Friday, September 08, 2006

The Genesis of Sunday School

It's Sunday morning and you are dragging yourself out of bed. The start of another long week starts tomorrow, but were are you going this morning? Sunday School. Why is named Sunday School? That name just sounds like work, with no good connotations. Many churches are going trying to change this time designated before the large, congregation-wide Worship Service to something like "Bible Study" or at our church "Bible Fellowship". So what is the history?

In 18th century Gloucester, England there was a man named Robert Raikes, owner of the Gloucester Journal. Raikes had a burden for the lower classes. He saw many of the young boys growing up to become criminals and the prisons were full. He blamed their lack of education for the trouble that they found themselves in.

In July 1780 a few of these underprivileged boys came to their first Sunday class. Started on Sunday because the students had to work in the factories all week. They learned to read and write in the classes held before church services. After they learned to read and write they learned all the basics of church teachings. This soon turned into a major movement through England and later spread to other parts of the world.

Later this movement dropped the writing part because of views about what you should and shouldn't do on the Sabbath (even though the Sabbath is Saturday) and it came to look more like what we have in churches today.

Now that you know the story of how Sunday School started, maybe you will be glad that you aren't an underprivileged, overworked kid.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

In This Sign Conquer

The troops were ready, though outnumbered. Constantine was at the gates of Rome ready to take on the man who was trying to assume the rule of the empire. Constantine's father had just died and Maxentius was trying to take his place. Marching to the city walls, built to withstand the barbarian attacks, Constantine was coming. Brave as he was, he pleaded with God to reveal Himself and show mercy to his cause. His prayer was soon answered.

He saw a vision of a symbol and heard, "In this sign conquer." It was a simple mark, just two letters overlapped. But the significance of those letters would change Western Civilization. They are the first two letters of Christ in Greek, Chi and Rho. That night Christ came to Constantine in a dream telling him that this sign would be a safeguard. On the morning of October 28, 312 AD, the men painted this symbol onto their shields and banners and marched on to claim Rome.

Constantine had a great victory that day over Maxentius, and he was now the emperor. The first point of business was to stop the persicution of the follower's of Christ. Christianity was legal after long years of hatred and martyrdom. Later it would become the official religion of the state, but for now at least it was safe to call on the name of Christ.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

367 A.D. - Today's New Testament First Listed

The Holy Bible

Many people regard the Bible as authoritative, containing truth from God to humanity. I am one of these people. But many don't know the any of the facts surrounding history of the Bible. There are many resources for learning the history of the Bible on the internet, and I encourage you to study this area. The Christian Old Testament is made of the Jewish Scriptures made of the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings. The development of the New Testament is a little trickier. Let me explain.

New Testament Canon

To be quite honest, there have been many controversies on the issue of what should be considered Christian scripture. There have been those who have wanted more books considered (Apocrypha), and there are some who have wanted less. An example of someone who wanted less was a man named Macion. He was a heretic who only considered the letter of Paul and parts of Luke to be from God. Christians eventually decided that books that met the following requirements were authoritative:
  • Written by an apostle or someone in the apostolistic community
  • Content had to match orthodoxy
  • Used by a majority of the early churches
Athanasius of Alexandria

The earliest mention of the current list of books in the New Testament that we know of is in a letter written by Athanasius. This man was the head of the church of Alexandria and wrote this letter in 367 A.D. In it he also included a list of Books that were not to be considered authoritative but were good books to read and be familiar with. These books make up some of the Apocrypha.

Council of Nicaea

Athanasius' big claim to fame, though, is his opposition to Arianism. This was the main issue in bringing together the Council of Nicaea. It was quickly decided that Arianism was a heresy and the council then discussed other issues such as the creation of the Nicene Creed.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Shepherd of tender youth, guiding in love and truth
Through devious ways: Christ, our triumphant King,
We come Thy Name to sing;
Hither our children bring, to shout Thy praise."
"Thou art our holy Lord, the all-subduing Word,
Healer of strife: Thou didst thyself abase,
That from sin's deep disgrace,
Thou mightest save our race, and give us life."
"So now and till we die, sound we Thy praises high,
And joyful sing: infants, and the glad throng,
Who to Thy church belong,
Unite to swell the song to Christ our King. Amen."
Clement of Alexandria

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Christian History Resource: Covenant Worldwide

Are you looking for resources for Christian history? Sometimes it's hard to find information on this subject on the Web. Well, I'm here to help in your search. When I find a good site I'll let you know about it. If you know one, go ahead and let me know. You can put the link in a comment. Now, on to the tip.

Covenant Worldwide is a resource of Covenant Theological Seminary. This school has decided to make podcasts of their courses available. There are a couple that I am particularly interested in. I haven't had the time to listen to all the lessons but I can comment on what I have listened to so far. The lectures are classroom style instead of broadcast recordings. So expect lesser audio quality than other podcasts and the tone of a history professor not a motivational speaker. But the content is there. Enjoy.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

August 13 in Christian History

August 13, 1587: Members of Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition to Roanoke baptises Manko, the first American Indian convert to Protestantism.

from ChristianHistory.Net

Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 12 in Christian History

August 12, 304: Euplius, a Christian deacon from Sicily, is martyred for owning the Scriptures and proclaiming himself a Christian (loudly and repeatedly). Martyrdom was so common under Emperor Diocletian that many Christians expected it and some, like Euplius, actively sought it out.

from ChristianHistory.Net
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