It appears that universally, in the church, we Christians marvel at both at Jesus’ miracles and the wisdom in his parables. We especially are in awe of his life, his incredible birth, his short but incredibly powerful ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection. We love him for those. We are also moved by the depth of the wisdom and inspiration of books like the Psalms and Proverbs. Almost universally, although most would say all true Christians, acknowledge him as Lord, and strive to follow his leadership as we walk in a dark world filled with daily challenges, including overcoming evil.
In fact, there are some universal, and some almost universal, elements in Christianity. Universally held elements of Christianity include this deep awe of Christ, and likewise, for the bible. The bible, or at least for some, sections of the bible, such as the parables of Christ in the gospels, the powerful poetry of the Psalms, and the wisdom in Proverbs are universally held in the deepest regard. Almost universally held elements include the belief in Christ as the only begotten son of the Father, physically born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, who died for out sins, and was raised from the dead and is presently seated at the right hand of God. Christians look forward to spending eternity with the Lord. Even more, there is common ground as churches promote worship, baptism, and communion with some similarity.
But beyond some basics like these, there is far less agreement on the tenets of Christianity. In fact, there is an elephant in the Church, an elephant of disagreement resulting in tens of thousands of sects, disagreeing on many doctrines.
The disagreements have been legion, often bloody, and always confusing. Christians have killed other Christians for defying the rule of infant baptism and proclaiming “believer’s baptism”. Many Christians have declared other Christians apostate because of their view of the Bible, whether it is inerrant, infallible, or at least partially of human origin.
And even if they agree on the status of the Bible, they don’t agree on what it says on these issues. For example, there is disagreement over basic principles of interpretation like whether the overriding principle is based on the covenants of God versus which dispensation we are in.
There are Christians that call other Christians apostate (traitorous) because they believe that the gifts of the spirit, i.e., prophecy and speaking in tongues, etc. still exist, and vice versa. These days there are sharp divides over homosexuality, abortion, the Word of Faith movement, the emergent Church movement, and the role of women in the church.
Even if Christians don’t call others apostate, they still disagree to the point of not fellowshipping over issues like: dietary laws (whether they need to be followed), drinking alcohol, end times (Eschatology), eternal security, evolution vs. literal seven days of creation, giving vs. tithing, predestination, psychology: the acceptability of Christian counseling, sacraments as conveyers of grace or not, the “in the name of Jesus” debate, and pacifism vs. the concept of a just war, and other issues.
Then there is the ecumenical concept of Christian “orthodoxy” that suggests that none of the issues so far discussed really matter even there are huge divisions over them. The only issue that really matters in “orthodoxy” is whether one accepts the doctrine of the Trinity, that Jesus the man is really God and a person in a triune godhead with two other persons, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. This doctrine is promoted as the absolutely most important concept in Christianity even though this emphasis is totally missing for the first centuries of the church.
And let alone that the very doctrine of the Trinity has been disputed over the centuries with more Christians killing other Christians over this issue than any other. It appears that for some that as long as a church accepts the doctrine of the Trinity it doesn’t matter if it teaches that homosexuality is normal or apostate, and/or abortion is choice or murder, and/or baptism should be infant baptism or believer’s baptism, and/or there are two “ordinances” or seven sacraments, and so forth, and so on.
This mess is a huge blemish on the body of Christ. Some of these issues may be legitimate, but to have so many “orthodox” churches teaching so many disparate doctrines flies right in the face of Paul’s charge for believers to have the same mind:
Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 LITV)
If, as Paul teaches, we corporately are the body of Christ, then does the current collective body of competing Christian theologies accurately reflect the mind of Christ. Certainly, no one can think so.
But, before the present time with our tens of thousands of Christian denominations, and before the Reformation that shifted the focus of Christianity from the decisions of church councils and the Pope to the Bible as the principle source of guidance, and before the great schism about a thousand years ago, even before there were arguments over the nature of Christ, the Trinity and whether Mary was the mother of God in the beginning of the age of Christendom (fourth century), even before there was a Catholic church (110 A.D.) there was original primitive Christianity.
While some of the focus of Christianity remains, much has changed over the millennia. The question is whether all or even any of the different traditions that have developed are correct, or the original believers were the ones that actually got it the most right. The place to start is by looking at the beliefs and practices of original, primitive Christianity, and seriously consider embracing them again even though some of them may be radically different from what you or I hold today.
In the days of original, primitive Christianity:
(In the listings below hyperlinks offer more information on the point being made.)
Elements usually still held today:
- Jesus was followed as the risen Savior.
- Believers held the words of Jesus close to their hearts. (Luke 24:32, Acts 2:42)
Elements still held today by some:
- The receiving and leading of the holy spirit, including the manifestations, was paramount. Many displayed the manifestations of the Spirit including prophecy, however, false prophecy was to be recognized and rejected. (Matt 7:15-19,2Pet 2:1)
- Believers did more than go to church together, they often worked, ate and lived together, bonded together in fellowship by faith.
- Followers were thrilled by the growth of the word of God (Jesus Christ) as signs, miracles and wonders followed the preaching by the disciples.(Acts 2:43,4:30, 5:12,8:6,14:3,15:12)
- Any kind of sin including sexual sin (any kind of sex outside of the marriage of a man and a woman) was taken as following the flesh instead of the spirit, therefore, there was no acceptance of adultery, fornication, and homosexuality.
- Ministers were allowed to be married as raising a family was considered valuable training in learning to lead a flock of believers.(1 Tim 3:2-4)
- There was no rigid literal interpretation of many sections taken by some to be literal today. For example, the existing references by the early church fathers to the days in Genesis chapter one use the reference “for a day is to the Lord as a thousand years” showing their understanding of that section to be symbolic and not literal.
Elements held today by few, if any believers:
- Jesus proclaimed only the law and the prophets as the word of God, and no more.
- Other than the words of Jesus, and the law and the prophets, no writings were considered the word of God. Regarding the Old Testament there is no writing that shows that books outside of the law and the prophets (which include the psalms written by David, a prophet) were considered the word of God. As far as the Christian authors go, Clement and other early church writers did not identify the New Testament as scripture, except for the words of Christ. These writers uniquely identified the words of Christ as such (essentially equating the Lord’s words as scripture), and made no reference to Scripture in referring to what was later called New Testament verses and concepts. On the other hand, they did call references to the law and the prophets scripture.
- The Gospels were called memoirs and were the written witness accounts of some of the Apostles and their close disciples.
- People with the gift ministries (apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists) were the spiritual leaders of the Church (as opposed to Bishops.) (Acts 13:1, 15:32)
Elements that are divisive today but didn’t appear to exist then:
- Bishops had not replaced apostles and prophets as arbiters of Christian doctrine. There was no Catholic Church under a central hierarchy of bishops with supreme authority. Disciples went to remote lands and started independent churches. (See The Leading of Original Christianity Was Done By Apostles and Other Gift Ministries through the Spirit, Not by Bishops As We Have Now.) Ignatius in 110 A.D. first wrote about a Catholic church with Bishops in total authority over all believers setting church laws that all must follow.
- Neither the deity of Christ, neither the Trinity, nor the belief of Mary as the Mother of God were taught or promoted.
- There were no divisive disputes over issues like the mode of baptism, number of ordinances or sacraments, pacifism, requirement of tithing, role of women in the church, dietary laws, predestination, eternal security, end times theology, and many of the dividing doctrinal issues over the centuries.
The most current blogs (articles) are below. The articles can touch on a large number of topics including ancient history, the original language of the bible, grammar and logic, dividing doctrines besides the basics of Christianity, what Jesus taught, and development (movements) in Christianity throughout the centuries. For an organized listing of the blogs (articles) to get an overview and better understanding of the contents on this web site, go to the table of contents. There is more information on design of this website on this page; look on the right sidebar under Original Christianity and click “Why? Click to Read More…”