Church History Lecture 3 – The Second Century The Challenge of Greek Philosophy See pages 120-140 of Latourette, plus class handouts Greek Culture Many gods (polytheism) often in a hierarchy Sexually promiscuous, homosexuality accepted Widespread use of drugs & prostitution in religion Ecstatic worship Mystery religions Philosophy (Aristotle, Plato, Socrates) Sharp distinction between spirit(good) and matter (evil) Mystical and symbolic, numerology, astrology Strong belief in “Fate”: prophecy, Sibyls, oracles The Tension For New Converts Very hard to find the balance Either totally rejected Greek culture and went to the opposite extreme (e.g. compulsory celibacy) Extremism / legalism Or tried to synthesize Greek culture and the Christian faith (and sometimes became heretical) Anti-nomianism (rejection of the law), syncretism (mixing up paganism and Christianity) Gnosticism Gnosis = knowledge Gnosticism = salvation by knowledge No sin, only ignorance of divinity / spirituality Sharp distinction between spirit and matter (dualism) This world created by an evil god “demiurge” True God is love and is unknowable Many layers of spirit beings Many different kinds of Gnosticism Some very strict morally, others allowed promiscuity as the body ‘did not matter” and what was done in the body did not affect the spirit. Marcionism Marcion (110-165AD) a wealthy shipping magnate went to Rome and about 138 AD started teaching that: The “God of the Old Testament” was evil and was the demiurge That Judaism was the religion of this “evil god” and the otherwise unknown God of love was revealed in Christ That only the letters of Paul and the gospel of Luke were the Scriptures An attempt to return to pure grace and to the pure gospel untainted by law Tended to ‘cut and paste’ the Bible Forbad marriage, strict celibacy Simon Magus & Babylonian Religion Simon Magus was a magician from Samaria (see Acts 8:9-24) who tried to buy the power to confer the power of the Holy Spirit He is mentioned as having great occult powers by many early church fathers Early church fathers taught that Simon Magus was the source of all heresies Simon Magus taught that knowledge conferred supernatural powers Had a system of ‘divine emanations’ Simon was worshipped by his followers Taught Babylonian occult mysteries in Rome Supposedly fell to his death in a confrontation with the Apostle Peter in Rome Montanism Montanus was from Phrygia, Montanism flourished in the second half of the second century Stressed the spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues and prophecy, lived very holy lives Was popular in Phrygia and North Africa Expected the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a literal 1000 year reign (known as chiliasm) The great apologist Justin Martyr eventually joined Not so much a heresy as an extreme. Montanus and his two female prophets tended to see themselves as anointed and infallible The Danger Of Defining The Faith Every attempt to ‘standardize’ Christianity tends to also factionalize it. There is a strong tension between truth and love – if we emphasize truth too much we can end up being judgmental and unloving but if we emphasize acceptance to much we can admit rampant heresy. Many disputes were completely unnecessary (such as the long dispute over the date of celebrating Easter) Other disputes (such as that over celibacy) come from cultural over-reaction The Rise Of The Bishop Of Rome The notion of Apostolic Succession The ‘primacy of St. Peter” – many good popes at first esp. Leo the Great Rome was where Peter and Paul were and was the center of the Roman Empire Jerusalem, Carthage, Alexandria and Constantinople were competitors for a while Acts seems to support Rome as the place where the gospel ends up At first was just ‘first among equals’ Gradually increased in power as center of empire shifted to Constantinople and the pope was no longer overshadowed by the Emperor and his court.