subtitle: [33,000 Christian Demoninations]
Here are our red letters for today.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Jesus told us that through unity, we would affect believers outside the faith by showing them the mission of Christ. He wanted us to stay in the faith as one group united together. Here we are 2000+ years later and have we listened to his words? Of course the answer is NO!! Christians are currently fractioned into about 33,000 different denominations! The primary cause of this division is doctrinal and Scripture disagreements. We just can’t seem to agree on what the Bible is supposed to be telling us. I’m sure each of the 33,000 groups is proclaiming to be the champion of the true words of the Bible. Most of us have an easy time agreeing on the authority of Scripture, but interpreting it has been a very different story.
Why not put scripture in context and study how the early church interpreted the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles? Who has a better understanding of the Gospel, the man in 2008 interpreting it for himself from a copy of a copy of a copy of the original text or the people who actually learned it at the feet of Jesus or the Apostles? By studying the history of the early Church, we can come to a better understanding of what those first generations of Christians actually believed. To me it seems almost ludicrous to think that our detached Sola Scriptura interpretation is more reliable than their theology and praxis. But, there are in fact many denominations who believe exactly that.
Eusebius was an early Christian historian. Many say he was the first. Eusebius’ historical account attests, as late as the 4th century that the Church was still arguing about which books constituted the New Testament. The New Testament was not the rule of Faith for the early Christians since a New Testament as such didn’t exist at that time and even if it did people were for the most part illiterate so they couldn’t read it even if they had gotten their hands on a very expensive copy. Instead, church teachings were passed down from generation to generation and kept pure by a clerical hierarchy. The undisputed historical record of what that early Church believed should be a more authoritative measure of the Faith than any modern interpretation based on Scripture alone? This is why traditional, historical Christianity has always wisely accounted Scripture and Tradition as two expressions (written and oral) of the same Gospel.
Many today agree that you must put all verses of the Bible in the context of which they were written. You can’t isolate a particular phrase or rule from the teachings around it. But, many of these same people then refuse to look at early church history to more thoroughly understand the words of Scripture but instead insist that the Bible alone is all they need. They do not take into account the church history or culture at the time to understand the underlying meanings of the New Testament text.
Unfortunately, it looks impossible for all of us Christians to ever be one as Christ instructed us. That is until the second coming. At that time I’m sure we will all be shown the errors of our ways. In the mean time let’s all try to be a little more tolerant of our fellow Christians understanding of scripture. Yes, there are absolute principles on which Christianity has to be based but most of our disagreements seem to do with the decoration of our Christian house not its foundation.