This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, “We won’t!” (Jeremiah 6:16 ESV)
This search started a long time ago. About 5 years ago to be exact. You see, all I ever wanted to do was to worship God, “in spirit and in truth.” I became completely obsessed with Church History. Then, with Christian denominations, the Hebrew language and customs, the VERY early church and why we were so split up. Especially from Acts and up to about 200 AD. I couldn’t understand this at first. Slowly I worked my way up to, and studied deeply, the Reformation period.
I became deeply disturbed. I keep noticing a recurring theme. Mixing pagan ideas and ‘borrowing’ from Philosophers. Mixing their thought patterns/doctrines/traditions and even holidays with ours. Something was off.
Enter a conversation with a friend recently converting to Christian Orthodoxy. I had never heard of this before. I stayed in my ‘safe’ Protestant Evangelical box my whole life convinced we had most, if not all, of the truth, however occasionally messed up by normal fallible humans. As I began to research Orthodoxy, I suddenly saw a belief system that read early church Father readings-meaning EARLY, not Luther/Calvin, etc. While I don’t agree with a lot of practices in Orthodoxy, it did create a stir in me. Questions about my formative faith abounded. Things that never made sense before, questions unanswered, confusion in my own walk and answers given by others suddenly came full circle.
So many have said no ‘true’ church exists. We are all fallible humans. I wholeheartedly agreed with many others who decried the notion that the Pope was infallible. WHAT?!? He is human! However, that idea would soon be shaken as well. I remembered 2 churches in Revelation that received ZERO rebuke from Jesus–Smyrna and Philadelphia. Hmm. No ‘perfect church?!?’ Suddenly that idea seemed laughable. After all, the Bible tells us that God is not the author of confusion, right? Jesus IS the Truth. Paul admonished Timothy to preach the TRUTH. Surely it was preserved SOMEWHERE.
So, my search began with Christian Orthodoxy which led me to read a letter from Polycarp, a student of the Apostle John, to the Philippians. In it he quoted much Scripture. It wasn’t HIS words, HIS interpretation he was speaking–it was words directly from Paul’s mouth/pen. That led me to Ignatius of Antioch, a friend of Polycarp’s. Suddenly my Evangelical Protestant background made no sense. There was no personal expounding/explaining Scripture or ‘doctrine’ which was different in each church. It was simple. Pure. Unmixed. Matter of fact, there were no ‘denominations’ either. No splits on Baptism, Communion, Salvation, Saints or Angels. Zero.
Much of the church Fathers we read…mixed philosophical ideas and thought processes. We went off course. We came up with ‘Trinity,’ ‘baptism-symbolic or no?’, communion-who/how transforms it or is it just a symbol to remember? Look up the Greek word for it–it is NOT symbolic. Nor is Baptism. At all.
Still, much of the Orthodox beliefs DID NOT line up with Scripture. They will probably agree to a point-after all, they quote 1 Thessalonians and state that much of their doctrine comes from ‘traditions’ passed on. Yet, in my search, I found ZERO evidence of much of these traditions.
I moved on……..
*part 1 of a series. Subscribe or keep watching my posts for the rest of the story*