According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rachel Held Evans: "10 Things I’ve Learned About Church History"

 
 
10 Things I’ve Learned About Church History from ‘The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1” by Justo L. Gonzalez
 
by Rachel Held Evans
May 22, 2013
 
A couple weeks ago it occurred to me that I know next to nothing about church history. So, in an effort to remedy that situation, I ordered The Story of Christianity, Volumes 1 and 2, by Justo Gonzalez from Amazon, and brought them with me to the beach—you know, for a little light reading.
 
Here are a few random observations from my first week of reading:
 
1. Christians have never been in full agreement when it comes to theology. (And our little theological blog spats have NOTHING on the Arian controversy or the Inquisition, let me tell you!) But often, these disagreements and controversies lead to important developments in Christian thought, theology, and practice. The Nicene Creed, for example, was formulated largely as a response to Arianism. (The Apostle’s Creed is older.) I find this oddly comforting. There’s less pressure to figure everything out. We’re always in process, always debating and discussing, always getting a little bit right and a lot wrong.
 
2. Constantine was not baptized until just before his death. And his conversion to Christianity is as big a deal as we make it out to be. It changed Christianity forever and marked the beginning of an ongoing, uncomfortable, and at times destructive relationship between Christianity and power.
 
3. Calls for social justice aren’t new or trendy, but have been a part of church teachings for many centuries.  See the writings of John Chrysostom, Basil, Ambrose, St. Francis, and many others. “If one who takes the clothing off another is called a thief, why give any other name to one who can clothe the naked and refuses to do so?” wrote Basil. “The bread that you withhold belongs to the poor; the cape that you hide in your chest belongs to the naked; the shoes rotting in your house belong to those who must go unshod.”
 
4. Also not as new as I once thought: bishops, and church hierarchy in general.
 
5. I always thought that the Council of Nicea marked the final acceptance of orthodoxy when it came to the divinity of Christ. But Arianism—the belief that Jesus was created by God as a subordinate and separate entity, not the incarnation of God—made a pretty serious comeback, and with the support of the empire, it nearly won the day! Jerome wrote that “the world woke up as from a slumber, and discovered itself to be Arian.” Athanasius and other supporters of Nicene theology were exiled and persecuted for defending orthodoxy, but in the end, their tenacity, patience, and thoughtfulness prevailed. Also, Athanasius was nicknamed “the black dwarf.”
 
6. Pretty much every time I conclude that a Church Father seems like a pretty cool guy, I learn that he hated Jews and/or women.
 
7. I think it’s safe to say Saint Anthony was an introvert.
 
8. In the fourth and fifth centuries there was a Christian sect called Donatism. Some Donatists peasants were convinced that there was no death more glorious than that of the martyrs, but since the persecution of Christians had ended, they committed to violently resisting those they perceived to be heretics. Gonzalez writes that “in some cases, this quest for martyrdom rose to such a pitch that people committed mass suicide by jumping off cliffs"! Point: There's always this tendency to take a good thing to its extreme, whether it's respect for martyrdom, veneration of the saints, solitude, aestheticism, or even engagement with the culture.
 
9. Monastics have always struggled to hold in tension the desire for solitude with the importance of community and service.
 
10. Gonzalez thanks his word processor in the Preface.  That seems worth noting.
 
I’ll post 10 more things when I’ve finished reading!
 
I’ve found that most Christians know very little about the history of the church. And we Protestants have the unfortunate habit of skipping from the epistles of Paul to Martin Luther and the 95-theses, leaving centuries of church history in the dust.
 
How can we do better?
 
And what have you learned about church history lately? Any fun facts?
 
 
 

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