Reflection: Ancient Christian Doctrines Vol 5 – The Church

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I was fortunate enough to be able to review volume 1 a short time ago and now finish the series with another review, courtesy of IVP Academic. This final volume is focused on the last stanza of the Creed of 381:

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I want stress that contrary to common thought, ‘catholic’ doesn’t refer to Rome, no more than ‘church’ does, neither ‘apostolic.’ (Stop building your doctrines on misinformed superstitions.) Here, the word ‘catholic’ means universal, as it has always since Ignatius first used it. It merely means the wider, greater, church, and not a single congregation. So, in a sense, a real since, what the ancient creed says is that they believe in church, not individuals, united under one banner, reaching back to Apostles and that it is holy.

To review these volumes is fine, and to be honest, pretty easy, however, instead of the standard review, I will take this week to share some of the quotes contained therein and then follow that up with the review.

All the saints who preceded the time of our Savior were justified by this faith and were made the body of Christ by this sacrament, awaiting the universal redemption of the faithful – Sermon 30.7, Leo the Great

The catholic church was not only preached after the coming of our Lord and Savior, beloved, but from the beginning of the world, it was designated by many figures and rather hidden mysteries. Indeed, in holy Abel the catholic church existed, in Noah, in Abraham, in Isaac, in Jacob, and in the other saintly people before the time of our Lord and Savior. Sermon 139, Caesarius of Arles.

We will see to it, if, after the type of the ark, there shall be in the church a raven, kite, dog and serpent. At all events, an idolater is not found in the type of the ark: no animal has been fashioned to represent an idolater. Let not that be in the church that was no in the ark. On Idolatry 24, Tertullian.

Christ is the Rock by which and on which the church is founded. And thus it is overcome by no traces of maddened people. Therefore the heretics are not to be heard who assure themselves that there is to be an earthly reign of a thousand years; who think, that is to say, on the same wavelength with the heretic Cerinthus. For the kingdom of Christ is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be made known after the resurrection. Commentary on the Apocalypse, Victorinus of Petovium.

There are many more quotes by known and hardly known early writers.

There is something to be said in reading these ancient writers in that they show either development or devotion, more so than what you will find on the shelves today.

You may order the other books in the series from here, or here.

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