By What Authority: Rethinking Early Christian History

By What Authority: Rethinking Early Christian History


By What Authority: Rethinking Early Christian History
(This resource is in DVD format. If you would prefer the streaming format, click here.)
Who are we?
Who is in and who is out?
Can we participate in civic life?
Who is Jesus?
How do we know if our lives are in line with what Jesus taught?
How much diversity can we tolerate?
Who leads us? In worship? In community life? In teaching? (As any kindergartner will ask: “Why do you get to be the boss of me?”)
How do we fund our community?
Does it matter how we live? How do we relate to the world around us—people and creation?
What do we do with the holy writings of the Jewish community?
Do we need to have scriptures of our own?
What do we do with people who leave the church in fear or anger, and then want to come back?
Isn't it amazing how familiar these questions sound! These were the questions that needed to be answered in the first centuries of the church. Since Jesus didn't return as quickly as believers assumed, they had to figure out how to live as believers in their world. That the church is still alive after all these years is a testament to God’s faithfulness and patience, and gives us courage to wrestle with these and similar questions today.
We invite you to enter this series to see how the drama of the early church’s formation has direct connections to your life of faith today.
By What Authority Trailer
Study Guide Pathways
This resource has many sessions. You could use all of the sessions or some of them. We are suggesting multiple groupings below. We recommend beginning with Group 1-Core Questions. The other Groups can be viewed in a sequence that fits the interests of your study group.
It is also possible to do 2 sessions in an hour class time. That will depend on how talkative your groups are. The time for each video is listed below. The study guide for each session provides 3-6 discussion questions.
Group 1 – Core Topics

  • Why Study Church History? (5:05)
  • Authority (9:09)
  • Christian Identity (10:36)
  • Heresies and Councils (10:58)

Group 2 – Finding Their Way

  • Rule of Faith (13:43)
  • Church Fathers and Teachers (15:24)
  • Structures and Hierarchy (11:16)
  • Politically Powerless to Patronage (12:13)
  • Jesus Human and Divine (11:20)

Group 3 – Practical Implications

  • What Language Shall We Borrow? (9:08)
  • Worship in the Early Church (7:23)
  • Social Teaching and Action (8:29)
  • Teaching and Preaching (5:20)
  • Grace and Law (4:45)

Group 4 – Interesting Developments

  • Christianity and Judaism (8:20)
  • Martyrs and Confessors (9:47)
  • Monasticism and Ascetics (12:47)
  • Missionary Church (9:27)
  • Eastern and Western Church (7:40)

CLICK HERE to see the study guide.

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