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When did the Church appear? - DanielM - 13-11-2011 11:40 PM

Hi all.

I was involved in a brilliant discussion the other day and wondered if we could bring it onto here. It was about the nature of the Church and Baptism.

Quite simply, if the Sacramental Church started with Pentecost then were the sacraments we know considered Sacramental before?

So was Jesus' baptism the same as one now (Though not for remission of sins due to him being who he is)?
And if this was the case then was baptism a requirement for Salvation prior to Pentecost?


- Antony-Paul - 14-11-2011 10:49 AM

Hi Daniel,

The other day I asked this question of Father Gregory, as a theological expert, and await his reply to my suggestions. When he has told me if I am a heretic (!) or not, I shall gladly share his views here.


- DanielM - 14-11-2011 08:07 PM

It sounds more like you are messaging Fr. Ephraim. :lol:


Re: When did the Church appear? - Dougherty - 15-11-2011 09:22 PM

DanielM Wrote:So was Jesus' baptism the same as one now (Though not for remission of sins due to him being who he is)?
And if this was the case then was baptism a requirement for Salvation prior to Pentecost?
Umm if i am not mistaken Christ's baptism was only one of repentance, "the baptism of John" even in acts they make the distinction between Johns baptisms and the baptism the church used, baptism of the Spirit...


- Antony-Paul - 17-11-2011 05:03 PM

Just to keep the pot boiling, so to speak, I have had some suggestions that point to the Church coming into existence almost, as it were, in two stages. It is regarded by some as being 'formed' at the Last Supper, with the institution of the Eucharist. But it was not 'Commissioned' until the Holy Ghost completed the process at Pentecost. (My terms, not necessarily theologically accurate.)

This may well be the case. However, it does not answer the question about the status of the sacraments prior to Pentecost. Clearly the Eucharist existed, but was it used or celebrated while Jesus was still on earth? We read that He broke bread and was recognised by doing so, but did anyone else follow His instruction from the Last Supper during this period?

And what of Baptism? If it was 'instituted' beside the Jordan but not 'activated' until Pentecost how were people admitted into the Church before then? I cannot imagine that the apostles remained the sole members until suddenly lots more people joined the Church at Pentecost - surely there would have been a gradual growth at least between the Resurrection and Pentecost.

I'm still awaiting answers from our theologians on this topic.


- vrc - 28-11-2011 10:08 PM

I am no theological expert, but the question itself goes even further, as the gospels themselves were not written until some 30 years after Christ's Ascension.

I read a book by Bart Ehrman (he is an atheist theologian, by the way), called "Lost Christianities', in which his research indicates that Christianity as we know it today did not really exist until some 400 years after Christ. Up until that point, there were lots of variations in how to worship, so I imagine baptism, Eucharist, etc. were all in flux as well at that point.

That is why they had all those Councils, e.g. Nicaea, etc., as so much had to be thrashed out as there were so many disagreements on what was what.

Doesn't alter the message and the salvation we were given by Christ's life, death and Resurrection, but I think the forms of worship that we now use were subject to change until that point in time (according to Bart, as I stipulate).


RE: When did the Church appear? - DanielM - 18-02-2012 12:16 PM

Hi Victoria, I thought i'd keep this going since it seemed to have died at an interesting point.

The practices of Baptism and Eucharist as we know them have indeed evolved over time, I think that to deny this would be a great discredit to the Church. Regardless of this, we know that they existed in a set way from the turn of the 1st Century. In the Didache (Teaching of the apostles) we can read that they practiced a highly ritualised Baptism, closed communion and wed/fri fasting (8:1) as the copts do now.

The Eucharist as we know it is also mentioned in the writings of Justin Martyr, he speaks of a closed communion with the Eucharistic prayer and transubstatiation of Bread and wine to body and blood.

"so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh" First Apology Ch 66.

Interestingly they also practiced Sacramental confession, not allowing communion to those that had not reconciled all differences with others and confessed their sins, since it would defile the offering to recieve it without this. This practice has of course evolved but appeared to be certainly formalised at least in those communities that practiced what they were taught without altering it.

As you have said, These were not formalised in many cases until the Ecumenical Councils, which of course leads to some ambiguity (as one would expect in any community with norms but no formalised ruling). It is important to remember though that the St James Liturgy has existed since between 60-100AD, so there must have been some form of formalised worship, at least in a reasonably influental and central christian community, at that time for it to have survived and developed into the liturgies we know now.


RE: When did the Church appear? - Dougherty - 19-02-2012 09:13 PM

(18-02-2012 12:16 PM)DanielM Wrote:  Hi Victoria, I thought i'd keep this going since it seemed to have died at an interesting point.

The practices of Baptism and Eucharist as we know them have indeed evolved over time, I think that to deny this would be a great discredit to the Church. Regardless of this, we know that they existed in a set way from the turn of the 1st Century. In the Didache (Teaching of the apostles) we can read that they practiced a highly ritualised Baptism, closed communion and wed/fri fasting (8:1) as the copts do now.

The Eucharist as we know it is also mentioned in the writings of Justin Martyr, he speaks of a closed communion with the Eucharistic prayer and transubstatiation of Bread and wine to body and blood.

"so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh" First Apology Ch 66.

Interestingly they also practiced Sacramental confession, not allowing communion to those that had not reconciled all differences with others and confessed their sins, since it would defile the offering to recieve it without this. This practice has of course evolved but appeared to be certainly formalised at least in those communities that practiced what they were taught without altering it.

As you have said, These were not formalised in many cases until the Ecumenical Councils, which of course leads to some ambiguity (as one would expect in any community with norms but no formalised ruling). It is important to remember though that the St James Liturgy has existed since between 60-100AD, so there must have been some form of formalised worship, at least in a reasonably influental and central christian community, at that time for it to have survived and developed into the liturgies we know now.

i believe (at least in the latin church) confession was open as well It was St. Patrick who brought about a change to personal confessions that wasn't until 433ish...


RE: When did the Church appear? - DanielM - 19-02-2012 10:20 PM

Well, it was certainly practiced to a preach in the mi 4th Century.
Athanasius of Alexandria said that "Just as a man is enlightened by the Holy Spirit when he is baptized by a priest, so he who confesses his sins with a repentant heart obtains their remission from the priest."

Also John Chrysostom knew of Confession to the Priest alone, acting as a representative of God when he wrote:
"Great is the dignity of priests. 'Whose sins you forgive,' He says, 'they are forgiven them' [John 20:23] The things that are placed in the hands of the priest, it belongs to God alone to give" (Homilies on John 86:4)

He mentions the Priest being there but the confession going to God alone, so it is safe to presume that this is a private form of confession in the mid 4th century also.


RE: When did the Church appear? - Dougherty - 20-02-2012 12:00 AM

i wonder how different things had become then, St Patrick was scandalized by a sin he confessed in his youth, it was brought up and held against him in his 80-90s and so he began to start doing personal/private confessions in hopes that situations like that could never arise... but like i said that was 433ish, unless i wonder if clergy had a different form of confession?


RE: When did the Church appear? - DanielM - 20-02-2012 10:32 AM

It was probably an East/West thing. By this time there was already cultural practice differences between the areas, so some things which were accepted in hellenized lands wouldn't have reached Rome or the lands west of that yet.


RE: When did the Church appear? - kirk yacoub - 19-03-2012 11:10 AM

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It's a good idea not to get tangled up in words.The Church is the Body of Christ, its mission began on the day of Pentecost, Our Lord instigated baptism when he received the baptism of repentance from Jophn the Baptist, not because He needed to repent, but in order to bless the waters for all future acts of baptism. Obviously Church rites have developed over the centuries, but they all stem from the very beginning. In the Syriac Orthodox Church it is Tradition that the Liturgy of St James was delivered by Our Lord Jesus Christ to his kinsman James during one of His reusrrection appearances.

With prayers,

kirk Yacoub


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