College Notes
Church History
Lecture 3

The Growth of Christianity

I. First century history is very unclear
A. Early extra-Biblical accounts are mostly speculation and tradition
B. Early traditions of Christ show him preparing for the work of the Church
C. What did He do from age 12 - 3O?
    1. He may have been taken to Britain by an uncle
    2. Possibly He went to Britain to discover the location of the lost ten tribes

II. Jesus gives a commission to the disciples (Mt. 10:1-23)
A. Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel
     1. From 700 B.C. after Babylonians were in power the ten tribes did not return to the holy land with the Jews.
     2. Israel migrated north and west from Assyria over to Eastern Europe and further to Western Europe; this took centuries.
B. Paul's commission
     1. Paul's commission not limited to Gentiles only (Acts 9:15)
     2. Conversely, the apostles' commission was limited to the house of Israel - they were not trained to go before kings
C. Three Apostles shown in Biblical history
     1. Peter who went to the Jews
     2. Paul who went to the Gentiles
     3. John who was to complete the first century
D. We just don't know about the others
E. We can't say with any real authority what took place
F. Many radical ideas exist that are highly unlikely

III. Gibbon explains the first century

"The scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church." (The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, chapter 13, 7th Edition, p. 219)

IV. Jesse Hurlbut

"We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 1OO A.D., 'The Age of Shadows,' partly because the gloom of persecution was over the church; but more especially because of all periods in the history, it is the one about which we know the least....For fifty years after St. Paul's life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 12O A.D. with the writings of the earliest church-fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul" (The Story Of The Christian Church, p. 41)

V. Why is this part of history so clouded?
A. This is not Worldwide Church doctrine - this is fact
B. We are not the only ones who realize that the false system grew and the true church was submerged
C. Satan caused the false system to develop at this time
D. If it were not so clouded, all could see the deception
E. As it is, 85-95% of all Catholics and Protestants believe that the Catholic church is the remnant of the original church started by Christ.

VI. Gibbon wrote about the reasons for Christianity's growth
A. Gibbon famous for chapters 15-2O on church history
B. Gibbon was agnostic not a Catholic historian
C. Dealt with Christian growth in the empire
D. He gives his points from a philosophical view

VII. Five reasons for growth (Gibbon)
A. Zeal
    1. Judaism had an inflexible and intolerant zeal
    2. They had few convert because of their many do's and don'ts
    3. Christianity seemed to be more flexible
         a. Circumcision not required
         b. No sacrifices or rituals
     4. Did not have to adopt Jewish culture, but did adopt holiness
B. Had a doctrine of future life
     1. Culture of the time thought man important and had questions of what man's purpose was
     2. Christianity had answers to the questions
     3. The teaching of the Kingdom of God had wide appeal
     4. This evolved to the doctrine of the immortal soul
C. Had a record of miracles performed
     1. Tongues
     2. Dead raised
     3. Healings
     4. Prophecy
D. Had a high standard of morality
    1. Gentile world immoral
    2. Many in society suffered from this and saw the ultimate fall that would result
    3. This was a strong attraction to Gentiles especially women
    4. The doctrine of forgiveness of sin was important
    5. People liked and needed a way to remove guilt that came from sin
E. Had unity in the church government
    1. This is where Gibbon goes astray
    2. The Church developed a government that took over the world
    3. The government could and did wield great power

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