There's a common phrase I hear whenever a Christian wants to discredit or somehow dismiss the opinions of another Christian: "That's not historical Christianity."
I've heard this when people don't like what I have to say about their church, their pastor, or their church model/structure/government. I hear it whenever a brother or sister in Christ wants to discredit my church home and pastor. And I hear it whenever Christians are arguing over which denominations and doctrines are "the best" or the "most true" church/denomination/doctrine.
Somehow, the history of Christianity itself, beginning over a century after Christ's ascension all the way up until a few decades ago, has become an idol of the Church. Because of something a self-entitled or church-elected leader said or did independent of and long after Jesus Christ's ministry on Earth, we're supposed to kowtow that party line.
Or in other words, we're putting the words of men above the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the Gospel itself.
Now, of course, no one using the "historical Christian church" argument is openly admitting or stating this. Who would knowingly put men and their opinions above God and His truth? No one that I know.
The fact remains, however, that it's exactly what we're doing when we place a timeline of man's ideas and opinions on some kind of pedestal while at the same time ignoring the much more important matter of the truth itself.
History is a great tool. It helps us avoid the mistakes of the past, compare our beliefs and actions against those of different times, and improve upon them. It helps us get to the truth, but we have to remind ourselves that history isn't the truth itself.
When a disagreement arises between two Christians, the standard of truth shouldn't be what "historical Christianity" points to according to an individual's perspective. The standard of truth is the Word of God. Some might argue that what they mean by "historical Christianity" is the Bible, but if that's really true, why not just say the Bible? That would certainly be a lot more convincing to me than "the opinions and actions of these guys that never knew personally and came after the disples, apostles, and Jesus Christ."
FYI, church checkers, if you want to convince another Christian that your position is the correct one when it comes to doctrine or Biblical truth, just use the Bible and the truth. Everything else is just white noise.
So, to conclude this brief but I think important thought, let's stop idolizing "historical" Christianity and get back to worshiping the true God Himself. He is the source of all truth, not us or our history of opinions. He put His truth in His Word and through His Son. He writes His laws on our hearts, He guides us to the truth Himself through the Spirit, and He gives us the truth in the Holy Bible. If anything contradicts that truth, I don't care who says it, how well they say it, how popular it is, or whether or not it's "historical Christianity." If it isn't true, it doesn't matter.
Historical Christianity only matters as much as history itself. What matters more is the truth, whether it lines up with the opinions of men throughout history or not. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible is the truth. Anything that contradicts them is irrelevant, no matter how historical and how "Christian" it seems to be.
Look for Sarah Leann Young's debut non-fiction book, Jesus Paid Your Tithing on the Cross, early this year. It will be Book 1 of 6 in the series, For the Love of God, Stop Going to Church! and will be published through Bjorn Books.
Sarah is a lifelong writer and student of the Bible. She has a passion for faith, family, and finding the truth. After investigating dozens of local Evangelical and non-denomination churches for the past two years and being raised in the Evangelical church herself, she's decided to share her findings in a book series that will expose the lies being taught within our local churches today and the wolves spreading those lies, emphasizing the importance of the Gospel, the authority and power of the Holy Spirit, and the truth of the Bible.