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December 06, 2011

Update on My Health and

Thank you for all your prayers. This will update you on my health and on changes coming to the Christian History for Everyman web site.

My bone marrow/stem cell transplant has been postponed until January. Those of you who got last month's newsletter know what that means. If you didn't, you can read about bone marrow transplants at

Less than a week after I sent the last newsletter, I contracted a fever from a bacterial infection, no real surprise due to having no immune system from the chemotherapy. It took 48 hours for the fever to break, and my blood counts were perilously low at the time. (I had less than half the blood that you have.) Between the fever and the low oxygen from low red blood cells, I had a minor heart attack on Nov. 6.

It is this sort of thing that makes my treatment so dangerous, but a lot of people were praying for me. I've been told by the cardiologists that it appears that the heart attack did no damage to my heart and that I have no blockages in the arteries of my heart.

Nonetheless, my transplant was postponed so they could check my heart again in December. That will happen in next week, and they will plan on the stem cell transplant at the start of January.

My blood counts are back up to safer levels, even though they are not normal. As a result, December is a bit of a vacation for me as I wait for my transplant.

I've been trying to make good use of the time by renovating Christian History for Everyman.

Changes to

The most significant change is that I'm focusing on the areas in which I have the most expertise, which are also the areas I consider the most important. These would be:

  • A.D. 100 - 325, between the apostles and the Council of Nicea
  • The Council of Nicea and the changes associated with it
  • The Protestant Reformation

There are important events and people from medieval Christianity, and I'm sure all of you can name very significant people since the Reformation. I want to focus, however, on the events that shaped Christianity as we know it today, and on the parts of history that give us the best picture of Christianity as it was delivered to the church by the apostles.

The Apostles in Early Christianity

Most Christians do not understand the importance of the apostles to early Christianity. They were considered the ones to whom Jesus had delivered the faith, and it was the job of the church to preserve that faith unchanged. The thought that there was ongoing revelation or that the church would eventually improve upon the apostles would have horrified the early Christians.

We have learned from none other the plan of our salvation than from those from whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they once proclaimed in public and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed perfect knowledge, as some dare venture to say, boasting themselves to be improvers of the apostles. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies III:1:1, c. A.D. 185)

The very reason that we have the Scriptures is because the early Christians took every effort to collect and preserve anything the apostles had written. Today, we tend to think that some council decided what books should be in the New Testament by whether they "felt" inspired and whether they agreed with church doctrine. No, not at all. To the early churches, anything from the apostles was inspired. They were simply obeying what the apostle Paul had commanded:

Therefore, brothers, stand fast and hold to the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by letter. (2 Thess. 2:15)

If anyone considers himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write to you are the commandments of Christ. (1 Cor. 14:37)

A look at the beliefs and practices found in the earliest writings of the church can tell us something about the faith as it was delivered by the apostles. It can help us understand what the apostles really meant by what they wrote, and it can give us insight into things that they might have said verbally to those churches.

Did the Early Churches Fall Away?

A lot of people believe that the churches fell away quickly after the time of the apostles, but no one familiar with early church history could possibly believe that. There are several reasons for this.

  • The problems described in the Bible in such letters as 1 Corinthians, 1 John, and Revelation 2 and 3 are addressed and the repentance of the churches described in the early writings of the churches.
  • Jesus said to judge by fruit, and the fruit of the early churches was remarkable. They were brave in persecution, holy in life, and effective in evangelism.
  • A look at modern churches will tell you that denominations may change drastically over three or four hundred years, but they don't change their doctrines much over the course of 50 years or a century.

Should Christians Study Early Church History?

I'll stop there. While I don't think every Christian needs to be familiar with early church history, I do think that every church needs to be. Someone ought to know something about church history. Here's some reasons why:

  • We are very divided today, and books like The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience document the problem of a lack of holiness in the churches as well. We need all the help we can get!
  • We have a lot of difficult Bible questions. I once saw a "systematic theology," a book that carefully analyzes various theological doctrines, and at the end of one of its chapters it listed around 50 verses that it admitted were difficult verses that seemed to disagree with the book's conclusions. And that was on the very important subject of salvation! We need all the help we can get!
  • The Roman Catholic Church (and the Eastern Orthodox Churches as well) claim that they are holding to the only legitimate tradition and that the only route to unity is through their organization. Early Christian history makes it clear that it is not organization, but holiness, love, unity and agreement with "the faith" of the apostles that marks a true church. (For more on this see Is the Roman Catholic Church the One True Church?)

Conclusion and Links

I hope you enjoy the new focus of Christian History for Everyman and that you find the new Navbar menu more streamlined. During this month, I hope to revamp most of the menu pages to make your navigation around the site simpler and clearer.

Finally, if you want to keep up with my journey through chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation for the acute leukemia I've been diagnosed with, see

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