Good Question...


On...getting back to the 'primitive church'


On Sun, 23 Jul 1995, XXX wrote:

Basically I'm wondering how to account for all the different understanding's of how the Christian life is supposed to look, feel and smell? like. And the relationships between doctrine and the world view of the common man. I'm not so much concerned about that it happened(ed) but interested in the dynamics of *how* it happens.

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as I understand it, it boils down to the fact that God left a lot of things 'open' for us...we know he likes diversity (from the robustness of nature, and from the variety of spiritual gifts in the church I cor 12-14)...he made us all slightly different, with different strengths, needs, talents, styles, etc....so why would we be surprised that he didn't give us a 'one size fits all' solution...

Martin Luther's quote is one of my all-time favorites..."Love God and live as you please"--but only in that order!

Paul said 4 times in I cor "all things are permissible for me", and then he qualified each of these with some situational constraints....

We have to be careful NOT to reduce a personal relationship to a formulaic, mechanistic "key to the Christian life ix X" program...

Clearly some aspects of Christianity evolved or rather emerged over time.(including gentiles etc.) Did this process ever stop. We many times think of the Christian life as a journey on an individual level. Does this apply at Church level through history.

The history of doctrine shows this to be the case...the early development of the creeds, the Reformation, the emergence of Evangelicalism...even the spread of denominations (normally understood negatively) can be seen as God developing specialized communities, each emphasizing one aspect of the truth...

Are efforts to get back to the way the "Early church did it" misdirected?

[well, they certainly are ineffective! the early church had MOST of the variety in it already! For example, you ought to try to decide the issue of church govt structures (congregational vs Episcopal vs Presbyterian) on the basis of NT teaching! Its impossible, because they are ALL THREE IN THERE!

But more to your point, probably so...what we want is the zeal/purity of the early church (mostly--but lately I realized that it NEVER was pure...the I Cor debacles and the events in Acts 5 demonstrate that), with the hard-fought gains that God has made in the church over the centuries...

We seem to project our understanding of reality back into the scriptures creating doctrine which reinforces the view of reality. enshrining our errors for generations to come.

Absolutely! This is one of our bigger personal challenges--honesty with the word, submission to it, listening to it, asking God to give us new eyes and open minds and receptive hearts EACH NEW DAY!...

However, even God will only put with error just so long--before He splits off the 'living group' from the 'dead group'...Our errors MAY get enshrined, but after a while (as they fade and lose power), people stop coming to the shrines!


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