An Admirable Life (5)

   Christianity is poor philosophy and may be poorer as religion. In fact, the efforts of the Early Church Fathers were away from mere philosophy and apart from religion. They effected no great doctrinal synods until hundreds of years after their founding. They barely codified their religion at all.

   Historically, the burgeoning Christian system seems to have been nothing other than a series of commitments leading to a deep sense of community. The early Christians may not have been aware they were doing much more than correcting their own excesses from generation to generation.

   They were creedal. We hate that in the Free Church, where we constantly maintain we are strictly non-creedal. We know we are not a creedal people because it says so in our creed.

   The word creedere seems to come from cor dare, meaning "to give one's heart." When early believers recited their creeds, they were not assenting to some set of intellectual presuppositions. They were making a spiritual/emotional acknowledgment of their life-commitment to Jesus Christ, His teachings, yes, and His church, certainly.

   A Christian, it seems, handed his life over to Jesus, for the use of the Savior in His Kingdom. The believer found life's meaning in constant contact with his Savior. For him, life could never dissolve into a series of meaningless events, unconnected to divine reality. The  early believer defined an admirable life as one lived before God. God was the foundation for all morality and the goal of all ethics.

   In short, all of Christian society, which became dominant in the West, organized around Christ. When the first cathedral was constructed, the Church began to wrest control of the community from Christ. The result has been disastrous for the community. Institutionalized Christianity lost its heart appeal. Masses of people who believe themselves to be believers actually trust only in the church, the priest/pastor or the Great Book of the Christians. 

   At no point were Christians ever ordered to worship the church, adore the priest or, worse, reverence the Great Book. Collections of aspiring believers, whether in large local bodies or conventions of churches or denominations, only take the heart, the core, from the Faith. Superficiality is the hand maiden of carnality.

   Believers who put their faith in church, man or book often become madly protective of their new lord. Fanaticism replaces faith, so that the church/priest/book become a sort of Sacred Dragon, described in an earlier series in this space. 

   So, to be truly admirable, a leader must be both creedal and iconoclastic. We already said what a creedal person would be. An iconoclast is an idol smasher. He brings a wrecking bar, a cataclysm, to the idols men make to replace God. An admirable life has God for its source and goal, not church, or priest or book. The church will end one day, the priest will fail and the book, which was not apparent in religious history for longer than it has been present, will close finally. If one is dependent on building, body or book, disappointment is the final result, so this life cannot be considered admirable now.

   History is replete with examples of once powerful figures, considered divine, who simply disappeared when they no longer met compelling human need. Man is pragmatic about his gods. Cult and ritual will not do forever, though each clearly has its place in the present. If a man is to be admirable, while neither a nihilist nor a fanatic, he has to make a heart commitment. He must be creedal, of the heart, and iconoclastic, as ruthless an idol breaker as we can find.

   We should find him soon.

 

Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

 

 

 

1 thought on “An Admirable Life (5)”

  1. I am enjoying your writings in this series, and finding Spirit in the words, especially as pertains to my own tendency to place great significance on place and acquaintenceship, but I wonder if now Church is being redefined away from how John defined it in Revelation 21:22 “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” So yes we have no bananas today except the one wherein we find ourselves within the presence of aforesaid persons. What other term might be better utilized to describe the association of a group under a banner but not necessariluy committed to the actual manifestation of the icon of that banner rather than ‘Church’? For it seems to me the use of the term church in any other way than to designate those people who fellowship under the ‘Love God 1st and foremost/love thy neighbor and honor him before yourself, as Christ has done for you’ banner, lends itself to very confusing as to just what are we talking about. So perhaps a modifier until such term appears–say ‘False Church’? or ‘Anti Church’?

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