Month: February 2014

27-Orthodoxy, with an Eastern Flavor file | Play in new windowThis Episode of CS is titled, “Orthodoxy, with an Eastern Flavor.” At the conclusion of the last episode, I said we’d be continuing our look at the Church in the East by tracking the Gospel’s reach into the FAR East. But when I sat down to compose this session, I realized I’d skipped an important chapter of the story. Even with this reboot of CS and my desire to clean up the timeline, I’m finding it a challenge to keep the narrative more strictly chronological. See—here’s the challenge in putting together the story of church history. Either we follow the course of the Gospel in one region or we bounce around to different locations and talk about what’s going on in different places at the same time. What we’re ending up doing here is a hybrid of both. I’m trying to track the progress of the Faith in a region for a period of time. But that means some regions only get about a hundred years covered while others may go for a few hundred. And that’s where the confusion can set in. So, before we can track the Gospel’s reach into the Far East, we need to take a closer look at what was happening to the Eastern Roman Empire and the church there. Let’s begin by defining the term “Orthodoxy.” It...

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26-And In the East Part 2 file | Play in new windowThis episode of Communio Santorum is titled, “And In the East – Part 2.” In our last episode, we took a brief look at the Apostle Thomas’ mission to India. Then we considered the spread of the faith into Persia. Further study of the Church in the East has to return to the Council of Chalcedon in the 5th C where Bishop Nestorius was condemned as a heretic. As we’ve spent a few podcasts seeing, the debate about the deity of Christ that had been central to the Council of Nicea in 325, declared Jesus was of the same substance as the Father. It took another hundred years before the deity-denying error of Arianism was finally quashed. But even among orthodox & catholic, Nicean-holding believers, the question was over how to understand the nature of Christ. He’s God – got it! But he’s also human. How are we to understand His dual-nature. It was at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 that that issue was finally decided. And the Church of the East was deemed to hold a position that was unorthodox. The debate was sophisticated & complex, and not a small part decided more by politics than by concern for theological purity. The loser in the debate was Bishops Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople. Ti make a complex issue simple, those who...

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25-And In the East Part 1 file | Play in new windowThis episode of Communio Santorum is titled, “And In the East – Part 1.” The 5th C Church Father Jerome wrote, ““[Jesus] was present in all places with Thomas in India, with Peter in Rome, with Paul in Illyria, with Titus in Crete, with Andrew in Greece, with each apostle and apostolic man in his own separate region.” So far we’ve been following the track of most western studies of history, both secular & religious, by concentrating on what took place in the West & Roman Empire. Even though we’ve delved briefly into the Eastern Roman Empire, as Lars Brownworth so aptly reminds us in his outstanding podcast, 12 Byzantine Emperors, even after the West fell in the 5th Century, the Eastern Empire continue to think of & call itself Roman. It’s later historians who refer to it as the Byzantine Empire. Recently we’ve seen the focus of attention shift to the East with the Christological controversies of the 4th & 5th Cs. In this episode, we’ll stay in the East and follow the track of the expansion of the Faith as it moved Eastward. This is an amazing chapter often neglected in traditional treatments of church history. It’s well captured by Philip Jenkins in his book, The Lost History of Christianity. We start all the way back at the beginning with the...

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24-Can’t We All Just Get Along? file | Play in new windowThe title of this episode is, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” In our last episode we began our look at how the Church of the 4th & 5th Cs. attempted to describe the Incarnation. Once the Council of Nicaea affirmed Jesus’ deity, along with His humanity, Church leaders were left with the task of finding just the right words to describe WHO Jesus was. If He was both God & Man as The Nicaean Creed said, how did these tow natures relate to one another? Then we looked at how the churches at Alexandria & Antioch differed in their approaches to understanding & teaching the Bible. Though Alexandria was recognized as a center of scholarship, the church at Antioch kept producing church leaders who were drafted to fill the role of lead bishop at Constantinople, the political center of the Eastern Empire. While Rome was the undisputed lead church in the West, Alexandria, Antioch & Constantinople vied with each other over who would take the lead in the East. But the real contest was between Alexandria in Egypt & Antioch in Syria. The contest between the 2 cities & their churches became clear during the time of John Chrysostom from Antioch & Theophilus, lead bishop at Alexandria. Because of John’s reputation as a premier preacher, he was drafted to become the Bishop...

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