Going back to the roots

When I visited Israel I noticed a very surprising thing.

Christians had built upon many of the holy sites until they bore  little resemblance to how the sites were in the beginning.

Sometimes a holy site would have more than one building erected on it. The place where Jesus died, for instance, now has on it five different churches, belonging to five different denominations.

The result is that it is very difficult indeed to let one’s imagination cut through the various accretions which have accumulated over the century in order to discover the actual truth.

And some people would say the same thing of many of our Church practices, doctrines, and even Biblical texts.

Perhaps this is where we need radicals to help us. Remember, a true radical doesn’t seek to destroy; he or she seeks to discover.

The meaning of the word ‘radical’ is: “someone who seeks to go back to the roots.”

And this was something Jesus was frequently doing. Jesus often reminded people how the traditions of men had built upon, and in some cases had quite overlaid, the original message from God.

It takes a brave person to question old traditions. No great religious reformer in history ever sought to build upon the teachings of the early Church; every great reformer has sought to discover what those teachings were, and endeavoured to go back to them.

No great religious reformer ever met with unqualified praise. On the contrary, every reformer encountered opposition from the religious establishment.

There are some people, of course, who elevate Christian tradition or Christian writings to such a degree that they believe there should be no place for questioning.

If a scholar points out that we may have misunderstood a practice of the early Church, or indicates where we have been incorrectly translating a passage in the Bible, they don’t want to know.

It may be natural sometimes to feel threatened if we are asked to reconsider a position we once held.

But some people give the impression that they are so conservative that had they been present at the dawn of creation, they would have preferred chaos, because chaos was there first.