How should faith and reason work together?
How did the medieval Church lose its way?
Even the Reformers were not free from Greek influences, following the Platonism of Augustine in many of their ideas, as distinct from the Roman Catholics, who stuck to the Aristotelianism of Thomas Aquinas. It was the accent on the rationalism of Aristotle that was to spearhead the next major attack on the Christian Church, which has lasted from the end of the Middle Ages right up until today. First came the Renaissance, the “rebirth”, the flowering of culture and artistic expression in Italy, believe it or not inspired by the ideals of Ancient Greece! This was also the birth of Humanism, a movement that placed man at the centre of everything, rather than God. Then came the philosophers of the Enlightenment, who built on these ideas and eventually did away totally with the need for God, replacing Him with their own rational ideas. This gave birth to Individualism, which has now become the defining feature of modern society.
Although God made something of a comeback thanks to the Methodist movement, followed by the awakenings of the 18th and 19th Centuries, prompting a massive worldwide missionary movement, we largely entered an age of confusion and division. This was the age of new cults, such as Christian Science and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, borne out of the ancient Greek heresies. It was also an age of a fight back by the Catholics, with strange new doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception. There were the Deists, who believed in some kind of absentee landlord God and then there was Charles Darwin and his ideas, to further chip away at the ancient faith, with the mallet of human reason and scientific methodology. And out of Germany came Higher Criticism, a new way to disbelieve the Bible.
Which brings us to the modern age, where our story ends, though the problems don’t, as we are still held bound by Greek thought. It hasn’t gone away, it has just embedded itself into our thought processes. Deep surgery is needed, now that we have made the diagnosis. We need to start to think about a cure.
There’s a lot more depth we need to explore before we can hitch a ride on the Hebraic Express. That’s the point of these series of articles, so don’t panic … yet!
The plain truth is that, for the Western Church not to wither into insignificance it needs to return to its Hebraic roots, whether or not it understands the true meaning of the “H” word. It needs to be revived and encouraged by those who care sufficiently about the future of Jesus’s beloved Church.
This could very well be you and me …
This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp