Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The past is prologue

Christian History Magazine has a blog that, on the basis of its early posts, will be interesting to anyone who cares about the history of the Church. Consider, for instance, this on the charismatic gifts in the early church:
.... Sadly, many writers and teachers who are not cessationist continue to give the impression that miracles and extraordinary gifts were phenomena limited to the apostolic period. The way the early church is usually taught, we hear much about martyrdom and persecution; much about Gnostics and Arians and doctrinal disputes; much about how bishops and clergy roles evolved, and how the apostolic tradition was passed down and the canon of the New Testament evolved.

We hear how Tertullian scoffed at those who tried to translate the gospel into the categories of Greek philosophy; how Origen of Alexandria nearly single-handedly invented the systematic study of the Bible; how Irenaeus defended the faith against a host of heresies and spoke of the Work of Christ in illuminating new ways; how Cyprian insisted on the unity of the church and its necessity for salvation.

What we don’t usually hear is how these same august teachers and bishops from the 100s and 200s AD and beyond—Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenaeus, and many more—talked about miracles of healing, prophecy, and exorcism as everyday occurrences in the church. Tertullian is typical when he says “God everywhere manifests signs of his own power—to his own people for their comfort, to strangers for a testimony unto them” (Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul).

In other words, we are usually not told that the early Christian church was a charismatic church. ....[more]

Another entry is a brief review of a book about English church architecture:
Timothy Brittain-Catlin’s Churches focuses its 256 heavily illustrated pages primarily on English church buildings and their architectural features, decoration, and symbology. It’s a visual feast for Anglophiles.

The history of the English church is tightly bound up with its civic, political, and cultural history. English village life, for example, often centered on the church, which was often at the literal center of the village. The parson (the person in charge) collaborated with the squire in the administration of family and property law, and the seasons of village life were propelled by the twin engines of agriculture and liturgy. So to walk into an English village church is to be exposed to a condensed version of local history. Memorial gifts and plaques, burial markers, stained-glass windows—all these things have connections to the history of a place.

This volume helps you “read” a church—from simple parish churches to grand cathedrals—by looking at the church’s architectural details (which will tell you when it was built) and the many furnishings that worshipers, families, and powerful political and business figures have donated across the years.
If you are interested in Christian history, bookmark this site or add it to your feed.

Christian History Blog: Signs and Wonders, Christian History Blog: Picture This

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