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Chapter 8 - Christian Heritage 1350 Dr Sadler Chapter 8...

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Christian Heritage 1350, Dr. Sadler Chapter 8 summary The Christian Theological Tradition , 2 nd  edition, Cory and Landry, editors. Christianity After the Apostles Intro The term early Christianity refers to the period between the second century and the fifth  century, approximately the time between the writing of the last books that came to be  known as the New Testament and the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451).  This period is  called the  patristic  era, because the major writers of the time are known as the fathers  (patres in Latin) of the church. THE SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE PATRISTIC ERA The Delay of Christ’s Return The earliest Christians believed the Christ’s resurrection was a sign of the beginning of  the end of time, which would be completed very soon when Christ returned in glory.  The delay of the end made Christians aware that it was important to preserve the  movement for the future.  Moreover, some Christians thought that the second coming  was delayed because the church had not completed the task that Christ had given to it:  to spread the gospel to the whole world.  Therefore, the delay of Christ’s return led  Christians to pursue their missionary activities with great zeal.  They took the risen  Christ’s commission to preach the gospel to all nations and turned the movement  outwards to the larger  pagan  (non-Christian, non-Jewish) world of the Roman Empire.  Endowed with the keen sense of religious integrity that it had inherited from Judaism,  Christianity met these challenges successfully.  Evidence of its ability to adapt can be  found in the fact that, of all the empire’s religions, only Judaism and Christianity have  survived as living traditions.
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The Move into the Greco-Roman World The Christian message circulated by word of mouth and through household  connections, street corner preaching, and public lectures.  Particularly popular were the  mystery religions , so-called because they relied on initiating converts into secret  rituals and mysteries about a particular god or goddess.  Part of the reason that these  religions proved so popular was the satisfaction of being part of a select group or for the  fellowship and the occasional feasting.   Christian converts seem to have been seeking the same kinds of things that drew  people to other religions and cults: desire for healing, the need for practical and spiritual  counsel, the promise of fellowship and mutual support, a sense of personal meaning in  one’s life and the like.  A sign of Christians’ confidence in their religion was the fact that 
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