Early Church Fathers
Why is it important to read the Ante-Nicene Fathers?
Today there is about 41,000 different denominations in the world according to Wikipedia ‘Denominational listings’, they all proclaim to be followers of Christ and yet they all would have differing views on what to believe in the Bible. It is ironic that these sub-divisions grew rapidly from the time of the ‘Protestant Reformation’ in the 1500s. Most of the Protestants of that time would only reform their interpretation of Scripture through the eyes of Augustine of Hippo 400AD. Unfortunately this view was inherited and enforced by its militant Roman Catholic Church oppressors. The Protestants would continue to use Augustine’s views in their reform, failing to conform to the original understanding of Scripture held by the first 300 years of the Early Church. Many of the Ante-Nicene Fathers writing would be obscured from view or would be scoffed and mocked as Jewish heresies and those who would stray from Augustine’s views would meet heavy persecution and even at times death.
There has been an evil force which is constantly evident throughout Church history. Where it is made to be an offence to acknowledge what the Ante-Nicene Fathers believed. These beliefs so happened to have been handed down by the Apostles of Christ, it is evident that there is an attempt to present a different gospel and understanding of the original beliefs of the Early Church. You would think it is logical that the information given in the early years of the Church would be more reliable and pure compared to those whom would precede them. When you consider that a number of these Ante-Nicene Fathers were taught by the Apostles of Christ and they in turn were warned by them of the wolves that would come and scatter the flock. (Matthew 7:15, Acts 20:29.) It is through the eyes of the Ante- Nicene Fathers of the first 300 years that we are given a true historical understanding of the beliefs of the Early Church.
It is from the heresies of Gnostic philosophers that the Church would scrutinize and change the meaning of God’s message of salvation from within the Scriptures, this would lead many future Christians to be deceived as Christ had foretold. Many of the fundamental beliefs and understanding of Hebrew Scripture was endorsed by Christ as obsolete, He would refer to many parts of Scripture as being inspired by God, all leading to a predestine plan of salvation for mankind and a final judgment on the wicked. From the letters of the apostles of Christ we read of the Early Church was under attack by those who would synchronize Christian teaching with these external pagan beliefs, these very same pagan beliefs would eventually take an aggressive active role in today’s society.
Right from the very beginning of the Early Church the fundamental beliefs of Christianity were being progressively altered over the years to become more acceptable towards a Gentile frame of thinking. The apostle Paul warns in 2 Corinthians 11: 3-4 (NIV) saying – 3But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
Throughout Church history the original gospel has changed and many Christians are confused as to whom to believe, it is strange that the first 300 years is not being used in evidence to comply with the original understanding of what was believed by the Early Church. Many of these Early Nicene Fathers were in constant battles, fending off heretical views, which would eventually become a different gospel of what was originally taught. Many churches today that have an Augustine base interpretation of Scripture would reject the ‘Second Coming’ prophecies that were handed down from the first 300 years of the Church. Jesus said in the Olivet discourse that in the last days many will be deceived! The definition of being deceived is to be given false information. Today those Christians, who have no historical understanding of the first 300 years of the Church, have been denied the original understanding of Scripture. I encourage you to read the Ante-Nicene Fathers to see for yourself what was believed and what Christ did say on some of the controversial issues that divides the Church today.
The Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325 (1885)
Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (original translators and editors);
Arthur Cleveland Coxey (editor of American edition, unauthorized; and author of annotations, notes, and introductions);
Philip Schaff (also credited as editor);
The series was originally created by the Presbyterian publishing house of T. & T. Clark in Edinburgh as the Ante-Nicene Christian Library and published serially from 1867 to 1885. The volumes were translated and edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson.
In 1885 a U.S. firm, the Christian Literature Company, began to issue the volumes in a reorganised form, edited by A. Cleveland Coxey. This was in fact piracy of the ANCL, and treated as such by T. &. T. Clark at the time. However there was little recognition of overseas copyright in the USA at this date, and Clark’s were obliged to accept the situation. Coxey gave his series the title The Ante-Nicene Fathers. — Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
This collection was followed by the collections Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II.