The Effects of Heresy….

This is a continuation of the previous post about heresy and why it has contaminated the church. We all have our opinions of what God wants us to do and believe and we are for the most part not at all tolerant of those who might think differently than we do. It seems when someone has the inherent power to do something about those who disagree with they usually deemed their opponent a heretic and  then drive them from their midst. In the post-Constantine age over 25,000 were murdered for not totally aligning with the then current church leader.

I must make it clear that heresy is by no means limited to the pre-Reformation times. Our Protestant brothers and sister have become very good at it. They might not any longer be executing those who they proclaim heretics but they have become very proficient at shunning and dividing when they can’t agree. 39,000 versions of Jesus Christ! Shame on us for fracturing so easily about man-made beliefs. I believe that our fracturing is one of the primary causes for the current church implosion. We as believers are somehow supposed to pick the one true church and then go about shunning all the rest. How can a new Christian even begin maneuver through that terrain?

Fractured Church CoverJesus clearly told us he wants us to be one just as he and the father are one. What happened? I will be studying that in the coming weeks and report more info then. One of my primary sources for this info is a new book I recently encountered entitled The Fractured Church by Bill Sizemore. It will be interesting to see more info about how we have become so fractured. One interesting question  this book presents  is will Jesus come to us while we are so fractured or will he do something to bring us back together before his appearance?  A question that deserve some time to  study and contemplate.

My initial thoughts on the effect of heresy in the church is that it has done almost irreparable damage to the church of Jesus. We have become so stiff-necked in our beliefs that we just can’t tolerate anything representing the diversity that were so common in the early Christians. I truly believe that what makes the United States a world leader is our diversity. We are almost totally the results of immigrants. Likewise the Christian church could become a leader in world spiritual rejuvenation if we simply celebrated diversity in our midst instead of prosecuting it.

Am I saying that there are no reasons that would justify fracturing the church? I am absolutely not saying that! But what I am saying is that it is insane to believe that there are 39,000 reasons to fracture.

The Emergent church movement that I am hanging so much hope on sees this in a completely different light. They deem diversity in thought as a plus. Here is what Robin Meyers in his book The Underground Church says about that:

 They (the emergent church) value open and inclusive approaches to Christianity and are less interested in having all the answers than in living the questions. Emergents wish to participate in communities of faith that take the Bible seriously, but not always literally. Emergents believe that following  Jesus isn’t just about getting to heaven when they die, but is about partnering with God to bring heaven to earth in the here and now.

 

The Early Leaders – A Study Approach…

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 these sort of things.

I am doing this study to try to learn how we got to where we are as a church today. In the beginning diversity was a celebrated part of the church but then strict adherence to a particular set of beliefs took over.  In the early part of this study I want to try to discover just what happened. That is the purpose for this section and every other that will follow.

The early church leaders were as diverse as those they tried to lead. For the most part they were an affluent bunch who generally lead a privileged life prior to, and sometimes after,  their conversion to People of the Way. Of course being affluent meant that they were usually studied in greek culture and were literate. That is they could put down their beliefs in writing whereas most common men and women of the time were illiterate. We have a few stories of these others but for the most part only the ones who could leave a written text are now known.

The other thing we need to realize about the early church leaders was that they were not historians as we come to know them today. They were generally considered theologians in that they had opinions on where the church should be going. But for the most part they were people who wanted to influence the direction of the church for one reason or another. For the most part I am sure that they all thought they were getting their opinions directly from divine revelations but since some of their views directly opposed others direct revelation could not be true for all. We also cannot be so naive to think that those opinions that dominated were necessarily the ones God provided.

We must also remember that they were men (and a few women) who relished power as most do. As many of them gained power they lost tolerance for other who held differing views. This is what makes church history so messy. Power corrupts everyone to one degree or another. That is just human nature.  We must recognize this fact when studying any history, especially something as important as  church history.

I’m sure I will not be covering all the early leaders of the church here and maybe not even some considered the most important.

And the study goes on…..