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Blog Group: General Articles (68 posts)


Luke J. Wilson | 2 days ago | General Articles
I was asked not so long ago what kinds of things Christians did in the Early Church (first to fourth century) as a form of spiritual discipline, on a personal level as well as a corporate one. Though the concept of an individual “personal spiritual life” would have been quite foreign to first century believers as faith and Church was very much a corporate venture that had personal implications, rather than the other way around as it can often appear to be thought of today. Much of what made Christianity structured, disciplined and set apart from society, has largely been lost in practice, or forgotten and relegated to the annals of history by many practicing Christians today. With that said, let’s take a look at what the most common practices were of the ancient Church.   Reading/Memorising Scripture Memorising Scripture – specifically the Psalms and Gospels Singing/praying the Psalms as worship to God Both of these principles are based on Psalm 1:1–3 and Colossians 3:16. “Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates profligacy.” Commentary on Psalm 1, Basil the Great (4th century)   Prayer and Fasting Another common practice that was expected of believers was regular fasting, since Jesus had said “when you fast”, not “if”. Typically, fasting was done every week on Wednesday and Friday, based on Matthew 6:16–18, and also to honour the days of the Passion and crucifixion in later tradition. “But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; … but fast on the fourth day (Wednesday) and the Preparation (Friday). … [But pray] as the Lord commanded in His Gospel (the Lord’s Prayer) … Thrice in the day thus pray.” Didache (c. 50 – 70) Alongside fasting, praying the Lord’s Prayer three times a day (morning, noon, evening) was a common discipline. From around the third century, liturgy and prayers in a church...

Luke J. Wilson | 02nd June 2019 | General Articles
The Nicene Creed — what is it and why is it called that? This creed gets its name from a time and place: the first ecumenical Church council held at Nicaea, which is now known as İznik in northwestern Turkey, in 325 AD. Now that may raise another question for you: what is an ecumenical council? Well, to explain more about the Nicene Creed, we are going to have to take a look at The First Council of Nicaea in order to better understand why this creed was written. First things first though; an “ecumenical council” is ideally a Church-wide meeting where all the Bishops from all across the Church come together to hold a very large and very important meeting to discuss topics and issues affecting the whole Body of Believers, with the results intended to be binding on all believers. Most often, these Councils were called to combat heresy and false teachers who had come about and gained enough popularity that it warranted an official response, with the creeds being the result after proper orthodoxy had been ratified. Seeking unity, the Council was convened by Constantine I in response to the Arian controversy which had gripped the Greek-speaking East. The teaching of Arius of Alexandria were considered heretical by most bishops of the time, fearing that it would cost people their salvation. 1800 bishops were invited by Constantine (that was every bishop across the Roman Empire), but only around 250-320 turned up from across the Empire, except Britain, according to the various surviving documents from different attendees. This Council was an extremely historic event as nothing quite like it had happened before since the Council of Jerusalem around 50 AD (Acts 15), which convened in a similar manner to counter controversial and false teaching which was upsetting the Church Body. As with that Council, the Nicene Council and its outcome was intended for the whole of the Church global. What actually happened at Nicaea I won’t go into too much detail about everyt...

Luke J. Wilson | 08th May 2019 | General Articles
40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Texts is now available to buy as Paperback or Kindle! I am happy to say that the new book is now available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon! Other eBook formats will be available soon as it rolls out. This book is the companion to my other book (40 Days with the Fathers: A Daily Reading Plan), and includes twenty-three Early Church texts in full—including all additional footnotes from the original editors and translators so that you can get as close as possible to reading these ancient texts without needing to know ancient Greek or Latin. It's structured in such a way to read a chapter a day over a 40 day period which will help digest these long texts, and also serve as an easy introduction to what is often the more scholarly/academic side of things. Order your copy today to get the Paperback at the special low price of £19.99 (RRP: £21.99)! In the UK? Go to Amazon.co.uk In America or worldwide? Go to Amazon.com Thank you for your interest and support of my work! Luke J. Wilson...

Luke J. Wilson | 02nd March 2019 | General Articles
Available soon will be a companion book that will include all of the source texts in full, which I had hoped to get out in time for Lent, but it’s unlikely to be ready in time this year. So if you have my book and would like to read along each day with the Church Fathers as well, I’ve compiled a list of online sources where you can read the original texts. If you don’t have the book and would like it, you can order it now from Amazon and still get it in time for Lent by clicking the following link: Amazon.com; or if you would like to pledge some support towards my book writing in return for some nice perks, you can do so on my Patreon page: https://patreon.com/LukeJWilson. If you would like to be notified of the release of the new Companion Book, you can sign up to the mailing list at the top of the homepage at https://fortydays.co.uk.  Day One: The Didache http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm Day Two & Three: Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0101.htm Day Four: Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0136.htm Day Five: Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0104.htm Day Six: Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0105.htm Day Seven: Ignatius, Epistle to the Trallians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0106.htm Day Eight: Ignatius, Epistle to the Romans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0107.htm Day Nine: Ignatius, Epistle to the Philadelphians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0108.htm Day Ten: Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnæans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm Day Eleven: Epistle to Polycarp http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0110.htm Day Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen: Justin Martyr, First Apology http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm Day Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty: Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church http://www.newa...

Luke J. Wilson | 17th December 2018 | General Articles
It's that magical time of year when the lights go up, the trees get decorated and a familiar bearded man in a red suit pops up everywhere. He goes by a few names: Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nick. But who was the real Santa Claus? Well, to answer that, we need to go way back in history to the fourth century to a Bishop called Nicholas of Myra (present-day Demre, Turkey). Memes abound about St Nicholas and Arius Some early lists place him as one of the Bishops who attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and there are some questionable legends which states that he was temporarily defrocked (a removal from office) and imprisoned during the Council for apparently slapping the heretic Arius across the face! The following is an excerpt from a book called The Book of the Saints, which details some of the main aspects we know about St. Nicholas’ life and the miracles attributed to him: ST. NICHOLAS was born into a wealthy family at Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Diocletian, attended the Council of Nicaea, and died at Myra, where he was buried in the cathedral. Nicholas was chosen Bishop of Myra and devoted himself to helping the poor. Tradition says that Nicholas devoted himself to works of charity. Hearing that an impoverished father had to sell his three daughters into prostitution because he had no money for their marriage dowry, Nicholas threw a small bag of gold into the poor man's window on three different evenings, and his daughters were able to marry. Finally, he was discovered as the bearer of these gifts. At one time, he saved three innocent young men from execution by the powerful civil governor, Eustathius. At another time he came to the aid of seamen who called for his help during a storm at sea off the coast of Lycia. Suddenly appearing on their ship, he manned the ropes and sails beside the weary sailors and brought the vessel to port. Another tale relates that during a famine in hi...

Luke J. Wilson | 19th November 2018 | General Articles
Sin is like a mold on us, like a rotting, black skin disease. If only we could see it on us, we'd be disgusted and repulsed! Zombies are popular on TV etc. right now, think of the grossness of those images and realise that when we sin and keep sinning, that's what we end up looking like before God! We are living stones, together building up the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Cor 6:19). Think about that for a moment. Think of the splendor of Solomon's temple when it was built (re-read it again if you can’t remember: 1 Kings 6:14-36). We are that and SO much more! But now imagine it with mold and mildew and all that horrible black damp growing and spreading across the walls. Totally unbefitting of a holy temple for the Lord! You'd clean it up straight away if that happened in your home, but for some reason we just let it fester in the temple of God like it's no big deal. But what happens if it's left? It can destroy the wall with rot and become poisonous causing sickness. These days we can just buy some spray to squirt on the walls and wipe clean, but how did God command his people to deal with mold and mildew in the Old Testament? Leviticus 14:45He shall have the house torn down, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and taken outside the city to an unclean place. Pretty drastic, right? But it's a serious thing! And sin is an even more serious thing to God, much more than mold in a house, but if WE are that house and WE have that mold then how much more serious will God take that? How much more will God tear down our bodies in order to save us from the disease festering in our lives? Look at what Paul told the Corinthian church to do with a man living in sin: 1 Corinthians 5:5you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Did you catch that? They were to hand this person over to Satan! How? By putting them out of the church— excommunicat...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th November 2018 | General Articles
Free Early Church Resources I've created a few resources to aid with your studies or interest in the Early Church. The below maps are converted from the appendices in my book. I'll also soon add some hi-res versions as A3 poster size to purchase as well. Below the maps is an interactive chronological timeline of when the New Testament and Early Church texts were written. At the time of writing, I have covered most of the Ante-Nicene (pre-325 AD) period. Geographical Locations of Early Church Texts Approximate locations of where the NT and Ante-Nicene texts were written (or sent). Blue book icons represent the New Testament books, the red crosses are a selection of the Early Church Fathers texts. Zoom in and click on the icons for more details.   Journey of Ignatius to his Martyrdom The whole journey covers about 1524 miles (2454 km)! Blue pins are the known route that Ignatius took Green pins are where he stopped to write his epistles (zoom in and click the pins for info) Red pins are the conjectured route   Chronological Timeline of the New Testament and other Early Church Texts and Events A timeline of when the New Testament and other early Patristic works were written*, plus significant historical events which may have influenced certain writings. KEY:Orange = New TestamentDark Green = Apostolic Fathers (c.70 - c.150 AD)Light Green = Ante-Nicene Fathers (pre-325 AD)Light Orange = Post-Nicene FathersBlue = Significant Historical EventsBlack = Major Time PeriodsTeal = First Seven Ecumenical CouncilsRed = Widespread PersecutionsLight Red = Localised/Regional PersecutionsGrey = Disputed FactsYellow = Major Schisms * Much of the dating and research has been taken from the works of Schaff, Lightfoot, Harmer et al. Powered by Time.Graphics  ...

Luke J. Wilson | 02nd November 2018 | General Articles
Take a journey through the first 400 years of Church History in only 40 days! "40 Days with the Fathers" is a daily reading plan/devotional spread out over forty days; and over the course of this reading plan you will read extracts and commentary on 23 different early Church texts from a selection of some of the most influential Church Fathers, such as: Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, and Leo the Great. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?” — well now you can read for yourself and see how God continued to grow His Church! Revised Edition includes: a chronological timeline of the Early Church texts, a map displaying where the New Testament and early texts were written and sent, plus a map of Ignatius’ journey to martyrdom in Rome. As a small added bonus, at the end of each chapter there is now a "Notes" section so you can jot down any thoughts you have whilst doing your daily reading. Available Now From: Download a free sample chapter! Preview Photos      ...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th October 2018 | General Articles
The Apostle's creed — what is it and why is it called that? Outside of the New Testament, this is one of the oldest creeds we have, dating back to the sixth – eighth century in its current form that is commonly known today, but having its origins much earlier — as far back as the second century in a shorter form known simply as the “Old Roman Creed”. The Apostles creed is also sometimes referred to as the “Rule of Faith” as it is a summary of the Gospel and is the basis for pretty much all modern theology. The points of the creed cover all the major pillars of the Christian faith which aims to safeguard what is true orthodoxy (right belief), which one must agree and adhere to in order to be counted amongst the Christians. Most often, the need for creeds arose in opposition to heresy so that the Church could point to what was historically taught by Christ and the Apostles to show what was ancient and true, as opposed to new and “novel” doctrines. The Old Roman Creed The text of the Old Roman Creed survives in a letter from a bishop Marcellus of Ancyra, which was sent to Julius, the bishop of Rome, dating back to around 340–360 AD where it was mainly used as a baptismal text in the Roman church. Roughly 50 years later, Tyrannius Rufinus (an Italian monk) wrote a commentary on this creed whilst translating it into Latin, where he made a note about the view and belief that this creed had been originally written or determined by the Apostles themselves shortly after Pentecost and before they left Jerusalem, hence the name this creed eventually came to be known as. I mentioned last week in my introductory post to this series, that there’s a handful of creedal statements within the New Testament, and one in particular in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is similar in structure to the Apostle’s Creed, though not necessarily in wording. Let's take a look at the Old Roman Creed and the Apostle’s Creed side by side to have a look at what developed and was ...

Luke J. Wilson | 29th September 2018 | General Articles
I’m starting a new four part series over the coming weeks which will be looking at the different historical creeds of the Church which have been recited, used and handed down for two millennia, beginning with the very first formal creed: the Apostles Creed. This series will be a mixture of historical background plus a commentary on the creed itself to see where each statement is based in Scripture, and why we can trust them to accurately portray the Faith. What are creeds and why should we accept them? The word “creed” comes from the Old English crēda, and from Latin crēdo meaning “I believe”. A creed is basically a set of beliefs which you profess; a statement of faith. Many non-creedal (or non-denominational) churches have a ‘statement of faith’ on their websites to highlight and specify where they stand on certain doctrines – which is essentially just stating their own type of creed instead of listing an ancient and historically accepted one. Even those who declare “no creed but Christ”, or “I just believe the Bible”, are ironically making a creed, albeit a short one with no solid definition. The Church has been declaring creeds for as long as it has existed, despite the sometimes common accusation that creeds are “unbiblical” or “non-biblical”; statements which couldn’t be further from the truth! Even in the Apostles time they were making statements of faith in short creedal formats, and a few of them are preserved in the New Testament, primarily in Paul's letters. One of the longer examples can be found in the first letter to the Corinthians, and has a similar form and wording to what came to be known as the Apostle’s Creed: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:that Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures,that He was buried,that He was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas,then to the Twelve.Then He appeared to over 5...

Luke J. Wilson | 01st April 2018 | General Articles
Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day to remember and praise, but not just because Jesus was raised to new life, but because in that moment it sealed the promise of our own hope in God. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can now be partakers in that new, eternal life! 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” "Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul writes, showing the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ. This should now be our battle cry as we go forward in Christian life; death has no hold over us who are sealed by the Holy Spirit through baptism, raised to new life in Christ. I won't go into this topic too much now, as I've written on it plenty before here and here. I just wanted to focus our minds on the victory we have because of Jesus and what he did for us this day, centuries ago. I'll close with this worship song which celebrates the resurrection, which I really like. Focus on the words of the song and praise God for Jesus! Happy Easter, everyone. ...

Luke J. Wilson | 25th March 2018 | General Articles
So often we hear this phrase said about Jesus, that he was “the lamb of God” and that he “takes away the sins of the world” — but what do those things mean and how did he take away sin? John 1:29The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (cf. Jn 1:36) The New Testament writers repeatedly refer to Jesus as a lamb; but not only that — as a ransom too. Jesus even introduces himself that way at one point: Mark 10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (cf. Matthew 20:28) To better understand the terminology and analogy we need to go back to the Torah, the Old Testament, and look at this from a Jewish perspective and what the sacrificial lamb initially meant. The main comparison that is drawn between Jesus and the old sacrifices, is that of the Passover lamb. The link between the two is really quite amazing and to be honest, I didn't realise just how much of this Jesus fulfilled in himself until I was writing this. First we need to go back to the very first Passover to see what it meant for Israel. The whole story can be found in Exodus 12, but the relevant parts to the lamb are about how it should look and be prepared, and the reason for the blood covering: Exodus 12:5-7, 13 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. […] The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. The instructions about the Passover meal also go on to say that no bones of the lamb may be bro...

Luke J. Wilson | 18th March 2018 | General Articles
Sometimes the question, or accusation/criticism maybe, is posed by atheists and critics of Christianity that Jesus didn’t really sacrifice anything because he is God and also because he got his life back three days later. So where’s the sacrifice if you know that what you give up will be given back, and given back even better than you previously had it? It’s an interesting question, and one that should cause us to stop and think about what we, as Christians, say to non-believers in case the question is ever given to us. Most people will say Jesus  gave up his life for us – but is that such a big deal if he knew he’d have it back in three days; and then to be taken up to heaven and resume his Godly-divine status he had before the incarnation? Well, yes. Obviously all the pain and suffering that Jesus had to endure before his death was a big deal, and it showed, as we can see from the Gospels when Jesus says to his disciples that he is “deeply grieved, even to death” (Matt 26:38). Luke 22:42-44‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. We can see from the quote above that Jesus really wasn’t looking forward to this, despite knowing its purpose. He even needed an angel to come to physically come to him to give him the strength to go on with this plan! Suggesting that this was a walk in the park for Jesus and making light of what he was about to go through is just ignorance of the reality of the situation. There’s also a significant detail in the Luke passage above which gives us a medical insight into what Jesus was going through in these moments: the sweat of blood. This is actually a rare condition known as Hematidrosis, and in certain conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress and/or mental anxiety, t...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th March 2018 | General Articles
So now we are at the end of the temptations that Jesus endured in the desert, and I wanted to look at what happens at the end. So often I think this aspect is overlooked when we read of this time in Scripture. Let’s take a look at the text: Matthew 4:11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Luke 4:13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. The two Gospel accounts both give us a varying perspective with different details. Afterwards, the devil leaves and angels “suddenly” come. This is almost a temptation in itself; one to think we are all good and safe now we've won the battles. But look: the devil left him “until an opportune time”. We are never beyond being tempted, or far from that tempter who ‘prowls around like a roaring lion’ (1 Peter 5:8). Christ withstood his temptations, and as a model for us, so can we. But it's a constant battle. 1 Corinthians 10:12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. As Paul writes in the quote above, we must watch ourselves and not get too confident that we think we're strong enough not to get tripped up. Temptation can strike at any time, and if we're not prepared it could lead us into sin (James 1:14-15). James 1:12A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. This is why we mustn't get complacent in our situations just when it seems, or feels, like we have it all together. We must always “put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) and make as little “opportune” times as possible for the enemy to strike at us. Remember, Jesus lived as a human to know what it was like to be a human; he went through these temptations, and others no doubt, as he lived out his life. That is why the writer of Hebrews says that he is able to ...

Luke J. Wilson | 04th March 2018 | General Articles
Here we are at the final temptation that the devil directly attacks Jesus with (I say directly, because next week I’m going to look at the more subtle attacks and temptations we can face). Let’s begin with the text: Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (cf. Luke 4:9-12) There’s quite a few things wrapped up in these few short verses. For a start, the devil took Jesus to the “holy city” (ie. Jerusalem) – but whether this was in body or in spirit, we just don’t know and can’t say for certain; maybe it was in a similar way to how Philip was transported in Acts 8:39. Intrigued by this though, I decided to look up a few details to see just how far they travelled (however it happened). Jesus was baptised by John in the river Jordan, and according to Mark, the Spirit “immediately” drove Jesus into the wilderness from there (Mark 1:9, 12). According to Google maps (and more likely, Church tradition), the spot where he was baptised is close to Jericho. Directly next to this area is the Judaean Desert, which would be the wilderness where Jesus spent his time. On the other side of this desert is Jerusalem, which is about 27 miles away from the spot by the Jordan where the baptism took place. I’ve put together a quick map so you can get a better idea of locations: Approx. locations of events Anyway, I digress slightly. The point being, is that where Jesus was and where he was taken was not exactly just around the corner! Coupled with the fact that the devil took Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple, this was quite a journey. Now the other t...

Luke J. Wilson | 25th February 2018 | General Articles
Here we are on the second Sunday of Lent, and this week I am looking at the next temptation Jesus faced in the desert against the devil, the one of worship and glory. Let's take a look at the text: Luke 4:5-8 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God,    and serve only him.’” (cf. Matthew 4:8-10) Last week we saw how Satan tempts Jesus through his hunger and used his physical weakness as a way in to try and trip him up. This week we are looking at misplaced worship and the temptation to look to things other than God. As we begin to look through these temptations of Jesus, we begin to see that they weren't entirely random but are in fact another way in which Jesus reverses the sin that first began in the Garden. It is yet another proof that Jesus is the second Adam who has overcome sin! Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden for a moment: Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Contrast that with what John writes in his first epistle: 1 John 2:15-16 The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of life (or in riches) comes not from the Father but from the world.   The sin that separated Adam and Eve from God in the beginning is the same in essence as what John says comes from the world and not the Father. These are the same areas of sin and temptation that the devil was using on Jesus in the desert t...

Luke J. Wilson | 18th February 2018 | General Articles
Welcome to the first part of a short series I'm writing during Lent. We’re on the first Sunday of Lent, and so I’m going to be looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he endured. A new post will be up every Sunday, and you can view the series overview here: Lent 2018. Mark 1:12-13And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. That’s all Mark has to say on that time Jesus spent there, and John doesn’t mention the forty days at all. That leaves only Luke and Matthew which mention the temptations or any details about what happened in the desert. So let's look at the first temptation that Satan tried on Jesus. Luke 4: 1-4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” (cf. Matt 4:1-4) The first thing that jumps out at me here, is that the devil didn’t come to tempt Jesus until after the forty days were up. He waited until Jesus was “famished” and then struck while he was weak. What can we learn from this? That the devil is tricksy and won’t hit you when you feel like you have it all together, but will rather wait until you are in a more susceptible and weakened state of mind. Like James (1:14-15) says, we get tempted by our “own desire, being lured and enticed by it” to try and get us to fall into sin by acting upon those desires. So we need to guard our minds and keep our focus on God in those times to try and ensure that we are aware of the escape that God has given us, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 1 C...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th February 2018 | General Articles
Lent is just around the corner, and so this year I've decided to write a short series over the next 40 days looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he faced. I'll post a new blog each Sunday of Lent looking at each temptation, and then finish the series just before Easter Sunday looking at “how was Jesus a sacrifice?”. Series outline: Temptation one: Pride (1st Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018) Temptation two: Worship and Glory (2nd Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018) Temptation three: Testing God (3rd Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018) Temptation four: Complacency (4th Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018) Topical: What did Jesus sacrifice? (5th Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018) Topical: How was Jesus a sacrifice? (6th Sunday of Lent, March 24th, 2018) Celebration: O Death, where is your sting? (Easter Sunday, 1st April 2018) Stay tuned for the first installment in a few days time, and if you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe so you will be notified by email when each new post goes out!...

Luke J. Wilson | 06th January 2018 | General Articles
The topic of human suffering is a subject many Christians struggle with, and is an issue many theologians have written about over the centuries — so it's definitely not something I can fully address in a single blog post! But there are some general principles we can find in Scripture that many Christians can/do accept, which should act as a starting point to addressing this subject, such as: We live in a fallen world due to sin (Gen 3), and so things aren’t perfect and neither are people, therefore suffering can happen from illness, nature, and human action (or inaction). Not all suffering is necessarily “bad”, from a Christian perspective. For example, if we are made to suffer due to our faith, we should rejoice to be counted as partakers in Christ’s suffering — 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. And, Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Sometimes suffering can be used to test our faith to make us stronger, which we see an example of with Peter in the Gospels: Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, listen!...

Luke J. Wilson | 08th December 2017 | General Articles
Why read the Early Church Fathers? Maybe for some of you reading this, the question might better be phrased as: who are the Church Fathers? No doubt you will be familiar with some of their names: Augustine, Jerome, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr et al. You may have even read portions or quotes by some of these men. But that still doesn't really explain to you who they are and why you should care, much less actually read any of their works. My new book deals with a selection of some of the most influential Early Church Fathers, sometimes also referred to as the Apostolic Fathers (if they lived between AD 70-150), or collectively as the Ante Nicene Fathers for all of those in the period of time preceding the Council of Nicea (AD 325). It is these men who wrote doctrine and defences against heresy and helped to continue and shape the Church in its most formative years. Some of the earlier Christian leaders of the 2nd Century were discipled and taught by the Apostles themselves. Those include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Still others in mid-2nd century were then taught by those who knew the men who were taught by some of the Apostles. One of the more well-known Bishops who was second generation to the Apostles was Irenaeus (best known for his extensive apologetic works, Against Heresies). From chapter 21 onward in my book, I look at a few writers from beyond this period (around 356) up until AD 449 where we can observe some distinctive changes in thought and practice. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?”. So Why Read What They Wrote? The Bible didn't just...

Luke J. Wilson | 30th October 2017 | General Articles
It's that time of year when you begin to see various articles and debates online about Hallowe'en, and whether it's something that Christians should have any part in. To some people the answer is a straightforward “no”, while others say it falls into the realm of Christian freedom and personal discernment. But what about if you're unsure or somewhere in the middle of those two positions, how should you decide what is the right thing to do? We can all see that the modern celebration of Halloween is focused quite heavily on darkness and evil beings. Here in the UK it's not quite so prevalent; it seems more like an excuse for adults to dress up and have a party as much as the kids do (although with more alcohol involved). American society has really taken the holiday to its extremes with some of the decorations I've seen online and on TV and films, to the point that suicide and murder victims left in public view have been mistaken for scary props! Origins of the holiday Has Hallowe'en always been like this though? Let's take a look at its origins to see where this holiday comes from to help us decide whether we should partake or not. Did you know that Hallowe'en actually started out as a Christian holiday (Holy Day)? “Hallowe’en”, or more precisely, All Hallows Eve (from the Old English hallowed meaning “holy”), is an ancient holiday in the Christian calendar to mark the day before All Saints Day on November 1st. All Saints Day is a day to celebrate and remember the martyrs and all those who have died and gave their lives for the Faith. Originally, this yearly festival began in the 7th century when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon, a Roman temple to the gods. This then became a church called St. Mary of the Martyrs, and the date of the consecration, May 13th, was to be celebrated annually thereafter as the Feast of the Holy Martyrs. This was then later changed to November 1st by Pope Gregory IV in 835 AD to commemorate the dedication of St....

Luke J. Wilson | 09th August 2017 | General Articles
40 Days with the Fathers: Available to order now! 40 Days with the Father: a daily reading plan by Luke J. Wilson   The time has finally arrived: my new book is now available to order!I'm so excited to share this with you after many months of work, research and editing. I hope that you enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it! Order your copy now from my new website: fortydays.co.uk to get it at a reduced rate. If you order today then it should arrive just in time for Christmas!If you do enjoy it, don't forget to leave a review on Good Reads or on Amazon.Keep in touch and receive updates about me or the book at my new Facebook page: Luke J. Wilson  Order Your Copy Today ↣       _________#outlook a { padding: 0; } body { width: 100% !important; min-width: 100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%; -ms-text-size-adjust: 100%; margin: 0; Margin: 0; padding: 0; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; -webkit-box-sizing: border-box; box-sizing: border-box; } .ExternalClass { width: 100%; } .ExternalClass, .ExternalClass p, .ExternalClass span, .ExternalClass font, .ExternalClass td, .ExternalClass div { line-height: 100%; } #backgroundTable { margin: 0; Margin: 0; padding: 0; width: 100% !important; line-height: 100% !important; } img { outline: none; text-decoration: none; -ms-interpolation-mode: bicubic; width: auto; max-width: 100%; clear: both; display: block; } center { width: 100%; min-width: 580px; } a img { border: none; } p { margin: 0 0 0 10px; Margin: 0 0 0 10px; } table { border-spacing: 0; border-collapse: collapse; } td { word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-hyphens: auto; ...

Luke J. Wilson | 15th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Forty: St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII: ON THE LORD'S RESURRECTION, II Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the Gospel, incarnation and resurrection of our Lord. Why: To encourage the Church in the power of the incarnation and the true faith and the nature of Christ and to give a new meaning to Passover in light of Jesus When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 195 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Here we are, at the final day of Lent. I hope you've found it an interesting journey through Church History, covering various authors and topics from the first four centuries of the Church. And what better way to end this series than with a sermon on the resurrection! “The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative”, Leo declares as the opening statement of this sermon. What is this Easter mystery? “The cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals” which is both a “mystery and an example” for us to follow. It's “a sacrament where by the Divine power takes effect” and “an example whereby man's devotion is excited” to be “inseparably united to” Christ, who is “the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness (Jn 14:6). Christ took our nature upon Him for our salvation In the beginning, when the “whole body of mankind had fallen”, our merciful God had purposed in himself to make a way to reconcile “His creatures made after His image [...] through His only-begotten Jesus Christ”. Leo goes on to say that if we had not fallen from how God m...

Luke J. Wilson | 14th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-nine: St. Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI) Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the season of Lent as the Easter festival approached. Why: To encourage the Church to fast during this season in order than they may put away temptations and overcome their vices, to be guided by God in all things. When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 191 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a Lenten sermon from Pope Leo I that he preached in the run up to the Easter festival, in which “the greatest and most binding of fasts is kept, and its observance is imposed on all the faithful without exception; because no one is so holy that he ought not to be holier, nor so devout that he might not be devouter.” Lent is a time of self-reflection and discipline, a time where we look at the life of Jesus and mourn his death as the disciples did, before we realise the reality of the resurrection which comes in a few short days. “Who is there who would not wish for additions to his virtue, or removal of his vice?” Leo asks rhetorically, referring to the benefits of the Lenten fast and discipline. “Blessed, therefore, is the mind that passes the time of its pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and loiters not in the things through which it has to walk”. Leo refers this back to what Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 as a way of living in such a way that we don't get too caught up in this life and this world that we forget about the divine promise and the life we are called to live. Matthew 7:14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are f...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-eight: St. Leo the Great: Sermon XXI (On the Nativity Feast I) Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the Nativity at Christmas time, about the incarnation of the Word of God. Why: To explain the incarnation and preach the Good News of our Lord and Saviour becoming man for our sake so that we may be saved and born again. When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 189 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a Christmas sermon from Pope Leo I. This may seem totally out of place during Lent and you may be wondering why this was included, but there is some sense and logic going on here! This reading marks the beginning of the final three days of Lent, and the topics covered all work together in the build up to the glorious resurrection of Christ. This sermon reading deals with the first coming of our Lord as a baby, the mighty Word of God incarnated as a small and fragile child to save the world. Tomorrow’s sermon goes over aspects of Lent itself, in which we celebrate and remember the life and ministry of Jesus; and then finally, the last sermon is on the resurrection where we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death and sin which is what Easter is all about. So in short, these sermons cover the major points in the life of Jesus, which is quite fitting to close this series with. Celebrating Christmas is to celebrate “the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity”. "There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come...

Luke J. Wilson | 12th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-seven: St. Leo the Great: Letter XXVIII (called the "Tome") Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A defence of the twofold nativity and nature of Christ against the false teaching of a priest called Eutyches. It is a doctrinal letter sent by Pope Leo I in the year 449 to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, on the Church's teaching about the person of Christ. Why: An apologetic defending the faith to ensure sound teaching is passed on and understood by all to affirm that Christ has two natures, human and divine, united in the one divine Person of the Son of God. When 3 June, 449 AD You can find today’s reading on page 182 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a defence of the faith against certain things that a priest called Eutyches was teaching, written by Pope Leo I. Eutyches was speaking against the teaching of the Archbishop of Constantinople, Nestorius, who said that the human experiences of Christ were only part of the ‘the man’ which was distinct from the ‘God the Word’ part of Jesus. To combat this, Eutyches went too far in the other direction and declared that Christ was "a fusion of human and divine elements" which created a new, single nature in Jesus, rather than a twofold nature which the Creeds declare. This actually led to himself being declared a heretic also for this belief! Now Leo is writing against the teaching of Eutyches because it seems that he was unwilling to accept any correction to his doctrine. “But what more iniquitous”, Leo says,  “than to hold blasphemous opinions, and not to give way to those who are wiser and more learned than ourself?” Leo i...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-six: St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 5-9 Who: Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397; born probably 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons; died 4 April, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church. What: The treatise was composed for use during the latter part of Lent, for the benefit of those about to be baptised, the rites and meaning of that Sacrament, as well as of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. For all these matters were treated with the greatest reserve in the Early Church, for fear of being misused by unbelievers. Why: Ambrose states that after the explanations he has already given of holy living (in previous texts not included here), he will now explain the Mysteries. Then after giving his reasons for not having done so before, he explains the mystery of the opening of the ears, and shows how this was of old done by Christ Himself. When: About 387 AD You can find today’s reading on page 173 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Continuing on from yesterday, we'll jump straight into the second, and final part, of Ambrose's catechism on the mysteries. Continuing on the mystery of baptism, Ambrose explains that Christ is Himself present in Baptism, and because of that “we need not consider the person of His ministers”, since it is spiritually Christ baptising us. He then goes on to give a brief explanation of the confession of the Trinity, which is usually said by those being baptised, and how confessing belief in Father, Son and Spirit doesn't mean accepting one more than the other, but that they are all equal. But one thing of importance they must also confess is “the cross of the Lord Jesus alone”. Which I suppose means that they accept the Gospel and reject all other religions and beliefs that they may have. Fire from heaven Ambrose also makes a link between a couple of times in the Old Testament where a sacrifice was consumed with heavenly fire, and the baptism of fire we receive in the N...

Luke J. Wilson | 10th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-five: St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 1-4 Who: Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397; born probably 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons; died 4 April, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church. What: The treatise was composed for use during the latter part of Lent, for the benefit of those about to be baptised, the rites and meaning of that Sacrament, as well as of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. For all these matters were treated with the greatest reserve in the Early Church, for fear of being misused by unbelievers. Why: Ambrose states that after the explanations he has already given of holy living (in previous texts not included here), he will now explain the Mysteries. Then after giving his reasons for not having done so before, he explains the mystery of the opening of the ears, and shows how this was of old done by Christ Himself. When: About 387 AD You can find today’s reading on page 167 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   This is another similar lecture to the catechisms we read over the last few days from Cyril of Jerusalem, except these are by the Bishop of Milan: Ambrose. Taught during this season of Lent, the latter part of the 40 days is when the mysteries were explained. It was only after baptism that it was considered the acceptable time to teach these things though, otherwise it was considered to have “betrayed than to have portrayed the Mysteries”. Open, then, your ears, inhale the good savour of eternal life which has been breathed upon you by the grace of the sacraments After the deacons have said the above, the following words were then declared over the catechumens: “Epphatha, which is, Be opened” (Mark 7:34). Similar to what Cyril taught, the new converts renounced the devil by facing West, and then turning East towards Christ, as though face to face, they declared their acceptance of Him. The bishop gives a message or blessing to the convert, who is instructed to acknow...

Luke J. Wilson | 08th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-four: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 162 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's final lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on the Sacred Liturgy and Communion and is an exposition based on 1 Peter 2:1 1 Peter 2:1Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Any of my liturgical friends may enjoy this one today. Cyril gives us a breakdown of the liturgy spoken in the church service when they are about to receive communion. I couldn’t help but get a little excited when I read this lecture as it reminded me so much of my Anglican upbringing: the liturgy used in some parts, is word-for-word, which just goes to show how well preserved this has been down through the centuries. For example, in the Anglican order of service, the Liturgy of the Sacrament has these phrases: The Lord be with you and also with you Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give thanks and praise. Holy, holy, holy Lord… These are word-for-word what Cyril writes about when explaining the way in which a church servic...

Luke J. Wilson | 07th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-three: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 159 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on the Body and Blood of Christ and is an exposition based on 1 Cor 11:23-25 — For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” This whole lecture is about the Eucharist and it goes into some details about what happens spiritually during it, which will probably offend certain Protestant ears. Cyril explains how this bread and this wine are no longer merely just bread or wine any longer despite appearances. It seems as though some doubted this or perhaps were a little sceptical, because Cyril goes on to explain that since Jesus himself declared the bread to be his body, and the wine to be his blood, “who shall dare to do...

Luke J. Wilson | 06th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-two: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXI Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 156 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on “chrism” and is an exposition based on 1 John 2:20-28 1 John 2:20,28But you have been anointed by the Holy One … that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming. This was a new one to me today, I've never come across the word chrism before. From the passage of Scripture this lecture is based on, I guessed it was something to do with anointing and on looking it up I found that it's actually a type of oil used in baptism: “a mixture of oil of olives and balsam”. Roman Catholics still use it today too for anointing the sick and in baptism. What Cyril describes in this lecture is the practice of anointing the recently baptised with this special oil as a sign of the Holy Spirit's sealing upon them, since they have “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27) and are adopted as sons (Eph 1:5) and are now partakers of Christ also (Heb 3:14). Because Jesus “was in reality crucified, and buried, and raised” and they, in baptism, also were partakers ...

Luke J. Wilson | 05th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-one: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 153 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on baptism and is an exposition based on Romans 6:3-14 Romans 6:3,14 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? … since you are not under law but under grace. Now, these people that Cyril was teaching had already gone through the act of baptism, so now he was going over the symbolism and realities of what that meant to them personally. In describing the baptism rite to make one of his points, Cyril gives us a small insight into how the Church in the fourth century performed this, which I always find interesting to see how things have changed or stayed the same over the centuries. Before entering the waters, the one being baptised would strip of their tunic, symbolising “putting off the old man with his deeds” (Col 3:9) and would then be naked as Christ was naked on the cross. In doing this they may no longer pick up the old garment now, meaning to old self not the physical tunic, “which waxes corrupt in the lusts of deceit...

Luke J. Wilson | 04th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XIX Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 150 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today we begin a new series of texts to read by Cyril of Jerusalem. He actually wrote lots of lectures to teach new converts, but we're only beginning with lecture nineteen where he begins to teach on certain “mysteries” of the Church – such as anointing with oil, the Eucharist and renouncing Satan etc. These lectures were given after people had been baptised into the faith and were undergoing what is called “catechism”, which basically means, a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for religious instruction. This lecture is on the renouncing of Satan and the turning from worldly things to be focused on Christ now, based on 1 Peter 5:8-14, specifically, verses 8 and 9: Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. Cyril recounts how that when they went into the...

Luke J. Wilson | 03rd April 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-nine: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 81-94 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 144 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Here we are at the end of the Life of Anthony in the final chapters of Athanasius’ biography, and the final chapters of Anthony’s life at the grand old age of 105! By this point in his life he had become widely renowned and respected far and wide, so much that judges and rulers would come and seek his advice on things, or sought out encouragement in their faith. Many looked up to Anthony as a father figure, even the emperor Constantine Augustus, and his sons Constantius and Constans the Augusti, who “wrote letters to him, as to a father, and begged an answer from him” since they themselves had come to the faith. Despite rulers and kings writing to him and seeking his advice, Anthony thought nothing of it and didn’t allow himself to become puffed up with pride over the status of men. After meeting and seeing the various people who would visit, Anthony would retreat to the “inner mountain” where he resided and spent much of his time in prayer. It was here that those who accompa...

Luke J. Wilson | 01st April 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-eight: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 71-80 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 140 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Well here we are at the penultimate reading before we read the end of this biography and move on from the Life of Anthony. Today we see the ways in which the Greek philosophers would come and listen to Anthony speak and how they would sometimes discuss things with him, or at other times would mock him and the message of the Cross. They came to mock Anthony because he had never “learned letters” and so was unable to read or write, so the Greeks thought he would be an unkempt and ignorant man, reared in the mountains and unable to reason properly. Anthony vs Greek Philosophers At one time during some event, Anthony noticed there were two Greek philosophers present (due to the way they were dressed), and so he approached them asking them why did they “come to a foolish man”, to which they said they didn’t think he was foolish, but “exceedingly prudent”. I’ll admit, I had to look up what prudent meant so I could understand what the Greeks were meaning. In this context it mea...

Luke J. Wilson | 31st March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-seven: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 61-70 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 136 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Here we begin with a couple more examples of the healing miracles which were done through Anthony, which carry over from yesterday's chapters. Many people would travel from far and wide to see and hear Anthony, or to receive prayer for sickness or for freedom from demons, but he “used to ask that no one should wonder at him for this; but should rather marvel at the Lord for having granted to us men to know Him as far as our powers extended.” Two examples are given of a time when Anthony was asked to visit some monks on a boat, and there was a stench so bad in that place that Anthony said it was unusual and not natural. The people on board just said it was due to the cargo of meat, but as Anthony preached, a boy in the crowd yelled out and Anthony rebuked the demon in him, setting the boy free and with it, the stench left. The other time was of an official who had been possessed so badly that he would not know where he went and ate his own excrement! The man ended up by Anthony who sat...

Luke J. Wilson | 30th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-six: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 51-60 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 131 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we pick up at the start of a new chapter in Anthony’s life. He’s just relocated to a new mountain further in the Egyptian desert with the aid of the Saracens and with what is described as a ‘divine love’, Anthony was moved to love the area he found. But it soon became a small burden to him as people would seek him out and look to visit him, or to bring him bread. This area was a three day and night trek from where he previously lived, so the thought of other people taking this treacherous journey concerned him dearly. Eventually, after asking some to bring him corn and seeds, he managed to till the ground to be able to make his own bread and grow his own herbs to save others from needing to bring him food. Sometimes the wild animals would ruin his garden looking for food and water, but at one point Anthony gently captured an animal and said to it, “Why do you hurt me, when I hurt none of you? Depart, and in the name of the Lord come not nigh this spot” and as though they c...

Luke J. Wilson | 29th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-five: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 41-50 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 126 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we continue with a little more teaching and experience from Anthony on demons and the spiritual battle we are all in as believers. This chapter opens with a strange anecdote from the time that Anthony was still living in his “cell” (the secluded room on the edge of the Nile, not a prison!). “Once someone knocked at the door of my cell”, he says, and getting up to answer the door, he sees “one who seemed of great size and tall” standing there. Enquiring who this person was, he answered, “I am Satan”. Unphased by this, Anthony just asks him what he is doing there at his door! Satan then just bemoans that all of the “monks and all other Christians” just blame him “undeservedly” and curse him “hourly”, to which Anthony simply asks him, 'then why do you bother them in the first place if you don't want to be blamed for it?'.  Maybe this is what inspired the Rolling Stones song title Sympathy for the Devil (sorry, couldn't help myself!). Satan then goes on...

Luke J. Wilson | 28th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-four: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 31-40 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 122 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we continue with Anthony's exposition on the trickery and deceptions of demons who try to cause the faithful to stumble and be fooled by their power. You don't often hear much taught on this area of Christian spirituality these days, at least, not in the church circles I've been a part of in the last few years, and not in so much depth as you can read here. But even from my own various experiences with this, I can attest to what Anthony is teaching and explaining here, and it really goes to show the level of deception that demons bring. Athanasius is writing this biography nearly 1700 years or so ago, and yet the demonic trickery explained here is really no different than what I've seen myself in my own short lifetime— which really goes to show the weakness of the enemy and the lack of weapons he has to work with if nothing has changed all that much in all this time! Our Lord really is greater and stronger! The deception of demons Anthony really draws it just how little power t...

Luke J. Wilson | 27th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-three: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 21-30 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 117 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf We continue with the next part of Athanasius's biography of ‘Anthony the Great’. In these chapters, Anthony is continuing his teaching to the people which he began since leaving the fort on the Nile where he had been living in solitude for twenty years. Beginning with warnings on how we should avoid being led by anger and lust, quoting from James, because they will lead us to death and not into God's righteousness (James 1:14-15,20), he instructs that instead we must be watchful against our desires and the enemy, guarding our hearts (Prov. 4:23), since that can lead us down a path towards deception and sinfulness. We battle against demonic forces From here he begins some lengthy teaching on how our battles aren't against flesh and blood, but the “authorities”, “cosmic powers” and the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12), whose number is great in the “air around us”, he says. Going into a little more detail on the deceptions of demons, Antho...

Luke J. Wilson | 25th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-two: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 11-20 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 112 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Today we will see what began as a simple desire for personal growth with God, eventually became one of the most influential movements within not only early Christianity, but the faith as a whole. Anthony is regarded as the father and founder of desert monasticism, and today we will see how it all started. The old hermit that Anthony met previously, he asked to go into the desert with him to dwell, “more eagerly bent on the service of God”. The old man declined due to his age, but also because “there was no such custom” of living in the desert, so Anthony left on his own to live in the mountains and the devil attacked him again. Twenty years of solitude After going into the desert, Anthony arrived at the Nile and found an abandoned fort on the other side of the river, where he set up camp to live, surviving only on bread which was brought to him by some friends every so often. Anthony spent twenty years alone in this fort, save for the demonic attacks he suffered. At one poin...

Luke J. Wilson | 24th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-one: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 1-10 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 106 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Just from reading a little background research on this book, I'm excited to read it! It sounds as though it was a very influential text, not only on the Church as a whole in setting the way for ascetic monasticism, but on convicting a great many who read it, bringing them to conversion. One such person you may recognise the name of, who had this experience, was Augustine! Athanasius even opens his letter by saying that, “I know that you, when you have heard … will be wishful to emulate [Anthony’s] … pattern of discipline”. Being a bit partial to the monastic lifestyle, I'm curious to see how I personally respond to this. In this letter, Athanasius says he planned to enquire of those monks who had spent more time with “Anthony the Great”, but due to the season of sailing coming to an end, and the letter being urgent, he decided to write down all that he personally knew about this monk, “having seen him many times, and what I was able to learn from him, for I was his attendan...

Luke J. Wilson | 23rd March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty: St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 19-27 Who: Third century bishop of Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and martyr from Africa What: A letter to encourage the unity of the church against schisms and heresy during massive Roman persecution Why: A disturbance had happened in the church because of a priest called Novatian — a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians. Cyprian wrote to counter this and argues that there can only be one united Church, and the Novatian breakaway was a false church and that Novatian was an antipope.When: Around 249 AD You can find today’s reading on page 102 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Here we come to the final chapters of Cyprian’s letter. This flows straight on from yesterday’s judgement on those who would draw people away from the Church towards their own schisms and heresies. Though, he makes a distinction between those who have lapsed in their faith, and those who intentionally lead people astray; ...on the one hand, he who has lapsed has only injured himself; on the other, he who has endeavoured to cause a heresy or a schism has deceived many by drawing them with him. In the former, it is the loss of one soul; in the latter, the risk of many.  He goes on to say that if you go astray through lack of discipline or temptation, then you can repent and be forgiven, but the intentional heretics risk unforgiveness and their souls; hence why it is written, he says, “hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (Rev 3:11). Speaking more about the crowns we attain, Cyprian delves into confessing sins and how that the mere act of confession doesn’t save us or give us the “full desert of the crown”, but “it initiates our dignity” which is why Jesus said, “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 24:13). Everything we do and say during our Christian walk in this life is a “step by which we ascend to the summit of salvation”, ...

Luke J. Wilson | 22nd March 2017 | General Articles
Day Nineteen: St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 10-18 Who: Third century bishop of Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and martyr from Africa What: A letter to encourage the unity of the church against schisms and heresy during massive Roman persecution Why: A disturbance had happened in the church because of a priest called Novatian — a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians. Cyprian wrote to counter this and argues that there can only be one united Church, and the Novatian breakaway was a false church and that Novatian was an antipope.When: Around 249 AD You can find today’s reading on page 97 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Continuing on from yesterday's theme about those who depart from the true and unified Church, Cyprian moves into saying that this is the reason heresies are frequently appearing — “while a discordant faithlessness does not maintain unity”. 1 John 2:19 They went forth from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, surely they would have continued with us. He goes on to say that the “Lord permits and suffers these things to be” so that personal liberty may still exist, but that God will use these for his own glory to show that which is genuine in contrast to the false, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 11:19Indeed, there have to be factions (Gk. Heresies) among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. Of these people, Cyprian makes reference to Psalm 1 as those who sit “in the seat of pestilence”. He has much harsher words about them too, which I just have to quote in full so you can really understand how serious this matter of creating heresy and schism was taken: [They are] deceiving with serpent's tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech does creep like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of every one. No min...

Luke J. Wilson | 21st March 2017 | General Articles
Day Eighteen: St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church: 1-9 Who: Third century bishop of Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and martyr from Africa What: A letter to encourage the unity of the church against schisms and heresy during massive Roman persecution Why: A disturbance had happened in the church because of a priest called Novatian — a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians. Cyprian wrote to counter this and argues that there can only be one united Church, and the Novatian breakaway was a false church and that Novatian was an antipope.When: Around 249 AD You can find today’s reading on page 92 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Bishop Cyprian of Carthage is another one I'm only familiar with by name, but this treatise of his we're beginning to read today is apparently one of his greatest works. Written during a time when the new Roman emperor wanted to restore Rome to its former glory, he decreed that all Christian bishops be killed and any laity to be forced to recant in the face of death. Many Christians at this time were martyred but there were many who also abandoned their faith and sacrificed to the gods in exchange for their lives, or bought a certificate to say they had when they hadn't. This was all considered sin and blasphemy by the Church, though many felt regret and wanted to be forgiven and restored. “But how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commanded him to do?” Cyprian argues, since the faith of many had become weak. It is not “persecution alone that is to be feared”, Cyprian writes, since “caution is more easy where danger is manifest” but to be all the more vigilant in times of peace because the enemy “creeps on us secretly” in sneaky ways, which is why he has earned the name “Serpent”. Novatian rose up as an “antipope” (someone who rejected the people's choice of pope) and caused a schism saying he wanted to restore the “true Church” and ...

Luke J. Wilson | 20th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Seventeen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 60-68 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. You can find today’s reading on page 84 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf So we come to the final chapters of Justin Martyr's first apology, and what an interesting and lengthy read it has been! These final chapters move on from prophecies about Christ, and cover a few other areas of Christian doctrine and belief, such as: baptism, the Eucharist and weekly worship among other things. Plato and The Trinity The first chapter of this reading today concludes from the previous few about the prophetic announcement of Jesus and how even “heathens” recognise the things God has put in place, even without realising it. Case in point here, Plato. As touched on yesterday, Plato mentions in his work, Timoeus of Plato, about “the Son of God” being placed “crosswise” in the universe, which Justin goes on to say that although Plato misunderstood the symbolism of the cross from the writings of Moses, which he “borrowed in like manner”, he inadvert...

Luke J. Wilson | 18th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Sixteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 48-59 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. You can find today’s reading on page 77 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf In these chapters today, Justin is continuing with his long exposition of the prophecies concerning Christ, covering every aspect of the life, ministry and death of Jesus. He quotes Scripture at length in order to fully prove his points in order to show the Emperor, to whom he writes, and indeed any of us reading his works today, the undeniable reality that Jesus was the expected and long-awaited Messiah. I won’t quote massive amounts of these chapters, since it would be redundant, so I’ll just highlight each prophecy and give the Scriptural references which are used in Apology as proofs for Jesus's Messiahship. Finding the actual quotes is sometimes difficult because Justin has a habit of combining various verses from different chapter of the same prophet into one sentence! Christ’s Life and Death Foretold Jesus’ life and ministry foretold from a combination of Isa 35:5-...

Luke J. Wilson | 17th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Fifteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 36-47 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. You can find today’s reading on page 70 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Following on from yesterday's theme of prophecy which predicts Christ, Justin explains the different types, or “modes”, of prophetic messages. From utterances which foretell the future, to speaking on behalf of the Father, he goes on to say how the Jews missed the prophecies that pointed to Jesus – even those which showed that he would be crucified; and so the Jews hate the Christians who keep showing these things from the Scriptures. What follows is some really interesting interpretation of prophecy in the Old Testament which not only is used to prove the power of God, but also to show that the different ways prophecies are spoken demonstrates who inspired them; ie. some are from the Father, some Christ and others, the Spirit. This in itself is demonstrating a view of the Trinity within prophecy, too. The Father Quoting various passage from Isaiah, Justin makes the point ...

Luke J. Wilson | 16th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Fourteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 24-35 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with somewhat compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter. Persecution and false gods Mark 13:13...and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. This next part of the apology really shows the truth of Jesus's words here. Justin continues on from the thought in the previous chapter (yesterday’s reading) about how the things which Christians believe are not far off from what the Greek say and believe, yet despite this, they are still “hated on account of the name of Christ”. Even though the Greeks worship some animals which others will hunt and eat, and that there is no consensus on which animals are gods and which are food, these people can still worship freely without fear, but Christians are persecuted and threatened with death simply for being called as such. He then goes on to outline the various different gods and magicians that the Greeks believed in and how in all their various and blasphemous ways, yet all under one name or doctrine, they a...

Luke J. Wilson | 15th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 12-23 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with succinct compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out. Living Righteously Chapter twelve kicks off straight into a long dialogue about the righteousness of Christians and how they are the Emperor's “helpers and allies in promoting peace” due to their very nature and lifestyle in following Christ. Everyone is under God's watchful eye, Justin argues, no one can “escape the notice of God”, and because of this, “each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions”. The point he's trying to make is that if everyone understood this, they should be more inclined to live a virtuous life before God, and that is what the Christians preach. They are not wrongdoers, but rather are trying to counter that behaviour, and if the Emperor honestly valued the truth and wanted to uphold his reputation for “piety and philosophy” he would act reasonably, unless of course he, “like the foolish, prefer custom to truth”! Justin didn't mince his words at all. A Rational Faith Continuing with the argument for acting rationally towards C...

Luke J. Wilson | 14th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twelve: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 1-11 Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165). What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do. Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial. When: Around 156 AD I've been wanting to read Justin Martyr’s apologies for some time now, so I'm glad for the opportunity during this reading plan. Over the next six days we’ll have read the whole essay. The first of his major works (that we still have), this defence of the Faith is addressed to the Roman Emperor with a very long name, Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Caesar, and his adopted sons and the Senate. Justin appeals to their sense of justice, love of reason, philosophy and pursuit of truth in order that the charges often brought against Christians may be fully investigated to see whether any punishment should fall upon the Christian population or not. During this time, Christians were being punished purely for identifying as “Christians” with little more evidence used against them than maybe “evil rumours” which were doing the rounds. Justin argues that even with convicted criminals, they at least investigate the claims before punishing that person, but in the case of Christians, they only “receive the name as proof” against them, which is unjust. The Emperor’s sons were philosophers, which in Greek and Roman times was more like a profession, since it had its own clothing style to display this (similar to how you'd recognise a vicar today by the whi...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Eleven: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to Polycarp (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: A letter addressed personally to Polycarp giving him advice and encouragement as a bishop, plus some instructions on marriage to the church, which are reminiscent of Paul’s epistles. Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD This is the final letter by Ignatius, and it ends with him writing personally to his fellow bishop Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (modern day Izmir, Turkey) who was the leader of the church in which yesterday's reading was addressed to. Whereas the previous letters were all written to the church as a whole, with praise and exhortations of their bishops, this one is addressed directly to a bishop personally. Ignatius aims to encourage Polycarp in this letter by acknowledging his strengths and steadfast faith, and also by reminding him off his duties and role as a bishop. There's a brief warning against “those who seem worthy of credit”, but actually “teach strange doctrines” which may fill Polycarp with some “apprehension”. This warning would seem to be against Docetism again, as in all of Ignatius's previous letters, which leads him to write this short creed about Christ just to reiterate the Church’s stance on the matter, and although it’s only short, I do like it, especially the parallelism: Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes; impalpable and impassible, yet who became passible on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes. What follows this are a few instructions, or maybe advice, to...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Ten: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Smyrnaeans (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: A defence against the heresy of Docetism and an intriguing insight into the possible origins of evil spirits! Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD The opening chapters of this letter pulls no punches in regards to the heresy of Docetism. Ignatius commends this church for “being fully persuaded” in the truth of Christ – that he was born of a virgin, was baptised and truly did suffer and die on the cross for us; not, as some were saying, that “He only seemed to suffer”. To these, Ignatius says that they “only seem to be [Christians]” because of their false teaching! He defends the resurrection by telling of how the Apostles ate and drank with, and touched the risen Christ since “He was still possessed of flesh”, but to this he also adds that he believes Jesus is still possessing a body of flesh, whilst being spiritually “united to the Father”. I'm not sure if he means this in the same way we might today when we talk about the glorified/resurrected bodies, since you don't often hear people say they are “flesh”, but it's probably just a semantics issue here. With regards to the unbelievers who taught that Jesus wasn't really in the flesh, Ignatius gives us a strange insight into a belief about where evil spirits come from. Because they teach that Jesus only seemed to have a real body after his resurrection, so these people will also only seem to as well; they will essentially reap what they sow and “shall be divested of their bodies, and be mere evil spirits”! That is defi...

Luke J. Wilson | 10th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Nine: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Philadelphians (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: As usual, a general call to remain in unity and heed their bishop. Also to avoid listening to Judaizers who would have them follow the Law. Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD As with the rest of Ignatius's letters, there is the message of unity stressed throughout this, along with the call to heed their bishop's teaching and leadership. As to this point, Ignatius recalls to Philadelphians a time when we was among them as a speaker. He reminds them what he taught, making the point that what he said came to him by the Spirit and was not “intelligence from any man”: But the Spirit proclaimed these words: Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid divisions; be the followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is of His Father. Ignatius emphasised the role of the Spirit here because there were apparently those who were trying to cause division, and this message he brought spoke right into the heart of that situation, presumably dissolving the situation before it got out of hand, and putting the fear of God in them. This in itself shows us the importance of listening to the Spirit for our guidance in all situations, and is a good example of the outworking of what Jesus promised his followers when he said not to worry about what you'll say because the Spirit will give to the words (Jn 16:13; Mk 13:11). Like in his letter to the Magnesians, Ignatius again highlights the importance of avoiding Judaizers. “If any one preach the Jewish law unto you, li...

Luke J. Wilson | 09th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Eight: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Romans (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: A challenging letter in which Ignatius pours himself out to the Roman church about his impending martyrdom. Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD On reading the introduction to this letter my first thought was “wow” because Ignatius really liked this Roman church! The opening paragraph is literally a string of praises that they are worthy of, such as: “worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy”! Very different to the previous letters, in which he highly praised the bishops and the faith of the previous churches, there has be nothing quite like this so far. In all of Ignatius's letters so far, he has mentioned that he is bound as a prisoner for Christ, on his way to face beasts and that in doing so he will “attain to God” and truly become a disciple of Jesus through martyrdom. But this time it's different. He actually pleads with the Roman church not to do anything that will prevent his death! From the way he writes, it sounds like the church in Rome had great influence and could have probably changed his sentence to have Ignatius set free. But he writes to them saying that he is “afraid” of their love, “lest it should do me an injury” because it was easy for the Roman church to “accomplish what [they] please” which, in his mind, would make it difficult for him to “attain to God” if they show their love to his flesh and thus cause him to have to run his race once again f...

Luke J. Wilson | 08th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Seven: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Trallians (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: Ignatius urges the church to continue in unity and to honour their leadership. This letter also gives a defence against certain heresies. Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD The letter to the Trallians is shorter than the previous two by Ignatius we've read so far. But much like the others, there's a lot said for keeping in unity in Christ and for following their bishop and presbyters, and not to do anything apart from their instruction. Ignatius makes reference to his impending death again for the sake of the Gospel, and in doing so leads into a defence against Docetism. This heresy, or that of Judaizers, comes up in every letter, which goes to show that even this early on, Christians were really up against it all having to defend the truth of the Gospel from every direction. Because of the nature of the Docetic beliefs — that Jesus wasn’t really manifest in the flesh but was rather an illusion, Ignatius gives us a nice run down of the life and passion of Jesus, which really focusses on his physical nature. Like John wrote so clearly in his Gospel: “the Word became flesh”, Ignatius writes a similar summary of the Gospel message in order to combat any notions that Christ was anything but human in manifestation. There appeared to be those who taught “that [Jesus] only seemed to suffer” and if that were so, Ignatius argued, “then why am I in bonds … Do I therefore die in vain? Am I not then guilty of falsehood against [the cross of] the Lord?”. We don't see much of this heresy a...

Luke J. Wilson | 07th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Six: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Magnesians (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: Ignatius urges the church to continue in unity, to honour their leadership and to avoid Judaizers who may try to bring false teaching. This letter also gives some valuable insight to early church hierarchy. Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD Today continues with Ignatius's next letter which he wrote on his travels through Asia Minor towards his martyrdom. I'd not heard of this church before now, but he commends them highly for their faith. There is definitely a strong theme with Ignatius with regards to the structure of church leadership and how the believers should trust and follow their bishops, which begins to make more sense now in this letter as his thinking is displayed some more. He urges the church to submit to their bishop because in doing so, they are in fact submitting to the Father, who is “bishop of us all”. The opening chapters of this letter reminded me of Paul when he wrote to Timothy to encourage him in his position within the church, despite his youth (1 Tim 4:12). In a similar manner, Ignatius is advising this church in Magnesia to not become too familiar with their bishop “on account of his youth” but to remember his position as a leader of the church and to “yield him all reverence” due to that. Chapter six actually gives us a really good insight into the theology behind church hierarchy, and why Ignatius is emphasising obeying the bishop and presbyters so much— they are essentially the representation of God and the Apostles to the congregation! Look at how Igna...

Luke J. Wilson | 06th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Five: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Ephesians (full text) Who: Ignatius converted at a young age and later became Bishop of Antioch. A friend of Polycarp and fellow disciple of John, there is a long standing tradition that Ignatius was the child that Jesus held in his arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16 What: The letter has a strong call to and for unity within the church, along with respect for their bishop. Why: Ignatius wrote a series of letters to the churches in Asia Minor whilst en route to Rome to face martyrdom by wild beasts in the Colosseum around 108 AD. When: Around 107-108 AD There is a strong theme to this letter from the outset, and that is of unity in the faith. Ignatius repeatedly calls for this and commends the Ephesian church on it, especially for the fact that no sects have cropped up from within. He's also very pleased that the whole congregation came to visit him whilst en route to be executed — something which he was apparently looking forward to, “so by martyrdom [he] may indeed become the disciple of [Jesus]”! Ignatius also has a lot of respect for the bishop of this church in Ephesus, and really sings his praises throughout the first few chapters. The man sounds quite something, but I especially liked this imagery that Ignatius uses to describe how well suited this man is for the position of bishop, “like strings to a harp” which makes the rest of the church sing in unity: For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. Chapter six has warnings against false teachers, which, by the statement about Christ's nature that follows, would seem to be combating Docetism like Polycarp's letter also did. But whereas Polycarp referenced 1 John 4, Ignatius gives us an early glimpse of the view of Christ's deity and dual nature: There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and ...

Luke J. Wilson | 04th March 2017 | General Articles
Day Four: Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians (full text) Who: Polycarp of Smyrna, who was a direct disciple of the apostle John. We also have some information about Polycarp via Irenaeus (who knew Polycarp) in his book, Adv. Haer., III.3.4: “But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna”. What: Lots of exhortations are contained in this letter, and is also referenced by Irenaeus as being for “those who wish to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his (Polycarp's) faith, and the preaching of the truth.” Why: Much like the New Testament letter to the Philippians, it it written to encourage the church on its faith and perseverance of salvation. When: Estimated 110-140 AD One of the first things that will strike you about this letter is that if you didn't know any better, you’d think it was a Pauline epistle you were reading! It has all the trappings of a classic New Testament pastoral letter to a local church, from the way out opens with the typical greetings and salutations, to the way it closes with praise and recommendations of other believers. This letter is all about encouraging and urging the church in Philippi to continue to stay strong in the faith delivered to them “because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days long gone by” — which is a direct reference to Paul's letter and encouragement, found in Philippians 1:3-6. There's so many references to other New Testament letters in here, that you can find at least one reference to nearly all of the canonised books, plus a couple of Old Testament quotes, including one from Tobit! This in itself gives a small insight to what books were being considered as authoritative Scripture within the Church communities during this early period. If you're curious, you can read a version of this epistle with all the New Test...

Luke J. Wilson | 03rd March 2017 | General Articles
Day three: Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus: Chaps. 7-12 Who: Anonymous author, “mathetes” is not a name, but is the Greek word for “a disciple” What: possibly one of the earliest examples of a Christian apologetic defending the faith from its accusers, written to someone interested in learning more about the faith and its customs Why: The Christian faith was under attack and ridicule in the early centuries, many things about the Church were misunderstood and so various Christians took to writing apologetic's (defences) to clarify doctrines and beliefs from being maligned. When: Estimated between AD 130 and late 2nd century Today's reading is the second half of this letter, and to be honest, I enjoyed reading these chapters more than yesterday. There's a lot more in these which focuses on the glory and majesty of Christ and how he is the Lord and creator over all; how that in contrast to the ancient Greeks who said fire was a god, or water or other elements, which may as well mean anything could be god to them, the Word is creator of the elements as is therefore greater and deserving of majesty and worship. There is a lot of emphasis on “the Word” in these chapters, you don't see the name Jesus or the title of Christ, except in a chapter heading, but there's no mistaking who the author is writing about, with some great descriptions of the nature and love of God throughout the remaining portion of this book. There is one small detail which stood out to me near the end of the epistle, and that's when the author gives a small tidbit of information about himself by saying that the things he is teaching are not “strange to [him]” nor is it “inconsistent with right reason” because he had been, in fact, “a disciple of the Apostles” and now had become “a teacher of the Gentiles”! The use of the title “Word” throughout, and the high majestic descriptions of Jesus and the Father does have a striking resemblance to John's gospel, and s...

Luke J. Wilson | 03rd March 2017 | General Articles
Day two: Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus: Chaps. 1-6 Who: Anonymous author, “mathetes” is not a name, but is the Greek word for “a disciple” What: possibly one of the earliest examples of a Christian apologetic defending the faith from its accusers, written to someone interested in learning more about the faith and its customs Why: The Christian faith was under attack and ridicule in the early centuries, many things about the Church were misunderstood and so various Christians took to writing apologetic's (defences) to clarify doctrines and beliefs from being maligned. When: Estimated between AD 130 and late 2nd century I've only ever come across this epistle by name in references in other books, so it's a new one for me. This section today was particularly interesting as the author was contrasting the faith and practices of Christians against Greek worship and that of the Jews too. What I do find odd is how in this book (and others I've read) Jewish beliefs are often called “Jewish superstitions” which the writer relates to meaning much of the traditional practices of the Jews we'd recognise from the Old Testament. Maybe superstition meant something else back then than it does today? This reading then finishes with a description of how Christians live and intermingle with society, yet are distinct from the world around them. I found this challenging and wondered if the description still applies to what we see today in the Church? [The Christians] display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, bu...

Luke J. Wilson | 02nd March 2017 | General Articles
Day One: the Didache (in full) Who: Written by an anonymous author, possibly multiple sources compiled into one book at a later date. The title translates as “the teaching”, or in its full tithe: Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. What: The Didache is basically a church handbook with a summarised collection of the basic teachings of the Church and Gospel, aimed at local church leaders and new converts. Why: Tradition has it as being a collection of the apostles teachings, so it was probably written to preserve this information as they grew older or died, or moved away from the communities they planted. When: Between 70-100 AD The Didache is one of my favourite extra-biblical books I've read, so this is probably the fourth or fifth time I've been through it. I highly recommend taking the time to sit down and really digest it. The book has 16 chapters, but don't let that put you off as they are pretty short and only about a couple of paragraphs each since the whole point of this book is to be a quick overview or reference guide to various topics within early Christianity. As you read through it, you'll find many familiar sayings and instructions from the New Testament, which makes sense if this is the contents of what the apostles continued to teach their new faith communities. The book opens with a strong and definitive start: The Two Ways, one of life and one of death. This is reminiscent of the various lists of vices which Paul writes to avoid in his epistles, contrasted with the right way to conduct yourself to enter the Kingdom. Some of the other things that are quite striking about the Didache, are the practices described that demonstrate that certain things which the Church (via different denominations/branches) has taught through the centuries actually originated at the very start, well within the first century. Such as baptism not always being full immersion, but sprinkling being permitted where water was scarce or not available to dunk in, and ...

Luke J. Wilson | 01st March 2017 | General Articles
This year for Lent I'm following a reading plan which comprises of a collection of extracts from various early church fathers writings. Each day I'm going to write a short overview and any thoughts on the text and link back to the source material so you can also follow along with me too, if you'd like. The overview of each day will probably be posted on the day after. The reading should only take 10-15 minutes of your time, and by day 40, you will have read ten different Fathers: Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, and Leo the Great. I'll be reading from the “Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan: With Texts”. Design/Text Selection by Jonathan Bennett; Texts Compiled by Chad Toney. Reading plan texts: http://www.churchyear.net/lentfatherscomplete.pdf Source Website: http://www.churchyear.net/lentfathers.html Day one begins with the full text of the Didache. Come and join me on this journey through about 400 years of Church History to get a glimpse into the minds of that great cloud of witnesses that have come before us to defend and uphold the faith! Start your journey: Lent: Day 1 - The Didache Lent: Day 2 - Mathetes to Diognetus, pt. 1 Lent: Day 3 - Mathetes to Diognetus, pt. 2 Lent: Day 4 - Polycarp to the Philippians Lent: Day 5 - Ignatius to the Ephesians Lent: Day 6 - Ignatius to the Magnesians Lent: Day 7 - Ignatius to the Tral