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4 - Formation of Christian Doctrine.docx

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HIST 288
Emily O' Brien

The Practice of Early Christianity The Early Church • Ekklesia: assembly or church (not a physical space) • The Church consisted of different people − Bishops − Presbyters Clergy − Deacons − Laity • Many individual churches were bound together by the belief in Jesus and a commitment to living according to the words of Jesus and the apostles • Baptism − Initiation − Catechumen is word for someone in process of preparing to be baptized − Elaborate ritual with vigorous preparation − Need education − If not baptized cannot participate in worship or Eucharist (communion) − Being baptized and receiving Eucharist allows you to participate in Jesus’s sacrifice and have a deeper union by physically eating the bread and wine. Also allows you to experience community • Structure – variation between congregations − Eucharist − Scripture from Hebrew bible − Sermon or homily − Act of mutual charity − Generally in private houses or rented halls. Some houses become churches − Eventually churches are built − Christian catacombs often built on burial places of martyrs Formation of Christian Doctrine • Council of Jerusalem (50 CE) − Peter, James, Paul, Barnabas − Issues with” Christians” who did not know about Jesus and the Holy Spirit − Disagreements over relationship with God the Father. o Some believe Jesus was an add on to Judaism and they were still under Law o Others believe in a new convenant o Main issues are circumcision and dietary restrictions − Those in Jerusalem meet with Paul o how to maintain the church o stated that Gentile Christians did not have to follow the ceremonial rituals of the Jews o opened the door for gentiles an Jews to be united as Christians • Doctrine was very fluid and diverse until the 5 century. The only common ground is the belief that Jesus is the Messiah and come to save the people from their sins − Questions of what is the nature of God? − The divinity and humanness of Jesus − The concept of the trinity • Divisions threatened to develop into competing religions and different systems Questions: 1. What were the competing Christianities? 2. From these competing Christianities, how did a catholic, orthodox Christianity develop? Competing Christianities: An Overview • The Relationship between Jesus and the Father a) No distinction between the two – Monarchianism − Jesus represents the Father in a different mode − Father has to temporarily become Jesus − Not two separate beings b) Distinction between the two – Arianism (3 /4 Century BC) − Jesus was created by the Father − They are not the same essence − Jesus was a lesser divinity and not eternal like God − There was a time when God existed but Jesus did not − This was not the orthodox way c) No distinction in substance but Jesus as a different entity - Homoousios − Jesus part of essence of God eternally − Begotten and eternally begotten − This become orthodox belief • Divinity of Jesus a) Jesus not human (Gnosticism) – humans are evil so why would God put himself in an evil encasing b) Jesus was not full
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