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!
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 22, 2006 § Leave a comment
Matt and i have been involved in a bible study for some time now, and we just started our new topic this week– God’s Love. Basically, the structure of our study is to ask a question, and with that question in mind, go through the NT book by book pulling out all relevant verses. Then we discuss those verses, and the context, and at the end of the study draw our conclusions based on everything we have found. It’s a loooog process. I’ve been part of this group for about 3 years now, and we have only completed two studies so far. Our first study asked the question “What was Jesus and His Apostles’ attitude towards scripture?” We pulled out any scripturee in which they quoted or fulfilled something, and analyzed whether they took a literal, figurative or hyperbolic interpretation of it. Basically, however Jesus and His Apostles approach scripture is the standard by which we should approach it. It was very interesting indeed! We came to the conclusion that Jesus was very careful to follow the OT scripture exactly, and allowed it to dictate His behavior and choices– following the Law and also fulfilling prophecy. The Apostles were already acknowledging the inspired NT writings as scripture.
Our second study asked the question, “What is the Christian’s relationship to the OT Scriptures?” That was mind blowing, because it dealt with the Law, and the fact that it is now done away with, and we live by a new Law under Christ. We are not to dip back into the OT Law for justification– we are no longer bound by any of it.
So our new topic is God’s love. What is the nature of His love, and how does He expect us to live in that love?
This Thursday, we began studying the book of Matthew, and it is interesting indeed. We looked at how Jesus’ compassion always prompted Him to action (9:35-38, 14:14-20, 15:32-37, 20:33-34) and He equated loving one’s enemies with being perfect(5:43-48.) It also showed God’s desire for us to show this love to others, or else risk punishment (18:23-35 and 25:31-46)
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 »
April 21, 2006 Enter your password to view comments.