The Second Century Church

17 Oct


When I was studying for a Master’s Degree in Ancient History from Cal State L.A. in 1980, I wrote a paper that could have been my Master’s thesis if I had completed the program. The title of the paper was β€œThe History of the 2nd Century CE (AD) Β Church.” I wrote it for an independent study history class where you choose any subject that you want. I chose that one because ministers were always talking about how we had to get back to the 1st century church and I decided to find out what happened during the 2nd century to change the church. What I found was a variety of flavors of Christianity that were slowly eliminated or restricted, until the Catholic (Universal) church based in Rome became the final religious authority.

During this time period, important doctrinal issues were committed to writing by theologians and apologists like Clement, Origin, and Tertullian. Tertullian was a lawyer prior to his conversion to Christianity, and he used his persuasive skills to propound his theological beliefs to the church at the end of the 2nd century. His most famous doctrines were that of the β€œTrinity,” which establishes that God is 3 separate persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all rolled up into one, along with establishing the necessity of the divinity of Christ.

Tertullian eventually joined Montanus who claimed that he was the incarnation of the Holy Spirit and followed him out onto a plain where Roman soldiers mistakenly slaughtered them as insurrectionists. Tertullian is known as the father of Latin theology, because he, as an upper class Roman, began to write theology in Latin rather than Greek, the common language of the people at the time. This made Christianity appealing to upper class Romans, who held all the power.

All this got me thinking, and I found that I was confused, because I was working as an associate pastor at an Evangelical fundamentalist Pentecostal church at the time. I had a wife and 3 kids and didn’t want to return to working at the post office where I had been for 6 years prior to Bible college. I was an ordained and licensed Foursquare minister and wanted to help others find the salvation of Jesus Christ like I did. The only thing was, I was seeing a theological system that was evolving as it reacted to questions and issues raised within its ranks. This was still happening today and I was part of it, because the Jesus movement that I was part of was a result of the reaction that the established Christian church had to the counter culture youth movement of the 1960s. The counter culture was fueled by a mystical belief system that resulted from the ingestion of mind altering substances ranging from marijuana and hashish to LSD, mescaline, Psilocybin, DMT, and STP.

Once hippies exhausted the potential of the entheogenic agents to expand their understanding of the universe, they turned to established religion. My own search had absorbed me into the Jesus movement which was in full swing in 1971. I entered it and was transformed by it, into a godly person who eschewed everything that was worldly and part of my old life. I did this to the point of offending friends and relatives, as I was driven by the need to provide a witness of my conversion. After years of faithfulness and study I was in God’s perfect will or so I thought, as doctrinal differences within the church continued to rear their ugly heads.Β 

I was completely immersed in academic study and ministry, but my family demanded attention as well. I didn’t know what to do other than try to find God’s perfect will for my life, so I began to search for it, as Jonah did for Nineveh. I believed that the geographic location made a difference in God’s will, and it did, only I wasn’t listening. Initially I felt called to the Pacific Northwest, centering the state of Oregon, so we moved there. I wrote the 2nd Century church paper during that move and didn’t actually turn it in for a grade until I eventually returned to Los Angeles after moving cross country 3 times, totaling 4,000 miles in an 8 month period.

I continued to flee from God’s will until I racked up another 4 cross country moves totaling another 7,000 miles of cross country travel over another 4 years, until we ended up in Salem, Oregon. It’s been 27 years since we arrived in Salem and 33 years since we first left L.A. to minister to the Pacific Northwest, and I must confess that a lot has happened along the way. In fact it’s been another lifetime. During that new lifetime I lived another existence that helped me focus my direction by using everything that came before it, into the future. The future is now, because I can only live so long until my time is up. I now go back to my paper from a lifetime ago and I find that I now follow Gnostic theology, even if it is self styled, because I now believe in do-it-yourself religion, since I have achieved a level of knowledge that allows me to see past most of the bullshit.


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