Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thoughts on the Didache

Why am I blogging about the Didache, a non-inspired (non-canonical) document of history written some 30 years after Jesus ascended? One reason is that I have always been a fan of history and I won the Daughters of the American Revolution award for history in 8th grade in 1972! Yet when it came to studying my faith as an evangelical christian, I only considered modern church history from 1500's onward and never thought about the "black hole" of Church history from the Pentecost to the Reformation. I thought all I needed to know about church history was found in the Bible, yet it's not intended to be an accurate primer on 1st century history.

So back to the Didache. My thoughts are this: there was no "Bible" being passed around or other "sole rule of faith" yet this new church was growing and spreading throughout the ancient world like wildfire! To be sure, there was certainly some letters and epistles being read in churches and being circulated but some of the gospels and letters may not have been written down yet! So how did this fledlging group of believers know what to believe and what was correct if they did not have a Bible until some 300 years later, fully "bound" and set in one volume so to speak? Even if they did have copies of the "New Testament" there is a fair chance that many of the folks were illiterate. They did have the Old Testament and many of Paul's letters refer back to it including his references that can be traced to the deuterocanonical books, (which were removed from the scriptures during the reformation.)
So the church grew and spread without a formal Bible, but they did have letters of instruction , including the Didache which obviously didn't make the "cut" at the early Church councils. However it is still useful as a peek into the history of the primitive church.
2000 years from now, when future historians/theologians are trying to understand what the 21st century church believed and practiced, they will no doubt consult sources other than the Bible. The Bible alone will not give them information regarding how this current 21st Century church believed and worshipped. They would consult letters, books, any records that survived through history (perhaps "Prayer of Jabez", "The Purpose Driven Life?" Writings of John Paul 2 and others?) to give them a "snapshot" of what this church was like in worship and practice. In the same way, we look to extra-biblical sources to help us now understand how the early church worshipped and practiced their new found faith. I thank God for the documents of history that have been preserved to this day for our edification. They have opened my eyes of faith in ways that I never thought possible.

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