Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Give Me That Old Time Religion.

Lately, I have heard clambering, from some Christians, for a good dose of Old Fashioned relgion. But I have to ask-- old fashioned by what standard? What we think of as old fashioned was, prior to being old fashioned, was once a new way of thought. The world is ever evolving, and has been since the dawn of time.

Most of the time, I believe, when people say they want Christianity to be like it used to be, they mean they want it to be the way they learned it when they were growing up. They want it to be comforting and familiar to themselves. But is this the 'true form' of Christianity? Even the relgion of 50 years ago was a religion that had been changing and progressing for over 1900+ years. How is that any truer than Progressive Christianity is today?

As Christians, most of us believe that Jesus (and by extension God's word) is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:7-9). We are admonished in the scripture avoid being carried away by strange teaching, but to adhere to the word as written. I believe this admonish to be true, but how do we descern strange teaching?

I am sure the Crusaders felt they were following the true teaching of the bible when the marauded Europe, killing and conquering in the name of God. During the Reformation period, the Catholic church felt that anyone who spoke out against the Holy (Catholic) Church was a heretic. They felt they were only being true to scripture in exerting their authority, as the mouthpiece of God (don't even get me started on the corruption that was going on in the church at that time).

In more modern times, and on American soil, we encountered the Restoration Movement, whereby a group of men endeavored to bring Christianity back to its roots. They felt that with all the denominations in existence, the church had become corrupted by all the various theologies and Biblical interpretations. The irony is, they formed yet another denomination in the process of bringing everyone together.

You see, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). There will always be those who seek to bring things back to the old fashioned ways of life, be it in their religion or simply a way of life that they are more familiar with. It certainly doesn't mean that the Christianity of 50 years ago was any purer than it is today. If one believes that, then one is kidding oneself.

What we really need in Christianity is a move away from religion and into a relationship. We should study scripture daily, on our own, not simply listen to what our Pastor teaches on Sunday morning. Nor should we rely on what has been passed down to us as Real Christianity from the previous generation. We should chew on the words of scripture we read, not regurgitate those passages we remember from our youth. Because although God is the same yesterday, today, and forever -we are not. We, as individuals and as a people, are a changing lot. God, in his absolute wisdom, knew this from the beginning. That knowlege is why He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit -- so that we would always have the Spirit with us, to help us discern the truth from lies.

So, when I hear people calling us to get back to our roots, or to old fashioned religion, I wonder if they really know what they are calling for. My guess is they simply want everyone to believe as they do, and wish to remain stagnant, focused on the nostalgia of what they perceive as the 'Good Old Days'. I don't think this is an ideal way to worship. We can't limit what the scriptures mean by placing old fashioned restrictions on scripture, nor bend it to resemble what we feel safe believing. We have to be willing to expand our views and open our hearts. Only then can we truly grow in our relationships with God.