"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When All You Thought Non-Catholics Church Services are the Real Ancient "Christians" Worship, Think Again!

Those noisy drums and Rock bands! Those goose-bumps emotional worship services! Those great preaching without any liturgy! Are they rooted to the First Century Christian way of Church Service? For comparison, please come back and read THIS LINK after reading the whole article below. -CD2000

Chapel of Saint Ananias, Damascus, Syria, an early example of a Christian house of worship; built in the 1st century AD

Source: Gospel Coalition

What Was a Church Service Like in the Second Century

I’m really enjoying N.R. Needham’s 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power, Vol. 1: Age of the Early Church Fathers, part of a very accessible but well-informed multi-volume survey of church history. On pp. 66-75 he outlines a fairly typical church service in the second century (A.D. 101-200), based on descriptions and instructions found in the early Church fathers. I thought it might be helpful to outline it below.

The service of worship on Sunday lasted about 3 hours in total, with the typical posture being standing throughout. There were no musical instruments, and the Lord’s Supper was observed every week.

The first part, “The Service of the Word,” was open to three groups: (1) baptized believers; (2) those receiving instruction in the Christian faith; and (3) (probably) those who were merely curious about Christianity.

The second part of the service, “Prayers and the Eucharist,” was only open to believers who had been baptized. The rest had to leave. Needham writes that the early church understood congregational prayer as “participating by the Holy Spirit in the glorified Christ’s own heavenly ministry of prayer”—something unbelievers could not share in since they did not have the Spirit.

Part 1: Service of the Word

1. Opening greeting by bishop and response by the congregation. Often, the bishop would say “The Lord be with you” and the congregation would respond, “And with your spirit.”

2. Old Testament Scripture reading. Usually read or chanted by a deacon.

3. Psalm or hymn (I). Chanted or sung.

4. New Testament Scripture reading (I). This first NT reading was from any NT book outside the gospels.

5. Psalm or hymn (II).

6. New Testament Scripture reading (II). From one of the four gospels.

7. Sermon. Delivered by the bishop, while seated.

8. Dismissal of all but baptized believers.

Part 2: The Eucharist

1. Congregational prayers. The prayer leader—the bishop in the West; senior deacon in the East—would announce the first topic. The congregation prayed silently for a while. Then the leader summed up the petitions with his own spoken prayer. Then he would do the same pattern again with a new topic. This was a lengthy part of the service. Early Christian art suggests that a typical posture from praying was standing, looking heavenward, with arms outstretched and palms up.

2. The Lord’s Supper. Here’s the order: (1) the bishop offered a greeting; (2) the congregation responded; (3) there was a “kiss of peace” (men to men, women to women); (4) church members brought their own small loaf of bread and flask of wine from home; the deacons took these and spread them out on the Lord’s table, emptying the flasks of wine into one large silver cup. (5) The bishop and the congregation engaged in a liturgical “dialogue” with the congregation; (6) the bishop led the congregation in prayer; (7) the bishop and the deacons broke the bread and distributed the cup to the congregation. (8) Something would be said to each member as he or she received the elements (e.g., “The bread of heaven in Christ Jesus,” with the response of “Amen.”) Unconsumed bread and wine would be taken home by church members to use for celebrating communion at home during the weekdays.

3. Benediction. E.g., “Depart in peace,” spoken by the deacon.

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