Lex Rex

verbum sat sapienti

Lex Rex

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Full Picture

As I let BGM and Lex Rex further contemplate my request for a summary of our most important differences, I would like to interject a few of my own recent considerations.

The Full Picture:

BGM made a point some time ago, when this discussion regarding Orthodoxy v. Protestantism began. It was something like this: (forgive me BGM if my memory is flawed) BGM's method for determining and rediscovering true/historical Christianity was to look to those Church Fathers who were closest in time and proximity to the Apostles themselves. In other words, if we look at what the early Church taught and practiced, we have a better picture of what delivered Christianity actually was and, hence, should be today.

And I have always admitted that the early historical proximity method (for lack of a better name) has merit. As such, I embarked upon a lengthy read of as many of the Church Fathers from about 130 AD to 250 AD as possible (with also a spattering of Church Apologists through 700 AD). As I have already mentioned in past blogs, based solely on the early Church Fathers, I do see several deficiencies, errors, etc in the modern Church. It must, however, be pointed out that I do not see several important Orthodox claims to authenticity supported by such Church Fathers. Inevitably, you have to go ahead hundreds of years more into Church writings to get the basis for several important Orthodox and Catholic doctrines and/or traditions.

That being said the point of this blog is to give a little more context to the full picture. If you truly want to simply rediscover "delivered" as compared to "developed" Christianity, it only makes sense to me that as much context as is available should be considered. I have brought this point up on a prior occasion, but only did so with vague references. But my research has pointed me back to it. Hence, I would like to bring it up for consideration once again so that the Full Picture may be considered.

I tend to think that many modern Christians, present company excluded of course, would like to begin Christianity with the Nicene Creed which was developed in 325 AD(or so). Although the Nicene Creed served a very important function during a time of great heresy, it is not the beginning, nor even original to the Apostles. Let me say that I do not try to undermine the fundamental importance of the Nicene Creed (I completely agree with it -- BGM, is probably throwing food at his computer screen right now while shouting "Ahhh, westerner! What do you know of the Creed!" -- just adding some levity -- or trying to), but just wish to have a proper prospective. Instead, we can all agree that the New Testament is where we must first and foremost look for evidence of the original Church and its make up. (I am not trying to be insulting, just trying to give order to my own thoughts) I do realize that BGM's method is to look to the early Church for the correct and historical interpretation and application of the NT -- and at some level I agree.

What I am saying is this: there are some significant elements of the original Church for which the 2nd century Church may very well NOT be the best source of interpretation. Here I go: As I have said before, the original Church was JEWISH. To which BGM has replied, yes there were Jewish believers right along side gentile believers. But this response is not the full historical picture. IMHO, the Scriptures show that the first Church was 100% Jewish. Then it was opened to gentile believers, which created a problem. Do the gentile believers have to become Jewish? It was this question that the first council (48 AD) at Jerusalem answered -- NO, they do not. Hence, gentile Churches were begun through the efforts of those such as Peter and Paul, and yes, there were some Jews interspersed in gentile congregations. But there is at least an argument that the Jerusalem Church remained "Jewish" in its practices, certainly not in its justifications, but in its practices. Hence, you had the Jerusalem "Jewish" Church leading its gentile brothers. But something happened in the early years, prior to the Church Fathers of the second century. In 70 Ad, Titus destroyed Jerusalem, significantly changing the Church Structure, in that the Jerusalem Church (the leadership) was virtually removed. If that wasn't enough, in 130 AD the Bar Kochba Jewish revolt against the Romans occurred. The result was to finish the work of 70 AD, Jews were not permitted in Jerusalem by law. Hence, in the few generations prior to the earliest Church Fathers writings, yet after the New Testament period, the Original Church changed significantly -- virtually all Jewish influence was removed.

If this wasn't enough, non-believing Jews were either directly responsible for horrible persecutions of believers, or being persecuted themselves for simply being Jewish, that the separation between Jew and Gentile became complete. It is this period that the first early Church Fathers begin to write. This is perhaps a shallow and poor recounting of the history, but I felt it needed to be said. I am definitely not arguing that the Church should be Jewish, but simply pointing out that merely looking at the practices of a purely gentile second century Church is not to look at the full picture. I will leave the discussion of what we may be able to learn from this added context to another day. First, I will await my beatings and lumps from this general comment. This is my question, if I have at all correctly understood and presented the actual history, how does this change the picture, or does it in your opinions?