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Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan


Christianity At The Cross Roads
How The Second Century Shaped The Future Of The Church
by Michael J. Kruger
SPCK

For very obvious reasons, we know a good deal about first century Christianity. We also know a considerable amount from the third century onwards. What is less well known is what happened in the second century. The author, a Protestant expert in this field, fills the details in this book.

He describes how Christians met at a time of great challenge during the second century to hear the Word of God and Break Bread. The community consisted of this who were baptised and were thus members of the Church, It is quite clear that we already have an ecclesiology and a Eucharistic theology in keeping with Catholic Tradition. Worship was centred on the person of Christ, God Incarnate.

The author writes that the second century is crucial to our understanding of how the Church developed. Christianity is already seen as distinct from, but a continuation of, Judaism. It is a religion for all people, Jew and Gentile, slave and free. The Gospels and the Letters of Saint Paul, as we now have it in the New Testament, are already in full use. The ecclesiology of the Church is already in place, with Church leaders and laity having their different roles.

The Church had to deal with various heresies including those of the Ebionites, the Marcionites, the Gnostics and the Montanists.

But the Church already had champions of orthodoxy: St Irenaeus, for example, and Tertullian, before he himself fell into heresy. What is of great interest is the fact that the majority of Christians were orthodox, they held to the "rule of Faith."

It was the Church that decided what was orthodox and what was not. It was the Church that decided that certain Gospels were orthodox and others were not. The discovery of the "gospel of Judas" need not disturb us one bit because it was rejected by the Early Church. It would also appear that the Church grew in its self-understanding by its rejection of heresy, a consoling thought at this moment in the history of the Church.

This is a good, solid  defence of Christian orthodoxy.

            
Copyright ; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2022

Version: 7th  November 2022



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