Wineskins Archive

December 19, 2013

Church History Jigsaw Puzzle – Part 1 (Mar-Jun 2010)

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<i>by Edward Fudge<br>March 21, 2010</i><br><br>One of many blessings that come from reading church history is a perspective sufficiently distant to see the larger picture with all its harmony and its diversity. Blessed with such perspective, we see God continually at work among his people: now turning, then correcting, sometimes simply allowing, the course of his church through the centuries. No believer and no Christian group can afford to believe or think or live in isolation. We all – individuals and groups – can and need to learn from each other.<br><br>The undivided church of the first several centuries gave us the "rule of faith" expressed in the Apostles Creed, as well as the New Testament canon itself. It also bestowed a legacy of commitment — demonstrated in martyrdom, monasticism and the less spectacular but equally heroic models of quiet but faithful perseverance. Meanwhile, that earliest catholic (undivided, worldwide) church was struggling to achieve equilibrium between its Christian "identity" (being <i>different</i> from the world) and its intended "universality" (making a <i>home</i> within every culture).<br><br>After the division between East and West, we can learn from both Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox to stand in awe before the transcendent Mystery, to step into the ancient stream of contemplation and meditation, and to appreciate Christ's amazing mother Mary as a model of faith more than most of us Protestants have ever done.<br><br>All Christians need Luther's four gospel slogans (<i>sola gratia</i> – solely grace, <i>sola fide</i> – solely faith, <i>solo Christo</i> – solely Christ, <i>sola scriptura</i> – solely Scripture), capped by Calvin's persistent admonition that all things result in the glory of God (<i>sola Deo gloria</i>). The Anabaptists teach us the difference between being citizens of a worldly state and belonging to the kingdom of God, while reminding us that we must personally choose to follow Jesus as Lord and Master. The Anglicans gave us the English Bible and the treasure-chest of the Book of Common Prayer – a worship repository with which most Protestants are sadly unfamiliar, yet full of gems waiting to be discovered.<br>_________________<br><br><sub>Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.</sub><br><br><hr/><br/><i>If you would like to subscribe to gracEmail&reg;, click on <a href="" target="_blank">this link</a>.</i><img src="" align="right"></img><br/><br/><br/><br/><script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

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