The Theology of Boredom Pt. 2

Posted: 03/11/2010 in Church
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In my last blog, I mentioned how we as a church have suffered immensely due to our boredom and have rushed to divisiveness as a result of our loss of practical theology. However, this is not just a modern issue. The core of this issue has a long historical backdrop, which began in the 4th century with Constantine.

Let me explain…

The first 300 years of Christianity were marked by two things: extreme growth and extreme persecution (oddly correlated, but a separate issue I’ll get into at another time). We read in the book of Acts how people were daily added to the church, and we also read of the tales of Stephen and the other later martyrs. Eventually almost all of the disciples and apostles were killed or exiled for their faith. The severity of persecution fluctuated over time, but Christians were consistently seen as a threat to the empire. Because of this, the Church was forced to be underground and organic. Theology was taught and heresy was still brought to light, but there was no complete consensus on theology. While in survival mode, those issues seemed less relevant… not less valuable, just not relevant enough to cause division.

In the year 313, an event occurred which drastically changed the course of Western Christianity; the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Since the emperor was not about to suffer under persecution in his own kingdom, he issued the Edict of Milan, which decreed religious toleration for all Christians (a first step to making Christianity the state religion – which would happen less than a century later). Christians no longer had to hide in fear of persecution. Worship services were open and even endorsed by the state.

After 12 years of religious freedom (a seemingly wonderful thing), there became enough division and dispute among the church that they called together the First Ecumenical Council to resolve such disputes. Though I believe that a lot of great clarity of the Scriptures came about through this council, great division came as well. For the first time, Christianity turned from being the exiled ones to the ones who exiled.

After a mere 12 years of freedom with nothing to fight up against, we turned on ourselves. And this Ecumenical council became the first of 7 ecumenical councils over the next 450 years which divided and calculated Christianity into a more systematic theology.

When we look at the history of the Church, I believe we find a pattern that we unite and grow when we are the outcasts of society (and if we took Scripture seriously, it would most likely lead us to being outcasts), but when we become acceptable by society, we divide and scatter. There is little hope for a comfortable Church, a church which thrives on boredom.

Too often we have killed for theology’s sake and refused to die for love’s sake.

I believe that when we radically love the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the crippled, the foreigners, and the outcasts the discussion of who’s right and who’s wrong becomes a non-issue.

That’s why we don’t see debates about Pre-trib or Post-trib rapture in China. They don’t care who’s Calvinist or Armenian in North Korea. Christ is their life and possibly their death, and that’s all that matters. He is all that matters. And when we forget that and stop loving our brothers and sisters, we forget what Christianity is all about.

Let’s make our theology practical once again. Love God, love neighbor, and love self. The whole book of the law is summed up in these commandments.


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