The early church speaks today

2007 Autumn Lectures

‘Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.’
Proverbs 19:20 (NIV)

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

These lectures look at how the early church confronted many issues which are very contemporary in the 21st century.

Christian believers in the early church knew what it was to live out their faith in a hostile world. Like us they sought to communicate the Gospel to unbelievers and struggled to understand the times in which they lived. They skilfully countered false teaching and laid the foundations for key doctrines which still serve as touchstones of orthodoxy.

1. Ancient creeds in the modern world

By Revd Prof John L Mackay

We have available to us the inerrant, authoritative and complete Word of God, so of what benefit to us are church creeds? Many battles against error have been fought down through the ages of church history. These battles have often been resolved by the drawing up of statements of sound doctrine. But how should we approach and value these ancient creeds in the modern world, especially in relation to Scripture?

2. Athanasius against the world

By Revd J Philip Arthur

The tombstone of Athanasius read ‘Athanasius contra mundum’ – Athanasius against the world. Athanasius made a solitary stand in the 4th Century in defending the truth that Jesus Christ was fully God. As a result he was repeatedly exiled from the city of which he was bishop, but Athanasius continued to show remarkable faithfulness and perseverance in the face of almost total opposition.

3. Augustine and the City of God

By Dr Nick Needham

The fall of Rome in 410 saw the world many people thought was unshakable, collapse. In light of this, Augustine of Hippo wrote about the city that would never be destroyed – the City of God. In outlining human history as a conflict between the City of God and the City of the World, Augustine presents the true church of Christ as being independent from any place or state. Civic peace in the earthly city can help to further the City of God. But even those who dwelt within the City of God would still face trials and tribulations, until the return of Christ.

4. Chalcedon

By Revd Prof John L Mackay

How is the Lord Jesus fully God and fully man? This controversy raged in the 5th Century and was answered at the Council of Chalcedon by addressing the two natures of Christ. His deity and humanity were declared to exist “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation”.This not only helps us in our thinking about Christ but should also elevate our understanding of what it means to be human and teach us how we should live out our lives in the world.