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link to PEOPLE OF RECENT INFLUENCE
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Plato(427-347 BC) Quotations Plato(427-347 BC) Quotations

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.
When men speak ill of you, live so that nobody may believe them.
The greatest wealth is to live content with little.
Courage is knowing what not to fear.
Love is a serious mental disease.
Ignorance is the root and stem of all evil.
At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.
A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.
For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.
There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honour, and lovers of gain.

All men are by nature equal, made all of the same earth by one Workman;
and however we deceive ourselves, the poor peasant is as dear unto God as the mighty prince.

Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral,
or is it moral because it is commanded by God?
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Polycarp of Smyrna (69 - 155) Polycarp of Smyrna (69 - 155)



Polycarp of Smyrna (69 - 155)
Polycarp was a Christian bishop of Smyrna (now in Turkey).
It is recorded that he had been a disciple of John.
Which John is unknown, but many plumb for the Gospel writer
Traditional advocates follow Eusebius of Caesarea in this.

Polycarp tried and failed to persuade Pope Anicetus to have the West
celebrate Passover on the 14th of Nisan, as in the Eastern calendar.
Around A.D. 155, the Smyrnans of his town demanded Polycarp's execution
as a Christian, and he died a martyr, with a range of associated miracles.
Polycarp is recognized as a saint in both the RC and Orthodox churches.





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Clement of Rome (c 100 AD) Clement of Rome (c 100 AD)



The First Epistle of Clement (c.96), is the earliest extant epistle from a Church Father.
In the epistle, Clement calls on the Christians of Corinth to maintain harmony and order.
Copied and widely read in the Early Church,
First Clement had been considered by some as part of the New Testament canon.







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Ignatius of Antioch(c35 - 110 AD) Ignatius of Antioch(c35- 110 AD)



Ignatius of Antioch was the third bishop of Antioch and a student of the Apostle John.
En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters to churches in:
Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, Smyrna and finally
to Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna who gathered all the letters
and disseminated them as a group.

The Letters are filled with warnings against false teaching and pleas for unity.
The style of the letters is similar to that of Paul, as is much of the teaching.

His letters show that a church hierarchy was already developing
with the position of bishop coming to prominence.
In the letter to the church at Smyrna (where Polycarp was bishop), he wrote,
"Follow, all of you, the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father.
It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast."
Ignatius is the first to use the term catholic to refer to the universal church
and the first writer outside of the New Testament to refer to the virgin birth.

His letters also show that, early on at least in his churches,
the church believed in the deity of Christ and His resurrection,
as is also evidenced in John's Gospel.

In his letter to the Ephesians he wrote
"> "...our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable,
the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son.
We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word,
before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For the Word was made flesh."
This has beens taken as a clear reference to a Trinitarian theology!


There is some suspicion that the letters were written much later and from another hand,
Many of the details of his journey do not fit the time at which they would have been written
and much of the theology does not match that of the period.






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Justin Martyr (100-165 CE) Justin Martyr (100-165 CE)

Justin is canonized as a saint who died as a martyr for the Christian faith.
He is considered the foremost early interpreter of the theory of the Logos,
and is the foundation of our current understanding of the term.

Justin Martyr was born in Palestine into a pagan family.
He studied and taught as a Platonic philosopher before converting to Christianity around the age of thirty.
While he is best remembered for his martyrdom at the hands of Rome, Justin also shaped church doctrine,
by giving the church the Logos Christology, which is the doctrine of the Incarnation in its earliest form.
Justin interprets the logos of John 1:1-14 to be a consciously pre-existent spirit being
who consented to become a human being by entering the womb of Mary.

Justin alleges that the Hebrew scriptures inspired Plato to devise the pre-existent Logos.
Having thus legitimized the Platonic paradigm,
the apologist builds his Christology around the Greek notion of literal pre-existence
and interweaves it with Philo's theory that the OT angel of the LORD
is one and the same as the OT logos of the LORD.

Justin views the Father as the only unbegotten, unutterable God,
while Jesus is God in that he is the first-begotten of all creatures.
In other words, Justin views Jesus through the Platonic lens of a subordinate God:
"There is said to be another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things;
who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things,
above whom there is no other God, wishes to announce to them."

The role of Justin's Logos Christology in shaping mainstream Christian doctrine can hardly be overstated.
Many future fathers of the church, including Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Eusebius of Caesarea,
would cite Justin's works to support their own theological treatises.
His Christology would become the foundation upon which all future speculation
about the nature of Jesus Christ was built during the later church councils.
But his view of Christ as a second and subordinate God would eventually
be judged heretical by the very doctrine he helped construct.

Another prominent Church Father, Clement of Alexandria, said much the same about Platonic thought
"it is clear, therefore, that the Jews were given the law, and to the Greeks philosophy,
but both can point to truth."

Other ideas of Justin include:

Forgiveness can only be had with fasting:

Satan only sinned after Jesus came to earth.
Irenaeus (another early church father) wrote:
"before the Lord's appearance Satan never dared to blaspheme God,
"

Conditional immortality (the soul is not in itself eternal)
But I do not say that all souls die;
for that were truly a piece of good fortune to the evil.
What then? The souls of the pious remain in a better place,
while those of the unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for judgment.









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Marcion of Rome ( 100? - 200?) Marcion of Rome ( 100? - 200?)

Marcion was sure Christianity had been spoilt by the tribe of Judaizers,
and revised his own versions of the gospels to expunge all trace of their influence.
For Marcion the true gospel was Luke’s which had really been revealed to Paul,
though even Luke had been interpolated in part by the Judaizers.
Many Roman Christians agreed with Marcion but the leadership of the Church
and particularly Justin who had written his book against heresies
refuted Marcion and excommunicated him as a troublemaker.
Yet by choosing only particular works that Christians could read, Marcion began the Christian canon.
Marcion believed the creator was only just, not good,
and that the world was wicked.
The Supreme God sent his son to rescue humanity,
and the lesser Just God killed him in error.
His punishment was that he had to let the Good God have the souls of all who believed in him.
Jesus had paid for all these souls on the cross.



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Irenaeus of Lyons ( 130 - c. 202) Irenaeus of Lyons ( 130 - c. 202)



Irenaeus was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyon(s), France.
His writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology,
and he is probably the most influential figure in developing the ideas
that form the basis of our present evangelical beliefs
ecclesisatical authority and church structures.

He saw all truth as available in the church, so that seeking further was vain.
It was to the church succession that the Apostles left their message and authority.
He is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
He was a notable early Christian apologist. He was also a disciple of Polycarp.

His best-known book, Against Heresies (c.180) enumerated heresies and attacked them.
Irenaeus wrote that the only way for Christians to retain unity was
to humbly accept one doctrinal authority, the episcopal councils.

Irenaeus insisted that Christians would be raised from the dead in fleshly bodies.

Before Irenaeus, Christians differed as to which gospel they preferred.
The Christians of Asia Minor preferred the Gospel of John.
The Gospel of Matthew was the most popular overall.
Irenaeus asserted that four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were canonical,
possibly in reaction to Marcion's insistence that only Luke's was truth.

He argued that his conception of orthodox Christianity was passed down to him from the apostles who knew Jesus personally,
while the Gnostics and Marcionites were distorting this apostolic tradition.
Book 1: I. Valentinus, II. the Propator, III. the misuse of the Bible, IV. the mother Achamoth,
V. the Demiurge, VI. The threefold man, VII. against the incarnation,
VIII. the Valentinians misuse of the Bible, IX. refutation by Irenaeus, X. the unity of the church,
XI. Valentinus' disciples and others. XII. Ptolemy (gnostic) and Colorbasus. XIII. Marcus (Marcosian).
XIV. letters and syllables. XV. Sige on the twenty-four elements. XVI. the Marcosians.
XVII. Marcosians. XVIII. Misuse of passages from Genesis. XIX. misuse of Bible XX. apocryphal scriptures,
XXI. the heretics on redemption, XXII. deviations from the truth. XXIII. Simon Magus and Menander.
XXIV. Saturninus and Basilides. XXV. Carpocrates. XXVI. Cerinthus, the Ebionites, and Nicolaitans.
XXVII. Cerdo and Marcion. XXVIII. Tatian, the Encratites. XXIX. Borborians. XXX. Ophites and Sethians Book 2: A rebuttal of the Gnostic systems employing philosophical arguments primarily rather than employing Scripture.
Book 3: Rebuttal based on apostolic succession and tradition passed down of the faith;
defense of the incarnation of Jesus; defense of the virgin birth. Book 4: Demonstration that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament.
Book 5: A defense of the physical resurrection and eternal judgement.






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Tertullian of Carthage (160-225 CE) Tertullian of Carthage (160-225 CE)



Tertullian was a Christian apologist who is known as the greatest theologian of the West until Augustine
He was the first to use the term Trinitas (trinity) to describe the Godhead.
While others had developed the idea of the Trinity before it was Tertullian who first wrote down the term
that is today considered one of the most essential and sacred words of the Christian faith, it seems.

Forgiveness is almost impossible.
Tertullian never admitted the possibility that God might pardon freely
He also promoted many anti-sex arguments (even sex within marriage), asking
" whether we do not, in that very heat of extreme gratification when the generative fluid is ejected,
feel that somewhat of our soul has gone from us?"

The beauty of women is evil, and jewelry/clothes were made by demons.
Tertulian wrote that
"the angels who fell from heaven invented jewelry and for this they were condemned to death."
And "The beauty of women was so great it turned the angels away from God.
Once they were contaminated they could not go to heaven
from their seed giants are supposed to have been born,
and it was they who taught people how to dye wool."

From his misogynistic view of women, he said
"Do you not know that you are Eve?
The judgment of God upon this sex lives on in this age;
therefore, necessarily the guilt should live on also.
You are the gateway of the devil; you are the one who unseals the curse of that tree,
and you are the first one to turn your back on the divine law;
you are the one who persuaded him whom the devil was not capable of corrupting;
you easily destroyed the image of God, Adam. 
Because of what you deserve, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die."

Golly! and this is a foundational father of our church!!
He is even termed "the Father of Latin Theologyń !




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Bishop Sabellius (approx 220) Bishop Sabellius (approx 220)

Sabellius taught that God was single and indivisible,
with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being three modes or manifestations of one divine Person.
The One God successively revealed Himself to man throughout time as the Father in Creation;
the Son in Redemption; and the Spirit in Sanctification and Regeneration.

This understanding has been called Sabellianism and modalistic monarchianism.
The suggestion of development and change within the Godhead was seen as contradicting the concept of impassibility.
It also stood in contrast to the position of distinct persons existing within a single godhead
Father, Son and Spirit are seen as different "modes" (hence the term "modalism").
More importantly it stood against the Trinitarian teaching that God was one God.

" Just as the sun has three powers (warmth, light, and circular form),
so God has three aspects: the warming power answers to the Holy Spirit;
the illuminating power, to the Son; and the form or figure, to the Father."


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Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE) Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE)

Origen was said to be "the first true theologian and Bible scholar of the Church."
He translated scriptures, conducted studies, and wrote 6,000 scrolls of commentaries/sermons.
His studies were later used to decide which books were canonical.

He was read and accepted by everyone in the early church.
Bishops would call him in to defend Christianity
in public debate against the heretics.

His ideas included:
The Bible contains three layers of meaning.
Origen spoke of a threefold sense of scripture: body, soul, and spirit.
The bodily sense supposedly involved the literal, the outward, the external events.
The soul sense dealt with all of man's personal relationship and experiences with his fellow men.
The spiritual sense concerned mans relationship to God and Gods relationship to himself,
his world, and especially to mankind.

Rigid asceticism.
Origen lived the life of a devoted ascetic, sleeping little and eating meagre meals.
There are some reports of him actually castrating himself, as Jesus commanded.

Universalism (everyone gets saved through Jesus in the end)
Origen was a prominent believer in the universal reconciliation of all creatures to God.
He spoke of all souls being restored to God.

Everything in Origen's theology ultimately turns upon the goodness of God and the freedom of the creature.
The transcendent God is the source of all existence and is good, just, and omnipotent.
In overflowing love, God created rational and spiritual beings through the Logos (Word);
this creative act involves a degree of self-limitation on God’s part.
In relation to the created order, God is both conditioned and unconditioned,
free and under necessity, since he is both transcendent to and immanently active in it.
Does this not seem logically absurd and therefore untrue?
In one sense, the cosmos is eternally necessary to God since one cannot conceive such goodness and power as inactive at any time.
Yet in another sense, the cosmos is not necessary to God but is dependent on his will, to which it also owes its continued existence.
Origen was aware that there is no solution of this dilemma.
Surely he should therefore realise that he has taken a false path!

The rational beings, however, neglected to adore God and fell.
The material world was created by God as a means of discipline
and its natural catastrophes such as earthquakes and plagues
remind man that this world is not his ultimate destiny.

Origen speculated that souls fell varying distances,
some to be angels, some descending into human bodies,
and the most wicked becoming devils.

Redemption is a grand education by providence, restoring all souls to their original blessedness,
for none, not even Satan, is so depraved and has so lost rationality and freedom as to be beyond redemption.
God never coerces, though with reformative intention he may punish.
His punishments are remedial; even if simple believers may need to think of them as retributive,
this is pedagogic accommodation to inferior capacity, not the truth.





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Paul of Samosata (200-275) Paul of Samosata (200-275)

Paul was Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268 and later deemed a heretic.
In common with other "heretics" he was accused of corruption and other failings!
The clergy attempted to depose him, though without consulting the people or the local ruler.
When the ruler changed, Paul was eventually removed.

Paul emphasised the oneness of God and that Jesus was born a mere man.
Jesus was not God become man, but man infused with God.
This theology is known as "adoptionism", and was the root of Paulianism.
I find it attractive, and very much in line with what Jesus said.





Arius
Arius (250-336) Arius (250-336)

Reconstructing the life and doctrine of Arius has proven to be a difficult task,
as none of his original writings survived.
The Arianism theme is summarised by:
"If the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence:
and from this it is evident, that there was a time when the Son was not.
It therefore necessarily follows, that he [the Son] had his substance from nothing, as any man."

This followed the general ideas of Origen, but was condemned as heresy by some.
The ideas of Arius split the church theologians into two camps .
This led to the council of Nicea where Arius was deemed a heretic and his writings burnt.
The council concluded that the Father, Son and Spirit were of one essence.





Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea (260-340) Eusebius of Caesarea (260-340)

Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea, was a historian, author, and theologian.
He supported Arius at the council of Nicea, but, being a favourite of Constantine, escaped censure.
Throughout his life he contended with Anthanasius and other Nicean bishops.
He wrote a version of the NT divided into paragraphs and illustrated.
He also wrote a first History of the Christian Church.


Athanasius
Athanasius of Alexandria (293-373) Athanasius of Alexandria (293-373)

He was the chief defender of, what was to become, Christian orthodoxy
in the 4th-century battle against Arianism,
the concept that Christ was a creature like, but not of the same, substance as God the Father.
He wasa rabble rouser and aggressive opponent in discussion,
who spent much of his life in exile from his diocese
for his theological instance of the equality of God and Christ.
He triumphed the council of Nicea in 325AD and his ideas have become orthodox doctrine.





Augustine of Hippo
St Augustine of Hippo St Augustine of Hippo

Initially, body and soul two elements were in perfect harmony.
Since the fall of humanity they have experienced dramatic combat between one another.
The body is a 3-D object composed of the four elements, whereas the soul has no spatial dimensions.

Augustine argued that God had created everything in the universe simultaneously.
He said the six-day structure of creation presented in Genesis represents a logical framework,
rather than the passage of time in a physical way.
It bears a spiritual, rather than physical, meaning.

Augustine's understanding of the consequences of original sin
and the necessity of redeeming grace was developed in the struggle against Pelagius
who refused to agree that original sin wounded human will and mind,
insisting human nature was given the power to act, to speak, and to think when God created it.
Human nature cannot lose its moral capacity for doing good.

Augustine said that the sin of pride consists in assuming
we are the ones who choose God or that God chooses us (in his foreknowledge) because of
something worthy in us, and argued that God's grace causes the individual act of faith.





Chrysostom
John Chrysostom (347-507) John Chrysostom (347-507)


John Chrysostom was an important Early Church Father who served as archbishop of Constantinople.
He is known for his preaching and public speaking

His denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders,
angered the wealthy and the influential, who arranged for him to be exiled.

John also spoke with an unusual degree of vitriol and abhorrence against Jews.
Building on the anti-Jewish polemics of other doctors of the church,
John sought to prevent his Christian flock from observing Jewish customs
and attacked the teachings of Judaism and the Jewish way of life.
In addition to accusing the "morally degenerate" Jews of having viciously assassinated Christ,
he also accused contemporary Jews of missionary activity that threatened Christian efforts,
establishing them as an active force against the church.
His sermons underscore the potential for violence as an outflow of the early church's need
to establish its theological and social authority.






Pelagius
Pelagius (354-418) Pelagius (354-418)

Pelagius was convinced that people had within them the ability to avoid corrupt behavior
and choose righteous living even without the help of God's grace.
According to his theology, people are not naturally sinful,
but can live holy lives in harmony with God's will and thereby earn salvation.
He denied original sin.

In AD 417, Pelagius was excommunicated by Pope Innocent I and then condemned as a heretic>
Pelagianism continued to expand and was officially condemned again twice,
by the Council of Ephesus in AD 431 and once again at Orange in AD 526.














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PEOPLE OF RECENT INFLUENCE