Modern Christian Preconceptions

Preconceived ideas about historical Christianity seem to fall into two groups. The first group believes that any changes in Christian concepts have arisen from the evolution of people and society over the centuries. Most likely this bias is based on a sense of intellectual superiority, that is, the assumption that modern Christians are more educated than past Christians—an assumption that may or may not be generally true—and so, any changes would have been an evolution that corrected superstitious flaws of past Christians. Certainly the intellectual history of Western civilization accepts this attitude. At its foundation, the West views humanity as continually evolving towards a higher state of rational and spiritual existence.

The second group tends to idealize the ancient Christians. They view the early church as one community united by Christ, and so, they imagine that the early church was a more pure institution. To them, the range of practices and beliefs in modern Christian churches have not been a positive evolution, but have been misguided movements away from their perception of the first church. Paul Ricoeur’s concept of neo-past might explain this phenomenon; the neo-past is an illusory cultural “memory” used as a basis for religious identity. Ricoeur would attribute this need to return to the “old true Christian ways” as a neo-past.

Just as all of Western society has been influenced by scientific reason, the Christian religion has been changed by acceptance of the scientific method. Some Christian groups have rejected aspects of scientific rationalism, such as evolution, while others (most notably some Protestant churches) have embraced reason. While those in the first category fight against scientific theories viewed as contradictions to the Bible, the second group finds a way to accept the Bible and science too. Yet, both make the same assumption: they presume that they must find an absolute reconciliation between the teachings of science and the teachings of the Bible. I wonder if Martin Luther began this dispute with the translation of the Bible into German. When he taught that each individual should study the Bible to learn about salvation and grace, he gave ordinary people the power to interpret divine revelation.

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About Lillith ThreeFeathers

Lillith ThreeFeathers is a shamanic healer, author, medium, and priestess.
This entry was posted in Philosophy, Society and Civilization, Spirituality & Religion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Modern Christian Preconceptions

  1. Joy says:

    Please write more about this topic! What do you believe brings reconciliation and insight to those that believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ? Is perhaps religion meant to be a personal quest?

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  2. Hello Joy. I do believe that religion is a personal quest. Nevertheless, despite countless individuals who have moved away from church attendance towards personal worship, the majority of contemporary Christian beliefs rest on a strong community component. Your question about reconciliation leads to complicated issues. Are people willing to release their assumptions and preconceptions (especially in the emotionally charged area of religion)? Each individual must determine that. However, many do not want to learn ideas that contradict what they have been taught, and many more will not do the hard work needed to reconcile history with those concepts. We all know that quite a few Christians do not evaluate their own beliefs — a process that is always hard to do regardless of the religion followed. Although some Christians believe that unquestioned faith is not really faith, others feel that any questioning is sinful.

    I plan to write more on this topic and look forward to your comments. Thanks for the insightful questions!

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  3. Joy says:

    Thanks for responding. I am looking forward to more posts on these types of topics.

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