1.Articulating the Faith
The previous class looked at essential aspects of the new Christian movement through the first 2 centuries after Christ, when the Christians were a minority in the Roman Empire, persecuted but growing. They began to develop a defense (“apology”) for the faith to the Greco-Roman pagans. The Gospel has a proof proper to itself, different from the kinds of arguments the pagans made. Christian life was centered on eyewitness and written accounts from the Apostles of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The basic framework for Christian living, community, and worship was emerging, with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit present in the Eucharistic and baptismal worship. The Hebrew Scriptures were read in the light of Christ, and the canon of the New Testament was mostly in place (the “memoirs of the Apostles”). The systematic development of Christian doctrine was about to begin, continuing over several centuries.
After Christianity became legal, it experienced rapid growth in numbers, and it became necessary to articulate the content of the faith carefully and well. Christians needed to be able to answer how could the human Jesus be God? What is the relation of the Son to the Father? Is the Holy Spirit also God? How do we understand Jesus’s humanity? How does the way of Jesus show us how to live rightly as human beings? As Christianity grew in influence within the Empire, there was also a spread of various “heretical” views where prevailing cultural norms of thought and behavior conflicted with the Apostolic proclamation.
This class will look at how the early Christians came to articulate the significance of God’s revealing of Himself in and through the witness of Israel, Jesus, the Apostles, and the Holy Spirit, concentrating especially on the 4th and 5th Centuries. The sections on the different pages are:
- Articulating the Faith
- In what way is Jesus God–the Nicene Creed
- Players in this drama to understand Christ as fully God and God as a Trinity of Persons
- Texts of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds
- God as a Trinity of Persons
- How did the Holy Spirit come to be seen as fully God also?
- The humanity of Jesus: the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon
- The human and divine wills of Christ: Maximus and the 3rd Council of Constantinople
[Use the page numbers at the bottom to navigate back and forth between pages for this class. Use this link to return to the Introduction page for all 4 classes.]