Дорога домой. Выпуск ДД-13.3а  [10окт05]
INTRODUCTION  INTO
THE  HISTORY  OF  CHRISTIAN  CHURCH
Short Overview

"And you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free"
(John 8:32 NKJV)

In order to correctly understand History of Christianity and History of Christian and Orthodox Churches it is necessary to become familiar with the prechristian world. This is especially important to know now, since there is in a West cultural revolution together with dechristianization of not only all culture, but also the Western Churches. In this short review the basic facts are told, and further information anyone who is interested can find by himself and read the necessary material [П].
     Contents. (1) Conscience, morals and religion; (1.1) Every Person has a Conscience; (1.2) Conscience is not perfect; (2) Ancient Times; (2.1) Paganism; (2.2) Ancient Jews; (3) Christianity; (3.1) The Arrival of Lord Jesus Christ; (3.2) God's Law; (3.3) Holy Scripture; (3.4) Christian Church; (4) The Spreading of Christianity; (4.1) In the East; (4.2) In the West; (4.3) In Russia; (5) Present Situation; (5.1) In the West; (5.2) In Russia; (5.3) Nonchristian Countries; (5.4) The View of the Nonbelievers on Conscience.

1 -- Conscience, morals and religion

1.1 Every Person has a Conscience. The Lord God, as a loving Father, gave every person in the whole world a conscience. This inborn natural conscience, is called "The Natural Moral Law". The conscience is letting us know what we can do and what we cannot, what is right and what is wrong and what is good and what is evil. Without a feeling of conscience a person would not be able to live and a society to exist. Therefore, the natural conscience exists in every person in the whole world, and in all races and ill all religions. The Holly Scripture says about this as follows "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10 NJKV).
     The God given Natural Conscience is the basis for all moral systems and all religions in the whole world.

1.2 Conscience is not perfect. We see well the mistakes and sins of other people, but we are not aware of our own. In the Gospel it says "And why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye, but do not feel the log in your own eye?" (Mat. 7:3 Russ). Also, we get used to our sins, they become part of our nature and hinder our life. The Apostle said "The good, which I want, I am not doing, but the evil, which I do not want, I do" (Romans 7:19 Russ).
     The Christian Morality, since it is based on the Divine Revelation, is the highest teaching; we will talk about it below. In religions based only on the Natural Conscience there are deviations from the Christian Morality and even very coarse one. There is a cruelty, blood revenge, killing of unwanted children, human sacrifices, slavery, etc. Their conscience does not only justify it, but also demands. In Christianity, certainly, all this is not only forbidden, but also unthinkable.
     In our times, the period of general deviation from the Christian norms, the life according to our conscience, leaves a lot to be desired [П1].

2 -- Ancient Times

2.1 Paganism. In ancient times, several 1000 years ago, as it was mentioned above, people were at a very low moral and spiritual development. But, the man was always attracted to his Creator. He was searching for Him and in his ignorance and fear he was inventing various religions . He would call the sun god, or volcano, or some statues etc. Nonchrisitian religions are called pagan. Because they were based on ordinary human conscience, they were inferior. There existed cruelty, slavery, life did not cost anything, there were even human sacrifices to their pagan gods. As a result of this, the pagan world was gloomy, the life was harsh and difficult. It was dominated by cruelty, force, riches, pride, moral decay. Life and the people were rude, cruel and ruthless. The people were amusing themselves by looking how other people were killing each other. Death executions were a popular show. Punishments were severe. People were crucified, tormented, thorn apart, burned, tortured etc. During the war people were especially cruel towards each other. The victors exterminated the peaceful population and maimed prisoners. There existed slavery. The slave could be purchased, sold or even killed. A person could become indebted or be taken into captivity and then would became a slave.
     In many religions they had sacrifices, even human, moral decay and degeneration. The witnesses about these times can be found in the lives of saints, especially martyrs.
     Despite all this, ancient pagan cultures had a lot of positive aspects in other areas (not in morality), where they achieved plenty.

2.2 Ancient Jews. The only people who had correct understanding of true God were ancient Jews. Already at those times they only one God, and not many, He was just and He taught to live according to commandments and not to sin. 1615 years before the Birth of Christ, Lord God through Moses gave them Ten Commandments. Exactly these Commandments are creating the very basis for any civilized society. Their truths and depth says that they are obviously from the Lord God, because at those times people were not capable of figuring this out [П2].

3 -- Christianity

3.1  The Arrival of Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that the ancient Jews had Commandments, the world was beginning to enter the dead end, in respect to morality. Than, on earth came Lord Jesus Christ who deepened the understanding of Old Testament teaching by His teaching: the Beatitude Commandments and other New Testament Commandments.
     [Note that in Orthodoxy, "Beatitudes" are called "Beatitude Commandments", which leads to a significant difference in understanding Christ's teaching]..
     Holy fathers interpreted everything said by Lord Jesus Christ and this is now known under the name of "God's Law". This Law is for people and society, is eternal and unchanging: today, yesterday and tomorrow. It creates healthy society. Digression from its norms, earlier or later leads to a gradual breakdown of the society.
     This idea Christ expressed briefly with these words: "I am the way and truth and life" (John 14:6 Russ). The same idea is expressed in His Parable about "Wise Builder" (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49). In this parable it is said that we have to build our house (life) on a solid ground (Christian Commandments), than it will stand solidly and even during the storm will not fall.
     The Lord Jesus Christ appeared among the Ancient Jews. The whole teaching of Jesus Christ is based on the Old Testament and it deepens it. When Ancient Jews accused Him that He is teaching something different, He answered: "Do not think, that I came to violate the law and prophets; not to violate I came, but to fulfil" (Mat. 5:17 Russ).
     While listening to Jesus Christ, the Jews divided in two groups. The first group followed Him and they became first Christians. The second group did not accept His teaching. They considered Jesus Christ a dangerous agitator and magician [sorcerer] and went on a different path. During many years they added to the Bible (Old Testament) another book -- Talmud. It was written in middle ages by learned rabbis. This book contains interpretation of Old Testament and detailed explanation how to behave in every life situation. Besides this, they also have other books. We have to mention that they excluded the Book by Prophet Daniel and some others, since they contain the prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ. The present [modern] Jews are descendants of this second group. In our times they have split in three groups: Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed Jews. It should be noted that since the whole world slowly adopted Christian values and our culture and civilization became known as Christian Culture and Civilization, the Jews, together with all other Nonchristian religions became very much influenced by them [adopted a lot from Christianity]. (See also Paragraph #5.3 -- Nonchristian Countries).

3.2  God's Law. As it was said above, conscience is not perfect and this is why the Lord God gave a man the perfect law - the God's Law. He revealed it to people and because of this it is referred as The Revealed Moral Law. The first part of God's Law was revealed to ancient Jews by the Lord God through prophet Moses in Ten Commandments and other Commandments and books of the Old Testament of the Holy Scripture (Bible).
     The second part of the God's Law was revealed by Lord Jesus Christ in His Beatitude Commandments and in all His sermons. It is in the books of the New Testament of the Holy Scripture (Bible).

3.3 Holy Scripture. Besides Commandments ancient Jews had holy books which contained teaching about life, history and prophecies. All this breathed with spiritual power and told that it was not the creation of people. These books have been collected into one book "Holy Scripture" or in Greek "Bible". A lot of material from these books became part of Christian divine services. It is necessary to say that Christian interpretation of the Old Testament is based on the teaching of Lord Jesus Christ.
     The Book of Psalms "Psaltyr", written about 3000 years ago, is full of wisdom and spiritual beauty, is still widely used in the Orthodox Divine Service. For example, in the liturgy the Psalm 102 and 145 are sung. In the Czar's Orthodox Russia for a long time it was a favorite reading and even it was learnt by heart. Nonorthodox Christians also love and respect it. The following is said in the first psalm, written in these far away times, about the person who lives righteously and does not keep company with sinners: "And he will be like a tree planted at the streams of waters which brings the fruit at the proper time and which leaf does not dry up [wither]; and in all that he does, he will succeed" (Psalm 1:3 Russ).

3.4 Christian Church. The Lord Jesus Christ has sown the seeds, the basis [foundation] of Christianity and has established the Church. The history of the Church begins from the moment of "The descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles" (also "The Holy Trinity" or "Pentecost") (Acts 2:1-4). This is one of "The Twelve Major Holy Days" and it is celebrated fifty days after Paskha (Easter). After this event the apostles started to travel and preach the Christianity. After them there were left groups of Christians who wanted to live in a new way, the Christian way. Gradually these groups grew and this was the beginning of local parishes and Churches. This way appeared five ancient churches: Church of Jerusalem, Antioh, Alexandria, Rome and Church of Konstantinople.
     During first three hundred years, Christians were persecuted first by Jews, and when the Jewish state has fallen, than, much worse persecution was by pagan Romans. The Christianity was punished in every possible way, even by death. The Christians were jailed, torchured and killed. This period produced many holy martyrs for the Orthodox faith. Eventually in 313 Emperor Konstantin became a Christian. He released all Christians from prisons, stopped their persecution, started to build churches and made Christianity a state religion. Right after this, the Church started to put its teaching and structure in order during the 7 Ecumenical Councils. The first Council was in 325, and the last one in 787.
     As it was already said above, the Lord Jesus Christ had sown seeds of the faith, and the Holy Church developed the whole teaching as to how to practically carry out His teaching in life. In this process participated thousands and thousands of bishops, priests, monks, spiritual writers, philosophers, etc. This process has not stopped since each historical period requires new works and approaches. For example, presently there is a need for new spiritual literature for the reviving of Russia, for missionary work in the West and for the Internet. All of them require presentation of an old material, but in the language which present Russians and western people will understand.
     Because of Divine Revelation, arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ, establishment of the Christian Church, thousand and thousand of holy martyrs, huge number of participants in the creation of the Church and many other things, the Christianity cannot be compared to other religions. They, in most cases, were established by one person. If we compare other religions to Christianity, than we are placing the religion of Divine Revelation on one level with other primitive religions and even the religion of cannibals. Christianity it not only the religion, but also the Truth about a man, his society and his world. It teaches us what is the best way to live, so that the life is fruitful and the man is happy.
     The Christian values are so obvious, that they became identical with the concept of "the civilized and cultural behavior". Gradually, all the countries, including Nonchristian, have adopted many of these values and they became truly universal. Thus, all our world, during last 2000 years adheres to the Christian values and this why our culture and a civilization is called the Christian culture  [П3].

4 -- The Spreading of Christianity

4.1 In the East. The Orthodox Christianity gradually expanded into the Middle East and in the Eastern Europe. There, in many countries already existed well developed pagan culture -- for example in Greece. In this way the Christianity christianized the already existing culture.

4.2 In the West. In the West the events developed differently. Here, in the Rome, as well as in Greece, there was already a well developed culture. Romans were conquerors and at that time their dominions have reached Palestine. They were characterized by good organization, aggression, militancy, aggressive politics, pride [arrogance], etc. Despite the fact that they become Christian in the 1-st century, they still could not overcome their basic negative qualities. Therefore, the Roman Church from the earliest times was characterized by the same qualities. After, when it spread across all western Europe, these qualities were also transferred to their people.
     One of the consequences of pride is that all western peoples do not like each other and also the foreigners. Their aggressive politics can be seen in the fact that all countries, even the small ones, had colonies. In these colonies they behaved unseemly, humiliated the natives and robed them as much as they could. They justified their behavior that they were bringing the enlightment to these people. This condition continued until the Second World War after which the colonists have been expelled from their colonies.
     All this affected very much the Western Churches (Roman and Protestant). They are also characterized by pride, great self-conceit and aggression. Their mission, even now consists of converting the whole world to Catholicism, including Russia. During the whole history of Russia, at any opportunity they tried to convert all Russian people into Catholic faith. Poisoned by their pride, they cannot see and understand, that Russian Orthodoxy stands spiritually much higher than the Catholicism.

4.3 In Russia. In Russia the situation was totally different. Slavic tribes had no writing and consequently had no established culture. With acceptance of Christianity (988 ) they are making a big jump forward. They received the alphabet and the Law. From them the literature develops, the history begins to be recorded, the art develops, the Holy Scripture is studied, the travel abroad begins and the acquaintence with other peoples.
     It is necessary to note, that when the Orthodox faith come to the Russian land it was well established. After the 7-th Ecumenical Council (787), all Church questions were already solved and Russians received an Orthodox stronghold. There were already monks, monasteries, many saints, startsy [spiritual fathers], the Orthodox centers in Jerusalem and on the mountain of Athos, the rich spiritual literature, etc. The West adopted Christianity in the 1-st century, when all this still did not exist, plus there were constantly Church disputes up to the very 7-th Ecumenical Council. This fact is very significant in order to understand the difference between the western Christianity and eastern (Orthodox). All Russian culture based on Orthodoxy and it, during many centuries, molded Russian character in the Orthodox-Christian spirit  [П4].

5 -- Present Situation

5.1 In the West. In the West, due to the deviations from Christian teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and multitude of deficient Protestant groups and sects, for a long time there is a gradual dechristianization of the western society. This became very obvious with the beginning of the "cultural revolution" in 1960th. The Cultural revolution is appearing more or less spontaneously, but its main carriers are former youth which participated in "flower children" movement. Now they are already in their mature years. Basically they are liberals, conceited and impractical dreamers who are coming up with all kinds of unproven theories. They are opposed to Christianity, for pagan religions, against Anglo-Saxons, for special minorities (Indians, Mexicans, Hindus, etc.), for sexual permissiveness, for sodomites, for abortions, against elderly and in general advocate new moral base for a society. This infection has flooded all schools, mass-media and even Churches. Some Orthodox Churches also fell under their influence. ROCOR, until now, stands firmly on the ascetic Orthodox base. This movement extends now worldwide, in particular in the English-speaking countries and in the western Europe, together with in the East Europe and Russia.
     Presently we are witnessing how the society teaches negative qualities to people, which in turn are pulling them into a moral abyss. These are pride [arrogance], selfishness, materialism, unbelief, promiscuity, etc.

5.2 In Russia. In Russia, during 74 years, there was the government which was not only godless, but also it persecuted all religions. In 1991, on the holy day of Transfiguration of the Lord (on August, 19th) the regime has fallen and the new government rejected atheism. Since that time the Church gradually became stronger. Many churches and monasteries were built, numerous spiritual literature was published. On one hand there is a tremendous spiritual and religious revival. On the other hand some former atheists, together with their supporters, have joined in struggle against Christianity and the Church on the wings of the Cultural Revolution, which is infiltrating Russia through the western channels.

5.3 Nonchristian Countries. During 2000 years, nonchristian religions, who came in contacts with Christian religion and culture, have shaped up, and rejected ugly forms and accepted many Christian values. With the falling of morals in the West they, in some cases, became on a higher moral level than western Christians. This fact is used by some of their leaders who are beginning to come out, teach and lure Christians to their side. People are cut off from the facts about the Church, begin to trust them and as a result there is a confusion in the heads of Christians. Eventually some of them join the nonchristian sects.

5.4  The View of the Nonbelievers on Conscience. The non-believers argue that conscience is not inborn, and that the society teaches it, since it is necessary for the survival. But this does not explain why sometimes people sacrifice their life to rescue others. In general, in reasoning of the nonbelievers one can always find a logical or some other error.
     For sinful people the conscience interferes with their life. To people who like to sin and do not understand its destructive action the conscience interferes with their life. Therefore, they in every possible way try to extinguish it. For example, the liberal psychologists and similar professions are saying that the conscience is a "psychological complex", which is necessary to eliminate and that it is an indication of an unbalance. If the person is experiencing a remorse for some action, usually he is told that he is not guilty, that he is only a person, that other people are doing it too, and so on.
     Unfortunately this view is now taught in all secular schools [П5].

    15/28 июля 2005 г.
    Св. Равноапостольнаго великого князя Владимира
    просветителя Руси


Примечания
[1] Эта работа была написана для учеников Церковно-Приходской Гимназии как введение в Историю Христианской Церкви.

Литература на наших эл. стр.
[П1] Conscience, Morality and Religion
Christian Morality. (1) Conscience [ДД-64.5а(1)]
Christian Morality (ДД-64.5а)
Истоки нравственности (ДД-58)
[П2] Ancient Times
Beneficial Influence of Christianity (ДД-06ра)
Teaching of Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.4а)
[П3] Christianity
Beneficial Influence of Christianity (ДД-06ра)
Life of Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.1ра)
Miracles of Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.2ра)
Parables of Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.3ра)
Teaching of Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.4ра)
Христианское нравоучение. (4) Закон Божий [ДД-64.5(4)]
История Христианской Церкви. Обзор (ДД-13)
History of the Christian Church, Outline (ДД-13а)
История Христианской Церкви (по Смирнову) [ДД-13.2, ЦГ4-1(0)]
История Христианской Церкви (протоиерей Смирнов. 1903 г.) (ДД-68р)
Что такое христианство? (ДД-38)
Составляющие христианства (ДД-38.2)
Как создавалась христианская вера (ДД-38.3)
Что такое Священное Писание или Библия (ДД-38.4)
Нагорная проповедь (ДД-38.5)
[П4] Распространение христианства
смотри тоже [П3] Христианство
История Русской Церкви (ДД-14.0)
Православие и Протестантизм (ДД-16)
Что такое гордыня (ДД-45)
[П5] Положение сейчас
Крайне-либеральная культурная революция (ЗЗ-12)

Learn Russian Alphabet in Two Hours (RBS-03)


Духовный листок «Дорога домой. Выпуск ДД-13.3а -
Введение в Историю Христианской Церкви»
Храм всех Святых в Земле Российской просиявших (АНМ),
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Church of all Russian Saints (ANM),
744 El Camino Real, Burlingame, California 94010-5005
эл. стр.: http://www.dorogadomoj.com/
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