First we introduce the subject of Church History, and look at the physical battle that the church faced in the persecutions of the first 400 years.

Having looked at the external pressures the early church faced with physical persecution, we then consider the internal pressures in the mental conflicts associated with heresies in the first 400 years.

PART 1: The Church Wins the World (up to AD400)

1.1. Introduction to Church History

a) Relevance of church history

b) Initial success in Acts

c) The historical context of the early church

  1. Factors helping the gospel
    - Political
    - Religious
    - Roman world in ferment: climate of search for reality
    - Judaism preparing the way
  2. Factors hindering spread of gospel
    - Political
    - Religious
    - Roman world
    - Judaism

d) Description of the early church

  1. Success
  2. Conflict
    - Physical Battle: persecution
    - Mental Battle: heresy
    - Spiritual battles: other religions

1.2. The Physical Battle: Persecution

a) Reasons for persecution

  1. Jewish intolerance
  2. Pagan hatred

b) Grounds for Conviction

  1. Hatred of human race
  2. Atheism
  3. Confession of name of Christian

c) History of Persecutions

d) Problems raised by persecutions

  1. Cult of the martyr
  2. The lapsed

e) The Church's answer to persecution: the Apologists

f) Conclusion to persecution

  1. Conversion of Constantine
  2. Consequences of persecution period

1.3 The Mental Battle: Heresy

a) Introduction

b) The Heresy of Gnosticism

c) The Heresy of Marcion

d) The reply to Gnosticism

  1. Open claim to apostolocity
    - view of Scripture
  2. Priority of faith over knowledge
  3. Person of Christ
  4. Unity in Godhead

e) Benefits from the response to Gnosticism

  1. Canon (= rod, ruler) of Scripture
  2. Creeds
  3. Councils

f) Continuing problems

  1. Disunity
  2. Ongoing battles
  3. (Arius

But - by AD 400, the church had conquered the world!

For durther discussion:

a) From the “Glossary of Terms” write out and become familiar with the definitions of:

- Apologies
- Arianism
- Canon
- Docetism
- Dualism
- Ebionism
- Gnosticism
- Judaism
- Marcionism

b) Explain what was the difference between the views of Arius and Athanasius concerning Jesus’ true nature.

c) What analogies are used to help us understand the nature of the Trinity?

Brian Watts is Pastor of The King's Community Church and lives in Langley with his wife Rosalind.
© 1994-2006 THE KING'S Community Church