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Early Church

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by MamaZ, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. MamaZ

    MamaZ Guest

    When people speak of the early church why do they only go back to 367 or so?
  2. seashale76

    seashale76 Orthodox Christian and Unapologetic Iconodule

    Eastern Orthodox
    That's not true. We speak of earlier than that as well. Holy Tradition goes all the way back.
  3. cobweb

    cobweb Cranky octogenarian at heart

    Eastern Orthodox
    I'm not sure.

    Honestly, I consider "early" anything before the setting of the Biblical Cannon. For the sake of discussions with those who do not share this opinion, there are several very good texts that we have from the first and early second centuries. Usually in discussions here I try to focus on those.
  4. Secundulus

    Secundulus Well-Known Member

    I think their are several reasons:

    • It provides a convenient time frame for some to place a great apostacy at the hands of Constantine and the Pope.
    • On the other side, there are an abundance of writings at this time to draw from.
    I agree that this is in error since Church history begins at Calvary and there are no shortage of writings earlier than the fourth century to draw from.
  5. Livindesert

    Livindesert Well-Known Member

    Christian Seeker
    Because the early church has varing beliefs from Adoptionist to Trinitarian. From a literal 1000 years reign of Christ to a non literal 1000 years. From Mary having relations(Gospel of Matthew) to her being sinless and a ever virgin. Because they do not like to read about the Great Apostasy.
  6. Standing Up

    Standing Up On and on

    Good question. Why 367? What happened?

    Most go to Nicea 325, without realizing that there were two issues determined. The creed and the day/dates of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Nearly all focus on the first, but the real divisive issue that led to the schisms over the next 1700 years was the second.
  7. Yarddog

    Yarddog Senior Contributor Supporter

    There are really very few people who try and say this when compared to all of Christianity. All people who understand the history of the Church, including Protestants, know that the Church goes back to the Apostles.
  8. cyberlizard

    cyberlizard the electric lizard returns


    there are many people on here who quote things like the didache, extra-biblical writings, rabbinic and social histores and the like.

    i suppose its a little one sided. the Jewish traditional side of believers tended to continue to adopt an oral approach to the faith for a long long time (see references to Papias), whereas the non-jewish side tended to adopt a written form of transmission. Maybe this is one reason the church 'seems' so gentile.

    But an earlier post did highlight a good point. Until orthodoxy was established, the christian faith was multi-faceted in both practise and doctrine. Personally I think that is a better way and leads to a more vibrant christianity rather than a one size fits all.

  9. MamaZ

    MamaZ Guest

    I have been in discussions with some posters that speak of the early church and when I ask how far back they are going they give me a 300 and some date
  10. That's sort of a random year. If you'd said 313 (Edict of Milan), 325 (Council of Nicea), 380 (Christianity becomes the official religion of the empire), or 381 (Council of Constantinople), now that would have made sense.

    In any case, I don't see that anyone does this purposefully. It's simply when the corpus of Christian literature comes into abundance. But there is plenty of excellent Christian teaching that precedes this that Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics, and Orthodox take very seriously:

    Clement I (AD 93)
    Ignatius of Antioch (AD 107)
    The Didache (c. AD 100)
    Polycarp of Smyrana (c. 140)
    Justin Martyr (mid second century)
    Clement of Alexandria (d. 215)
    Irenaeus of Lyon (latter second century)
    Tertullian (latter second second)
    Hippolytus (early third century)
    Origen (early third century)
    Cyprian (mid third century)

    Of course, you have to be careful with writers like Tertullian and Origen, since they're both heterodox writers bordering on heresy.

    But you can draw a direct line from Peter and Paul, whose taught Clement I and Ignatius of Antioch, and also from John the Apostle to his disciple Polycarp of Smyrna and from him to his disciple Irenaus of Lyon, at which point the fullness of the Great Church (early Orthodoxy and Catholicism) has already taken shape. And we take that very seriously.
  11. Anglian

    Anglian let us love one another, for love is of God

    Oriental Orthodox
    Does anyone do this? What happened then?

    I wonder whether this is something to do with the popular belief in some areas that there was a 'falling away'?


  12. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler more binah in her finger than in your whole body

    In Relationship
    I think probably the "early church" was a synagogue... but that's MHO. I agree with cyber though on his statement of the facets before orthodoxy when it comes to the church post Christs life
  13. Chesterton

    Chesterton Whats So Funny bout Peace Love and Understanding

    Eastern Orthodox
    I wonder how much "earliness" really matters. Even when we reference our commonly accepted original Scripture, it doesn't matter much to some here. If Jesus says "Eat; this is my body" some say "no it's not". If Paul calls himself father, some say Paul is wrong to do so. Where Scripture says "confess your sins one to another" some say "no, only confess to God"...etc.
  14. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler more binah in her finger than in your whole body

    In Relationship
    I frankly don't think earlieness matters much other than it was likely more free of the corruption of doctrine because there were people who were actually there with Christ himself
  15. It can work the other way around, though. Sometimes the search for the truth can take time, even generations. Some people who were there with Jesus were so over-awed by his charisma that they mistook him for a god that only looked human (docetists); others who came from his Jewish context failed to see how thoroughly his work had changed the relationship between the church and the law (Judaizers).

    In the case of this latter group, it took a later reformer, Paul, to reimagine the people of God in light of what Christ had done. Often objectivity requires a bit of distance from the object under study; any scientist knows this well.

    Holy Tradition is not simply what goes back to the very beginning, but also that long discussion between past and present that works out the troubling problems that continue to haunt us. Sometimes the traditions go all the way back; others evolved through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It takes both to make up the Holy Tradition of Mother Church.
  16. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler more binah in her finger than in your whole body

    In Relationship
    The truth was on the Earth. I fail to see how you can get MORE true than Christ himself.

    (Sorry, I don't think much more of the idea of Holy tradition than I do the Talmud)
  17. You can't get more true than Christ himself. But Peter knew Christ himself, and yet he had to be rebuked by Paul (Gal 1-2). The understanding of the truth takes time, and takes a community of faith to discern and discovery.
  18. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler more binah in her finger than in your whole body

    In Relationship
    Because he was human. Do you act on your knowledge 100% of the time?

    Truth is truth. Period. It is and always was. Moses knew truth as much as Paul because he knew God. I can't imagine that people today understand God better, Christ better because they grouped up and got to interpret things.
  19. But you're not a lone Christian out there in the wilderness. You're part of a pilgrim community, and God has always intended the faith to be practiced and lived and known in community. And it is the community of faith that has held on to the truth, not individuals who interpret it on their own.

    When we sit alone with our Bibles and try to figure it all out on our own, I think we're doing a serious disservice to God's plan for his people. We're meant to live and interpret and understand as a community, the same community that goes back to the twelve apostles and the Pentecost community. That community preserved traditions from the very beginning, and other traditions evolved as that community encountered new situations and had to formulate new answers to new questions. But they did it as a community of faith, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
  20. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler more binah in her finger than in your whole body

    In Relationship
    Then did the prophets sit down and figure it out with others? I believe we're to check our faith against others, but there will always be the masses and the few. The Moses', John the Baptists, Pauls... those people who walk differently than the crowd and have different ideas but are RIGHT. You cannot live on other people's ideas and interpretations and accept them because the majority you're around does. That's just lacking education and discernment. (and frankly we're hardly "one church"... we are one faith, that's even questionable sometimes)