Friday, December 18, 2009

The Missing Millenium

I often reflect that there was a glaring great gap in the theological education I received at college, and this isn't an attempt to disrespect everything I learnt at college.

For many of us in the one of the various Protestant traditions we miss out on about 1200 years of theological thought and development because our worldview basically goes as follows from a historical perspective:
  • Acts of the Apostles
  • Early Church up to 313AD
  • The Reformation
If you accept the Reformation began with the nailing of the 95 Thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517 then most Protestants ignore a thousand years of Christian thought, devotion, expression and spirituality in the misguided notion that from Constantine's alleged conversion to Martin Luther shaking Europe to its very core nothing of note happened.

Naturally there are precursors to the Reformation in the work of the Waldensians, John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, but there were also many honest and sincere theological reflections during those thousand years which can feed our spiritual lives today.

There are several writings that I have found instructive and edifying in the years since I left college and started exploring those thousand years, and here I would recommend them to your own reading:
  • The Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
  • The of Life of St Columba - Adamnan
  • The Writings of Julian of Norwich
In recommending these works, I ask that we remember that all human writings are flawed in some way, for as St Paul reminds us, "we see through a glass darkly". None of us sees or understands the Gospel in all its fullness, the divine mind is simply beyond us, but in sharing that which we see, we hope others gain from our insight, as we look to gain from theirs.

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