I am an alien: Alien to the roots of the Christian Faith.
I have not been in traditional or institutional church for over 50 years. No, my tradition is following a single personality biblical teaching ministry organized in the manner of house churches. However, these should be thought of as corporate branches rather than independent home based gatherings of believers. They are overseen by a hierarchy of professional clergy nationally, organized in local areas and by states and regions corporately up to a national office where resides a CEO and a board of directors. All group activities are prescribed or approved according to corporate policy. There was a liturgy (meeting opening routines) and prescribed topics for each week of the calendar and other trappings of traditional forms experienced by most Christians.
This teaching ministry was based upon the work of one classically trained theologian who developed a theological fork of his own, a deviation away from more traditional systematic theological paths. Because his brand of biblical teachings were a better system than other forms and didn't meet in church buildings, I thought I had been taught a "corner on truth." And so I vegetated for over 45 years, seldom questioning but not even reconsidering the foundations of my understandings of the Christian faith. All this seemed normal and I didn't question it for most of my 50 years experience participating with them.
That all changed when Father pressed upon my heart to start speaking up publicly in the form of on line activities: seminars, blogs and articles. To do this, I first challenged my faith to rework my foundations with a view to speaking out without a sectarian voice, not promoting a diversionary view or my own special background. Now that started me on a difficult path of reviewing my unquestioned past teachings to consider if I had be taught the truth or error or some mix of the two. I had the tools of biblical research in languages, cultural anthropology, history and science at my disposal. With that in hand, I delved into many biblical studies and books which challenged the religious status quo, especially from an historical and cultural point of view. All this research work began give me a view of where I stood within the confusing and complex realm of Christendom. It also began to give me a view of where Christendom had started versus where it was today.
Then came the hardest thing I had ever done. Slowly, I awoke to the fact that I was a alien to the roots of my faith! I was an alien to both the modern forms of Christianity and also an alien to the ancient forms as well. I was alien to the culture, language and mindset of Jesus and his apostles. I knew little of how ancient Hebrews thought or how they expressed themselves. I knew little of their concepts of spiritual reality. I knew very little of their times and situations. Yet, they taught and wrote within their own unique vocabularies, within their own unique cultural heritage, within their own unique social situation. The hardest thing I had ever done was to admit I was an alien to all of this. None of this was "natural" to me. All of it was foreign to this modern westerner of a Greko-Roman culture speaking a comparatively recently developed language. Even my thought patterns were distinctly different from the ancient Hebrew documents we call the Bible. I had no idea how to think like an ancient Hebrew, the cultural lens through which our knowledge of spiritual reality was transmitted.
After years of this research work and thinking through the roots of the Christian faith, I have become truly alien to the modern forms and practices of the faith. I've even been alienated from my own religious background. My own church alienated me out of their congregation over a disagreement of how the gospel should be promulgated, not even a doctrinal disagreement. How sectarian and controlling is that?
So this blog and its articles challenge the current form and understanding of the Christian faith. However what is presented here will be consistent with the ancient Hebrew prophets and consistent with Jesus and the first apostles, just foreign to modern Christians. I submit that the original form of the Christian faith experienced by the first apostles is extinct. Though many have sought to resurrect it, ignoring their roots in the Hebrew prophets prevents full implementation of the apostolic faith. Without getting into the mindset of those early Hebrew apostles, resurrecting their form of the Christian faith is impossible with modern westerners always remaining an alien to them.
The journey has begun …