace witness. Tread carefully, many of the writings are still wed to the world.
I do not expect that everyone will agree with what they will find in the early writings, nor are all of the writings in perfect accord with Scripture. But overwhelmingly, the farther back one goes in examining them, the closer to a literal understanding of Christ’s words, and those of His Apostles, one finds. It is my hope that a dialogue may be opened to explore where we are today, how we got here, whether we could be in a better place, and how that might be accomplished. I’m praying for open hearts and open minds.
My desire is to promote unity in the Body of Christ, and my hope is that we may grow in ever greater surrender to our Lord and Master through a deeper understanding of what His expectations of us may be, that our love for Him and one another may grow and that our joy may be made full.
Please join me for discussion!
September 20, 2006 § 12 Comments
In this post, pifactorial brings up the very much valid point that we as humans have a tendancy to compartmentalize who we are. By hiding parts of ourselves to certain people, we end up giving the impression that we believe other than what is truly in our hearts. Whether intentional or unintentional, Pi has challenged everyone to “unmask” if you will.
It’s really a very good idea, you know, to be honest with yourself as well as with everyone you know. It’s a policy I have tried to stick by for as far back as I can remember. Those of you who have classes with me are probably realizing by now that keeping silent when I disagree is not one of my strong suits.
Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t wisdom in holding one’s tongue. Being slow to speak, and not laying all the cards on the table right up front is a valuable skill. It’s all about appropriateness.
That being said, this concept of “Christian pride” and purposing to “go out there and tell folks I’m a Christan– darn the consequences!” is a two-way street. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and everyone is free to express them (here in LJ-land for our purposes, we will pretend that is a universally held belief.) So, while it may be liberating and freeing for some on my flist to make these categorical statements about themselves, all that is really being done is for folks to be encouraged to state their beliefs, no matter what that belief is. No, that’s not a bad thing, but it isn’t really a good thing either. It’s just someting people are doing, like any other meme.
The question of effecting change in one’s world and having an impact is when we stop just stating our beliefs, and start living them. When our beliefs begin to actually impact other people. When battle lines are in the dirt, and not just metaphorical. What one chooses to believe is completely irrelavant in the light of what they do with it. You can trumpet your Christian pride all you want, but if you aren’t walking like Jesus walked or following His commands, or LOVING like He loved, you are just a sounding gong, and all your brave “This is me, world, love it or leave it!” is nothing more than whistling into the wind. If folks have known you for any length of time and are shocked to discover you are a Christian, maybe your beliefs and actions aren’t lining up.
This is not to say that I am walking the walk perfectly myself or that I have gotten my beliefs and my actions perfectly in line. Nor am I accusing anyone specifically here of not doing so. I’m just saying, before we all start shouting to the world what we believe, or don’t believe, let’s examine ourselves and ask, “What do I do?” and further “What am I willing to do?”
September 18, 2006 § 2 Comments
Reading pifactorial‘s latest drama has me reminding myself of my commitment to peace. I so dearly want to tell some people “You, sir, are a great big jerk and if you were here, I would smack you about the head soundly.”
But I know that this is the wrong attitude, especially against so much hate. But I want to rush to pi’s defense. I know that’s not my place. And i know I am not allowed to call anyone a big jerk, nor am I to smack anyone about the head– or anywhere else.
That some folks can accuse others of being hateful through a barrage of profanity and blasphemous cursings without batting an eye just slays me. Um, ironic much?
What we have here is a failure to communicate. See, Jesus came and preached Love. Love of God, love of neighbor. But this was a love that He made very clear was a Love that was sure to rip you to pieces, if you surrendered to it, and actually practiced it.
This Love was not merely doing nice things for folks and being your average philanthropist. This love actually required that you give till it really hurt. It meant that if your neighbor was naked, you went cold so that they were clothed, if your neighbor was hungry, you didn’t eat till they had been filled. It meant you trusted that your God was going to provide you with everything you needed, and that anything you had was a gift from Him to be given freely.
It meant that you Loved Jesus so much that you would be willing to turn your whole lifestyle over to His hands, and walk wherever He walked and speak whatever words He spoke. It meant hating sin, but loving the sinner. It meant letting the Great Surgeon dissect you and tear you down– shaping you into a new creation in His own image. It meant walking the path to perfection.
Jesus was hated and reviled for His sermons. He was tortured and killed for His Message. A Message of Love Incomprehensible. A demanding Love that was free for all, yet cost so much.
His first followers were called “Christians” by the unbelievers around them– it wasn’t a name they chose for themselves, but a name they were given– an honor– “little Christs.” Because they looked like Him, acted like Him, Loved like Him. They came out from their previous lifestyles and denied their flesh, and learned to see things from their Creator’s perspective. It didn’t matter what you had done before, if you loved God, you stopped, and turned away from former passions and cleaved to the Savior Who Loved.
Today, so many clamor to apply a title for themselves that once had been bestowed by others. I wonder why? Why does one want to be known by a name that they cannot even agree with; that they cannot follow without dying to all they hold most dear? It’s very odd to me.
August 24, 2006 § 16 Comments
At least… that’s how it seems. Recently, I revisted a trilogy that was once a fave of mine– The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers. I’ve never been a big romance fan, but considered this more “historical fiction.” I discovered that I have very low tolerance for any romance in the re-reading. Don’t get me wrong– Ms. Rivers is an excellent writer. I just realized how much I don’t like the stuff personally– it feels intrusive to the story somehow.
I also had previously been quite impressed with how much research she apparently did to accurately portray life during the Roman Empire. However, several years later and much study on my own part revealed to me her total lack of understanding or study of what 1st century Christianity was like. Considering that was the whole blasted point it seems like a mighty HUGE oversite on her part. And it just blew open a whole cans of worms that have been wriggling and niggling at the back of my mind in reference to Christian fiction– or any contemporary Christain writing today.
In stewing over this, I realized that my dissatisfaction cannot simply be with the authors of stuff I find objectionable. It has to be with the root– with what passes for mainstream Christianity today– whether Protestant, Catholic or Anabaptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, non-denominational, house church or whatever your flavor. There is this unspoken rule of “these are the Essentials that make us all Christians, and we’re ok with that.” Actually, it is commonly attributed to Augustine the saying, “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” A quotation, I would like to point out, that does not appear anywhere in scripture but which is pranced out any time someone starts to cast doubt on the way folks are running their churches.
My problem is that there are some big whopping holes in what is being passed off as Christianity– no matter your persuasion. And the holes occur directly in the middle of the words Jesus spoke to His followers. These are holes that become apparent if we compare what our Christianity of today looks like compared to that of the first and second century. Or better yet, even against the solid and irrefutable teachings of Jesus. He told us to turn the other cheek, love our enemy and not resist an evil person. He never tells us that there is an exception to these things. So why do so many Christians feel justified going to war? And that’s just one example of the wrongness of today’s “Church”.
In Ms Rivers’ books, she not only has a first century Christian fighting and killing their “enemies”, she has a character who is a Christian actor– seemingly ignoring the fact that being an actor was on the list of “Things You Cannot Do if You are a Christian” (for which there were many reasons, historical and so forth, but that’s another topic.) I’m sure she must have been unaware of this fact. What she did that irritated me so much was that she simply took modern day Evangelical Protestantism, and stuck it in a place it did not belong– 1st century Rome. Many of the highlights of protestantism today are simply gnostic teachings re-vamped for today’s modern Christian. And your average evangelical doesn’t even realize it.
And I feel like nobody’s talking about these things! It seems that most folks are ignorant of their own faith’s teachings, favoring other peoples’ teachings about the faith. Rather than reading with simple childlike faith what Jesus had to say in, oh, maybe His Sermon on the Mount, and believing that He really meant it, folks seem to put more faith in Luther’s version of things. If we read scripture through someone else’s filter, we aren’t getting the full picture. If we allow our faith to be shaped by the traditions of men, rather than the teachings of Christ, can we truly be sure that we are following Him?
The books I come across out there and the people I talk to reflect this– this watered down, false doctine-riddled mess that hardly lives up to the glory, majesty, power and love that Jesus preached. That Jesus preached. Not Wesley, Luther, Augustine, Swingley, Billy Graham or even Paul himself (not that I am casting aspersions on Paul– but Paul’s teachings without Christ’s teachings are not the whole gospel– this was Luther’s mistake.)
Do we trust that this Man Who called Himself God could communicate His will to those Whom He loves so that we could understand without some theologian telling us what He meant? Or is it ok to just figure that those who first recieved that word from His very lips were so wrong, that only today we have gotten the message right?
It breaks my heart and tears my soul, and I only wish more folks could see what’s wrong. The emperor has no clothes.
July 15, 2006 § Leave a comment
I have recently found myself in an online debate with Matt “Mojo” Morginsky, former lead singer of the OC Supertones. It all started with this post on his myspace blog. While I don’t disagree with the idea that tattoos are not forbidden, I felt his reasons were insufficient. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 7, 2005 § 12 Comments
So, that last meme had me going over my older posts, and this is literally one of the first posts I made. I thought I would re-post it, since I didn’t know most of you at that time.
December 4, 2005 § Leave a comment
Been having a discussion. Wanted to post about it here, but cannot seem to organize my thoughts to make a proper post, so thought maybe I would just post the linkie. It’s a discussion that picks up on a criticism of Austine’s “just war doctrine.”
In case you couldn’t guess, I was the critic. 😉
Something to wrestle with any time of year, but in the Christmas time, when we are reminded of peace on earth, it is particularly pointed.