In my blog posts entitled “Themes of Historical Christianity”, how do I define the term Historical Christianity? This term came from a spiritual transformation I have been going through for several years. For me, I never debated whether God exists, but my struggles related to the nature of God. Is God a super-natural being who kicked off creation and the laws of Physics then took a vacation, or is He a super-natural Being who is involved in the day to day aspects of my life? Is God good? and what is the definition of good? Is God just? and what is the definition of just? Who is God?
My pilgrimage in this path led me down a path I never expected. To tell the truth, I still do not have an answer to the exact involvement of God in my day to day life. Also, I do not have the answer to the definition of good and just. But, in my spiritual journey, I have discovered truths so important, that my former questions really do not matter any more. I have discovered that Christianity is not about the nature of God, or whether God is good or just; but rather, that Christianity is a story. Christianity is a story about mankind’s loss of community with God, and God’s plan for redemption and eventual return to community. Christianity is the story about redemption in the lives of Saints throughout history, and about how I fit into that redemptive story. At some point in my journey, I realised the exact nature of God didn’t matter any more. The story is so important, and so vital, that the other questions are insignificant.
My search began in reading the history of Christianity in the United States. The religion that most people consider Christianity in the United States is really an invention of our society. As (mostly) Europeans travelled to the new World, they brought their historical early reformation churches with them. However, they created new denominations and independent groups, adapting them to the brand of capitalism that was developing in the industrial and post industrial society. A new country full hopes and dreams needed a religion that supported those hopes and dreams. A country centred on the promises of capitalism needed a religion that encouraged those promises. After World War II, as the United States assumed its new role in the world, this new religion continued to adapt to meet the needs of suburban America. A religion of redemption and hope became a religion of rules designed to meet this new form of capitalism. A religion of a story of our separation from God and subsequent reunification with God became a religion about about a God that is a store keeper, providing a product for our daily lives. A religion about a mysterious Triune God became a religion about a monotheistic God that could fit within orderly logic. I realised Christianity had changed so much to meet American ideals, that at some point perhaps it had stopped being Christianity at all, but rather a new sect with a name yet to be defined.
The next step in my journey continues to this day. In attempting to remove the changes of U.S. style Christianity, I am reading through the 2000+ year history of Christianity. I research not only Western (Roman) Christianity, but also the Eastern branch of Christianity. By looking throughout history, I hope to find that common core story that spreads throughout the world, and throughout history.
In this reading, I have found a mysterious God who is also God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. I have found a mysterious Triune God who is both sovereign, yet in some way I do not understand still grants mankind free will. I have found a Triune God who seems to ignore mankind’s preoccupation with what is right and wrong, and continues to accomplish His story in spite of mankind’s actions. I have found a mankind that is so depraved, that we can’t even comprehend the reality of the Triune God’s super-natural existence. I have found a mankind that is so depraved, that we can’t even comprehend the extent of the Triune God’s super-natural law. I have found a mankind that is so depraved, that without a transformation into the Triune God we can never hope to achieve community Him. I have found an ancient community of believers that throughout history share these common beliefs, regardless of time or culture. In some wonderful way that I may never understand, I fit into this ancient, mysterious, and wonderful community of believers.
This blog is a story of my journey. Where it exactly started, and where it will exactly end, I do not know. I try to reject influences of my culture, but I realise that is impossible. The interaction of my culture and my own life is so interwoven with my identify that it is impossible for me to separate them from Historical Christianity. But, for my own sanity, I must continue down this path. I realise the path of my beliefs for over 40 years are not sufficient for the complexities of my life and how my life fits into the world. I crave and desire to understand and comprehend this redemption story, and how I fit into that story.