Testing the waters of church history

I have started something this week. What’s that? Peeking into the complicated mess that is church history. The book I’m using to sate my amateur interest is “The Story of Christianity” by Matthew A. Price and Michael Collins. Though an informative tome, it’s not an in-depth treatise as a textbook for a course on the topic would be.

The book reads fast (it’s got lots of pretty pictures) and after 2 nights, I find myself at the East-West schism of 1054. What I thought was going to revolt me the most (the excesses of the Papacy) actually hasn’t all that much. The really sickening part has been reading about emperors and other such rulers forcing people to ‘convert’ to Christianity, as if a forced ‘conversion’ is genuine faith.

This type of oppression has to be (just has to be) what the ACLU is afraid of when Christ is associated in any way with Christmas or when the Ten Commandments hang in courthouses, and if ‘forced conversions’ is their fear who can blame them? From what I’ve read the unification of church and state has not been kind to most folks, and I haven’t even gotten much into the 1000s yet…

Some of the names so far ring a bell: Charlemagne, Gregory the Great, and of course Constantine, the man who ‘single-handedly gave’ Christ His divinity. I’ve learned that some guy named Nestor was considered a heretic for among other things, correctly saying that Mary is NOT the “Mother of God.” Feels kind of weird to see eye-to-eye with a heretic on at least one thing, then again most of the Reformers were branded heretics.

Find myself agreeing also with a group of guys called the ‘iconoclasts’ who considered icons (images of Mary, saints and Jesus) as idolatrous due to the way people in the East venerate(d) them. Their methods though deserve further contemplation.

It’s important to note that we don’t really know Church history as well as we know church history. By Church I mean the true believers throughout the centuries, the Body of Christ. Many in His Body are and have been men of renown. I argue that most of us in His Church will not be famous enough to merit a footnote in a book such as the one I’m reading.

That’s OK though, it’s not our task to be famous but to go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them what Jesus commanded, and reminding them that He is with us to the end of the age.

To the Schism of 1054 we go…


6 Responses to Testing the waters of church history

  1. paperbacks says:

    Wow, I just ran across this on tag surfer, and my roommate and I were just talking about this. Some issue about the history of Christianity came up, and we were saying we thought it was one thing, but then realized we’d both just read that in the DaVinci code. Clearly, we need a more reliable source–this sounds like a good one to check out!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Actually this is not a reliable source. It is full of heresy. Mary is the Mother of God. Christ is God Himself. Mary is his mother. The math isn’t that hard!

  3. Lazaro says:

    Anon, actually one of the co-authors (Collins) is a Catholic priest.

    Mary is Jesus’ Mother, but not the Mother of God, sorry you can’t discern the distinction. She did not begat the Godhead. Read the Magnificat and see if the statement “Mary is the mother of God” makes any sense…

  4. freevolition says:

    Anon, have you ever heard the term ‘hypostatic union’? If not, may I suggest a little research regarding this unique phenomenon?

    Here (and elsewhere, if you prefer to do a search of your own). Hypostatic Union

  5. Lazaro says:

    Thanks for the input free, CARM is a great website…

  6. Fr. James says:

    I realize this is old 2006 I see but # 1 every writer and every “historian” has a bias. Often, in my experience, the writers of broad sweeping popular histories of the church or Christianity really are unaware of their own blind spots.

    The issue for instance with Mary mentioned above was not originally meant to focus on Mary but it was an argument about who Jesus was. Was He fully God and fully man or just a man who God visited his power upon. The orthodox church leaders in the majority agreed that the true faith was that He was 100% man and 100% God. The heretic Nestor and his followers kept finding ways to cloak their heresy. Until the title or name “Theotokos” literally God-bearer was used. It was a way to say that the one who was conceived in her womb was in his person eternally God. The Word became flesh as the Gosepl of John says. So yes all Chrsitians should say Mary is the mother of God because the eternal SOn, begotten of the Fathjer from all eternity was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary. He got his humanity entirely from her.

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