Do you believe personally that the ideals and characteristics of a Christian have changed dramatically?

In one sense I must answer no the ideals and characteristics of Christianity never change because they are making us like God who is consistent and not subject to character change.  The essence of Christianity “Love God, love neighbor” is not something we as humans can meddle with.  Christian doctrine is set and now we as newcomers to the faith (remember it has been around for almost 2,000 years) are basically at a point where we accept it or reject it on its own merit.  Because I am attempting to conform to God, I do not have the luxury of being allowed to pick and choose what that means.

However, if we are speaking in terms of what is emphasized within Christian teaching, then this fluctuates constantly.  21st century America does not emphasize the same teachings that 19th century America did, let alone 4th century Africa.  A helpful way of seeing this is: the Bible is a historical document, it does not change- it is the teaching of Christianity and there is no deviation.  However, American Christians might read Mark’s Gospel most frequently while African Christians might read Luke’s Gospel.  Now these Gospels each depict Jesus slightly differently and a person who predominantly reads Mark is going to see Jesus slightly differently than the person who reads Luke.  In the example the message has not changed but the shade each person puts on it does.  Christianity flows between cultures and transforms them, but as it does each culture is going to have some impact on how it hears the message what Christian leaders are always attempting to do is to make sure that cultural empahasis actually helps lead the people to God rather than away from God.

 

For more information see

Justo Gonzalez The Story of Christianity vol 1 & 2

 

Bruce Shelly Church History in Plain Language

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