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)
TO BE CONTINUED