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.)

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