Monday, March 17, 2008

Want to read a great book?

I am currently reading the book, "The Reformers and Their Stepchildren" and I must say it is fabulous. The book is rich in church history and essentially begins around 400 A.D. when Constantine was "converted." The book outlines the major negative changes that took place as a result of merging the church and state after Constantine's conversion. One of the results was the co-mingling of paganism with authentic Christianity. As you might except, the true believers objected to many of the new practices brought into the church and broke off from the newly formed Institutional church, which they called the "fallen" church.

There are essentially three groups that are compared and contrasted throughout the book.

1. The Catholic Church (Institutional Church)

2. The Reformers (later in church history, often referred to as Protestants)

3. The Stepchildren (the group of believers that left the Institutional church at the Constantinian change and met in catacombs and conventicles as inconspicuously as possible alongside of Catholics and Protestants from 400 A.D. to our time. They were horribly persecuted by both of them and killed in the millions. They were given many derogatory names over the years by their persecutors like Donatists, Wincklers, Catharer, and Anabaptists. Despite the persecution, they persevered as faithful followers of Christ.)

As a believer that is neither Catholic or Protestant, I find my roots in the free church tradition of the Stepchildren and have benefited greatly from the book. As one that has benefited from many of the Protestants writings on the doctrines of grace, I have often been troubled with understanding how they oversaw many of the atrocities carried out against the Stepchildren. This book has been very helpful in seeing why this happened. It does not let them off the hook or take lightly the persecution, but it also makes you understand how the Catholic and Protestant error of seeing the church (ekklesia) as a combination of church and state, by necessity obliged them to carry out these atrocities. It outlines the reformers struggles of wanting to embrace the free church tradition initially, but ultimately failing in finishing the reformation.

If you get a chance, read the book! It will be worth the effort.


No comments: