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LC IV Early Christian Church

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LC IV Early Christian Church

  1. 1. Early Christian ChurchWas the organization…• EPISCOPALIAN (ruled by bishops)?• PRESBYTERIAN (ruled by elders)?• CONGREGATIONAL (ruled by themembers of the Church)?• A SPONTANEOUS GATHERING OF THEFAITHFUL (no government)? Various patterns of Church organization(There were elements of all of the above)
  2. 2. The need for organization- Why?Two very broad generalizations:• Excited and excitable members had to betamed, disciplined, even rejected if anykind of mundane order was to bemaintained in the Church.• In all the primitive churches theregradually grew a distinction between LAYand CLERICAL members.
  3. 3. PROBLEMSDisciplinarians/organizers faced theproblem of having to organize aworldly church of an ―other-worldly‖faith in the middle of a greatbureaucratic empire that was inprinciple committed to theSUPPRESSION of Christianity.
  4. 4. ORGANIZERSChurch organization:+ Already taking shape by the 2nd century+ In little groups, organized by• First visionaries, variously called‗prophets‘, ‗teachers‘, and the like (perhapsmystical believers rather than worldlyorganizers).• ‗Elders‘, ‗overseers‘, ‗presidents‘- names whichsuggest what we call ‗government‘ (Church, notpolitical, government, but essentially a source ofLAW and AUTHORITY.(See HIERARCHY)
  5. 5. THE HIERARCHY• The government of the Catholic Churchdeveloped from these ―governingofficials‖, who often merged theiradministrative abilities with more spiritualgifts and functions.• This hierarchical organization is headed bythe POPE: Bishop of Rome, havingAuthority over all other Bishops
  6. 6. AUTHORITY: East and West IN THE EASTThe Pope‘s claim to such authority over all otherbishops was contested by bishops in EASTERNCHRISTIANITY(Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople) and itnever quite established in the East IN THE WESTThe Pope‘s authority was very firmly establishedby the time of the break-up of the Roman Empireand the Germanic invasions- it was to be amajor factor in the growth of Western Civilization
  7. 7. The importance of BISHOPSThe word bishop derives from the Greekepiscopos, ―overseer‖ – adj. episcopalEach bishop was the head of a largeadministrative area called the SEEThey gained prestige and authoritythrough the doctrine of APOSTOLICSUCCESSION, which asserted that eachespiscopal church had been formeddirectly by one of the Apostles, or by theAGENT or SPIRITUAL HEIR of an Apostle
  8. 8. THE CHRISTIAN CANON• It was established slowly under thegovernance of bishops• It is the 27 Books of the New Testamentconsidered of divine inspiration, written inKOINE, the current Greek of the time• The Christian Canon of the Old testamentwas also drawn from an earlier Greektranslation from the Hebrew known as theSEPTUAGINT (Lat. ―Seventy‖, the numberof translators who worked on it)
  9. 9. • The Greek version is the one still used inthe Greek Orthodox church• In the Roman Church, an earlier Latintranslation of both Testaments wasrevised and retranslated under thedirection of St. Jerome in the 4th century.This is the VULGATE, The Bible in Latin• Books rejected from the Canon aregenerally called APOCRYPHA andPSEUDIPIGRAPHA
  10. 10. CHURCH ADMINISTRATION• A number of BISHOPRICS were gathered into alarger area called the METROPOLITAN, whichwas headed by an ARCHBISHOP.• Within a bishopric, each church was headed bya PRIEST (Greek presbyteros, ―elder‖) who hadhad FORMAL TRAINING and had beenORDAINED into the priesthood.• Each church and its priest came to serve thelocal area known as the PARISH.• By the 4th century, the older office of DEACON(‗servant‘ or ‗minister‘, prominent in the primitivechurch) had become the preliminary step to fullpriesthood.
  11. 11. Election of authoritiesIn some early churches,• officers were elected by the congregation• The actual government was conducted byboards or committees of elders(―presbyteries‖)BUT in the developed western ecclesiasticalsystem,• Clerical positions were determined by‗appointment‘ from above, i.e. superiors orelders already in office.
  12. 12. CLEAR DISTINCTION…… between the CLERGY, who are trainedfor their task and are ordained when fullypreparedand the LAITY, the Christian faithful whoworship in the churches guided by theclergyReformers have sought a purerChristianity in which all men are priests.
  13. 13. THE SUPREMACY OF ROME• The City of cities• A Court of Appeal• Outstanding leaders, e.g. Leo the Great(440-461), who allegedly persuaded Attilato turn back from his invasion of WesternEurope; and Gregory the Great, a monk*with whom the Papacy was firmlyestablished.
  14. 14. Another distinction…• Monks, like Gregory the Great*, belongedto the REGULAR CLERGY (men andwomen who follow the rule).• They were different from the SECULARCLERGY (those who serve the laity of thisworld).• The term MONASTICISM applies to thedevelopment of monastic orders, thoseformed by monks who abode by specificrules.
  15. 15. Origins of Monasticism• In the EAST, especially in EGYPT, byindividuals disgusted by this wickedworld, seeking salvation outside it.• By the 3rd century, hermits werecompeting for ‗records‘ of holiness anddenial of the flesh– asceticism.• Conservative church leaders viewed thesepractices as un-Christian rivalry andsought to bring hermits together under acommon discipline.
  16. 16. MONASTERIES• Around many hermits gathered littlegroups of followers.• From these origins there grewcommunities of monks living underformally organized rules:- Devoted to celibacy and poverty- Religious rituals- Working enough to make theircommunities self-supporting
  17. 17. Spread of Monasticism• From Egypt, it spread to Europe.• In the EAST, it remained more secluded• In the WEST, there was more missionarywork. Some monks not only worshippedbut ate and lived together. Some did worksof charity, setting up orphanages andhospitals near monastery grounds.
  18. 18. Monastic Orders• In the West, ST. BENEDICT (480-547)was one of the greatest Christianorganizers (Abbey in Mt.Cassino, Southern Italy- c.520)• The Benedictine Order was at the front ofthe civilizing forces in the West for the next500 years.• Guardians of the western intellectualheritage from the Greco-Roman world.
  19. 19. Monastic life• Monastic life satisfied a strong need forsecurity, community, renunciation andspiritual orderliness• The first emphasis was on renunciation(control/discipline) of all pleasures of theflesh• Organization PROBLEMS: ―emulation‖ ledto tension and rivalry.
  20. 20. PROBLEMS• THE SECULAR CLERGY viewedthemselves as the true soldiers of the Lordin this harsh world- for them, the regularclergy dodged their responsibilities.• THE REGULAR CLERGY viewedthemselves as leading purer, more asceticlives, nearer what Jesus had preached.• BOTH were gradually recognized as partsof a great whole.
  21. 21. • Gradually ABBOTS were integrated intothe general government of theChurch, taking part in synods andcouncils, sometimes rising to papal officeas Gregory the Great (540-604, Pope 590-604)• MonasteriesBecame CENTRES OF LEARNINGBuilt the structure of true theology and theChurch, as the Canon Law.
  22. 22. HIERARCHY with a principle ofMUTUAL CONSULTATION• Councils, assemblies, etc, made criticaldecisions.BUTWhen the papacy was firmlyestablished, some Popes claimed superiorauthority even to a general council, i.e. notbound by its decisions.
  23. 23. Important terms explained• ORTHODOXY: accepted doctrine orinterpretation; adherence to the acceptedor traditional and establishedfaith, especially in religion. The word‗orthodox‘ comes from the Greekorthodoxos, ―having the right opinion‖.• Orthodoxy is opposed to heterodoxy("other teaching"), heresy and schism.
  24. 24. • People who deviate from orthodoxy byprofessing a doctrine considered to befalse are most often called heretics orradicals, while those who deviate fromorthodoxy by removing themselves fromthe perceived body of believers are calledschismatics or schematics.• If one is addressing corporate unity, theemphasis may be on schism; if one isaddressing doctrinal coherence, theemphasis may be on heresy.
  25. 25. Summing up…• ORTHODOXY: Accepted doctrine orinterpretation• HERESY: Challenging interpretation• SCHISM: Separation
  26. 26. GNOSTICISM• ―Knowledge‖ (of magic)• Physical world: evil, non-existent illusion tobe overcome• Accepted Jesus the miracle-worker, theGod• Rejected his human nature• THEOSOPHY
  27. 27. ARIANISM and the TRINITY• ARIUS, priest of Alexandria d. 336• His doctrine: Christ is of a distinctsubstance from the Father• Doctrine of TRINITY: God as threepersons- God the father, God the Son, andGod the Holy Spirit. Three co-equal ineternity; three and at the same time one.• Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria arguedagainst Arius in the Council of Nicea (AD325)
  28. 28. UNITARIANISM• Unitarianism is a Non-trinitarian Christiantheology which teaches belief in the singlepersonality of God, in contrast to thedoctrine of the Trinity. According to itsproponents, Unitarianism reflects theoriginal God-concept of Christianity.
  29. 29. TRI-THEISM• ―Three Gods‖: three distinct, powerfulgods, who form a triad. Generally threegods are envisaged as having separatepowers and separate supreme beings orspheres of influence but working together.• An alternate or distorted view of theChristian doctrine of Trinity.
  30. 30. FATHER AND SON• Discussion of the Christian understandingof God as Trinity.• HOMOOUSIOS: same substance• HOMOIOUSIOS: similar substance• In the Nicene Creed, The Council of Nicea(AD 325) describes Jesus as beinghomooúsios with God the Father — thatis, they are of the "same substance" andare equally God.
  31. 31. NATURE OF CHRIST• God? Man? Both?• NESTORIANISM: Nestorius (Bishop ofConstantinople in early 5th century) statedthat the two natures existed in perfectharmony but were somehow distinct- itwas a MORAL, rather than aphysical, union.• THEN, Virgin: NOT the Mother of God
  32. 32. • MONOPHYSITES: Only one naturebecause God and Man are inextricablymingled.• THEN, Virgin was Mother of God.
  33. 33. OTHER CONTROVERSIES• DONATISM (Donatus:4th century bishopof Carthage):• The validity of the Sacraments depends onthe PURITY OF THE PRIESTS.• PELAGIANISM (Pelagius: 5th centuryBritish monk):• Men are in control of their fate, not taintedby the original sin. THEN, completefreedom of will*
  34. 34. *Remember the Enlightenment?• The concept of the complete freedom ofwill influenced the Enlightenment (andRenaissance men before?):• Hopeful, optimistic view of human prideand independence
  35. 35. Another controversial view• MANICHEISM (Mani: 3rd century ADMesopotamian prophet)• Appeal to DUALISM:• Universe NOT in the power of a singleGod but between a GOD OF LIGHT and aDEVIL OF DARKNESS

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