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History of the Early Churches

History of the Early Churches

I.       The Birth of the TrueChurch

A.     Preparation period of the Old Testament Time (Lk 24:25-27)

B.     The time had fully come (Gal 4:4):

1.        External political and social environment [Greek civilization under  the Roman Empire] (Lk 3:1-2)

2.        Internal spiritual environment (LXX; Jn 1:19-28)

3.        Lord Jesus being the Word become flesh

C.     Church in the Apostolic Time—the appearance of the TrueChurch in time and space  (Dan 2:35)

II.    The Deviation & Deterioration of the TrueChurch in the Apostolic Time

A.     The Church Under Persecution

1.        History of persecution in the Acts of the Apostles

2.        Nero (July , 64 AD), Domitian (8~96 AD), Decius (249~251) - national persecution; Diocletian (284~305); Galerius (305~311)

3.        Catacomh, Amphitheater

B.     Gnosticism (               )- The Impact of the Trend of Thought

1.        Phenomenal world is completely evil

 a.      Plato's philosophy of "Ideal World"

 b.      Zoroast's Theory of Dualism

2.        Syncreticism

 a.      Based on Christianity

 b.      Incorporate with the high level of knowledge of salvation 

 c.      Mixed with the theory of philosophical idea [western philosophy]

 d.      Blended with the beliefs of foreign religions [eastern/oriental religions]

3.        Acknowledgment of Christ

 a.      Existence of the Dualism concept of Jesus and Christ

 b.      Docetism—Christ in the world was only an illusory/fictitious image

 c.      Christ lived within Jesus temporarily

 d.      What was born of the virgin was not real essence

4.        Poison of Gnosticism

 a.      Distorted the pure Truth, misquoted the Bible

(a)     I Cor 2:6:  “...speaking of wisdom among the mature...”, the special wisdom was not to be spoken outside of the church

(b)     Rm 8:22~26; I Cor 15:50—Definite dualization of the spirit and flesh

(c)     Col 2:15; Eph 6:12—Used as reference for the Theory of Aeon

(d)     I Cor 15:47—Used as reference for the concept of “Christ Is from Heaven”

 b.      Dualization and Separation of the Old & New Testament

(a)     God of the Old Testament is a God of creation and therefore is a low level god -Demiurge

(b)     Distorted concept of Christ

(c)     Narrow-minded concept of salvation

 c.      Leading to the formation of the Catholic Church

(a)     Organization regarded as the Truth (absolutism) -- formation of pope system

(b)     The Truth studied by worldly knowledge (relativity) -- formation of Theology

(c)     Worship combined with superstition (syncreticism) -- trend of worshiping holy objects or figures

C.     The Church of Marcion

1.        Marcion arrived at Rome in 139 AD, and was excommunicated in 144 AD.

2.        He established the church with Gnosticism, and compiled Canon ["holy book"]; his church existed until the 5th Century.

D.     Montanism

E.     306 AD--"Hoc Signo Vinces", meaning "In this sign, conquer": the sign of Monogram — P 313 AD--The Edict of Milan

F.      Church Councils

1.        The Council of Nicaea (325)

2.        The Council of Constantinople (381)

3.        The Council of Ephesus (431)

4.        The Council of Chalcedon (451)



III. The Apostolic Fathers


A.     Clement of Rome (c. 93~97)

B.     Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110~117)

C.     Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 110~117)

D.     Herma of Rome (115~140)

E.     Barnabas of Alexandria (c. 131)

F.      Clement II (c. 160~170)

G.     Didache - Teachings of the Twelve Apostles (c. 130~160)

H.    Epistle to Diognetus

IV.  Apologist

A.     Quadratus (c. 125), wrote the letter of apology to Caesar Hadrian
Aristides (c. 140) wrote to Caesar
Antonius Pius Justin, the Martyr (c. 153 in Rome)
Tatian, the student of Justin wrote Diatessaron (the four synoptic gospels)

B.     Characteristics

1.        They were prime philosophers; their theories emphasized on the levels of knowledge.

2.        Use their philosophical minds to explain Christianity leads to the development of theological thought.

3.        Trying to use the theory of Christianity that is blended with philosophical theories to convince Caesar, so as to win the heart of the king.

C.     Justin the Representative

1.        A Gentile born in Shechem, well educated, studied in depth the persons—Stoa, Aristoteles, Pythagoras and Plato;  he later realized the Hebrew prophets and thought that:

 a.      they were of older period than the philosophers

 b.      questions on the "Beginning of All Things" (        ) had always been what he philosophers sought for

 c.      hey were greatly moved by the Holy Spirit

2.        The new concept came from the work of the ancient prophets:

 a.      Suddenly there is a flame of fire; And the love of all prophets; As well as the love of those who have made friends with Christ; Burning in my heart and spirit...

 b.      Only such kind of philosophy is what I think is safe and beneficial.

3.        Christianity is the most ancient, correct, and godly among all philosophies.

 a.      It is the religion of the realm of philosophical thought and idea, not the Words of Life, nor the Words of Eternal Life as the Bible claim.

4.        As a philosopher, wrote the letter of "Apology" to Caesar Antonius Pius, and "Dialogue with Trypho" to confute the assault from the Jews.

5.        Advocated the theory of Logos (original text: "the Word") works at all time and that:

 a.      Logos taught the Greeks (witnessed by Sokrates, Herakletus)

 b.      Logos taught the Barbarians (witnessed by Abraham)

 c.      People of any nation, tongue or time period can be called Christians if they submit to Logos

 d.      It is just that Logos was manifested more in the body of Christ

 e.      Although Logos was under God, the Heavenly Father, he was having the same body and authority with God (as the Son and Representative of God), and neglected the historical Jesus.

6.        The gospel is the teaching for the new laws on leading a moral life by strictly keeping from and restraining the fleshly desires.

7.        Carried the leaven of Stoicism:

 a.      Theory of Logos

 b.      Thought on restraining the desires

8.        Results:

 a.      Open up a path of the "Scientific Theology" by bridging between Christians' thoughts and Gentiles' philosophy.

 b.      For the argument with the impact on scholastic thought of non-Christians, they compared with each other the thought and scholastic theory of Christianity and of the Gentiles; then explained the similarities of the essence among the two, and asked for the forgiveness of the intellectual scholars.

V.      The Church Fathers

A.     Iraeneus (c. 115[142]~200)

B.     Tertullian (150/155~222/225), born and died in Carthage.  He was the first Latin writer.

C.     Cyprian (200~258), the disciple of Tertullian.

D.     Clement of Alexandria (c. 215)

E.     Origenes (182/185~251)

VI.  Latin Church Fathers

A.     Ambrose (340~397)

B.     Jerome (386~420)

C.     Augustine of Hipoo (354~430)

VII.           Leo I (440~461)

A.     S. Leo Magnus I [Papa Roma]

VIII.        Gregory I (540~604)



Questions for thinking:

1.       What is the definition of "Church"?  What is the meaning of "Church on earth", "Church in Heaven", and "The New Heavenly Jerusalem"?

2.       What is the meaning of "The fall of church?"  What cause the "Church to fall"?

3.       The definition of "The History of the Church" and "The History of Church Doctrines"

4.       Based on the "Seven Parables" in Matthew Chapter 13, outline the History of the Church.