Saturday, July 6, 2013

#1 History

Since historical inquiry was one area that lead me to realize  evangelicalism was no longer for me, I will discuss just history in this article. Instead of recounting my sordid history in Christianity and bore all that read it, I will address the need for historical perspective in our lives.

I read books and watched documentaries about history in my free time and saw how people were uninformed throughout history. This allowed the populace to be manipulated by the governmental power structures that were in control at the time. In the church setting I grew up in and went back into as an adult, historical perspective was a glaring omission. All studies were focused on the bible only, with little or no perspective on how this revered book came to be. It was like the Bible was handed down from heaven and was perfect in every way, that is until you read some Bart Ehrman and see that isn't so.

In my experience, fences are put up in evangelical circles to keep outside perspectives and information out. For the rank and file, this is no longer a problem since they are content where they are. For those of us that expand our worldview and interact with those outside the fold, this shallow pool becomes a prison. Through the lens of history, American Evangelicalism is a young movement with no roots and is not any different from current culture.

When this corner of American culture becomes no longer the place for you the road map out is difficult. Most of the people you know are fellow Evangelicals and don't understand why you are unhappy there. The loudest voices that are contra to your position are the New Atheists, but after a while they become as dogmatic as your old position.

When you start to look at the history of the church and see that there is so much more there between Paul and Martin Luther. Studying the church fathers, the Carmelite Mystics and Aquinas mixing Platonic philosophy with Christian thought were a wake up call that I was ignorant of history once again.

Studying church history has given me understanding of the church I grew up in and how it was a mixture of Calvinism and the Wesleyan pietistic movements. The result of this kind of upbringing causes either a strict adherent or a serious doubter/none. It made me realize I was rejecting a form of Christianity that I had outgrown and I needed to give a more historical version a chance before I punched my "none" card.

I made a list of what had to be gone from Christianity before I could believe again. At the top of the list was biblical inerrancy and end times eschatology that needed to be gone for good too. From there I had be in a place where culture wars were no longer an issue since they never get resolved and merely polarize a voting block. Inane modern day praise music gone too, I never sang at church in my past because the songs were meaningless and trite. No more unspoken rules or fences around intellectual inquiries either.

At the time I made the list in the paragraph above I thought that is what being a Christian was based on my past. Thanks to friends and visiting all kinds of different denominations, I realized I could find a church home somewhere. I have joined an ELCA Lutheran church and have found a new home. Questions are encouraged in our discussion groups and my pastor continually presents a historical perspective there and in his homilies.

For me I had ruled out Christianity as an option because the one I knew was wrong. As fun as it would be to bash certain groups, or hold those in my past accountable the responsibility was on myself. With getting married so young anf juggling family and career I never had the time to look at my own history and see why I was where I was. Once I turned inward and looked at myself it inspired change and growth.

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