A Beautiful Picture of the Early Church

There is so much error in the record of Christian history, due to various factors – not the least of which is the temporal supremacy of the Roman Catholic “Church” for many years. Yet truth will not be wiped off the face of the Earth any more than God’s remnant – for He preserves His people and their story. 

I highly recommend Andrew Miller’s Church History for an in-depth look at centuries of how God kept His people.

But I want to draw your attention to a quote from another on-line book of Christian history, this one looking at us who call ourselves Baptists. From Provident Baptist Ministries in my home state of Texas, comes this snippet from John T. Christian’s book A History of the Baptists. This paragraph, from chapter 2, gives all Christians many rich peeks into the lives of simple folk who had been redeemed by Christ and lived in a wicked country. May we consider how we live!

The Christians are not distinguished from other men by country, by language, nor by civil institutions. For they neither dwell in cities by themselves, nor use a peculiar tongue, nor lead a singular mode of life. They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usages of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct They dwell in their own native lands, but as strangers. They take part in all things, as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is a foreign. They marry, like all others; they have children; but they do not cast away their offsprings. They have the table in common, but not wives. They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives. They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are killed and made alive. They are poor and make many rich. They lack all things, and in all things abound. They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches. They are calumniated, and are justified. They are cursed, and they bless. They receive scorn, and they give honor. They do good, and are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice, as being made alive. By the Jews they are attacked as aliens, and by the Greeks persecuted; and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell. In short, what the soul is to the body, the Christians are in the world. The soul is diffused through all the members of the body, and the Christians are spread through the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but it is not of the body; so the Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul, invisible, keeps watch in the visible body; so also the Christians are seen to live in the world, for their piety is invisible. The flesh hates and wars against the soul; suffering no wrong from it, but because it resists fleshly pleasures; and the world hates the Christians with no reason, but they resist its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh and members, by which it is hated; so the Christians love their haters. The soul is enclosed in the body. but holds the body together; so the Christians are detained in the world as in a prison; but they contain the world. Immortal, the soul dwells in the mortal body; so the Christians dwell in the corruptible, but look for incorruption in heaven. The soul is the better for restriction in food and drink; and the Christians increase, though daily punished. This lot God has assigned to the Christians in the world; and it cannot be taken from them (Epist. Ad Diognetum, C. 5 and 6 p.69 sq. Otto. Lips., 1852).

10 thoughts on “A Beautiful Picture of the Early Church

  1. Manfred;
    I just asked Mike Ratliff about a book my son needs to read for a church history class he is taking through a homeschool co-op. It is called The Church in history by B.K. Kuiper. It appears to be quite a liberal book and as the post says, influenced by universalism/ecumenicalism via the RCC.
    This post is to me a God send as I will be using it to parallel teach my son so as to show him the difference between a religion about Jesus, verses a relationship with Jesus. Literally the book he is required to read is a history of the religion that seeks to usurp the relationship.
    Thanks again brother!

  2. Ah, the Lord does indeed use foolish things, such as this recovering jerk.

    Interesting about the Kuiper book – the three single star ratings on Amazon hate it because it’s reformed: putting down the cult of Rome and Arminian theology. Where did you hear it’s liberal?

    Regardless, the two on-line books I mentioned here are excellent resources. May the Lord bless you with wisdom as your teach your son.

    Mickey Merrie, You might also spend some at Monergism’s web site; they have a pretty good selection of material, including a link to Kupier’s book. http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/History/

  3. A paragraph we all should read and memorize and keep in mind as we live out our lives!
    Manfred, I had a question I would love to be able to ask you…where would be the proper place to do so? I don’t want to hijack a comment thread. Thank you!

  4. Nice, Manfred. Do you mind if I add that paragraph to my blog? I will provides links back to you of course.

    BTW, for all those who have been praying for us and our family…we won. The children are being returned on August 25th of this year for good.

  5. Manfred, I’m reading it before I let the CMA preacher teach it to him and others in the class this fall. The original might have been more Reformed, but with subsequent “reforming” including the final chapters on “The Churches seek co-operation and Union.” Also the “a look back a look forward.”
    Here is a verbatum quote lifted from early on in the book, page 21:

    The man who better than anyone else expressed the ideas about the Church which
    had come to prevail around this time was Cyprian. He was born in Carthage in
    North Africa around the year 200 and lived in that city all his life. A rich and
    well-educated man, he became famous as a teacher of rhetoric, or speech. In 246
    he was converted. Two years later he became bishop, and in 258 he was beheaded
    as a Christian martyr. He wrote, “There is one God, and Christ is one; and there
    is one Church and one Chair.” (By one chair he meant ‘one center of authority.’)
    He continued: “He who is not in the Church of Christ is not a Christian. He can
    no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother. There
    is no salvation outside the Church. The Church is based on the unity of the
    Bishops. The bishop is in the Church, and the Church is in the bishop. If
    anyone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church.”

    Having grown up Catholic, I tend to see their teachings sticking out quite easily.
    I even drank “holy water” once…tastes like fingers!

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