Ask for the Ancient Paths: Discovering What Church is Meant To Be
By James Guirguis
Forward by John Maddex:
Begs the question, what happened to the early church? Is it still alive or did it die? How did they worship? Did they sing and have readings? Was there a leadership structure? Was there doctrine and theology?
Exploring the Roots of the Christian Church.
What can we learn from scriptural texts other than the Gospels and Epistles? The early Christian churchmen said a lot. Here are some of the main Church Fathers, from each century, who made important writings and teachings before the Gospel, as we know it, was put together in 367AD.
• The Church Fathers – Those men who led Christianity during the first centuries (antiquity) who had holiness of life, orthodox teaching and ecclesiastical approval.
1. St. Ignatius (c.30-110) - The importance of the role of the Bishop and unity. Taught by the Apostle John.
2. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) Defended Christianity against poets and philosophers and Platonism. His writings became the first describing how the Eucharist and Baptism services were conducted.
3. St. Irenaeus (c. 130-202) The greatest theologian of the second century. Listened to teaching of St. Polycarp the disciple of the Apostle John. Bishop of Lyons writing two important texts – “On the Apostolic Preaching” a summary of the proclamations of the Apostles and “Against Heresies” – a devastating critique of Gnosticism and powerful presentation of the Christian faith.
4. Basil of Caesarea (c. 329-379) Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia and founder of the monastic lifestyle for Easter Orthodox monks. Especially known for his defense of the full deity of both the Son and Holy Spirit.
5. St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) The “Golden-Tongued” outstanding, eloquent preacher for the churches of Antioch and Constantinople. Archbishop of Constantinople and fearless preacher on morals. Given us extensive commentary on all the Gospels and a primer on the responsibilities and tensions of the clergy with his treatise “On the Priesthood.”
6. The Didache. (Unknown Author) A document written somewhere between 50 and 80 AD, which reflects the teaching and practice of the earliest church. It contrasts the lifestyles of the early Christians with the nonbelievers. Comments on the attitudes and practice of Baptism and the Eucharist. Begins with this truth: “There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between the two.”
The Author’s Introduction
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
What does this term, abundantly, really mean?
What will church give you? Where in Holy Scripture is it best described? (See Biblical quotes list below)
Are all churches created equal? What will “the right church” do for you that other churches won’t give you?
Chapter 1 Reading the Bible: My Way or the Right Way?
Now you have a good grasp of the church and the right church. How would you introduce it to someone be it friend, relative, associate or neighbor to the orthodox Christian church?
Here are 5 Orthodox brochures which one(s) would you use with this person to back your description of the church and why?
According to the author, why is it important to know what is right according Holy Scripture? (See the attached listing of Bible quotes)
The author uses the term “extrabiblical sources.” What is meant by this term and how would you put the expression into words?
Holy Scripture –
1.”But the fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5: 22-23)
2. “God is not the author of confusion but of peace……………” (1 Corinthians 14:33)
3. “Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake the chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8: 29-31)
4. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God……rightly dividing the word of truth.” (Timothy 2:15) 5. “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. “ (2 Timothy 3:16) 6. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal; life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39)
7. “ knowing this first, that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, “ (2Peter 1:20)
Non Biblical Quotes of the Author
1. “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe what you want to believe.
2. This is your red pill – the truth about the church and all the things Jesus meant to have and to share with Him. The choice is yours. Are you ready?
Chapter 2 The Church That Existed Before the New Testament
Getting along without the Bible?
1. “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6)
2. Therefore, brethren, stand fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
3. The Life in the First Church: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. “ (Acts 2: 42)
4. “But the hour is coming and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him. God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:22-24)
What is the roots test? What does it mean in terms of the church and the person you are speaking with?
The Samaritan Woman - The Woman at the Well (St. Photini) what is important about this event and how can we use it?
Remember the Red Pill? Let us see in the remaining chapters how deep the rabbit hole goes!