9. Penance: A Medieval Pastoral Impasse

A Pastoral Impasse As the Church developed its pastoral care there emerged a difficulty in dealing with Christians who seemed to keep “failing” to live the Christian life in holiness. A crisis emerged in medieval theology over how to deal with a church of sinners and still maintain the holiness of the church. Did not Scripture teach that “God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Cor 3:16)? The response to this question lead to the separation of lessor and greater sins in the early church. ‘Lesser sins’ were forgiven through prayer and repentance (Matt 6:12, Lk 18:9ff), and ‘Greater sins’ lead to excommunication (1 Cor 5:11-13, 2 Cor 6:14-18, 1 John 5:15-17, 1 Tim 1:20). The 3 Greate

8. The Medieval Irish Church: Schism and the Pursuit of Unity

The English Invasion of Britain After the Roman legions left Britain in 410, a wave of Anglo-Saxon (English) invaders gradually took control, British Christianity and Christians were driven into the western parts of Britain, i.e. Wales. A sixth century British theologian Gildas wrote a scathing attack on the corrupt state of the British church of his day, On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain. Sadly, the British (Welsh) did not seek to Evangelize the pagan English, instead viewing them as the enemy. The conversion of the Germanic pagan conquerors in Britain would come from two sources: Irish missionaries from the monasteries of Ireland and Scotland, and the mission headed by St Augustine sent

7. The Monastic Vision

Reading the Monastic Vision into Scripture The Desert, vows of poverty, separation from the world, asceticism, celibacy, and the communal life are all themes and topics touched on by the New Testament (Luke 5:16, Matthew 19:21, 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Mark 2:20, Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:7-8). Whereas the modern Evangelical reader of Scripture may see these as merely tangential themes to the theology of the New Testament, to the medieval mind these themes were central to the monastic vision of the Christian life. Monks in the Desert Christian monasticism was motivated by a desire to seek God through a life of asceticism and prayer. The term asceticism is derived from

6. Celtic vs. Roman Christianity: A Valid Concept?

Celtic versus Roman Christianity: A Valid Concept? When scholars of medieval history today refer to the ‘Celtic Church’ they are referring to the Roman Catholic Church in Celtic speaking areas of western Europe, i.e. Britain and Ireland. Celtic Church, however, is sometimes used on a more popular level to refer to a romanticised idea of early Christianity in Ireland before the Catholic Church corrupted it. This is not how early Christians in Ireland understood their church’s relationship to the wider Catholic Church. Empire and Evangelism The view of the Christian church at the end of late antiquity as generally not emphasizing the need to organise missions to reach the unreached nations wit

5. Jerome: The Bible and its early translation

The Bible in Translation After returning from the Babylonian exile in the 5th century BC many Jews no longer spoke or understood Hebrew. The Hebrew Scriptures needed translation and interpretation (Ez. 8:8). To facilitate this the OT was translated in Aramaic. This is the beginning of the Bible in translation. After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC Greek language and culture dominated the Ancient Near East. According to Philo, Josephus, the Letter of Aristeas, and rabbinic sources, King Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–247 bc) assembled 70 (or 72) Jewish translators to render the Law of Moses into Greek to add to the great library of Alexandria. In the following century

4. Augustine: The Doctor of Grace

The Last Days of Antiquity In 380 Emperor Theodosius I (the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire) declared Nicene Orthodoxy (as preserved in Rome and Alexandria) the official state religion of the Roman Empire. The Triumph of Nicene Orthodoxy over “Arianism” signalled with the second ecumenical council at Constantinople in 381. However, there was growing concern within the church over increased nominalism and laxity. Many Christians began to view the church as corrupt and morally compromised. Background to the Pelagian Controversy Pelagius, a British Christian philosopher, who saw himself as the man who would put an end to the rot of bad Chris

3. Imperial Christianity

Constantine Constantine was the first “Christian emperor” of the Roman Empire who ruled from 306–337. His father Constantius Chlorus was the Western co-emperor of the Roman empire.When his father died in England in 306, Constantine was proclaimed emperor by his troops at York, and within two years five men had claimed to be emperor. In 311 Galerius, the senior co-emperor, issued an edict of toleration ending persecution of Christians Constantine’s “conversion”In 312 Constantine defeated and killed his rival Maxentius in a battle at the Milvian Bridge near Rome. Prior to battle Constantine saw a vision of the cross. Constantine eventually became the sole emperor of the Empire. As late as 324,

2. Terror and Toleration: The Church until Constantine

Terror and Toleration From the first to the fourth centuries Christianity within the Roman Empire was viewed as a sect with suspicion, and mockery. Occasionally it was persecuted. Persecution was selective, it tended to focus on Leaders, Buildings, and the Scriptures. Christians were also persecuted outside the Roman Empire too, often suffering greatly in Parthia in the East. First Clement (c.96): Leadership and Unity in the Catholic Church There is no evidence for a monarchical episcopacy (i.e. a pope) in Rome by the end of the first century (ODCC, 363). Leadership in the primitive church, as witnessed in 1 Clement, was by overseers or elders. In the NT the terms ‘overseer’ (i.e. Bishop) a

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