In the first part of this study an investigation was made into the evidence available on what the earliest Christian worship communities were like, as opposed to a common misconception in many Western congregations that it was extemporaneous and non-liturgical; and all degraded into nominal rigidness and hierarchical corruption after the legalization of the faith under Constantine. Having addressed this presupposition, attention will now be given to the purpose and meaning behind a seemingly antiquated
As another presidential primary season begins to boil in the wake of a dramatic Supreme Court decision, I found it helpful to revisit Chris Casberg’s excellent article series, The Future of Christianity in America. In this article, I present five examples of church-state integration (including American), and then close with the ultimate example of stateless Christianity. CHURCH VERSUS STATE When Jesus promised to build his gathering of believers in Matthew 16:18, he did not call
Much of contemporary Christianity has developed a newly inflamed affection for what they believe to be a first century pattern of Christianity: abandoning all formal or structural ecclesiology for simple house churches, which is allegedly where Christianity was supposed to remain without the hierarchical clergy getting their ugly paws on it. It is assumed that these congregations must have been similar to the informal evangelical low churches today that gather together in someone’s living room,
“As for Nestorius, let him be anathema . . .” – Nestorius, “The Bazaar of Hercleides” “The controversies of the past led to anathemas, bearing on persons and on formulas. The Lord’s Spirit permits us to understand better today that the divisions brought about in this way were due in large part to misunderstandings.” – Pope John Paul II in 1994 regarding the first Council of Ephesus “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go
If you drive through any appreciable stretch of the United States, you are bound to come across churches. In some sparse locales, these places of worship are few and far between, much like the dwellings of those who attend them. In other places, churches abound, with nearly every street seeming to possess its own house of God. When my wife and I lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, one of our favorite pastimes was driving through
A common criticism of medieval Christianity theology centers on the practice of speculative theology, often defined as the asking of seemingly obscure questions which have little bearing (or none at all) upon the vicissitudes of human life or Christian faith. This article considers the value of speculative theology by reflecting on the question of whether or not Christ would have become incarnate if humanity had not fallen into sin.
“When students are first introduced to the historical, as opposed to a devotional, study of the Bible, one of the first things they are forced to grapple with is that the biblical text, whether Old Testament or New Testament, is chock full of discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable…. In some cases seemingly trivial points of difference can actually have an enormous significance for the interpretation of a book or the reconstruction of the history of
“When the thinker thinks rightly, he follows God step by step; he does not follow his own vain fallacy.”1 Studying the Middle Ages is a complex process, not only for the plethora of information one must process in order to have a halfway-informed perspective into the period, but also for the multitude of ways in which contemporary—modern and postmodern—attitudes that illuminate Christian opinions of this important period of Christian history. One need look no further
The title “Mother of God” is given to Mary in both the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) Churches. Used by early Christian writers such as Origen, Athanasius, and Augustine, the title seems to have been well established and widely accepted prior to its formal proclamation in the 5th century. This title is important. “Mother of God” carries with it the full weight of Jesus Christ’s deity.
History is not an exact science. While people, places, dates, and events are factual, we receive history through first-hand accounts that may be biased, through second-hand accounts of history books that are influenced by years of interpretation, and finally through our own lens, shaded by how we understand the world around us. In church history, there is no better example of this inexactness and misinterpretation of history than the Reformation and what most call the
One of the oldest practices of prayer and meditation in the Christian tradition is lectio divina. Lectio divina, Latin for “divine reading,” is a practice which originated in the monasteries of Saint Benedict in the 6th century. The practice of lectio divina continued throughout the centuries until the present day. It has evolved from a monastic practice to a spiritual practice commended for Christians in all walks of life. Dei Verbum, the Catholic Church’s dogmatic
I recently completed my Master of Arts in Theological Studies at the University of Dayton. My emphasis was not in the traditional systematic theological studies, where I contemplated the Trinity, the Incarnation, and grace; nor did I focus on Biblical Studies, delving into the ancient languages, the context, and the literatures that produced what we understand as the Word of God (although I did dabble in Hebrew for three semester and can discuss the influence
One of the most significant debates during the centuries surrounding the Reformation (15th-18th centuries) concerned salvation, grace, and human works. It is an oversimplification to present a dichotomy between Reformation Protestants believing in salvation by faith alone and Counter-Reformation Catholics believing in salvation through faith and good works. In fact, as this article will examine, John Wesley, who founded the Protestant denomination known as Methodism, emphasizes the imitation of Christ as key for salvation. This
In my last post, I discussed Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe in the context of English vernacular mysticism. Mysticism is one of the two dominant fields of medieval theology along with scholasticism, and throughout the centuries of the Church has been an important mode for expressing spirituality, theology, and Christian practice. In this article I provide a bit of background on medieval Christian mysticism, in hopes to be able to engage my readers in