Speaking from silence
December 28, 2005, 3:55 pm
Filed under: uncategorized

I got a chance to spend a little time with NT Wright this morning, reading The New Testament and the People of God. He writes about the difficulty we have in assessing the historical record of the very early church – primarily because there is very little for us to work with.

“Yet it was in the first generation or so that the crucial moves were made which determined the direction that Christianity would take from then on. This, obviously, is why so many have laboured so long to produce what the vagaries of time have denied us, namely, a history of the development of the Christian movement between Jesus and Justin Martyr, or between Paul and Polycarp. Much of this attempt, unlike the attempts to write the history of Judaism, is sheer if unacknowledged speculation.”

As I read this, it occurred to me that perhaps this lack of writing between AD 300 and 135 represents God leading his people by not speaking at all. If we had a wealth of literature in addition to the scriptural gospels and letters, and if it told us about the worship and lifestyle practices of the early church, it may very well have resulted in a rigid formation of spiritual practice around those practices. We are often so oriented toward tradition that we lose the meaning behind it. Perhaps God prevented us from doing this by giving us precious little information to work with.

I realize that this is wacky, unsupportable speculation. But silence does often make an eloquent teacher. Any thoughts or pushback?


1 Comment so far
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I think your observation is valid. These things are important but not primary and I think God is emphasizing that by this “silence.”

Comment by Bill Bean

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