THE ANCIENT CHURCH The crucifixion of Jesus Christ resulted in the scattering of His followers, but within a short time they became convinced that He had risen from the dead, and would soon return to set up the expected Messianic kingdom, and so to accomplish the true work of the Messiah (cf. Acts i. 6 ff.). They were thus enabled to retain the belief in His Messiahship which His death had threatened to destroy permanently. This belief laid upon them the responsibility of bringing as many of their countrymen as pos sible to recognize Him as Messiah, and to prepare themselves by repentance and righteousness for the coming kingdom (cf. Acts ii. 21, 38, iii. 19 et seq.) . In Jerusalem the new movement had its centre, and the church established there is rightly known as the mother church of Christendom. The life of the early Jewish disciples, so far as can be judged from our very meagre sources, was very much the same as that of their fellows. They continued faithful to the established synagogue and temple worship (cf. Acts iii. I), and did not think of founding a new sect, or of sepa rating from the household of Israel (cf. Acts x. 14, xv. 5, xxi. 21. ) There is little evidence that their religious or ethical ideals differed in any marked degree from those of the more serious minded among their countrymen, for the emphasis which they laid upon the need of righteousness was not at all uncommon. In their belief, however, in the Messiahship of Jesus, and their consequent assurance of the speedy establishment by Him of the Messianic kingdom, they stood alone. The first need of the hour, therefore, was to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah in spite of His crucifixion, a need that was met chiefly by testimony to the resurrection, which became the burden of the message of the early disciples to their fellow-countrymen (cf. Acts ii. 24 ff., iii. 15 ff., v. 31) . It was this need which led also to the development of Messianic prophecy and the ultimate interpretation of the Jewish Bible as a Christian book (see BIBLE). The second need of the hour was to bring the nation to repentance and righteous ness in order that the Kingdom might come (cf. Acts iii. 19) .
Its Early Difficulties.—Meanwhile the new movement spread quite naturally beyond the confines of Palestine and found adher ents among the Jews of the dispersion. Among the Christians who did most to spread the gospel in the Gentile world was the apostle Paul, whose conversion was the greatest event in the his tory of the early Church. In his hands Christianity became a new religion, fitted to meet the needs of all the world, and freed entirely of the local and national meaning which had hitherto attached to it. Paul saw in Jesus much more than the Jewish Messiah. He saw in Christ the divine Spirit, who had come down from heaven to transform the lives of men, all of whom are sinners. The Kingdom of which the early disciples were talk ing was interpreted by Paul as righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. xiv. i7), a new principle of living, not a Jewish State. But Paul taught also, on the basis of a religious experience and of a distinct theory of redemption, that the Chris tian is freed from the obligation to observe the Jewish law. He thus did away with the fundamental distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The transformed spiritual life of the believer expresses itself not in the observance of Jewish law, but in love, purity and peace. This precipitated a very serious conflict, of which we learn something from the Epistle to the Galatians and the Book of Acts (xv. and xxii.) .
It was Christianity in its universal form which won its great vic tories, and finally became permanently established in the Roman world. The appeal which it made to that world was many-sided.
It was a time when men were awaking to the need of better and purer living. To all who felt this need Christianity offered high moral ideals, and a tremendous moral enthusiasm, in its devotion to a beloved leader, in its emphasis upon the ethical possibilities of the meanest, and in its faith in a future life of blessedness for the righteous. It was a time of great religious interest, when old cults were being revived and new were finding acceptance on all sides. Christianity, with its one God, and its promise of redemp tion and a blessed immortality based upon divine revelation, met as no other contemporary faith did the awakening religious needs. It was a time also of great social unrest. With its principle of Christian brotherhood, its emphasis upon the equality of all be lievers in the sight of God, and its preaching of a new social order to be set up at the return of Christ, it appealed strongly to multitudes, particularly of the poorer classes. That it won a permanent success, and finally took possession of the Roman world, was due to its combination of appeals.
Christianity was essentially a proselytizing religion, not con tent to appeal simply to one class or race of people, and to be one among many faiths, but believing in the falsity or insufficiency of all others and eager to convert the whole world, but it did not win its victory without a struggle. Superstition, misunder standing and hatred caused the Christians trouble for many gen erations, and governmental repression they had to suffer occa sionally, as a result of popular disturbances. No systematic effort was made by the imperial authorities to put an end to the move ment until the reign of Decius (250-251), whose policy of sup pression was followed by Diocletian (3o3 ff.) and continued for some years after his abdication. In spite of all opposition the Church steadily grew, until in 311 the emperor Galerius upon his death-bed granted it toleration; and in 313 the emperors Constan tine and Licinius published the edict of Milan, proclaiming the principle of complete religious liberty, and making Christianity a legal religion in the full sense.
Constantine, recognizing the growing strength of the Church and wishing to enlist the loyal support of the Christians, treated them with increasing favour, and finally was baptized upon his death-bed (337). Under his successors, except during the brief reign of Julian (361-363), when the effort was made to reinstate paganism in its former place of supremacy, the Church received growing support, until, under Theodosius the Great orthodox Christianity, which stood upon the platform adopted at Nicaea in 325, was finally established as the sole official religion of the state, and heathen worship was put under the ban. The union between Church and State thus constituted continued unbroken in the East throughout the middle ages. The division of the Empire resulted finally in the division of the Church, which was practically complete by the end of the 6th century, but was made official and final only in 1054, and the Eastern and Western halves, the Greek Catholic and the Roman Catholic Churches, went each its separate way.
For long after the establishment of Christianity as the State religion, paganism continued strong, especially in the country dis tricts, and in some parts of the world had more adherents than Christianity, but at length the latter became, at any rate nomi nally, the faith of the whole Roman world. Meanwhile already before the 3rd century it went beyond the confines of the Empire in Asia, and by the end of the period was strong in Armenia, Per sia, Arabia and even farther east. It reached the barbarians on the northern and western borders at an early day, and the Goths were already Christians of the Arian type before the great migra tions of the 4th century began. Other barbarians became Chris tian, some in their own homes beyond the confines of the Empire, some within the Empire itself, so that when the hegemony of the West passed from the Romans to the barbarians the Church lived on. Thenceforth for centuries it was not only the chief religious, but also the chief civilizing, force at work in the Occident.
20, and the epistle to Diognetus, c. 5), and the principles and laws by which they strove to govern themselves were from above : the present world was but temporary, their true life was in the future ; Christ was soon to return, and the employments and labours and pleasures of this age were of small concern. The belief that the Church was a supernatural institution found fur ther expression in the conviction of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, supposed to be manifest in various striking ways, in prophecy, speaking with tongues and miracle-working. In this idea Paul also shared, but he carried the matter farther than most of his contemporaries and saw in the Spirit the abiding power and ground of the Christian life. Not simply in extraordi nary phenomena, but also in the everyday life of Christians, the Holy Spirit was present, and all the Christian graces were the fruits (cf. Gal. v. 22). A result of this belief was to give their lives a peculiarly enthusiastic or inspirational character. Theirs were not the everyday experiences of ordinary men, but of men lifted out of themselves and transported into a higher sphere. With the passing of time the early enthusiasm waned, the expec tation of the immediate return of Christ was widely given up, the conviction of the Spirit's presence became less vivid, and the con flict with heresy in the end century led to the substitution of official control for the original freedom (see below) . The late 2nd century movement known as Montanism was in essence a revolt against this growing secularization of the Church, but the move ment failed, and the development against which it protested was only hastened. The Church as an institution now looked forward to a long life upon earth and adjusted itself to the new situation, taking on largely the forms and customs of the world in which it lived. This did not mean that the Church ceased to regard itself as a supernatural institution, but only that its supernatural char acter was shown in a different way ; the early conviction of the essential difference between the life of this world and that of the next lived on, and, as the Church became increasingly a world institution, found vent in monasticism, which was simply the effort to put into more consistent practice the other-worldly life, and to make more thoroughgoing work of the saving of one's soul.
There were Christian monks as early as the 3rd century, and before the end of the 4th monasticism (q.v.) was an established institution both in East and West. The monks and nuns were looked upon as the most consistent Christians, and were honoured accordingly. Those who did not adopt the monastic life endeav oured on a lower plane and in a less perfect way to realize the common ideal, and by means of penance to atone for the deficien cies in their performance. The existence of monasticism made it possible at once to hold up a high moral standard before the world and to permit the ordinary Christian to be content with something lower. With the growth of clerical sacerdotalism the higher standard was demanded also of the clergy, and the prin ciple came to be generally recognized that they should live the monastic life so far as was consistent with their active duties in the world. The chief manifestation of this was clerical celibacy, which had become widespread already in the 4th century. Among the laity, on the other hand, the ideal of holiness found realiza tion in the observance of the ordinary principles of morality recognized by the world at large, in attendance upon the means of grace provided by the Church, in fasting at stated intervals, in eschewing various popular employments and amusements, and in almsgiving and prayer. Christ's principle of love was widely interpreted to mean chiefly love for the Christian brotherhood, and within that circle the virtues of hospitality, charity and help f ulness were widely exercised.
Worship.—The primitive belief in the immediate presence of the Spirit affected the religious services of the Church. They were regarded in early days as occasions for the free exercise of spir itual gifts. As a consequence the completest liberty was accorded to Christians to take such part as they chose, it being assumed that they did so only under the Spirit's prompting. But the result of this freedom was confusion and discord, as is indicated by Paul's i st Epistle to the Corinthians (see ch. xi., xiv.) . This led to the erection of safeguards. Particular Christians were designated to take charge of the services, and orders of worship were framed out of which grew ultimately elaborate liturgies (see LITURGY). The Lord's Supper first took on a more stereotyped character, and prayers to be used in connection with it are found in the Didache (ch. ix., x.). There developed in the 3rd or 4th century what is known as the arcani disciplina, or secret discipline of the Church, involving concealment from the uninitiated and unholy of the more sacred parts of the Christian cult, such as baptism and the eucharist, with their various accompaniments, including the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. The same interest led to the division of the services into two general parts, which became known ulti mately as the missa catechumenorum and the missa fidelium, that is, the more public service of prayer, praise and preaching open to all, including the catechumens or candidates for Church membership, and the private service for the administration of the eucharist, open only to full members of the Church in good and regular standing. Meanwhile, as the general service tended to grow more elaborate, the missa fidelium tended to take on the character of the current Greek mysteries (see EUCHARIST). Many of the terms in common use in them were employed in connection with the Christian rites, and many of the conceptions, particularly that of sharing in immortality by communion with deity, became an essential part of Christian doctrine. Thus the early idea of the services, as occasions for mutual edification through the inter change of spiritual gifts, gave way in course of time to the theory that they consisted of sacred and mysterious rites by means of which communion with God is promoted. The emphasis accord ingly came to be laid increasingly upon the formal side of wor ship, and a value was given to the ceremonies as such, and their proper and correct performance by duly qualified persons, i.e., ordained priests, was all-important. (See ORDER, HOLY.) Doctrine.—Two tendencies appeared in the thought of the primitive Church, the one to regard Christianity as a law given by God for the government of men's lives, with the promise of a blessed immortality as a reward for its observance; the other to view it as a means by which the corrupt and mortal nature of man is transformed, so that he becomes a spiritual and holy being. The latter tendency appeared first in the New Testament in Paul, and afterwards in the Gospel and ist Epistle of John. The former found expression in most of our New Testament writings, in all of the apostolic fathers except Ignatius, and in the Apologists of the end century. The two tendencies were not always mutually exclusive, but the one or the other was predomi nant in every case. Towards the end of the end century they were combined by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons. To him salvation bears a double aspect, involving both release from the control of the devil and the transformation of man's nature by the in dwelling of the Divine. Only he is saved who on the one hand is forgiven at baptism and so released from the power of Satan, and then goes on to live in obedience to the divine law, and on the other hand receives in baptism the germ of a new spiritual nature and is progressively transformed by receiving the body and blood of the divine Christ in the eucharist. This double concep tion of salvation and of the means thereto was handed down to the Church of subsequent generations and became fundamental in its thought.
The twofold conception referred to had its influence also upon thought about Christ. The effect of the legal view of Christianity was to make Christ an agent of God in the revelation of the divine will and truth, and so a subordinate being between God and the world, the Logos of current Greek thought. The effect of the mystical conception was to identify Christ with God in order that by His incarnation the divine nature might be brought into union with humanity and the latter be transformed. In this case too a combination was effected, the idea of Christ as the incarnation of the Logos or Son of God being retained and yet His deity being preserved by the assertion of the deity of the Logos. The recognition of Christ as the incarnation of the Logos was practically universal before the close of the 3rd century, but His deity was still widely denied, and the Arian controversy which distracted the Church of the 4th century concerned the latter question. At the council of Nicaea in 325 the deity of Christ received official sanction and was given formulation in the original Nicene Creed. Controversy continued for some time, but finally the Nicene decision was recognized both in East and West as the only orthodox faith. The deity of the ' Son was believed to carry with it that of the Spirit, who was associated with Father and Son in the baptismal formula and in the current symbols, and so the victory of the Nicene Christology meant the recogni tion of the doctrine of the Trinity as a part of the orthodox faith. The assertion of the deity of the Son incarnate in Christ raised another problem which constituted the subject of dispute in the Christological controversies of the 4th and following centuries. What is the relation of the divine and human natures in Christ? At the council of Chalcedon in 451 it was declared that in the per son of Christ are united two complete natures, divine and human, which retain after the union all their properties unchanged. This was supplemented at the 3rd council of Constantinople in 68o by the statement that each of the natures contains a will, so that Christ possesses two wills. The Western Church accepted the decisions of Nicaea, Chalcedon and Constantinople, and so the doctrines of the Trinity and of the two natures in Christ were handed down as orthodox dogma in West as well as East.
Meanwhile in the Western Church the subject of sin and grace, and the relation of divine and human activity in salvation, re ceived special attention; and finally, at the 2nd council of Orange in 529, after both Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism had been repudiated, a moderate form of Augustinianism was adopted, involving the theory that every man as a result of the Fall is in such a condition that he can take no steps in the direction of sal vation until he has been renewed by the divine grace given in baptism, and that he cannot continue in the good thus begun except by the constant assistance of that grace, which is mediated only by the Catholic Church. This decision was confirmed by Boniface II., and became the accepted doctrine in the Western Church of the middle ages.
Organization.—The origin and early development of ecclesi astical organization are involved in obscurity.
In the earliest days the Church was regarded as a divine insti tution, ruled not by men but by the Holy Spirit. At the same time it was believed that the Spirit imparted different gifts to differ ent believers, and each gift fitted its recipient for the performance of some service, being intended not for his own good but for the good of his brethren (cf. I Cor. xii. ; Eph. iv. I 1) . The chief of these was the gift of teaching, that is, of understanding and inter preting to others the will and truth of God. Those who were endowed more largely than their fellows with this gift were com monly known as apostles, prophets and teachers (cf. Acts xiii. 1; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Eph. ii. 20, Hi. 5, iv. II). The apostles were travel ling missionaries or evangelists; there were many of them in the primitive Church, and only gradually did the term come to be applied exclusively to the twelve and Paul. There is no sign that the apostles, whether the twelve or others, held any official posi tion in the Church : that they had a large measure of authority goes without saying, but it depended always upon their brethren's recognition of their possession of the divine gift of apostleship, and the right of Churches or individuals to test their claims and to refuse to listen to them if they did not vindicate their divine call was everywhere recognized. Witness, for instance, Paul's reference to false apostles in 2 Cor. xi. 13, and his efforts to estab lish his own apostolic character to the satisfaction of the Corinthi ans and Galatians (I Cor. ix. 1 ff.; 2 Cor. x. 13; Gal. i. 8 ff.) , and the reference in Rev. ii. 2 to the fact that the Church at Ephesus had tried certain men who claimed to be apostles and had found them false.
Between the apostles, prophets and teachers no hard-and-fast lines can be drawn. The apostles were commonly missionary prophets, called permanently or temporarily to the special work of evangelization (cf. Acts xiii. I), while the teachers seem to have been distinguished both from apostles and prophets by the fact that their spiritual endowment was less strikingly super natural. The indefiniteness of the boundaries between the three classes, and the free interchange of names, show how far they were from being definite offices or orders within the Church.
But at an early day we find regular officers in this and that local Church, and early in the 2nd century the three permanent offices of bishop, presbyter and deacon existed at any rate in Asia Minor. Their rise was due principally to the necessity of admin istering the charities of the Church, putting an end to disorder and confusion in the religious services, and disciplining offenders. Regular officers within the local Churches gradually made their appearance, sometimes simply recognized as charged with respon sibilities which they had already voluntarily assumed (cf. I Cor. xvi. 15), sometimes appointed by an apostle or prophet or other specially inspired man (cf. Acts xiv. 23 ; Titus i. 5; I Clement 44) , sometimes formally chosen by the congregation itself (cf. Acts vi.) . These men naturally acquired more and more, as time passed, the control and leadership of the Church in all its activi ties, and out of what was in the beginning more or less informal and temporary grew fixed and permanent offices, the incumbents of which were recognized as having a right to rule over the Church, a right which once given could not lawfully be taken away unless they were unfaithful to their trust. Not continued endowment by the Spirit, but the possession of an ecclesiastical office now became the basis of authority. The earliest expression of this genuinely official principle is found in Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians (ch. xliv.).
The earliest distinct evidence of the organization of Churches under a single head is found in the Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch, which date from the latter part of the reign of Trajan (c. I16). Ignatius bears witness to the presence in various Churches of Asia Minor of a single bishop in control, with whom are associated as his subordinates a number of elders and deacons. This form of organization ultimately became universal. Where there were one bishop and a number of presbyters and deacons in a church, the presbyters constituted the bishop's council, and the deacons his assistants in the management of the finances and charities and in the conduct of the services.
These bishops were originally not diocesan but congregational, that is, each church, however small, had its own bishop. This is the organization testified to by Ignatius, and Cyprian's insistence upon the bishop as necessary to the very existence of the Church seems to imply the same thing. Congregational episcopacy was the rule for a number of generations. But after the middle of the 3rd century diocesan episcopacy began to make its appearance here and there, and became common in the 4th century under the influence of the general tendency toward centralization, the in creasing power of city bishops, and the growing dignity of the episcopate (cf. canon 6 of the council of Sardica, and canon 57 of the council of Laodicea ; and see Harnack, Mission and Aus breitung, pp. 319 seq.). This enlargement of the bishop's parish and multiplication of the churches under his care led to a change in the functions of the presbyterate. So long as each church had its own bishop the presbyters constituted simply his council, but with the growth of diocesan episcopacy it became the custom to pub each congregation under the care of a particular presbyter, who performed within it most of the pastoral duties formerly dis charged by the bishop himself. The presbyters, however, were not independent officers. They were only representatives of the bishop, and the churches over which they were set were all a part of his parish, so that the Cyprianic principle, that the bishop is necessary to the very being of the Church, held good of diocesan as well as of congregational episcopacy.
The belief in the unity of the entire Church had existed from the beginning. Though made up of widely scattered congregations, it was thought of as one body of Christ, one people of God. This ideal unity found expression in many ways. Intercommunication between the various Christian communities was very active. Christians upon a journey were always sure of a warm welcome and hospitable entertainment from their fellow-disciples. Mes sengers and letters were sent freely from one church to another. Documents of various kinds, including gospels and apostolic epistles, circulated widely. Thus in various ways the feeling of unity found expression, and the development of widely separated parts of Christendom conformed more or less closely to a com mon type. It was due to agencies such as these that the scat tered churches did not go each its own way and become ultimately separate and diverse institutions. But this general unity became official, and expressed itself in organization, only with the rise of the conciliar and metropolitan systems. Already before the end of the 2nd century local synods were held in Asia Minor to deal with Montanism, and in the 3rd century provincial synods became common, and by the council of Nicaea (canon 5) it was decreed that they should be held twice every year in every province. Larger synods representing the churches of a number of contigu ous provinces also met frequently ; for instance, in the early 4th century at Elvira, Ancyra, Neo-Caesarea and Arles, the last representing the entire Western world. Such gatherings were spe cially common during the great doctrinal controversies of the 4th century. In 325 the first general or oecumenical council, represent ing theoretically the entire Christian Church, was held at Nicaea. Other councils of the first period now recognized as oecumenical by the Church both East and West are Constantinople I. (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II. (553)• All these were called by the emperor, and to their decisions he gave the force of law. Thus the character of the Church as a State institution voiced itself in them (see COUNCIL).
The theory that the bishops are successors of the apostles, and as such the authoritative conservators and interpreters of apostolic truth, involves of course the solidarity of the episcopate, and the assumption that all bishops are in complete harmony and bear wit ness to the same body of doctrine. This assumption, however, has not always been sustained by the facts. Serious disagreements even on important matters developed frequently. As a result the oecumenical council came into existence especially for the purpose of settling disputed questions of doctrine, and giving to the collec tive episcopate the opportunity to express its voice in a final and official way. At the council of Nicaea, and at the oecumenical councils which followed, the idea of an infallible episcopate giving authoritative and permanent utterance to apostolic and therefore divine truth, found clear expression, and has been handed down as a part of the faith of the Catholic Church both East and West.
Meanwhile the Roman episcopate developed into the papacy, which claimed supremacy over the entire Christian Church, and actually exercised it increasingly in the West from the 5th century on. This development was forwarded by Augustine, who in his famous work De civitate Dei identified the Church with the King dom of God, and claimed that it was supreme over all the nations of the earth, which make up the civitas terrena or earthly state. Augustine's theory was ultimately accepted everywhere in the West, and thus the Church of the middle ages was regarded not only as the sole ark of salvation, but also as the ultimate authority, moral, intellectual and political. Upon this doctrine was built, not by Augustine himself but by others who came after him, the structure of the papacy, the bishop of Rome being finally recog nized as the head under Christ of the civitas Dei, and so the supreme organ of divine authority on earth (see PAPACY and POPE) .