Giving our ancestors a vote

During the 1970s Fr. Peter E. Gillquist a former Campus Crusade missionary established a network of house churches throughout the United States, aiming to restore a primitive form of Christianity, which was called the New Covenant Apostolic Order.

Researching the historical basis of the Christian faith, Gillquist and his colleagues found sources for this restoration in the writings of the early Church Fathers. This led the group to practice a more liturgical form of worship than in their previous evangelical background and eventually led them to embrace Eastern Orthodoxy.

Guillquist’s account of his spiritual journey to Eastern Orthodoxy can be read in his book Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith. I was able to get a copy of it at a second hand bookstore a couple of years ago and after reading it again I was struck by a statement that Guillquist posed near the end of his book where he stated:
Instead of asking if Christian forebears like Anselm, Augustine, Athanasius and Chrysostom were in our church, we began to ask if we were in theirs!1
Indeed we born again Christians often fail to ask if our faith ---or better yet our understanding of the Christian faith not only squares of with Scripture but also with church history!

This is perhaps one of the most difficult things that we Evangelicals have to deal with as far as contending for God’s will as testified in Scriptures while at the same time is consistent with earlier affirmations of the Church Fathers not only with that of the Protestant Reformers whom we at times elevate to a level that renders them at times in a way infallible of scrutiny where in fact those that they opposed also had valid reasons to repudiate them.

Perhaps as the year starts we Bible Christians should also exert effort in learning Church history that goes beyond the picture of the church in Acts while at the same to also goes back beyond that of the Protestant Reformation, because between Acts and Luther there is more than a thousand years of Christianity that we cannot do away with especially if we believe that God is present among the people who are gathered in His name –to paraphrase the words of the late G. K. Chesterton perhaps its time for us again to start: giving our ancestors a vote.

1 Guillquist, Peter. Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith (Concilliar Press 1992). P.185

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