I created Coram Deo International in January,2015. Coram Deo, being in its nascent stage of development, brings me to contemplate why I’m so attracted to the Ancient Future Faith. And giving explanation to others for my attraction causes me to process my values, my understanding, and bring forth a reasonable summary. I present to you a few basic thoughts for my attraction. I put these thoughts forth with the hope you may join me.
Having lived in Europe for 14 years, and working with Europeans over a much longer time than I actually lived there, has given me, (the lover of history), a strong desire to embrace continuity of life, of faith, of ministry. We humans are not alone, we do not create our experiences and institutions, as though we are the first to ever exist. John Donne, the English poet said it well.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
I find depth of meaning as a follower of Christ by the emotional/spiritual connection to my predecessors. When I align myself and my conclusions to those who’ve gone before me, I join myself to that Great Cloud of Witnesses in worship as Hebrews 12 informs us. This is the great privilege of one who has found himself in God’s story. I feel I am caught up in a movement much bigger than myself. I’m contributing to that movement. My life makes a difference as it’s realized in the plan and purpose of God.
There is a malaise over the cultural expression of our faith. When we become conditioned to perpetuate what we’ve always done, such as the habits of outward worship and the inward appeal to hold fast what we believe is our contending for the faith, we start to believe we are the only ones right. We need a greater purpose than our own traditions. A connection to the early church anchors us and gives us meaning beyond ourselves, the times in which we live, the paltry plans we make for our future. Studying the ancient fathers and mothers of our faith causes me to discover a reality of my faith and God’s purpose I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I understand the importance of the mandate Jesus gave his church, to ‘read the times” and participate with the Holy Spirit in what he is doing to fulfill the promises Jesus gave. By building into the generations younger than ourselves, we help them anchor their faith to this same stream of humanity called the church. Culture is dynamic. This younger generation needs to see a model and be mentored in the development of their unique cultural expression of their times. The Holy Spirit interprets the truth of scripture to every generation in the ways they can forge a continuity of faith. As I participate in this, I become part of the past and hand off to the future the praxis of the faith to others.
Majesty of God focused
I desperately need to extricate myself from the definition of God I have created. Left to my own imaginings, I can draw an incorrect understanding of God. My tendency is not unique, it’s the tendency of all human beings. JB Phillips wrote about this tendency in his book, Your God is Too Small. Like Don Quixote, it’s easy to create our own reality and become the star of our own show. While I know God interacts with my imagination of him, his interaction guides me and redefines incorrect conclusions I’ve drawn.
The ancient fathers wrested for us and honed the truths we hold dear of all the scripture teaches us. These truths were hammered out over time and perpetuated in Creeds and Confessions handed down to us.They became the basis of our praxis today.
Ultimately, Ancient Future Faith brings me in to contact with the majesty, the magnificence… the overwhelming, inexpressible joy of relationship to the Father and Son, administered by the Holy Spirit. This uniqueness of fellowship which the Godhead enjoys is mine to have and to hold because Christ has made it possible.