As I was doing a web search for sites related to the history of Christianity I came across http://www.christianitypath.com/. The stated purpose of that site is to be “the home for Christian communities all around the world to meet, interact, spread their word and mutually enrich each other.” The site seems to be still in development, but I found it interesting. It contains a good introduction to who Jesus is.
However, the name of this site started me thinking about “the path of Christianity”. It seems to me that this phrase can refer to two kinds of paths, or maybe to two segments of the same path. The first is the main topic of this blog — the path that Christianity and the Church have followed to bring us from the very first disciples of Jesus Christ through the centuries and up to the various manifestations of Christian worship and discipleship today. Of course, this is not really a single path. It is a multitude of paths that have branched and collided and twisted and turned in many different ways.
I think, though, it would be useful for each of us individually to look back at “our path” — the path that has brought us to our current personal faith. An awareness of our personal Christian roots may shed new light on the sources — and ultimately the validity — of our individual beliefs and practices. What you believe about the Trinity, about Bible prophecy, about “free will” and many other topics can be traced back through your current church and pastor, and then back through the historical denominations and reformations and movements and branches in the path until you can see where those beliefs originated. In most cases, such an examination will reveal that somewhere along the line some authoritative Christian leader said that this is what the Bible really says. Of course, other authoritative Christian leaders may have proclaimed that the Bible says something quite different. This is why the Path of Christianity has had so many branch points.
My point is that we stand on shaky ground when we insist that our personal package of beliefs and practices, resulting from the multi-branched path of Christianity leading to our particular church/denomination, is the “right” one. This is especially true if we have not evaluated any of the other paths to determine why ours is different. This brings me to a second way to think about The Path of Christianity. We can view it as our own, individual path. We can look back and see who or what has influenced our spiritual life up until now. We can reevaluate some of those influences, and consider whether we are at a point in our path where we should put renewed emphasis on some principles, and less on others. And we can look forward to see if any course corrections on our current path are in order.
Ultimately, our path is our own. It is between us and our Maker. We can’t let it be determined by some denomination or some powerful person in history, or even our own families. The Path of Christianity is not only one of the most significant threads through all of human history. Our own Path of Christianity is also the final determinant of our personal spiritual well being.
I wish you the richest of blessings as you walk your path.