RS 110 Module 06.docx

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University of Waterloo
Religious Studies
RS 110
Peter Frick

RS 110 Module 06 Early Christianity: Introduction − End of 1st Century - Christians believe that Torah has nothing to do with Salvation • Observing Torah and the commandments of Torah could not guarantee salvation • Keeping Torah happens on an Ethical level, but solving salvation is an Ontological issue − Split between Judaism and Messianic Jews Gnostic Heresy − Beginning in the second half of 1st Century − Believed in a cosmic dualism between Good and Evil − Physical world and human body is under power of Evil • Creator made evil matter − Human beings have spiritual dimension that is trapped in body • This 'divine spark' can transcend the evil body that traps the human • Similar to Plato: The mind is trapped in the body − The way to salvation is through "Gnosis" (knowledge) that ignites the 'divine spark' − Rejected by early Christians for a few key reasons: • God is the creator of all • God is absolutely good • God sent Jesus to allow for salvation − From the very beginning Heresy and misunderstanding of the Gospel was present Marcion − Lived early 100s to mid 100s − Excommunicated from Church in 144 − Approached Christianity fromAnti-Judaic stance − Rejected Hebrew Bible and only accepted non-Jewish aspects of New Testament • His understanding of scripture was rather limited − Initiated process of canonization • Finalizing of what books are included in Holy scripture − Old and new Testaments underwent canonization − Other early Christian books were not canonized • These are theApocrypha • The are not believed to have the same value as those that are canonized Justin Martyr − Early 100's to mid 100's − Christian faith is an authentic and complementary expression of Greek philosophy − Truth comes from the eternal logos (eternal rationality; gives the cosmos its cohesiveness) • This truth was incarnated in Christ TheApostle's Creed - Trinitarian − Attempt by early Christians to clearly and accurately explain beliefs − Earliest Creed bringing together historical aspects and matters of faith − Creed comes from latin for I believe • God as the Creator • Outline of life of Jesus and theological significance • Holy Spirit − Notion of the Church was understood as one body • Organism within which every member was equally important • Oneness is important, not individual members − Church points out the reality of the coming of the kingdom of God − The Missionary aspect has been very important, more so in some denominations than others − Goes back to the Great Commission (End of Gospel of Matthew) • Go and make disciples (students) of all nations − Love commandment and seeking of God's kingdom must also be remembered Tertullian − Mid 100's to Early-Mid 200's − Attempted to give his faith a coherent intellectual framework − Sceptical about Greek Thought − Introduced a lot of theological terminology • Including Trinitas, or the trinitarian understanding of God (not tritheistic) Arius and Athanasius − Arius; mid 200s to mid 300s • Denounced as a heretic for teaching false doctrines • Jesus was created in time/space and was therefore not eternal  Anything that is created cannot be eternal • If this is so, he was able to commit sins • Jesus could therefore not be of the same essence as the Father • Issue of consubstantiality (whether or not Jesus was as the same nature as God) − Athanasius; Late 200s to Mid-late 300s • Convened Council of Nicea in 325 to discuss consubstantiality • Council affirmed consubstantiality between Father and Son • Nicene Creed was written based on the council's decisions • Arius was declared officially as a heretic The Emperor Constantine − Ruled from early 300s to mid 300s − Located in modern-day Istanbul; was also known as Constantinople − Saw a vision of the cross in clouds in the sky as well as a voice telling him to conquer − Led a military victory in 312 over the Roman Empire • He has just converted to Christianity • Moved the head of the Roman empire from Rome to Constantinople − Edict of Milan in 313 (public proclamation of Victory) • Christianity was from then on a tolerated religion politically • Very significant historically • If Constantine as the Roman Emperor had not given his support, Christianity may have not spread the way it did − In 380 Emperor Theodotian I pronounced Christianity as the only official religion − In 420 Emperor Theodotian II expelled the Jews from Jerusalem • Schools of Judaism in Yavneh were closed • Jewish people migrated to Babylon Augustine of Hippo − Youthful, extravagant life of pleasure − Wrote anAutobiography called Confessions • True introspective search for the meaning of life − Belonged to a Gnostic group called Manicheans • Believed in dualism between Good and Evil − Believed soul is restless until it finds rest in God • Person must relate to God in a certain way to find true peace − Major work was City of God • Argued that the fall of Rome was no the fall of the Christians − Known in part for Pelagian Controversy • Pelagius (360 - 418) believed every person sins for him or herself  Did not believe Sin is an ontological power or separation  Each person is born 'perfect' and then only as they commit acts of sins become sinners  Jesus was able to commit sins  It is possible not to sin (posse non peccare)  Jesus was one of the rare individuals who did not sin • Augustine  Sin is an ontological separation  Every person is born sinful; notion of original sin  It is not possible not to sin (non posse non peccare)  Even if a person could avoid committing an act of sin, they are still ontologically separated from God (still a sinner) − Modern theologians reject theAugustine idea of an actual genetic basis for inheriting 'sin' (no 'sin gene') − Reality of every person is that of a disrupted life; in that sense we all are under the power of Sin Councils of Nicea (Trinitarian) and Chalcedon (Christological) − Year 451, these early theological debates continued in the Council of Chalcedon − Chalcedon, second council - The question was Christological rather than trinitarian • Who is Jesus? Was he God or Human? Divine? • How can we make sense of Jesus being human and Divine? • Jesus was of two natures, complete and unmixed without confusion − Nicea - Is Jesus the same substance as the father? • Yes • Jesus is divine − Question of the role of the Holy Spirit had not yet been debated − The tension of that which we cannot explain but desire to due to the ontological difference between humans and a Monotheistic God will always exist Medieval Christianity − 500 - 1000 CE: Missionizing of Europe - Political solidification • 496 - Clovis, King of Franks, becomes Christian  On a political level there was a consolidation of emerging Feudal System  Religion and Government were intertwined  Began to missionize northern European Tribes • Mid 700s - Charlemange or Charles the Great  Year 800, Crowned Emperor of Holy Roman Empire  Became Christian, converted Europeans  Resulted in Christiandom: culture and religion mix • Synthesis of religion and culture • Some distinctive elements of Christian faith are lost or misunderstood in culture − The MiddleAges • Characterized as two broad empires after the victory of Constatine • Late Roman Empire (Western Europe)  Italy and West  Language - Latin  Center - Rome  Denomination - Roman Catholicism  Leader - Pope • Byzantine Empire (Eastern Europe)  Greece and Turkey  Language - Greek  Center - Constantinople  Denomination - Eastern Orthodoxy  Leader - Patriarch − 500 years from now this led to a split between East and West − Several Developments on parallel fashion • Papacy in west • Monasticism • Split between East and West • Crusades • Development of Scholastic (Academic) Theology − None of these are the "Most important"; parallel development of these occurred − Collectively we call this the development of the Christian Religion The Papacy − There is still a Pope to this day • Latin: Papa = Popes = Fathers − Notion of Papacy goes back to the New Testament − One man, patriarch, represents Christian Church on Earth − In the person of the Pope there is authority that claims ecclesial and theological authority • Authority with anything that has to do with the church − Notion that the Pope is a descendent of theApostle Peter − The popes exacted heavy taxes on the average person • Emergence of poverty was in some capacity related to the Papacy Pope Gregory I − Composed over 3000 Gregorian Chants − Battle for power was between Bishops and Pope on one side and Political powers on another Pope Boniface VIII − Issued declaration that said being subject to the Roman Pontiff is necessary for salvation − Initial pronouncement that in matters of religion, the Roman Pontiff (Pope) has the final say − Every Christian is under the authority
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