For a long time, I have been contemplating what went wrong with the early church’s practices and doctrines. This time period of the early church that I’m referring to is divided into the Apostolic Age (30-100 CE) and the Ante-Nicene Period (100-325 CE).
Over the past few months or so, I’ve been trying to take a closer look at the second temple period through the Reformation. At this point, I’m just trying to take in as much information as quickly as possible. I trust that YHVH will eventually cause me to focus on whatever He wants me to see and understand. For now, I’m going to spend more time on the early church period before I see the need to focus elsewhere.
Numerous events took place during this time period, including the parting of ways between Christian Jews and those who became Rabbinic Jews, as well as the parting of ways between the Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua Messiah. Different factors contributed to these separations that happened gradually. It is clear that the church in the book of Acts is not the church that exists today. Clues to the latter are found in the early church fathers.
As we read any type of extra-Biblical writing, we need to acts as Bereans by comparing the teachings of these writings to what we consider to be Scripture. Anything that appears to be in conflict with Torah must be considered suspect. Sometimes these conflicts can be resolved depending on how we interpret Scripture.
When we read something, we need to consider the historical setting, the culture, the background and training of the writer, and the intended audience. These things also apply to how we interpret regular Scripture as well.
Our need to test the writings of the early church fathers in this way should go without saying. In addition, we should be aware that some writings, known as pseudepigrapha, were written in the names of various Biblical characters, although the time of these writings may have been during or long after the death in whose name they were written. In addition, people were known to edit existing documents in order to pass on their personal doctrinal views. Those who did so did not see anything wrong with it. Today, it is often difficult to discern whether that has happened to the document that we are reading or not.
We should be aware that some portions of a writing may either be in-line or neutral with what we recognize as Scripture while other portions do not. In talking with my assembly leader, we have chosen to accept and/or quote portions of writings that are in-line with Scripture and reject other portions that are not in-line with Scripture. Therefore, just because I quote a source may not mean I agree with everything contained therein.
In the future, I will be posting on various extra-Biblical texts such as the early church fathers, pseudepigrapha, apocrypha, etcetera in order to let you know what I think of them.