Sept. 3 “Conflict and Persecution” 5,6
Sept. 10 “Defense and Deposit of the Faith” 7.8
Sept. 17 “Teachers of the Church” 9
Sept. 24 “Teachers of the Church” (Part 2)
The Imperial Church Oct. 1 “Constantine and Official Theology” 13,14
Oct. 8 “Monastic Reaction” 15,16
Oct. 15 “The Great Controversy” 17-19
Oct. 22 “The Great Theologians: Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine” 20-23
Medieval Christianity Nov. 5 “The New Order” 26
Nov. 12 “East-West Schism” 27
Nov. 19 “Imperial Restoration, Decay, and Renewal” 28-29
Nov. 26 Thanksgiving Service
Dec. 3 Missions Banquet
Dec. 10 Senior Adult Christmas Program
Dec. 17 “Golden Age of Medieval Christianity” 31
Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Service
Dec. 31 No Services
Jan. 7 “Prelude to Reformation” 33
Jan. 14 Martin Luther 1,2,3,4
Jan 21 Zwingli and the Anabaptists 5,6
Jan. 28 Calvin, Great Britain, more Lutheranism 7,8,9
Feb. 4 Low Countries, France, Catholic Reforms 10-13
Orthodoxy, Rationalism, and Pietism
Feb. 11 Dogma, Doubt, and Desert 14-16
Feb. 18 Puritans, Catholic Orthodoxy, Lutherans, Reformed 17-20
Feb. 25 Rationalism, Spiritualism, and Pietism 21-23
Nineteenth Century Mar. 4 World Politics 25-27
Mar. 11 Theology and Geographic Expansion 28-30
Twentieth Century Mar. 18 Eastern Christianity 31-32
Mar. 25 Roman Catholic Christianity and Protestantism 33-35
April 1 World Missions 36
April 8 Spring Break
April 15 Youth Week
April 22 The Death of Classic Liberalism
April 29 The Most Influential Christians of the 20th Century
May 6 Post-Modernism Grenz’s book
Conflict and Persecution I. Early C & P
- Jesus actually warned of upcoming persecution for those who followed him
see Mat 5:11-12
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
- even prior to the physical coming of Jesus, Isaiah the prophet wrote about the
- this was the prophetic role Jesus took as he experienced the rejection by his own
followers, the trials, beatings, crown of thorns, and the weight of the cross in the most
gruesome form of death conducted by the Roman Empire
- Later persecutions in the NT
a. Stephen was stoned by the elders. (Acts 7:54ff)
b. Herod Agrippa ordered the death of James and arrested Peter (Acts 12:1-3).
This pleased the Jews.
“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.”
c. general persecution remember by Xtns (insult, persecution, loss of property)
Heb 10:32 ff
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”
d. Edict by Claudius in 49 to 51 AD, expelled Jews from Rome. (Acts 18:2)
expelled because of “their continual tumults instigated by Chrestus.” (Josephus)
d. John’s revelation portrayed Rome as a bloody monster feeding on the souls
of the saints (Rev 13). John had been exiled to Patmos.
- Peter martyred in Rome, crucified upside-down
- Paul, probably beheaded in Rome, during the era of Nero
II. First Century Persecution and Suffering (A Summary)
- began as conflict among the Jews.
- Xtns considered themselves Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
- Non-believing Jews viewed the Xtns as Jewish heretics
- therefore the proclamation to the Gentiles wasn’t to start a new religion but to invite
the Gentiles to share in the promises of Abraham. Children by faith, not by flesh.
- Roman leaders also had the same view:
This was a fight among the Jews. Their concern was at first, civil, not theological.
- Emperor Claudius threw the Jews out of Rome, b/c of “Chrestus.”
- then 2 things happened.
1) Jewish Nationalism grew, which led to the Romans putting
down this rebellion and destroying the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD.
The Gentile Xtns wanted to put distance b/w themselves and the Jews, so they began to define themselves in less Jewish ways.
- they were not executed for being a “Christian” but for being “obstinant.”
- if they were Roman citizens they were shipped to Rome
- Pliny inquire of Emperor Trajan about this problem.
- Should Xtns be condemned for concrete crimes or simply “being a Xtn” ?
- The Trajan Solution:
- Question was “Should Xtns be punished for concrete crimes or for simply
being a Xtn?
- Don’t Ask! Don’t Tell!
- Don’t go looking for Christians. We don’t have time for that.
But if they are brought to your courts with credible evidence,
then you’ve got to punish them.
- Anonymous accusations should be disregarded, for it sets bad legal precedent.
- didn’t have much logic, but it was politically acceptable.
- Logic? Politics? If Xtns were brought into courts and not punished, then the
courts would lose their credibility.
Second, by refusing to “worship” the emperor, the Xtns seemed to be denying
his right to rule.
Tertullian:”What a necessarily confused sentence! It refuses to seek them out, as
if they were innocent, and orders that they be punished as if they were
guilty….It pardons, and yet is cruel. It ignores and yet punishes!”
- The Trajan Solution was the most prevalent response to the Christians in the
Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
Ignatius of Antioch
- 107 AD, the Bishop of Antioch was condemned to death (corner of Turkey and Syria)
- 3rd largest city in Roman Empire (behind Rome, Alexandria)
- Ignatius was condemned to death and shipped to Rome to amuse and entertain the
citizens who lusted to see blood spilled.
- on his way to Rome he wrote seven letters (6 to cities, one to Polycarp)
- born ca. 30-35 AD. Called “the bearer of God.”
- Legend arose that he was the child that sat on Christ’s lap that prompted Christ’s story
to bring all the children to him.
- he was the second bishop of Antioch. One of the apostles was probably the first
bishop. Remember, this is where “Christians” were first called “Christians” instead of
those followers of “the way.”
Who was his accuser? 1) a pagan??? 2) a dissident?? We don’t know!
- Ignatius traveled thru Asia Minor on the way to Rome. He stopped and conversed
w/ fellow Christians. Had a scribe who dictated his letters.
- 4 written from the town of Smyrna (Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome)
- 3 written from Troas (Polycarp, church at Smyrna, church at Philadelphia)
- most distinctive letter is the one to the church at Rome. He told them not to pray for
his safety or escape, but for his endurance in the face of trial.
“Suffer me to be eaten by the beasts, through whom I can attain to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread of God.”
(Letter to Romans 4:1)
The Martyrdom of Polycarp
- we don’t know the details about Ignatius’ martyrdom, but we do about Polycarp’s
occurring a half century later (155AD)
- Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna. His martyrdom is recorded in the “Martyrdom of
- text tells of general persecution, and then the story of Germanicus, Quintus, and
- Germanicus, old, encouraged to recant. He refused.
- He said he didn’t want to live in a world so filled w/ injustice
He called the beasts to come and kill him.
- Quintus, weakened at the face of death and recanted
- Polycarp hid in a farm at first at the advice of his congregation.
Then he had a vision he was going to be burned and decided to turn himself in.
It was God’s will.
- Taken to the stadium. Proconsul tries to get him to recant. He refuses.
- Flames do not touch him. He is killed with a dagger
- probably most famous last words in all of Xty, outside of Jesus’ last words
“For 86 years I have served him, and he has done me not evil. How could I curse my king, who saved me?”
- further in the dialogue Polycarp had another great line. “The fire the judge passed would last only for a moment, whereas eternal fire would never go out.”
- there was a growing veneration for martyrs. People began to celebrate their birthday.
These accounts would inspire Xtns for the rest of world history
Persecution under Marcus Aurelius
- became emperor in 161 AD
- one of the most enlightened minds of his age
- did not lust for power
- was an outstanding author, writing Meditations, literary masterpiece of its time
- one would think Xtns would fare better under Aurelius
- they didn’t
- in his only reference to Xtns in his Meditations he praises those souls willing
to give up their lives, but only when it is driven by reason “and not of obstinancy,
as is the case with Christians.”
- Felicitas and her 7 sons
- a consecrated widow, devoted her life to the church
- pagan priests accused her before the authorities
- the prefect tried to persuade her to abandon her faith, to which she replied: