Some Resources For Studying Church History

As I speak and teach about Church History I am often asked about recommendations for people who want to study on their own. To be honest whenever I speak I recommend these books even when people do not ask about them. Some people see me as an ‘expert’ in this area and want to know some of the books and websites that I read to gain information.  My desire is to inform the listeners of some well written (and in some cases not too detailed) books or websites in this field.

What are some of the books I read?

Well, throughout the time I have spent studying and researching in the area of Church History, I have compiled quite a short list of books (my list should probably be longer and is getting longer but right now I consistently rely on a few of my standards).  There truly are a plethora of resources, so from every church historian you would probably get a totally different list.  This is my short list of just a few books that I read on a fairly regular basis.

  • Exploring Church History  by  James P. Eckman.  This book is only around 100 pages in length but it does introduce readers to major characters, movements, and events in the big story of the Church.
  • Christian History Made Easy  by Timothy Paul Jones.  I have used this as a textbook in a high school setting.  The author does a good job of relating the major people and ideas and how they relate to the big picture.  This book is only 200 pages long but includes small thought bubbles with recommendations for further study.  It even gives websites addresses with relevant information.
  • Church History in Plain Language  by Bruce Shelley.  This is probably the most thorough treatment of Church History contained in one volume.  It obviously does not cover all aspect and people but does a very good job covering the information with a ‘broad brush stroke’.

What are some of the websites?

I visit a few websites on a regular basis to acquaint myself with new topics or learn new stuff about topics which I all ready know some things.  As with the books, there are not many sites, but I do visit these regularly.

  • http://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org – This is website from people who publish Christian History Magazine .  It not only gives you information on previous issues of the magazine, but it is broken down into teaching sessions (based on time periods).  These teaching sessions have some excerpts from primary source materials with explanations and discussion questions.  I have used these in class as assignments for my students to be exposed to and interacting with original writings.
  • http://www.didymus.org/ – This is the website from Dr. Byard Bennett who teaches Historical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids Michigan.  The information Dr. Bennett puts in here is well thought out and intriguing to ponder.  He also quotes prayers from church fathers, which are insightful and inspirational.
  • http://www.earlychristianwritings.com – For reading a translation of original texts from the early church fathers I always go to this website.  It gives you the complete text with little commentary.  It is easy to read the writings to get the flow of the author.

As stated earlier, this is a short list and by no means an exhaustive list.  I read other writings sporadically but this is my go to list.

Last but not least my blog

I also recommend that people read my blog for information about Church History.  I attempt to write on topics in a manner that is not to academic.  I believe many people would like to know more about Church History but do not want to read thousands of pages in hundreds of books.  I see my job as breaking up large amounts of information into bite sized pieces.

Please leave me some suggestions from your reading list.

If you have any additions or recommendations of your own I would love to read about them and recommend them to others.  Please contact me in the comments section so we can communicate.  I would be happy to exchange comments.

Soli Deo Gloria

From where did the Baptists come? Part 1

There are four suggested origins of the Baptist Church

There are many different answers to the question, “where did the Baptists come from?”  It really depends on who you talk to as to which theory they agree with.  I have talked to many people throughout the years and received many answers to the question, a majority of the answers fall into one of these four theories.  Here is a brief statement summarizing the theory and later each one will be addressed in more detail.

  • Baptists descended from the Anabaptist movement

  • Baptists can trace a direct line of connection between John the Baptist (or one of the Apostles) and our time today – also called the “Trail of Blood” theory

  • Baptists descended from a group of English Reformers

  • There is not direct links or ties to anything previous, they sort of “popped up” on the landscape with no connections to another group

Baptists descended from the Anabaptists (a short history of Anabaptists)

For simplicity let’s just say the Protestant Reformation in Europe started on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  Shortly after this many, many people wanted to express their discontent with the Catholic Church (this discontent had been building for decades)  at the time and, in essence, secede from the church and start a new (true) church (I know, I know many like Luther did not want to secede but reform the church).  This ‘reformation’ spread throughout Europe and changed the European culture.  Zurich, Switzerland was one of these places where the citizens wanted change from the established church.

The well known reformer Huldrich Zwingli was attempting to reform Christianity in Zurich.  Some of his followers, however, did not think Zwingli’s reforms went far enough. In short they wanted to change much if not most of the workings of the established church, so they pushed for more reform than proposed by Zwingli.  Historians now (and honestly even back then) called these people ‘radical reformers’.

These men who liked Zwingli’s suggestions but wanted more radical reforms were named Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz.  Some of their radical ideas were: getting rid of tithing, paying interest, and serving in military service.  They also wanted each church to govern itself, so as not to have a leader who is corrupt and lived thousands of miles away instructing them them on how to run their church.  Zwingli disagreed with Grebel and Manz and so parted ways with them.  In 1525 the Zurich city council forbade the ‘radicals’ from spreading their views, so Grebel, Manz, and others fled to a nearby village where they baptized each other (hence the name Anabaptist or re-baptizer) into the “true church”.  They continued to spread their form of Christianity and were persecuted by many of the other factions.

Did Baptists come from Anabaptists?

Because of the similarity between the words “Baptist” and “Anabaptist” many people believe the Baptist church has a direct connection to the historic Anabaptist church.  These people think there was a group of Anabaptists who changed some of their thinking and theology so took on the name Baptist to keep similar beliefs but distinguish themselves from the Anabaptists.  There are to be sure some similar doctrines, however, there are some very different (and significant) beliefs between the two.  Here are some differences and similarities:

Similarities:

Beliefs                                          Anabaptist                                 Baptist

Congregationalism                      Yes                                              Yes

Separation of Church/State       Yes                                              Yes

Believer’s Baptism                        Yes                                              Yes

Pacifism (exempt from military)   Yes                                         No

Living distinct from society          Yes                                            No

Community of goods                        Yes                                           No

Salvation is Christ and good works   Yes                                     No

Reason held above Scripture              Yes                                      No

Works of the Spirit held above Scripture   Yes                          No

So I would assert that even though the history of Baptists is a little fuzzy, due to the comparison of some of their beliefs, they are not the same animal.  They may have come from the Protestant Reformation but they are very different, therefore, Baptists did NOT come from Anabaptists.

Who are the descendants of the Anabaptists around today?

 Some of the followers of Grebel and Manz who developed a following of their own were men like: Jacob Hutter and Menno Simons.  Both of these men (Hutter and Simons) had their own brand of Anabaptism, and had various groups believe in their brand of Christianity.  A group called the Hutterites were followers of Jacob Hutter.  The Mennonites and Amish are descendants of Menno Simons.

I would say the direct link to the Anabaptists today would be the Amish and Mennonites, not the Baptists.

 

The Importance of Studying Church History

Why Study Church History?

Just a week or so ago I was asked to introduce some high schoolers to the topic of Church History.  My friend is a high school Bible teacher and he knows my passion for teaching Church History, so he asked if I would be a guest speaker and speak about the importance of studying Church History.  Here is a copy of the powerpoint slides I put together on this talk.  First I give a sort of outline of the specific areas that will be discussed, then I will examine each one individually:

The Bible and Its Interpretation
The History of Doctrine
The Roots of Todays Church
Missionary Endeavors                                                                                                       Guarding against heresy

The Bible and Its Interpretation

*The question to be asked is: How are the individual passages of the Bible to be interpreted? I believe use of the “interpretive journey” is the best way to interpret scripture (see the book Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-on Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays).

*Some throughout history have used the allegorical method which spiritualizes every element of every story, ignoring the cultural and historical context and the author’s intent.  All elements are in the story to pull out some sort of spiritual truth.  The story of David and Goliath is not recorded in order to show the faithfulness of a follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to show the power that that God has against His enemies, but it (this method) says the story is there to encourage all of us who have ‘giants to slay’ and how God can help us in ‘slaying those giants’ even though we a puny and weak compared to those giants.

*Others use the historical/grammatical context (the interpretive journey is based on this model).  This method uses the ideas of looking at the original culture and noting the differences between their culture and ours and then pull out some principles that apply to both situations.

*The study of Church History shows how people have interpreted the Bible then gives us clues to the appropriate way to approach it.

The History of Doctrine

Investigating the thoughts of people in Church History helps us in dealing with questions, such as:  Who is Jesus? Does the Bible assert that he is human or divine or both? If both how does that work?

What is the Trinity? Does not the Bible claim there is only one God? How can Father, Son, and Spirit all be God and yet be only one God?

The early church did not have all the teaching of the Bible fine tuned, precisely defined, and understood (do we?) so researching the issues helps us better refine our understanding of difficult (dare I say nearly impossible to comprehend) theological concepts.

The Roots of Today’s Church

Here are some ideas about the contemporary church that Church History helps us ponder:

Worship – Traditional or Contemporary, which is Biblical? Are either?
Sacraments – 7, 3, or 2? Why have any?
Confessions/Creeds – Some memorize them, others don’t, why?
Denominations – Why so many? Does God care if there are hundreds?

The Study of Missionary Endeavors

Matthew 28:16ff, Acts 1:7-8 – Followers of Jesus must spread the Gospel

Paul, Silas, Timothy, Peter, John Mark, Barnabas are examples from the New Testament of people who spread the Gospel outside of their immediate surroundings.

There are literally thousands of examples of followers of Jesus who shared their faith outside to their ‘Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the rest of the world’.  Here are just two:

*St. Patrick – to the Celts.  Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and taken from his home in England to the barbaric Celtic people.  After six years of slavery, he escaped, traveled back home, and studied to be a bishop (pastor) in England.  God later spoke to him in a vision telling him to go back to the Celts and spread the Gospel.  He did and a majority of the Celtic people became Christian.

*William Carey – to India.  After several failed business ventures, William (a shoemaker) taught himself several languages and became very distressed about the spiritual condition of the peoples in other countries.  So he set off to India and spent the majority of his life spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He inspired so many people of his time (the late 1700’s into the early 1800’s) that he is now known as ‘the Father of Modern Missions’.

There are nearly innumerable stories of Christians in history who told others of the miracle of salvation in Jesus.  These can and should be studied as examples of how to share the Gospel.

Guarding Against Errors

As soon as someone starts preaching truth, some else preaches errors.

How can one know error if they do not know the truth?

Gnosticism, Arianism, Unitarianism, Modalism, Universalism,  Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Montanism, Manicheism, Platonism are all some form of theological/philosophical error that has been taught and believed in time past.  “There is nothing new under the sun” we are told in Ecclesiastes, this statement goes for bad theology also.  All of the heresy (bad theology) that is presented in our day, has been dealt with in the past.  We study Church History in order to better see bad theology when it comes into our midst.

As an example of this that comes to mind is the bad theology or at least bad information given in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.  In this book the character of Robert Langdon has a dialogue with his mentor over the issues discussed during the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.  It is stated that the Emperor Constantine called the Council in order to push his political agenda of unifying the Roman Empire by convincing bishops (pastors) to keep certain books in the Bible and throw out others. Dan Brown claims the major purpose of calling the council was to keep the letters that assert the divinity of Jesus while rejecting those letters that specifically state a denial of this attribute.  There are many lengthy discussion that could be had over the assertions made in this book, but here it is mentioned merely to clarify that the major issue at the Council of Nicaea was NOT the letters of the New Testament that claim Jesus divinity, but the rejection of certain persons (Arius) who denied Jesus divinity and taught that Jesus was some kind of lesser god than that of the Bible.

The Council of Nicaea was not about the canon and those books that belong in the Bible but about a heretic who claimed something about Jesus that was not biblical.

Studying Provides Historical Character

*It provides repeated, concrete demonstration concerning the irreducibly historical character of the Christian faith.

*It shows the acts of God in time and space.

*Christianity is a truth claim based on historical events and people.

*It is not just a moral code or cute rules to follow

Studying Shows The Connection Between Church and Culture

*It provides a laboratory for examining Christian interactions with the surrounding culture.

*What should the Church do in light of issues like abortion, same sex union, or Euthanasia?

*How does the culture influence the church? Or vice versa?

Studying Provides a Way to Determine Which Doctrines Are Essential

*Can you be saved and yet not believe in the Trinity? Is the doctrine of the Trinity essential?

*Can you deny the deity of Jesus and still be his follower? Is this essential?

*Can you be saved by working for your salvation or is it exclusively by faith?

 

What????? I was wrong????? YEP, and I changed my thinking

What?????  I was wrong?????  YEP, and I changed my thinking

A different date was brought to my attention

     One of my previous posts talked about the changing of worldview in Western culture from Medieval, to Modern, to Post-modern.  As I discussed this paradigm shift I attached some general dates to signify this change.  Originally I said the Medieval worldview went from (roughly) AD 500 to AD 1500 (again this is Western culture, other cultures have their own times and shifts), Modernism from AD 1500 to AD 1972, and Post-modernism from 1972 to the present (although many people believe we are moving from Post-modernism to something else).

     Well, after getting some views as various people read that blog I received a comment that stated I should have chosen an earlier date for distinguishing the shift from Modernism to Post-modernism.  In history Post-modernism can be traced back to the early 1900’s.  It was seen throughout the 1900’s in such areas as:  art, music, architecture, literature, and philosophy.  It was stated by the reader of the blog  that 1972 was way too late of a date to be used in a time frame for the changing worldviews.

     So I did a little more research and thought through the suggestion, and decided that when I discuss this topic again I will use an approximate date of the 1950’s.  By this time much of the populace had been exposed to Post-modernism and some of the philosophers, artists, and architects had been making their own contributions to their specific discipline.

The date is very difficult to pin down

     It is difficult to pick a specific date, however, because this shift (as most if not all are) was gradual.  As I read the book A Primer on Post-modernism by Stanley Grenz, I recall that author choosing the date of the shift as 1972.  Wikipedia says this,

     “However, the transition from Modernism to Postmodernism is often said to have happened at 3:32pm on 15 July in 1972, when Pruitt Igoe; a housing development for low-income people in St. Louis designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, which had been a prize-winning version of Le Corbusier‘s ‘machine for modern living’ was deemed uninhabitable and was torn down” (Wikipedia, Postmodernism).

I believe this is the event used as an illustration in Grenz’s book to signify the end of modernity.  This is seen as sort of the end of the beginning of Post-modernism.  I am not justifying my choice of 1972, simply giving my rationale for that date.

     As I said earlier, the date I think about when presenting a timeline of the shift will now be the 1950’s.  The blog reader was justified and very gracious in bringing up this variant in my presentation.  In sum, he/she was right and I was wrong.  So I have now changed my thinking and will change my Powerpoint slides to reflect this shift.

I appreciate the input

     I am so thankful for the correction by the reader and am wanting input from all the readers.  One of my goals is to make this blog informative and assist us all in our walk of faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

soli deo gloria

How may I serve you? or ‘to serve man’

I noticed some deficiencies in many churches

      As I have visited churches and schools around my area I discovered that a number of people are interested in Church History but not wanting to take full blown college or seminary classes (due to either time or money restraints).  I have been a guest speaker at a number of churches and noticed there IS a curiosity by those attenders to better understand how God has worked in the lives of His people.  Most churches in which I grew up were very deficient in the presentation or even knowledge concerning God’s activity through His people in the past (Church History).  A majority of the history of Christianity is a blank to most Christians and I would like to do my part in rectifying this deficiency.  I believe this deficiency comes from at least 3 things:  the boredom with history in general, a reaction to Roman Catholicism, and following in the steps of the Reformers.

3 Reasons why people do not study Church History

‘History is boring’

     When asked why many people don’t enjoy studying history the usual answer is ‘it’s boring’.  In their schooling most have been inundated with names, places, and dates without being informed of the significance of those name, places, and dates.  The student had names and dates as required memorization, yet are not told (or at least emphasized) the importance of that date or person.  For example, they could be told to memorize the date 1776, to signify the signing of the Declaration of Independence and then the Revolutionary War in the New World (eventually the United States of America).  But the internal struggle for the signers and their dedication to ‘liberty or death’ loses something in the study.  I believe this tedium over studying history contributes to the gap in knowledge for the average church goer.

A reaction to Roman Catholicism

     Another reason your normal church does not teach or understand Church History is (I believe) a reaction to Roman Catholicism.  Let me first off state that this is NOT AGAINST Roman Catholicism but a misunderstanding or misinterpretati0n of emphasis in Catholicism.  Most observers of Catholicism understand the stress on the importance of the work of the saints from Catholic theology.  It is my opinion that Protestants have historically reacted to ‘everything Catholic’ so they will ‘not do what the Catholics do’.  I believe this has lent to a failure on the part of Protestants to want or need to study history.

A product of the Reformation

     The third reason I think studying Church History in most mainline churches is not stressed is because they are following in the steps of the reformers.  One of the ideas that is a result of the Protestant Reformation is Sola Scriptura (scripture alone).  By the 1500’s in Europe the Catholic Church had many, many doctrines and practices that came into question by the reformers.  One topics which was emphasized was ‘we don’t need to learn about the history or the saints, we just need the Bible’.  Either intentionally or unintentionally a byproduct of the Reformation was Protestant getting rid of knowledge of God’s history in order to solely study God’s word.  I think this has been a detriment to the churches.  Many will never know the wealth and depth of theology because they have not nor will they ever study their history.

     Because I have observed this trend of historical deficiency in the churches with which I come in contact, I am taking it upon myself to present the History of Christianity so people may learn the importance of it.  I see myself as a teacher at heart, so I am more than willing to research topics or questions asked of me and report on them to you.  In my mind it does God a terrible disservice to neglect His workings through His people. I mean after all He actually worked in the lives of various individuals to think through the mysteries and non mysteries of the Christianity in the past to come to a valid conclusion.

What I want from you

     I would like to ask for your assistance.  My goal in this blog is to help you in your Christian walk.  I would like you as my readers to send me comments (both good and bad) to help me do a better job.  I WANT YOU TO LEARN ABOUT CHURCH HISTORY and answer questions you may have.  So I would encourage you to send me suggestions for study or questions you have concerning theology.  If you have any ideas about who to study, or what movement (monasticism, heretics, The Protestant Reformation, The Great Awakening, The Social Gospel, etc.) I would enjoy reporting on them for you.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SEND ME YOUR COMMENTS.

Thank you, God Bless.

Who were some of the women in Church History?

Just a few of the great women in history God used to further His Kingdom

As one studies the history of Christianity, it does not take long to come to the conclusion that the significant women of the church are just not talked about.  To be fair, in the last few decades there have been several blog postings and books written about the women of Church History.  As I searched the topic on the interweb, I found a book entitled The Desert Mothers, (which is a take on a well known group of ascetics known as ‘the desert Fathers’).  There are also a several articles on Christian History Institute‘s website which discuss many of the influencial women in Church History.  So I though I would choose four women (really just randomly) from the history of Christianity to talk about.  My point is to make sure the women God used to further His kingdom are not neglected.  These women are discussed in no particular order or for any other reason that to bring them to our attention.

Katharina Von Bora Luther (1499-1552)

 Katharina Von Bora had decided at an early age to become a nun.  She was overwhelmed with the desire to dedicate her entire life to her Lord.  As she grew in the nunnery, she became exposed to the writings of the scholar and radical thinker, Martin Luther.  She along with several other nuns ran away from the cloister, believing the radical assertions made by Dr. Luther.  Martin Luther took on the task of finding homes or husbands for these women, but for some reason could not find a suitable home for Katharina.  Katie (as Martin called her) herself suggested she marry Dr. Luther.  He then determined to marry her, not out of love, but out of example to other reformers concerning the stance of Catholicism requiring clergy to be celibate. He wanted to show others that one could be devoted to serving God and still be a faithful husband or wife.

The Luthers had a very loving, passionate marriage.  Katie saw her place in running the household (including planting of crops, brewing beer, cooking for non-stop visitors, butchering the animals, and renting rooms in their renovated monastery for extra income).  She was pleased to allow her brilliant husband the time to study and preach he needed, so as for him not to worry about taking care of the house.  She believed this was her way of furthering God’s kingdom.

Idelette Calvin (1509-1549)

 John and Idelette Calvin had a bit of a different relationship than that of Martin and Katie Luther.  John was so consumed with his studies that he really did not feel the need or want for a wife.  He did not even consider the idea of marriage until he was 30 years old or so.  After some time dealing with issues and interacting with his close friends, one of them suggested he look for a wife.  He was neither excited nor against the idea.  Later concluding it may be well to marry, Calvin had his friends go through a list of suitable women to determine which would make a good spouse for him.  He rejected 4 or so and then was introduced to Idelette.  She was the widow of an Anabaptist minister, who died and left her with 2 children.  Due to her being an Anabaptist, she was under scrutiny by the people of Geneva.  They distrusted her religious ways, yet Calvin decided to marry her.  Although she lost several children in childbirth, she bore Calvin no offspring.  After a lengthy illness she also died, having been Calvin’s wife for only 8 1/2 years.  He praised her for her selflessness in attending to his constant illnesses and his dedication to his theological writings.

Monica – the mother of Augustine of Hippo (322-387)

 Monica was born in Tagaste (modern day Algeria) in the year AD 322.  Both her parents were Christian, but she married a non-Christian man.  Due to her upbringing she remained devoted to Jesus for her entire life.  She had 2 boys and a girl.   She was distressed, however, because her husband, Patricius, would not allow his children to be baptized.  One of the boys they named Augustine and would eventually grow up to be one of history’s greatest theologians.   Early in Augustine’s life his parents noticed his brilliance so intended on providing him with the best of schooling they could muster.  Monica prayed tirelessly (daily) for her son to know Jesus as his Savior. She spent 17 years following and praying for her rebellious, wayward son.  Eventually God’s Spirit spoke to him and converted him to Christianity.  One years after witnessing her brilliant son’s conversion, Monica died in Ostia, Italy in AD 387.  God allowed her to see the desire of her heart, that her rebellious son would follow Jesus.

Brigid of Kildare (453-524)

Brigid was from Ireland, born into a Druid family.  Her father was a court poet.  She fell under the influence of the teachings of St. Patrick.  As a young women Brigid became a Christian and took her vows to become a nun.  She along with several other women established a nunnery in the town of Kildare.  She is known by many admirers as the female St. Patrick because of her dedication to spreading the Gospel and her devotion to Jesus.  She was deeply involved in giving to the poor and establishing schools of leather workers, artists, and metal workers.  She tirelessly aided people in need, and thus was instrumental in the Christianization of Ireland.

What can we learn from these women?

Actually, we can learn much from them if we take the time to research and study more about their life than is here.  But here is what I can mention as thoughts from the life of these women.

Katharina Luther:  Her passion for her husband and her God.  No matter what the circumstance, she remained dedicated to God’s kingdom.

Idelette Calvin:  Her servant’s heart and demeanor.  She served her husband and her God with meekness and humility.

Monica, the mother of Augustine:  She diligently, and tenaciously held to the belief that God would use her son in a mighty way.  So she prayed tirelessly for his salvation, and God answered her prayers.

Brigid of Kildare:  Brigid was consumed with furthering the Kingdom of God by setting up monasteries and by sacrificing her needs for the needs of the poor.

Much can be learned by the women of Church History.  Research, study, and emulate what they did for God.

Which world view do you follow?

People have a difficult time evaluating their own world view.

All people at all times have a grid or filter through which they understand the world.  All information taken in to a person’s mind gets filtered through their worldview.   There are certain things that are possible and certain things that are impossible or at least improbable according to one’s worldview.  One problem  is people have a very difficult time taking an unbiased look at their own worldview in order to evaluate it for its pros and cons. We automatically assume everyone for all time thought about their world in the same way we do, and this is woefully incorrect.  We get so busy experiencing our life that we do not want to examine our preconceived notions to see if they should be rejected or tweaked.

A tale of two worldviews

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of worldviews.  I would like to use 2 as an example of how each includes some aspects and rejects other aspects of differing views.

Worldview #1:  Naturalism – people who hold this view believe that matter and energy are all there is in the universe and because ALL things follow certain laws it is impossible for miracles to occur.  Yet when something out of the ordinary (they would say impossible) happens it is rejected immediately without ever carefully examining the evidence.  According to this view Jesus could not have been raised from the dead because this is an impossibility.  This does not fall into their categories of reality.  Jesus’ resurrection just could not happen because miracles do not happen, therefore Jesus could not rise from the dead.

Worldview #2: Christianity – this worldview says (among other things) miracles can happen and one can use reasoning to examine the evidence and determine the event’s validity.  It is not only possible for Jesus to be resurrection from death, but can be defended through the use of examination and corroborating evidences.  The reliable eyewitness reports (the New Testament gospels) can be scrutinized for their validity and accuracy.  In this worldview, however, certain scientific assertions are rejected out of hand without weighing all of the studies.  Concepts like the neo-Darwinian synthesis are rejected due to lack of convincing evidence. Many will dismiss micro-evolution because of the “disagreement” between science and the Bible.  Often a Christian will say ‘evolution does not happen because it goes against the Bible’, when the differences between micro and macro evolution need to be defined.  As quickly as many non-Christians reject the concept of a supernatural being, a Christian will reject assertions made and proven by science.

I would like to state that one needs to re-evaluate their own worldview to determine if they are merely stating something which comes from the culture or something that is consistent with their basic beliefs. Do people reject the existence of God because they have “proven” to themselves he does not exist or simply because the concept of a god does not fit into their preconceived notions?  Do people reject the idea of an “old earth” because they have made an assessment of the pertinent information to come to a logical conclusion or do they simply reject it because the people they read reject it and ‘the Bible rejects it so I reject it’?

What’s the point?

The point I am attempting to make is this: we all need to take a serious evaluation of our worldview and be able to support our beliefs with legitimate and sound reasoning.  Too many of us (not merely Christians but including Christians) believe something or a set of somethings just because other people believe it, not because the individual came to that conclusion through reasoning.  Often we believe something because people we respect say it’s true, yet we have not taken an unbiased, critical view of this belief.

A shift from Medieval to Modern to Post-Modern to . . .

As I stated in the beginning of this post, most of us believe people through all of history had the same worldview as we, yet this is just not the case.  There seems to be a worldview shift (at least in western culture) periodically at various times.

  • The Medieval Mindset:  If we start chronologically with the Medieval Period (AD 500-1500) there is a way of looking at the world that I would say is more ‘superstitious’ than later periods.  The medieval mindset put more thinking on a controlling god than on the science of ‘how things worked’.  The people back then just did not have the science background to look at how the world worked so they attributed phenomena to ‘evil spirits’ instead what we would now see were a scientific process.

  • The Modernist Mindset:  Somewhere from the 1500’s to the 1700’s (the time of the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Enlightenment) there was a drastic worldview shift.  People changed their thinking from ‘more superstitious’ to ‘more scientific’.  There was a boom  in scientific and mathematical discoveries (actually there was a boom in many aspects of society) which changed the way people thought about their world.  This shift caused them to change the grid through which they evaluate their surroundings.  This worldview stressed logic and reason, where reason replaced faith in evaluating their world.  In this worldview there are objective truths in the universe which can be found through reasoning.

  • The Post-Modern mindset:  Somewhere around 1972 another shift took place.  This one started in art and literature and then moved into academia and eventually to theology.  In this mindset there are no objective truths (and even if there are it is irrelevant), truth is whatever my subjective experiences tell me it is.  Post-modernism is includes moral relativism, but encompasses all of reality.  In the religious realm post-modernism can easily be seen in the Emerging Church movement (a la Brian McClaren).

  • Post-post-Modernism- what comes after post-modernism?  I have no idea, but when I talk to people and do some research I will let you know.  The point for our discussion is Post-Modernism is waning and it will soon (or already is) be replaced by a new worldview.

Why the discussion on worldview?

May goal in discussing this topic is for more people to ask themselves the question, “Do I believe this thing is true, or am I merely following my culture?”  All intelligent people should take a close look at their beliefs, re-evaluate them and strive for consistency in their worldview.