A few years ago now, Sensei Erik, who is now a 6th degree black belt, and Sensei Jamie who is, I believe, a 5th degree black belt, returned from Renshi Tom Ward's Karate camp in Indiana. They said they had a great time and learned a lot from some of the higher level Senseis who were there.
Sensei Erik mentioned that a few years after he started studying Karate he heard someone say that some of the more powerful secrets of karate had been lost over time. Occasionaly he would ask a high level sensei something about this and would receive a less than satisfactory answer. He apparently assumed that the secrets had in fact been lost. But at this camp those same high ranking senseis began to share with him some of the "lost secrets" of karate…
and as Sensei Erik put it, " The secrets aren't lost." Sensei Erik said that they explained to him that they don't teach these techniques to you until they've seen you around for quite a while, and are pretty confident that you won't be hurting other people and getting yourself into trouble using them. He said he'd teach them to us in another 12 years or so.
Maybe there are some lost secrets of Christianity. Christianity used to do things but now it's devolved into a debate society/religious club/social service organization/cheap country club. The Bible describes a Christianity that actually exercised supernatural power in the world, that proved its superiority to other religions in a tangible way, but we don't see much of that kind of Christianity around today, at least not in the United States.
John 14:12 … He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
and then we see Jesus' followers doing just that kind of stuff in the Book of Acts. The Apostle Paul said:
1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
Most of what we see in Christianity today is just "enticing words" with no demonstrations of the Spirit or of power. Western Christians have grown quite adept at putting on a good show and marketing their product but their product doesn't do very much, at least not much that the Rotary Club doesn't also do and often better.
Somebody might respond, "But Greg it does the most important thing, it gets you into heaven when you die." To my ear this sounds a bit like the language a con man might use.
" Yeah well our product doesn't do much here… but after you die…, yeah,… that's right, after you die, (And are in no position to put the lie to what we say.), then it'll do something. Yeah that's right."
When Christianity was starting out it did things. In fact, it grew because it did things. Here's a fantastic quote about that from Ramsay MacMullen, an expert on Roman History (Here's his page at Yale University) in his book Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D. 100-400 he discusses how it was that Christianity essentially conquered the Roman empire. Guess what, it wasn't because Christians were such great debaters or had such nice religious clubs or such wonderful social service programs. It was because their religion did something.
Here's MacMullen on how Christianity spread and why people became Christians during this period of Roman history when there was no practical advantage to being a Christian and when becoming a Christian could sometimes end with you being served as the main course at the King of The Jungle Buffet. This is from an interview MacMullen did on Mars Hill Journal in 1998, (I've transcribed the relevant part. Once I find the tape I'll try and post the clip of this part of the interview. Found it! Download ramsay_macmullen.mp3 the audio transcribed below in mp3 format about 3mb.This is just a piece of a longer interview I am offering for purposes of commenting on it.)
MacMullen: When today you wonder how was it that Christianity made converts, brought people over to its side. The thing you think of first is the preaching of Saint Paul; which is well attested a marvelous story spreads over a very wide domain. And you suppose that that example would have dictated a long process along the same lines, but it aint so. It doesn't work out that way.
My guess is that after saint Paul's death and in a long period of persecution and hostility directed against the church open preaching was a very difficult thing. In contrast what worked best was one on one talk about the proofs of the truth of Christianity and those proofs would lie in exorcism above all. Keyed into the most common concern of people, ordinary people the man in the street the man on the farm when he thought about religion at all, that is, concern with good things in this life, and principally and above all good health.
On this level to solve this sort of problem Christianity advertised its own particular remarkable powers through the driving out of the demons that cause ill health. Driving out of the demonic influences that bring anything bad in life. And the tales of miracles which Christians pass around when you come to look for stories of conversions actual anecdotes and details make up the great bulk of the evidence.
Of preaching there is hardly a word hardly a word throughout all the centuries that I look at in this book and in fact earlier too in the second century on up to the eighth, ninth, tenth. Very very little mention of Christians talking to the entirely unpersuaded and trying to bring them over by reasoning. Instead what is talked about is the operation of wonderful things by holy people as a consequence of which those who hear about these wonders are brought over by self interest. They want the benevolent power the Christians promise. and as part of the bargain they enlist in the church. just as pagans would have enlisted in the service of any deity advertised to them and convincingly
Interviewer: Which ever deity had the best benefits package, in other words.
MacMullen: Yea that's right.
Christianity used to do things. Maybe there are some lost secrets of Christianity.
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