The goal of this series of classes is to enable participants to become more passionate followers of Jesus today by becoming familiar with the first Christians in the early centuries of the Church, how they lived, worshiped, read Scripture, and engaged others in the light of Christ and in the power of His Spirit. This first class introduces you to the world that early Christianity confronted and transformed.
Anglicanism–and all Christianity that is “orthodox”–is centered on the Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Councils and their doctrines that originated in the first centuries of the Christian era: e.g., Jesus is fully human and fully divine, God must be understood as a Trinity of Persons, etc. These basic understandings are just as valid in our scientific age as they were then. These classes will help you see why.
The early Christians faced the same basic questions we still ask today: what is a human being, and how ought one to live; what is true, and who can I trust; what is God like, and what is unique about Jesus as showing the only true way to God; what is our world really like—what is behind it (fate, chance? The gods? The Father of Jesus?); how do we read the Bible? The Church Fathers were a practical bunch, teaching their own congregations and compatriots that ideas have consequences for how we live, constantly aware that is crucial to think rightly about God and humanity in the light of Christ.
Who are the Church Fathers? Teachers, preachers, sometimes martyrs, often bishops, who left behind a legacy of various writings that have come to be cherished by the Church as valuable to Christian teaching or living. The Fathers were human beings with strengths and weaknesses, sometimes even with questionable or schismatic ideas. Their work is valued by the Church when they teach well, and we can learn much about practical Christian living by looking to the ones who have gone before us. Over many centuries, they hammered out a way to articulate and understand the meaning and significance of Jesus for human life and society.
Why look at these things? They provide a basic foundation to see how to follow Jesus in our contemporary world and flourish as human beings. Let us now look at the ancient Roman Empire and the timeline of historical and ecclesiastical events (click below to go to page 2).