The Myth of Primitive Perfection 1

I’ve been in and around Anabaptism and Evangelicalism for most of my life up and until this point, and I’m continually amazed by the amount of assumptions that I uncover. Today I’m going to tackle one such assumption that has only recently achieved the level of conscious recognition.

The typical story that is told in these types of churches goes something like this: Jesus came, was generally awesome, died and was raised, establishing the church before he left to sit at the right hand of God the Father. The early church of Peter and Paul, as detailed in the book of Acts, went around kicking butt for the kingdom of God. They really had it going on, but then the Catholics and the Pope got a hold of things, and then church began its inevitable slow decline…

That is, until (fill in the blank of your particular denominational affiliation) came along! We’re going back to the Bible, skipping over the errors of the past 2000 years to be a New Testament church! That’s right, we’re going to bring back the days of glory from the early apostolic church…

So the story goes anyways. It’s funny how such a controlling story in the Evangelical world is seldom, if ever, spelled out in such terms. I’ll be talking more about its implications and what I think needs to be said about it soon. But, apart from my obvious dislike for this paradigm, what do people think? Does this story sound familiar?

7 responses to “The Myth of Primitive Perfection 1”

  1. That is so funny that you wrote this. I was just recently at a church that pretty much said that exact thing during the service.

    The preacher said “the world has yet to see a church living in the full blessing of God… but the time is now”. I couldn’t believe the claim he made. This is what I was thinking:

    So… you know that for the past 2000 years there has not been one single church that has been living in the blessing of God? Okay, that could possibly be true. However, what makes you think your church will achieve that? And even if you did, what makes you think the World will see this blessing? Did the world see Christ living in the full blessing of God? No, we crucified him.


  2. William: now that you’re listening for it you’ll hear it all the time… oh, the arrogance.

  3. You can spot the sermons a mile away. They usually end with two things: 1) Pray more 2) Read your Bible more, and an optional 3) Stop sinning. They are always very helpful.

    What is the motivation in claiming that the “time is now” to start living in the Promised Land, characterizing the church as not-yet-crossed-over? It can’t just be ignorance of the last 2,000 years.

  4. Cam. From what I’ve observed, it seems as though people think they can do Christianity better than everyone else as a result of one simple thing, which Matt mentioned above. Arrogance. In fact, it is quite possible we are doing the very same thing as we share these thoughts.

    I have written a blog post that is similar to this topic about helping God. I find myself guilty of thinking I can do Christianity better than those before me, when I am really doing nothing at all. Read the post to get the whole message.

  5. I agree that arrogance is part of their unconscious approach, but I wonder if we could get more specific, especially with regards to the cause. Is this a symptom of our culture’s approach to history in general?

  6. Good discussion lads. Arrogance, yes, absolutely. But I think there’s also a double ignorance at work: ignorance of church history, and an ignorance of the face that that’s a problem. I’ll be touching on the historical angle in another post.

  7. Matt. I agree that ignorance of church history is a major problem. I am excited to hear what you have to write about that.

    Cam. More specific? Arrogance, I think, is caused by both ignorance and pride. (which is precisely what Matt mentioned above.) Too many church leaders these days think they can get by without a proper understanding of both church history and theology. They assume far too much about God and the church. Pride is something that is all too common among church leaders as well. We have difficulty admitting our views may be wrong.

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