Monday, Sept. 12
The first two centuries had plenty of problems, but things got worse in the next few centuries. During the second century several churches had become very strong—the Alexandrian church in north Africa, the Antioch church in Caesaria, the Roman church in Italy, and the Constantinople church in the east. Each of these had “schools” to study theology, much like our seminaries of today, as well as catechetical schools. Church leaders were still debating doctrinal issues, defending the faith against a host of false doctrines, and undergoing persecution. Nuances of truth became monumental issues. The trinitarian controversy was the main issue, particularly with Arianism as the chief antagonist. Fueled by letters and councils, Alexandrian scholars, with their allegorical interpretations, clashed with Antiochian scholars, with their literal method of interpretation. Roman and Constantinople church leaders clashed over doctrinal issues, too, but with some political issues thrown in. They eventually split into the Western and Eastern churches. The positive side of all this is that for the most part, Biblical truth triumphed over false doctrines. The negative side is that the outstanding scholars became powerful bishops, exercising control over every aspect of their respective churches. They became “power brokers” rather than humble shepherds of their flocks. Eventually this led to the papacy. The Roman church became an autocratic power in the West and Constantinople the power in the East. Both of these led Christendom away from Biblical truth and eventually to the reform movement.