This is very like the way to heaven; ‘tis uphill. The Lord by His grace fetch us up.
It has been said that Christianity is “syncretistic at heart”, and indeed, following the rise of Christianity from its beginnings through the Middle Ages, through the Reformation, into the early Puritanism of colonial America (not to mention the countless other nations and people groups around the world) and finally into the American Church of today one can clearly see that the Christian faith has a capacity for inheriting many different forms, customs, and expressions largely based on the contexts of culture, traditions, customs, and languages. The important aspect of this however, lies in how Christianity is syncretistic—not in the case of belief system—but in the case of inflectional form. This is often referred to as contextualization or incarnationalism.
The teachings of Jesus were consistently centered on a fully otherworldly faith and belief system—a unique aspect among other major religions. The premise was a freedom from all religious law which in turn produced a faith that was to be unbound by any human standardization.
The very freedom of this unbound faith left the door wide open for interpretation into human standards and representations by countless leaders, rulers, teachers, and even Jesus himself. Consequently, the Christian faith has been able to present itself as a highly organic, workable, and formidable “religion”. It is like playdough which, although always remaining of the same substance, may be shaped in an infinite number of ways.
To be clear, syncretism in Christianity may be interpreted in two ways. First is the syncretism of the Christian faith with other faiths. This kind of syncretism would yield an inter-religious faith and would create a conflicted group of followers with an identity crisis. It would be like mixing foreign ingredients in the dough, thus affecting the whole lump. The second kind of syncretism—we call it contextualization—is the relationship between the Christian faith and culture. This is taking the playdough and shaping it to fit the context. Essentially, a non-human and otherworldly belief system is coupled or bound within the constraints of human and worldly contexts, whether for good or for ill. This unique characteristic of the Christian faith has significantly contributed to its spread around the world and is where we see the most formidable movement and progression of Christianity throughout all time. The sheer adaptability or “contextualizability” has allowed the otherworldly teachings of Jesus to take on forms of a gathering in a Jewish temple, to monks living in a monastery, to a convent for set-apart religious women, to an entire political regime of a world empire, to a tribal gathering of Pacific Islanders, to a hippie commune for Jesus, to a hard-core band screaming for Jesus. It seems to know no limits.
The Original Form
In its beginnings, the teachings of Jesus were brought within the existing frameworks of the Jewish culture into which he was born. It was found among fishermen, tradesmen, and people who worked for the government and made use of their homes and dinner tables for worship meetings. Nothing was added, removed, or changed within the cultural norms. From such grassroots beginnings it spread infectiously rather than forcefully. “The private domestic house served as the foundation for missional outreach and community formation in the primitive church in Jerusalem, just as it did in the ministry of Jesus and his disciples”
The testimony of Jesus itself shows us an incarnational God who, though not a Jew, became a Jew and spoke in the Hebrew language. Through contextualization, God took on the form of a man and servant, even though he is neither.
Other elements of the Jewish and Roman culture are observed. We see Jesus’ formal entrance into Jerusalem which was a custom to signify the coming of a King and to which all the people responded accordingly by waving palm tree branches and crying, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” We see Jesus teaching parables in the context of first century economic situations using vineyards, wineskins, winepresses, sheep, goats, farming, etc. for illustration. We also see Jesus teaching in the Jewish temple and their synagogues, and following a host of other Jewish customs.
The early Church followed Jesus in this manner as it took root through incarnating the Gospel wherever it spread. Paul’s own ambition was to make himself all things to all men in order to save more people. It was not a matter compromising the Gospel and making it less offensive, but rather following the pattern of Jesus by drawing as near to the common man as possible. Dean Flemming observes,
Paul’s ministry in Athens is a model of cultural sensitivity and adjustment to his audience. Paul demonstrates an awareness of Athenian culture that gains credibility and earns him the right to be heard. He keenly observes their religious beliefs and shows familiarity with their ancient literary and philosophical traditions. He uses this insight to respectfully engage their worldview, drawing upon indigenous language, images and concepts to communicate the Gospel in culturally relevant forms…At the same time, Paul refuses to syncretize his message or to compromise its truth claims; we must do likewise.
This pattern of spreading the Gospel made the Gospel and the Church so accessible that Christianity was able to spread like wild fire. People great and small alike discovered a faith which allowed them to worship God in any style, form, and place they wished. All were welcome to the table no matter what their background was for the God of this faith was impartial and freely forgave all. For many religious leaders and rulers who loved their power and positions of control, this was a very threatening movement indeed.
The Medieval Form
Soon the faith would encompass so many people that the Roman Empire itself couldn’t help but recant its official position of paganism to adopt an official position of Christianity. In the early stages of Christianity as a minority faith within the Roman Empire, the Christians had to make do with the little freedom that they had. Even when the faith was tightly constrained and oppressed under emperors such as Nero and Diocletian, it still flourished since it was already well accustomed to homes and private spheres of life. Christian assemblies were made up of both men and women. Unlike trade associations and cultic brotherhoods which were gender specific, the burgeoning church manifested its value of equality without compromise. The faith was equally for all and to all. Neither were the poor and destitute excluded but, in fact, were a central part of the Christian communities’ activity. Afflicted and needy believers “grew like thick layers of bark around every Christian community…the destitute alone were more numerous than the entire membership of all but the largest professional association in the city.”
Soon the persecutions would subside having failed to achieve what they intended, and the empire would embrace the Christian faith. In 313, the emperor Constantine declared, “we should therefore give both to Christians and to all others free facility to follow the religion which each may desire…” His hope was to secure favor and benevolence from the “Supreme Godhead”. From here politics began to take hold of the Christian faith and carry it on in its own way to the nations of the world. As paganism dilapidated and the Christian faith strengthened the old Latin word religio, which referred to a diverse culture of traditional pagan rites called religiones, was now used to refer to the Roman empire’s new official religio, the worship of Christ. The transitions seemed easier to deal with when established customs and socio-lingual concepts could be used with a new belief system.
By the fifth century, the idea of saints, monks, popes, and Christian aristocracy had entered the newly established Christian cultural scene. Asceticism and the monastic life became a popular movement. Such figures as St. Antony became famed as a monk who, upon hearing the verse read out of Matthew 19:21 in church one day, went and sold everything he had and lived without material possessions, without home, without family, always giving away his food, and working only with his hands. Athanasius writes, “Conducting himself in this way, then, Antony was loved by everyone.”
The concept of “pope” began to take root as more and more bishops of various churches and regions began to capitulate towards the bishop of Rome who was called a papa, the commonplace word for “father” in Greek, Latin, and Italian. It was a common title used for any senior bishop. The bishop of Rome however, had come to play an “elder role” for other less-experienced regions burgeoning with the Christian faith, and eventually Rome became established as the seat of the Apostle Peter upon whom Catholics believe the church is founded. At the same time, the Christian faith found its way into the aristocratic way of life. In France particularly, experimentations with church leadership and government led to what was ultimately the most enduring form—the “aristocratized” church. “In the fifth century, the landed aristocracy of Gaul…took over the government of the Church,” and as a result, “Gaul became very different from Italy, North Africa, and the eastern empire, whose clergy tended to represent, rather, the middling classes of the cities.”
Reform was a typical characteristic of Christianity over time. It is interesting to note how the various expressions of the faith put forth by different leaders often led to either a progression or regression of the faith. St. Augustine in the fifth century fueled a reform of the Christian world as a feeling of disillusionment pervaded the continent after Alaric’s sack of Rome in 410. Pagans took up the opportunity to criticize Christianity as Rome was a Christian empire that fell apart. St. Augustine however, upheld and emphasized the Christian faith as an otherworldly ‘city’ subject to God’s discourse, and not a city of this world subject to man’s discourse.
By the eighth century the Christian faith found itself undergoing new continental reform. A man known as Boniface undertook missionary work among the pagan Saxons east of the Rhine River. The region was Christianized, but had suffered from inter-religious syncretism and serious regression into former pagan ways. “Cultic practitioners exchanged rituals [with Christians]. Pagans baptized Christians. Christian priests sacrificed to Thunor…” Boniface had a radical attitude towards reaching the people in this part of the world in contrast to the present ruler of the time, King Charles, also known as Charlemagne. Charlemagne wished to enforce conversion of the Saxon pagans to Christianity by law, subjecting them to imprisonment or death if they would not be baptized. His method of inflecting the faith was apparently through political and military force. Boniface however, preferred to meet the Saxons on their own terms—to contextualize—and even went so far as to change his name to follow the Saxon custom of taking on a Roman name. Hence, he permanently changed his name from Wynfrith to Boniface. “He declared, ‘the customs of past ages’ must be measured by ‘the correct taste of modern times.’ For him the classical past was irrelevant…He stood for a new form of Christianity, unburdened by the past.” He wanted to progress the Christian faith inflectionally. On the other hand, King Charlemagne wanted to regress to the ways of the Old Testament tradition. In his Admonitio Generalis written in 789, he declared,
…according to what the Lord ordained in the law, that there be no servile work on Sundays…that men do no farm work…nor are they to gather for games or go hunting. Three tasks with wagons may be performed on Sunday, the arms’ cart or the food wagon, or if it is necessary to bear someone’s body to the grave. Likewise, women are not to work with cloth nor cut out clothes…or shear sheep, to the end that the honor and quiet of the Lord’s day be kept.
An important factor of Charlemagne’s version of Christianity was the role it played in the influence of culture. Outside of Charlemagne’s empire in the various provinces of Europe, “culture tended to drain upward to the capital, to gather around the court and the offices of the patriarchate.” Within Charlemagne’s empire however, “the court acted as a ‘distribution center’ both for books and for personnel.” Educators, administrators, and clergy were pooled in and then sent out to various monasteries and churches.
One of the most impressive examples of a contextual expression of the Christian faith in the medieval era may have had to do with the Iconoclast controversy. Art was already a large part of the Roman culture and involved the use of frescos, base and capital architecture, reliefs, mosaics, and sculpture. It was inevitable then that the Christian faith should find its way into some form of Roman art—and it did. All the characteristics of Roman art manifested themselves in Christendom. Iconophiles were known for expressing and reverencing the Christian faith through images and art, including mosaics, sculpture, reliefs, and frescos. These forms of expression were soon challenged by those known as Iconoclasts—mainly Byzantine clergy and some bishops from Spain—who argued that these expressions were merely forms of idolatry, rather than contextualization. Since freedom of the religion swept the empire in the fourth century, images and art pervaded the Christian church. But once again the cultural “inflection” of the Christian faith became a heated issue. “The Byzantine clergy were as intensely concerned…that ‘orthodox’ belief should be reflected in uniform traditions of worship observed throughout the empire.” One man, by the name of John of Damascus, stood up for the cause of images. In successfully arguing for the use of images, John shows very clearly the essence of the Christian faith as an inflectional, mobile religion:
Images are a source of profit, help and salvation for us since they make hidden things clearly manifest to us, enabling us to perceive realities otherwise hidden to human eyes…In God, too, there are representations and images of His future acts—that is to say, His counsel from all eternity, which is ever unchangeable…Again, visible things are images of invisible and intangible things, on which they throw a faint light. Holy Scripture clothes in figure God and the angels…When sensible things sufficiently render what is beyond sense, and give a form to what is intangible, a medium would be reckoned imperfect according to our standard, if it did not fully represent material vision, or if it required effort of mind. If, therefore, Holy Scripture, providing for our need, ever putting before us what is intangible, clothes it in flesh, does it not make an image of what is thus invested with our nature, and brought to the level of our desires, yet invisible?
Creativity then, on account of figures like John of Damascus, continued forth strongly as a “tradition” of the Christian faith.
The Christian faith has long proved itself to be a highly versatile and mobile “religion” just as easily subject to creative expression and inflection as it was to rock-hard traditions. While much of Christendom sought to form and reform in a spirit of progress, and to be a universally accessible faith as Augustine advocated, there always remained the need for a stable, conservative, and foundational core of what the Christian faith represented. “Rome gave the much-needed dimension of antiquity to “micro-Christendoms” which saw themselves, for all their immense creativity, as in need of a past.”
The Post-Reformation Form
Protestant Christianity took a big detour from much of antiquity at this point, keeping only what it found to be fundamental to the faith. Pastors were elevated to the heads of the local church and the priesthood was scratched. The traditional vestments for the liturgy of the Catholic Church were replaced by a Geneva gown—a black robe which served to hide fashion and grooming habits and to signify the office of a preacher. In effect, the robe hid anything that would otherwise be relevant to the culture of the day. In the 15th century the printing press was invented and the common man was for the first time able to own his own Bible and study it for himself. The beginning of the 17th century saw the popularizing of organ music and many famous hymns. Charles and John Wesley founded the Methodist movement through the contextualization of preaching, music, and social organization which resulted in wide-spread revival in the eighteenth century. This time also gave birth to the Seminary, a result of Catholic reforms which has since become the educational standard for clergy and ministers seeking to enter ministry as a vocation.
The Puritan Form
American Christianity itself started out as a micro-Christendom. The new frontier of America was inhabited by groups of Puritans who planted the first seeds of what was to become the world’s most powerful national Church—the American Church. The puritan form was based on European and Post-Reformation methodology and practice. In essence, it was a transplant of the existing Puritan Church in England carrying with it all the methodologies, practices, and traditions, as well as developing a few new ones. There was some ambition to reach the unreached tribal peoples of the new land, but this was overshadowed by the more prevalent theme of establishing a pure form of Christianity for an example to the rest of the world. Figures like John Winthrop proclaimed to followers that they would form a new society that would be “as a city upon a hill.” The new Church at large did not give itself to the cause of the Natives. Figures like John Eliot and David Brainerd were among the few who made many sacrifices to reach the unreached tribes as well as to preserve their culture while teaching them the Gospel.
The American version of Puritanism was distinct and definitely had its personal flavors to go with the times, the place, and the circumstances. However, it still seemed to carry with it much of the same legalistic and Gnostic tendencies of that which they had left in Europe. The separation between sacred and secular remained deeply entrenched in the way of life for the new American Church. In their worldview the meeting-house, as it was called, was the sacred place for worship. It was labeled and called “the church” from then on, even though some were bitterly opposed to calling the edifice a church. Sunday as well was called “the Sabbath” day. The design was a simple square building with a “truncated pyramidal roof which was surmounted…with a belfry or turret containing a bell.” These meeting houses became the center-piece of the townships and were required in every new settlement. Colonists were required by law to build their new homes within half a mile of the meeting-house. Eventually meeting-houses were built on the hill-tops where it often served as a watch-house to keep a lookout against Indians. In the town the meeting-houses often would serve as a town-hall and storehouse, and sometimes—mischievously—as a place to store and sell tobacco. Wolves presented a major difficulty for the new American Church and many of the earliest meeting-houses would bear “grinning wolves’ heads nailed under the windows and by the side of the door, while splashes of blood, which had dripped from the severed neck, reddened the logs beneath.” In one town any man who brought a living wolf to church was paid fifteen shillings by the town, and if it was dead, ten shillings. To obtain the reward the hunter had to bring it and nail it to the meeting-house.
In the front yards of the meeting-house stood “those Puritanical instruments of punishment, the stocks, whipping post, pillory, and cage.” The stocks and pillory were often occupied by the Quakers, who also presented a “difficulty” to the new church, for they were often interrupting services and prophesying against the legalism and hypocrisy. In fact, there were fines for missing church attendance. The Quakers were poorly treated by the early American churches. Writes Earle, “…the Quakers contributed liberally to the support of the Court, and were fined in great numbers for refusing to attend the church which they hated, and which also warmly abhorred them; and they were zealously set in the stocks, and whipped and caged and pilloried as well—whipped if they came and expressed dissatisfaction, and whipped if they stayed away.” The sermon was still the center of the public worship service, after the post-reformation fashion. The Puritans took pride in the centrality of the preaching and built pulpits more grand than the meeting-house itself. While the building was little more than an unpainted pine-smelling wooden shack with clear windows and hard bench seats the pulpit was typically a high desk to which a flight of stairs led, decorated and ornamented with pillars and panels. Some had a small door into which the minister walked “while the children counted the seconds from the time he closed the door until his head appeared through the trap-door at the top.” One pulpit was known to have “as its sole decoration, an enormous, carefully painted, staring eye, a terrible and suggestive illustration to youthful wrong-doers of the great, all-seeing eye of God.”
Because Indians were also seen as a threat to the public assemblies there were laws requiring men to bring their loaded weapons along to church, and a “Sabbath-Day guard” was established. Entire plans for emergencies were created for protecting and evacuating women and children. Men were to sit at the “head” of the pews ready to seize their arms and rush to a fight. They would be the first to rise and leave the meeting-house so as to make a sure and safe exit for the women and children.
The idea of the “tithingman” arose in 1668 to manage disorderly youths and would “use such raps and blows as in his discretion meet.” The tithingman was known to be the “most grotesque, the most extraordinary, the most highly colored figure in the dull New England church-life” and carried with him a staff equipped with a hard knob at one end and a fox tail at the other. This was used to whop laughing youths and snoozing men and tickle awake the faces of sleeping ladies. They also carried authority throughout the week and not just on Sundays. They enforced the learning of the catechism at home, watched over the activities of youths, monitored peoples’ drinking habits, spied on bachelors, and regulated riding and working on the Sabbath. They would often arrest people and have them put in the stocks and cages along with the sleepers from church.
Eventually the Church started to get a little more creative and, as usual, it was always met with opposition. There was a move to paint the meeting-houses some interesting colors and to add cushions to the benches. When a Colonel in Newbury town cushioned his pew at the turn of the 18th century there was “a nine days’ talk” among the people over it. When a new meeting-house in Pomfret, Connecticut was painted bright yellow, “it proved to be a veritable golden apple of discord throughout the county.” The idea of the Sunday school emerged at the turn of the 19th century and was originally called “Sabbath school”. It was not well received either. The Salem Gazette newspaper at first condemned the idea as profaning the Sabbath and such schools were banned from many churches for years. The music was strictly controlled and there was no little dispute over it. Some clergy insisted on a universal form using the “Bay Psalm-Book,” perhaps not being far from the same spirit of the Byzantines centuries earlier in wanting to enforce a uniform tradition of worship. Earle writes,
So villainous had church-singing at last become that the clergymen arose in a body and demanded better performances; while a desperate and disgusted party was also formed which was opposed to all singing. Still another band of old fogies was strong in force who wished to cling to the same way of singing that they were accustomed to; and they gave many objections to the new-fangled idea of singing by note, the chief item on the list being the everlasting objection of all such old fossils, that “the old way was good enough for our fathers,”. They also asserted that “the names of the notes were blasphemous;” that it was “popish;” that it was a contrivance to get money; that it would bring musical instruments into the churches…
The opposition would not prevail for long however, and soon the American Church would once again be transformed with the coming of new generations and new technology to produce the most powerful and dominant forms of the Christian Church to date.
The American Form
Understanding the present form of the American Church is a complicated undertaking. Since the Puritan days, the American Church has exploded into 20,000 denominations, and not only denominations, but multitudes of parachurches, mission agencies, political parties, and other ministry organizations. In fact, denominationalism is an American phenomenon. As immigrants poured in over the centuries, they brought with them their old state church practices and forms with them. As time went on and controversies multiplied, those denominations would then splinter into more denominations.
Today however, denominationalism is quickly becoming an old fad as nearly every major denomination is losing ground. Barry Kosmin, the co-author of the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) recently performed in 2008, states, “More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, ‘I’m everything. I’m nothing. I believe in myself…” Mega-consumer-churches have been a recent phenomenon in the last few decades, seeing some of the most high-tech and expensive Christian forms in history. Most recently, the American Church has expanded into pubs, theaters, schools, under bridges, and throughout homes. At the same time America has become, for better or worse, an exporter of all these forms in its carrying of the Gospel to other parts of the world.
Out of the African slave communities, African forms began to eventually emerge. During the time of slavery there was a wide-spread effort to “de-Africanize” the slaves which resulted in restrictions on their church gatherings against dancing, instruments, and “pagan” ways of shouting and stomping in circles. Sometimes benches were put in their gathering places to prevent them from jumping up and dancing. Of course, the African style could not be snuffed out and freed Africans, weary of the discrimination in White churches, eventually banded together to start a movement of their own form of the faith rooted in African culture with spirituals, instruments, dancing, and heavy use of oral traditions. Gospel music began by the late 19th century and eventually led into the urban Gospel music of today.
As a result there is a great rift between the Church of the White population and the Church of the Black population that persists today. The Native American population, after being forced to “Westernize” over the centuries, has only recently begun to recapture its heritages and ancient cultures within the context of the Gospel.
Now, heading into the 21st century, the American Church is undergoing yet another major shift and “reformation” as the old form consisting of the hymnal, pews, organ, dressy attire, choirs, and hierarchy is dying out everywhere and giving way to youthful, zealous, and informal community gatherings utilizing a wide variety of music styles, artistic expressions, and locations for congregating. The word on the streets is “out of the box” Christianity.
John of Damascus writes of Gregory asserting that “the mind which is set upon getting beyond corporeal things, is incapable of doing it.” John Drane, a professor of practical theology at the University of Aberdeen writes, “Worship, of all aspects of church life, ought to create a context in which people can be themselves, which is another way of saying that we need spaces where we may celebrate the way God has made us. By definition, that means there will never be any universalized blueprint for relevant worship…” Clearly the Gospel is intended to be spread through contextualization through the things we can see, hear, and feel. Change in our forms is inevitable, not because Christ or the Gospel changes, but because the world and its people change. It must be done with discernment and good judgment as well. Dean Flemming exhorts us,
Like Paul, we must critique our own culture without rejecting it, and transcend our culture even while remaining in it. Likewise, we must be willing to identify with another’s culture without uncritically accommodating to it; we must let the Gospel speak transformingly to that culture without imposing a foreign culture upon it. This is the calling of the missional church in every place and every generation.
The most effective work of spreading the Gospel will have in mind Romans 1:20 which says that the invisible things of God are made visible through images. It is what Andrew Walls describes as the Gospel being “imprisoned and liberating” at the same time. He writes,
Along with the indigenizing principle which makes his faith a place to feel at home, the Christian inherits the pilgrim principle, which whispers to him that he has no abiding city and warns him that to be faithful to Christ will put him out of step with his society; for that society never existed, in East or West, ancient time or modern, which could absorb the word of Christ painlessly into its system. Jesus within Jewish culture, Paul within Hellenistic culture, take it for granted that there will be rubs and friction—not from the adoption of a new culture, but from the transformation of the mind towards that of Christ.
This very aspect may be a reason why, ultimately, the Christian faith cannot be manifestly known in and of itself—for it is eternal and invisible—but known only through form and ritual in which there is a relative freedom of expression.
The call of the Church therefore is to gain believers by all means, in whatever form, custom, language, culture, or artistic expression may be necessary so long as it does not compromise its message of truth. It is through diversity that we must seek unity, not around it.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:21, 24
 Matthew 10:3, Luke 5:27
 Gehring, Roger W. House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004), 116-117.
 Numbers 23:19, Philippians 2:6-8
 John 12:13
 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
 Dean E. Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005). p.82
 Romans 2:11, Mark 3:28
 Brown, Peter. The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000. Second Edition. (Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2003), p.64
 Ibid. p.70
 Constantine’s Edict of Milan. A.D. 313
 Brown, Peter. p.74
 Athanasius of Alexandria, Life of St. Antony of Egypt, trans. David Brakke, in Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology, ed. Thomas Head (New York: Garland, 2000), pp. 7-29
 Brown, Peter. The Rise of Western Christendom, p.114
 The aristocracy are those people in the highest social classes of society who typically hold land, money, and power and are afforded hereditary advantages.
 Ibid. p.110
 Ibid. p.91
 Ibid. p.420
 King Charlemagne, Capitulary concerning the Parts of Saxony (785)
 Brown, Peter, The Rise of Western Christendom, p.419
 Ibid. pp.418-419
 King Charlemagne, The Admonitio Generalis (789). Chapter 81.
 Brown, Peter. p.443
 Ibid. p.387
 John of Damascus, On Holy Images, c.730
 Augustine, City of God, (413-426)
 Brown, Peter. The Rise of Western Christendom, p.430
 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_gown
 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press
 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Wesley
 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seminary
 Excerpted from Winthrop’s sermon (pp. 63-65) in Speeches That Changed the World, compiled by Owen Collins. Westminster John Knox Press (1999).
 Alice Morse Earle, The Sabbath in Puritan New England. 1893 p.1
 Ibid. p.3
 Ibid. p.11
 Ibid. p.251
 Ibid. p.16
 Ibid. p.24
 Ibid. p.66-76
 Ibid. p.43
 Ibid. p.15
 Ibid. p.108
 Ibid. p.208
 Grossman, Cathy. “Most religious groups in USA have lost ground, survey finds.” USAToday 17 Mar. 2009. Accessed 23 Aug. 2009 <http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-03-09-american-religion-aris_n.htm>.
 John of Damascus, On Holy Images, c.730
 Drane, John. The McDonaldization of the Church: Consumer Culture and the Church’s Future. Macon, GA: Smyth &Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2001. p.197
 Dean E. Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005). p.151
 Andrew Walls, “The Gospel as the Prisoner and Liberator of Culture,” Missionalia 10, no. 3 (November 1982): 98-99.