Editor’s Introduction -- By: John H. Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 02:2 (Spring 1993)
Article: Editor’s Introduction
Author: John H. Armstrong


Editor’s Introduction

John H. Armstrong

From the very beginning Christians have been a people who confessed certain tenets of faith. They were people of doctrine, of teaching. They expressed beliefs in both their worship and their witness. The most basic of these beliefs surrounded the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

It is believed by many scholars that statements like “Jesus is the Christ” or “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3) were simple formulas of confession for the earliest disciples. The rise of false teaching led to several of the letters we have in the New Testament. The Epistles of John, for example, call upon early believers to confess faith in Jesus as both true God and true man. This confession was written, most scholars of early Christianity generally assume, to counteract Docetism, an ancient heresy which denied the humanity of Christ, and Ebionism, which cast doubt upon Jesus’ unique position as the Son of God.

Even the harshest critics of early Christianity understood what these followers of Christ believed. The Emperor Trajan, in writing to Pliny, the governor of Bithynia, said:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath (sacramentum) not to commit any wicked deed, but to abstain from all fraud, theft and adultery, never to break their word, or deny a trust when called upon to honor it; after which it was their custom to separate, and then meet again to partake of food, but food of an ordinary and innocent kind (italics mine) 1 .

Aristides, an early writer, defended Christianity by writing:

As for the Christians, they trace their origins to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is confessed to be the Son of the Most High God, who came down from heaven by the Holy Spirit, and was born of a virgin and took flesh, and in a daughter of man there lived the Son of God.... This Jesus ... was pierced by

the Jews, and He died and was buried; and they say that after three days He arose and ascended into heaven.... They believe God to be the Creator and maker of all things, in whom are all things and from whom are all things. 2

Irenaeus, another early writer, speaks of “The Rule of Faith” which was also called “the faith” or “the tradition.” In it he writes of things early churches taught against heretics, including belief in “... one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation......

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