We spent the last two posts reviewing an article entitled “The Six Worst Things About American Christianity” from RedLetterChristians by Steven Mattson. Now that I have had a few days to digest these words I want to turn the article’s six points around to imagine them as lessons we U.S. Christians should learn. Here they are: 1) We must realize that no one has an … Continue reading Six Lessons to Learn in U.S. Christianity….
What matters to those who look to history for important lessons is that something was lost in the fourth century that permanently changed the nature of Christianity. If we do not recover that spirit of loyalty to the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount as opposed to saluting the Nicene Creed, the decline of the church will continue. If we persist in arguing across … Continue reading The History of the Church….
This post is about the fourth great rummage sale and that is the “Great Emergence”. In this post I am only giving you a small taste of the emergent movement In future posts we will look at just what the Great Emergence is and where it is going. Lets start off this post again with some words by Phyllis Tickle in her book The Great … Continue reading The Fourth Rummage Sale??…..The Emergent Church of the 21st Century
Anyone who has visited this blog in the recent past know that I am pinning great hope on the “emergent” church being able to rescue the current Christian establishments from their focus on believing things about Jesus as opposed to of “being” a Christian through our actions. I was very disheartened when I discovered the statistic that almost no one can tell the difference between … Continue reading A Giant Rummage Sale…
This is part three of my review of the book Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus by Robin Meyers. This is somewhat the continuation of the study of the pre-Easter Jesus and the after-Easter Jesus mentioned in the previous text. Here is the quote for this post: The simple fact, that the Bible came to us through a … Continue reading Saving Jesus — (Part 3) About the Gospels….
Today Christian families are often also military families but at the beginnings of our religion that was definitely not the case. Up until about the time Constantine made Christianity a State religion (about 350 CE) to be a Christian meant you refused military service. Of course Augustine in the fifth century disavowed this belief and put forth the first rationalization of a “just war”. After … Continue reading On Ward Christian Soldier????
No this post is not about anything in today’s world. There are some Christians who are on evangelism missions abroad who are doing risky things but for the most part Christians are pretty well settled down in their safe lives much like everyone else in this country. But that definitely was not the case for many in the early church. Here are some words about … Continue reading Christians Doing Risky Things….
As we have learned in several of my recent posts Origen was one of the most influential theologians in the early church who was later deemed a heretic and then after that a saint again. He spent quite a bit of time reading the “scripture” of his day. I put scripture in parens here because there was no Bible as we know it today in … Continue reading Oh That Founding Father Origen…
With this post I will begin looking at some of the early church leaders. We will start with Origen. Here a quote from another Diana Butler Bass book. This one is entitled A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story While Tertullian emphasized the negative aspects of the military to Christian discipleship, Origen pointed out the positive vision of a life of … Continue reading Saint to Heretic to Saint Again…..
This will be the beginning of I don’t know how many posts on the early leaders of the church. By early I mean after the Apostles but before Constantine (350 AD). Again I want to state very clearly up front that I am not a theologian or someone who is very learned in this area. I am just an ordinary guy who has questions about … Continue reading The Early Leaders – A Study Approach…
This will probably be my last post about the early christians for a while. Next time I will begin to concentrate on some of the early theologians,bishops/historians/leaders or whatever you want to call them, and how they influenced the direction of the church. Closing this chapter, at least for now, it is important for you to remember what “faith” was to the early Christians. Here … Continue reading How Faith Changed….
I am going to jump ahead a little here so that I can put something into your mind before we tackle early church leaders. To illustrate my point I want to once again use a quote from The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox: Thus, it is now clear that the “official Christianity” that eventually emerged was only one among a range of “Christianities” that … Continue reading Official Christianity….
The Future of Faith (Cox, Harvey) As we have seen, these early Christian “historians” were neither critical nor neutral. They were not even historians. They were churchmen who aspired to become the leaders of the next generation of Christians. They were anything but disinterested, and they had an agenda that was not particularly hidden. Looking for a potent way to establish their own authority, they … Continue reading Early Church Historians…
We have filled a small corner of our mosaic of church history so I will soon be moving on to discuss some of the early theologians of the church. I am certainly not done talking about the ordinary people who made up the beginnings of the church but I wanted to try to have a small closure for now. I couldn’t find a better quote … Continue reading A Small Closure….
TO start this post here is a quote from Robin Myers book entitled The Underground Church – Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus. Although Western Christianity would eventually be defined as a belief system about God, throughout its first five centuries people understood it primarily as spiritual practices that offered a meaningful way of life in this world not as a neat set of doctrines, an esoteric belief, … Continue reading Early Christian Practices….
I want to give you a quick answer up front to the question posed in the title above. The answer is absolutely not. Let’s use the following quote from Harvey Cox in his book the Future of Faith as a starting point for this post. Recent discoveries about the first three centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus shed a bright new light on a series of … Continue reading Were the Early Christians Unblemished??
Let’s start this post with a long quote from A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass: The early Christian text (from the second or third century) known as the Epistle to Diognetus explains that Christianity is neither an ethnicity nor earthly citizenship but a way of life that is somehow at odds with the societies in which … Continue reading Citizens as Foreigners…
Let’s start out this post with another quote from A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Origen all specifically condemned participation in war. “The Christian fathers of the first three centuries,” states theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill, “were generally adamant that discipleship requires close adherence to the nonviolent and countercultural example of … Continue reading Nonviolence – Absolute Pacifism
Given the amount of weight that “correct” beliefs have with so many churches today it is hard to understand just how little weight the early church put on such things. In the early years Christianity Bibles weren’t available to local congregations because it would be several hundred years before it was formulated by a council of then current day church leaders. But there were several … Continue reading The Didache
Hospitality was a very important thing to the early Christians. They put it above beliefs in their understanding of Jesus. I will use a quote from Diane Butler Bass’ book Christianity After Religionto illustrate this point: Not offering hospitality was a much greater failure than not believing that Jesus was truly God and truly human. Early Christians judged ethical failings as the most serious breach … Continue reading Hospitality….
Lets look at just how much the Followers of the Way increased in membership during the Pre-Constantine years. Here is what Wikipedia says about that: Early Christianity spread from city to city throughout the Hellenized Roman Empire and beyond into East Africa and South Asia. The Christian Apostles, said to have dispersed from Jerusalem, traveled extensively and established communities in major cities and regions throughout the Empire. The original church … Continue reading Early Church Growth….
In this post lets revisit one of the quotes from Robin Myers’ book entitled The Underground Church – Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus. Empires seldom worry about religious beliefs that have no real effect on the loyalty of their subjects. But when that loyalty is subverted or replaced, those beliefs must be investigated and the believers crushed… It would take time before People of the Way came … Continue reading Subverted Loyalty….
For the month of July we will be studying just how the early Christians went about practicing their faith. As will be typical of many of my posts I will start them out with quotes from one of my many sources that got me to thinking about the current post. This quote comes from a book by Robin Myers entitled The Underground Church – Reclaiming the Subversive Way … Continue reading Just Ordinary People….
I realize that due to trying to keep the last post brief I did not fully explain the three ages (Age of Faith, Age of Belief, Age of the Spirit) very well so I am taking another shot at it here. As a quote to explain it further I am using one from Diane Butler Bass in her book entitled Christianity After Religion. I realize … Continue reading History of the Church — More Details …