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Characteristics of the Early Church

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  1. Characteristics of the Early Church The nature of Early Christianity during its first three centuries

  2. MEETING PLACES

  3. Private Homes (House Churches)

  4. Catacombs

  5. Churches

  6. SYMBOLS

  7. Cross

  8. Sign of the Cross

  9. Alpha and Omega

  10. Staurogram

  11. Chi Rho

  12. Peacock

  13. SHIP

  14. Anchor

  15. Ichthys (Fish)

  16. ORGANIZATION

  17. BISHOPS (EPISCOPACY) • Successors of the Apostles, very important role in the Early Church. • In charge of one or more congregations • Appoint, ordain, and discipline priests and deacons

  18. PRIESTS - PRESBYTERS (ELDERS) • Responsible for teaching, preaching, and ministering the Sacraments to their congregation

  19. ROLE OF WOMEN • Before the mid-2nd century there is evidence that women played a prominent role in the Church • Some widows owned the “House Churches” where Christians met • Some women served as deacons

  20. DEACONS • Assistants to the bishops • Responsible for certain Church tasks • Ex. – Distribution of food (Acts 6)

  21. POPE (Bishop of Rome) • Peter is considered the first Pope • Popes did not always have the power and authority they have today • When referring to the Bishop of Rome, the term Pope was first used to refer to Damasus I (366-384) • However, Popes were always well respected and before any major theological decisions were made they were consulted (along with Bishop of Alexandria) • By the 4th/5th century onward, the Popes gradually gained more power in the West

  22. HOLY DAYS • Fast Days • Wednesday and Friday • Sabbath Day • Originally same as Jewish Sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) • However, it soon was moved to Sunday • Christ’s resurrection and Pentecost occurred on Sunday

  23. Cathechumenate • Catechumen – Literally “the instructed”. Adults seeking admission to the Church (baptism) who undergo a period of instruction. • In the Early Church instruction lasted 2-3 years.

  24. SACRAMENTS/RITUALS

  25. Baptism

  26. BAPTISM

  27. AGAPE MEAL (LOVE FEAST)

  28. EUCHARIST (“thanksgiving”)

  29. Apologetic Texts • Apology • Greek for “defense” • Apologetics • A branch of theology which defends and explains Christian religion • Apologist • Someone who writes an apologetic work

  30. Christian Literature/Authors • Didache (late 1st/early 2nd century) • Oldest written catechism • Discusses ethics, Sacraments, and Church organization • This genre is often called “Church Orders” • Church Orders is a genre of Christian Literature that aims to offer “apostolic” prescriptions on matters of moral conduct, liturgy, and Church organization. • Tertullian (AD 160 – 225) • “father of Latin Christianity” • One of the apologists

  31. Christian Literature/Authors • Hippolytus of Rome (AD 170 – 236) • The Apostolic Tradition • Part of the “Church Orders” genre • Considered the first antipope • Antipope – a person who, in opposition to the Pope, makes a significantly accepted claim to be the Pope • Died as a martyr • St. Justin Martyr (AD 100 – 165) • One of the apologists • First Apology • To convince emperor not to persecute Christians and to defend Christian morality • Martyred by beheading