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Most Christians assume one of the following ...

We should learn about the faith-life and practice of the early church as taught them by the apostles.

A few obvious points about the early church ...

So which church of today has the same belief and practice as the early church? The surprising answer — none at all.


The Early Church ...

What was the early church really like? Many stages ...

  1. First 100 days ...

    Thousands of new converts who were baptized right away — no year-long catechesis. High energy, doctrinally simple. Limited to Jerusalem — the apostles were all in Jerusalem. Met in the temple for Jewish devotional practices. Church meetings in homes. Those who didn't live in Jerusalem went back home and were pretty much on their own with no leaders at all. Practiced the Eucharist.

  2. After Stephen's martyrdom ...

    The apostles stayed in Jerusalem but other leaders left and established communities elsewhere. The norm seems to be the Eucharist in the context of an agape meal. Year-long catechesis for those desiring to become Christians becomes the norm.

  3. Beyond Jerusalem ...

    Leaders who had been taught by the apostles led their small local band of Christians. Many variations of belief and practice. Occasionally an apostle would appear and correct problems. We see from the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation that each local church had its own distinct identity. Some local churches had severe problems.

  4. Bishops ...

    The apostles noticed the purity of Christ's teaching was being diluted and lost. They began training, certifying, and ordaining bishops. Bishops were to (1) teach the true gospel, (2) provide unity for Christians.

  5. Patriarchates ...

    Larger cities and cities with an apostle began to have more authority than other areas.

  6. Heretics ...

    But alas, bishops began teaching untrue doctrines. Local Christian communities had to choose whether to follow their heretical local bishop or not. Most of the time the Christians at large didn't even know their bishop was a heretic.

  7. Unity ...

    The early church was truly an "Ecumenical" church. There were no defined dogmas, no scripture, no creeds. Each local church had its own character and practice.

  8. Standards of faith and practice ...

    Finally creeds developed. Writings from the apostles were read during the church service. Doctrines were developed.

It seems to me there were many problems with the early church. For Christians who happened to live where there was an orthodox bishop and a devout Christian community, their Christian life must have been awesome.