A Study of Church Hist ry
Eras of Church History The First Century Church (33 -100 A.D.) The Apostolic Fathers (100 – 180 A.D.) The Apologists (180 – 250 A.D.) The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Growth of Papal Power (787 – 1517 A.D.) The Protestant Reformation (1517 – 1800 A.D.) The Restoration (1800 – Present)
The First Century Church (33 -100 A.D.) Beginning Organization Worship Membership Rapid Growth Warnings Early Problems
The Apostolic Fathers (100 – 180 A.D.) “One step removed from the apostles” The New Testament was completed by 96 A.D. Their writings were uninspired. Their writings show that during this time period the church was following the New Testament pattern.
CLEMENT of ROME The church at Rome had three elders Linus, Anacletus and Clement. The church in Corinth was having leadership difficulties On behalf of the elders at Rome, Clement wrote a general letter. The letter - two hundred scripture references. - the church was governed by a plurality of elders. - no distinction made between bishops and elders.
POLYCARP A companion of the Apostles (close friend of John) One of the Elders at Smyrna for 50 years Martyred February 22, 156 A.D. (86 years old) Letter to the church at Philippi - quotes from the New Testament 60 times (34 times from Paul’s epistles) - plurality of elders Revelation 2:8 -11
The TEACHING of the TWELVE APOSTLES Author unknown Also known as The DIDACHE “Churches governed by a plurality of elders” “Worship service still the same” “The Lord Supper every Sunday” “Baptism is immersion” “Emergency Baptism”
SHEPHERD of HERMAS Slave > Farmer > Sinner > Christian > Elder Article written to correct false notion of no forgiveness of sins after baptism “Plurality of elders” “No distinction between elders and bishops” Baptism is for forgiveness of sins and is immersion”
Summary The best information on the church of the first eighty years after the death of the last apostles is found in the works of these writers.
Summary Through their writings we find that the actual practices of the church had changed little from that set forth in the New Testament.
Summary These writers give evidence of the independence of each congregation and there is no reference to the church at Rome having any preeminence. Peter is neither mentioned as the Bishop of Rome nor is there any mention of his having been in Rome. Baptism is referred to by all as immersion for the remission of sin.
The Apologists (180 – 250 A.D.) During its early history the church was tolerated by the Roman government as a sect of the Jews. Roman officials began to regard the church as an illegal religion. Official persecution of the church began with Nero in 54 A.D. Driven to worship in secret, all manner of false accusations begin to be brought upon Christians. “Cannibals!” “Incest!” “The great fire of Rome!” “Atheists and pagans!” Leaders in the church began to defend Christianity by writing what is know as the “Apologies.” These “defenses” of Christianity give us a clear picture of what the church was like during this time period.
Justin Martyr “To the Emperor Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Caesar, and to his son Verissimus the Philosopher, and to Lucius the Philosopher, the natural son of Caesar, and the adopted son of Pius, a lover of learning, and to the sacred Senate, with the whole People of the Romans” Justin urges the emperor to investigate Christianity and learn the truth. Christians are not pagans or idolaters. Christ was a fulfillment of prophecy. But what is most significant is what he says about the worship service at this time.
Justin Martyr “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.”
Justin Martyr Lord Supper every Sunday No instruments of music Baptism was for the remission of sins and was immersion All Christians were priests Churches autonomous with a plurality of elders and no distinction made between elders and bishops; clergy and laity
Other Apologists Tatian - Wrote the first harmony of the four gospels Melito (elder at Sardis) – Christianity and the New Testament is God’s final revelation and that the Old Testament was abolished and was only a foreshadowing of the New Testament
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Tiberius (33 A.D. – 37 A.D.) The church grew rapidly. No persecution. Gaius or Caligula (37-41) No persecution but the groundwork was laid when he declared himself to be god. Acts 9:31 was written during this time period.
Acts 9:31 (KJV) Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Claudius (41-54) He gave Judea to Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2). Riots broke out in Rome involving the Jews and their hatred of Christians (Acts 18:2) Nero (54-69) July 18, 64 A.D. fire broke out in the city of Rome, burned for 9 days. Nero blamed the Christians to remove blame from himself. Large number of Christians killed; James the brother of Jesus, Peter and Paul died during his reign.
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Vespasian (69-79) No record of persecution of Christians but Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. as foretold in Mt. 24. Domitian (81-96) Blood thirsty killer of Christians who thought he was a god. One could not hold property as a Christian John banished to Isle of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Trajan (98-117) Emperor worship is now the norm. Attempts were made to totally wipe out Christianity (declared illegal). Hadrian (117-138) – Persecutions died down Antoninus Pius (136-161) – No written accounts of persecution???
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Marcus Aurelius (161-180) Great persecutions again, many church leaders were killed including Justin and Polycarp. Falsely accused to steal property. “Loyalty Oath” (180-193) – Persecutions continued. Severus (193-211) – Official law forbidding conversion to Christianity.
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Decius (249-251) – Devised plan to reveal identity of all Christians. Annual sacrifice to Roman gods where a certificate was given without which no work, food, or property. 10 percent of Roman now Christian. Valerian (253-260) – Continues Decius’s policies. Various Rulers (260-284) – No persecution recorded; Large church buildings were built.
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Diocletian (284-305) Committed to destroying Christianity completely. Worst persecution in the history of the world. All building burn, all scripture destroyed, all Christians killed. He built a monument to self as one who destroyed Christianity.
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Galerious (305-311) Realize the failure of Diocletian and acknowledge that Christianity would never be destroyed. On his deathbed issued the “Edict of Toleration” Official end of Roman Government’s persecution of Christians
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Constantine issues the “Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. This not only grants Christians the right to exist, but Christianity is now encouraged. Civil Court restitution cases Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire.
Persecution to Victory (54 A.D. – 325 A.D.) Even though persecution had stopped, a great danger was ahead. Christianity for hundreds of years had know persecution but now it had suddenly stopped! With this new freedom, heresy and unscriptural changes began almost immediately.
The Development of the New Testament A group of church leaders or councils did not decide on the canon but each congregation worked independently and came to the same conclusion or canon. The providence of God was at work!
Later Apologists and Early Departures Tertullian Argues that persecution will never destroy the church but increase it. “We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed.”
Later Apologists and Early Departures Irenaeus Scripture should be the only authority! Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the only inspired Gospels Isaiah 7:14 = “virgin” Gives us a list of the bishops of Rome but Peter is not named
Later Apologists and Early Departures Origen The last great apologist and the first apologist to write in Latin At the age 17 he saw his father arrested and put to death for being a Christian He produced an Old Testament in six languages in parallel columns (9,000 pages) and wrote a commentary for each book.
Later Apologists and Early Departures Early Bad Influences Greek philosophy lead to rationalism Judaism lead to ceremony and ritual The pride of men lead to the concept “I can improve on God’s word and I know what is best.”
Later Apologists and Early Departures Early Departures in Church Government “Chairmen or Presidents” = Bishop By the close of the third century these bishops were regarded as successors to the apostles. Large city bishops began to oversee country churches, then regions. Bishops began to look to Rome for spiritual advice because it was headquarters of the world.
Later Apologists and Early Departures Early Development of the Priesthood Patterned after Judaism Distinction between those who led worship Lord Supper began to become a ceremony of pomp and ritualism Original Sin and Infant Baptism Tertullian (160-220) first to formulate the doctrine of original sin. Cyprian (248-258) provided the obvious conclusion i.e. infant baptism, but this did not become a general practice until the fifth century.
Later Apologists and Early Departures Early Observance of Easter Christian calendar around the life of Christ that coincided with pagan celebrations and Jewish feasts to make the church more attractive.
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The influence of Constantine Why he supported the church He was convinced that the God of the Christians was the strongest supernatural force in the world. In the west of the empire, there was very little persecution… peace and prosperity was the result. “The Vision of the Cross” He saw the church as a tool of unity and culture.
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The influence of Constantine How he supported the church (Edict of Milan) He pushed Christianity as the state religion. He returned all property back to Christians. He built elaborate buildings. He paid preachers from state treasuries. He declared Sunday to be a legal holiday.
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The influence of Constantine The Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) Dispute over the nature of Christ (persecution over). 318 bishops Constantine headed the council (“Bishop of Bishops) and made the keynote address even though he had not been baptized or even claimed to be a Christian. Issued the first man-made creed. Decreed that all churches must observe Easter on the same day. Constantine declared all churches must obey the judgment of the council giving the council the position of speaking for God
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The influence of Constantine This active interest in behalf of the church led Christians to exalt Constantine and rely on his decisions. The church soon gave up her independence and began to rely upon the Roman government for its organization and authority. The Irony Constantine did not become a Christian until right before his death. He kept his position as Chief Priest of the pagan religion. His life was not in harmony with Christianity, murdered his son and wife.
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Rule of the Ecumenical Councils The term ecumenical means universal. As applied to church councils it refers to the first eight councils to which all the Bishops were invited. They claimed final authority! Council of Nicaea, 325 First Creed First Church Law First Excommunication First Promotions (Rome, Alexandria, Antioch)
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Rule of the Ecumenical Councils Council of Constantinople, 381 Confirmed that the decisions of the first council was religious truth – “Shall not be set aside but shall remain dominant.” Confirmed the nature of the Holy Spirit. Confirmed that Jesus was both Divine and human. Council of Ephesus, 431 “Mary, mother of God”
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Rule of the Ecumenical Councils Council of Chalcedon, 451 The Bishop of Rome (rule the West) and the Bishop Constantinople (rule the East) were equal. “Anathema to all who do not confess that the Virgin Mary is the mother of God.” To settle an argument…“Peter has spoken through Leo”. Four councils after this but nothing was really accomplished except the Council of Nicaea in 787 approved the use of “images”.
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils The Establishment of a Catholicity Bishops recognized the New Testament as authoritative, but they believe it needed an authoritarian interpretation. Organization was needed to demand conformity, therefore, a pattern of doctrine developed designated as “Catholic”.
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils Sacredotalism A system of sacraments that provide the grace of God. From the scriptural position of the priesthood of all believers there developed a distinct priestly class. As the priestly class developed and the priests began to things for the common Christians that they could not do for themselves. The administration of the baptism and Lord’s Supper became the sole privilege of the Bishop. Grace is needed for salvation; Sacrament needed for grace; Bishop could only administer sacrament, therefore… CONTROL
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils Baptism During this period – necessary salvation (remission of sins) Only performed by an approved official Performed only on certain days Candidates were required to go through a period of training An elaborate ceremony Renounce the Devil Salt sprinkled on head Milk and honey consumed after baptism Dressed in white robes and paraded home wearing crowns Infant baptism became a common practice after 450 A.D. Sprinkling was not practiced except in case of emergencies (Novatian 251)
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils The Lord Supper Came to be viewed as an offering at an altar. Members would bring bread and wine and give to Bishop who in turn would offer to God and used in service. At first it was considered a sacrifice of man unto God, but since it represented the sacrifice of Christ, the service became an offering of Christ unto God. Cyprian added the idea that the service reenacted the offering of Christ. Transubstantiation was the result but argued against by most until 800’s
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils Increase of Sacraments As infant baptism increased there arose the need for Confirmation before first communion It became the duty of the priest to determine whether or not a member genuinely repented and was contrite. This led to a priest absolving one from their sins establishing Penance. In order to regulate who could became a priest the sacrament of Ordination was instituted. Marriage could only be performed by a priest Based on James 5:14-15, the sacrament of Unction and Extreme Unction (last rites) were instituted. By the 600 A.D. all seven sacraments used by the Catholic church today were being practiced.
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils Special music introduced 4th Century – special singers which lead to choirs 5th Century – first record of instruments being used by some. By the 8th century worldwide
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils Monasticism It began to be taught that in order to be truly spiritual one needed to be celibate like the apostle Paul. This was followed by an over emphasis of being separated from the world. Lesson – to be truly religious one must be a hermit (250 A.D.) 4th Century – hermits began to be organized into monastic groups. Monks believed in exposing themselves to all manner of hardship in order to make themselves more spiritual All practiced the three vows – poverty, chastity, and obedience. Benedict (480-543) a reformer of monks Took the best leaders away. Provided a valuable resource during the dark ages (manuscripts)
The Formation of the Roman Catholic church (250 – 787 A.D.) The Development of Catholicism during the Time of the Ecumenical Councils The Theory and Rise of the Organization of Roman Catholicism “Christ left the church leaders all power and privileges that He had while on earth” Christ had a three-fold ministry – Prophet, Priest, and King These functions must now be taken over by the church leaders Prophet – teaching Priest – bestowing the grace of God King – final authority and rule