I know most of us get just about all our knowledge about church history from our church run bible studies. It seems that most of the professional clergy, meaning those who earn money from their participation in church, only seem to want to give us the good side of history. The old saying that “history belongs to the victors” is also true in the Christian church. It seems local pastor/priests, seminary professors, theologians, and such don’t really come out and tell the average layman just how messy Christian church history is, that is if they even know it themselves. They tend to want you to see a very logical and God-guided progression from point A to point B to point C.
After even my initial studies I found that church history is a very messy topic indeed. It is full of contradictions and power struggles. There is definitely a dark side in the history of the church that often doesn’t come to light. In that way it pretty much reflects the world around it. Like it or not most of the struggles are around getting and maintaining power. Of course with power also comes one degree of corruption. Church history has some of that also.
One of the things I will be discussing soon is about faith and belief. Many today tend to blend these two things together but they were in fact VERY different things in the early church. Another advanced warning is that although our Bible contains early church history it is by no means the only source. There have been recent discoveries that shed additional and sometimes contradictory light on what actually happened during those early years. In this study we will be looking at some of the gospels and other early writings that were not included in the fourth century compilation of our current day bible. Some of them, as is even possible with the four in our bible, are likely forgeries meaning that they were not written by the person identified in their titles. But even the forgeries are very useful in helping to give us the complete story.
I will be talking quite extensively about the effect the Roman ruler Constantine had on the history of the church. In short he changed everything and some, if not much of it, was for the worse rather than the better. I was surprised just how much detail is available from this period of church history.
That is enough for now. As you can see from even this post we will be looking into corners of church history that are not typically taught to laymen such as us. Of course I will be giving the good but I will not skip over the bad. It also is an integral part of church history. In order to make things better tomorrow we need to know the whole story of how we got to where we are today. I’m not sure just how long this study will run so I will just let it run its course. It would not surprise me to see this study exceed the three years of the one into Jesus’ words but I have no way of knowing that right now..
Until the next time I bid you peace…..
10 thoughts on “Some Messy Stuff….”
What books have you read and what are your sources for the above church history adventure?
Good morning Peppy. A partial list of that is coming up in the next post.
BTW, I see that you are double entering some comments. I want to remind you that, due to some stalker issues with RLL, I am now having to approve each comment as they come in. This will cause a delay in your words appearing here.
Very messy, not the term I would use, but appropriate. When one considers the difference between greek thought and semetic thought and trying to translate between them, them church throughtout its history has done a very poor job. Take dogma, doctrine, and tradition, who is correct. Are they of any use?
I think this is very needed topic to be discussed. Especially now. Given your ability with the written word to convey your thoughts,my God guide you through this very rough terrain.
Paul, thank you for the compliment.
I might not be concentrating where you think it is most appropriate but I am taking a swing at this contentious topic. I will not be looking particularly about who has the correct doctrine/belief as much as maybe why all the doctrine is even needed in the first place and where that doctrine actually came from. To me the biggest problem with the church over time, and especially today, is that we seem to make it mandatory to have our version of beliefs and then deem it necessary to go about proving everyone else wrong. That primarily is why we currently have over 39,000 different denominations around today. This is where my primary focus will start on this topic. Where it goes from there anyone knows 🙂
Thanks for the great reply. I think we are both in the same boat, sitting next each other and rowing upstream.
Right back at you about using the “right” words. I couldn’t agree more… I just pray our boat doesn’t have a big hole in it (ha)
I have been a fan of yours for some time, I love the idea of striping the Bible down to “What did Jesus say” and that took my down the path you are now going. I believe it to be a wise choice. However I must warn you it has at times made me question far more than just the word. I am looking forward to reading your always insightful take on this topic. I am sure it will be mind blowing for some.
Thanks Christopher, welcome to the new journey. I think it will be an insightful one for all of us. As you mentioned just getting back to the words of Jesus without the filters of so many theologians that have come since him was an enlightening experience last time; this one should be just as interesting. I am going to cover somethings that are very well documented that you just don’t hear from today’s clergy. We will see how man’s hands have been all over the church throughout its history.
I am ready for your take on Constantine. My study follows that he was a worshiper of a single god and a few smaller gods/goddesses. He saw the wisdom in uniting people under one belief system- liked the “rules” of caring for your community and went for Christianity. I often wonder if Christianity would have just dried up and blown away if it had not been adopted by the Romans. They eclectically appreciated practices of many different areas—and so incorporated them into local rule (much like Saints/feastdays….).
I really like this stuff!
Hi Janette, yeah Constantine was an interesting figure in the history of Christianity. Your view on him is pretty much what most establishment churches teach. I will be presenting some things that praise him but many others that show that he he had probably more empire reasons than kingdom for “adopting” Christianity. Did you know that he was on his death bed thirty years later before he was finally baptized. That alone should tell you something about his motives…