Can the Church Learn From the Past?

Margaret —  September 12, 2011 — 8 Comments

Can the Church Learn From the Past?

I've recently been studying a little church history. After reading about the Great Schism that separated the East and the West and moving on to the Great Schism of the Western Church, the messiness of church history has once again been awoken in my heart.

During the Western Schism, there were THREE popes claiming authority for about 9 years-Urban VI in Rome, Clement VII in Avignon, France, and Alexander V-and they were all excommunicating one another. Eventually, the Council of Constance removed all three popes, placing Martin V in the papacy. Now this is the same church council (held 1414 to 1417) that condemned two different John's: John Hus and John Wycliff.

John Hus claimed that the church and its leaders can err and have erred in the past-something radical of his time. Hus was burned at the stake.

John Wycliff believed that the state had the authority to depose any wicked churchmen (clergy). He also wanted the Bible to be read by the everyday person, not just in Latin by the Church, so he translated the Vulgate into the common language in his area, not a good idea. Wycliff (who died of natural causes in 1384) was unburied and his remains were burned-as an effort to purge the sin from Wycliff for his beliefs.

While the church has evolved from burning people at the stake, Christian men and women are being thrown under the bus left and right. In an essence, people with radical ideas and viewpoints become the scapegoat of ridicule and disgrace.

Instead of continuing to burn our fellow Christians, why not extend love and grace? By gracefully inviting conversation and discussion on controversial issues, maybe we can learn to agree to disagree.

Am I dreaming too big? Can the church (again, that's us) really learn from the past?

 

*Photo courtesy of here

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8 responses to Can the Church Learn From the Past?

  1. I think you’re dreaming, but would love to be proven wrong.

  2. Margaret,

    Can I ask you a question? I am asking this in attitude of humility and a desire to understand you and what you do ! What is your interpretation of I Timothy 2:12?

    Thanks,

  3. Kim,

    I’d encourage you to consider reading a book by Craig Blomberg, Two Views on Women in Ministry? I think it would really in this very complex discussion! I have many responses to your question but none address the issue entirely, completely, or fairly. But I think Blomberg’s book does a beautiful job of presenting the very thorough Scripture why’s of both sides and also refuting both in a way that is thoughtful, engaging, thought-provoking and marked by grace!

  4. I can’t remember which historical church figure said it (read it in Battersons book, Primal…which also serves as my church’s statement of beliefs): In essential things we have unity (and as Christians, that unity is as simple as Jesus Christ himself), in non-essential things we have liberty, and in all things we show charity. If we focus on Jesus, love and grace will flow…but that’s coming from an optimist who thrives on positivity…either way love wins. BTW, I just came across your blog…and am excited to find ways to learn from and with you!

  5. Margaret, I think you are dreaming God’s dream for the church, and I think that is a beautiful thing. My heart has also been broken over this issue. God has been showing me that to fail to extend grace is to deny Christ, and my response then is….”why have I sat in so many grace-less churches?!?” I do believe that God is doing a refining work in His body, and the church will be purified. But I pray that we will humble ourselves and seek to be refined. The alternative is to experience affliction to get to that point. He will accomplish His purpose; ultimately, it’s His way or His way.

  6. Kristy, so agree–we must learn grace!

  7. Margaret,

    Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll see if I can locate it! I was hoping to hear in plain, simple terms…..your personal thoughts. I’m not asking for a theological tome here :) …..you are described as one of the leading female thinkers in the church today that will influence, powerfully,the future of the church. Just looking for insight & understanding!

    Thanks

  8. Margaret,

    Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll see if I can locate it! I was hoping to hear in plain, simple terms…..your personal thoughts. I’m not asking for a theological tome here :) …..you are described as one of the leading female thinkers in the church today that will influence, powerfully,the future of the church. Just looking for insight & understanding!

    Kim

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