How Christianity Has Been Affected and Changed by Historical, Theological, and Cultural Developments
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
Anyone who follows the evolution of art can easily see the flow over time from Ancient Art, Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Pop-Art, to the art of today, all due to various factors, such as cultural influences, technological innovations, social movements, political events, and personal expressions. There is a definite flow that reflects the changes and challenges of different eras and contexts which can also be identified in philosophy and religion.
I have witnessed this flow in my own photography. I was once concerned with representing accurate color, definition, composition, and camera technique. I have gradually followed an elusive and subtle trend toward the abstract, conceptual, and speculative for the express purpose of eliciting emotion over definition, clarity, and accuracy. This may not be so important with art but what Christians find hard to accept is that, like art and philosophy, religion too has followed along a similar line of transition, but with Christianity, this is not evolution but rather devolution. Christianity’s change over time is due to various factors, such as historical developments, theological debates, cultural interactions, and spiritual experiences all of which incapacitate and paralyze true Christian life.
A freshly painted landscape with vibrant colors and beautiful definition, in the hands of a progressive, becomes only liberal brush strokes, spongy smears, and a pushing of paint to produce a blur of confusion with neither meaning, relationship, or purity. And in a comparable manner, Christianity has not progressed but rather regressed.
This is a picture of what Christianity, better known today as Christendom, has become, each era having a disconnect from the former with new styles, presentations, and purpose. If the works that are produced are not relevant, then the whole of it is simply stagecraft. If all that is accomplished is beautiful buildings, impressive speeches, secluded homesteads, and vegetable gardens, then it is a lie. Salvation distorted is not simply man being left to himself, it is diabolical and evil. When man paints a different picture, his own particular reality, it negates God’s love and is absurd and is not man exercising his true freedom. This re-creation by man does not affect only this man alone but all men. Every Christian who fails to adhere to the original design is responsible for blurring and distorting the whole picture, the whole world. No Christian can stand before the Judge and claim his failure due to blindness, and say, “That is how I interpreted the scene.” Unfortunately, there is only one correct interpretation.
Jesus came and lived-out a life of true freedom on earth. He established freedom and led the way. The world has been shown this freedom, so they can’t plead ignorance. It has happened to all mankind as it happened to the people of Israel after their liberation from Egypt. They were shown freedom and they refused to embrace it and live it out, but rather plotted a plan to return to their old slave master who provided them with their daily rations. They had become content and comfortable being slaves living in community.
Consequently, Christians are left to wander in this wilderness they call home. They have traded their freedom for a bowl of potage and are no longer even angered that they have been bamboozled and cheated out of their birthright.
Mankind does not comprehend the extent of their enslavement. I was not even aware of my own bondage although I thought I understood my heart, and I carefully considered my existence and nature, but even so, I did not grasp the very real situation of my life. I was part of a world that had physical and psychological shackles on me, surrounded by organizations and administrations that were conditioning my every act, all united in a diabolical business of enslavement. This was true blindness, a secret conditioning by the forces of evil, no different than the psy-ops of one nation against another whose only purpose is the opposition’s easy ignorant destruction, and I was likewise, a blind Christian. What all men, even Christian men, must come to realize is that they are captives and alienated from real truth and that real freedom is only available through the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, who can heal the blindness; the choice is ours. Jesus was not being humorous when He said that the Devil was the deceiver of the WHOLE world.
Christianity has been affected and changed by historical, theological, and cultural developments in a negative way. Christianity, like other things touched by man, can be compared to the evolution of art only in reverse. Christianity has lost its original meaning, relationship, and purity over time. The metaphor of a freshly painted landscape that becomes a blur of confusion in the hands of a progressive illustrates my point nicely. I contend that Christianity today is not the same as the faith that was once delivered to the saints. The words of Jesus should be considered with frightening concern; “Will I even find faith on the earth when I return?”