When it comes to understanding “christianity” several things are key. First, according to the God Story, the Jewish story is seamlessly woven along with the story of the promised Messiah: Jesus the Nazarene. Next, just because something happened in a branch or period of “church history” doesn’t mean that it is authentic to the original. True and faithful traditions and beliefs must be rooted in the God Story, not in the unfolding mosaic of the historic church. Jesus was promised to the Jews by the Hebrew Word of God (the Law and the Prophets). He did everything according to the scriptures (Luke 16:17).
Jesus is THE arbiter of what is sound in truth about God, inasmuch as He not only IS God – but He has always existed as His Father’s Son. So, what a particular priest or teacher or leader comments or inspires in history, does not necessarily equate to being on par with God’s Word. The disciples (who witnessed Jesus with their own eyes) were God’s appointed messengers to build on all that the Law, the Psalms, and the prophets taught. Jesus commissioned the twelve (and others) to take His words, miracles, and teachings to the ends of the earth.
So, whether you have Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist – any and all backgrounds – what gives us authenticity is our connection to the woven revelation of the God Story. While the early centuries of the church (100-300 AD) began to expound upon (and even pervert) the Good News, the definitive judgement over what is true is left to the Judge Himself (Revelation 19:15).
In our experience, we have met Christ-followers across a wide spectrum of historic groups and denominations, but authenticity can only be reflected by groups organized by human effort. The early Christ-followers are our only sure link to authenticity.
This is kind of heavy, but it is important to take the time to reason through the difference between religion and relationship, learn to weigh and discern authentic tradition, and to understand the Spirit’s supernatural work in a human heart.