December 9, 2010

The Good Ol' Days

I have heard it said recently by quite a few people that we should go back to the way things were done in the 1st century church. We need a revival that takes us back to the good old days of the early church. My first response to the is usually, "Are they insane?" and my second response is, "Haven't they ever studied Acts, or early Church history or one of Paul's letters? From day one in the church there were conflicts and debates concerning doctrine. In Corinth we sexual immorality, lawsuits against other brethren and these types of sordid story lines. As a matter of fact 1 & 2 Corinthians literally recite a litany of erroneous Christian behavior that borders on bad taste and outright apostasy.

The early Church seems as if it was attacked nearly constantly in its infancy with false doctrine and heresies such as Gnosticism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Marcionism, Docetism, Sabellianism which is the father, son, and holy ghost are three modes, roles, or faces of a single person-God, and so on and so on. Only by the grace of God and His sovereignty could Christianity have survived. The satanic onslaught was vicious and unending.

We had infighting of how things needed to be done. One argues for circumcision the other no circumcision. Paul rebukes Peter about how he treats the gentiles. While we are on the topic of Paul we can reiterate his list of abuses at the hands of non-believers and their ilk.

"I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?" ~2 Corinthians 11:23-29

All but one (John) of the disciples died a premature and tortuous death. They were stoned, beheaded, crucified and other horrible death sentences. The early Christians other than Church fathers may very well have been treated even worse. Slaughtered wholesale and en masse. Woman and children (and men) basically fed to ravenous wild animals in arenas.

So you want the Church to be like it was in the "good ole days" of the early church. I could make two comments about this in a facetious manner and both would be pertinent and both would be true.

(1) Are the people saying this nuts? Get back to the way it was in the early church? Really? Lions too? Anybody ever subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs? Has anyone seen how Christians are treated in non-Christian nations especially Muslim ones that contain fundamental extremists or even over zealous Muslims?

(2) Isn't many of the aspects of the modern Church already like it was in the 1st century? Heresies, false teachings, infighting, backbiting. Worrying about things that do not matter and not worrying about things that do.

We of course are not being fed to lions...yet. But the infighting never really stopped since the time of Christ. I think what would really be unique is if the Church stuck to the truth and essential salvational doctrines and actually got along with one another. Now THAT would make for some really great "Good Ol' Days".


The big dopey snowboarder guy said...

You are absolutely right, Andy!

...and at the same time, you are absolutely wrong!

How can this be?

Now go back and write another blog on how the people who say this actually have some good points. What are the merits of their intentions? Why is it that many people who say this are even more knowledgeable about the early church than you and I are. This must mean that there is something to be learned...

Andy Pierson said...

Hey Phil...Interesting point. I didn't even consider Stephen when I wrote this. The persecution in his case and all of the persecution of the church happened in God's universe...which means He allowed it. What is particularly interesting about Stephen's case is we know why he was stoned. To spread the Gospel. To scatter the believers into diaspora. I imagine that is the purpose for much of Christian torment and suffering. That and the fact that suffering and trials build character and perseverance that builds a Christiann in such a way that it brings glory to God. Excellent Phil. Excellent

Andy Pierson said...

Having thought about this some more I would go as far to say this. If God's will has me swimming with sharks and being outside His will has me sitting on my rump in my livingroom watching TV...I would rather be swimming in shark infested waters. But the whole idea from a human reason standpoint is still insane so I understand what you are saying here about the paradox. Glad someone actually fed back with food for thought on this. You among others understand that I often post on procative issues not because I like to be antagonistic but because I want people to think for themselves on things that are hard to think about. You are always good for a thought-provoking response Dopey Snowboarder Dude!!!! Rock on!!!

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