True Christianity Through the Ages

I would consider true Christianity to be a combination of orthodoxy (right doctrine, sound theology) and orthopraxy (right practice, holy behavior). Ideas and emphases have changed over the ages, but some of the basics have remained constant, when it comes to true Christianity. That basic thread of attributes or characteristics or criteria, shared by all true Christian leaders and their followers, I would say, are the following: faith in the atoning death of Jesus, faith in the Bible as divinely inspired and authoritative over a Christian’s life, faith in the virgin birth of Christ, faith in the resurrection of Christ, and faith in the reality of the miracles of Christ. These five beliefs, called the “five fundamentals” in 1910, have existed since the first century and have carried all throughout the two thousand year history of the church, among true Christians. All kinds of other ideas and practices have changed, but these have always remained constant. There have been different understandings and teachings about the nature of holiness and godly living over the years, but certain things are non-negotiable: the Ten Commandments as a standard of holiness, the Sermon on the Mount as another standard, and in general the avoidance of sexual immorality and greed.

Also, about every one hundred years or so, a revival of holiness happens, and is led by a revivalist preacher that popularizes holy ideas and inspires people to walk and talk more devoutly. The first century had Jesus and the apostles; and the centuries after that, the Apostolic Fathers and the Desert Fathers. In the 5th century, St. Benedict founded the Benedictine Order, which pretty much defined all of Catholic monasticism with The Rule of St. Benedict. Although declension eventually happened after he died; and Celtic monasticism appears to have taken the place of revival with St. Columba and St. Patrick. There was a revival in the Benedictine Order in the 10th century called the Cluniac reform. The next few centuries saw the Waldensians, St. Francis of Assisi, John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, and finally Martin Luther who started the Protestant Reformation. With Luther, the Church was revived in all areas, but especially with orthodoxy, as Catholic monasticism had strayed, in many ways, away from the Bible.

In 17th century England, the Puritans saw their finest representative in Richard Baxter, an evangelical Arminian who published a total of 23 volumes. In 1662, Baxter and over 2,500 Puritan preachers were fired from their pastorates in the Church of England, for preaching lordship salvation and not conforming to The Book of Common Prayer.

In 18th century England, John Wesley, another evangelical Arminian; and much in the spirit of Baxter, continued to preach holiness all over the country as an evangelist. Throughout most of his life and ministry, he remained technically an Anglican minister, but towards the end of his life, he started the Methodist Episcopal Church in order to evangelize the American colonies.

In the last two centuries, three preachers of notable importance come to mind. Charles Finney, an Arminian holiness preacher that spawned the Second Great Awakening. William J. Seymour, the leader of the Azusa Street Revival and in effect the founder of holiness-Pentecostalism. And finally Paul Washer, who in the early 2000s, with his “Shocking Youth Message” sermon, revived an interest in what is now called the “New Calvinism,” and an interest in the Puritan theologians.

About Wesley Gospel is self-published in the spirit of John Wesley and the Reformers, as when they used the printing press. The truth of God won't be censored or suppressed!
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