Presentation on theme: "The Church through History Session 1: The Early Church to the Great Doctrinal Councils 0-451 Larry Fraher."— Presentation transcript:
The Church through History Session 1: The Early Church to the Great Doctrinal Councils 0-451 Larry Fraher
The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity Ah, most valiant and blessed martyrs! Truly are you called and chosen for the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord! And any man who exalts, honors, and worships his glory should read for the consolation of the Church these new deeds of heroism which are no less significant than the tales of old. For these new manifestations of virtue will bear witness to one and the same Spirit who still operates, and to God the Father almighty, to his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom is splendour and immeasurable power for all the ages. Amen.
For Discussion… Why study history? What particular items would you like to discuss in the class? How can the study of history help us in the Church today? How might the study of Church history be different than the study of history in general?
Main Points to Consider… The Action and Role of the Holy Spirit Be Aware of Judgements Study of History is a Study of: Influences Context Product There are many sides to all stories We Best understand from the Voices
Expectations Not just names, dates and places! Understand the past to understand the present & future. Engage the persons & situations Seek the work of God Postcards from history At the beginning of each class, please provide me with a 2 paragraph postcard from history. For the final class, the postcards are due 1 week later (see handout).
3 Main Periods of the Era of the Fathers The 2 nd Generation Church to 100 Martyrs and Apologists to 312 Councils to 451
Historical Sketch The 2 nd Generation Church to 100 The Jewish Persecution of Christians All the way back to Paul Stephen James Matthian Community The Fall of the Temple to the Romans ca. 72 The Roman Persecution of Christians Nero (The Start) Peter and Paul Beginnings of Structure See of the Apostles
Historical Sketch The 2 nd Generation Church to 100 Convergence of forces Fall of Jerusalem Roman Cults ineffective Mystery Religions
The Didache (ca. 100) Now about the Eucharist: This is how to give thanks: First in connection with the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David, your child, which you have revealed through Jesus, your child. To you be glory forever. Then in connection with the piece [broken off the loaf]: We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have revealed through Jesus, your child. To you be glory forever. As this piece [of bread] was scattered over the hills and then was brought together and made one, so let your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into your Kingdom. For yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.
Historical Sketch Martyrs and Apologists The rise of Classicism and Gnosticism Philosophically based thinking Elevates Certain ways of thinking to Divine Importance of Logos Irenaeus (140-202) Clement of Alexandria (d. 210) Origen (185-254)
Martyrs Ignatius of Antioch Under Roman Persecution, many expected martyrdom I am corresponding with all the churches and bidding them all realize that I am voluntarily dying for God – if, that is, you do not interfere. I plead with you, do not do me an unseasonable kindness. Let me be fodder for wild beasts – that is how I can get to God. I am Gods wheat and I am being ground by the teeth of wild beasts to make a pure loaf for Christ. – Letter to the Romans (ca. 110) The Importance of the Martyrs witness
Martyrs Justin Martyr (d. 165) Writes apology (defense) to emperor appealing to reason for Christians accused of being atheists. Hence we are called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God…But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, declaring without grudging to everyone who wishes to learn, as we have taught…
Gnosticism Characteristics of Gnosticism Gnosis = Knowledge Usually held secret until fully initiated 1 disciple charged with keeping the secret… Dualism Flesh (Material) vs. Spirit (Intellectual) Ascent to Divine through Rejection of Material Jesus said, if those who lead you say to you, See the Kingdom is in the sky, then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, it is in the sea, then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will know that you are sons of the Living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty. Gospel of Thomas, 3
Gnosticism Gnostic Movements Docetism Jesus never really inhabited his body Marcionism Held that there are 2 Gods, 1 Evil (Hebrews) and 1 good (Jesus) Montanism God speaks through me…1 st Person. Valentinianism Levels of Spirit and Creation
Gnosticism (referring to the Crucifixion from a primarily Docetic view) I was about to succumb to fear, and I suffered according to their sight and thought, …For my death which they think happened, happened to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with a reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance. – The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
The Apologists Apology = Defense of the Faith Ancient Apologetics 1. Understand the System of Belief that will be argued against… Example: Irenaeus – 2/5 books devoted to outlining the ideas of Valentinian Gnosticism 2. Present Argumentation toward the Superiority of the Christian Faith 1. Apologetics is an Ancient Christian method 2. Argument established in better reasoning Integration of FAITH AND REASON
Apologists Irenaeus of Lyons (in response to Valentinian Gnosticism) For if He did not suffer, no thanks to Him, since there was no suffering at all; and when we actually begin to suffer, He will seem as leading us astray, exhorting us to endure buffeting, and to turn the other cheek, if He did not Himself before us in reality suffer the same; and as He misled them by seeming to them what He was not, so does He also mislead us, by exhorting us to endure what He did not endure Himself…Therefore, as I have already said, He caused man (human nature) to cleave to and to become one with God…And unless man had been joined to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. (Against Heresies, Book III, 6 & 7)
Apologists Clement of Alexandria The Principle of Universality (after a lengthy argument against the Gods and philosophers) Wherefore, since the Word Himself has come to us from Heaven, we need not, I reckon, go any more in search of human learning to Athens and the rest of Greece, and to Lonia. For if we have as our teacher Him that filled the universe with His holy energies in creation…we have the Teacher from whom all instruction comes; and the whole world, with Athens and Greece, has become the domain of the Word. (Exhortation to the Heathen, 11)
Apologists Origen Known as the First Exegete (Interpreter of Scripture) And, generally, we must investigate, according to the apostolic promise the wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world for the glory of the just, which none of the princes of this world knew [cf. 1 Cor. 10:11]...And he gives an opportunity for ascertaining of what things these were patterns, when he says for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ [1 Cor. 10:4] On First Principles, 13 These are the fuller senses of Scripture
Apologists Tertullian This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, in His birth God and man united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood, speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ. Apology, 21
Conclusions re: Apologists The combination of Hellenistic Judaism and Philosophy Argument for Objective Truth Lays the Groundwork for the explosion of doctrine Thank a Heretic! Period Concludes with the Conversion of Constantine in 312- (313 Recognition of Church)
Period of Councils Arian Heresy (Early 300s) Jesus is Divine, but a creature. Athanasius Responds Tri-theism (Mid 300s) Three Gods or 1? Basil and the Gregs Nestorianism (Late 300s) Mary cant be the Mother of God Was Jesus 1 nature or two? Human or Divine? Two Natures
From Arius, Athanasius & Nicea …and that before he was begotten, or created, or purposed, or established, he was not. For he was not unbegotten. –Arius, Letter to Eusebius of Nicodemia Which of the two theologies sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Son of the Father, this which you have vomited forth, or that which we have spoken and maintain from the scriptures? … if He be Word of the Father and true Son, and God from God, and overall blessed for ever, is it not wise to obliterate and blot out those other phrases that Arian Thalia as but a pattern of evil, a store of irreligion, into which, who so falls, knoweth not that giants perish with her, and reacheth the depths of Hades. -- Athanasius, Letter to the Arians
Council of Nicea 325 Christological Council Arius vs. Athanasius Similar Substance (Arius)(homoiousios) vs. Same Substance (Athanasius)(homoousios) Same Substance wins Consubstantial
Arius, Athanasius & Nicea We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things, visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father, of the very substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father (consubstantial). –The Nicene Creed
Tri-theism Controversy Do we have 3 Gods? Father Son Holy Spirit Basil and the Gregs The economy (system) of the Trinity
Basil and the Gregs Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa Basil – Homoousia (Same Substance) & Hypostasis (That which stands beneath) The distinction between ousia and hypostasis is the same as that between the general and the particular… Wherefore, in the case of the Godhead, we confess one essence or substance so as not to give a variant definition of existence, but we confess a particular hypostasis, in order that our conception of Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be without confusion and clear.
Basil and the Greg's Gregory of Nazianzus When did these come into being? They are above all When. But, if I am to speak with something more of boldness – when the Father did. And when did the Father come into being? There never was a time when He was not. And the same thing is true of the Son and Holy Ghost. Gregory of Nyssa The Father is God: the Son is God: and yet by the same proclamation God is One, because no difference either of nature or operation is contemplated in the Godhead.
Council of Constantinople 381 Reaffirmation of Nicea Addition to creed affirms the Humanity of Jesus Born of the Virgin Mary and became man, crucified under Pontius Pilate… Addition also affirms the Trinity & Holy Spirit The Lord, the giver of life who proceeds from the Father… [NOTICE NO & the SON yet.]
The Council of Ephesus 431 Response to Nestorian Heresy Basic Nestorian Tenets Jesus sheds his divinity to become Human Two Persons in one being (Human Person, Divine Person) Mary is the mother of the Human, not the divine. Christ is only Divine Prior to birth and after Resurrection Cyril of Alexandria responds to Nestorius Theotokos: God Bearer Is Mary Christotokos or Theotokos? Christ Bearer or God Bearer Is she the Mother of God? Emperor Declares Council Invalid
The Council of Chalcedon, 451 Docetism rises on the heels of Nestorius Christ only appeared human The question of Nature Eutyches: 1 nature = Divine Rock, Paper, Scissors No Matter how you slice it, Divinity will always absorb Humanity… Chalcedon = 2 Natures Christ is Fully Divine Fully Human This Proclamation puts an End to Nestorian Belief Allows for Mary to be called the Mother of God…
The Council of Chalcedon, 451 Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ…He is of the same reality as God as far as his deity is concerned and of the same reality as we are ourselves as far as his human-ness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted…we apprehend this one and only Christ – Son, Lord, only begotten – in two natures; without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into separate categories, without contrasting them according to area or function. The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the properties of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one person and in one hypostasis.