church surrounded by grass

Keeping It Simple: Whatever Happened to the Churches?

The ear­li­est Chris­tians are an inter­est­ing group of peo­ple. They did­n’t have any of the epis­tles to go by, nor were the gospels yet penned. They had only what they had heard preached to them about Jesus, and this led them to meet togeth­er for meals, to sing with and teach one anoth­er, and to ensure that none among them had any need that went unmet by those who were gathered.

Ear­ly Chris­tian­i­ty was sim­ple, and in a way, beau­ti­ful. Over time, epis­tles were writ­ten, par­tic­u­lar­ly by Paul, to issue course cor­rec­tions for these ear­li­est of gatherings.

A lot was said in regards to what those Chris­tians believed, but as for their prac­tice? After the epis­tles, they still met in homes. They still enjoyed meals togeth­er. They still com­muned rather than being led by one man or small group of elders. They still prac­ticed cheer­ful giv­ing and char­i­ty. The epis­tles did­n’t stamp out those practices.

What hap­pened?

How did those ear­li­est fam­i­lies of believ­ers change into the cor­po­rate church­es of nowa­days, led by paid ora­tors that can’t ensure no one among their num­ber is going with­out because the church has bills and pay­checks and build­ing pro­grams to fund? How did the com­mu­nion meal get reduced to a crack­er and half an ounce of wine or juice?

How is it that today’s church­es, with the full twen­ty-sev­en books of the New Tes­ta­ment to guide them some­how so gross­ly miss the beau­ti­ful sim­plic­i­ty that should be Chris­tian­i­ty when the ear­li­est Chris­tians were able to suss it out with­out the writ­ten scrip­tures to guide them?

Unto whom much is giv­en, much will be required (Luke 12:48), and we have bil­lions — bil­lions! — of Chris­tians in the world today who have access to the entire Bible, hun­dreds of trans­la­tions of the Bible (in Eng­lish alone!), count­less free Bible study resources, upwards of forty mil­lion reli­gious lead­ers (assum­ing around thir­ty-sev­en mil­lion Chris­t­ian church­es and many of them hav­ing mul­ti­ple elders and dea­cons) to learn from, and more. 

I can only imag­ine what it would be like if we had mul­ti­ple sci­ence cen­ters filled with free resources and led by eager sci­en­tists will­ing to teach for free, scat­tered through­out just about every town and city!

Chris­tians have that. They have more access to their the­ol­o­gy and his­to­ry than just about any group of peo­ple have ever had.

There­fore, it absolute­ly and thor­ough­ly bog­gles my mind that so many of today’s gath­er­ings of Chris­tians miss the point.

6 thoughts on “Keeping It Simple: Whatever Happened to the Churches?”

  1. Excel­lent work on your argu­ment for polygamy in the Bible, and that’s com­ing from a bible believ­ing con­ser­v­a­tive Baptist.
    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many Chris­tians base their views of mar­riage on tra­di­tion and cul­ture more than they do on exact­ly what the Bible says. I have used all your argu­ments against peo­ple I debate the issue with. They still reject them, as I can see with you as well.

    1. I know I’m not a part of the church­es any longer, but toward the end, it occurred to me more that the argu­ment for polyg­y­ny should­n’t be as focused on by those who do teach it — after all, as Paul point­ed out, it is bet­ter to remain sin­gle so as to be able to focus on liv­ing for God. 

      Or to put it anoth­er way, if one spouse is a dis­trac­tion, how much more so would mul­ti­ple spice be? (Yeah, I know, it’s “spous­es,” but giv­en how com­pli­cat­ed mul­ti­ple spous­es would be, “spice” seems a more appro­pri­ate pluralization!)

      As such, once the nov­el­ty of athe­ism wore off and I decid­ed I did­n’t want to be a stereo­type (bit­ter athe­ist with a chip on his shoul­der), I start­ed encour­ag­ing Chris­tians to be, well, bet­ter Chris­tians. Frankly, the world would be bet­ter for it!

      1. It’s good that you can see that Chris­tian­i­ty does improve one’s life.
        Pret­ty hard to go wrong with obey­ing Jesus in avoid­ing the heart evils of:
        evil thoughts, adul­ter­ies, for­ni­ca­tions, murders,
        Thefts, cov­etous­ness, wicked­ness, deceit, las­civ­i­ous­ness, an evil eye, blas­phe­my, pride, foolishness:

        Mark 7:21,22

        Keep up the pos­i­tive work, or rather, May the Holy Spir­it keep doing the good work in you. ;)

        1. There are times I enter­tain the sil­ly thought that I’m a “Chris­t­ian athe­ist” — I’m one of the most peace­ful, for­giv­ing, patient peo­ple (or at least I very much strive to be), and I owe my appre­ci­a­tion for traits like that to what I took away from the gospels when I was a believer.

          Of course, I know “Chris­t­ian athe­ist” makes no sense. One can­not just cut out all of the mirac­u­lous parts of the Bible just to retain the morals, regard­less of the exam­ple set by Thomas Jefferson.

          1. I dun­no. My wife calls her­self a Chris­t­ian Bud­dhist! And she tru­ly does seem to be both. She grew up in Thai­land, and there­fore was Bud­dhist, but when she met me, she learned of the God of the Bible, and seeks to serve him. At the same time, she hold the Bud­da very close to her heart. Now of course, I haven’t had any open doors to dis­cuss the prob­lem there, but I fig­ure when God wants me to address it, he will make it hap­pen. Until then, she learns about Christ by my life (which some­times is not the best demon­stra­tion of the LORD, but I try hard.) 

            Jef­fer­son. I per­son­al­ly think a Bible with­out mir­a­cles would be an excel­lent argu­ment against the Bible being God’s Word, since God should be doing mir­a­cles. The same with Jesus. If some­one shows up on the scene claim­ing to be the Son of God, then he most cer­tain­ly bet­ter be doing some God like things. Imag­ine if Jesus did­n’t raise the dead, heal the lep­ers, mirac­u­lous­ly feed thou­sands with a few fish and lit­tle bread. The unbe­liev­er might right­ly say, “How is this man God in the flesh? He is just like the rest of us.” 

            Back to the moral­i­ty of the Bible, I can’t think of any oth­er writ­ing that com­pares to the high stan­dards of the Bible and the vast swatch of cov­er­age; both con­tem­po­rary and ancient. If there are any writ­ings of good val­ue, I“m sure I can find the same things being said in the Bible.
            I was just read­ing the fol­low­ing vers­es today, and sud­den­ly thought to myself, “These are not the words of an ordi­nary man! We do not think like this. These ways are much high­er than we are.”

            Eph 5:1 Be ye there­fore fol­low­ers of God, as dear children;
            Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath giv­en him­self for us an offer­ing and a sac­ri­fice to God for a sweet­smelling savour.
            Eph 5:3 But for­ni­ca­tion, and all unclean­ness, or cov­etous­ness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
            Eph 5:4 Nei­ther filth­i­ness, nor fool­ish talk­ing, nor jest­ing, which are not con­ve­nient: but rather giv­ing of thanks.
            Eph 5:5 For this ye know, that no whore­mon­ger, nor unclean per­son, nor cov­etous man, who is an idol­ater, hath any inher­i­tance in the king­dom of Christ and of God.
            Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the chil­dren of disobedience.
            Eph 5:7 Be not ye there­fore par­tak­ers with them.
            Eph 5:8 For ye were some­times dark­ness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as chil­dren of light:

            1. Here’s a thought exper­i­ment for you:

              What if Saul real­ized he could­n’t erad­i­cate Chris­tian­i­ty by mur­der­ing believ­ers and so rein­vent­ed his life as “Paul,” called him­self an Apos­tle, and then spread Phar­i­saical legal­ism through his let­ters to the ear­ly believ­ers who had noth­ing else to go on besides word-of-mouth about Jesus? And what if the Gospels were writ­ten to coun­ter­act Paul’s legal­is­tic ways by high­light­ing Jesus’ focus on com­pas­sion, char­i­ty, etc.?

              Paul does­n’t speak much about Jesus’ actu­al life, instead choos­ing to invoke his name as a stamp of approval on the “same old same old” — restric­tions on mar­riage, restric­tions on how a per­son should dress, restric­tions on this and that. 

              There’s a dis­tinct tonal shift from what Jesus asked of Chris­tians — and of how they were pre­sent­ed in Acts even, as small groups who met and shared a meal and shared what they felt led to share while sac­ri­fic­ing of their own goods to ensure nobody went with­out — to what Paul asked of Chris­tians, which was far more “you got­ta live this cer­tain way, and don’t for­get to give gen­er­ous­ly when I come to town.” 

              The more I think about it, the more inclined I am to think that if God and Jesus are real accord­ing to how the Bible describes them, then Paul is a snake sent to wreck the church­es, just as the nephilim were used to wreck the blood­lines ages ago so that Mes­si­ah would be thwarted.

              In any event, if Paul is on par with the gospels, then Eph­esians 5:4 def­i­nite­ly for­bids cre­ation­ists from talk­ing about sci­ence — few peo­ple sound as fool­ish as they when they speak. (And I’m say­ing that as 100% an ex-cre­ation­ist who is well-read in the pub­li­ca­tions of Answers in Gen­e­sis, Dr. Dino, and oth­ers. Still have many of the books on my shelves.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Use your Gravatar-enabled email address while commenting to automatically enhance your comment with some of Gravatar's open profile data.

Comments must be made in accordance with the comment policy. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your comment data is processed.

You may use Markdown to format your comments; additionally, these HTML tags and attributes may be used: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

A Salted Faith
%d bloggers like this: