A History of Worshipping History
It is no secret that I have an affinity for history, so much so that I pursued a major in the “less than lucrative” field of history! I believe this love for history has been largely fueled by the Christian biographies which my parents made me read as a youngster, and those old stories fascinated and inspired me to live a life worthy of a story.
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a tendency amongst sincere Christians to veer from the plain path of truth by being allured to paths that look older and present themselves as shortcuts to sanctification. This is an unavoidable temptation for us as Christians, and though it takes many forms, all such paths are dangerous tangents, and not shortcuts.
The Christian faith, after all, has 2000 years of history & controversy and we are built upon 4000 years of Jewish history; thus there will always be a desire to have the faith be “like it once was”. But, as my Grandpa Christie would say, “The shortcut is the way you know.” Meaning, be wary of the temptation to take an untested path for the simple fact that it might prove shorter, easier, or more direct. The narrow way is the harder way, but it is still the right way.
Old Don’t Equal True
Common sense should make it clear that loving ancient things only for the sake of their sense of antiquity, rather than their veracity and truth is just plain foolish, silly, and is hoity-toity snobbery. We should take great care to study the history of Church and of Israel, we must remain faithful to orthodox teaching. However, it seems to me that many are making the case that you’re not truly faithful unless you do and say “old” things.
I have many acquaintances who have been drawn into Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, or (on the other end of the spectrum but with the same issue at heart) Hebrew Roots. These folks want to return to something that seems and sounds ancient, and therefore offers a sense of spiritual maturity. But a sense of spiritual maturity and actual spiritual maturity are two different things. Despite all my admiration for the Reformers and Puritans, I must take great care to follow their example and avoid their vices. This can only be done by the indwelling Spirit of the Living God, not through a form, creed, liturgy, or correctly pronouncing Jesus name (which apparently is Yahushua).
All these “paths” offer a semblance of holiness, but it is only through conformity to their rituals, rules, and self-righteous practices. Furthermore–and this could be developed more fully some other time–but at the bottom of the desire to align oneself with “ancient things”, is a lust for secret/hidden knowledge. I believe it is a form of gnosticism, pulling many Christians to seek their sanctification in doing and saying old things.
The Ancient of Days
Protestant Christianity says something profoundly different: you are saved not by what you do, but by what Christ has done. Do we hold to creeds and confessions, and are we wise to do so? Yes and yes. We have 6000 years of tradition in worshipping the God of Heaven and Earth. We must not think that truth can evolve based on the era. But to forsake Christ and His Word in an effort to achieve the sanctification that only His Spirit can produce, is certainly either unbelief or outright rebellion. The Word of God has rebuked errors throughout history (first the Jews, then the Eastern Church, then Rome). We should take heed that we don’t return to errors which our forefathers shed their blood to correct.
We serve the Ancient of Days, and His eternality should indicate to us that time is subservient to His “timelessness”. Our faith looks back to and rests on His mighty works in ages past (i.e. creation, covenants, and most of all Christ’s life, death, and resurrection), it looks forward to the consummation of His redemptive purpose, and it does so in the “now“. You’re reading this on a screen, which is communicating with a piece of metal outside the world, which is fetching these words from a server somewhere, after I pressed “publish”. It is in this “now” in which God intends us to trust and obey Him, looking forward to when faith becomes sight, prayer becomes praise.
More should be said about these, and Lord willing, I’ll get to it in due time.
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