Friday, January 05, 2007

The Early Church Councils

For over 1000 years there was only one Church on the planet. There were no denominations, and no divisions between East and West. All of the bishops, worked in communion with one another to preserve the faith and to assure that the testament of the Apostles was kept pure in fact and practice. Occasionally there would rise an individual or individuals who, acting independently of the unity and unanimous agreement of the church, decided they knew more or had a better understanding of the Apostles teachings. At other times there were matters of such great weight that the Bishops of the church had to seek the will of Holy Spirit together and decide a matter. It was during such times that the church would meet in council. Bishops, Deacons, and laymen would travel miles, taking days, weeks and months to arrive at an agreed upon city. There is no doubt that what was decided upon in these Councils effected the church preserving for all time the faith we have today. What happened in these Councils? Who attended? Why did these men have the authority to decided anything pertaining to the church?

I have had the pleasure the past several months to attend a series of classes on the Early Church Councils. The class is taught by Deacon Michael Hyatt. Deacon Michael is a convert to Orthodoxy. Most notably he is the CEO of the largest and oldest Christian Publisher in North America, Thomas Nelson Publishers. He is a masterful speaker and communicator, down to earth, and full of humor. Deacon Michael has taken what could be a dull historic subject and made it interesting and relevant to the hearer.

Thanks to Joel Smith of The Orthodox Project every one of these classes has been recorded. You can take part in these classes and thanks to a roving microphone you will also hear the questions and discussions of class members. Some of it gets pretty thick! The pod cast is FREE at The Orthodox Project. You can also subscribe so you will be notified by e-mail when a new class is available. Go there now and check it out. While you're there, pick up a copy of The Wisdom of the Saints CD. Your inexpensive purchase will help fund The Orthodox Project.

God Bless you and get ready to be challenged, because
"to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."


  1. Debbie Espen8:37 PM

    Regarding early church history, that era is
    > one of my favorite to study. It is my understanding
    > that several versions of Christianity co-existed
    > simultaneously for the first few centuries, what
    > became orthodoxy being one of them, primarily being
    > championed by Tertullian and especially Athanasius.
    > Clement of Alexandria was eventually posthumously
    > declared a heretic by the church. Paul of Samosata,
    > bishop of Antioch in the 2nd century, believed in
    > Adoptionism, that Jesus was born a natural man who
    > through merit became worthy to be adopted as Son of
    > God to be the Savior. He was also Monarchian,
    > believing One ruler, one God, not the Trinity. I am
    > not trying to infer that your orthodoxy did not
    > exist early on, just that it was not quite that
    > "neat", that there existed a variety of ideas
    > (Adoptionism, Modalism etc), that theology of
    > orthodoxy had to develop, hence the Councils. But I
    > really enjoy reading your history articles, and
    > especially quoting the Church Fathers.

  2. Debbie,
    That there were several versions of Christianity that co-existed is true only in that there were several heretical movements that strayed from Orthodoxy (right teaching.) The word "heretic" can be translated, "One who holds and opinion." All of the Church counsels were called to combat those who strayed from the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church as a whole always won out and defeated the heretical, non-apostolic teachings. To suggest that there were three equal branches of Christianity and that Orthodoxy was simply "one of them" is a skewed view of history. But for the grace of God and His promise that the "gates of hell" would not prevail aginst THE CHURCH, the very nature of Christ would have been hidden. Thank God for the martyrs of the faith and the Early Church Fathers who shed their blood against all assaults of the truth.


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