In this paper, I attempted to demonstrate the central issues of Christianity that have been commonly called into question. There certainly are numerous other issues regarding the teaching and the practice of the early church that have not been covered here. Although some of the discrepancies between American Christianity and the early church can be explained by a difference merely of culture and language, some differences can only be accounted for as our failure to retain apostolic teaching and tradition. This being the case, it is in our best interests, and I believe is God's highest intention, that we endeavor to return to that teaching, and diligently pursue the truths that were entrusted to the apostles. The "apostolic rule of faith" is still the inviolate principle to follow.

Some of the most divisive elements in Christianity today happen on the extreme ends of the ecclesiastical spectrum. I have, perhaps unfairly, given the most critical attention to those extremes, from the "high" tradition of the sacramental churches (focused on the liturgical or "priestly" ministry), to the dynamic and sometimes flamboyant styles of charismatic and "full gospel" variety (focused on the "prophetic" styled ministry). It would be broad brush strokes indeed to label all such polarized expressions as being out of sync with the standards of the apostolic church, but as we have shown, they are perhaps the two most common sources for novel doctrine. Both poles need to face the center. The high, traditional churches need to return to apostolic doctrine without the added baggage from the traditions of men that have accumulated over the years. The charismatic elements need to recognize that all truth and revelation today must be congruous with the apostolic pattern from the foundation of the church. The words of Jeremiah come to mind, when God called him to prophesy to Israel. At the time, Jeremiah had come to see the errors in the same two polarized elements of the religion of his day. In Jeremiah 6:13-16 he writes:

From the least to the greatest, they are all greedy for gain; the prophets and the priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, Peace" they say, when there is no peace...Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls."

The solution for all of us is to return to the unity of the New Testament church. We can not afford to "whitewash" the predicament that the church is in today. We are in desperate need, particularly in the Western world, of a renewal of the true, Christian, apostolic church. Just as it was then, and even in the post-apostolic church, the way of peace and rest is in the ancient path. The answer is not in our own denomination or "movement". We need to release our allegiances to such schisms and abandon what the Bible calls "party spirit". Instead, we need to return to the ancient way. I hope that some of the writings that have been presented have helped bring into focus more facets of what that ancient way is. May we, even as the fathers of the church did, declare for our own lives and our own congregations that it is the ancient way that is to prevail.

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