A History of Relationship with God in the Church

Friday, June 22, 2007

I've just finished a summer intensive in church history at Asbury and had a chance to explore some of the history of German Pietism, Moravianism, and early Methodism. I've been paying special attention to the idea of a relationship with God and wanted to sketch out a brief history of relationship with God throughout church history.

I'm sure we are all familiar with the church in the Book of Acts, which took off at Pentecost, and was characterized by the infilling of the Holy Spirit, intense community, caring for the poor, and sign & wonders. This carried on in the primitive church, and the persecution of Rome not only was unable to crush the early church, but in fact the persecution seemed to intensify their resolve and enlarge their numbers.

With the "conversion" of Constantine we see the beginnings of a downward trend, as the church gradually became less characterized by the living God in people's hearts transforming lives and society, and instead with an institution of power that represented the very opposite of what Jesus stood for. By the early middle ages we can see that the church is an institution characterized by massive wealth and shocking use of oppressive power and violence. We do see in this dark age occasional glimmers of light in people like St Francis of Assisi or Julian of Norwich who had deeply intimate relationships with God that overflowed into compassion for the poor. But these beacons of relationship with God are mostly drowned out by Rome. This was the time of the bloody crusades and inquisitions, which meant not only that heretics were burnt at the stake, but that more often than not, people were martyred by the Roman church because they exhibited Christ-likness. One example is the Waldesians who from an orthodox standpoint were completely in line with Catholicism. They felt that rather than amassing wealth, they should give what they had to the poor and live among them incarnationally. Because of this they began to gain a great deal of moral authority among the people. Pope Innocent III (whose name as we see is quite the misnomer) was at the time the richest man on the planet, and he saw these humble monks as undermining his authority among the masses. So he ordered mercenary crusaders to invade the town were the Waldesians were and kill them. While they were at it, for good measure, they killed everyone else in the town, too.

So while we do see signs of vital transforming relationship with God in the monastic and mystical movements, the official focus of faith is not one of personal relationship, but rather a mediated faith administered by the institution. Everyone was baptized as an infant, and thus a member of the church. No was choice involved, no concept of new birth existed. You accepted the authority of the church, or you were killed. The point here is not just that this was extremely oppressive and murderous, but that people simply did not have any concept that they even could have a relationship with God, since it was not taught, and no Bibles were available to read. People like Julian of Norwich surely existed. God was there despite the darkness. But they were the exception to the norm. Officially, personal relationship with God was not promoted as an option.

The turning point, as you might have guessed, was Martin Luther who in his "Turmerlebnis" (tower experience) rediscovered the Gospel of salvation by grace while reading the Apostle Paul's book of Romans. Luther describes this in his own words as "like being born again". This rediscovery of the Gospel sadly went into a recession after Luther's death in 1546. By the early 1600's the Lutheran church had become engulfed in the scholasticism Luther hated so much. Large tombs of theology were written with every answer to every question so that if the Lord God himself was unsure on a particular point of doctrine, why he could look it up right there. Pastors would hold long and tedious lectures expounding ad nauseum on these topics that were completely irrelevant to the lives of the congregation. In response to this cold and barren propositional theology that Lutheranism Protestantism had become, German Pietism was born, and with it the resurgence of Luther's own message.

While remaining theologically orthodox to Lutheranism, the German Pietist movement, headed by Philipp Jacob Spener, sought to cultivate in people a living and intimate relationship with God. One of the key ways that it sought to do this was through “Bibelkreise” (meaning "Bible circle" evoking the picture of people sitting together in a circle reading the Bible). These groups were very similar to the home-group Bible studies common in Evangelical churches today. One of the central teachings of Spener was "Wiedergeburt" (born again). This new birth into a relationship with God was at the very heart of German Pietism. Out of the German Pietist movement, Zinzendorf and the Moravians emerged adding a strong focus on evangelism. It was the Moravians who John Wesley met while on a missionary journey to Georgia in the new American colonies. Wesley writes in his diary of his encounter with the Moravian leader August Spangenberg who asks Wesley about his personal relationship with God,

Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God?
I was surprised, and knew not what to answer...
"Do you know yourself?"
I said, "I do." But I fear they were vain words.


As is well known, at Aldersgate Wesley did come to the personal assurance he lacked, where his heart was “strangely warmed” as he listened to a reading of Luther's commentary on the book of Romans. It is worth noting that it was the combination of the proclamation of the Gospel message of saving grace, combined with seeing this lived out in the vibrant and personal faith of the Moravians that together resulted in Wesley coming to an assurance of God's love and forgiveness.

Not surprisingly these renewal movements experienced persecution from the institutional churches, now including the Protestant churches. One bewildering example is a decree issued in 1690 under the urgings of the Lutheran officials declaring "private meetings in which the Holy Scripture is explained" as "dangerous" and forbidding them "upon pain of imprisonment"*. This is painfully ironic coming from the denomination of a man who stood before Rome alone with his Bible and translated the Scriptures for the first time in to German so common people could read the good news. As the Pietist renewal movement, centered in a vital and transforming relationship with God, continued to grow in numbers and in conflict with the traditional Protestant state churches, people began to flock to the new American colonies in search of religious freedom. Puritans, Pietists, Methodists, Moravians, Anabaptists, Quakers, and many others traveled to the colonies. It was in this atmosphere that the First and Second Great Awakenings exploded in tent meeting revivals across the new frontier.

In the next installment we'll explore how this idea of a living personal relationship with God took shape in the new world, from the First and Second Great Awakenings, to the forming of denominations, and finally the neo-Evangelicalism of Billy Graham.

* Quoted in Dale W Brown, "The Problem of Subjectivism in Pietism" (unpublished PhD dissertation Northwestern U, 1962) p 86. From Johann Arnds et al. Der Deutsche Pietismus: Eine Auswahl von Zeugnisen (Berlin: Furche, 1921) p 109

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17 Comments:

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Roy said...

Nice summary. I could have skipped the class :)

Where is Schleiermacher in all of this?

 
At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

Hey Roy,

I'll let you blog about Schleiermacher :)

I was just noticing that we skipped the Azusa Street revival of 1906 and the birth of Pentecostalism. Kinda surprising cuz I know it is one of the things O'Malley is researching.

 
At 9:06 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

Derek, you know I like your writing. I'm just concerned about this particular piece.

There is plenty to criticize anywhere sinners exist, and you have made some valid points here. Still, it's a little bit overdone. Some of the statements you make aren't (to the best of my knowledge) entirely factually correct; when I read some of the more sweeping statements here, counter-examples kept pushing into my mind. I'm not here to argue counter-examples with you as if that was my point; my point is just to let you know that some more reading is in order, or maybe vetting the piece with people with more detailed knowledge of some of the areas you're generalizing about.

If you release this as-is to a wider audience, you're likely to get shredded by people who have more detailed knowledge in some of the areas you have broad-brushed.

And the polemical tone is going to generally draw people who will want to respond in kind. I suspect you're setting yourself up for a rough reception at the hands of some people that you are, frankly, treating a little unfairly and who may volunteer to return the favor.

Feel free to delete this comment after you've read it. I mostly hope I haven't offended you. My hope is to forewarn you that this piece is likely to get a rough reception.

If you know some Roman Catholics or Lutherans you could privately vet this with, you'd probably get some constructive suggestions. If not, it would probably be well worth the trouble as research on the material being presented.

Sorry to be such a busybody / hope in the end it helps.

Take care & God bless
WF

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Derek said...

No need to apologize WF. What specifically did you think was inaccurate? I am basing what I wrote on pretty solid history, which I think could stand up to scrutiny. For instance, I think no one would argue with the fact that Lutheran orthodoxy at the time of the rise German Pietism was in severe need of renewal. It would also be pretty hard to deny the political and violent nature of the papacy under Innocent III at the hight of the crusades.

I think what would be questionable is the conclusions one would draw from this. Such as "my group is better than yours." Notice for instance that Lutheranism, the very group that sought to reform the Catholic church, ended up becoming the very things it despised before its own renewal. So I would conclude rather a cycle in history of renewal and institutionalization and renewal etc. Meaning that the truth can never be the possession of any group because as soon as they try to possess it they are turned to stone.

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

Actually, I think there's a lot of room for disagreement with what's there, even on the content level. Let me put a few examples on the table.

Keep in mind the perspecive from which your course was presented: if it's *this* Asbury (http://www.asburyseminary.edu/) then they're Wesleyan (which would go a long towards explaining why pietism is portrayed as an unqualifiedly good thing and the rest of church history is seen as a prelude to pietism). Whether or not that's the right Asbury, the class you've taken will bring its own system's views to the table and perhaps hardly be aware of them. Like Solomon said, the first to present his case seems right until another comes forward with questions. If I can accomplish anything here it will be to give you a peek at how things look from another side of the table.

So here are a few examples:

the official focus of faith is not one of personal relationship, but rather a mediated faith administered by the institution.

** From the other side of the table, some argue that American Christianity (esp. as developed on the frontiers in the Great Awakenings) favors the "Lone Ranger personal relationship with God" as opposed to a well-developed vision of the body of Christ, and that older forms of Christianity saw the church as a family of believers or a church of living stones rather than as an institution. Fellowship and community played a larger part in the primitive church, and that's a Biblical thing. That's something the modern church does fairly badly. The modern church's adoption of "rugged individualism" as opposed to community and fellowship has not exactly fostered community and fellowship any better than the institutions it seeks to displace. The Bible rarely portrayed a Christian in isolation; the living faith was taken for granted to include a network of discipleship, fellowship, hospitality, etc. While the church became institutional over time by losing some of the warmth and humanity of the ties that bind the faithful, it's important not to miss this point: individualism itself is not a pure original goal but a reaction to the institutionalism. Individualism says, "If I can't get what I need from the system, I'll get it by myself and for myself." That reaction itself -- the individualistic pietism, the *personal* relationship with God (with all the self-emphasis that comes with that) -- is a partial abandonment of the original goal of a living body of all the faithful.

Everyone was baptized as an infant, and thus a member of the church. No was choice involved, no concept of new birth existed.

"No concept of new birth existed" is simply false. Some more familiarity with Christian theology before the Reformation is in order. Then there's the assumption that infant baptism (with its lack of choice on the infant's part) is categorically bad thing for a relationship with God. That seems a really strange argument on a couple of lines. First, you use Lutherans as a positive example once or twice and Lutherans are also pedobaptists. On the pedobaptist view, pedobaptism is no more a problem for a relationship with God than 8th-day circumcision for the Hebrew infants. The argument you've made relies heavily on an assumption of "personal decision for faith" theology (as opposed to, say, covenant theology or sacramental theology); that assumption isn't going to get a free pass outside of certain limited circles. I have no idea if you're pro or con on sacramental theology, but you use Lutherans as a positive example at one or two points, and are probably aware that Lutherans have always held to a sacramental theology. Sacramentalism was one of the points Luther defended against opponents who thought it ought to be thrown out.

By the early 1600's the Lutheran church had become engulfed in the scholasticism Luther hated so much.

I have to wonder how much Luther you've read. The Heidelberg Disputation was thoroughly scholastic in style even if it did skewer some of the sacred cows of then-current scholastic theology along the way. The 95 Theses also were in a fairly routine form for scholastic-style presentations. Luther had some scathing remarks on Aristotle and thought the scholastics were overly enamored of Aristotle. He also had some pointed remarks for the rationalistic supremacism that so often went with scholasticism. Still I think it's overstating the case -- and inviting criticism from Luther scholars -- to say he qualified as hating scholasticism.

were martyred by the Roman church because they exhibited Christ-likness

You know I'm not Roman Catholic. But c'mon. The way that's stated does not paint an accurate picture by any stretch; it almost invites someone to question the truthfulness of the claim. Rome was not lining up people "Halt! You're loving your neighbor! Hop up by the stake there like a good fellow!" They got increasingly touchy about their authority (esp. as they made increasingly broad claims for that authority that were increasingly difficult to justify). But they were categorically not torching people for loving their enemies or feeding the poor or just general Christ-like behavior. Otherwise none of the positive examples you cite could have escaped martyrdom themselves.

Pastors would hold long and tedious lectures expounding ad nauseum on these topics that were completely irrelevant to the lives of the congregation. In response to this cold and barren propositional theology that Lutheranism Protestantism had become, German Pietism was born, and with it the resurgence of Luther's own message.

Again, the view from the other side: Pastors still hold long tedious lectures but that's not the sum total of Christianity now and wasn't then. Pietism was not exactly Luther's message: the gospel was, and for Luther the gospel meant what Christ had done, and especially the message of the cross. Propositional theology was not the sum total of Lutheran theology of the day. Neither is propositional theology wholly evil. (Lutherans still respect a scholastic strain, and produce more than their fair share of scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, engineers, and systematic theologians.) Lutheranism in the immediate post-Luther days was in some ways quite vibrant (hymnody and church music spring to mind; the Lutheran tradition of great music carried down from Luther in a fairly steady stream for centuries). In theological writings, Martin Chemnitz produced works that are still studied, such as the one on the divine nature and human nature of Christ. Again, it seems that you've been given a very over-generalized picture that really isn't exactly just. It sees Lutheranism as a prelude to Spener because Wesley was influenced by Spener, but doesn't actually manage to see Lutheranism as anything other than a prelude to Wesley. It's kind of like the American History elementary textbook view of England. (Everything is seen as a prelude to America, and Britain's appearance is more of a cameo -- an unflattering and stereotyped cameo which makes no effort at justice to Britain as such.) Likewise here I get the impression that everything before the piety movement is seen as just a warm-up exercise.

You accepted the authority of the church, or you were killed.

There are examples in favor of this point but there are also examples against. If it were categorically true, there wouldn't be examples against.

I have a couple more passages in mind that I'm going to resist commenting on because I'm already overlong for a comment, really. Your article almost seems to assume that personal piety in the form to which you're accustomed is equivalent to the relationship with God, and that those who did not have the same form of personal piety therefore did not have a relationship with God. Long story short, the article makes some valid points but could really benefit in accuracy and fairness from conversations with people who have other traditions of relationship with God outside the piety movement and more detailed knowledge of the areas being generalized here.

Again, I really hope I'm not being too much of a busybody. And I've made a few guesses as to where your perspective is coming from, which those guesses may or may not pan out. But whether or not my guesses on your sources pan out, still -- there's a whole world of relationship with God outside the piety movement.

Take care & God bless
WF

 
At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Derek said...

That's a lot to chew on WF, so I'll have to respond in parts.

My bias is Wesleyan, but the sources I am working with are not. If it is helpful they are: "History of the World Christian Movement" by Irvin & Sunquist for church history from Acts to pre-Reformation times, and for Reformation to current "The Story of Christianity: Volume Two" and "History of Christian Thought: Vol 3" both by Justo Gonzalez.

Let's begin with pre-reformation Catholicism. You pit "Lone Ranger personal relationship with God" individualism, against a corporate and communal understanding. I would agree with you that our focus should not be individualistic and private. But this is not the same thing as an institutionalized and mediated faith. What I am advocating is a relational faith which is by definition communal not individual. Part of that participation in relationship however involves a genuine living faith that is personal and real. That can only happen when choice is involved. One cannot make an entire country moral or loving by the sword which is exactly what we see at the time of the 4th Lateran Council.

You say that my portrayal of the Roman Catholic church's massive killing of "heretics" is unfair. But I have to say to that "c'mon" as well. Even if most of the people were in fact "wrong" in their orthodoxy, would that make brutally murdering them somehow ok? Would you want one of us to be killed after our conversation?

The fact is, the real motivation in a great number of executions was not religion but political power. That is clear with the Waldesians, the Franciscans (who were banned and narrowly escaped being killed), and with Luther himself who only avoided death because he was buddies with one of the most powerful men on the globe at the time. many historians believe that was also the reason Jesus was killed. Not because he was "nice" but because living in a Christ-like way is subversive to power. It challenges it, threatens it. So I don't see it as far stretch at all to imagine that as others exhibited Christ-likeness that this was seen as a threat to the powers that be. It happened under pagan Rome, and it happened under "Christian" Rome.

Finally you write,
"No concept of new birth existed" is simply false.

Can you back that up? I don't think it is false historically. I see no signs of it in the theology and teachings of medieval Catholicism. I am not claiming that no one had a relationship with God. As I mentioned, the tradition of mysticism within the Catholic church is a testament to this. But I am saying that the idea of this intimate and direct relationship with God in a "new birth" was not something that appeared in theological thought or in the general teaching to parishioners until around the time of German Pietism. If you are aware of evidence for it before then in medieval times, I am all ears.

 
At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Derek said...

"you use Lutherans as a positive example once or twice and Lutherans are also pedobaptists"

So are Methodists. However in both there is a time when one makes a choice. In Lutheranism this is known as "confirmation". In the Wesleyan tradition it is the new birth.

The point is not about baptism, so much as it is that at the time in the middle ages there was no choice involved in being a Christian if you lived in a Christian country (i.e. Europe) you were by default and by law a Christian. Religion was not a matter of personal conscience. Religious freedom as a political and legal idea did not exist.

Moving on to Spener, you make the argument that the church was in fact vibrant at the time of Spener. But if that was really the case, how does one explain the Piestist movement exploding all over Europe? There was obviously a void it was filling in people's lives. There are always movements that seek to breath life into institutions. That's the whole idea of being Reform: to be a church that is always reforming.

My point is not that Lutheran's suck and Pietists are cool. The point is that every group that begins with fire and life eventually becomes institutionalized and lifeless, and so needs a way to revitalize itself. We need that.

It seems to me that your arguments are mostly based in you being uncomfortable with me criticizing other groups, Catholics & Lutherans in this case. But I don't single them out. I think self-criticism is a vital part of a healthy faith. I see the same trend of institutionalization in Evangelicalism.

"people who have other traditions of relationship with God outside the piety movement"

Are you speaking for yourself here? Would you like to share more about what that looks like?

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Derek

I wasn't really speaking for myself. In fact, reading your response, I have to think I didn't succeed in communicating my point at all. Let me try again briefly. In the next couple of paragraphs, I hope the take-home message when you read them is not any individual line item itself, but as examples of criticisms that I see more as caricatures than as accurate sketches. Start of examples:

My objection to your criticism "no concept of new birth existed" is not that it's a criticism, but that it's untrue; there was a strong tradition of teachings of new birth, unbroken from the apostolic age and continuing to this day to the best of my knowledge. (I owe you some links or refs here, I'll chase 'em down first chance.)

My objection to your criticism "no personal relationship ... mediated by an institution" is not that it's a criticism, but that it's a little unjust to their view of unity and a little myopic about the problems with our modern solution to institutionalism.

My objection to your comment on "the scholasticism which Luther hated" was not that it was a criticism, but that it doesn't really match the facts we have about Luther.

Ok, end of examples. I could continue with each thing mentioned previously -- but as I said at the beginning, the objections themselves were never the point. The point is that you're making broad and sweeping claims without any serious fact-checking or perspective-checking on the things you're taking for granted. You haven't vetted them. Some of them are not as reliable as you suppose, and if you go widespread with this you're going to attract a bit of criticism with the amount of exaggeration in the caricatures you're drawing.

I'm not trying to be a pest, and I'd be glad to do this by email if you'd rather, or drop it if you'd rather. But my main point is really not the criticism per se, but the injustice of the criticisms. It would be like an amateur cartoonist drawing George Bush and making him look like Mickey Mouse. Sure, the ears maybe should be a bit on the big side, but some sense of proportion does still matter to get the right final results. Some of the complaints you have are misplaced or blown out of proportion, and I'm not sure whether you'll really get the results you want with the current caricatures ...

I feel especially like a troll for saying this today after you left that kind comment on my blog. I'd read the Didache before but had not remembered the part you'd mentioned. You're right, I think a whole collection of prayers for enemies would be a good addition to Christian bookshelves.

Btw I wanted to tag you for that meme I put up today but didn't know if you played. If you enjoy memes, consider yourself tagged.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

 
At 10:01 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

Here are a few links on being born again, more by way of a sampler than anything else.

Justin Martyr:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.lxi.html

Thomas Aquinas:
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4069.htm

Ambrose:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf210.iv.v.iii.html

I'm not saying you'll agree with their take on it, I'm saying the existence of the basic concept is well-attested.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

 
At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

WF,

"there was a strong tradition of teachings of new birth, unbroken from the apostolic age and continuing to this day to the best of my knowledge."

We may have to agree to disagree, but... I do not think that there is any tradition of a teaching on the new birth in medieval Catholicism. Simply finding the phrase "born again" used in people like Aquinas does not prove much because at issue is the content of how they are using the term not simply the vocab. The idea of the new birth is not one that exists in medieval Catholic thought. I have not been able to trace it back further than Luther, and really it first appears with German Pietism.

That does not mean that God did not do this in people's lives, but it does mean that it was not a commonly taught doctrine. Again, I am open to being proven wrong here, but you will need to do better than simply doing a word search. Site me any scholar who disagrees.

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

I'm not doing a word search, Derek. Those are examples I'd count, and are in keeping with my understanding of being born again. The sacramental theologies and covenantal theologies see things in a radically different way than the pietists, but that's a bit different than "no such teaching".

I guess here's the question I'd wonder from you: what exactly are you looking for in a new birth tradition above and beyond the recognition that we are made new creatures through Christ in a new and unique relationship/standing with God?

Take care & God bless
WF

 
At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

"I guess here's the question I'd wonder from you: what exactly are you looking for in a new birth tradition above and beyond the recognition that we are made new creatures through Christ in a new and unique relationship/standing with God?"

Specifically being "born again" or "new birth" in the Evangelicalism that has characterized American faith since the Great Awakening refers to the specific experience of conversion resulting in an inward witness of assurance and intimacy with God. This conversion experience is stressed by everyone from Spener to Billy Graham, and has been identified as one of the central defining characteristics of Evangelicalism. The Catholic church in contrast sees being born again as something that happens at infant baptism. So while both use the same term, they are referring to two very different understandings. I am unaware of this concept of conversion (by any name at all) being taught in the medieval Catholic Church (or today for that matter).

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

Heck, lots of Christians to this day see being born again as something that happens at baptism.

I'd see the Great Awakening-style "born again" experiences as more often revival-events or rededications than conversions.

I think it puts someone's perception of his own faith on shaky ground to frame it so that his status with God started or depends on his latest revival-event ... that "inward witness of assurance and intimacy with God" is one thing that Luther cited as so flighty and unreliable as to drive him to a more objectively-driven focus on what Christ has done and the unmovable realities of God's grace. Luther used that to great benefit is counseling with people who were troubled. If someone's faith rested on their assurance that they have faith, then when they start to doubt there is no remedy, their support (that they feel saved) is already gone. But if someone's faith rests on Christ, then when they start to doubt there is a plain remedy: direct them to the cross of Christ and rebuild that "inward assurance" by renewing it at its source.

 
At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

WF,

You are making this about feelings. No born again Christian in the world would say that faith is based on feelings. So you are charging at a windmill here.

What we are saying is simply this (and Luther would say this too): just simply saying "I was baptized and believe all the right doctrines/ am a good person" is simply no enough. It is not a relationship. It is not transformative. Now I don't care much about whether a person likes Catholic style worship with candles or electric guitars. I think there is room to disagree on doctrine, and that we can be wrong and still be God's child. I'm also not saying who gets into heaven or not (not my job). What I DO care about is that people know that they can have a real and vital relationship with God where He is involved in their lives, talks to them, leads them, loves them; and that this love can turn their life upside-down, heal wounds, and transform who they are. I would want them to be able open their heart up to knowing God and being known by God so that they can cry out from the depths of their soul "Abba!". I would want them to know about that possibility of, as Wesley said "going from the faith of a servant to the faith of a Son".

If someone wants to be a holding-candles Christian or a wearing-silly-hats Christian, I have no problems with that. But I do find that if the Gospel message that God can meet us and love us in our darkness is never taught, if a person does not know that they can know God like a son or daughter knows their mom, then there is something lacking about that denomination's teachings that is like keeping bread from the starving, whether that is the Episcopalian church in a steeple, the emergent church in a warehouse.

Now if you want to tell me that you as a Catholic, or a Quaker, or a Episcopalian, or a Baptist know God like that, then I will rejoice with you. But if any of those groups claim that humans don't need that, I would find that profoundly tragic. And I am convinced that Martin L would too.

 
At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your summary demonstrates a complete absence of the Christian East. Is there any reason for this?

 
At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Shark said...

"Your summary demonstrates a complete absence of the Christian East. Is there any reason for this?"

Most books on church history leave out the Eastern Orthodox. I would however be interested in working them into the picture. Can you recommend some books that cover their history?

 

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