When I wrote an article for The Good News Newspaper about the Jewish High Holidays at Shema Yisrael Messianic congregation several years ago, I realized how disgusting barriers between denominations must appear to Christ. Experiencing worship in the Jewish tradition was so moving, I had to fight tears.
In the days of St. Paul, pictured above, most followers of the perfect Rabbi, Christ, were Jewish. How often in the New Testament do we read about someone referring to Jesus as “Rabbi?”
I doubt that the day after the Ascension, Jews suddenly held worship services in the Protestant or Catholic molds. Those developed. But as I study Christian history, I realize Messianic Judaism is no less “Christian” than our Protestant, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox traditions. Sometimes visiting others in their worship brings me closer to the foot of the Cross, as did experiencing the Jewish High Holidays.
That is why Church History, this beautiful, glossy magazine (with magnificent illustrations) that explores Church history in great depth, delighted me. I want to share this gem with you today. https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine
You will find more about the Christian History organization at https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/today. If you visit the magazine webpage, you can download an issue…….. I’ll wait.
Why is Church history so important today?
Many of us live our lives in denominational silos. I did, until I crawled out after my half-century mark, and saw (up close as a reporter) how magnificent the Body of Christ was, is, and will ever be. I am convinced that the Church, the Body of Christ, is every man, woman and child who is a Christ follower. And it has nothing to do with which denomination one belongs to. It is having a heart for Christ.
Studying Church history shows me how our universal faith withstood the worst efforts at persecution, identified and eliminated heresies, and so much I never even thought of. Those old bones of our Church fathers rattled and told their stories in the magazine.
Kenneth Curtis (1940-2011) founded the Christian History magazine in 1982. Curtis said, in a talk at Christian European Visual Media Association in 1999, that studying church history made him wise. I agree with every reason he listed (from the Executive Editor’s Note from the current Issue 144, Christian History in Images).
To paraphrase, we can’t think the entire plan of God plays out in one lifetime—it spans centuries. It proves the truth in the Gospel that the last shall be first. (How many untalented, obscure people did God choose to carry out his purposes?) Even when people struggle through trying times (like now), God is working in ways we don’t expect (or see).
I believe we need to repent of our past. The Church has sinned because it comprises people who sin. Curtis believed repentance is essential, and we can be confident we won’t face anything we can’t handle because Jesus said the gates of hell will not and cannot prevail against his Church.
Every issue looks at a specific historical aspect of Christianity, yet it seems to me, Church history is applicable today as well. Titles of past issues show how diverse this Body of Christ has been over the years. Here are just a few tantalizing titles.
- America’s Book–How the Bible helped shape a nation
- City of Man–Christian civic engagement over the ages
- Christianity and Judaism
- Plagues and Epidemics
- Women of the Reformation
- When the Church Goes to Market.
As much as I love to bury my nose in every issue, I need to pull it out and live the lessons I’m reading about. Now more than ever, the Church is under attack, and we must rise as one body, love everyone outrageously, and serve Christ as he brings more souls into his Kingdom.
That is the only way we will overcome “the spirit of the air” as he tries to destroy nations and their peoples. By reading Church history, I see how God always won, and will always win. What a comfort.
“… I will not leave you, nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5 NKJV)
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