By the end of the first century, Roman persecutions were dogging God’s people from the outside, and false teachings from people who claimed to be Christians were hounding the church from within. The Ebionites said that Jesus was a human Messiah but not the divine Lord. Most Gnostics, on the other hand, depicted Jesus as a spiritual being who had only seemed human. To make matters worse, most of the apostles and eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus had passed away, so it was becoming increasingly difficult to determine which traditions about Jesus were true.
Faced with such challenging circumstances, Christians asked several crucial questions: Which writings should be seen as authoritative? How was Jesus fully God and fully man? What are the necessary beliefs that every Christian must embrace?
These were not heady debates, limited to Bible colleges or theological seminaries. These were deeply practical struggles in local churches among men and women whose goal was to maintain the truth about Jesus at a time when proclaiming the gospel could cost Christians their lives.
Three primary responses to these challenges were:
(1) careful consideration of which texts were authoritative for Christians,
(2) a confession of faith that developed into the summary that we know today as “the Apostles’ Creed,” and
(3) bishops who became responsible for the theological integrity of churches in entire regions.
30 Days through Church History: Day 6
You’re one-fifth of the way finished!