Heads up on History



I majored in History.  History, it has been said,  is His Story.  Well, not really.  This world has never treated Jesus well,  and that's history.   The church has not done much better.  Where Christ is not the head, church history leaves a legacy of Roundheads, Fatheads, Pinheads, and Hotheads.  Ouch! I know this sounds harsh, but hold on.

The Roundheads are well meaning but, self-righteous radicals who cut off king's heads.  Charles the First went to the chopping block in  England's civil war that was basically a church squabble.  Who would be head of the church?  Henry the VIII needing to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon (his late brother's wife) in order to marry Ann Boleyn, the younger sister of his mistress (he had two well known mistresses who frequented his court).  Henry became the author  of the Anglican church and he did not quit until he was the head.  By the 1620's the church in England was a tug of war between the Anglicans (Episcopacy) and the Covenanters  (Presbytery), the Independents (Puritans)  and the Catholic sympathizers (wife of Charles).  It was a mess.  The Roundheads cut off the head of the monarchy.  Charles Stewart was decapitated.  What happened next in England  depends on what books you read.  One thing is without a doubt, it became a bloody mess.  Whole cities were sacked and the "enemy" was burned alive in their churches.  Every generation has its Roundheads: self-righteous radicals. 

Fatheads are people who know everything.  Pinheads are people who know nothing,  and Hotheads are the flaming fanatics.     You probably won't find Fatheads listed in the index at the back of your history book, but you have met them.  They are smarter than everyone else, or at least smarter than you and me.  Call them Gnostics if you like, but they have the "inside scoop."  They ciphered the Rosetta Stone of Systematic Theology.  They are the elite.   They are annoying. 

Next there are the Pinheads.  Pinheads are silly, sentimental or superstitious.  They always have their latest  appearance of Mary (spotted under a highway overpass) or the latest miracle (which no man can authenticate).  Some take up serpents or poisonous "issues" to prove their faith or to prove a point. 

Last there are the Hotheads.  The world knows them as "Hell Fire and Brimstone" preachers.  It is not the validity of Hell or of Heaven for that matter that sets these apart, for the Bible teaches both.  It is that these are so "Angry. "  There is a lot of screaming and pulpit banging that accompanies this franchise.  In order for them to work- up the steam necessary to move the machinery of their movements or the multitudes (to "give" or to "go") they must have an enemy to personify as the devil.  In one generation it is the "Commie," in another it is the  "Integrationist," and  in another it could be "whatever."  Fill in the blank.  Hitler had the Jew to hate and galvanize Germany.  While Hitler was no Christian, he awarded the Iron Cross and is the perfect example of a Hothead. 

Whenever Christ is not the Head we are in danger of falling into one of these sorry substitutes.  We all have a little of each of these in our sinful heart.  We have the Pharisee as well as the Sadducee in what we call the flesh.  With them, at times I have been something of a Roundhead myself, to say nothing of also being on occasion a Fathead, Pinhead and Hothead if the truth be told.  The thing about history is it's being written as we speak.  Tomorrow waits for us.  What we do next will be history.   We can begin tomorrow with a Bowed-head remembering that Christ-likeness and what the world calls Christianity are not always the same thing.  It is better to be a  martyr than to make one.    It is better to be crucified with Christ than to be the crucifier.  When He is Head, then our history is "His Story".  It is the story of what God can do to change an angry, thoughtless, self-righteous, know-it-all into an instrument of His Grace,  truth and love.