We left off in Part 10 with the third century Church Fathers. What we are going for is giving you a cross-section of what Rabbinical Judaism and Gentile Christianity believed and to get an idea of both, up to about 600 AD. We are going to see that both will “bounce off” one another and develop certain ways to combat each other. Gentile Christianity will develop because of anti-Jewish sentiments developed before and after three wars fought with The Jewish people. The leaders will slowly develop a theology that will be anti-Torah (what the Scriptures call “lawlessness”) and based on Greek philosophy and paganism.
We are going to begin with Irenaeus (late second century) and he ministered in Gaul and Smyrna. He wrote against Gnosticism and studied under Polycarp, opposed Gnosticism and had premillennial views. He was martyred in Lyon allegedly. Clement (150-215 AD) ministered in Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. He said that the Jews rejection of Yeshua was why their plight was miserable. He was trained in Greek philosophy, converted to Gentile Christianity as an adult, emphasized the Greek concept of the Logos and interpreted Scripture allegorically. Tertullian (160-220 AD) ministered in Carthage. He wrote the “Prescription of Heretics”, “Against Marcion” and “Against Praxeus.” He was the son of a Roman officer, trained in law, and was converted in middle age. He laid important works associated with the Trinity. He taught the rejection of the Jews. Hippolytus (170-236 AD) ministered in Rome. He said that the Jews and their pitiful condition was due to their rejection of “Jesus.” He studied under Irenaeus, opposed contemporary bishops of Rome, used allegory to interpret Scripture and died in exile in Sardinia.
Julius Africanus (160-240 AD) ministered in Palestine, studied under Origen and researched history from creation to 221 AD. Origen (185-254 AD) is considered a hero in Christianity. He believed he could be raised higher in the Kingdom of God by castrating himself. He destroyed manuscripts that didn’t agree with his views. He took some of the best manuscripts and put them into six columns. The fifth column was his version and this compilation became the basis for the Latin Vulgate. His father Leonidas was martyred in 202 AD, studied under Clement, succeeded Clement as a catechist, advocated the allegorical approach to Scripture, was very ascetic, exiled by his enemies in the church and died after torture at the hands of the Romans, believing you became a god if you were martyred.
Cyprian (200-258 AD) ministered in Carthage. He was trained in rhetoric, converted to Gentile Christianity 245 AD, was bishop of Carthage and was influenced by Tertullian. He recognized the authority of the episcopate, took a strict stand against those who faltered under persecution and was martyred under Valerian. Gregory Thaumaturgos (213-270 AD) ministered in Palestine and Asia Minor. He was converted and studied under Origen and was known as the “wonder worker.” He was bishop of neo-Caesarea.
Now, Constantine became emperor in 312 AD, and the Council of Nicea was in 325 AD. Here are some of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. These will also have a tremendous impact of Gentile Christianity. Lacantius (240-320 AD) ministered in Italy and Gaul. He was born to pagan parents, converted to Gentile Christianity as an adult and served as a tutor to Constantine’s son. Eusebius (263-339 AD) ministered in Caesarea. He wrote an ecclesiastical history of the church and a life of Constantine. He believed that Jews were poor in intelligence, was biased and very anti-Semitic. He is known as the father of church history, taught in a theological school in Caesarea, became bishop there and sought compromises in the Arian controversy (more on this later) opposing both Arius and Athanasius. He was a friend and advisor to Constantine and was anti-millennial.
Hilary (291-371 AD) was converted later in life, opposed Arianism and was named bishop of Poitiers in 350 AD. Athanasius (296-373 AD) ministered in Alexandria. He defended the trinity doctrine, became secretary to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, participated in the Council of Nicea and named patriarch of Alexandria. He was exiled five times and lived as an ascetic. Basil (329-379 AD) ministered in Cappadocia, was raised in a Christian home, studied philosophy in Athens, and lived an ascetic life. Became bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia and opposed Arianism. He began a hospital for lepers.
Gregory of Nyssa (330-394 AD) also ministered in Cappadocia, and was the brother of Basil. He was influenced by Origen and was an allegorist. He lived an ascetic life, and did not marry. He became bishop of Nyssa in 372 and opposed Arianism. Was first to stress the distinction between substance and the persons of the Trinity. He participated in the Council of Constantinople. Gregory of Nazianzus (330-390 AD) ministered in Cappadocia and Constantinople. He was bishop of Nazianzus, studied with Basil in Athens, and lived an ascetic life. He opposed Arianism.
Ambrose (340-397 AD) ministered in Milan. He was the son of the governor in Gaul and was prepared for civil service. He was acclaimed bishop of Milan in 374 AD before baptism, was ascetic and opposed Arianism. He withstood Emperor Theodosius over the massacre of the Thessalonians and influenced Augustine through his sermons. John Chrysostom (374-407 AD) ministered in Antioch and Constantinople. Chrysostom means “golden mouthed” and was a great preacher. He stressed ethical application in his sermons, preferred a monastic life and introduced December 25th as the birth of Christ to the eastern empire. Jerome (345-420 AD) ministered in Rome, Antioch and Bethlehem. He was born into a Christian family and educated in rhetoric. He advocated the monastic life, spent years in the desert, and one of the few Christians who knew the Hebrew language. He became the secretary to the bishop of Rome and encouraged many Roman women to live the ascetic life. His Latin Vulgate later became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.
Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428 AD) ministered in Antioch and Mopsuestia. He was the father of the Antiochan theology. He was a friend of Chrysostom, abandoned the monastic life to marry and stressed the grammatical-historical context for interpreting Scripture. He opposed the allegorical approach and was the teacher of Nestorius. He was condemned by the Second Council of Constantinople. Augustine (354-430 AD) ministered in North Africa. He was born to a pagan father and a Christian mother. He studied Greek philosophy at Carthage, opposed the Manichaean heresy, the Donatists (an error taught by a Christian bishop that the effectiveness of a sacrament depended on the moral character of the minister) and Pelagians (who said that original sin did not taint human nature and that man is capable of choosing good over evil without divine help), was converted in 386 AD. He was influenced by Ambrose and named bishop of Hippo in 395 AD. He believed in a mild form of asceticism and his work was used to support both sides of almost every medieval theological debate.
Cyril (376-444 AD) ministered in Alexandria and was the champion of the Alexandrian theology. He used force and trickery against his opponents, both Christian and others and opposed Chrysostom, Theodore and Nestorius. He advocated the adoration of Mary. Now, we are going to look into what is called the Ante (before)-Nicene (the Council of Nicea) Heresies. Ebionism originated in Palestine and spread to Asia Minor and taught the Mosaic law for salvation. This movement was made up of Jewish believers and used the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew. Some believe that the book of Hebrews was written with these pre-Ebionite believers in mind. The Nazarenes didn’t believe this, and taught that faith in Jesus alone was sufficient and that the Torah was a guide, teaching and instruction.
The Ebionites were not big fans of Paul and acknowledged that Yeshua was the Messiah, but was just a man on whom the Holy Spirit came upon at baptism. They looked for the imminent return and the Millennium. Now we will be using “Christ” and “Jesus” because we want to illustrate that a different religion is developing and to show the difference. Gnosticism had many leading teachers like Simon Magus, Marcion and Tatian. It was popular from the first century to about 172 AD. It had pagan roots, mysticism and was throughout the empire. The followers of Gnosticism thought that the earth was created and ruled by a lesser deity, they possessed a unique, higher insight (gnosis) that enabled their redemption and thought they were “spirit” and others body and soul. They taught that matter was evil, used allegory to interpret Scripture and said that the body of Christ was an illusion.
Montanism was a second century heresy that was millennial, generally orthodox in belief, believed in “tongues” and thought of themselves as spiritual, others carnal. They believed in prophetic revelation and that Montanus, the founder, dwelt within him as an instrument in guiding men. They believed in the universal priesthood of believers and were opposed to art of any kind. They sought martyrdom. Manichaeism was a heresy about 215 to 277 AD, taught by Mani. They held a dualistic view of creation with Christian, Gnostic and pagan elements. It is based on a belief of a primeval conflict between light against darkness and believed Christ was a representative of light, and Satan darkness. They said the apostles corrupted Christ’s teaching and Mani revealed it in it’s true form. He taught that the body of Christ was only an illusion and his followers were very ascetic. They kept Sunday as a holy day in honor of the sun-deity. Now, remember, these church fathers and heresies came about because the people rejected anything Jewish due to three Roman-Jewish wars, and the people stopped studying the Tanach. It is the same problem today. People have rejected the Jewishness of the Scriptures and the concepts, opening themselves up to many other heresies that have come down through the years. There were some ancient Church Trinitarian heresies as well.
Monarchianism believed that “Jesus” became Christ at his baptism, was adopted by the Father after his death and that God was one person. Sabellianism (Modalism, Patripassionism) believed that God reveals himself in three ways. Arianism said the Jesus did not exist before he was “begotten”, so he is a created being, and not coeternal. They believed that the Father alone was God, that the son was essentially different and did not possess by nature immortality, sovereignty, wisdom, goodness and purity.
Semi-Arianism believed that Christ is of similar essence with the Father, but is subordinate to him. Macedonianism believed that the Holy Spirit is a created being by the Son, similar to Arianism. There were also ancient Church heresies about the Messiah. Appolinarianism believed that Christ had no divine mind, but had a human body and soul. Nestorianism believed that there were two separate beings in Christ, a God-bearing man rather than God-Man. They affirmed a merely mechanical rather than organic union of the person of Christ.
Eutychianism said that the human nature of Christ was absorbed by the Logos, and that his human nature was not lioke everyone else. Monophysitism said Christ had one nature after the union of the divine and the human. Monothelitism said that Christ had no human will, just a divine will, and two natures. In
Part 12, we will pick up here and start discussing the factors that contributed to the supremacy of the Roman bishop and how this was the basis for what is known as the Pope today. We will also touch on the development of the Episcopacy (government of the church by bishops, then followed by priests, presbyters and then deacons) in the first five centuries and the ecumenical councils of the early Church. We will also go into showing who Constantine was and the Council of Nicea. All of this are being touched on because they are the basis for a new religion that is developing called Christianity and how it is very different to the faith that is revealed in the Scriptures.