The Early Church 3 – The early apologists and the witness of Faith

What was New Testamant Christianity really like? We must look to the Acts of the Apostles, as well as the records of the early Apostolic Fathers. Theirs is a critically important witness to the actual Apostolic Deposit. The foundations of the Apostolic Age were mission and community. The role of the Holy Spirit was evident, as many were drawn to the Church in spite of persecution and no material gain. These believers were literally “incorporated into Christ”, to use their own language. Though the faith of the early believers was intensely personal, it was not individualistic. 

The central thrust of the Church was not to gather a few people together and meet privately. It was to go out. For this reason, Christianity was a threat to the structure and balance of the worldly powers in the first centuries AD. 

Heresy and disunity were the greatest internal threats to the Early Church. Wholeness was very much connected with holiness. The early apologists saw the Church’s unity as a reflection of God’s own wholeness. Corresponding to the universal call to holiness was the importance of catholicity – universality and unity. 

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The Early Church 2 – The early, undivided Church in Acts of the Apostles

Luke’s Acts of the Apostles is an account of some of the pivotal moments in the Church’s earliest history. Historical records give us good reason to believe all of the early apostles, with the exception of John, died a violent martyr’s death. They kept the faith unaltered, despite being widely scattered and seperated for years. The churches they founded continued in the Faith, and in some cases continue to this day. This is the amazing testament of the first century of Christianity. These early churches were not wholly independent congregations. The historical record shows that the early Church was indeed a catholic (universal) Church held by moral authority and a desire for unity.

Jerusalem and Rome appear as the two central cities for the early Church. Great trials and tribulations faced Christians in both cities including Nero’s attempt to blame the great fire of Rome on the Christians. In spite of the difficulties, Christianity continued to spread. Early pastoral letters of Ignatius and Polycarp provide additional extra-Biblical evidence for the early Church’s unity and fidelity. 

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Bible Study Begins This Week: The Advent of Hope

This week we begin our new study, The Advent of Hope. This will be a study on God’s saving intention toward his creation. There will be five lessons, taking us up to Christmas: each lesson, we’ll focus in on scriptural witnesses to the unfolding of God’s plan. We’ll also be trying out a new format: the first half will be biblical instruction, the second half will be discussion.

We hope you can join us this week and going forward:

Tuesdays, 7:15–9:00 pm at St. John Fisher College
Wednesdays, 7:15–9:00 pm in Charlotte
Thursdays, 9:0–11:00 am at the St. Irenaeus Center

For more information, call us at (585) 288-1618 or download the class flyer here.

The Early Church 1 – Introduction and Acts of the Apostles

This series provides a survey of early Church history beginning with the Acts of the Apostles and ending around the year 600 with the rise of Islam. The early, undivided Church was a remarkable period in Church history full of lessons for Christians today. We see in this period an organic development of doctrine and practice. The Church withstood both internal and external pressures, and provided a great witness to the pagan world.

Acts of the Apostles is an account of the earliest chapter in the history of the Church, though it is much more than a mere history book. Luke’s account contains applications for all people, in all cultures, and in all ages. At the center of everything is the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church on Her mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. 

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The Mission of the Church – Part Eight

The Mission of the Church – The Joy of the Gospel/Conclusion

Francis congratulates those already working for the good of the Church, while warning about the specific temptations that face those within the institutional church. An inordinate emphasis on the individual has been a detriment to the mission of the Church, leading to inflated egos and “spiritual worldliness”. Francis’ exhortation gives Christians a wake-up call to take part in the Church’s mission. This call to mission was the fundamental focus of Vatican II. It is as timely today as ever. 

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The Mission of the Church – Part Seven

The Mission of the Church – Continuing the Council’s Exhortation

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium makes alive and practical the lessons of the Second Vatican Council. “With Christ, joy is constantly born anew“. The Mission of the Church depends on believing Christians living out the joy of the Gospel in a real and tangible way. This joy is not merely “giddiness”; but rather an enduring certainty that we are infinitely loved. Christians are called each day to renew their encounter with Christ, so that our lives and the lives of others may be changed by God. The problems of our affluent world afford us many excuses to suppress this joy. 

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Classes Begin This Week – Witness of Power: Stories of Elisha the Prophet

Dear friends,

Tonight we hold the first class in our fall series, Witness of Power: Stories of Elisha the Prophet. The life of Elisha is not just relevant to our situation in America today; it offers a hard-hitting corrective to the issues we face as Christians in a drifting nation. This is a series you won’t want to miss.

For more information about meeting times and places, see our flyer, which is available for download here.

Grace be with you all,

Ted J.

The Mission of the Church – Part Six

The Mission of the Church – Impediments to Mission

Mission is vital to the gospel. Each of the gospels ends with a directive to a mandate to mission. The mission is not based on our abilities but rather on the power of the Holy Spirit that we shine forth. We must respect other religions in that we must respect man in his search for answers and the Holy Spirit who is driving that man. Fatigue, factionalism, de-Christianization, and indifference all make mission more difficult. To combat this, we must be focused on practical witness. We must not, however, ignore real problems in the Church while giving witness.

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The Mission of the Church – Part Five

Vatican II directed the Church outward, through Ad Gentes and echoed 25 years later in the encyclical Redemptoris Missio, which describes an intentional trajectory of where the Church believes that Christ wants us to go in mission. Evangelization is the duty of all Christians, and it brings us closer to Christ. There has been, however, a decline in missionary activity in the church.

This mission comes directly from the Trinity, so it is imperative that all Christians share this love, as the love of God is what gives man his dignity. We must allow others to see how our lives have a vertical interaction with the things that are above, not just horizontally with that which is around us, and permit others the free choice that this knowledge allows.

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The Mission of the Church – Part Four

The encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi instructs us that the teaching of the Church is unchanged and irreplaceable. The task of evangelizing all people is the essential mission of the Church, but the Church has a need to be evangelized herself. This is the spiritual liberation, not a human liberation, as secular humanists and modern atheists might advocate.

The techniques of evangelization must be relevant to the modern world, and centered in witness, but they cannot be updated in such a way that perverts their ultimate aim or ignores the fact that this gift comes from the Holy Spirit.

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