False advertising

On a recent road trip, I encountered a bulletin board advertising a Pentecostal church, pitching for visitors to join them for services on the upcoming date of Pentecost. At the bottom of the billboard was the claim this church was founded in 33 A.D.

Ummm. No.

Just saying you are something doesn’t make it so. I can declare until I am blue in the face that I am, in fact, a fire engine, but NEVER will I be a fire engine. And just declaring ones’ self to be along the line of Apostolic Succession, linked to the original followers of Christ, does not make it so, either. One does not “recover” the early church by paying attention in a different way to theology or worship, nor does one claim to be a true “apostle” or “bishop” unless you really are one.

I am not trying to be a church snob, I’m really not. But I really think for the sake of accuracy, one should take a look at this. It was this little diagram, and others like it that I could NOT argue around when I was wandering through church-land.

I grew up thinking, as a Baptist, that we weren’t Protestants, that we didn’t protest. I had even heard that we were descendants from John the Baptist. I was misled. And just by saying “we’re not Catholic” didn’t make us any closer to that orginal church. It was a hard pill to swallow–one I choked on for years.

The reality of it is this. Christ founded His church, His Body, on Peter and the Apostles. It was revealed dramatically at Pentecost, with the presence of the Holy Spirit. That Body, that work, continued un-interrupted in a major way until the Great Schism of 1054. (However, there were a few minor schisms, groups splitting off over major heresies involving Christology). In some ways the Reformation is secondary to the tragedy of the first major split, and the further I go into Orthodoxy, the more depressed that 1054 thing makes me.

In the comments section on an earlier post, I mentioned a comment by The Relic blogger in defense of Orthodoxy to an argument from the “emergent church”. History, I said, is hard to work around. I do not want to disparage or attack any other church or group, especially those that seek to restore the life and vibrancy of the early Church in their faith communities. To them I again say “Come and see.” As demonstrated on that little map up there, we’re still around.

I have a bumper sticker that says “Orthodox Christianity: Preaching the Truth since 33 A.D.”

That’s exactly as advertised.


Author: Rebecca

Orthodox Christian. Journalist. SAR K9 handler. All three of those are deeply related.

2 thoughts on “False advertising”

  1. For what it’s worth you’re not alone in sometimes worry about being a “church snob”, it is a major difficulty I have in talking about Orthodoxy to my Protestant and Roman Catholic friends.
    The saddest part about the whole thing to me is that all the various groups of Christians are sure that they are right, and with the American spirit of independence, it becomes a recipe for the thousands of various Protestant denominations one sees today.

  2. Hey, Bec! Christ is risen! I am a former “Charismatic”, now Orthodox for seven years. I guess that I, too, am a “church snob”; I must try very hard not to roll my eyes when I hear Catholics, Protestants, and especially Charismatic/Pentacostals speak of their group’s “roots in antiquity”. History is history. The tongues speakers LOVE to say that their branch of Christianity began in 33 AD. Heck, as a Charismatic, I used to make that claim too… until I knew better.

    A wonderful book that any Charismatic or Pentacostal interested in Orthodoxy should read is “In Peace Let Us Pray to the Lord”, by Fr. Alex Trader, published by Regina Orthodox Press. Father Alex, like me, had some experience with Pentacostalism in his younger years, so he knows whereof he speaks. The book is well written and thoroughly researched, and answers nagging questions some may have about the role of Pentacostalism in Orthodoxy.

    Even so, the best way to find out about the Faith is through experience; “come and see” is still the best advice. Books have their limitations, but Fr. Alex’s book hits the nail on the head. I encourage true seekers, especially those from a Charismatic/Pentacostal background, to read it. Know your history, dear Christians!

    See you in church next Sunday, Bec. Glory to God in all things! –kewb

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