This post and the comments are meant to be light-hearted (for once). A friend posted on Facebook a poster of N.T. Wright with the caption, "I don't always read the Bible, but when I do, I read it with 1st century eyes and 21st century questions." To be quite honest, I'm not sure what the point was of the poster. Is this supposed to be a good thing? (I think so.) But what about the, "I don't always read the Bible" part? Isn't that supposed to be a bad thing? (Especially for a bishop.)
But never mind all that. The inspiration came after that, when a commentator asked, "What would a 1st century question be?"
It's sometimes fun to take things like that with absolute literalness, and my answer was that a 1st century question would be, "Do Gentile Christians have to be circumcised?" Then I got on a short roll:
A 2nd century question would be, "Was Jesus a gnostic teacher?"
A 3rd century question would be, "Is the Holy Spirit still giving direct prophetic revelation?"
A 4th century question would be, "Is the Son of the same substance with the Father?"
A 5th century question would be, "Is Mary the Mother of God?"
Then Rome fell, and things got kinda rough, so a 6th century question would be, "Is that my crust of stale bread or yours?"
By the 7th century in England they had recovered enough to debate energetically over burning questions like, "How should monks be tonsured?" and "What is the correct date of Easter?"
Okay, readers, you get the picture. I realize I'm making it tough for you by stopping just there. That's just where I ran out of steam. Up until then I'd been able to do it off the top of my head with just an occasional Google check to make sure that the Council of Ephesus really did take place in the 5th century and the Synod of Whitby in the 7th. (No, I didn't remember the names of all the councils, but I remembered what they were debating.) I don't think I could keep going quite so effortlessly from the 8th century through about the 12th, and by the 13th century there are almost too many questions being debated to choose from.
So readers, have fun. Try to think of a question for a century that was actually being discussed by Christians in the West during that time period. You can also go back and add one to a century already mentioned above.
Please: This is not an invitation actually to debate these questions among ourselves. This is, for once, an invitation to do something fun. (Yes, I did chicken out on the 6th century, though I found a funny substitute for a real question. You can fill that one in if you think of something good.)