I grew up in a conservative, Southern church that taught us kids that our church was pure in its belief, unadulterated by any outside historical influence. It was a bold assertion.
At the heart of this assumption was the belief that what we believed and practiced had been transferred, unimpeded and unfiltered, from the early part of the first century straight to our ears in the mid 1900’s. Our teachers were well-intended but naïve.
In point of fact there had been a number of influences that subtly changed the way that the first century message of Jesus was understood not the least of which was Greek philosophy. The influence of Plato and Epicurus, for example, is still felt.
Plato was born about 429/428 BC and is known for his belief that spirit is good but matter is evil. Plato’s teachings became the foundation for a school of thought called Gnosticism, and there were some first century Gnostic teachers who said that Jesus could not possibly have lived in human form because matter is inherently evil. Continue reading Assumptions