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For Irenaeus as for Hermas, the believers are the church Adv. haer. 3, 6, 1. Its different members are closely united to one another, since all recognize one God and Father, believe in the same economy of the incarnation of the Son of God, know the same outpouring of the Spirit, observe the same precepts and the same system of church government,Accra Metro Map await one same coming of the Lord and hope for the same salvation of the whole person, soul and body Adv. haer. 5, 20, 1. As content of the church’s true knowledge, Irenaeus lists 1 the doctrine of the apostles; 2 the ancient organization of the church throughout the world; 3 the mark of Christ’s body according to the succession of bishops, to whom they the apostles entrusted each local church; 4 the faithful preservation of the Scriptures which have come down to us; 5 the complete collection of them without addition or subtraction; 6 a reading of them containing no deception; 7 a correct, harmonious exposition of them, exempt from danger and blasphemy; 8 finally the supreme gift of charity  . Adv. haer. 4, 33, 8. For Irenaeus, the church as an institution is an argument for faith; the character of the body of Christ is impressed on it through the succession of bishops, something that almost no other Father of the church brings out more convincingly or penetratingly.

Though the church is one throughout the world, the local communities are also churches. Those founded by the apostles serve as a canon in controversies of lesser importance Adv. haer. 3, 5, 1, but because of the more excellent origin of the church of Rome founded by the apostles Peter and Paul it is understood that each church must be in agreement with it, since in it the tradition that comes from the apostles has always been preserved Adv. haer. 3, 3, 2. For Clement of Alexandria d. after 200, the church is proof of God’s power always at work. As his will is a work and is called the world, so his intention is the salvation of humanity, and this is called the church Paed. I, 6, 27, 2. In the ecclesiastical orders of bishops, presbyters and deacons, Clement sees images of the angelic world and of the future condition which, according to the Scriptures, await those who have walked in the way of the apostles, in perfect justice Strom. VI, 13, 107. The just will sit, even if they had no presidency here on earth though they should hold one, and the ordained should be perfect, on 24 thrones to judge the people, as Rev 4:4 puts it Strom. VI, 13, 106. Clement probably understood the 24 thrones as a tribunal for the new dual people, composed of Jews and pagans. Grace has been duplicated, but, even if there is some justification in speaking of more than one Testament, we must speak of a single Covenant diatheke which works salvation, which has come down to us from the foundation of the world and has only wrongly been considered as given in different ways in accordance with successive generations and times Strom. VI, 13, 106. The one Testament can be likened to the one God: O ineffable mystery; the universal Father is one, and one the universal Word; and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere; and one virgin becomes mother, which I love to call the church Paed. I, 6, 42, 1. Tertullian d. after 200 goes further than Clement: The reason why the church is mentioned in the baptismal creed is clear; it is because where the three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are present, there also is the church, the body of the three persons Bapt. 6. After Tertullian, no Father of the church expresses himself in this way: even Augustine, the great theologian of the church, limits himself to saying, After the Trinity, we must add the church, as after the inhabitant his house, after God his temple, after the founder his city Ench. 15, 56. In his exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, Tertullian affirms: In the title of Father, the Son is also invoked, nor is Mother church left out, because in the father and the son we recognize the mother, in which the very name of father and son finds its basis Orat. 2.

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