Catholicity. The Early Church Period. NE District Pastors’ Institute April 2013. Catholicity. Catholicity: The Early Church. Introduction: What does this mean?. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw. Introduction:. “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church…
The Early Church Period
NE District Pastors’ Institute
Late 19th c.
vs. “human authority”
4th- 5th c
Mid 3rd c:
“Great Church” vs.
“fullness” in confession and liturgy
Tubigen / Oxford Movement:
“incarnation / divine indwelling”
“the visible continuity of the Church in the apostolic succession of the episcopate”
“the initiative of the Word of God and the response of faith, focused on the doctrine of justification sola fide.”
“If by ‘orthodoxy’ we mean an opinion which was held without demur by the entire church body of the faithful, there was no orthodoxy – and hence, if you will, no church – from the time of Jesus; if we mean the expressed consensus of those prelates who were summoned to general councils, it is easier to discover orthodoxy before Nicaea than in any subsequent period of ecclesiastical history, from the fourth century to our own.”
Edwards, M. Catholicity and Heresy in the Early Church (p.7)
“For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works." This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years;and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.”
Irenaeus, Against All Heresies
“Go therefore, and declare to the elect of the Lord His mighty works, and tell them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation which is to come. If therefore ye prepare yourselves beforehand, and repent (and turn) unto the Lord with your whole heart, ye shall be able to escape it, if your heart be made pure and without blemish, and if for the remaining days of your life ye serve the Lord blamelessly. Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will set them straight.”
Hermas, The Shepherd
See lest any man lead you astray from this way of righteousness, for he teacheth thee apart from God.
For if thou art able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, thou shalt be perfect;but if thou art not able, do that which thou art able.
But concerning eating, bear that which thou art able;yet abstain by all means from meat sacrificed to idols;for it is the worship of dead gods.
Ver. 56. "Now the sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law.“
“But how is "the law also the power" thereof? Because without the law sin was weak, being practiced indeed, but not able so entirely to condemn: since although the evil took place, it was not so clearly pointed out. So that it was no small change which the law brought in, first causing us to know sin better, and then enhancing the punishment. And if meaning to check sin it did but develop it more fearfully, this is no charge against the physician, but against the abuse of the remedy.”
St. John Chrysostum, Homily
The occasion must be embraced which puts an end to that which necessitycommanded. How detrimental to faith, how obstructive to holiness, second marriages are, the discipline of the Church and the prescription of the apostle declare, when he suffers not men twice married to preside (over a Church), when he would not grant a widow admittance into the order unless she had been “the wife of one man;” for it behooves God’s altar to be set forth pure. That whole halo which encircles the Church is represented (as consisting) of holiness. Priesthood is (a function) of widowhood and of celibacies among the nations.
Tertullian, Ad Uxorem
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty;
And in the Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, who was begotten of him before all ages, the Divine Logos, through whom all things were made, both those in the heavens and those on the earth;
Who came down and was made flesh; and suffered; and rose again; and ascended to the heavens; and shall come again to judge the living and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost; and in the resurrection of the flesh;
And in the life of the world to come; and in a kingdom of heaven;
And in one Catholic Church of God which extends to the ends of the earth.
The Private Creed of Arius, 328 A.D.
Against the Heresies
Apostolic succession: the faith ensured
“The natural place to look for this common tradition was in the agreement of the churches the apostles founded. In other words, apostolicity implies catholicity, universality.”
- Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. 1, p.635
Against the Heresies III.3-4
“Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. (ANF01 p. 596-600)
Serdica: Canon 10 (343/44 A.D.)
Bishop Hosius said: This also I think it necessary for you to consider most carefully, that if perchance some rich man or professional advocate or ex-official be desired for bishop, he be not ordained until he have fulfilled the ministry of a reader and the office of deacon and presbyter, and so ascend, if he have shown himself worthy, through the several grades to the height of the episcopate. For by these promotions which in any case take a considerable length of time can be tested his faith, his discretion, his gravity and modesty. And if he be found worthy, let him be honored with the divine sacerdotal office [i.e. the episcopate].
“…one holy, catholic, apostolic Church…”
“[The Donatists claimed]: The church of Christ has perished from all the world and survived in Africa in the faction of Donatus. It was wiped out in all other lands as if by the contagion of their fellowship.”
-Augustine De haeresibus ad Quodvultdeus, heresy 69
(quoted by Gerhard, p.53)
Augustine rebuking a heretic (13th c. manuscript)
Moreover, in the CatholicChurch itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic, which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.
-Vincent of Lerins, Commonitoriumca 434 A.D.
“Orthodox” may be a word to avoid, but some sort of terminology has to be applied. There never was a Garden of Eden for Christian theologians, in which no envious opponent would challenge one’s right to hold any speculative theory while remaining Christian, nor any bishop exclude the disciples of teachers with minority views.
“At the same time, it is right to be wary of too many distinctions: Christians were part of a small minority movement, still in 200 and all the more in 100. At the temporal distance from which we look at early Christians, the similarities between them are more important than the differences. “
- P. McKechnie, The First Christian Centuries: Perspectives on the Early Church (p.19)