The Myth of Primitive Perfection 2

In my last post, I outlined the typical evangelical narrative regarding their status as a “New Testament” church. These blessed and wise souls have somehow managed to transcend the past 2000 years or so and have landed themselves right back amongst the book of Acts! If you sense that I have some heavy critique of this narrative in store, you’re quite right. But, I’m going to save it for a future post.

Instead, I’m going to affirm a very good and right impulse in this narrative, even if I think it’s misdirected. The impulse in this is a desire to be faithful in the face of a church that has historically made very, very poor choices and done much injustice to precisely those people it should instead be serving. The recognition that we have often gone astray is crucial, and a desire to be faithful to God and the purposes of his kingdom is to be celebrated everywhere it is found.

However, this good and necessary impulse is distorted and led astray when it is wedded to the myth of primitive perfection, as my next post will detail.

2 responses to “The Myth of Primitive Perfection 2”

  1. John Howard Yoder makes some vital points about Free Church historiography in his article “Anabaptism and History” in The Priestly Kingdom. His whole point is that any sort of restitutionist reading of Church history must be far more historically conscious than the magisterial stance precisely because it believes that the church is radically defectible.

    I think this notion of radical defecibility is vital, not only to how we approach church history, but how we understand ourselves and even the churches mentioned in the apostolic witness of the NT (after all, how many of the churches in Revelation got a good review?). Being open to radical reformation should make us infinitely more historically critical and self critical. However, as you note it often makes us historically ignorant and naive as to our own defectibility.

  2. Thanks for the comment Halden, and providing yet another thing to add to the “to read” queue.

    I’d definitely have to agree with Yoder on that one. Recognizing that the church has been (and continues to be) deeply flawed requires a deeper, penitential reading of church history, not a simple dismissal of it. These are definitely points I’ll be touching on in some upcoming posts…

WordPress Default is proudly powered by WordPress

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).