of the primitive Church, the one to regard Christianity as a law given by God for the government of men’s lives, with the promise of a blessed immortality as a reward for its observance; the other to view it as a means by which the corrupt and mortal nature of man is transformed, so that he becomes a spiritual and holy being. The latter tendency appeared first in Paul, afterwards in the Gospel and First Epistle of John, in Ignatius of Antioch and in the Gnostics. The former found expression in most of our New Testament writings, in all of the apostolic fathers except Ignatius, and in the Apologists of the 2nd century. The two tendencies were not always mutually exclusive, but the one or the other was predominant in every case. Towards the end of the 2nd century they were combined by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons. To him salvation bears a double aspect, involving both release from the control of the devil and the transformation of man’s nature by the indwelling of the Divine. Only he is saved who on the one hand is forgiven at baptism and so released from the power of Satan, and then goes on to live in obedience to the divine law; and on the other hand receives in baptism the germ of a new spiritual nature and is progressively transformed by feeding upon the body and blood of the divine Christ in the eucharist. This double conception of salvation and of the means thereto was handed down to the Church of subsequent generations and became fundamental in its thought. Christianity is at once a revealed law which a man must keep, and by keeping which he earns salvation, and a supernatural power whereby his nature is transformed and the divine quality of immortality imparted to it. From both points of view Christianity is a supernatural system without which salvation is impossible, and in the Christian Church it is preserved and mediated to the world.
The twofold conception referred to had its influence also upon thought about Christ. The effect of the legal view of Christianity was to make Christ an agent of God in the revelation of the divine will and truth, and so a subordinate being between God and the world, the Logos of current Greek thought. The effect of the mystical conception was to identify Christ with God in order that by his incarnation the divine nature might be brought into union with humanity and the latter be transformed. In this case too a combination was effected, the idea of Christ as the incarnation of the Logos or Son of God being retained and yet his deity being preserved by the assertion of the deity of the Logos. The recognition of Christ as the incarnation of the Logos was practically universal before the close of the 3rd century, but his deity was still widely denied, and the Arian controversy which distracted the Church of the 4th century concerned the latter question. At the council of Nicaea in 325 the deity of Christ received official sanction and was given formulation in the original Nicene Creed. Controversy continued for some time, but finally the Nicene decision was recognized both in East and West as the only orthodox faith. The deity of the Son was believed to carry with it that of the Spirit, who was associated with Father and Son in the baptismal formula and in the current symbols, and so the victory of the Nicene Christology meant the recognition of the doctrine of the Trinity as a part of the orthodox faith (see especially the writings of the Cappadocian fathers of the late 4th century, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen).
The assertion of the deity of the Son incarnate in Christ raised another problem which constituted the subject of dispute in the Christological controversies of the 4th and following centuries. What is the relation of the divine and human natures in Christ? At the council of Chalcedon in 451 it was declared that in the person of Christ are united two complete natures, divine and human, which retain after the union all their properties unchanged. This was supplemented at the third council of Constantinople in 680 by the statement that each of the natures contains a will, so that Christ possesses two wills. The Western Church accepted the decisions of Nicaea, Chalcedon and Constantinople, and so the doctrines of the Trinity and of the two natures in Christ were handed down as orthodox dogma in West as well as East.
Meanwhile in the Western Church the subject of sin and grace, and the relation of divine and human activity in salvation, received especial attention; and finally, at the second council of Orange in 529, after both Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism had been repudiated, a moderate form of Augustinianism was adopted, involving the theory that every man as a result of the fall is in such a condition that he can take no steps in the direction of salvation until he has been renewed by the divine grace given in baptism, and that he cannot continue in the good thus begun except by the constant assistance of that grace, which is mediated only by the Catholic Church. This decision was confirmed by Pope Boniface II., and became the accepted doctrine in the Western Church of the middle ages. In the East, Augustine’s predestinationism had little influence, but East and West were one in their belief that human nature had been corrupted by the fall, and that salvation therefore is possible only to one who has received divine grace through the sacraments. Agreeing as they did in this fundamental theory, all differences were of minor concern.
In general it may be said that the traditional theology of the Church took its material from various sources—Hebrew, Christian, Oriental, Greek and Roman. The forms in which it found expression were principally those of Greek philosophy on the one hand and of Roman law on the other (see Christianity).
6. Organization.—The origin and early development of ecclesiastical organization are involved in obscurity. Owing to the once prevalent desire of the adherents of one or another polity to find support in primitive precept or practice, the question has assumed a prominence out of proportion to its real importance, and the few and scattered references in early Christian writings have been made the basis for various elaborate theories.
In the earliest days the Church was regarded as a divine institution, ruled not by men but by the Holy Spirit. At the same time it was believed that the Spirit imparted different gifts to different believers, and each gift fitted its recipient for the performance of some service, being intended not for his own good but for the good of his brethren (cf. 1 Cor. xii.; Eph. iv. 11). The chief of these was the gift of teaching, that is, of understanding and interpreting to others the will and truth of God. Those who were endowed more largely than their fellows with this gift were commonly known as apostles, prophets and teachers (cf. Acts xiii. 1; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Eph. ii. 20, iii. 5, iv. 11; Didachē, xi.). The apostles were travelling missionaries or evangelists. There were many of them in the primitive Church, and only gradually did the term come to be applied exclusively to the twelve and Paul. There is no sign that the apostles, whether the twelve or others, held any official position in the Church. That they had a large measure of authority of course goes without saying, but it depended always upon their brethren’s recognition of their possession of the divine gift of apostleship, and the right of Churches or individuals to test their claims and to refuse to listen to them if they did not vindicate their divine call was everywhere recognized. Witness, for instance, Paul’s reference to false apostles in 2 Cor. xi. 13, and his efforts to establish his own apostolic character to the satisfaction of the Corinthians and Galatians (1 Cor. ix. 1 ff.; 2 Cor. x. 13; Gal. i. 8 ff.); witness the reference in Rev. ii. 2 to the fact that the Church at Ephesus had tried certain men who claimed to be apostles and had found them false, and also the directions given in the Didachē for testing the character of those who travelled about as apostles. The passage in the Didachē is especially significant: “Concerning the apostles and prophets, so do ye according to the ordinance of the gospel. Let every apostle when he cometh to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not abide more than a single day, or if there be need a second likewise. But if he abide three days he is a false prophet. And when the apostle departeth let him receive nothing save bread until he findeth shelter. But if he ask money he is a false prophet” (ch. xi.). It is clear that a man who is to be treated in this way by the congregation is not an official ruler over it.
Between the apostles, prophets and teachers no hard-and-fast lines can be drawn. The apostles were commonly missionary