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'gap theory' in church history

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feeling thankful for the small things today

Some of you will be familiar with the "Gap theory" for exposition of Genesis and the doctrine of Creation -- briefly, stuff a very literal exegete wants to deal with but can't hook onto the text gets jammed into a 'gap' between verses (gen. 1:1 and 1:2) or chapters (Gen. 4/5), and this tends to be stuff like dinosaurs, geology, trilobites, isotopic decay, the Fall of Lucifer, and other minor matters. Worthy of its own rant, but not a very virulent one, I mean, who can be bothered? Just give them Isaiah 55:12 and let their heads implode, ne?

Anyroad, I'm now convinced that something parallel is happening in church history, between John's death on Patmos, and say, Ignatius. Where there's a rock-solid front end (last of canon and Apostles), and after awhile Ignatius and (Martyrdom of) Polycarp that are pretty solid in the early second century, there's a messy gap in the middle. This is where people usually dump all their inconvenient unknowns, boogeymen, and hypothetical tragic misunderstandings: Judaism, Hellenism, hierarchicalism, pre-Constantinianism, misogynism, whatever -- it just has to be a 'black box' in the church history timeline where the perfect church of the NT is transmogrified into the flawed one of raw history, and where the seeds of ultimate destruction (mutatis mutandis) are sown, in order that our protagonist can rediscover the primal purity behind the regrettable (possibly necessary) turn of events in... the GAP.

It's most noticeable with Prottys, because they have so much more to discard, what with the ecclesiastical baby still being in the basin and all -- pretty much the assertion has to be, all the guys who successfully defended the Gospel against Arianism and Marcionism, developed the doctrine of the Trinity, and defined the very canon of Scripture itself, just happened to alter irrecognizably the whole understanding of the Body of Christ, the Head of the Church. You know, by coincidence or something. In extreme cases, of course, the life of the Body is described in terms which could only mean that between, say, 500 and 1500 "A.D.", the Gates of Hell in fact, did prevail, and some kind of divine 'mulligan' was called to invoke Luther and the Reformation. A bit sad, really.

So all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, a miiiiiiiillllion dollarZ, and for Protestant ecclesiastical historians to quite using 'Gap theory', and deal with the actual life of the Church as it was, and is. Is that too much to ask...?

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