It has been said that history is the laboratory of the social sciences. Doctrines are not simply mental abstractions. They determine the way we understand reality and shape the way we live. Therefore, a look at church history is very helpful if we desire to understand what effect a doctrine can have in practice.

Although the Holy Scriptures do not change, the way Christians understand and practice their faith has changed significantly over time. During the first 3 centuries of the Christian era, we notice the rise of powerful regional bishops who exerted authority over many local congregations. Once Roman emperor Constantine turned Christianity into a state religion, back in AD 313, Christianity experienced a mayor shift: it rapidly became a popular, rich, powerful and political. Dependence on God and spiritual liberty was rapidly replaced by structures and central control. There is evidence of growing intolerance and bitter insistence on uniformity on non-essential matters.

In the middle ages, the doctrines held by Christians led them to torture and kill believers and unbelievers alike. We can read of Catholics and Protestants violently defending their version of Christianity. Were all these wicked men? Surely some were. But many were faithful believers putting into practice their doctrines. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the expansion of the British Empire, it was definitely a vehicle that promoted a formal, cultured, organized “Victorian” version of Christianity around the globe. The way you and I understand and live our Christian faith today, is significantly influenced by those who lived it before us. Some understanding of Church history will help us separate true Biblical Christianity form traditions and cultural adaptations.

A number of items in this section deal with developments among a world wide Christian community called “The Brethren Movement,” “Christian Brethren” or “Plymouth Brethren.” This is my spiritual heritage. Although it is not a very large group of believers, the Brethren have exerted a significant influence on world wide Christianity – mainly through its numerous writers and because many who have left the movement influence the Christian communities they join. To be more precise, the e-Books in this section deal with some painful situations recently lived within a particular world wide network of Christian assemblies of exclusive inclination. I am convinced that some of the concerns and issues addressed will benefit a wider readership.