If you haven’t read the Didache, it’s a fascinating read. Named after the Greek word for “teaching” this short work purports to contain the teaching of the twelve apostles of Christ. Written as early as the first century, it was considered by some prominent early Christians as part of the New Testament. The Didache is intriguing because it was not written to tell a story, or to explain theology, but as a manual for what Mormons would call “living the Gospel.”
The Didache is ostensibly the direction of the Twelve Apostles concerning how to practice Christianity. It lays out how to live, how not to live, how to baptize, how to prepare the sacrament, how to pray and fast, how to deal with traveling preacher, how to appoint local leaders, and how to prepare for the Second Coming. One reason the book struck me as “Mormon” is that Jesus is not mentioned by name at all. The “way of life” is straightforward– love of God, the golden rule, and shunning immorality. It’s approach to religion is unsophisticated and straightforward, not unlike most LDS conference talks.
The book is also Mormonesque in the way it directs believers to appoint church leaders from their own congregations. Professional, traveling preachers are to be accepted, but tested. Those that hang around too long, or leach off the membership, were to be rejected. It also smacks of the Mormon worthiness narrative. The congregations were told to confess and repent of their sins before Sunday worship so that their sacrifice to God could be pure. They were also directed to resolve all disputes with others.
It makes me wonder how Christianity would differ today if this guidance was considered the infallible word of God. Would Evangelical-style money-preachers be rejected more readily? How would the church look if these practical principles were enforceable as scripture? These are some of the fascinating questions these just-barely-uncanonical works leave me asking.