THE AGE OF THE FATHERS


The first few centuries of the Church's history are usually referred to as the 'patristic period' - in other words, the period of the 'Church Fathers'. These were the theologians who first enunciated the principles of Christian biblical exegesis, first attempted to establish and refine a Christian dogmatic vocabulary, and first employed the methods, and the riches of Greek philosophy to deepen and clarify the Church's understanding of what had been revealed in Christ.


(YOU  MUST  REMEMBER  NOW  THAT  THE  AUTHOR  IS  TALKING  ABOUT  THE  POPULAR  CHRISTIANITY  THAT  AROSE  AFTER  THE  FIRST  CENTURY  A.D.  -  ORIGINATING  IN  ROME,  AND  WHICH  EVENTUALLY  BECAME  KNOWN  AS  ROMAN  CATHOLICISM.  THESE  SO-CALLED  "CHURCH  FATHERS"  WERE  INDEED  THE  ONES  WHO  FORMED  THE  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  CHURCH,  WHICH  WE  HAVE  SEEN  WAS  ADOPTED  BY  CONSTANTINE,  EMPEROR  OF  THE  ROMAN  EMPIRE,  AND  SO  BECAME  THE  "CHRISTIAN  RELIGION"  OF  THE   ROMAN  EMPIRE.  THE  TRUE  PEOPLE  OF  GOD  WERE  NOW  THE  "LITTLE  FLOCK"  -  "THE  SALT  OF  THE  EARTH"  -  THE  SCATTERED  FEW  IN  RELATION  TO  THE  GROWING  MIGHT  AND  POWER  OF  THE  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  RELIGION  -  Keith Hunt)




Aristidcs, one of the apologists of the early Church. In common with the writings of other defenders of the faith, it is almost certain that Aristides' document never reached its intended recipient, Emperor Antoninus Pius.


In many ways, this was the golden age of Christian thought; the accomplishments of that time were arguably never surpassed - or even equalled — in later centuries. If nothing else, the writings of the Fathers were frequently marked by a kind of speculative audacity that the theologians of later years, under the restrictions of more precisely defined dogmas, found all but impossible. The thought of the greatest of the Fathers flourished in an atmosphere of spacious liberty; it possessed an originality and power of inspiration that could not endure indefinitely, but that still often feels more lively and immediate than the theology of later centuries.


(WHATEVER  THE  AUTHOR  SAYS  ABOUT  THESE  FELLOWS,  REALLY  MEANS  NOTHING,  WHEN  COMPARED  TO  THE  REAL  TRUTHS  OF  THE  BIBLE.  ALL  THESE  GUYS  TO  BE  MENTIONED  FROM  HERE  ON  OUT,  WERE  FALSE  APOSTLES  AND  TEACHERS.  OBVIOUSLY  THEY  HAD  SOME  TRUTHS,  OTHERWISE  THEY  WOULD  NOT  HAVE  BEEN  ABLE  TO  DECEIVE,  EVENTUALLY  HUNDREDS  OF  MILLIONS;  TODAY  ABOUT  ONE  AND  A  HALF  BILLION  PEOPLE  WHO  CALL  THEMSELVES  "CHRISTIAN"  ARE  DECEIVED  IN  ONE  WAY  OR  ANOTHER,  BY  THE  MOTHER  CHURCH  OF  ROME  -  Keith Hunt)


Defenders of the Faith


The first theologians of the patristic age are known as the 'Apostolic Fathers', because they were the earliest successors of the Apostles as leaders of the Church. The Apostolic Fathers include such figures as Clement, the late first-century bishop of Rome, and the second-century martyrs Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna.


(OF  THOSE  MENTIONED,  IT  WAS ONLY  POLYCARP  THAT  WAS  OF  THE  TRUE  CHURCH  OF  GOD.  WE  MUST  REMEMBER  DURING  THE  SECOND  CENTURY  THE  MINISTERS  OF  ASIA  MINOR,  LIKE  POLYCARP  AND  POLYCRATES [TO  FOLLOW]  STILL  THOUGHT  OF  THE  CHURCH  OF  ROME  AS  BROTHERS  IN  CHRIST,  BUT  DECEIVED  BY  SOME  FALSE  TEACHING  AND  PRACTICES  THAT  ROME  HAD  ADOPTED  -  LIKE  "EASTER"  IN  PLACE  OF  THE  PASSOVER  -  Keith Hunt)


From the middle to the late second century, moreover, there arose a number of men known to posterity as the 'Apologists', who dedicated themselves to defending Christian beliefs to the pagan world by employing the language and methods of Greek philosophy. Among these were Quadratus, who addressed a defense of Christianity to the emperor Hadrian (76-138) in around 125, Aristides, who produced a similar defense for the emperor Antoninus Pius (86-161) in around 145, and Melito of Sardis, who addressed his apology to the emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-80). The greatest of the apologists was Justin Martyr (c. 100—c. 165), who employed the Stoic conception of a divine 'Reason' (Logos) pervading all things - partially present in all rational intellects - to explain who the eternal Son of God, incarnate in Jesus, was.


(ONCE  MORE  THESE  MEN  WERE  OF  THE  ROMAN  CHURCH  RELIGION  -  Keith Hunt)


Perhaps the finest theological mind of that period, however, belonged to St Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130—c.200), whose work "Against the Heresies," written in around 180, not only mounted a vigorous attack on the teachings of the Gnostics, but unfolded a subtle theology of humanity's 'recapitulation' in Christ. A perhaps equally original thinker was the North African lawyer Tertullian (c.155-c.230), a theologian who railed against pagan wisdom while making use of Stoic metaphysics to explain the Trinity.


(AGAIN  MINISTERS  OF  THE  ROMAN  CHRISTIAN  RELIGION  -  Keith Hunt)


The Great Age of the Fathers


The 'high patristic age' began with the great Alexandrians Clement and Origen - especially the latter - who not only made use of Greek philosophical concepts and methods to explicate their faith, but who began the work of developing a distinctively Christian philosophy. They were also the first great systematic exegetes of scripture. Moreover, they placed a particular emphasis upon the cultivation of the spiritual life, and so laid the foundations for the later Christian mystical tradition. Simply put, Origen's influence on later Christian thought — even after many of his ideas had been condemned as unorthodox — defies summary.


(ORIGEN  ESPECIALLY  WAS  "WAY  OFF  THE  WALL"  -  FROM  PLANET  PLUTO  -  LOOK  HIM  UP  ON  WIKAPEDIA  -  HE  "ANALOGIZED"  MOST  OF  THE  BIBLE  -  SPIRITUALIZED  IT  AWAY.  HE  WAS  A  FRUIT-NUT  OF  THE   HIGHEST  ORDER - Keith Hunt)


The first theologians of the patristic age whose teachings came to define Christian orthodoxy, however, 'arose in the fourth century: arguably the single most crucial century in the development of Christian thought. Athanasius, the scourge of Arianism, was a dogmatic theologian of considerable virtuosity; his short treatise "On the Incarnation of the Logos of God" is one of the masterpieces of the early Church's reflections on salvation and deification in Christ, profoundly impressive in its comprehensiveness and range.


(SO  YES  SOME  HAD  IT  CORECT  ABOUT  CHRIST  -  GOD  IN  THE  FLESH.  REMEMBER  SATAN  HAS  TO  HAVE  HIS  CHURCH  WITH  SOME  CORRECT  TEACHINGS,  OR  NONE  WOULD  BE  DECEIVED  -  Keith Hunt)


Moreover, the three Cappadocian Fathers - Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa - were not only the most intellectually redoubtable defenders of Nicene orthodoxy in the later years of the Arian controversy, but could boast all the classical attainments of the educated class. Of the three, Gregory of Nazianzus was the most eloquent and theoretically rigorous, but the most original and philosophically daring was Gregory of Nyssa: his reflections on the Trinity possessed a conceptual scope and sophistication altogether unprecedented in Christian thought; he was the first philosopher in the Greek tradition (pagan or Christian) to develop a coherent metaphysics of the infinite; his understanding of the dynamics of the relation between the finite soul and the infinite God was revolutionary in


The writings of St Augustine are seminal works of theological enquiry. His "Confessions" explored  the interior life of the soul in a way for which there existed no previous model. His enormous treatise "The City of God" interpreted the whole of human history in the light of Christian belief, while his work "On the Trinity" brought the sort of intense Trinitarian reflections begun by the Cappadocian fathers to a new depth and complexity.


revision of the traditional philosophical categories of Greek thought; and his spiritual writings are classics of contemplative theology.


(NATURALLY  THE  MINISTERS  OF  TODAY,  ESPECIALLY  OF  THE  ROMAN  PERSUASION,  ARE  GOING  TO  LOOK  UPON  THESE  MEN  AS  "GREAT"  AND  "CLASSICAL  IN  THOUGHT"  AND  EVEN  "INSPIRED  IN  WRITING"  -  Keith Hunt)


No single theologian writing in Greek or Syriac in the patristic period exercised an influence in the Christian East comparable to that exercised in the West by the great North African St Augustine of Hippo (354-430), a man whose restless originality, philosophical sophistication, literary genius and sheer intellectual power set him apart not only from his contemporaries, but from all but a very few other theologians. The greatest works in his immense corpus of writings rank high among the enduring monuments of the Christian intellectual tradition.


(SEE  WHAT  I  MEAN?  THE  PEOPLE  TODAY  WHO  SIDE  WITH  THE  FOUNDERS  OF  ROMAN  THEOLOGY,  ARE  GOING  TO  PUT  THEM  HIGH  UP  ON  THE  PEDESTAL  -  LOOK  AT  THEM  WITH  "AWE"  AND   MUCH  ESTEEM  AND  ADMIRATION -  Keith Hunt)


It is not an exaggeration to say also that Augustine bequeathed to later Western theology almost the entirety of its conceptual grammar, its principal terms and distinctions and its governing themes. In his later years, he established a pattern of theological reflection on sin and on the relation between divine grace and human freedom that definitively shaped all subsequent Western theology. In a very real sense,Western Christianity is Augustinian Christianity.


(PROBABLY  INDEED  HAD  SOME  TRUTHS,  BUT  LIKE  ALL  COUNTERFEITS  ENOUGH  ERRORS  TO  MAKE  IT  FALSE  DOCTRINE  -  Keith Hunt)


The Later Masters


Over the next few centuries, the chief focus of doctrinal disputation in the Church was Christology: that is, the theology of the relation of Christ's divinity to his humanity. No theologian in this area was more distinguished than St Cyril of Alexandria (c.375-444). The only greater 'Christologian' of the patristic period was St Maximus the Confessor (c.580-662), who may well have possessed the single most impressive philosophical intellect in the history of Christian theology. His metaphysics of creation, his Trinitarian theology, his spiritual teachings, his anthropology - no less than his Christology - always marked by genius.


(WELL   "GENIUS"   TO  THOSE  WHO  ARE  IMPRESSED  BY  ROMAN  THEOLOGY  AND  ITS  MANY  FALSE  VARIETIES  -  Keith Hunt)


Maximus' metaphysical vision was, in part, inspired by the writings of the 'Pseudo-Dionysius', a Syrian writer who flourished around the year 500, who assumed the New Testament pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite, and who produced certain treatises in which he used the resources of late Platonic philosophy to unfold the Christian understanding of divine transcendence. He was, in fact, one of the most influential figures in the history of Christian philosophy, East and West, though his true identity remains unknown.


(WELL  THE  BOTTOM  LINE  IDENTITY  IS  WELL  KNOWN......THE  SAME  ONE  AS  INSPIRED  "PLATONIC  PHILOSOPHY"  -  Keith Hunt)


The patristic period is usually said to have ended - in the West — with St Isidore of Seville (c.560-636) and - in the East — with St John of Damascus (c.675-749). Isidore produced compendia of etymology, the humane disciplines, the arts and sciences, moral theology, scriptural biography and ecclesiastical regulations. John, though a far more innovative and rigorous philosopher, is celebrated chiefly for his systematization of all previous patristic thought in "On the Orthodox Faith," the first great work of Christian 'scholasticism'. The works of both men signal a change in Christian intellectual culture; one senses that in their time the first great creative surge of Christian thought had at last begun to subside.


(NOPE,  MORE  "SCHOLASTICISM"  IN  "ORTHODOX  FAITH"  WAS  TO  BE  ADDED  TO  ROMAN  THEOLOGY  AS  THE  CENTURIES  WENT  ON  -  Keith Hunt)



PROBLEMS OF TRANSLATION




Such was the force of St Augustine's intellect that some of his ideas entered permanently into Western theology. The most obvious, perhaps, is that of 'predestination', the idea that God from eternity elects some to save, while 'reprobating' the rest to damnation, which Augustine believed to be the teaching of St Paul.


(ALL  A  BUNCH  OF  HOG-WASH!!  TO  THINK  THAT  CHRISTIANITY  TEACHES  GOD  IS  LOVE,  GOD  IS  MERCIFUL,  GOD  IS  LONG-SUFFERING;  THEN  TEACH  GOD  HAS  DELIBERATELY  CHOSEN  IN  ADVANCE  SOME  TO  "HEAVEN"  AND  SOME  TO  "HELL"  AS  MODERN  THEOLOGY   AND  LANGUAGE  WOULD  PUT  IT,  IS  TOTALLY  INSANE  THEOLOGY,  THAT  WOULD  TURN  AWAY  MANY  FROM  HAVING  ANYTHING  TO  DO  WITH  CHRISTIANITY.  FOR  THE  TRUTH  ON  "PREDESTINATION"  SEE  MY  STUDY  ON  MY  WEBSITE  -  Keith Hunt)


Such an idea never really arose in the Eastern Christian world. In large part, this difference is attributable to the vagaries of translation. The Latin word 'praedestinare' is a far stronger verb than the original Greek 'proorizein', which really means little more than to 'mark out in advance'. More importantly, Augustine's interpretations of certain passages in Paul were quite novel. For instance, he read Romans chapters 9-11 as a discourse on the predestination and reprobation of souls, even though those chapters appear really to concern the estrangement and ultimate reconciliation of Israel and the Church; Paul does not discuss salvation there at all, except to opine that all of Israel will be saved.


(ONE  GOOD  REASON  WHY  AUGUSTINE  WAS  OFF  THE  WALL,  OUT  IN  LEFT  FIELD;  NOT  ANYWHERE  NEAR  SO  "GREAT"  AS  SOME  WOULD  MAKE  HIM  -  Keith Hunt)


Similar problems of translation probably account for the significant differences between Eastern and Western understandings of original sin. All Christians believe that we are born in sin - that is, enslaved to death, suffering corruption in our bodies, minds and desires, alienated from God - but only in the West did the idea arise that a newborn infant is somehow already guilty of transgression in God's eyes. In part, this is because the Latin text of Romans 5:12 with which Augustine was familiar contained a mistranslation of the final clause of the verse one, that seemed to suggest that 'in' Adam 'all sinned'. The actual Greek text, however, says nothing of the sort; it says either that as a result of death all sinned, or that because sin is general all things die;. but it does not impute guilt to those who have not yet committed any evil.


(THE  AUTHOR  IS  CORRECT,  AND  HENCE  WESTERN  THEOLOGY  OF  ROME,  IS  WRONG  HERE,  AS  IT  IS  ON  MANY  OTHER  POINTS,  WHICH  ALL  PROTESTANT  CHURCHES  IN  SOME  WAYS,  STILL  ACCEPT  AND  TEACH  AND  PRACTICE.  FROM  THE  MOTHER  CHURCH  CAME  DAUGHTERS  WITH  THEIR   OWN  PERSONALITIES  AND  VARIOUS  GENES,  BUT  FROM  THE  MOTHER'S  DNA  -  Keith Hunt)


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TO  BE  CONTINUED