Author: Thomas O'Loughlin
Christians today are continually reminded of their origins through interaction with New Testament scripture; and on the basis of these interactions, are encouraged to be disciples and to imitate the early churches which are, often subconsciously, presented as ideal models of discipleship. However, this reading and recollection is often painfully shallow, fails to recognize the nature of the texts read, takes almost no account of the advances in our understanding of the early churches, and produces a 'chocolate box' picture of early Christianity that does not help Christians ask the awkward questions about discipleship and belief today that need to be addressed. Mixing canonical and non-canonical texts to illustrate the complexity of what we know, this book explores five texts and identifies their problems and tensions: how the first Christians responded to the fact they began as a sect within Judaism but found themselves apart, their reaction to the larger society within which they felt somewhat alien, and how they coped with the internal tensions from the demand of the gospel. By learning more about the scripture we interact with and the problems of being a disciple in the early church, this book seeks to help the reader see and survive the problems of discipleship in our own time and society.