1902 Encyclopedia > Christianity > The Successes and Failures of Early Christianity

(Part 14)

The Successes and Failures of Early Christianity

To sum up, then, early Christianity, in working out the problem of its connection with Judaism and the Old Testament Scriptures, achieved success in four great directions, but at the same time made four great mistakes. It insisted rightly on the fact that in order to he a development of Judaism Christians did not require to become Jews first, but it erred in attempting to make Christianity the exact counterpart and rival of Judaism. It insisted rightly that the kingdom of heaven was a kingdom to be set up on earth and so all-embracing as to include the whole earth within its boundaries, but it erred when it conceived it to be a kingdom which in any way could be compared with the Roman empire, and when it began to translate spiritual power and possession into physical and temporal dominion. It insisted, rightly, that the church was the custodier of truth, but it erred when it made faith intellectual assent, when it gave to the Bible an entirely intellectual aspect, and laid the foundations for infallible creeds. It rightly expelled from its midst a false pietist prophecy, which in course of time would have undermined alike scriptural and ecclesiastical authority, but it erred when it conferred on a consecrated privileged caste the sole authority to interpret scripture and regulate ecclesiastical discipline. These attempts and failures in early Christianity have been so often repeated that they may be looked upon as true and false principles of development inherent in it.

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