The third century sees the Christian church mature and the creeds formalized. Questions for Discussion: Lesson 10A – Chapter 8 “Christianity Gets Its Act Together” from The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson
1. What were the 3 main developments in the third century that, in Olson’s words, transformed Christianity from a “relatively disunited, spiritual-pneumatic (charismatic) [religion] …to a highly organized, hierarchical, visible institution”? What forces were at work driving these developments?
2. What was the “prophetic-apostolic principle”? How did it serve the church as it sought to define criteria for the determination of what is canonical?
3. How did early changes in the Church affect the laity’s role?
4. What events precipitated the first excommunication of a bishop in Antioch, circa 268? How did this bishop’s teachings violate the church’s traditional teachings?
5. What purpose did the Apostles’ Creed serve? Once an Apostles’ Creed existed, why was the Nicene Creed needed?
6. How did the concept of “Tradition” serve the church hierarchy? What were its limitations?
7. What contribution did Marcion make? How did he view the Old Testament scriptures? What doctrines did he advance which were rejected by the church?
8. What were the main issues that the early church fathers had to wrestle with when establishing the canon? When did the process conclude with an accepted canon? Who were the key influencers in defining the canon?
See Lesson 10B for Correlated Readings
The Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, and Hippolytus’ Baptismal Formula
Bible Verses for Reflection