Heresy: Then & Now

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Introduction HERESY: THEN & NOW


Heresy: Then & Now. Introduction. Christianity: The First Five Centuries The Early Days (AD 0-100). - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Christianity: The First Five CenturiesThe Early Days (AD 0-100)• During the first century, the

Church begins. Followers of Jesus slowly begin to spread out into the world, spurred on by the sacking of Jerusalem in AD 70. The first Christian communities were Jewish, and were considered so by the Roman Empire. However, after the loss of Jerusalem, the Church drifted further and further from these roots into a more Gentile church.

• AD 30, Jesus’ crucifixion, Pentecost• AD 46-60, Paul’s missionary

journeys• AD 64, Nero blames fire in

Rome on Christians, persecution erupts, Peter and Paul martyred• AD 66-74, First Jewish Revolt,

Jerusalem burned (AD 70)• AD 93, The Book of

Revelation written

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Spreading Out (AD 100-250)• During the second and third

centuries, the church spread more and more into the world, and suffered frequently from persecution. The individual communities were socially isolated and shunned, leading them to have a strong sense of shared identity as Christians. Churches were connected through letter writing, passing on texts, and communication between bishops. This period also sees the emergence of canon, creed, and episcopacy.

• Persecution occurs during this period between 90-138, 161-180, 202-211, 235-236, 249-251• AD 115-117, Second Jewish

Revolt• AD 117, Ignatius of Antioch

martyred• AD 150, Justin Martyr first

describes Christian worship• AD 185, Irenaeus of Lyon writes

regarding Apostolic Succession, canon of Scripture• AD 200, Tertullian first to use

the term ‘trinity’• AD 249-251, Emperor Decius

orders systematic persecution of Christians

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Settling In (AD 250-350)• After Decius’ persecution, the

church enjoyed a time of stability and peace. Churches and cathedrals were built openly, converts were made, and bishops met together in council to discuss pressing issues. The church was also shifting from seeing itself as a society of saints to a school for sinners. After a brief and bloody revival of persecution, Christianity is recognized and officially tolerated by the Roman Empire. The first Christian emperor sits on the throne and the first ecumenical council is called.

• AD 303-305, the Great Persecution under Diocletian• AD 312, Constantine wins

battle of Milvian Bridge after vision of Christ• AD 313, ‘Edict of Milan’,

Christianity favored by Emperor Constantine• AD 325, Council of Nicea

meets at Constantine’s invitation to settle the Arian debate, rules on Jesus’ divinity using the word homoousios

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Church and Empire (AD 350-500)• The Church at this point becomes increasingly institutionalized and Romanized, and enjoys the benefits of being an established religion. Many people seek to convert, for many reasons. Schism continues to threaten the church. The Roman Empire becomes increasingly harassed on its borders until it falls, leaving the Church on its own in a new world.

• AD 367, Athanasius formalizes the New Testament• AD 381, Council of Constantinople,

Arianism and Apollinarianism rejected, Nicene-Constantinople Creed formalized• AD 394, Christianity the official state

religion of Rome• AD 410, Alaric the Goth sacks Rome• AD 431, Council of Ephesus rejects

Pelagianism and Nestorianism• AD 451, Council of Chalcedon rejects

Monophysitism• AD 455, Vandals sack Rome• AD 440-461, Leo the Great asserts

papal authority• AD 476, the Western Roman Empire


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What is Heresy?• Heresy is a deficient understanding of the Christian faith that, although at one time may have seemed acceptable, is later shown to erode the core of the faith of the church.• Not unbelief• Not outside attack on Christianity• It arises from within the church

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Why Did Heresy Arise?• Early uncertainty over which resources were to be regarded as authoritative by all Christian communities• Diversity concerning aspects of the Christian faith within the documents that would later be gathered together as the New Testament• Divergent interpretations of these documents, leading to different ways of thinking emerging within the Christian church• Diversity of patterns within early Christian worship• An inability to enforce uniformity

• Taken from Alister McGarth, Heresy, 46-47