We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

I began my study of the history of Christianity and the Church because I knew there was a serious gap in my understanding of how we got from the teachings of Jesus to the Christian doctrines and practices of today.  I know there are things I don’t know.  But I can’t know just what it is that I don’t know until I start to ask questions and conduct research.  This is a basic dilemma of life:  We don’t know what we don’t know.

This point was brought home to me last week.  I had occasion to be on the campus of a large, new Greek Orthodox church.  There were no services in progress, but I could see the beautiful building and look through the windows of the worship center to see the elaborate statuary, paintings and icons that are integral to Orthodox worship.  I realized that I know almost nothing about the Orthodox Church.  So I thought I would research that a bit, and then report here in a blog post.

The first thing I learned is that the Eastern Orthodox Church has a rich and complex history that goes all the way back to the apostles.  So now I know of another whole segment of Christian history that I don’t know.  That research is going to take considerable time, and I will strive to provide more information on this topic in a future post.

I am sure that as I continue to read and study and ask questions I will find many more areas of Christian history where I need to expand my understanding.  This is exciting!  There is so much that has been dysfunctional and disappointing in the Church over the years, but there is also much that is inspirational and uplifting as we learn how historical believers have lived out their faith in so many diverse regions, cultures and times.

I pledge to continue to share my findings with all of you.  And I hope that many of you will begin your own personal searches into the roots of today’s Christianity.

4 comments on “We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

  1. rebelsprite says:

    There is a book I would recommend, if you haven’t already read it: “Becoming Orthodox” by Peter Gillquist. It’s about a group of Christians who have decided to find out more about the ancient church so that they can become it. I unexpectedly met one of the members of that group a few months ago – very interesting stories!

  2. Joey says:

    When I was a child, I remember visiting the local Greek Orthodox church on a school field trip; but I don’t remember learning much–if anything–about the beliefs taught there. (I did, however, learn that I loved baklava when we visited the local Greek bakery after leaving the church!)

    The oldest Greek Orthodox congregation in the western hemisphere is in New Orleans–Holy Trinity. Each May, Holy Trinity hosts a weekend-long Greek festival full of food, wine, crafts, and culture. One of the highlights of Greek Fest is the cathedral tour. Seeing all of the iconography and hearing the Greek chants is fascinating, but what’s more interesting is hearing the Dean explain some of the beliefs of Greek Orthodoxy–to a largely Catholic audience.

    • I would love to visit the Holy Trinity cathedral in NOLA sometime … especially at the Greek Fest! I have been reading the testimonies of people who have found that the iconography really helps them to focus on the meaning of their faith. I know that such images are often viewed with suspicion by mainstream Protestants, who often believe that they are “worshipped”. But I think they can have real value … especially if accompanied by appropriate teaching on their proper role in our spiritual lives.

      • Joey says:

        The Dean made mention of the fact that the icons are venerated. In the strictest sense, veneration is not worship; it is honor and reverence. I am sure there are adherents to the Orthodox tradition that confuse worship and veneration, but I agree that icons can be useful. I visited a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia last year and was transported in my mind to another time. It was beautiful and mysterious and otherworldly–sort of like…God.

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