February 09, 2006

faithful to the teaching

These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

I can't help but think this is key. And I notice the past tense.

Luke offers a really simple ecclesiology: faithful to the teachings of the apostles, faithful to the brotherhood, faithful to breaking bread, and faithful to the prayers. Teaching. Community. Eucharist. Prayer.

And it is the teaching of the apostles. Following Jesus is no longer the issue but not its following the apostles. This is a discipling community.

And again past tense. Luke has the advantage of hindsight. What shipwrecked the early church? An end to discipleship. Disputes which broke the fellowship. Bread was no longer broken with one another. Factions divided the prayers.


At 7:30 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

Thanks, David; something I can get my teeth into!

"What shipwrecked the early church? An end to discipleship. Disputes which broke the fellowship."

The fellowship was broken when the disputes became violent, eventually to the shedding of blood, a flagrant betrayal of course of all of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles (as we know them).

The disputes of course were (and still are) over the teaching. There were from the beginning (and are today) many different interpretations of the teaching.

The Church could accomodate the differences and retain its purity, until the differences got violent; then it would (did and does) lose its soul.

At 1:10 a.m., Blogger crystal said...

I don't know much about the Apostolic community - why did it sort of fall apart?

At 5:09 a.m., Blogger david said...

we will learn later on that Peter and the Twelve couldn't be trusted to distribute food to the poor in a fair manner. So ministry became divided between the teaching functions and the social work functions with the teachers (priests and bishops) retaining all the authority.

Oh, and Crystal, cohesively Quaker is an oxymoron. There's nothing cohesive about Quakers ;)

At 1:50 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

David, that's interesting about the split in job duties. There was a post at Mark's blog about how preaching was the way the apostle's were supposed to earn their way, not by any other carft, and how Paul sometimes got into trouble for moonlighting :-) - link... to me, the oddity seems to be making a living from preaching - seems it should be feely given.

At 9:44 p.m., Blogger Nancy A said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:45 p.m., Blogger Nancy A said...

Something incendiary -- didn't the early Christians start the Fire of Rome at about this time? As I understand it, the early Christians weren't the nice people written up in the history books. They were apocalyptic and a tad violent, and the writings at that time suggest they were determined to destroy the Whore of Babylon, which was Rome.

Besides the eerie echoes of 9/11, this suggests to me that the early Christians weren't much of what we would consider Christians. Jesus sowed the seeds, but it's taken 2000 for the thing to grow.

I'm not sure why I thought this was relevant to this conversation -- maybe about the church getting shipwrecked -- but that's my contribution.

At 3:29 a.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi Nancy. David probably knows more about this than me, but here's what I think ...

most scholars do not know who started the fire in Rome in 64, during Nero's riegn, although most believe (I think) that the Christians were scapegoated.

When you say the Christians were apocalyptic, do you mean because of the book of Revelation? From what I've read, there are two main camps of belief about when Revelation was written - the early camp sets the date between 68 (Nero's death) and 70 (destruction of the temple) ... after the fire. The late camp set the date around 95 in the reign of Domitian.

At 8:28 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

Rome was burned in 64 CE; The Christians were scapegoated, but according to PBS's account "Archaeologist Andrea Carandini provides the most convincing evidence to corroborate the implication of Tacitus -- that Nero circumvented the senate by burning Rome so he could build his palace."

The first violence of Christians that I know of came over doctrinal matters, particularly between the proto-orthodox and the gnostic Christians whom they defamed. And this was probably in the 2nd century, a couple of generations after the 'early(iest) Christians".


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