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HISTORY of Christian Theology
We invite you to join us as we embark on a journey through history to retrace humanity’s search for meaning and discover where this pursuit has led us today. Perhaps during this expedition, we may each discover something new about ourselves and our fellow travelers on this quest.

As your guide you should realize that I am a believer, but I am not so arrogant as to think that I know all of the answers. This is an explorative expedition after all. We can all learn something from each other, so I encourage you to actively participate and share your ideas and questions, regardless of your perspective or your status as a skeptic or believer. I encourage this active dialog not because I believe all ideas and beliefs have equal value–I believe society will progress more from following Mother Theresa than Dan Jones in Ghana–but because I realize that different viewpoints allow us to see things from new perspectives adding increased depth and meaning to our own beliefs and ideas. It also allows us to see vistas beyond those within our own limited scope of vision. I encourage you to engage in our conversation so that we can benefit from your unique perspective and through this process increase our communal vision and understanding.

As we prepare to launch our expedition to explore how humanity has sought meaning throughout the ages and Christian theology’s role in that quest, we will first quickly pursue a broad overview of the world’s religious and philosophical landscape. We will not delve into the nooks and crannies of every concept entertained by the human race in its search for meaning–indeed, such an endeavor would take many lifetimes–instead, we will explore the religious concepts that have endured the test of time and continue to inspire millions of devoted followers to this day and the major ideas that informed society and directed its course through history. We will focus primarily on the history of Christian theology as it is the foundation of Western society, and the whole world has been adopting Western culture during the modern era.

We will begin our venture by taking stock of society’s current understanding of the origin of religion, reoccurring themes in religion, the role of fear in religion, and how Christians determine what is true.

We will then briefly examine polytheism, particularly as expressed in Hinduism, the oldest recorded world religion, and its concept that reality is actually an illusion that has entrapped our spiritual identity in a cyclical existence of birth, death and rebirth governed by the law of karma until we discover our unity with the divine and escape this prison of mortal existence. We will move on to see how Buddhism evolved from this Hindu foundation and introduced a concept of Nirvana.

Next, we will witness the birth of monotheism with the advent of Judaism and its concept of God being bound by a covenant to his people as they live the moral law that God established.

We will examine how the reason and ethics of classic Greek philosophy are the foundation of Western thought and attitudes that continue to influence our culture to this day.

We will watch Christianity grow from an obscure persecuted Jewish sect to become the force that dominated all aspects of life in the Western world with Christianity’s emphasis on sin and redemption through the atonement of Jesus, and how Jesus’ life and teachings continue to inspire his followers in spite of great divisions.

We will see Islam explode on the scene with its clear and straightforward theology that God is great but humans have a propensity to forget, so God has created a comprehensive law that governs all aspects of existence to remind us of his greatness.

We will examine the revolution in thought and behavior that came with the Protestant Reformation and how it set the stage for our modern era.

We will follow the course of modern philosophy from the birth of Modernity through the Enlightenment to today with its increasing secularism generating an appetite for increased fundamentalism and challenges for respectful co-existence in an increasingly pluralistic society.

We will then examine modern religions such as Pentecostalism, the Evangelical movement and Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), a rapidly growing newcomer on the religious landscape that has a unique view that we all lived in a pre-mortal existence as spiritual children of loving heavenly parents who created this physical world to help us learn and grow so that we can develop to become like God.

Regardless of whether one is religious or is a skeptic, this journey will help the reader to become more aware of the human capacity for spiritual transcendence, gain a broader world perspective in an increasingly pluralistic society, enhance the reader’s understanding of our Western culture and assist the reader to formulate and develop his or her own philosophy of life.

Our era has been referred to as the Information Age, but I believe we have rushed past the quest for information in our hasty insatiable pursuit of entertainment. Our current era should more appropriately be referred to as the Entertainment Age. People generally seek titillating tidbits of information to arouse their emotions more than they pursue knowledge to increase their understanding. Bloggers who seek readers typically need to write in such a way that their audience can quickly consume the writer’s morsel while his or her readers simultaneously manages multiple electronic devices spewing out entertainment disguised as information. Consumers sacrifice wisdom and understanding on the altar of provocative news, thrills and shallow entertainment, yet they remain hungry for something to fill their empty lives as they frantically thrash about in their pursuit of appeasing the god of pleasure who is never satisfied.

In our race for information we have lost our ability to take time to think and reason, to remember what was important yesterday and connect the dots to see the consequences of decisions and actions. We value speed over depth and accuracy. We prefer the thrills of riding the rapids over shallow waters more than the substance found in deep water, so once the ride is over, we desperately seek the next ride in order to distract us from our hunger pains that annoy us. Historians may likely diagnose our culture as being infected with the disease of communal attention deficit disorder which is the cause of many if not most of our problems.

Hopefully, this site and particularly this Commentary section will provide you with a respite from the noise and clutter of a turbulent world, a place where you can rest and ponder the thoughts and ideas that have inspired mankind for many millennia. This site is not designed to be polemic. We are less interested in trying to convince others of the truth of some idea than we are of provoking individuals to think for themselves. However, I will share some of my personal beliefs in the Preliminary Overview section in order to help the reader understand my perspective when we discuss events and ideas in subsequent sections.

Hopefully, we each will inspire one another in our individual quest for meaning. We invite you so share your observations, insights and knowledge, for from the exchange of ideas we increase our understanding. Please share this site with others so that we can benefit from their unique point of view as well.

Are you ready to begin? We will launch our expedition by exploring the human quest for meaning and the origins of religion in our first substantive post in this Commentary section of this website. We hope you will join us.

Grant J. Hallstrom
Founder & Editor of ClearStone Publishing

 

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The Human Quest for Meaning

 

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