NOT LONG AFTER I LEFT the institutional church to begin gath- ering with Christians in New Testament fashion, I sought to understand how the Christian church ended up in its pres- ent state. For years I tried to get my hands on a documented book that traced the origin of every nonbiblical practice we Christians observe every week.’
I searched scores of bibliographies and card catalogs. I also contacted a raft of historians and scholars, asking if they knew of such a work. My quest yielded one consistent answer: No such book had ever been penned. So in a moment of insanity, I decided to put my hand to the plow.
I will admit that I wish someone else had taken on this overwhelming project—someone like a childless professor without a day job! It would have saved me an incalculable number of painstaking hours and a great deal of frustration. Nevertheless, now that the work is complete, I am glad I had the privilege of breaking new ground in this all-too- neglected area.
Some may wonder why I spent so much time and energy documenting the origin of our contemporary church prac- tices. It’s rather simple. Understanding the genesis of our church traditions can very well change the course of church history. As philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once put it, “Life is lived forwards but understood backwards.” Without under- standing the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to a flawed future. It is for this reason that I set out to make the first stab at this Himalayan project.
My hope in publishing this work is as simple as it is som- ber: that the Lord would use it as a tool to bring His church back to her biblical roots.
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