Michael Kruger on What 21st-Century Christians Can Learn from 2nd-Century ChristiansOtis Rodgers September 12, 2019 7 Comments
– [Michael Kruger] So I’ve just recently
finished a book on Christianity in the second century. It’s called,
Christianity at the Crossroads:How the Second Century Shaped the Future
of the Church. And it’s been a fascinating journey into the world of the second
century and what Christians were dealing with during that time period.
It’s a really unique time period. Christianity was, for the first time,
standing on its own two feet without the help of a living apostle to guide them.
They were, in one sense, like a newborn just learning to walk and figuring out
their way. And one of the things that’s interesting about the second century is
how hostile the environment was that they were in. Christians were getting pressure
from all sides. The movement was small, it was fragile, it was shaky and from a
human perspective, it wasn’t at all clear that they were going to make it. Now, of
course, from a divine perspective, it was clear the church was going to make it.
From a human perspective, it wasn’t at all clear the second-century church
was going to even survive at all. And as we look back on that, there’s so
many lessons that we can learn today. One of the things the second century
Christians found themselves facing is just being social misfits. They didn’t belong.
They didn’t connect with any particular cultural identity. They seemed out of
place. And I think anyone living in the 21st century today can relate to that.
They just feel like they don’t fit, they don’t belong, they don’t feel like
this is their home and that’s something that second-century Christians really felt
and we can recover that a little bit today and remember that we’re not alone when we
feel that way. Another lesson I think that we can take away from the second century
is this idea of how to handle persecution and resistance. The second-century
Christians really faced a ton of resistance both legal and political on
the one hand and intellectual on the other and they handled it with grace and
dignity. They persevered through many, many trials and persecutions. And
the number one thing they did in the second century as they faced that
persecution is they did not give in. In other words, they did not worship the
Greco-Roman gods like the culture wanted and that’s a great lesson for today,
just to be reminded that our culture today wants us to bow down to all kinds of idols.
And Christians can just say, “No, we worship Jesus and Jesus alone,” just like
the Christians did in the second century. One other final thing I’ll mention that I
think is a takeaway from the second century is how much they were committed
to Scripture. They were known as a “bookish religion.” They were guided by
a text and were very textually centered. In fact, so much so that the Greco-Roman
culture around them didn’t really know what to do with Christianity because it
didn’t even look like any religion they ever saw. It looked more like a
philosophy. That idea of being a bookish textually centered religion was a stunning
thing in the ancient world and we need to make sure we don’t ever lose that in
the modern day, that we always put Scripture number one, first is our
ultimate authority in everything and that we are focused on that as
the guide to everything we do.