Era 2: Early Church (2): Stability (AD 300–600)




13/    Constantine

From Rome to Constantinople—From the Unconquered Sun to Jesus Christ—The Impact of Constantine

·         Was Constantine an opportunist by embracing Christianity?

·         Was the behaviour of Constantine as a Christian objectionable?

14/    Official Theology: Eusebius of Caesarea

·         What can we learn from Eusebius’ wavering between Arianism and orthodoxy?

·         What are the problems of Eusebius’ official theology? What lessons can we learn from these problems?

15/    The Monastic Reaction

The Origins of Monasticism—The First Monks of the Desert—Pachomius and Communal Monasticism—The Spread of the Monastic Ideal

·         What were the causes of monasticism?

·         What were the characteristics of monasticism? Are these Biblical ideals?

·         What lessons relevant for today can we learn from monasticism?

16/    The Schismatic Reaction: Donatism

·         What can we learn from the Donatist schism with respect to [a] treatment of the lapsed, [b] rebaptism, and [c] qualification of ministers?

·         How can we prevent fanaticism like the circumcellions (who grew gradually from theological conflicts and resorted to violence after holding extreme theological positions)?

17/    The Arian Controversy and the Council of Nicea

The Outbreak of the Controversy—The Council of Nicea

·         What were the problems when civil authorities intervene into religious affairs?

·         What were the benefits and drawbacks of councils?

·         How did the battle with Arianism demonstrate God’s providence?

18/    The Pagan Reaction: Julian the Apostate

·         Julian the Apostate attempted to suppress Christianity by forbidding them to teach classical literature and by ridiculing them. What was his purpose for such action? Can we find parallel occurrences today?

19/    Athanasius of Alexandria

The Early Years—Through Many Trials—A Theological Agreement—Further Trials

·         What can we learn from the life of Athanasius with respect to [a] his witness of holy living, and [b] his theological diplomacy?

·         How did Athanasius’ life demonstrate God’s providence (his encounters with Arianist emperors Constantius and Valens, his Arian opponents, and pagan emperor Julian)?

20/    The Great Cappadocians

Macrina—Basil the Great—Gregory of Nyssa—Gregory of Nazianzus

·         Did the great Cappadocians seek the leadership of the Nicene party? How did they become their leaders?

·         What can we see from the leadership of Macrina, a woman, as the founder of monasticism and as “the Teacher”? How did the early church regard women leadership?

21/    Ambrose of Milan

An Unexpected Election—The Bishop and the Throne

·         What can we learn from the career of Ambrose with respect to: [a] his support of the weak, and [b] his confrontations with civil power, including Maximus, Justina, and Theodosius?

22/    John Chrysostom

A Voice from the Wilderness—Return to the Wilderness

·         How did Chrysostom demonstrate his application of Christian principles when in conflict with Eutropius and Eudoxia? Was he correct in his actions?

·         How did Ambrose and Chrysostom symbolize the fortunes of the Western church compared to the Eastern church?

23/    Jerome

·         The early church treated Septuagint (Greek translation of OT) as equally inspired as the Hebrew OT; the Roman Catholic Church treats Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin translation of OT and NT) as equally inspired as the Bible. How should we treat the accuracy of the Septuagint and the Vulgate?

·         Did the intellectual arrogance of Jerome affect his work? Was his behaviour objectionable as a Christian?

24/    Augustine of Hippo

A Tortuous Path to Faith—Minister and Theologian of the Western Church

·         What were the great achievements of Augustine as a theologian and an apologist?

25/    The End of an Era

·         Compare the fate of the Eastern and the Western churches with respect to their respective Roman empires.

·         How did the Church Fathers gain the trust of the early church (including Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine)?