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Appreciating Medieval Christianity

Book review here (not by me):
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/book-reviews-medieval-wisdom-for-modern-christians#

But here’s my comments: There’s probably a lot of rubbish in this book, I suspect that it’s much too slanted towards Roman Catholicism an519CQjK3QmLd watery High Church Anglican, nevertheless, there could be a few ideas of worth in it. I’ve long held to the concern that what is missing in modern Christianity is something of “a more embodied, holistic, ‘earthy’ Christianity that held together faith and reason, head and heart, physicality and spirituality, Word and sacrament, monastic meditation and scholastic speculation.”

Roman Catholicism is an erroneous and exploitative cult built around superstitious lies, ceremony, and sleight of hand, yet living in Italy for eighteen years and having been exposed to the interiors of a number of Catholic churches, either as a tourist or at the funerals of Italian friends, I’m frankly impressed by the level of respectful and well-ordered Medievally-based piety and devotion (whether feigned or not) which is demonstrated by Catholic worshippers, clergy and church staff, a piety and seriousness that is almost totally lacking in most modern evangelical Protestant or Baptist churches, and puts us, the true believers, to shame.

Visit the tomb of Francis of Assisi and you’ll find the cathedral interior kept in near darkness of perpetual mourning, while ushers and security staff every few yards order you to stop chatting, keep quiet and show some respect, or be forcibly removed from the building. Contrast this with a modern Protestant or Baptist evangelical church at the start of every so-called service: coloured lights blazing, guitarists tuning up noisily, the deafening roar of two hundred people in conversation instead of quietly praying, reading or thinking, people sipping bottled water or even thermos mugs of coffee, or chewing gum, or snacking chips in the pews instead of fasting in readiness to be fed with the bread of life. Trust me, anyone who chugs coffee during the sermon isn’t listening, and frankly doesn’t deserve to even be there. If your thirst mid-sermon is for caffeine and not for the word of God, then I don’t believe you’re even saved.

Likewise Muslims, a people renowned for favouring a medieval lifestyle, and who tell us that pencilling in and highlighting personal notes in our Bibles only proves its worthlessness and our irreverence, for (they ask) what true believer would so deface a book truly written by God? Islamic adherents touch their Korans as little or as gently as possible, and never write in them, nor put them on the floor, (neither indeed do Roman Catholics handle their Bibles much, for the same reason. Some Catholics I know who were invited to a Baptist Bible study were somewhat taken aback that we Baptists riffled back and forth through our Bible pages so fast, so familiarly and casually, without, it seemed to them, any reverence): Because they respect the holiness of the book, and are in awe of it, or at least, even if they are hypocrites, take the trouble to make a show of such. Of course, the Muslims and the Catholics are wrong and misguided: They miss the point that the holiness and power is in the words themselves, not in the paper and ink, and thus create an idol of the book, instead of simply reading it. But they have a point. It’s not a sin to write in your Bible’s margin notes, in fact it’s a good thing, but we Christians today would do well to remember that we don’t even deserve to have the Word of God. We deserve only Hell and everlasting silence from God’s mouth. Such a thought should affect how we value and treat our Bibles, the book which records and preserves the conversation our gracious and merciful creator has condescended to have with us.

Returning to the Armstrong book, I find some personal accord with its claim that Medieval Christianity took merit from a ‘holistic’ approach. Or in other words, as my old pastor used to say, “Every problem is a spiritual problem”. I live in a world which God made, which sits in a universe which God made, and my soul, which God made, lives in a body which God made. That means that while not everything is divine, everything is spiritual, the property of God, made from dust which God breathed Himself into, and currently living under a curse of God. “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now… waiting for the adoption”.  “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”. I’m tired of hearing nature documentaries on TV telling me that everything an animal does is about mating.

Just because atheist natural scientists have one-track minds, don’t assume that everything else in nature does too. Au contraire, I have no doubt that when a bird sings its heart out at sunrise and sunset, it is praising God and longing for the day of the redemption of the purchased possession and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Not that it has a soul or a brain, but because that is what God designed it to do. When a young plant strives up through the soil, and grows, and opens its petals to the sun, it’s doing it to praise God. Not that it has a soul or a brain, but because that is what God designed it to do, to show forth His praise and glory just as we humans should do after our wicked hearts are regenerated to faith.

The biological considerations of needing sunlight and attracting pollinating insects for reproduction are purely secondary, they are mechanisms of a cursed earth where the sun only shines half the time, in contrast with the heaven and earth to come where there’ll be “the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruits and yielding her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree will be for the healing of the nations, and there shall be no more curse, nor need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine, for the glory of God will lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”. The Medieval mindset would have agreed with and appreciated that, and found spiritual succour and strength in it, and bright hope for tomorrow. The modern world, and even most modern Christians with their fashionable denigration of scripture and therefore ignorance of it, and their compromises with atheistic science, do not.

UnMedieval thinking contributes significant detriment to the church, and impoverishment of spiritual lives. Where a wholly modern secular view pervades and dictates the Christian mindset, there is no vision, so the people perish, and bring dishonour to the name of Christ.

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