Frontier Christianity: What is the value of knowing what has gone on before you?

From the Circuit Riders to old-fashioned tent meetings the Great Frontier has shaped American Christianity. Homesteading brought a certain kind of independent people to the west where rules were being re-written. Pioneering meant faith would also be newly independent from European governance. So, today we have hundreds of Baptist denominations, with many independent churches of all stripes. In fact, the term “Baptist” was simply to differentiate those that immersed adults exclusively from everyone else in early America.

Our attitudes of revolution allowed us to run from European-birthed hierarchy and embrace new territory. Even in modern times, churches like the Anglicans here in America are severing ties to Europe and aligning to African leadership. Yes, theological as well as cultural differences caused some of these rifts. In fact, many left Europe as spiritual refugees, escaping persecution. This is part of our American story.

With all of this change in recent times, does our lack of connection to our church history and spiritual descendants make us free or does it potentially impoverish us? Or, does it do both? This is especially important for those of us who are from the 50-60 year-old Evangelical brand. We need to be self-aware of our Christian roots in order to see where it will lead us next, no matter how old or new our roots or branches are.

It is a formidable task to create one lasting institutions to fill the gap of all Christian history. One question is this: could it be that God’s intention is not for one group that the Spirit breathed through during one period of time become the standard for all of time? The Spirit is like the wind so the wind moves on while we create an edifice of sentimentality that keeps us in the past sometimes rather than in the present. Even worse, we are not even prepared for a future.

What is the value of knowing our spiritual roots? Does this free us or inhibit us?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

25 comments

  1. It does free us to have the knowledge of the past. those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It is also good to know what has impacted our modern church in such persuits as  independance an isolationism that became established during the frontier and old west settlment days. It has effected our society as freedom and the persute of privacy. It  has lead to isolation in our society and evaded the very core of the church. this is direct oposition to pauls teaching in Acts 2. these are valid point sto consider when you wonder why the church has difficulty in establishing relationships with the lost who value there privacy above all else. It is not good for man to be alone yet that is the very effort of our society. look at people isolating with false social fromats like facebook twitter and many others that have no physical interaction. look at people isolating with there Iphone, Ipod etc. etc. avoiding the deeper relationships that can only be built through human physical contatc….nothing ne under the sun

  2. It does free us to have the knowledge of the past. those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It is also good to know what has impacted our modern church in such persuits as  independance an isolationism that became established during the frontier and old west settlment days. It has effected our society as freedom and the persute of privacy. It  has lead to isolation in our society and evaded the very core of the church. this is direct oposition to pauls teaching in Acts 2. these are valid point sto consider when you wonder why the church has difficulty in establishing relationships with the lost who value there privacy above all else. It is not good for man to be alone yet that is the very effort of our society. look at people isolating with false social fromats like facebook twitter and many others that have no physical interaction. look at people isolating with there Iphone, Ipod etc. etc. avoiding the deeper relationships that can only be built through human physical contatc….nothing ne under the sun

  3. It does free us to have the knowledge of the past. those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It is also good to know what has impacted our modern church in such persuits as  independance an isolationism that became established during the frontier and old west settlment days. It has effected our society as freedom and the persute of privacy. It  has lead to isolation in our society and evaded the very core of the church. this is direct oposition to pauls teaching in Acts 2. these are valid point sto consider when you wonder why the church has difficulty in establishing relationships with the lost who value there privacy above all else. It is not good for man to be alone yet that is the very effort of our society. look at people isolating with false social fromats like facebook twitter and many others that have no physical interaction. look at people isolating with there Iphone, Ipod etc. etc. avoiding the deeper relationships that can only be built through human physical contatc….nothing ne under the sun

  4. It does free us to have the knowledge of the past. those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It is also good to know what has impacted our modern church in such persuits as  independance an isolationism that became established during the frontier and old west settlment days. It has effected our society as freedom and the persute of privacy. It  has lead to isolation in our society and evaded the very core of the church. this is direct oposition to pauls teaching in Acts 2. these are valid point sto consider when you wonder why the church has difficulty in establishing relationships with the lost who value there privacy above all else. It is not good for man to be alone yet that is the very effort of our society. look at people isolating with false social fromats like facebook twitter and many others that have no physical interaction. look at people isolating with there Iphone, Ipod etc. etc. avoiding the deeper relationships that can only be built through human physical contatc….nothing ne under the sun

  5. It does free us to have the knowledge of the past. those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It is also good to know what has impacted our modern church in such persuits as  independance an isolationism that became established during the frontier and old west settlment days. It has effected our society as freedom and the persute of privacy. It  has lead to isolation in our society and evaded the very core of the church. this is direct oposition to pauls teaching in Acts 2. these are valid point sto consider when you wonder why the church has difficulty in establishing relationships with the lost who value there privacy above all else. It is not good for man to be alone yet that is the very effort of our society. look at people isolating with false social fromats like facebook twitter and many others that have no physical interaction. look at people isolating with there Iphone, Ipod etc. etc. avoiding the deeper relationships that can only be built through human physical contatc….nothing ne under the sun

  6. I dont think we should ever forget our history. People gave their lives for the gospel, so i could hear it. Shame on me for not even caring about their story, about their sacrifice

  7. I dont think we should ever forget our history. People gave their lives for the gospel, so i could hear it. Shame on me for not even caring about their story, about their sacrifice

  8. I dont think we should ever forget our history. People gave their lives for the gospel, so i could hear it. Shame on me for not even caring about their story, about their sacrifice

  9. I dont think we should ever forget our history. People gave their lives for the gospel, so i could hear it. Shame on me for not even caring about their story, about their sacrifice

  10. I dont think we should ever forget our history. People gave their lives for the gospel, so i could hear it. Shame on me for not even caring about their story, about their sacrifice

  11. Yes:  God’s intention is not for one group that the Spirit breathedthrough during one period of time to become the standard for all of time.

    God’s Word is the standard. Groups are not.

    So much we do is driven by culture and fear. How can one be sure that the one group at one time was right?  We, in the name of Christ, not so long ago, burned our brothers and sisters alive over disagreement in the form and function of worship.

    I constantly remind myself and others that Christianity and Judaism are not “Western”. But we have westernized them. Christianity and Judaism are pre modern, but we have modernized them, We are in the process of post modernizing them. 

    Culture and its influence change. God’s Word is constant. Worship may change to meet the needs of developing culture (I now read the NIV on my Droid), but the truth never changes. I like the Common Lectionary and Hymns sung to block chords on a piano. You like book studies and modern courses accompanied by a three piece band. So!? We are duly warned about getting into empty touch not, taste not, handle not arguments.

     It is the truth that sets us free. The Spirit of God points us to truth. Where the Spirit of God is there is liberty.  We are free to worship God on whatever mountain we please, but God wants to be worshiped in Spirit and Truth.

    By this shall the world know that you are my disciples by your love (ability to accept and care) for one another. (Even if the others do not dress, sing, pray, look like you do,) Beloved, let us love one another; For God is love, He that loves not does not know God. So beloved, let us love one another.  That is the truth.

    I know you think I sing funny, but do you love me?

    1. Thanks Rob, our recent history is indeed bloodied about worship forms. I cannot say that you sing funny, since I have never heard you sing. 😉

      1. Trust me on this. I sing funny.

  12. Yes:  God’s intention is not for one group that the Spirit breathedthrough during one period of time to become the standard for all of time.
    God’s Word is the standard. Groups are not.
    So much we do is driven by culture and fear. How can one be sure that the one group at one time was right?  We, in the name of Christ, not so long ago, burned our brothers and sisters alive over disagreement in the form and function of worship.
    I constantly remind myself and others that Christianity and Judaism are not “Western”. But we have westernized them. Christianity and Judaism are pre modern, but we have modernized them, We are in the process of post modernizing them. 
    Culture and its influence change. God’s Word is constant. Worship may change to meet the needs of developing culture (I now read the NIV on my Droid), but the truth never changes. I like the Common Lectionary and Hymns sung to block chords on a piano. You like book studies and modern courses accompanied by a three piece band. So!? We are duly warned about getting into empty touch not, taste not, handle not arguments.
     It is the truth that sets us free. The Spirit of God points us to truth. Where the Spirit of God is there is liberty.  We are free to worship God on whatever mountain we please, but God wants to be worshiped in Spirit and Truth.
    By this shall the world know that you are my disciples by your love (ability to accept and care) for one another. (Even if the others do not dress, sing, pray, look like you do,) Beloved, let us love one another; For God is love, He that loves not does not know God. So beloved, let us love one another.  That is the truth.
    I know you think I sing funny, but do you love me?

    1. Thanks Rob, our recent history is indeed bloodied about worship forms. I cannot say that you sing funny, since I have never heard you sing. 😉

      1. Trust me on this. I sing funny.

  13. Yes:  God’s intention is not for one group that the Spirit breathedthrough during one period of time to become the standard for all of time.

    God’s Word is the standard. Groups are not.

    So much we do is driven by culture and fear. How can one be sure that the one group at one time was right?  We, in the name of Christ, not so long ago, burned our brothers and sisters alive over disagreement in the form and function of worship.

    I constantly remind myself and others that Christianity and Judaism are not “Western”. But we have westernized them. Christianity and Judaism are pre modern, but we have modernized them, We are in the process of post modernizing them. 

    Culture and its influence change. God’s Word is constant. Worship may change to meet the needs of developing culture (I now read the NIV on my Droid), but the truth never changes. I like the Common Lectionary and Hymns sung to block chords on a piano. You like book studies and modern courses accompanied by a three piece band. So!? We are duly warned about getting into empty touch not, taste not, handle not arguments.

     It is the truth that sets us free. The Spirit of God points us to truth. Where the Spirit of God is there is liberty.  We are free to worship God on whatever mountain we please, but God wants to be worshiped in Spirit and Truth.

    By this shall the world know that you are my disciples by your love (ability to accept and care) for one another. (Even if the others do not dress, sing, pray, look like you do,) Beloved, let us love one another; For God is love, He that loves not does not know God. So beloved, let us love one another.  That is the truth.

    I know you think I sing funny, but do you love me?

    1. Thanks Rob, our recent history is indeed bloodied about worship forms. I cannot say that you sing funny, since I have never heard you sing. 😉

      1. Trust me on this. I sing funny.

  14. Yes:  God’s intention is not for one group that the Spirit breathedthrough during one period of time to become the standard for all of time.

    God’s Word is the standard. Groups are not.

    So much we do is driven by culture and fear. How can one be sure that the one group at one time was right?  We, in the name of Christ, not so long ago, burned our brothers and sisters alive over disagreement in the form and function of worship.

    I constantly remind myself and others that Christianity and Judaism are not “Western”. But we have westernized them. Christianity and Judaism are pre modern, but we have modernized them, We are in the process of post modernizing them. 

    Culture and its influence change. God’s Word is constant. Worship may change to meet the needs of developing culture (I now read the NIV on my Droid), but the truth never changes. I like the Common Lectionary and Hymns sung to block chords on a piano. You like book studies and modern courses accompanied by a three piece band. So!? We are duly warned about getting into empty touch not, taste not, handle not arguments.

     It is the truth that sets us free. The Spirit of God points us to truth. Where the Spirit of God is there is liberty.  We are free to worship God on whatever mountain we please, but God wants to be worshiped in Spirit and Truth.

    By this shall the world know that you are my disciples by your love (ability to accept and care) for one another. (Even if the others do not dress, sing, pray, look like you do,) Beloved, let us love one another; For God is love, He that loves not does not know God. So beloved, let us love one another.  That is the truth.

    I know you think I sing funny, but do you love me?

    1. Thanks Rob, our recent history is indeed bloodied about worship forms. I cannot say that you sing funny, since I have never heard you sing. 😉

      1. Trust me on this. I sing funny.

  15. Yes:  God’s intention is not for one group that the Spirit breathedthrough during one period of time to become the standard for all of time.

    God’s Word is the standard. Groups are not.

    So much we do is driven by culture and fear. How can one be sure that the one group at one time was right?  We, in the name of Christ, not so long ago, burned our brothers and sisters alive over disagreement in the form and function of worship.

    I constantly remind myself and others that Christianity and Judaism are not “Western”. But we have westernized them. Christianity and Judaism are pre modern, but we have modernized them, We are in the process of post modernizing them. 

    Culture and its influence change. God’s Word is constant. Worship may change to meet the needs of developing culture (I now read the NIV on my Droid), but the truth never changes. I like the Common Lectionary and Hymns sung to block chords on a piano. You like book studies and modern courses accompanied by a three piece band. So!? We are duly warned about getting into empty touch not, taste not, handle not arguments.

     It is the truth that sets us free. The Spirit of God points us to truth. Where the Spirit of God is there is liberty.  We are free to worship God on whatever mountain we please, but God wants to be worshiped in Spirit and Truth.

    By this shall the world know that you are my disciples by your love (ability to accept and care) for one another. (Even if the others do not dress, sing, pray, look like you do,) Beloved, let us love one another; For God is love, He that loves not does not know God. So beloved, let us love one another.  That is the truth.

    I know you think I sing funny, but do you love me?

    1. Thanks Rob, our recent history is indeed bloodied about worship forms. I cannot say that you sing funny, since I have never heard you sing. 😉

      1. Trust me on this. I sing funny.

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