16-The Daggers Come Out

This week’s episode is titled “The Daggers Come Out.”

The Council of Nicaea we looked at last episode dealt with more than just the Arian controversy over how to understand the nature of Christ. The 300 bishops who gathered in Nicaea also issued a score of rulings on issues of church life that had been subjects of discussion for years. Chief among these was setting the date for the annual celebration of the resurrection of Christ. They also set various rules for organizing the Church & the ministry of deacons and priests.

As the church grew with more and more congregations being formed, the need for some organization became apparent. So for administrative purposes, the church-world was divided into provinces with centers at Rome in the West & in the East; Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem & Constantinople. It may seem odd to us today that only 1 church was the Western center while the East had 4. Why so many in the East? The answer is that it was in the E that the church had its greatest extend & growth.
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15-Contra Munda

This week’s episode is titled, “Contra Munda

We begin with a quote from the Alexandrian Bishop, Athanasius . . .

[Jesus], the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognized as finally annulled. A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.
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14-Keeping a Record

This week’s episode is title, “Keeping a Record

I begin with a quite from the Early Church Historian, Eusebius . . .

May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent. May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other. May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help to my friends and to all who are in need. May I never fail a friend in trouble.

That’s from Eusebius’ commentary on the Golden Rule.

The first 3 Cs of Church History are at times a difficult puzzle to sort out because there was no coherent historical narrative being kept.
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13-How Close

This episode of is titled, “How Close?”

One of the things modern Christians want to know is how close their church is to the primitive church of the 1st & 2nd Cs. Congregations and entire movements claim their particular expression of the Faith is closest to the original. So, what were early church services like? Where did they meet and what did they do?

Until the end of the 2nd C, Christians met for services in private homes, deserted buildings, caves, near graves of martyrs, & in catacombs. Catacombs were a common feature of many cities of the Empire. Besides their primary use as burial places, they were the frequent hiding places of refugees, smugglers, and groups that wanted to meet without the watchful eye of the authorities. Rome’s catacombs were a massive subterranean tunnel system.
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12-The Lapsed Dance

This episode of CS is provocatively titled “The Lapsed Dance.

In “Martyrs” the 4th episode, we examined the persecution Christians faced at the hands of the authorities of the Roman Empire. We noted that persecution, while at times fierce, wasn’t one, long campaign of terror that lasted for 1 coup-le centuries. It tended to be rather spasmodic & regional, based on the whim of the current emperor & enforced in a spotty fashion by governors who either agreed or disagreed with the official policy from Rome. There were a couple seasons of persecution in the 3rd C that were Empire wide, and these proved to be the most intense.
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11-What Shall We Call Them

This Episode is titled, “What Shall We Call Them?”

A quote from an early 2nd C martyr à

It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but to actually be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name…Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the Devil–Only let me get to Jesus Christ!

That’s from Ignatius, Bishop of the church at Antioch, in one of several letters he wrote while under arrest & on his way to Rome where he was executed for his faith.
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10-Hammering Out the Details

This week’s episode is titled “Hammering out the Details.

We begin with a selection of quotes from Tertullian.

  • Christians are made, not born.
  • See, they say, how these Christians loveone another, for the pagans are animated by mutual hatred; how the Christians are ready even to die for one another, for the pagans themselves will sooner put to death.
  • We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed.
  • Truthpersuades by teaching, but does not teach by persuading.
  • Truth does not blush.
  • Out of the frying pan into the fire.
  • He who flees will fight again.
  • It is certainly no part of religion to compel religion.
  • Reason, in fact, is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason — nothing which He has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.
  • We worship unityin trinity, and trinity in unity; neither confounding the person nor dividing the substance

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09-Striving to Give an Answer

This episode of CS is titled, “Striving to Give an Answer”

We begin with a quote from the 3rd C. Church Father Origen –

“We who by our prayers destroy all demons which stir up wars, violate oaths, and disturb the peace are of more help to the emperors than those who seem to be doing the fighting.”
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08-Not Really An Apology

This episode is titled, “Not Really an Apology.”

We begin with another quote from Irenaeus, Bishop of the Church in Lyons –

“Error is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself.”
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07-The Spreading Tree

This 7th episode of CS is titled, “The Spreading Tree “

Tertullian, pastor of the church of Carthage in North Africa, addressed unbelievers at the beginning of the 3rd C, saying à

“We are but of yesterday, and yet we already fill your cities, islands, camps, your palace, senate and forum; we have left to you only your temples.”

That introduces our theme for this episode; the expansion of the Faith in the early centuries.
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