Every 500 years or so in the history of the Christian church, a significant restructuring seems to take place.
Around the year 500, a church council at Chalcedon published what most of Christendom calls the clearest explanation of orthodox Christology: Christ is one person with two natures. However, large swaths of Christians—the Oriental Orthodox (such as the Coptic, Syrian, and Ethiopian churches) and the Church of the East—found the Chalcedon Definition lacking. And so the first major division in Christianity occurred.
About 500 years later, a hot-headed Bishop of Rome (or at least his hot-headed legates) and an angry Bishop of Constantinople mutually excommunicated each other,1 leading to nearly 1000 years of division between the western Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Some 500 years after that, a tempermental Augustinian monk in Germany posted some theses for academic disputation that started a firestorm of theological controversy, reformation, and church divisions—resulting in the proliferation of thousands of Protestant denominations.2
Now, the historian in me is obligated to note that using a clean, round number (500 years) to delineate these dates is somewhat artificial. There’s nothing inherently special about the passage of 500 years that leads Christians to say to one another, “I don’t like how you do church anymore.” But humans enjoy describing the past in easy-to-remember terms that serve as useful baselines for historical knowledge, whether or not they encompass the totality of historical truth (476, 1492, or July 4th, anyone?). Even so, given Christianity’s track record so far, you might expect another monumental moment to occur any year now, since it’s been about 500 years since the last major shakeup in Christendom.
The argument I wish to make in this article, is that we’ve already begun to see the next great restructuring of Christianity: the rise of non-denominational Christianity. Continue reading
If you read one article this week, engage Why “The Prince of Egypt” is the Bible Movie Viewers Deserve.
For those of you with additional reading time this fine spring day, check out the following selections. Think I missed sharing something important? Let me know in the comment section below. Continue reading
If you read one article this week, engage The Politics of Bible Translations by Scot McKnight.
For those of you with additional reading time this fine spring morning, check out the following suggestions. Happy reading! Continue reading
If you read one article this weekend, look at The Absurdity of the Passion by Jacob Quick.
Blessed Holy Saturday Readers! Below are this week’s recommended readings, gathered from around the blogging world. May you find them as engaging and interesting as I did! Continue reading
If you read one article this week, look at The Fast Before the Feast by Aphrodite Kishi.
For those of you with additional time to read, check out the following links. Happy weekend reading! Continue reading
Happy weekend, dear readers! If you engage one article from this week, look at My Larry Nasser Testimony Went Viral, But There’s More to the Gospel than Forgiveness by Rachel Denhollander.
For those of you with additional reading time, check out the following selections, gathered from around the blogging world. Continue reading
If you engage one thing this week, read or watch The Testimony of a Former Gymnast Who Confronts Her Abuser by Rachel Denhollander via TGC.
For those of you with additional reading time this weekend, check out the following articles. Think I missed sharing something important? Let me know in the comments section below. Happy reading! Continue reading
If you read one article from this past week, engage Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You’ll Ever Have Time to Read by Jessica Stillman.
For those of you with additional reading time this wintery weekend, check out the following selections, gathered from around the blogging world (over the past few weeks, this time around). Think I missed sharing something important? Let me know in the comments section below. Continue reading
This post is part of a proposal for approaching theology from the perspective of history.
When the Rubber Meets the Road
The final step of this process brings the historical insights of what the Shepherd of Hermas indicates about the teaching authority of woman into conversation with contemporary conversations about women in the church. Here, several factors play out. First, we must recognize that the Shepherd is not canonical, but it was extremely popular for large swaths of early Christians. That is, this was not some one-off work of a heretic that stands merely as something for Christians to reject; many Christians have found this work insightful and (in some sense) useful for their own lives. Second, the Shepherd comes from Rome, where we know Paul’s letters to the Corinthians were well known, indicating that Hermas’s community (at least) held the call for Grapte to teach and Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in conjunction. Continue reading