Partakers Christian Podcasts

Dave Roberts


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Partakers Prayers 15 August 2022 - Ukraine Russia War Молитви за Україну - Molytvy za Ukrayinu

  G'day! Today we are praying a series of prayers concerning the Ukraine Russian conflict and war. Молитви за Україну / Molytvy za Ukrayinu Come! Let's pray together! Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 15
Psalm On Demand - Psalm 92

Psalm 92 A Psalm. A song for the Sabbath day. 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks to Yahweh, to sing praises to your name, Most High; 92:2 to proclaim your loving kindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night, 92:3 with the ten-stringed lute, with the harp, and with the melody of the lyre. 92:4 For you, Yahweh, have made me glad through your work. I will triumph in the works of your hands. 92:5 How great are your works, Yahweh! Your thoughts are very deep. 92:6 A senseless man doesn't know, neither does a fool understand this: 92:7 though the wicked spring up as the grass, and all the evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever. 92:8 But you, Yahweh, are on high forevermore. 92:9 For, behold, your enemies, Yahweh, for, behold, your enemies shall perish. All the evildoers will be scattered. 92:10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox. I am anointed with fresh oil. 92:11 My eye has also seen my enemies. My ears have heard of the wicked enemies who rise up against me. 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 92:13 They are planted in Yahweh's house. They will flourish in our God's courts. 92:14 They will still bring forth fruit in old age. They will be full of sap and green, 92:15 to show that Yahweh is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Tap or click here to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file You can now purchase our Partakers books! Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Aug 11
Church History Part 28

Part 28 The Church at the start of the Age of Reason The 18th century is widely regarded as the ‘Age of Reason’ – the age of scientific discovery. Science was discovering the natural laws that governed the earth. With the advent of the theory of evolution, the idea of a supernatural world was dispensed with. Quickly God had become merely at best an impersonal observer and the supernatural, spiritual worlds and the divine inspiration of Scriptures were being denied. Within general society, the 'need for God' disappeared as science and philosophy felt they could explain everything without the need of a God or gods. For the church, this was a century of stagnation and decay. In the USA, the original evangelical fervour had faded into commerce and prosperity. However, there were glimpses of the Church being empowered. Not all was lost! There were still glimmers of the church still being alive! In the mid-18th century there was a spiritual revival throughout the USA and Britain. America – In America, there was the Great Awakening! Revival started in 1730 under the passionate and spiritual preaching of Jonathon Edwards. He was followed by George Whitfield, an Englishman who waited for 6 weeks in 1740 and preached to crowds of thousands. Many thousands turned to the church and became Christians during this time of revival. Jonathon Edwards (1703 – 1758) – Edwards’ conversion took place when one day he was reading 1 Timothy 1:17 “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Later in life he looked back and wrote "As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before… I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven; and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever!" You can see the reference in it's context by clicking here  As regards to his approach to science, rather than scurrying away from it as many church leaders did, Edwards like some others, embraced it! As he went on in life, while many in the church found that science was pushing them to an impersonal view of God, Edwards went the other way. He embraced the natural world as evidence of God’s craftsmanship and design. He went on to become perhaps America’s finest philosopher and thinking as well as a mighty preacher and church leader. Wales – In Wales, revival broke out in the Church of England in 1738-1742 under the divinely inspired preaching of Howell Harris and Griffith Jones. It was during this time that George Whitefield was converted before he went to the USA to preach the same gospel there! England – Perhaps the greatest names in England were the Wesley brothers - John (1703 - 1791) and Charles (1707 - 1788)! Together they revitalised a church quickly stagnating! Open air preaching, vibrant songs and zealous sermons were their hallmarks. At the heart of their preaching and hymnody were these thoughts “Justifying faith implies, not only a divine evidence or conviction that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, but a sure trust and confidence that Christ died for my sins, that He loved me and gave Himself for me.” You can see the reference in it's context by clicking here Many came to faith because of them, and these people were discipled methodically. Together they founded the Methodist movement which gave birth to the Methodist denomination. The church is almost 1800 years old now. The Holy Spirit is still at work, empowering the church despite the Age of Reasoning and the ignorance of the spiritual aspects of life. That’s it for this time! That is the conclusion of our series HAHA! I hope you have enjoyed this speedy journey in the life of the Church! The story of the Church continues, and will continue until the object and source of the Church’s faith, Jesus Christ returns in glory just as He has promised to do!  Tap or click here to download and save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 10
Church History Part 27

Part 27 The Church in the Stuart Period Last time we looked at the Protestant Reformation gathering apace in 16th century England. The main issue in the 16th century, as we saw together was “None but Christ saves” - that the Gospel is good news for all of humanity, that nobody can earn their salvation, but rather salvation is a free gift from God for all those who choose to receive it. The main issue in the 17th century however, was 'None but Christ reigns'. The Stuart monarchy promoted the 'Divine Right of Kings', the God given authority to rule country and church. James VI of Scotland became king in 1567, and tried to re-establish the Episcopalian system, undermining the Presbyterian system. In 1603, he became the King of England as well and became James I of England. The Scots never accepted his authority over the church and fought to maintain religious freedom. James and his son Charles harassed the Puritans and drove many out of the country to Holland. King James I however did authorise a new translation of the Bible – what we today know as the King James Version or Authorised Version. National Covenant - The Archbishop of Canterbury tried to impose a new system of Church Government (Episcopalian) on Scotland, but the Scots rejected this and many signed a national covenant to maintain the freedom of the Presbyterian Church. 1638 - The General Assembly of the Church to establish who was head. The people led by Henderson accepted the king as king, but not as the head of the church. War broke out and the Scots, under General Alexander Leslie, defeated Charles in 1640. 1643 - Both the English and Scottish Parliaments signed a Covenant binding themselves to seek the reformation of religion along Reformed lines. 1643-49 - The Westminster Assembly of divines met to establish a basis for a united church in Britain. The Westminster Confession of Faith became the statement of faith for the Presbyterian Church. The Puritans - Many Christians wanted greater reformation in the Church, following Calvin's model of Church Government and worship. Some separated from the Church of England altogether because they were considered still to be too closely attached with the Roman Catholic Church. . They formed distinctive groups embracing a greater purity of worship, doctrine and personal piety. Some went so far as to totally separate themselves from all other Christians and started autonomous local gatherings of believers. These independent churches were the beginning of the Congregational Church. The Separatists -  These Separatists were persecuted by both the Roman Catholic & Protestant churches, and many were driven out of England to Holland were there was great religious freedom. They were hounded out of England by King James I and then by King Charles. Many left for Holland. However in 1620, some returned to England and left for America (New England) on the Mayflower. They wanted a new land where they could worship God with total freedom and virtually establish His kingdom on earth. By 1643 some 20,000 had arrived resulting in America's origins being deeply religious. The Baptists - Some of these Puritans maintained believers baptism by immersion was also essential. This started John Smyth in an independent church in Holland. A remnant of this church returned to England, and established the first Baptist Church, resulting in over 300 churches in England by 1660. That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will look at the last of this series - the church in the 18th century confronted by the Age of Reason and scientific materialism! Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century. Tap or click here to download and save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 09
Church History Part 26

Part 26 Reformation 3 - England Here We Come! We are now in England in the early 16th century! However Protestantism had commenced earlier in the 14th century with John Wyclif who we looked at back in episode 22. Wyclif was the 'Morning Star of the English Reformation', who had a great desire to ensure that the Bible was made available to everyone in their own language. So a strong evangelical protest started with Wyclif. King Henry VIII  In the late 1520s King Henry 8th as head of the Roman Catholic Church in England, broke away from the Church in Rome. He broke away because he wanted a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, which Pope Clement VII refused to accept. Earlier, in the year 1521, Clement had recognised Henry as the 'Defender of the Faith' for his writings against Martin Luther. Pope Clement VII was known for his intolerance of Protestants and his main method of evangelisation was through coercion and force if necessary. In 1531 Henry prevented the English clergy from dealing with Rome under an Act of Parliament labelling this as treason. In 1534 Henry was made the 'Supreme Head of the Church of England' by the parliament. However he remained Roman Catholic in practice and doctrine. In 1532 made Thomas Cranmer the Archbishop of Canterbury – the clerical head of the Church of England. Reformation in England however continued unabated. Thomas Cranmer was a reformer and was helped by many of the Reformers driven from Europe by the Roman Catholic attacks on the Protestants. William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English and this made a significant impact. Edward VI (1547-1553) became the king at the age of 10, and ruled for 6 years. He was well trained by Cranmer. He allowed religious freedom, and he published with the help of Cranmer, the 1st and 2nd Prayer Books. Then there was a change back again! Mary Tudor "Queen Bloody Mary" (1553-1558). Mary was a fanatical Roman Catholic and set out to re-establish the Roman Catholic Church. She put to death many bishops including Cranmer. She marred Charles V son (Spain) to bring all of Christendom under Spanish power. In 1554, she resubmitted England to Papal authority. Queen Elizabeth (1559-1603). As a daughter of Henry VIII second wife, Anne Boleyn, she was not recognised by the Pope. She was not in full agreement with the Reforming Protestants, but maintained Protestant leanings. She influenced preparation of the 39 Articles of Communion, largely prepared by Cranmer, which were less reformed as a result. In 1559, she became 'Governor of the Church of England'. She defeated the Spanish Armada, with the help of Sir Francis Drake, who were attacking in order to bring England back under Spanish and Roman Catholic control. This strengthened the Protestant cause in England. The main issue in the 14th to 16th centuries, as we have seen was 'None but Christ saves'. That is, that the Gospel is good news for all of humanity. Nobody can earn their salvation, but rather salvation is a free gift from God for all those who choose to receive it. This is a far cry from the excesses of Church dogma to date and closer to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the early church. Tap or Click here to download/save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 08
Church History Part 25

Part 25 Reformation 2 - Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin and Persecution Today we continue with the Protestant Reformation by looking briefly at two other giants of that time – the Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli and the French Reformer, John Calvin. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) Zwingli was a Swiss reformer independent of Luther who was greatly influenced strongly by the teachings of Erasmus. He was born during a period of time when Swiss national patriotism was emerging. After studying humanities before taking on the role of pastor in a church in Glarus and later in Einsiedeln. It was in 1518 that Zwingli became pastor of Grossmunster in Zurich. Here he preached about reforming the Roman Catholic church. He was particularly critical of fasting during Lent, church hierarchy, clerical celibacy and the use of image in worship. In 1525, he produced a new liturgy to replace the Roman Catholic liturgy. These ideas soon came to the attention of Martin Luther and other reformers. When they met, they did agree on many things but differed on several y matters. Zwingli taught that the Lord's Supper was purely symbolic and the elements of bread and wine did not change literally into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ and nor did they at any point contain the real presence of Jesus Christ. His reforms went from Switzerland to France, Scotland, Hungary, Holland, Germany, England, Puritans). Zwingli was killed in 1531 during an attack by his enemies within the Roman Catholic church on a food blockade supported by him. Zwingli’s theology held the supremacy of the Bible, being the inspired word of God, over the teachings of humans such as the Church Councils and Church Fathers. Concerning baptism, Zwingli differed from the Anabaptists who promote adult baptism only. Zwingli taught that the baptism of children was valid, describing that it was symbolic of God’s covenant with the Christian, much the same as it was when God made His covenant with Abraham. He also promoted a non-Roman Catholic view of Church Government and Worship. Zwingli thought that the government was instituted by God and that they governed with divine approval. He taught that Christians were obliged to be obedient to their governments but to be disobedient only when the government acted in a manner to God’s will. John Calvin Our next giant is John Calvin! He was French and greatly influenced by Martin Luther. Trained as a lawyer, he broke away from the Roman Catholic church in 1530. During persecution by the Roman Catholic church on the reformation movement, Protestants, Calvin fled to Switzerland. There, in 1536, Calvin published the first edition of his now famous “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Calvin went onto introduce new forms of church government and worship liturgy despite opposition from secular authorities and people of power. In his final years, Calvin continued unabatedly to promote the Reformation of the church throughout Europe. During this time he also kept busy writing commentaries and regularly preached in churches. Prime to his thinking was Augustinian teaching, leading him to propose the doctrine of predestination and the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation and damnation. Protestant persecution. While the Reformation was only in its infancy, there was intense persecution of the Reformation Protestants by the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in Spain, France and the Netherlands. Thousands of Protestants died in battle and through persecution. It was during this time that the printing press was invented and was the catalyst for the rapid promotion and distribution of these new ideas of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and others. During this time also, we have noted that there was intense theological debate between the Reforming Protestants over such things as worship, predestination, the Lord's Supper and style of Church government. During this period, the Roman Catholic Church evangelised and rapidly gained new ground and more than made up for the losses to Protestantism. The Roman Catholic church did respond with a Counter Reformation. Commencing with the Council of Trent and the beginning of the Jesuits, these were designed to counter the Reformation movement. The majority of Northern Europe became Protestant, while Central Europe sank into deep conflict. In the mid-1500's many Protestant Christians rejected both the Roman Catholic Church, and Lutheranism for not having gone far enough. They stressed personal discipleship; a daily walk with God; a principle of love and pacifism; the Church as a family not an organisation; adult baptism; congregational Church government; and the separation of Church and State, The spread through Europe and were intensely persecuted by both the Roman Catholic Church and other Protestants resulting in many deaths. One of their leaders was Menno Simons (1496-1561), whose group the Mennonites, are still functioning today. That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will look at the Reformation gathering pace - this time in England! Tap i=or click here to download and save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 07
Church History Part 24

Part 24 Reformation 1 - Martin Luther You may remember that in our series we looked briefly a the split between the Eastern and Western churches. Today we come to a greater split! A split within the Roman Catholic church – the beginnings of the Protestant church! The main person who will look at today is Martin Luther – one of the very giants of church history! . Martin Luther (1483-1546) - Professor of Biblical Studies at Wittenburg University in Germany. Luther tried to find god as an Augustinian monk but he was unable to come to terms with God's righteous demands. He eventually realised that in order to satisfy God’s righteous demands, that he could do nothing of his own to fulfil them. He came to see that justification before Almighty God was by faith alone, through grace alone, which was a gift of God. Included in the aftermath of this discovery, were these events! . __ 95 Theses - statements against indulgences nailed to the castle church door at Wittenburg on 31st October 1517. He rapidly gained a following in Germany, and was aided by the printing press. 1519 - denied the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope and Church. 1520 - excommunicated by Pope Leo X 1521 - Diet of Worms. Luther was outlawed by Emperor Charles V of Spain. He was hidden by friends for 8 months, during which he translated the N.T. into German. 1528 - Diet of Spruger. Each German state allowed to follow the religion of its reigning prince. 1529 - Diet of Speyer. Lutheran states to remain Lutheran and Catholic states to remain Catholic, not allowed to change. Evangelical princes protested at restriction and the Protestant was given to this movement. 1530 - Diet of Augsburg. Protestants submitted statement of belief witch was rejected, but became the basis of Lutheran doctrine. __ Three main truths to come out of the Reformation. __ Final authority of God's Word. Justification by faith, a gift of God's grace. __ However it should be noted that, wrongly or rightly, Luther still accepted as truth __ Infant baptism as necessary for salvation. __ Lutheranism quickly spread from Germany to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. . That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will continue looking at the great Reformers of the church! Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 06
Church History Part 23

Part 23 The Renaissance - Rebirth In the 14th and 15th centuries there was a great European revival of interest in the values of classical Greek and Roman literature, art, philosophy and politics. It started in Italy and spread throughout Europe. Scholars were called humanists as they moulded their life on the teachings of the great Greek and Roman classical literature. There was also an increase in other areas of life: scholastic freedom grew exponentially, Roman morality, paganism, the Greek New Testament and the study thereof, and many new universities throughout Europe were started. 1. Leading Spokesmen In amidst all this was the Church, which was continuing to change - and to the dismay of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, to the detriment of the established Church. Here are but 3 men – all of whom spoke brave words and lived brave lives! Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) - Italian preacher of reform and the hero of many early Protestants. He became a Dominican monk after studying humanism and medicine. He affected the masses by his preaching and transformed the lives of many intellectuals through his thinking. He showed the impurities and corruption of the Roman Catholic system and spoke against the exploitation of the poor. Savonarola was well known for speaking prophecies about civic glory and called for Christian renewal. Eventually Savonarola was excommunicated and executed for denouncing the Pope and the corrupt papal court. Here is one thing that Savonarola wrote: The Pope may err, and that in two ways, either because he is erroneously informed, or from malice. As to the latter cause we leave that to the judgment of God, and believe rather that he has been misinformed. In our own case I can prove that he has been falsely persuaded. Therefore any one who obstinately upholds the excommunication and affirms that I ought not to preach these doctrines is fighting against the kingdom of Christ, and supporting the kingdom of Satan, and is himself a heretic, and deserves to be excluded from the Christian community. John Colet (1466-1519) - a brilliant humanist at Oxford, and influenced Savonarola. He was enlightened and caused the epistles of Paul to live again in message. In 1512, as Dean of St. Paul's, he declared vicious and depraved lives of the church the worst heresy of all times which led to first reforming the bishops and it would spread to all. The church laws could not be enforced until the bishops became new men. Colet taught his students to keep the Bible and the Apostle's Creed. Here is a quote from his convocation sermon of 1512: “You are come together today, fathers and right wise men, to hold a council. In which what you will do and what matters you will handle, I do not yet know, but I wish that, at length, mindful of your name and profession, you would consider of the reformation of ecclesiastical affairs; for never was there more necessity and never did the state of the Church more need endeavors. For the Church – the spouse of Christ – which He wished to be without spot or wrinkle, is become foul and deformed.” Colet went on to conclude: “If, by chance, I should seem to have gone too far in this sermon—if I have said anything with too much warmth—forgive it me, and pardon a man speaking out of zeal, a man sorrowing for the ruin of the Church; and passing, by any foolishness of mine, consider the thing itself.” Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1467-1536) He was a student of John Colet and the greatest of all humanists. Professor of Divinity and Greek at Cambridge Uni. He aimed to reform Roman Catholic Church, from within and so didn't leave the church. As a result he was attacked by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants. The Roman Catholic Church for heretical teaching, and by the Protestants for lacking courage. In 1516, he produced the Greek version of the New Testament because he wanted to make it understood by everyone. He was educated by Brethren of the Common Life, was ordained as a Priest in 1492 and laid the egg which Martin Luther later hatched. 2. Modern devotional movement. In Holland and Northern Europe, during this period, there was a renewed interest in a personal devotional life with God. One such group was the 'Brethren of the Common Life', who emphasised personal devotion, poverty, chastity and obedience in a semi-monastic lifestyle. Thomas a'Kempis (1380-1471). Thomas a’ Kempis was born in Germany in 1380 to a blacksmith and a schoolmistress. In 1392, he started at school and while there encountered the devotional group, Brethren of the Common Life. From there, Thomas joined a monastery and became a prolific copyist and writer – copying by hand the Bible four times. His most noted work today though, .is the 'Imitation of Christ', still one of the most widely read devotional books, even though it is distinctly Roman Catholic in doctrine it is both scriptural and Christ-centred. The "Imitation of Christ" a devotional book divided into 4 parts. __ __ Here are some quotes from that book – ahead of its time in many ways! __ __ You can download a copy of this book for free from CCEL Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 05
Church History Part 22

Part 22 Unrest Leading To Renaissance Today we see the influence of the Church wane amidst both religious and societal turmoil and a brief look at two men rising in opposition to the Church. We are now in the 14th & 15th Century! The church has grown exponentially from the original 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. It has spread far and wide in the known world. However, this period in history shows that the Church is now declining rapidly – both numerically and in its influence. We look briefly today at the reasons for this. 1. Rapid Decline a. Avignon Popes (1309-1378) Firstly we look at that Agivnon Popes or as some term it “Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy.” Pressure from the French monarchy in conflict with the Papacy, caused the Papacy to move to Avignon, France from Rome in Italy. This was due to the elected Pope, Clement V refusing to move to Rome and remained in France, finally moving the whole of his court to Avignon in 1309. From here there were 7 successive Popes, elected by the French rather than Italians as before. b. Great Schism Now we have the ‘Great Schism’ or the ‘Western Schism’ occurred with the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. The Pope returned to Rome from France in 1377, after a riot in Rome to ensure that the next Pope was Italian in 1378. The French then elected a Pope of their own. There was much disputation and at one stage there were 3 Popes - the Avignon Pope: Benedict XIII; the Roman Pope: Gregory XII; the Pisa Pope: John XXIII. A Council was called by the Pisa Pope John XXIII in 1414 and agreement was reached as to the procedure of the election of a new Pope. All these events though caused a great loss of confidence in the Church. Wealth, corruption, immorality and the scandalous indulgences were rife throughout the Church, which led to much discontent and uncertainty. In the year 1453, Turkish Muslims attacked the Eastern Empire and the great Christian city of Constantinople fell. c. Bubonic Plague Bubonic Plague broke out in 1347 and killed one third of the Catholic west in 3 years. The Rise of national consciousness and strong monarchies developed in England, France & Spain resisting pressure from Rome. d. Rise in Personal Devotion There was in Northern Europe a growing movement around personal devotion to God, and therefore less reliance on the Church for spiritual insight. But more about that next week! It was also an area of global exploration with the likes of exploring greats of Magellan and Columbus. 2. Outspoken Critics of the Church There was also growing criticism of the church, particularly from within! John Wycliffe (1320-1384) - Wycliffe was a Priest in the Roman Catholic Church and a leading philosopher at Oxford University. He spoke out against church corruption, transubstantiation, confession to the priest and infallibility of the church & Pope. Many travelling bands of teachers and preachers were organised and sent out by him. Wycliffe is commonly described as the 'Morning Star of the English Reformation', who had a great desire to ensure that the Bible was made available to everyone in their own language. Therefore he initiated the translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, and it was completed by his followers. He was protected by the English monarchy from Church persecution and inquisition. If you read your Bible in any language but Latin and the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek - you have much to be thankful to God for the life and work of John Wycliffe! They still do great work today and you can find out more by visiting their website: To get a hint of the disturbance to the Church caused by Wyclif, here are some of the things he said. __ It is plain to me that our prelates in granting indulgences do commonly blaspheme the wisdom of God. Our clerics neither evangelize like the apostles, nor go to war like the secular lords, nor toil like labourers. __ Jan Hus (1374-1415) - The other main critic was the Bohemian man, Jan Hus. Hus was a priest in the Catholic Church and Rector of Prague University. Hus was strongly influenced by Wycliffe, and much to the chagrin of the Catholic Church hierarchy, he promoted personal devotion and piety; the supreme authority of the Bible; taught that the Church is the body of Christ and the head is Jesus Christ - not the Pope; and that only God can forgive sin, not the Church. Again, Hus was another man ahead of his time and one of the pioneers of the protestant church to come. Hus, because of his condemnation of much Church teaching and practise was imprisoned, tried, condemned and executed in 1415 following the Council of Constance. Again some quotes from this protesting pioneer: __ __ Tap or click here to download this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 04
Church History Part 21

Part 21 Rising Opposition Last time we looked at the man Thomas Aquinas before going on to see the Eastern and Western Churches separate spectacularly! Today we see rising opposition to the Roman Catholic Church – from outside it and from within! Persecution & Inquisition. In the 12th century, a number of groups started questioning important Church doctrines. Itinerant and wandering monks preached to the imagination and consciences of people. People were starting to read the Bible for themselves and also pray to God without relying on the prayers of the Clergy. Which Jesus are people to follow was in a lot of people’s minds. “Do we look to – the all-conquering ascended Christ who is ruling earth through his vicar, the Pope or do we look to the opposite of this image – the Jesus who said “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to sleep.” (Matthew 8:20) Asking questions as to why the church hierarchy feast while the common people starved? Where is the church people started questioning – is it in the sacramental institution or is it in the people? People such as Robert Grosseteste, the Bishop of Lincoln, who decried the laziness, greed and immorality of the Roman Catholic clergy. To question the Pope and the Roman Catholic church was regarded then as heresy. These people, baptized members of the church, who were questioning the Church, were seen to be turning their back on the Church. What was the church to do? The Church responded by means to purify the Church of heresy. This was conducted through trials and the Inquisition. There was some conflict within the Church itself. How can the Church, employ violence to ensure peace within society and maintain a heresy-free Church? A pure church was the Will of God – reigning through His representative on earth, the Pope. Innocent III labelled heresy, as treason in 1199. He made the Dominicans the main order to search out heresy. At the time, faith was not a private matter but a public faith upon which the whole of society was built. To commit any heresy was therefore also to commit treason against the State. Disobedience therefore against the State, was therefore also heresy. Hence a dark time in Church history with the Inquisition, which involved the deliberate and prolonged torture of both heretics and infidels. This was as a means to eliminate the heretics and maintain strict doctrine, teaching and practise. In 1224, execution by secular authorities became papal policy. Innocent IV condoned torture (1252) to 'help people find the truth'. A court went from town to town searching for heretics. An opportunity was given for confession and recantation, but the resistant were often burned at the stake. The Inquisition was extensive in Italy, Spain & France for several centuries. Arise Arnold! However, questions were starting to be raised about how far the Church had strayed from the clear Apostolic teachings of the Bible – particularly in regard to non-violence and poverty. Arnold, an Italian churchman urged the Church to sell its riches and give the proceeds to the poor – helping return the Church to its New Testament roots. He was also at the forefront of movements to overthrow the Pope. When Pope Innocent II was on tour for the Second Crusade, Arnold seized his chance and with the help of the Romans took power. Romans dreaming of a return to the glories of the Roman Empire! Arnold decreed that clergy were to live in poverty. This lasted about 10 years until Pope Hadrian IV overthrew Arnold and Arnold was executed for heresy. But his voice wasn’t alone! There were more to come. Arise Waldo! Peter Waldo of Lyons, France, was a rich merchant and converted to Christianity in 1175-1176. Soon after he gave away his wealth in order to follow Christ with a lifestyle of simplicity, poverty and preaching. He gained a large following and was approved by the Pope in 1179. A group we now call the Waldensians grew from this with a mission to the poor. Waldo sent out Christians, two by two, in order to teach and explain the Scriptures to people. Once when ordered to stop, Waldo quoted the Apostle Peter in rebuttal “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). These were laymen – not trained by the Church and therefore not allowed to go about preaching and speaking without invitation by Bishops and church hierarchy. They were a living condemnation of the Church and in 1181 they were condemned. In the year 1184 they were excommunicated. Pope Lucius III ordered their elimination by inquisition and secular punishment. They formed their 'own true' church which spread throughout most of Europe except Britain. The main objections of the Church to the Waldensians, was that they engaged in unauthorised preaching of the Bible; rejection of the intermediary role of the clergy; and the rejection of purgatory. Reformation had not yet come to the Church, particularly in matters of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. The Waldensians didn’t teach this but reformation of the Church and of Church teaching was coming. But not yet… Tap or click here to download this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 03
Church History Part 20

Part 20 Church in the Middle Ages 3 Today we continue looking there by looking at the man Thomas Aquinas before going on to see the Eastern and Western Churches fall apart spectacularly. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Thomas Aquinas was born in Italy in 1225. Starting his clerical career with the Dominicans, he quickly established himself as a theologian and philosopher of note. Indeed, he is perhaps the greatest theologian of this period. Aquinas was well noted for being an orator and debater, renowned for having a keen and quick intellect. With his intellect, he continued to attempt to reconcile faith with reason and the Scriptures. He also sought to prove the existence of God and developed the 'Five Ways', a system of natural theology. Here is a very crude summary of the “Five Ways” taken from his work “Summa Theologica”. 1. The first way is an argument from motion. It is certain, and in accordance with sense experience, that some things in this world are moved. He concludes with this section with: We are therefore bound to arrive at a first mover which is not moved by anything, and all men understand that this is God. 2. The second way is from the nature of an efficient cause. We find that there is a sequence of efficient causes in sensible things. He concludes this section with: We are therefore bound to suppose that there is a first efficient cause. And all men call this God. 3. The third way is from the nature of possibility and necessity. There are some things which may either exist or not exist, since some things come to be and pass away, and may therefore be or not be. He concludes this section with: We are therefore bound to suppose something necessary in itself, which does not owe its necessity to anything else, but which is the cause of the necessity of other things. And all men call this God. 4. The fourth way is from the degrees that occur in things, which are found to be more and less good, true, noble, and so on. He concludes this section with: There is therefore something which is the cause of the being of all things that are, as well as of their goodness and their every perfection. This we call God. 5. The fifth way is from the governance of things. We see how some things, like natural bodies, work for an end even though they have no knowledge. He concludes this section with: There is therefore an intelligent being by whom all natural things are directed to their end. This we call God. Thomism (Aquinas theology) was declared eternally valid by the Pope in 1879. You can download a copy of perhaps Aquinas’ greatest work, 'Summa Theologica' freely at Christian Classics Ethereal Library Here is one of his prayers. You will see the richness of his theology and faith – much of which formed our theology today! Perhaps you can pray it, even now! A prayer of Thomas Aquinas O Almighty and all-knowing God, Who is without beginning or end! Who is the giver, preserver, and rewarder of all virtue! Grant me to stand firm on the solid foundation of faith, be protected by the invincible shield of hope, and be adorned by the nuptial garment of charity. Grant me by justice to obey you, by prudence to resist the crafts of the Devil, by temperance to hold to moderation, by fortitude to bear adversity with patience. Grant that the goods I have I may share liberally with those who have not, and the goods which I do not have I may seek with humility from those who have. Grant that I may truly recognise the guilt of the evil I have done, and bear with equanimity the punishments I have deserved; that I may never lust after the goods of my neighbour, but always give thanks to you for all thy good gifts. Plant in me, O Lord, all thy virtues, that in divine matters I might be devout, in human affairs wise, and in the proper needs of the flesh onerous to no one. And grant that I may never rush to do things hastily, nor balk to do things demanding, so that I neither yearn for things too soon, nor desert things before they are finished. Eastern Orthodox Church During this time there was also upheaval coming in the Eastern church. The Slavic nations of Eastern Europe were Christianised during the 10th & 12th centuries. Christianity spread to Russia in the 10th century. According to legend, the prince Vladimir sent envoys to investigate Islam, Judaism & Christianity. They were so impressed with Christianity in Constantinople, that Vladimir ordered a mass baptism of Russians. We saw earlier in this series, how the Eastern and Western churches were moving apart. Now we approach the official parting of ways. In the year 1054, papal representatives of Pope Leo XV entered the Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. Cardinal Humbert was sent initially to work out a conciliatory agreement with the Eastern Orthodox leadership. However, while the Russian emperor was willing, the Patriarch Michael Cerularius was intractable. With similar personalities and intolerance, Ceralarius and Humbert clashed. The clash provoked Humber to issue an official document which excommunicated the Eastern Church from the Roman Catholic Church. Humber and his colleagues marched into Constantinople’s Church of Holy Wisdom and issued a Papal document excommunicating the Eastern Church. The impact of this is still felt even today. But a greater chasm was to come to the Roman Catholic church, and we will see that later in our series. Tap or click here to download this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 02
Church History Part 19

Church History Part 19 Church in the Middle Ages 2 During this time, there was a growing restlessness. Some people were starting to think about separating the church from institutional monarchies – particularly with England. The Scholastics - The papal reforms in the 11th - 13th centuries saw a rise in interest in education. The Cathedral schools surpassed the monastic schools by the 12th century. The universities rose from the Cathedral schools. Oxford, Cambridge & Paris Universities date back to this period. All education was in the hands of the Church. The great thinkers were monks or clergy. There was great debate over theology & philosophy with many attempts to harmonise the thinking of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle with theology. Anselm (1033-1109) – Anselm was born in Italy and raised in Normandy. Prior to becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, he was a Benedictine monk, teacher, and abbot before continuing his church career in England. He is renowned as a great philosopher and theologian and during his time as Archbishop saw that the church was at least partly independent from the civil government. This was very radical for its time! Such a reformer, even before the reformation to come and worked to suppress the slave trade. One of the things, amongst many, which we as 21st century church remember Anselm for is the satisfaction theory of the atonement, where God becoming man in the birth of Jesus Christ, the incarnation, guaranteed relief from God’s demands for strict divine justice. He is also renowned for being the first to use the Ontological argument for the existence of God through philosophy, rationality and logic, in the book Proslogion. He did this on the basis of "that than which nothing greater can be conceived", or if it could exist in the mind, it could therefore exist in reality. If it only existed in the mind, then something or someone greater is possible – one which exists in both mind and reality. You can read more about it here as well as download some of his writings freely by visiting the CCEL website. Thomas Beckett – Thomas Beckett was born in 1118 to a middle class family, was well educated including a time at the University of Paris. He was integrated into the household of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald and completed several missions for him. In 1154 he was ordained as a deacon and appointed archdeacon of Canterbury. With this ordination by Theobold and the king, Henry II, Beckett would have been expected to represent their interests vocally. Following the death of Theobald in 1161, King Henry II was hoping to stunt the demand for separation of church and state as well as cutting back on the power of the church. Beckett was quickly ordained a priest in 1162 before shortly after becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. Despite opposition from King Henry II and others, Thomas Beckett endeavoured to make the church independent of the government. He took a form of ascetism upon himself, resigned from working for the King and put all his efforts and work tion the interests of the church alone. This led to frequent clashes with the English monarchy and under Henry II. It subsequently led to his exile in 1164. Upon his return to England in 1170, he excommunicated several bishops who had opposed him. Later that year, he was killed in the cathedral by four knights under he orders of King Henry II. That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will finalise our look at the Middle Ages, with a look at one of the supreme thinkers of the historical Church, Thomas Aquinas, as well as looking briefly to the East and the Orthodox church. Tap or click here to download/ save this as an audio mp3 file

Aug 01
Church History Part 18

Church History - Part 18 Church in the Middle Ages 1 Today we look briefly at a monastic revival in the Middle Ages! As we saw last time, under the leadership of Hildebrande and Innocent III, there was a revival of monastic orders. Let us look briefly at some of the prime people from this period of our Church History. Cistercians This order of monks was founded in 1097 in France, the village we know now as Cîteaux, by a group of Benedictine Monks including Robert of Molesme, Alberic of Citeaux and Stephen Harding. The Cistericans are also known as the White Monks due to the colour of their clothing over which a black head-dress is worn. The Cistercians lifestyle emphasizes a manual labour rather than scholarship, an ascetic lifestyle and self-sufficiency. Many Cistercian abbeys supported themselves through brewing ales and from agriculture. One man who helped them spread rapidly throughout Europe was the next person we will learn about – Bernard of Clairvaux, who entered the monastery in the early 1100s with 30 companions. Bernard of Clairveaux (1097-1153) He was one of the most influential leaders and stressed a devotional relationship with God, and led many men into a monastic lifestyle. Here are some quotes attributed to him, which reflect this: __ __ By the end of the 12th century, wealth & laxity had crept into the monastic movement and as a result, declined rapidly. However, the preaching monks soon became more important. Preaching Monks These monks lived together under a strict rule, but went into the community to teach and preach. Friars were the most important preaching monks. Two such orders were the Franciscans (Grey Friars, Lesser Friars) and the Dominicans Francis of Assisi (1182-1276) The founder of the Franciscans was probably the man who is one of the most known monks of all. Francis was born the son of a wealthy Italian cloth merchant Pietro di Bernardone. During his early adulthood, Francis lived a typical life of most young and wealthy men, and even fought as a soldier. He had a vision when at war in 1204, which directed him back to Assisi. Here he lost his taste for his wealth and worldly life. Francis gave away his possessions to live a simple lifestyle, begging and giving to the poor and caring for the sick. He gained many followers and was given his official status by Pope Gregory IX, when on July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint. Francis’ lifestyle and teaching stressed simplicity, poverty, genuine devotion to God, preaching and charity. Here is a copy of his famous prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen. Dominicans (Black Friars, founded 1220). This order of Monks was founded by a Spanish priest, Dominic de Guzman. While he made his headquarters in Rome, he did travel widely to visit the growing brotherhood of friars under the Dominican movement. They were renowned for the fact that they owned no property and had no revenues – simply trusting in God to provide. He emphasised the Friars role of teaching and they rapidly spread throughout the lands. They quickly became known as the "Watchdogs of the Lord", and were renowned for hunting down heretics. Here are some quotes attributed to him: __ __ Tap or click here to save download this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 31
Church History Part 17

HAHA Part 17 The Papacy at its Height Today we look at the papacy at the height of its power… After Charlemagne, the church declined rapidly into its lowest point - immorality, corruption, simony (buying positions in the Church). However that was soon to change! Throughout Europe, civil authorities sought power over the church and endeavoured to limit the power of the Pope. However, reform was coming and the church started to get its own house in order. The Cluniac Monastic Movement -  This as a reform movement started by Duke William 1 in the year 910, in a monastery in Cluny, France to purify the monastic movement. Most of the needed reforms were undertaken by Odo and quickly spread throughout France, England, Spain and Italy. The catalyst for this reform was the large scale corruption with the church. Simony and concubinage were rife and resulted from secular interference and the Church’s strict integration with the ruling systems. The reforms set in place, quickly spread quickly, to over 350 houses in the 10th century. This produced many prominent leaders who set out to reform the Church. We will see more of those leaders in coming episodes of this series. In 1059, the papacy was removed from interference from secular powers. The creation of the College of Cardinals was formed to elect new Popes. Hildebrand – He is also known as Pope Gregory VII. Before he came to power, he was an archdeacon. He strongly advocated the celibacy of the clergy and attacked simony and corruption. Hildebrand fought for freedom of the church from the state. He claimed everyone was to be subject primarily to the Pope, before they were subject to the civil authorities. He had a long battle with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, and was eventually placed in exile. He did perpetuate the thought that pope was the visible head of the church and the presence of Peter in all bishops of Rome, the Pope. The church attained a state of power and authority over the lives of all people and sought to influence every aspect of their lives. The Crusades (1095 - 1270) - These were religious wars fought by the Western empire to recover Holy Land from Islam and to protect Constantinople. There were 7-8 major crusades, although this was a continual flow of people. People were offered incentives to join - miraculous provision; no tax; free from purgatory etc. Thousands died on the long journeys. Only the 1st crusade was successful in regaining Jerusalem. They arrived in 1099, and subsequently lost it in 1150, and it was never regained. The remaining crusades achieved very little despite the great efforts. Chief behind these crusades was Pope Innocent III. Innocent III (1198 - 1216) - Pope Innocent III humiliated the kings of England and France, and forced them to be obedient to himself and his whims. This shows that he had great power and control over nearly all Christian kings in Europe. Innocent III had the same policies as Hildebrande, but carried them out to a greater success rate He presided over the 4th Lateran Council - one of the Roman Catholic churches greatest councils. 4th Lateran Council - This Council called by Pope Innocent III and began November 11, 1215 in Rome’s Lateran Palace. It is also sometimes called the General Council of Lateran with over 1400 participants from the breadth of the church clergy, as well as representatives of several monarchies. Innocent III presented 71 decrees over the course of the Council. This included the decree to free the holy Land from Islam rule, which was part of the Crusades. Those decrees were ratified with little discussion and enacted upon. Some of the things ratified at the Council included: __ __ That’s it for this time! Next time in our series we will start to look at the Church in the Middle Ages. Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century. Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 30
Church History Part 16

Church Part 16 Debates! Decretals! Donation! Doctrinal Disputes G’day and welcome to Partakers and to our series, HAHA – Heroes and Heretics Abound. Together we are looking at the story of the church from its origins to the Age of Reasoning in the 18th century. Today we will look very briefly at debates, decretals, a donation and doctrinal disputes! All of which help to make up what makes Church History so fascinating! Debates! Use of images and pictures - During the 8th century, there was intense debate over the use of images and pictures to aid in worship. Pope Gregory 1 had allowed them to stimulate worship, but was very clear in that they were not to be objects of worship or adoration. However, they quickly became objects of worship and adoration, with the Eastern Church eventually allowed salutation and honorific worship of images, which in turn led to the strong use of images. This practise is still alive in the Orthodox churches today. The Roman Church however, have resisted their use. The False Decretals In about the year 850, documents, which we know to be decretals or papal orders, purporting to go back to the 1st century, were discovered. These documents, or Decretals, contained decisions and laws of the Roman bishop, the Pope, and designed to elevate the power of the Papacy. This was an attempt to prove the original power of the Pope and the bishops against the metropolitan and secular authorities. These documents mainly consisted of material plagiarised from older writings, including genuine documents, and pieced together. The excerpts were freely altered, and at times concluded differently to the originals. Chiefly, these False Decretals safeguarded the privileges and choices of the bishops, because the bishops were the pillars of the Christian church. Therefore they deserved protection from the laity and other bishops. They were later found to be forgeries in the 15th century, but by that time they had already been well used by the Papacy. These were discovered to be a forgery in the 15th century by an Italian Catholic priest Lorenzo Valla. Donation of Constantine Part of these False Decretals was the Donation of Constantine, quite possibly the most famous of the Decretals. This forged document claimed that Constantine presented the Pope with the insignia of the Western Empire, giving him authority over all the Empire. However, there had been some doubt over their authenticity since the 11th century. Here is an excerpt: Emperor Constantine yielded his crown, and all his royal prerogatives in the city of Rome, and in Italy, and in western parts to the Apostolic See. … The Emperor Constantine the fourth day after his baptism conferred this privilege on the Pontiff of the Roman church, that in the whole Roman world priests should regard him as their head, as judges do the king. We-together with all our satraps, and the whole senate and my nobles, and also all the people subject to the government of glorious Rome-considered it advisable, that as the Blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted vicar of the Son of God on the earth, so the Pontiffs who are the representatives of that same chief of the apostles, should obtain from us and our empire the power of a supremacy greater than the clemency of our earthly imperial serenity is seen to have conceded to it, choosing that same chief of the apostles and his vicars to be our constant intercessors with God. And to the extent of our earthly imperial power, we have decreed that his holy Roman church shall be honoured with veneration, and that more than our empire and earthly throne the most sacred seat of the Blessed Peter shall be gloriously exalted, we giving to it power, and dignity of glory, and vigour, and honour imperial. The Pontiff, who at the time shall be at the head of the holy Roman church itself, shall be more exalted than, and chief over, all the priests of the whole world, and according to his judgment everything which is provided for the service of God and for the stability of the faith of Christians is to be administered. Doctrinal Disputes Eastern & Western Church Moves Apart - During this period there was also upheaval within the churches. The Eastern and Western churches moved even further apart during this period. What were some of the differences between the Eastern and Western churches? Language – Eastern church spoke Greek, and the West church therefore spoke Latin. Theology - There was debate over the role of the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Church believed that the Holy Spirit was sent from the Father through the Son. The Western Church believed that the Holy Spirit was sent from the Father and the Son. Transubstantiation - Paschasius Radbertus wrote a treatise in 831 'on the Body and Blood of the Lord' defining the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This was accepted as official doctrine at the Lutheran Council in 1215. Confession - popularised during the 8th century, and first commanded by the bishop in 763. Priesthood - the priesthood was considerably elevated by now with the priests becoming a class of mediators between 'man and God'. Next time we will look at the Papacy at its very height! Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century. Tap or click here to download and save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 29
Church History Part 15

Church History Part 15 United We Fall? In Europe, various barbarian factions ruled yet many held the unity of the Roman Empire in their imagination. The barbarous factions were often at war with one another, yet there was an underlying yearning that one day Europe would once again be united under a new Roman Empire! In all of this there came a time when a new centre of power arose from within the landlord aristocracy, as power was greedily gobbled up and transferred to them. Amidst this, one central figure arose the “mayor of the palace.”  The first of these we will look at is Charles Martel. Charles Martel: The family of Charles Martel were a rising political force in France and Europe in the 8th & 9th centuries. Charles Martel had been successive in his battles against the invading Islamists, form which he got the name “Martel”, which means “The hammer”. He had hammered the Islamists from central Europe back to the Iberian peninsula. Charles Martel had performed as well as allowed great acts of violence against the church. He did however change and sought to set about restoring the rights of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. In 723, Boniface was protected by Charles Martel, which Boniface later exuded that without such an act, he could not govern the church, prevent idolatrous worship or defend the clergy. When Charles’ son Pepin rose to power he made a pact with the Roman Catholic church, which stipulated that whoever was in actual power should be the actual ruler. Pepin was duly appointed King of the Franks and declared himself the “Chosen of the Lord.” Under the guidance of Boniface, the church was reformed, there was a revival of religion and education; and they became the "protectors of Rome". More was to come with the advent of Charles Martel’s grandson however. Charlemagne (Charles the great): The next person we look at is perhaps one of the most famous in both secular and religious European history of this period: Charlemagne. When Pepin died in 768, his realm was divided between his two sons, Charlemagne and Carloman. Charlemagne became sole ruler when Carloman died suddenly in 771. On Christmas day 800, in St Peter in Rome, Pope Leo III, crowned as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the King of France, Charlemagne. When Charlemagne came to power, he had 3 goals in mind: military power to crush his opponents; religious power to direct his people’s religion and intellectual power to guide their intellect and minds. The church & state were to work hand in hand, but there was a continuous struggle between emperor and pope, over who was the final authority. Charlemagne duly returned the lost provinces to the Pope. Charlemagne died after about 13 years as emperor in the year 814, but his influence remains. His empire was vast and he had succeeded in ensuring that, at least nominally, Christianity survived. Charlemagne successors lacked the will, imagination and drive to continue in his footsteps and the empire soon descended back into chaos. Both the current German and French monarchies consider themselves to descendants of the empire of Charlemagne. As for the church, the Holy Roman Empire, barely outlived Charlemagne, but it has, as we shall see, had a lasting influence in the revival of religion and education within Europe. Tap or click here to download and save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 28
Church History Part 14

Church History Part 14 Amidst Times of Trouble Today we return to Europe and go back this week to the year 590 and to the work of Gregory the Great – such is his influence upon the Church and its history as well as being an supreme example of a Godly leader! At the time, the end of the 6th century, the Roman world is an utter mess. The city of Rome itself was in peril of extinction from floods, plagues and siege. The glories of the expanse of the Roman Empire were long gone since its collapse 300 years hence. But they were not totally forgotten. Many still dreamed of its revival, particular with the role of the Church at the centre. For a period of 6 months there was no central leader or Pope. What was happening in Rome, was symbolic of continental Europe. Europe itself was also seemingly on the path of destruction. What was to be the catalyst for change? It was, however unlikely, to be the Church. A new age of Christian Europe beckoned. Enter a man who was not comfortable leading but was thrust into the role of Pope – Gregory the Great - One of the great Latin Fathers of the church. Under his leadership, the church enlisted the help of monks to help win the barbarian masses to the Christian faith. Gregory also enabled the popery to provide a stable structure and influence over Roman and European affairs. He also led the church to embrace the spirituality and theology of that other great Latin Father of the church, Augustine. Because Gregory was not only able to exert an influence on the Church, but also in the political sphere, he was called ‘God’s Consul’. A title he was uncomfortable with and preferred to be known as the servant of the servant of God. This was in stark contrast to the Bishop of Constantinople who repeatedly gave himself the grand title of “universal bishop.” While he may have eschewed such titles, Gregory did exert majestic oversight of the Church when the opportunities availed themselves. Under Gregory, monasticism flourished! No doubt because Gregory himself was a monk! Gregory, as we learnt earlier, was key in sending Augustine to the English peoples to re-establish the church. It should be noted that there were already Christians in this land.  Gregory we read from records and letters left to the church show that he was a great encourager! These two excerpts taken from Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of England” are good examples of this:  ‘"Gregory, the servant of the servants of God, to the servants of our Lord. Forasmuch as it had been better not to begin a good work, than to think of desisting from one which has been begun, it behoves you, my beloved sons, to fulfil with all diligence the good work, which, by the help of the Lord, you have undertaken. Let not, therefore, the toil of the journey, nor the tongues of evil-speaking men, discourage you; but with all earnestness and zeal perform, by God’s guidance, that which you have set about; being assured, that great labour is followed by the greater glory of an eternal reward. When Augustine, your Superior, returns, whom we also constitute your abbot, humbly obey him in all things; knowing, that whatsoever you shall do by his direction, will, in all respects, be profitable to your souls.  Almighty God protect you with His grace, and grant that I may, in the heavenly country, see the fruits of your labour, inasmuch as, though I cannot labour with you, I shall partake in the joy of the reward, because I am willing to labour. God keep you in safety, my most beloved sons. Given the 23rd of July, in the fourteenth year of the reign of our most religious lord, Mauritius Tiberius Augustus, the thirteenth year after the consulship of our lord aforesaid, and the fourteenth indiction." We look now at a letter that Gregory wrote in the year 601 to the bishop of Aries, concerning Augustine :  "To his most reverend and holy brother and fellow bishop, Vergilius; Gregory, servant of the servants of God. With how much kindness brethren, coming of their own accord, are to be entertained, is shown by this, that they are for the most part invited for the sake of brotherly love. Therefore, if our common brother, Bishop Augustine, shall happen to come to you, let your love, as is becoming, receive him with so great kindness and affection, that it may refresh him by the benefit of its consolation and show to others how brotherly charity is to be cultivated.   And, since it often happens that those who are at a distance first learn from others the things that need correction, if he bring before you, my brother, any sins of bishops or others, do you, in conjunction with him, carefully inquire into the same, and show yourself so strict and earnest with regard to those things which offend God and provoke His wrath, that for the amendment of others, the punishment may fall upon the guilty, and the innocent may not suffer under false report. God keep you in safety, most reverend brother.   Given the 22nd day of June, in the nineteenth year of the reign of our most religious lord, Mauritius Tiberius Augustus, the eighteenth year after the consulship of our said lord, and the fourth indiction."  Many of us could learn from Gregory’s humility, leadership and encouragement, even if we may disagree with some of his theology. That is one reason we as church need to look back at the history of the church. That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will look again at Europe and the re-establishment of the church there! Tap or click here to download this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 27
Church History Part 13

Church History Part 13 Re-evangelization of Europe from Britain Today we will discover the church in Britain reaching out into Europe! We are now in the year 597AD of our journey through Church history! Augustine has returned to Britain! Here is an example of how Augustine helped establish Christianity in England. We take this excerpt from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England. Some days after, Ethelbert, the king of Kent, came into the island of Thanet, and sitting in the open air, ordered Augustine and his companions to come and hold a conference with him. They came endued with Divine, not with magic power, bearing a silver cross for their banner, and the image of our Lord and Saviour painted on a board; and chanting litanies, they offered up their prayers to the Lord for the eternal salvation both of themselves and of those to whom and for whom they had come. When they had sat down, in obedience to the king’s commands, and preached to him and his attendants there present the Word of life, the king answered thus: "Your words and promises are fair, but because they are new to us, and of uncertain import, I cannot consent to them so far as to forsake that which I have so long observed with the whole English nation. But because you are come from far as strangers into my kingdom, and, as I conceive, are desirous to impart to us those things which you believe to be true, and most beneficial, we desire not to harm you, but will give you favourable entertainment, and take care to supply you with all things necessary to your sustenance; nor do we forbid you to preach and gain as many as you can to your religion." Accordingly he gave them an abode in the city of Canterbury, which was the metropolis of all his dominions, and, as he had promised, besides supplying them with sustenance, did not refuse them liberty to preach. Christianity goes from Britain to Europe! So Christianity in Britain was starting to flourish and grow! However following the death of Gregory the Great, the European Church started to decline rapidly. The reasons for this were: • The growing threat of Islam; • Moral, spiritual and intellectual decline; • Interference by secular powers and politics in the church. However Not all was lost! There was help at hand – God was at work! People were sent from Britain to Europe to reintroduce the Gospel there! These Anglo-Saxon missionaries, brought with them Roman Catholic organisation and order. Here are just two examples of many of British missionaries helping to re-establish Christianity in Europe. Celtic missionaries (Ireland, Wales). Many missionaries went to Europe. They adopted a roving style of ministry, not settling down to give their ministry a solid foundation. For example Columbanus from Ireland, founded many monasteries in France and Italy in the year 590 onwards. This is from his writings: “We Irish, though dwelling at the far ends of the earth, are all disciples of St. Peter and St. Paul ... we are bound to the Chair of Peter, and although Rome is great and renowned, through that Chair alone is she looked on as great and illustrious among us ... On account of the two Apostles of Christ, you are almost celestial, and Rome is the head of the whole world, and of the Churches.”  Boniface 680-754. He was sent from England, to Frisia and Germany to spread the good news of Christianity! He is known as the Apostle to Germany, following extensive missionary work in Bavaria, Thuringa and Hesse. He was appointed archbishop of Germany in 732. In 754 he was killed in Frisia for his Christian faith. Before he had penetrated central Germany with the gospel, Christianity had not advanced far there. When Boniface arrived it was a region dominated by pagan religions and wilderness. Boniface was known for his preaching and his oratory skill and as a result the region opened up quickly to Christianity. Boniface’s mark on the Germany church would resonate down through history, well into the middle ages, as we shall see! That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will return to the Holy Roman Empire – or what there was of it – looking at, amongst others, Charles Martel & Charlemagne!   Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 26
Church History Part 12

Church History Part 12 The Birth of Islam Today we see a new religion, some would say threat, coming towards Christianity – Islam!  Islam is a religion strictly following one God. The adherents of Islam, Muslims, follow their book, the Koran (the verbatim words of Allah) and the Sunnah (teachings and examples give by Mohammed, the last prophet of God.)  Background In Arabia at the time, the religious background was like this: __ __ Mohammed 570-632 Into this comes the main man and founder of Islam – Mohammed. He was born in Mecca in 570. It was while he was seeking solitude within the Arabian Desert, that he claimed to have received messages from God, via the Angel Gabriel. Mohammed claims to have received the whole of the Koran (Moslem Scripture), which was claimed to have always existed in heaven but was now on earth. He was to be the message of Allah! Mohammed was given the task of telling others about Allah and what Allah had said in this book, the Koran. Mohammed preached from the Koran when he returned to Mecca, but was initially rejected by the masses. That was soon to change! Mohammed's message. __ __ Basic beliefs A Muslim is one who lives according to God's will as expressly given in the Koran. Islam is submission to God. Islam accepts parts of Judaism & Christianity quoting extensively from the Old Testament in the Koran. Jesus Christ is accepted as a prophet of God, but not the Son of God. Mohammed is the last and greatest prophet. They do not believe Jesus Christ was crucified and died, but that there was a substitution done for him. They do however broadly accept his miracles and virgin birth. While there are some similarities with Christianity, they miss the whole point of God's revelation to man in Christ & Christ's death for our sins. There is no plan of salvation apart from works. Islam's spread Despite being initially rejected by people, Islam and the message of Mohammed soon spread quickly. Raiding parties from Arabia, captured neighbouring lands and Islam became the religion of these peoples. The Islamists treated their captured people well, therefore Islam grew in acceptance. Within only 12 years, Egypt, Syria and Iraq were occupied by Muslims, quickly spreading to North Africa and Spain. The spread into Europe was checked however at the battle of Tours in 732 when Charles Martel led Christian armies into victorious battle. For more in-depth information and knowledge about Islam, we have a series on this site and you can find that by clicking here! Next time in our series HAHA, we will look at the church in Britain reaching out into Europe! Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century.   Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 25
Church History Part 11

Church History Part 11 Christianity Comes To Britain Today we will look at some of the leading figures in the growth of Christianity in Britain. ~ Ninian Ninian was the Bishop of Galloway in South West Scotland by the end of the 4th Century. He is known to have carried out extensive missionary work in South Scotland. Hence there are many churches named after him in that area. He was born about 360 and is widely regarded as being the first Gospel preacher in a part of Britain which was not under Roman rule. Touring widely away from Galloway, Ninian preached at various missions. Much of Celtic Christianity is thought to have formed from this man’s ministry. Bede in Ecclesiastical History of England refers to him thus “For the southern Picts, who dwell on this side of those mountains, had, it is said, long before forsaken the errors of idolatry, and received the true faith by the preaching of Bishop Ninias, a most reverend and holy man of the British nation, who had been regularly instructed at Rome in the faith and mysteries of the truth;” ~ Patrick Patrick – (389-461) He was the Apostle to England and is perhaps the greatest name in Irish history. At 16, he was taken as a slave from West Britain to Ireland for 6 years, during which time he found God. Patrick escaped to France & trained in a monastery. Later, he returned to Britain and had a dream calling him to Ireland. Subsequently Patrick returned to Ireland as bishop in 432. From there, Patrick evangelised the majority of Ireland, founding many churches & monasteries. Few men have had such an impact on a nation. Many missionaries and mission trips later, he left Ireland to evangelise Britain & Europe. ~ Columba 521 Columba was born in Ireland in 521 and as a young man entered the Moville monastery and later ordained deacon. Columba left Ireland under dubious circumstances and he sailed north until he could no longer see Ireland. He landed at the Island of Iona, South West of Scotland, and founded the Iona monastery, a great centre of learning and missionary activity. It is known that he evangelised much of northern Scotland. Bede in Ecclesiastical History of England writes “Columba came into Britain in the ninth year of the reign of Bridius, who was the son of Meilochon, and the powerful king of the Pictish nation, and he converted that nation to the faith of Christ, by his preaching and example. Wherefore he also received of them the gift of the aforesaid island whereon to found a monastery” Most information comes from the Vita Columbae (i.e. "Life of Columba" ). ~ Aidan Aidan was born in Connaught, Ireland. He was educated at Leinster, later going into the Monastery of St David in Wales where he spent many years studying and researching. He later founded a monastery in Wexford, becoming its Bishop. Later responding to a call from the King, Aidan settled on Lindisfarne Island. From here, Aidan engaged in much missionary work and evangelised extensively! Bede in Ecclesiastical History of England relates to him thus: “Aidan’s holiness of life wins from him a warm tribute of admiration. … a man of singular gentleness, piety, and moderation; having a zeal of God, but not fully according to knowledge; for he was wont to keep Easter Sunday according to the custom of his country …” Bede goes on to describe various miracles said to be done by Aidan. That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will look at a new threat to the growth and well being of Christianity - Islam! Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century. ~ Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 24
Church History Part 10

Church History Part 10 Christianity Comes To Britain Origins In the 1st century AD, the island of Britain contained various religious practices based on both pagan and Roman gods. The Roman Empire was well established and Britain was the westernmost point of the Roman Empire. ~ Christianity was first bought to England, part of Britain, by travellers and traders using well known routes through the Roman Empire. As they travelled, they came with stories from pagan mythology, as well as the story of Jesus. However, nobody knows when Christianity first arrived in Britain, although one particular story purports that Joseph of Arimithea built a church in Somerset. Joseph, you may remember was put in charge of Jesus’ body. ~ Sources Here are 4 quotes from ancient texts about Christianity being in Britain ~ Clement or Rome 96AD - “Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity… After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and having come to the extreme limits of the west."~~~~~~ Tertullian 197 AD “By this time… [the name Christ has reached] the various confines of the moors, all the limits of Spain, the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the hunts of the Britons, inaccessible to the Romans, but subjected to Christ.” ~~~~~~ Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea in the early 300s records that "the apostles passed beyond the ocean to the Isles called the British Isles." ~~~~~~ Bede in Ecclesiastical History of England - “In the year of our Lord 156, Marcus Antoninus Verus … was made emperor, together with his brother, Aurelius Commodus. In their time, whilst the holy Eleutherus presided over the Roman Church, Lucius, king of Britain, sent a letter to him, entreating that by a mandate from him he might be made a Christian. He soon obtained his pious request, and the Britons preserved the faith, which they had received, uncorrupted and entire, in peace and tranquillity until the time of the Emperor Diocletian.” It must be said that there is however no further evidence from antiquity to back up this particular claim of Bede! British bishops were in attendance at various Church councils: in 314 at the Council of Arles; at the Council of Nicea in 325 and the Council of Rimini in 359. The first member of the British church we know of is St Alban. It is he who is said was martyred for his faith. More about him next time! Another person we will discover next time is St Patrick! He is perhaps one of the most famous names from these ancient times! During the 5th & 6th centuries, however, east Britain was invaded by the pagan Angles, Jutes and Saxons from northern Europe. As a result of this persecution, the Christian church in Britain was destroyed except for West Britain, Wales. Then in 597AD Augustine landed in Britain sent on a mission – to re-establish Christianity in Britain. He started it in the South near Canterbury and proceeded out from there. That’s it for this time! Next time we will look more closely at some of the leading figures in the early church in Britain! Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century. ~ Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 23
Church History Part 9

Church History Part 9 Monastic Leaders Last time we looked at the rise of Monasticism and the decline of the Roman Empire! Today we will look at some of the early leaders of the Monastic movement. ~ Early leaders in the Monastic movement. Anthony 251-356. Born into a Christian family, and at the age of 18, he adopted the solitary ascetic life in the deserts of Egypt for 20 years. Many others followed his example. Anthony experienced extreme temptations of a demonic nature and often was unable to escape lustful thoughts. ~ Pachomius 292-346. Developed corporate monasticism, gathering ascetics into a community and imposing a code of discipline. These communities were self-supporting with crafts and growing food. Within the community, all personal wealth from individuals was placed into a common fund. These monastic communities were known for teaching basic literacy, reading & writing as well as Scripture memorisation. ~ Basil the Great 330-379. Bishop of Caesarea (Cappadocia). He is quite possibly the most important figure in Eastern monasticism. He developed a monasticism which was more outward looking in its perspective! His monastic communities provided medical treatment, relief for the poor and common agriculture. So important is Basil, that this is still the order within today’s Greek Orthodox Church. ~ Athanasius. We looked at this man of God in a previous study. While Athanasius was in exile in Egypt, he met with Anthony & was impressed by the monastic lifestyle which Anthony strongly promoted. ~ Martin of Tours 316-397. Martin was the main figure in early Western Monasticism. He was the Bishop of Tours, France in 372, even though he would have preferred to be devoted to the solitary monastic life. Martin established a monastery at Tours as a centre for missionary endeavour & evangelisation. ~ Benedict of Nursia 480-547. Living in Italy, Benedict provided the definitive rule of Western monasticism based on prayer, work & a high moral character. These monasteries contributed greatly to maintain spiritual welfare during the Middle Ages, in spite of their drawbacks. The Benedictine communities were extremely popular and hundreds of monasteries were established. ~ Gregory the Great 540-604. Gregory is one of the most influential men in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. He was born into a wealthy Roman family, but he sold all his possessions, built 7 monasteries & adopted the monastic lifestyle. Gregory loved the Scriptures and was deeply devotional. He was elected as Pope in 590, and became the most powerful political & religious figure in Italy. He greatly increased the wealth & prestige of the Roman Catholic Church. In 596, he sent a missionary party to evangelise England. He called himself "servant of servants", "vicar of Christ on earth" and the successor of Peter. ~ Meanwhile, the church was spreading rapidly & the organisation within the church followed the Roman Empire governmental system. Every city was entitled to one bishop, and each province entitled to have one archbishop. Within the bishop's diocese, the hierarchy of offices was virtually the same as that of the Roman civil administration. The Church became very wealthy, particularly because it had strong State support. The Bishop of Rome, the Pope, became extremely wealthy by the end of the 5th century. The bishops of Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch and Carthage became the most important. ~ That’s it for this time! Next time we look at the church arriving in Britain! Thanks for listening! Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 22
Church History Part 8

Church History Part 08 Fall of Rome & Rise of Monasticism Last time we looked at some of the critical thinkers including both heroes and heretics! We also looked very briefly the councils as the church formulated its thinking in regards to what the Gospel is and for true doctrine in a bid to counteract the indefatigable rise of heretical teaching such as Gnosticism and Arianism.  All Emperors of the Roman Empire following the death of Constantine were nominally Christian. In the last half of the 4th Century, the northern borders of the Roman Empire were under intense pressure from invading forces - Vandals, Huns & Goths. Eventually the great city of Rome, the centre of the Roman Empire, was plundered in 410 & 455, before finally falling in 476.  Some of the major reasons for this to occur include: __ __ ~ While all this was going on, there was a new movement within Christianity. We call this the Monastic Movement. The word monk, derives from the Latin word “monachoi” which means ”people who live alone”) ~ Reasons for rise of monasticism __ __ ~ Benefits __ __ ~ However as well as significant benefits as we have seen, it also brought with it severe disadvantages. ~ Disadvantages __ __ Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 21
Church History Part 7

Church History Part 7 4th & 5th Century - Leading Thinkers and Councils ~ G’day and welcome to Partakers and to our series, HAHA – Heroes and Heretics Abound. Together we will look at the story of the church from its origins to the Age of Reasoning in the 18th century. Last time we looked at the change for Christianity under Constantine – the church changed from being persecuted to being, as some would, compromised with its new found freedom. During this time as well, Christian thinking was being developed and clarified. There were several Councils called over the next 100 years which served that purpose. But let us look firstly at some of the leading Christian thinkers of the time, who helped formulate what we believe as 21st century Christians. Leading Christian thinkers of the 4th & 5th Centuries Athanasius 296-373. Deacon of the church in Alexandria, opposed Arius in the Council of Nicea. Became Bishop of Alexandria in 328. Athanasius was exiled 5 times because of his opposition to Arianism! Athanasius was the champion of orthodox Christian thinking! Hilary of Poitiers 295-368. Bishop of the Church at Poitiers, France. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the Western Church who opposed Arianism. Ambrose of Milan 339-397. Ambrose became Bishop of Milan in 374 at the age of 34, and was in that role for 23 years. He was the Governor of Milan, the capital of the Empire, before being chosen as bishop by popular vote or choice. He was unbaptized, untrained, and resisted the peoples choice initially. Ambrose was noted for his courage and unbending character, completed the overthrow of Arianism in the Western church. Aurelius Augustine 354-430. Augustine was born of a pagan father and a Christian mother in Africa. He was converted to Christianity at the age of 32 and became Bishop of Hippo in 393. He is certainly one of the greatest theologians and thinkers in the history of the church. Most of mainstream Christianity today draws upon his teachings and thoughts. He was the first to clearly explain and express the doctrine of God's grace - that salvation was a gift of God and could not be earned. He taught that there was no salvation outside of the church. However he did promote a belief in purgatory and the use of relics, which much of the evangelical church today would consider in contrast to Christian teaching. John Chrysostom 347-407. He was known as 'John the Golden Mouth', because he was a great orator, teacher and preacher. He was the Bishop of Antioch & Constantinople in the Eastern Church. Jerome 340-420, was born in Italy, which was part of the Western Church. Jerome translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Latin (the popular language of the day) and the Latin Vulgate which was accepted by the Roman Catholic Church as its official Latin translation for centuries. Jerome lived in Bethlehem as a hermit for 35 years, and strongly promoted the monastic lifestyle as spiritually superior. Leo I (Leo the Great) 390-461. Bishop of Rome 440-461 was born in Tuscany, Italy. He made a major advance in acceptance of the Bishop of Rome as the universal Bishop, arguing as he did from Matthew 16:18. He was referred to as the Pope by many Bishops at the Council of Chalcedon (451), and this was largely accepted in the Western Church. This was strongly supported by the Roman Emperor, who made it an offence against the State to resist the Bishop of Rome, or Pope. As we can see by these people, Christian doctrine and thinking is continually developing. However some incorrect thinking was also invading the church. For example Arianism and the heretical thoughts of Arius were rife! Therefore over the next 100 years, various Church councils were called, not only to combat Arianism but also other heresies – some very subtle ones! Councils of the 4th & 5th Centuries The Council of Nicea 324 AD, called by Constantine to resolve the Arian heresy. Arius, an elder from Alexandria taught that Jesus Christ was merely a created being and denied his deity. Athanasius, a deacon in the Alexandria church, opposed Arius and supported Christ's deity. The debate raged over whether Jesus Christ should be described as 'the same essence as the Father' (homousious), or 'like essence as the Father' (homoiousios). Eventually it was accepted that Jesus Christ was 'the same essence as the Father '. The Nicene creed contains the final statement about Jesus Christ's deity. Council of Constantinople 381 AD, was called to discuss Apollonarianism and Sebellianism. Apollonarianism was a theory proposed by Apollinaris the Younger, Bishop of Laodicea. This theory was that Jesus had a human body and a human sensitive soul but didn’t possess a human rational mind but rather a divine mind. There was the theory of Modalism or Unitarianism which proposed that the Heavenly Father, the Resurrected Son and the Holy Spirit were different modes one God, rather than three distinct persons within the Godhead. Sebellianism differed slightly from this in that Sabellius, its proposer, acknowledged that Jesus was fully God. At the Council of Constantinople, these teachings were condemned as unbiblical and therefore were heresies. The Holy Spirit was affirmed to be a person, equal with the Father and the Son. Council of Ephesus 431 AD, was called to discuss Nestorianism, at which it was condemned as a heresy. Nestorius protested, stating that Mary was the mother of the humanity of Jesus Christ, but not of His deity. Nestorian Christians engaged in a great missionary endeavour reaching across Asia to China in the Middle Ages. The council condemned and deposed Nestorius. Eutyches, Nestorius' opponent, was deposed 20 years later with being a heretic, teaching Jesus Christ had only a divine nature and was not fully human. Council of Chalcedon 451 AD 500 bishops met and affirmed that Jesus Christ had 2 natures, both divine and human, unchangeably united in one person. Condemned Eutyches who believed Jesus Christ had only the 1 divine nature. The heretical thoughts of Arianism, Nestorianism, Apollonarianism, Unitarianism, Modalism and Sebellianism are still in some religious thoughts today – particularly in the cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah Witnesses. Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file ~

Jul 20
Church History Part 6

Part 6 All Change Under Constantine! Last time we looked briefly at two main enemies from within the church: systemic disorganization and chaos within leadership and structure of churches and false and heretical teaching which was creeping in surreptitiously. We move on today to a landmark period in the life of the church. Remember that one of the main persecutors of the Church was the Roman Empire. Now we come to the Emperor Constantine. This period is described by Diarmaid MacCulloch as “crucial for the Christian Church” (A History of Christianity Constantine was pronounced as Emperor by the Army in 306AD following the death of his father, Constantius 1. Under the rule of Diocletian, the Empire had been reorganized into a team of 4 emperors under his leadership. However civil war soon re-commenced. During this time at the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, Constantine overthrew his rival, Maxentius, and became the Emperor of the Western Empire. He had been a worshipper of the 'Unconquered Sun', but before this battle he saw a vision of the cross of Christ and had a dream commanding his soldiers to fight under the name of Jesus Christ. He made his soldiers shields with a monogram of Christ, the first 2 letters of Christ's name in Greek. Constantine went on to restore property to the church in his domain which had been confiscated by previous Roman emperors. Then in 313AD Constantine and his ally, Licinius, made a proclamation whereby those identified as Christians would be treated equally with those who were not Christians. This proclamation also declared a new policy of toleration for all religions throughout all the Roman Empire. FF Bruce writes in The Spreading Flame “This led to Christians once banished to return from exile. Their property was restored; their demolished church edifices rebuilt. The last round between Christianity and Roman paganism had been the most desperate of all; but it ended with the acknowledgement that Christianity had won.” Constantine, according to Shelley in his book "Church History in Plain Language", also made many changes in his private life. This including raising his family as a Christian family. He was baptized by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. After his Baptist, he refused to wear the imperial purple again and chose to wear his baptismal robes. He died shortly after in 337AD but not before establishing Constantinople as a new capital of the Roman world. A quick look at the historical writing of Eusebius sees Constantine epitomised as an superlative Christian leader and almost envisages a new age of salvation! Here are some of the ways Eusebius describes Constantine from his writings __ __ Constantine brought both significant advantages and disadvantages for Christianity. These include: Advantages for Christianity. __ __ Disadvantages for Christianity. __ __ While Constantine did not enforce others to join Christianity, that didn’t last long. After Constantine’s death, belief in Christianity was made a matter of imperial command under the regime of the emperor Theodosius. He had new church buildings designed in order to stress the new hierarchy of Jesus Christ and the Roman emperor. There were also heavy penalties enforced upon those who were not Christians and from other religions. Theodosius enforced the thinking that the there was a close connection between the will of God, his own will and a connection with the Roman empire. How does the church itself react to all this? How was the thinking and theology of the church growing and/or adapting? Well for the answer to that, you will have to wait until the next Podcast! Tap or lick here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 19
Church History Part 5

Part 5 Lets Get Organized and Remain One! Last time we looked at the expansion of the early church in spite of the endemic persecution by the Roman empire. They were the ‘enemy from outside the church’. But there was also another enemy lurking, two main enemies from within the church! Our first enemy was the systemic disorganization and chaos within leadership and structure of churches. If there is no organization then chaos would rule supreme. That was partly why during this time the Apostle Paul helped form the leadership and organizational structure of the church. We see from his writings that 1st century Church government consisted of a 2 fold order of leadership. ~ __ __ The second century Church government followed a 3 tier order of leadership which consisted of one bishop presiding over a group of elders & deacons. This was mainly towards the end of the 2nd century. Reasons for the development of the episcopate __ __ Relationships between the Churches. For the first 3 centuries the local Churches were largely autonomous linked in fellowship without a formal structure. Bishops occasionally met for discussion on doctrinal matters. Apostolic succession began in the early 2nd century to prevent division and false doctrine entering the Church. Each bishop could trace his teaching back to apostolic origins. Later on, it was said that special powers were said to be passed on to the bishop at his ordination. Despite the formulation of Apostolic succession however, within all this disorganization and chaos, several false and heretical teaching were becoming a threat. Here are the 5 main heresies of the time which was creeping into the theology and practise of the church. a. Gnosticism – This was the big one! Gnosis simply means knowledge. The gnostics stressed the intellectual side of Christianity and believed the earth was surrounded by 30 spheres each with its own god. The 'god' god, was on the outer sphere, was totally unknowable, self-existent, infinitely remote and the 'bad' creator was on the inner sphere. The ‘gods’ in each sphere grew more evil as they approached the earth. They taught that the Old Testament ‘god’ was evil and they suggested Jesus Christ came to liberate the divine spark in each one of us. Since they believed that the physical (as in the body) was evil, they lived an austere and ascetic lifestyle. They believed that this knowledge was only available to the spiritually elite. There were 3 levels of Gnostics: __ __ b. Docetism’s philosophy & theology taught that the physical world, the body, was inherently evil. Therefore Jesus Christ could not have taken on real human form because of this concept or philosophy. As a result, Jesus Christ was therefore an allusion or phantom. However, Genesis 1 teaches us that physical creation is 'very good.' This teaching also denies Jesus full humanity. ~ c. Montanism - Stressed the inspirational side of Christianity. In response to formality in the Church, they strongly promoted the more 'exciting' gifts of the spirit especially prophesy, tongues and religious excitement. Montanus their leader claimed to be the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit. They were probably more fanatical than heretical, but were quickly excommunicated. Montanus was in Phrygia, in Asia Minor, in 172 AD and they also taught against celibacy. ~ d. Marcion - In the 2nd century Marcion taught that the Old Testament was the product of an evil god and eliminated the Old Testament and New Testament references with a Judaistic influence. This encouraged early Christians to examine the Scriptures and find out what really was the Word of God. e. Notation Schism - Some Christians denied the Lord under severe persecution of Decius (251 AD), but later repented. The Church split over whether to accept these Christians back into fellowship or not. This division lasted until the 6th century. ~ In one form or another, these heresies are still prevalent today, even within the church, and particularly within all the cults such as Jehovah Witnesses and Mormonism. That is one reason we should be looking at church history so that we don’t make similar mistakes, in both our theology and practise! How will the young church continue to go forward? Well for the answer to that, you will have to wait until the podcast tomorrow! Click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 18
Church History Part 4

Church History Part 4 Church Persecution and Growth ~ Today in Part 4, we look briefly at the scattering of the church and the church’s relationship with the governing force which was the Roman Empire! The church at the time seems to be in a bit of a rut. They still haven’t spread far and wide from the centre, Jerusalem. They still did not understand that the Gospel message of Jesus Christ was for all of humanity, ultimately including the Gentiles! So God brings out his plan. Enter Saul the Persecutor (Acts 8:1-4)! God used the persecution upon the church by Saul to scatter the Church! As they went out eluding persecution, they preached the Gospel effectively! ~ We read in the book of Acts how the Gospel had spread to: __ __ ~ Then God seemingly pulls another surprise out of the hat! Saul, the main persecutor of the church, has a life-changing encounter with the risen and ascended Jesus Christ! Paul becomes a follower of Jesus, accepting that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Christians were claiming! WOW! Saul changes his name to Paul and he becomes God’s man to reach out to the Gentiles, the non-Jews! WOW! Good one, God! ~ Paul was God's chosen instrument to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). It was Christianity and its Gospel of Grace versus Judaism and the Levitical Law. Paul took up the challenge. We read through the Book of Acts and in his letters, that Paul engaged in 3 missionary journeys over a period of about 12 years. ~ Quelle Surprise! __ __ ~ For the first 30 years of its birth, the Roman empire viewed Christianity as a part of Judaism and was therefore tolerated by the Romans. During this period however, Paul was teaching that Christianity was separate as an ongoing religion from Judaism. This was to cause some trouble particularly with the Roman Empire! Judaism was an accepted and declared a 'legal' religion by the Romans. This was most unusual, as the majority of religions were banned except for the Roman state religion. During this time Rome had a great fire and was burned in 64AD. The Roman Emperor Nero blamed the Christians because they were intensely disliked. ~ It was into this context that Peter writes to encourage the Christians (1 Peter 1:3-7). Shortly afterwards in 70AD, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and Judaism was finished as a major religion within the Roman Empire. ~ Intense persecution of the Christian Church by the Romans occurred over the next 3 centuries. Here are a few examples of how certain Roman emperors dealt with Christians. __ __ ~ As we see, the church is under pressure from outside forces in the Roman Empire. That was to be expected as Jesus Himself taught that this would occur. But there was also extreme pressure from within the church, particularly threatening to the unity it had enjoyed! But what happens? Well for the answer to that, you will have to come back tomorrow! Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 17
Church History Part 3

Church History Part 3 Church Begins! Today in Part 3, we look briefly at the beginnings of Jesus’ church and its rapid spread across the Roman empire and beyond. History is the story of the human family. From the Christian perspective all of history is encompassed in 2 statements “In the beginning…” and “I will come again…” Christianity is a historical religion, which stands or falls on the basis of historical fact that God entered into history in the person Jesus Christ. His life, death and resurrection are open to investigation. Disprove and of those facets and Christianity falls. The history of the Church is one of both glory and failure, depending on how closely if followed the teachings and practice of Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 4:4 “When the time was right, God sent His Son.” How was the time right for when Jesus came? __ __ Key thinking about the Church! __ __ With the Church’s Authority established the Church spreads The Gospel Message (Acts 2:36-38) that Jesus is the Lord and the Christ; Acts 20:21 "Repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ. As we saw last time, the Holy Spirit came at what is called Pentecost! (Acts 2:8). There the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ was preached to an international audience as Jews from every nation under heaven was there to witness this great event! Many were saved and thus returned to their home nations with this good news that Jesus was their Messiah! WOW! In Jerusalem alone, according to Acts 4:4 5000 men were added to the Church in Jerusalem. Persecution & scattering come upon the early Church as it would have been normal for the Christians to make Jerusalem the focus of their ministry. For whatever reason, they still did not understand that the Gospel was also for the Gentiles. However, they soon discovered that the Gospel was indeed for the Gentiles and for throughout the world! How did God achieve this with His church? For the answer to that, you will have to wait for the next in our series HAHA where we will see the Church spreading and getting organized! Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century. ~ ~ Tap or click here to save this as an audio mp3 file ~

Jul 16
Church History Part 2

Church History Part 2 Birth of the Church The Promised Holy Spirit Comes! ~ G’day and welcome to Partakers and to our series, HAHA – Heroes and Heretics Abound. Together we will look at the story of the church from its origins to the Age of Reasoning in the 18th century. Today we look briefly at the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church – the start of its history. Jesus has ascended back to the right hand side of the Father! The apostles have been commanded to go make disciples! But they were first told to wait. Wait for what, or rather, who? They were to wait for the coming of God the Holy Spirit who was being sent! Throughout His ministry Jesus had talked about how after He had departed that God the Holy Spirit would be sent to indwell those who follow Him (John 15v26). This would be in fulfilment of Ezekiel 36:27 “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Here is the start of the church! A wow moment in church history – the birth of the church – the body of Christ! Acts 2:1-2 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” No more waiting! The Holy Spirit came and the church was born and empowered! That is how the church has maintained a presence for the past 2000 years – only because of the presence of God within the believers. So what is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church? ~ The Holy Spirit’s prime role is to see that Jesus Christ the Son of God is praised and glorified (John 16v13-14). The Holy Spirit testifies for Jesus Christ (John 15:26) and witnesses for Jesus Christ and His salvation (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete, the Comforter! The Holy Spirit is one who is called to stand alongside Christians (John 14v16). Jesus said it would be better for Him to go away and send the Holy Spirit to live within his followers (John 16v7). The Holy Spirit ministers to Christian in the same way as Jesus would be to us if Jesus were here in person. Declares God’s Word: The Holy Spirit has a prime role in revelation and declaring the Word of God. It was He that spoke through the prophets (Ezekiel 2v2) and it was He who inspired the Bible (2 Peter 1v21). Further to this, the Holy Spirit interprets and illuminates God’s Word (John 16v12-15; 1 Corinthians 2v10-16) to people! Conviction: The Holy Spirit is sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8) Salvation: Christian Disciples are born of the Holy Spirit and are known as regenerated (John 3v3-8)! Indwelling: God lives inside each Christian Disciple through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, a person cannot be a Christian Disciple (Romans 8v9; Gal 2v20; Colossians 1v25-27)! WOW! God is a personal God, lives within His people and is not merely a statue to be placed on a shelf. Sealing / Ownership: The Holy Spirit indwelling the Christian Disciple is assured proof of being God’s possession (2 Corinthians 1v22; Ephesians 1v3) Security: The Holy Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our future redemption, salvation and inheritance (Ephesians 1v13; 2 Corinthians 1v22). Filling: This speaks of the Holy Spirit’s control or domination of our lives. The imperative here is that we are to be filled (Ephesians 5v18), and go on being filled. He gives power to enable Christian Disciples to evangelise (Acts 1v8; 4v8, 31). Sanctification: The Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 7-18), as we walk, live in, and are led by the Spirit (Galatians. 5v16; Romans 8v13). Baptism: This expression occurs 7 times in the New Testament. It occurs 4 times in the gospels, referring to Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 1 Corinthians 12v13 states that we are all baptized with the Holy Spirit into one body. Service: The Holy Spirit equips us for service. God is working in you to will and to act accordingly to his purpose (Phil. 2v13), to be my witnesses (Acts 1v8). As we look together at the church down through history, we will see evidence of the Holy Spirit being at work in people’s lives, the global spread of Christianity and the development of the Church over time. Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 15
Church History Part 1

Church History Part 1- Introduction ~ G’day and welcome to Partakers and to our new Saturday series, HAHA – Heroes and Heretics Abound. Together we will look at the story of the church from its origins to the Age of Reasoning in the 18th century back to its origins. One aim of this series is to give a broad overview of church history to those who know very little or perhaps none of it. Of course there will be a Protestant European bias as that is my church background, but we will also include looks at other denominations including the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox streams of church. Another aim is so that we as the church of today and tomorrow, can learn some of how the church has developed, avoid the mistakes made and embrace the joys which can be found. We start today by leaping straight into the 18th century. We will see together how the Church’s practises and theology has developed. Jesus’ Authority Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ authority is a major theme. Where Matthew records Jesus doing miracles, this is to highlight Jesus authority in action and not just merely in words. Matthew records Jesus’ authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9v6) and He imparted authority to His disciples for a short time when they went on a mission in Matthew 10. Jesus has authority (Matthew 28:18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. Jesus has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons. Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers. Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities. Jesus has the authority. ~ This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control. Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We can obey Him regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. It is a great comfort to know, that He is in control of everything!! Through His death on the cross and His rising from the dead, Jesus has conquered all enemies.  Now people sometimes confuse authority with authoritarian. Authoritarian means severe, rigidity and a dictator. None of these apply to Jesus. The authority of the church is a common theme down through history as we will see. ~ The early church exploded numerically as the twelve disciples exercised Jesus’ authority and His power. We read about the growth of the early church in the Book of Acts. Christianity is a faith whereby all Christian Disciples are to tell others of the goodness of God. Indeed God Himself is a missionary God. Ever since Genesis 3 and the fall of mankind, God has been on a mission to bring and call people back to Himself. That was the purpose of the nation of Israel, to be a light to all nations of the goodness and glory of God! That was purpose when God, who is outside of time and space, entered human history taking on human flesh and restricted Himself in a human body as the man we know as Jesus Christ. Jesus whole mission was one of calling people back to life in God. That was the message told by the early church - showing and telling others of God’s message of reconciliation for them. It was also to be the role of the church in history. It never was meant to be forcing people to adopt Church standards (1 Corinthians 5:12) or to a message to simply join the church as a symbol of good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). ~ The coming of the Holy Spirit was prime for the explosive growth of the early church and His hand is evident throughout church history, as we will see. ~ Jesus' church... __ __ ~ Thanks for reading and listening! This series continues next Saturday! Come back every day where there is something new added to aid your development as a Partaker of Christ. Thank you. ~ Click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file

Jul 14