I have been having a great conversation with a good friend of mine named JD. I wanted put part of it up here in the hopes that others will be able to jump in.
Me: I keep saying: I have no interest in discounting or explaining away my Christian experience – but neither am I willing to be bound to the antiquated ways that it was talked about in the 1st centuries.
JD: Understood! But does that mean you also discount people that do follow the 1st century Christianity? Is there not a place for everyone to understand and follow God in his/her own way
Me: Good clarification! I certainly do want to be open – engage – interact with – and learn from people of all traditions, denominations, and sects.
The one thing that I am most concerned about is people who think that they have a 1st century perspective but … who have not accounted for the radical developments that have impacted their faith! I will give you three examples:
1) Individualism. 1st century folks would not have even thought in our terms. They were connected in community and family systems/structures that defined them. When they said “I” they did not mean what we mean when we say “I”.
2) Literacy: since the Gutenberg press we each have a Bible in our own hands. The Bible was never meant to be studied alone. It was a communal activity where is was primarily read out loud.
3) Science: our understanding of everything from the Universe to the human body (not to mention Facebook and the Internet) has profoundly changed the way that think about the world, interact with each others and interact with God. This can not be underestimated.
SO if you are a literate person in America, with democracy, who participates in capitalism and goes to a denominational church (Baptist, congregational, etc.) then you can not be first century. It is impossible. We just can’t do it. SO when we are told that we are… we are being sold a mental construct – an imagined social identity and I think that it can be really dangerous because of the falseness that it is layered in. We are supposed to be people of truth.
I want to be respectful but I also want to deal with reality . I hope that comes through.
JD: I agree with what you say and even though many Churches practice under the “guise” of 1st Century Christianity, it is practically impossible to do so with 21st Century knowledge.
This something that I want to really delve into in the new year. The issue of the enchanted world of pre-modern thought and the naivete that is associated with it (in a positive way) in light of our post-modern world and the possibility of a ‘second-naivete’.