Arriving on the scene some three centuries after Christ, Augustine of Hippo is credited with formulating a good deal of the framework of Christian theology. He also believed there were only three continents, the earth was flat, and one would fall off the edge at the end of the sea. He touted the existence of Monopods, a race of monstrous people with only one leg and foot, and another race of Cyclops, monsters with only one eye in the center of their forehead. He believed frogs were generated from the earth and related that through personal experiment he had determined that the flesh of peacocks remained edible indefinitely. He believed the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (the original sin), to be sex and had Adam and Eve not partaken of such, there would have been procreation without copulation. This would have been accomplished through consent and cooperation between the male and female permitting fertilization during the opportune female cycle. Wow. Augie, no virgin himself, could stand some good Pauline mentoring but thanks anyway for the early scholarship.
Beginning with Peter and Paul, there were fusses and fights among early churchmen. Origen was booted for his beliefs and Tertullian would have been a thorn in anyone’s side. The pagan emperor Constantine was an organizer and proselyte winner with a whimsical attitude about his power of life and death. Popes early on became political, depraved, and corrupt, with doctrine following meekly alongside children crusaders.
Reformer Martin Luther was an anti-Semite and rejected the canonical books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation. He had no love for and extended no worth to the peasantry. And talk about a piece of work, Governor John Calvin who initially thought the right course to be lopping off the head of Michael Servetus for dis-avowing the doctrine of Trinity and promoting infant baptism, finally acceded to just burning the heretic. Inquisitors, Conquistadors, and 16th century missionaries to the West Indies, Cuba, Mexico, and America were less than kind, often making their converts twice the child of hell as themselves. There were the Mather boys and witch-burning, and Jon Edwards holding forth about an Angry God and His pleasure at suspending sinners over the maw of hell by the thinnest of threads while angels and the redeemed souls of men watched with glee as they writhed in the flames. But wait; hold on…the rest of the story is: that Christendom was steely forged in the masses not the fallibilities and imperfections of the clerical names of history. Good tradition, graced by God, has held firm through each generation as bad ones, like the autumn leaves, have fallen away. Errors resurface now and again but the gospel of Jesus Christ need confront no new heresies, just do battle with the same old ones here and there while understanding that generational bias and haughtiness towards those who have preceded us is self-judging. Previous fellow sojourner’s might think moderns to be weak, honor-less, unchaste, immodest, pleasure worshippers, irrational sponges, and cowardly. They might well think us shamed with madness over sex appeal and a fury to be ever entertained. So of our predecessors, we must hold our mouths. Today Christianity measures itself among Methodicals, Predestinarians, Baptists who wear coats of many colors, Assemblers, and churches of Catholic, as well as many others. Those of grace (whether costly, cheap or arbitrary), ritualists, and legalists, gather to worship. But the beautiful two thousand year old lifeline of steely blood continues. Traditions informed by God-breathed encapsulated words of life continue. “Therefore, stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15.) “In Christ alone - I place my trust.” (song – Brian Litrell.)
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15.)