Part of my internship here at SMCC consists of taking “classes” at Liberty University watching Chris’ old DVDs from his classes). This first semester, I’ve been learning about Church History, that is, the time between A.D. 30 to the Reformation. I thought I would post some of my notes from the lectures by Dr. Carl Diemer and book titled, The Story of Christianity.
This first module, titled “The Origin of and Influence upon the Early Church in the Apostolic Age (A.D. 30-100)” covered an introduction to church history, influences on the first century world, Jesus’ life and ministry, and the apostolic witness. The first chapter of The Story of Christianity begins by explaining, “History is crucial for understanding not only the life of Jesus, but also the entire biblical message.” It explains that without the understanding of history, we as Christians can not fully grasp ourselves, for “we are doing history…we are making history.” And I think that as actors in history, we are part of the gospel story and part of the “big picture” as God intended, and that encourages me to believe that God has a very important and meaningful plan for my life.
The Story of Christianity continues by discussing the spiritual setting in which Christianity was born. Just looking at the beginnings of Christianity, it is obvious that God completely prepared the world for the fulfillment of His promise. For example, Alexander’s desire to Hellenize the world by incorporating Greek culture to all nations later opened the way to the preaching of the gospel. Also, God’s provision is evident in the fact that Romans were so tolerant of the religion and customs of conquered people, and the Diaspora Judaism later allowed for Christianity to travel through the Roman Empire quickly. In addition, Christianity was born into a multi-religious era where the basic tenets of the faith could be applied to Stoics, Jews, Greeks, and Romans. The book states, “The church, which many Christians called a ‘new race’ because it drew its members from all races, was living proof of the universal unity of humankind.” Indeed, it is truly amazing to see how God’s plan was carried out, and how He tilled the soil to prepare for the coming of Christ.
The third section of Unit 1 details the life and ministry of Jesus. One of the main take-aways for me in this section was learning that Jesus went through active and passive phases of his life. While most of his ministry was full of interacting with people through miracles and preaching, his passivity was most evident near the end of his life. For example, in John 17, after Jesus prays for God to glorify Him, he basically surrenders and is “led like a lamb to the slaughter.” Jesus didn’t kill himself, but he allowed for it to happen. And, in Dr. Carl Diemler’s words, “Jesus came to do what only He could do, then He told us to do what He said He won’t do.” Matthew 28:18-20 verifies this idea that while Jesus lived a life of action, it is now our turn to be His hands and feet. In my quiet time, I have felt the Lord bringing this point home to me, as He has shown me that I am very prone to being a “reactor” instead of an “actor” in my own life. It’s very easy for me to become passive and apathetic, even about the things of God at times – and that definitely needs to change.
That’s all I’m going to put out here for now, but being able to read Scripture in light of its original context has brought more revelation, encouragement, and life into my relationship with Christ than I had ever expected!