Where have you been all my life?

As an Evangelical missionary with a lifelong interest in apologetics, I felt robbed. I had spent hours poring through Christian bookshops and had never read this kind of material. I didn’t even know there were writings available from the period. Most versions of Church history I had read would briefly mention the second and third centuries, focus for a short time on the trinitarian debates of the fourth, highlight Augustine, then jump into the sixteenth century for the Reformation. Never at a Christian bookstore or booktable had I seen patristic writings being reprinted and sold. We sell the writings of any nutcase who presumes to speak as an Evangelical, but have not bothered to consider selling the works of the sons and grandsons of the Apostles.

And I soon realised why. If Evangelicals ever bothered to reprint and study Ignatius, Polycarp, Tertullian, or Irenaeus, their writings would step on our theological toes.

Surprise. As I returned to the Bible with the new perspective of the early Church Fathers I began to see verses for which I had never given second thought. With time and patient reading I was forced to shift my disregard for Catholic and Orthodox teaching to a begruding acceptance. Point after point, doctrine after doctrine, I slowly realized that, as Evangelicals, we have been missing the Tradition of the Church. It was painful. I have always demanded reason for belief and here it was before me in reamfuls. And it hurt to take my own medicine.

With further studies and a struggling reflection on the Scriptures, I came to believe what I read in the Fathers. The Bible made more sense in light of the early Church than it did in light of modern Evangelicalism.

5 thoughts on “Nutcases”

  1. Doubt

    I also like this quote:

    In the heights of my faith there have been strong streaks of doubt and questioning. Is the Bible really the Word of God? Did Jesus really do the things claimed for him in the Gospels? Are we completely wrong? After all, we don’t hesitate to declare everyone else wrong. Some Christians, in an effort to sustain their reputation in Church, simply show unflinching doubt. When confronted by a pained Christian conscience, they simply say, “Don’t worry about it. God has a wonderful plan for your life! The answers will come later.” Comfort. But, as with Job’s helpers, there are often overtones of criticism. Pity that your faith is so weak. One day it may be as strong as my own.

    1. Re: Doubt

      Pity that your faith is so weak. One day it may be as strong as my own.

      I hope I haven’t come across that way in our other conversation. If I did, I appologize.

      That said, I don’t think criticism of others while protecting “our own” is a problem that is particular to protestants. Look at how the Roman Catholics have handled their priest scandals.

      In the end, we we all need a little more humility.

      1. Re: Doubt

        I hope I haven’t come across that way in our other conversation.

        Not at all.

        I thought the comment was so poignant because not only have I seen others do it, but I’ve done it myself.

  2. one concept reality that i really appreciated the first time i attended the RC church was that I felt I was gathering together with folks, ordinary folks, who make up the church today but also the same church that the Lord founded 2000 years ago.

    this leads to which is the true church: RCism or Orthodoxy, but with my finite min I cant answer that: it is also instructive to note that the Orthodox church has never appointed an Orthodox bishop of Rome

    anyway, i certainly dont want to debate this point (and I’m not): it is just that i think both sides suffer from not being in formal communion with each other–as FF Schmemann and Meyendorff said

    1. both sides suffer from not being in formal communion with each other


      I would add that this extends to all Christians — orthodox, protestant, catholic, anabaptist, anglican, etc. We all lose a lot because of the divisions between us.

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