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 seized upon a very compelling idea. A historian is supposed to be a person that is critical of stated history but remains neutral as to the results. Some of the early church “historians” were as … 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 about that than this one from Harvey Cox in The Future of Faith: In the last few decades however, all these assumptions have proven erroneous. The following are now evident. First, there never was a … 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, or the promise of heaven. By practicing Jesus teachings, followers of the way discovered that their lives were made better on a practical spiritual level. Given for the past 1500 years or so, or at … 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 old enigmas. They help clarify how Christianity deteriorated from a movement generated by faith and hope into a religious empire demarcated by prescribed doctrines and ruled by a priestly elite. They trace how a loose … 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 the faithful reside. Christians may look like everyone else, but their actions—including practices of hospitality, charity, and nonviolence—make them different: For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the … Continue reading Citizens as Foreigners…
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 other important documents that were used used by local congregations. One of the most important was what is now called the Didache. You could consider it an instruction book to teach someone who wanted to join … 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 of community, even as they accepted a significant amount of theological diversity in their midst. Hospitality to these early followers meant following Jesus’ command to love one another. But just what did they mean by … 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 communities were founded in northern Africa, Asia Minor, Armenia, Arabia, Greece, and other places by apostles (see Apostolic see) and other Christian soldiers, merchants, and preachers. Over forty were established by the year 100, many in Asia Minor, such … 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 up on the Roman radar screen. I think the Roman emperors thought that when the executed to primary leader of this rag-tag group that would drive them into oblivion but of course the opposite was actually true. … 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 of Jesus. We forget to distinguish between history as a record of the elites and history as a record of the people. While most academics concentrate on the theologians who wrote the treatises and on … Continue reading Just Ordinary People….