So, I have my History of Christianity midterm in an hour and a half. So, to study, I'll type out what I'm going to be tested on. Yipes. That's all I have to say, really.
Apostacy refers to the sin commited by Christians who caved under persecutiona nd offered sacrifices to the emperor. During the early years of Christianity, Christians were considered as a sect within Judaism. After the Temple's destruction, Judaism was forced to redefine itself, and this redefinition allowed no room for a group as different as the early Christians. Without the protection of being part of a historical religion like Judaism, Christians were no longer excempt from the imperial cult (the practice of making sacrifices to the emperor). This brought about widespread and, by 250, universal persecution directed by the Roman empire.
Justin Martyr was born at the beginning of the second century, and was martyred in roughly 165. He was born to pagan parents and followed the teachings of Plato for much of his early life. After his conversion, he became one of the first Christian apologists, or defenders of the faith. His writing defended Christianity against the objections that pagans presented. In addition, his writings were influential in developing the Logos theology, which incorporated concepts that many pagan philosophers used and could relate to.
Marcion's heresy was one of the most prominent from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Marcion taught that there were actually two gods; one of good, and one of evil. He argued that the God of the Jewish old testament was in fact the evil god, who created the world. Jesus, however, was sent to Earth by and revealed the good god, who intends to save mankind. Jesus also came to Earth fully grown, as matter (and therefore incarnation) is debased and evil. Marcion argued that the Jewishness needed to be taken out of Christianity (i.e., expunge the Old Testament), a theme that has resurfaced a few times in more recent years by Enlightenment thinkers, Hitler, and most recently in Feminism.
Athanasius lived in Alexandria during the time of the Council of Nicaea, which, held in 325, was the first ecumenical council. Athanasius was one of the key figures arguing against Arius, who was also from Alexandria. Arius taught that Jesus was a sort of demi-god and not actually human, for God was totally transcendant and could not interact with the world. Among Athanasius' responses was the idea that for Jesus to save humanity, he must have been God, and that scripture teaches the divinity of Christ (mostly quoting Paul's letters).
Leo I was Bishop of Rome, and lived from 400-461. He was one of the most influential popes, both in his time and in years to come. During the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451, he wrote what is referred to as "Leo's Tome", a letter to the council explaining the issues of the nature of Christ. This letter was fully embraced by the council, which declared that Peter had spoke through Leo. This council, held in the East and made largely of Eastern bishops, is quoted later in Western defences of the papacy's authority, effectively extending the reach of Leo's influence to centurys later. Also, the decision (largely influenced by Leo) of the Council of Chalcedon caused the first permanent schism in the Church--as a result of this council, the Monophysites were declared heretical and split from the main body of the church.
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine is one of the most influential thinkers in Western Christianity. Born in 354, he spent years outside of the church teaching rhetoric and slowly meandering towards becoming a Christian. The story of his conversion, The Confessions, was the first personal conversion story to be thus written. In addition to this contribution, he also argued strongly against the Donatists and the Pelagians. His main contributions thereby are the concept that the position and authority of clergymen exist independantly of their moral character (allowing for them to be human, too) and the doctrine of double-predestination. The latter of these teachings was first ruled too harsh (and therefore untrue) by the Synod of Orange in 529, and later re-instated as right doctrine (in the eyes of some protestants, at least) by John Calvin during the Reformation.
The Rule of Saint Benedict
Benedict lived from the years 480 to 547. In his early days, he traveled to Rome for an education, but became disgusted with the opulent and corrupt lifestyle therein. He moved out of the city to live in a cave and soon became rather popular. He promoted this sort of monastic community, and soon thereafter wrote the Rule of Benedict. This rule was a practical, adaptable guideline for such monastic communities. It stressed order, prayer, and manual labor. The organization and work of monks civilized Europe. Monks would take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; monks would be stable, sticking to their community, would try to improve their life as a Christian daily, and would be obedient to their superiors.
The Donatists developed in reaction to the apostacy that happened during the persecution of Christians. Beginning his rule in 306, Constantine made Christianity the imperial religion. Christians went quickly from being on the bottom of the pile to being on the top. Some, mostly located in North Africa, taught (and acted) that Christians who had apostized must not be allowed back in to the faith; if they were priests, their sacraments were invalid, if bishops, their ordinations as well. Donatists would refuse to receive the Eucharist from priests ordained by bishops who had apostized, because they believed that the sacraments were dependant on the moral character of the Church. The acutal movement started around 311, when a bishop was appointed who was said to have apostized. Augustine argued explictly against this movement around 390 when he became a presbyter in North Africa; his side eventually wins out. As a result, many heresies and pagan cults attempt to challenge Christianity on the grounds of their superior morality.
Pelagius was a monk during the 4th century whose teachings were used by this movement. Pelagians believed that humans had totally free will; that they can be good, if only they try harder. Pelagius' arguments were a response to the lax Roman elite, who lived what he considered sinful lives. The movement stirred up controvsery in North Africa when one of Pelagius' followers began teaching this doctrine. Augustine argued against it, teaching that salvation is entirely up to God--human beings can't either refuse his grace, or accept it on their own.
That's all for now; I'm off to take the test.
I'll only have to answer three of those questions; this little study session didn't get to the essay questions that are going to make up most of the grade.