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The History of Christian Doctrine. “History is written by the victors.”. Early-Post Apostolic Writers A.D. 90 -140. 1. Clement of Rome 2. Polycarp 3. Ignatius 4. Hermas 5. Papias 6. Pseudo-Barnabas. Continued Defense Against Heresy.

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the history of christian doctrine

The History of Christian Doctrine

“History is written by the victors.”

early post apostolic writers a d 90 140
Early-Post Apostolic Writers A.D. 90 -140

1. Clement of Rome

2. Polycarp

3. Ignatius

4. Hermas

5. Papias

6. Pseudo-Barnabas

continued defense against heresy
Continued Defense Against Heresy
  • They continued to teach against the only heretical groups that existed at the time.
    • Judaizers
    • Gnosticism
deity of jesus christ
Deity of Jesus Christ
  • These writings strongly emphasize Christ’s true deity, calling Him “the Scepter of the majesty of God,” “the Lord our God,” “our God, Jesus Christ,” “the inseparable Spirit,” “God, even Jesus Christ,” “Christ our God,” “our Lord and God,” “Father,” and “the Son of God.”
  • Ignatius was particularly fond of calling Jesus Christ “our God,” and Polycarp heartily endorsed the epistles of Ignatius. In Epistle to Polycarp 3, Ignatius said,
    • “Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes, impalpable and impassible [incapable of suffering], yet who became passible [capable of suffering] on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes.”
deity of jesus christ cont d
Deity of Jesus Christ cont’d
  • These writings make a scriptural distinction between the Father and the Son, relating the Son to the Incarnation, the manifestation of God in flesh. They do not make a personal distinction with regard to the Holy Spirit.
  • These men were explicitly antitrinitarian, because the doctrine of the trinity had not yet developed.
justification by faith
Justification by Faith
  • And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understand-ing, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Clement to the Corinthians
humanity of christ
Humanity of Christ
  • These early writers unquestionably regarded Jesus as a real man who died for our sins and rose again. At the same time, they recognized that the Spirit of God dwells fully in Him by identity, so that He is our Lord, our God, and our Savior.
  • There is no mention of “trinity” or “three persons,” nor do any other distinctively trinitarian terms or concepts appear. Instead, there is simply the teaching of one God and Lord of all.
  • Pseudo-Barnabas and Hermas made a few statements that could refer to a preexistent Son, but they can also be interpreted in a manner consistent with Oneness. If they intended to make a personal distinction, their view would not be trinitarian, but binitarian (two persons) and subordinating the second person to the first.
  • They stressed faith and repentance (the need to turn from the old life of sin), and they presented water baptism as the essential complement to repentance. They regarded it as necessary for the washing away of sins. Hermas wrote, “We descended into the water and received remission of our former sins,” and Pseudo-Barnabas spoke of “that baptism which leads to the remission of sins.”
  • Moreover, just as in the Book of Acts, they baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. For instance, Hermas spoke of being baptized “in the name of the Lord” and “in the name of the Son of God.” He stated that “no one shall enter into the kingdom of God unless he receive His holy name” and that we receive the name of the Lord at water baptism.
  • Clement, Ignatius, and Hermas all strongly emphasized the importance, sacredness, and power of the name of God, which they identified as Jesus.
operation of the holy ghost
Operation of the Holy Ghost
  • These writings mention the “full outpouring of the Holy Spirit” and miraculous gifts of the Spirit; the Didache describes prophets in the church of that day who spoke “in the Spirit.” It is evident that, just as in the Book of Acts, people were receiving the Holy Spirit and exercising various spiritual gifts.
early post apostolic writers a d 90 1401
Early-Post Apostolic Writers A.D. 90 -140

1. Clement of Rome

2. Polycarp

3. Ignatius

4. Hermas

5. Papias

6. Pseudo-Barnabas

clement of rome
Clement of Rome
  • Bishop of Rome in the 90s. He wrote two letters to the church at Corinth. The Clement of Philippians 4:3 is commonly believed to be Clement of Rome.
  • Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours, and when he had finally suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.” Clement to the Corinthians
  • Bishop of Smyrna. We have a brief letter he wrote to the Philippians about 100. He was burned at the stake at age 86. The Martyrdom of Polycarp was written in a later age, about 155, and in its present form contains both fanciful details and doctrinal errors.

“For whosover does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, he is Antichrist: and whoever does not confess his suffering upon the cross, is from the devil.” Polycarp to the Phillipians.

  • “And Whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts; and says that there shall neither be any resurrection, nor judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. Wherefore leaving the vanity of many, and their false doctrines; let us return to the word that was delivered to us from the beginning.” Polycarp to the Phillipians
new testament references in polycarp
New Testament References In Polycarp
  • 1 Pet 1:8,13,21; 2:11-12,22,24; 3:9,14; 6:7; Eph 2:8, 4:19; 4:26; 5:5 Ps 2:11; Phil 2:10; Col 2:5, 3:5; Luke 6:20, 37; Matt 5:3, 10; 6:13; 7:1; 12:14; 26:41; 1 Tim 2:1-2; 6:7; I Cor 5:10, 6:2,9,20 Rom 1:29, 2:24, 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10 Tit 2:5 I Th 5:22, Phile 1:1
  • Bishop of Antioch, whose writings date from about 110. We have seven genuine letters from him. He was martyred by being thrown to the lions.
  • Wrote to:
    • Polycarp of Smyrna
    • Smyrneans
    • Philadelphians
    • Romans
    • Trallians
    • Magnesians
    • Ephesians
  • “….. dear to me being entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ; who was the Father before all ages, and appeared in the end to us.” Epistle to the Magnesians
  • “Farewell, and be ye strengthened in the concord of God: enjoying his inseparable spirit, which is Jesus Christ.” Epistle to the Magnesians
  • “I exhort you that ye study to do all things in a divine concord: your bishop presiding in the place of God; your presbyters in the place of the council of the Apostles; and your deacons most dear to me being entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ; who was the Father before all ages, and appeared in the end to us.” Epistle to the Magnesians
  • “I exhort you to study to do all things with a divine harmony, while your bishop presides in the place of God, and your presbyters in the place of the assembly of the apostles, along with your deacons, who are most dear to me, and are entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed” Epistle to the Magnesians
  • “But if any one shall preach the Jewish law unto you, hearken not unto him; for it is better to receive the doctrine of Christ from one that has been circumcised, than Judaism for one that has not.” Ignatius to the Philadelphians.
  • “…and which I salute in the name of Jesus Christ (as being) united both in flesh and spirit to all his commands, and filled with the grace of God; (all joy) in Jesus Christ our God.” Ignatius to the Romans

“For even our God, Jesus Christ, now that he is in the Father, does so much the more appear. A Christian is not a work of opinion; but of greatness of mind, (especially when he is hated by the world.)” Ignatius to the Romans.

  • “Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, …. being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, andJesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.” Ignatius to the Ephesians
  • This was obviously edited later.
  • “…… elected through the true passion by the will of God the Father, and of our Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour : Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled joy.” Ignatius to the Ephesians
  • Wrote The Shepherd, c. 140-45, a quite popular book in its day. He is otherwise unknown to us, but tradition says he was from Rome.
  • Apparently Hermas did not hold any office in the church. In his work, we can see the over emphasis of angels in and amongst the church.
  • “’I heard, sir, some teachers maintain that there is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water and received remission of our former sins.’ He said to me, ‘That was sound doctrine which you heard; for that is really the case….’” Sherpherd of Hermas
  • “These are they who have heard the word, and wish to be baptized in the name of the Lord;” Shepherd of Hermas
  • “When we received the remission of sins, and put our hope on the Name,” Shepherd of Hermas
pseudo barnabas
  • “….. the baptism that brings the remission of sins.” Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas
allegorical interpretation
Allegorical Interpretation
  • He interpreted everything from the Old Testament in a symbolic way.
sources of opposition
Sources of Opposition
  • Judaic Apologists
  • Greek Philosophers (Classicism)
2 nd century heresies
2nd Century Heresies
  • Ebionites (Judaic-Christian sect)
  • Marcion (Similar to Gnosticism)
  • Montanism (Charismatic Sect)
  • At first they were a faction within the church, but gradually they were forced out of the church.
ebionites cont d
Ebionites cont’d
  • The most extreme of them said that Jesus was not God manifested in the flesh but merely a man upon whom the Spirit descended at His baptism.
  • They considered Him to be anointed by the Spirit and a great prophet in the tradition of the Old Testament, but not truly God.
  • They believed His mission was to bring a revival of repentance, a restoration of Old Testament worship, and a renewed emphasis on the law of Moses.
affect of the ebionites on christian doctrine
Affect of the Ebionites on Christian Doctrine
  • This is a foreshadowing of an anti-Jewish mindset that would last for millennia.
  • The rhetoric of some writers have applied the label of Ebionite to all Jewish Christians who continued to keep the law of Moses. Such people were not necessarily heretical, but the adjective heretical properly applies to all who made the keeping of the law necessary for salvation and especially to all who denied the deity and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
  • He also believe in the Gnostic Demiurge vs. Redeemer Concept.
  • They did not believe Christ can in the flesh (docetism).
  • He rejected the Old testament.
  • Marcion accepted as Scripture only ten of the Pauline Epistles and a mutilated version of the Gospel of Luke. Instead of the Gospels and the Apostles, he believed in the Gospel and the Apostle.
  • He rejected the rest of the New Testament because of quotations from the Old Testament and contradictions to his doctrine.
marcion cont d
Marcion cont’d
  • Marcion taught that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ, and his followers practiced water baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ.”
  • Asceticism - They taught strict discipline and even punishment of the body, and they rejected marriage.
marcion cont d1
Marcion cont’d
  • The Old Testament had not been fulfilled, but abolished, Jesus had come “to subvert the Creator and overthrow the law and the prophets.” Rather than to establish and fulfill them
  • Later followers of Marcion even emended Matt. 5:17 to read: “I have not come to fulfill the law but to abolish it.”
marcion cont d2
Marcion cont’d
  • Christ’s coming had not been prophesied by the Old Testament, but had been sudden and unforeseen.
  • Where the New Testament referred to the Old Testament as “Scripture” or employed the formula “It is written,” Marcion deleted the passage.
affect of marcion on christian doctrine
Affect of Marcion on Christian Doctrine
  • Because he chose certain books, the question arose about the canon.
  • The premise of Montanism was to keep the concept of Christ’s eminent return.
  • He was Charismatic (operated in the gifts of the Spirit), but most of his prophecies were reportedly apocalyptic/end times related.
  • Believed in living a holy and righteous life.
  • According to his contemporaries, he called himself the Paraclete (or Comforter) that Jesus promised that he would send in His name (John 14:26;15:26)
montanus cont d
Montanus cont’d
  • He began to refer to God as the Father, the son, and the Paraclete. According to his contemporaries, he was referring to himself as the Paraclete.
  • When he would prophesy he reportedly made a lot of strange sounds and gestures in an ecstatic state.
montanism s affect on christian doctrine
Montanism’s Affect on Christian Doctrine.
  • Contemporaries decreed that the Apocalypse of John (Book of Revelation) was the last truly inspired Prophecy. This doctrine still exists today among strictly orthodox Christianity.
the psychological affects of heresy on christian doctrine
The Psychological Affects of Heresy on Christian Doctrine
  • Everyone was on edge about false doctrine. Therefore, heretic would become an easy word to label an opponent.
  • It started to become obvious that Christianity needed to be well defined with a general consensus amongst theologians.
  • When under attack, if you are so concerned about your opponent you will start to tailor your defense of the truth to your attacker and therefore interpret it in a way that will (in your mind) best defeat the opposing argument.
  • First, Christians were persecuted by the Jews.
  • Next they were persecuted by the pagans, with the first severe Roman persecution occurring under Emperor Nero in the A.D. 60s. Tradition says both Peter and Paul were martyred during the Neronic persecution.
persecution cont d
Persecution cont’d
  • “In many cases, pagan opposition to Christianity was based on misunderstandings and false, scurrilous rumors. Since Christians often met in secret to avoid persecution, it was easy for their opponents to spread malicious gossip about what they did when they gathered together. It was commonly reported that Christians murdered people, sacrificed babies, ate human flesh, drank human blood, conducted orgies, and so on.” David K. Bernard The History of Christian Doctrine Vol 1
anti jewish sentiments
Anti-Jewish Sentiments
  • More and more pagans entered the church
  • The Epistle of Barnabas, while not going as far as Marcion in its rejection of the Old Testament, did claim that the original tablets of the covenant of the Lord were shattered at Sinai and that Israel had never had an authentic covenant with God.
anti jewish sentiments1
Anti-Jewish Sentiments
  • More and more pagans entered the church
  • What was offensive about Christianity in the eyes of Gentiles was, to a considerable extent, what it had inherited from Judaism. Celsus and other pagan critics ridiculed the claim that God had put in an appearance at, of all place, “some corner of Judea somewhere”; and the emperor Julian scored the Jewish and Christian conception of God as “ essentially the deity of a primitive and uncivilized folk,” even while he chided the “Galilieans” for forsaking Judaism.
anti jewish sentiments2
Anti-Jewish Sentiments
  • Virtually every major Christian writer of the first five centuries either composed a treatise in opposition to Judaism or made this issue a dominant them in a treatise devoted to some other subject.
judaic apologists
Judaic Apologists
  • Defended the Old Testament scripture in a way to refute the fact that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.
the christian response
The Christian Response
  • Physical Israel is no longer Israel.
  • The Church is now the true Israel.
  • Once this reinterpretation occurred, Christian doctrine took on an anti-Semitic attitude. This is where it began to unravel.
classical greek theology cont d
Classical Greek Theology cont’d
  • Stoics
    • Monism
  • Plato
    • Dualism
classical greek theology
Classical Greek Theology
  • Creation
    • The earlier conception was that of a chaos, out of which gods and all things alike proceeded.
    • The creative energy of God is spoken of as the Demiurgus, who himself made an ideal world, and employed subordinate agents in the construction of the actual world.
    • In Stoicism, there was the theory of the one Law or Logos expressing itself in an infinite variety of material forms
greek theology cont d
Greek Theology cont’d

The nature of God.

They used the term essence or substance to refer to God’s nature.

greek apologists 130 180 a d
Greek Apologists 130 -180 A.D.

Apologist-They are so called because they wrote apologies, or defenses of the faith, in the Greek language, to the Greeks, from a Greek mindset.

greek apologists cont d
Greek Apologists, cont’d
  • 1. MarcianusAristides, a philosopher in Athens who became a Christian. His Apology, addressed to Emperor Antoninus Pius, is probably the oldest surviving work inthis category, dating to 150 and perhaps as early as 125 or 130.
  • 2. The anonymous author of the Epistle to Diognetus, which is generally dated about 150 although it may be as early as 130. While not an apologetic writing, it was once attributed to Justin, and it expresses some thoughts characteristic of this time.
greek apologists cont d1
Greek Apologists, cont’d
  • 3. Flavius Justinus, or Justin (also known as Justin Martyr or Justin Philosopher), by far the most influential and prolific Greek Apologist. Justin was born in a Roman colony in Samaria and became a Greek philosopher. After his conversion to Christianity he traveled as alay preacher, but he was never ordained as a minister. He continued to call himself a philosopher and to wear the philosopher’s cloak. He resided in Rome on two different occasions and was ultimately beheaded there for his faith. Later writers often surnamed him Philosopher and Martyr. Important works of Justin include his First Apology (c. 150), Second Apology, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, and On the Resurrection.
greek apologists cont d2
Greek Apologists, cont’d

4. Tatianof Syria, a disciple of Justin who eventually became a Gnostic and founded an ascetic sect known as the Encratites (“abstainers”). He wrote Address to the Greeks (c. 150), and he compiled the Diatessaron, the earliest harmony of the Gospels, of which only fragments remain.

5. Melito, bishop of Sardis, of whose writings only fragments remain. He authored Apology, or To Marcus Aurelius (c. 170), On God Incarnate, The Key, Discourse on the Cross, On the Nature of Christ, Discourse on Soul and Body, and On Faith.

greek apologists cont d3
Greek Apologists, cont’d

6. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch from 168 to 181 and author of To Autolycus, a pagan friend.

7. Athenagoras, a philosopher reportedly of Athens. He addressed his Plea for the Christians (c. 177) to the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, and also wrote a treatise, On the Resurrection.

theophilus to autolycus
Theophilus to Autolycus
  • But as to what relates to the creation of man, his own creation cannot be explained by man, though it is a succinct account of it which holy Scripture gives. For when God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness,” He first intimates the dignity of man. For God having made all things by His Word, and having reckoned them all mere bye-works, reckons the creation of man to be the only work worthy of His own hands. Moreover, God is found, as if needing help, to say, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” But to no one else than to His own Word and wisdom did He say, “Let Us make.”
justin first apology
Justin: First Apology
  • Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judæa, in the times of Tiberius Cæsar; and that we reasonably worshipHim, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove.
justin first apology1
Justin: First Apology
  • Chapter LXI.—Christian baptism.

“Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water.”

justin second apology
Justin: Second Apology
  • Jesus is the name of God.
  • “But to the Father of all, who is unbegotten there is no name given. …. But these words Father, and God, and Creator, and Lord, and Master, are not names, …. And His Son, who alone is properly called Son, the Word who also was with Him and was begotten before the works, when at first He created and arranged all things by Him, is called Christ, ..... But “Jesus,” His name as man and Saviour, has also significance.”

Proof text that the Logos was a separate person. Proverbs 8:22-31 (it is actually talking about wisdom)

  • Origen was a theologian and apologist.
  • “…if all things were made, as in this passage also, through the Logos, then they were not made by the Logos, but by a stronger and greater than He. And who else could this be but the Father? Now if, as we have seen, all things were made through Him, we have to enquire if the Holy Spirit also was made through Him. it appears to me that those who hold the Holy Spirit to be created, and who also admit that "all things were made through Him," must necessarily assume that the Holy Spirit was made through the Logos, the Logos accordingly being older than He.” Commentary of John
god and the logos
God and the Logos
  • Logos is a Greek term translated as “Word,” and it represented a very popular Greek philosophical concept during this time. To the Greeks, the Logos was the reason of God or the reason by which the universe was sustained. It was not a god in a personal sense; rather it referred to the principles by which the universe operated.
god and the logos cont d
God and the Logos cont’d
  • Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle John used this term in his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). As a monotheistic Jew, he used it in sharp contrast to prevailing pagan philosophies, drawing instead upon the Old Testament background of God’s Word as God Himself in action and in self-revelation.
  • (See Psalm 107:20; Isaiah 55:11.) There was no thought that the Word was a second person. (See Isaiah 44:24; 45:5-6; 46:5, 9.) While John surely knew how his pagan contemporaries used the term, under divine inspiration he used it in a unique way to point both Jews and Gentiles to Jesus Christ as the one true God manifested in the flesh.
god and the logos cont d1
God and the Logos cont’d
  • They said, in effect, “The Logos you have been speculating about for hundreds of years is the basis of our faith. The Logos that controls the universe is actually Jesus Christ.” But to do that, instead of using the context of the Old Testament and the Gospel of John, the Apologists went to Greek philosophy to develop, define, and explain their doctrine of the Logos.
operation of the holy ghost1
Operation of the Holy Ghost
  • In his Against Celsus, Origen does not deny the existence of prophecy.
    • “First he lays it down that there are several kinds of prophecies, but he does not specify what they are;