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Historical Reference:
402 History of the Early Church

The Apostolic Church vs. Greek Mysticism

The Value of Historical Awareness
Introduction to the Early Church
The Apostolic Church, a House Church System
Fourth Century Changes in Church Meetings
Other Major Changes of the Post-Apostolic Church
Ideological Competitors of Early Christianity
Changes in 4th Century Theology – The Gospel
Changes in 4th Century Theology – Church and State
The Apostolic Church vs. Greek Mysticism
Changes in 4th Century Theology – Determinism, Divorce
Conclusions, Does God Care About These Changes?

The Apostolic Church vs. Greek Mysticism – Free Will and Divine Determinism

There is another facet of Gnosticism that deserves some attention. Like other Greek religions of ancient times, Gnosticism believed in fate. In Greek religions, fate was the divine determination or appointment of the destinies of individual men.

Fate –
in Greek and Roman mythology,
any of three goddesses who determined human destinies, and in particular the span of a person’s life and his allotment of misery and suffering. Homer speaks of Fate (moira) in the singular as an impersonal power and sometimes makes its functions interchangeable with those of the Olympian gods. From the time of the poet Hesiod (8th century bc) on, however, the Fates were personified as three very old women who spin the threads of human destiny.
Encyclopedia Britannica

Roman Religion -
Astrological practices received encouragement from Stoic philosophy, which was introduced to Rome in the 2nd and early 1st centuries BC, notably by Panaetius and Poseidonius. The Stoics saw this pseudoscience as proof of the Platonic unity of the universe. Stoicism affected Roman religious thinking in at least three other ways. First, it had a deterministic effect, encouraging a widespread belief in Fate
Encyclopedia Britannica

According to the Gnostic conception of fate, men were divided into categories based on whether they were destined by God to be saved or not. Coupled with this was the manner in which Gnostics and Neo-Platonists believed salvation was achieved. The Gnostics taught that salvation could only be attained through a subjective, internal, intuitive illumination which was the result of direct divine revelation. According to Gnostic teaching, salvation could not be accessed through a process involving rational inquiry, objective contemplation, or empirical experience. Nor could salvation be accessed through studying and understanding scripture. Instead, salvation was the result of a divine spark that, by the will of God, some men had and others, for some unknown reason, did not have. Those with the divine spark were divinely destined to be saved regardless of other factors. Those without the divine spark or illumination were divinely destined not to be saved regardless of other factors.

Platonism, Platonism in the world of revealed religions –
For a Platonist…Sense experience…cannot be a basis for metaphysical or religious thinking. This must be the result of the presence in the soul of higher realities and their action upon it. In Plotinus the illumination of the soul by…the One was the permanent cause of man's ability to know eternal reality;

Encyclopedia Britannica

Gnosticism, Nature –
Through revelation from above,
man becomes conscious of his origin, essence, and transcedent destiny. Gnostic revelation is to be distinguished both from philosophical enlightenment, because it cannot be acquired by the forces of reason, and from Christian revelation, because it is not rooted in history and transmitted by Scripture. It is rather the intuition of the mystery of the self…the discovery of the unconscious self or spirit in man which sleeps in him until awakened by the Saviour…
Encyclopedia Britannica

Gnosticism –
philosophical and religious movement prominent in the Greco-Roman world in the 2nd century AD…
Gnostic sects appear to have shared an emphasis on the redemptive power of esoteric knowledge, acquired not by learning or empirical observation but by divine revelation.
Encyclopedia Britannica

Patristic literature, The ante-Nicene period – The Gnostic writers –
…the Gnostics…their division of humanity into a spiritual elite able to achieve salvation and,
below this elite, ‘material’ people cut off from salvation
Encyclopedia Britannica

Gnosticism –
Gnosticism held that…humanity is divided into classes…The purely corporeal (hylic) lacked spirit and could never be saved; the Gnostics proper (pneumatic) bore knowingly the divine spark and their salvation was certain;

Columbia Encyclopedia

Gnosticism –
The doctrine of salvation by knowledge…Gnostics were "people who knew", and their knowledge at once constituted them a superior class of beings,
whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know…
The Catholic Encyclopedia

“Christianity, Aspects of the Christian religion –
Gnostics (the pneumatics) contain within themselves divine sparks expelled from the pleroma.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Gnosticism –
Another frequently encountered theme is that there is a special class or race of humans that is…destined to achieve salvation and to return to its spiritual origins. Salvation is understood as a revelation that reawakens knowledge (gnosis) of the race’s divine identity;
Encyclopedia Britannica

Archon –
in Gnosticism, any of a number of world-governing powers that were created with the material world by a subordinate deity called the Demiurge (Creator). The Gnostics were religious dualists who held that matter is evil and the spirit good and that salvation is attained by esoteric knowledge, or gnosis…
Encyclopedia Britannica

Valentinus –
flourished 2nd century AD.
Egyptian religious philosopher, founder of Roman and Alexandrian schools of Gnosticism, a system of religious dualism (belief in rival deities of good and evil) with a doctrine of salvation by gn?sis, or esoteric knowledge… synthesis of Christian and oriental Gnostic teaching.
Encyclopaedia Britannica

Origen –
A wealthy Christian named Ambrose, whom Origen converted from the teachings of the heretical Valentinus…Origen went to Greece to dispute with another follower of Valentinus, Candidus…The Valentinian doctrine that salvation and damnation are predestinate, independent of volition, was defended by Candidus

Encyclopedia Britannica

1. Arising among these men, Saturninus…promulgated different systems of doctrine…Christ came to destroy the God of the Jews, but to save…those who possess the spark of his life. This heretic was the first to affirm that two kinds of men were formed by the angels,--the one wicked, and the other good."

5. …And again subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good, and others by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the [spiritual] seed; the evil by nature are those who are never able to receive that seed.
Irenaeus, BOOK I, CHAP. VII

So, Gnosticism disguised pagan mystical beliefs borrowed from Neo-Platonism in Christian language. The Gnostics believed that the physical world was evil. As such they believed that salvation was escaping from our material prison and returning to a heavenly existence. They believed that men were divided into categories: those who were destined by God to be saved and those who were not. Because man’s physical body was made of evil matter, they believed that man was totally incapable of attaining salvation through rational or objective consideration of evidence or scriptural texts. Instead, salvation could only come as the result of a direct, intuitive, inward illumination from God. This inward illumination came from God and was not available to all men.

The early, apostolic church taught the opposite of the Gnostics. They believed that man was both capable of knowing what is right and true through rational contemplation and consideration of evidence and experience. They believed that all men were free and capable of choosing to obey God. They did not believe that who would be saved was determined by God rather than men themselves. Instead, they believed that God willed for all men to be saved, but each man’s salvation was a result of his own free choice to believe or not. And they believed that opportunity was equally available to all men and not just some men.

Patristic literature, The ante-Nicene period - The Gnostic writers –
…pervasive philosophical-religious movement known as Gnosticism. This movement made a strong bid to absorb Christianity in the 2nd century…
the church eventually maintained its identity intact…vital issues on which it differed sharply from the Gnostics. Chief among these were…their division of humanity into a spiritual elite able to achieve salvation and, below this elite…people cut off from salvation.”
Encyclopedia Britannica
This apostolic church’s teaching that men had free will was inherited from Judaism. Both of the major sects of Judaism featured in the New Testament, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, believed that man had free will. Josephus, a Jewish priest and historian of the first century also attests to this fact.
Pharisee -
According to Josephus,
whereas the Sadducees believed that people have total free will and the Essenes believed that all of a person's life is predestined, the Pharisees believed that people have free will but that God also has foreknowledge of human destiny.

Since the apostles were all Jews, and the major sects of first century Judaism believed that man was free, it is no surprise that the earliest church all explicitly taught that man was free and capable of believing God.

Predestination – History of the doctrine – Church Fathers on the doctrine –
The early church fathers consistently uphold the freedom of human choice. This position was crucial in the Christian confrontation with Cynicism and some of the chief forms of Gnosticism, such as Manichaeism, which taught that man is by nature flawed and therefore not responsible for evil in himself or in the world. At the same time, belief in human responsibility to do good as a precursor to salvation and eternal reward was consistent...The early church Fathers taught a doctrine of conditional predestination...Conditional Predestination, or more commonly referred to as conditional election, is a theological stance stemming from
the writings and teachings of Jacobus Arminius, after whom Arminianism is named...

The Epistle of Mathetes states that man is capable of freeing himself and through sense and reason can assess truth and accept or reject it. He also states that God does not force men to be saved, but respects man’s free will.

CHAP. II. Come, then, after you have freed yourself from all prejudices possessing your mind, and laid aside what you have been accustomed to, as something apt to deceive you, and being made, as if from the beginning, a new man, inasmuch as, according to your own confession, you are to be the hearer of a new [system of] doctrine; come and contemplate, not with your eyes only, but with your understanding…human being…is endowed with sense and reason. A stone, however…is insensible.

CHAP. VII. He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. As calling us He sent Him…

And do not wonder that a man may become an imitator of God. He can, if he is willing.

Clement discusses repentance as a matter of a man’s willingness or refusal to obey God and places this ability to obey God within the power of man. And he also mentions prayer for Christians who had fallen away.

CHAP. VIII. The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; …And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS

CHAP. XXXI. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength. THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS

CHAP. XXXVI. But who are His enemies? All the wicked, and those who set themselves to oppose the will of God.(7)

Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not unto us, but to the will of God.

Barnabas, like Clement mentions the possibility of Christians falling back into sin and missing out on salvation in the kingdom of God.

Let us be spiritually-minded: let us be a perfect temple to God. As much as in us lies, let us meditate upon the fear of God, and let us keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances. The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, "Many are called, but few are chosen."

Ignatius likewise, states that God gives man the choice and that man has the ability through reason to know what is right and the ability to act in accordance with that reason and knowledge. Because he believed that all men were free and capable, Ignatius also taught that all men, not just some men, could be saved. And that salvation was equally available to all men.

CHAP. III. Seeing, then, all things have an end, these two things are simultaneously set before us--death and life;

CHAP. IX. Moreover,(3) it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God.

Chapter I. I entreat thee, by the grace with which thou art clothed, to press forward in thy course, and to exhort all that they may be saved.

Justin likewise teaches that the salvation offered through Christ is equally obtainable by all men. And that God’s creation of man’s physical body out of matter was good, not evil. He refutes the Gnostic view that man is not free and that his destiny is fated by God. Justin goes on to directly state that the apostles themselves were the ones who taught the church that salvation is the result of a man’s free choice.

CHAP. XLIII. And we, who have approached God through Him, have received not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism, since we were sinners, by God's mercy; and all men may equally obtain it.

CHAP. X. And we have been taught that He in the beginning did of His goodness, for man's sake, create all things out of unformed matter; and if men by their works show themselves worthy of this His design, they are deemed worthy, and so we have received--of reigning in company with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering. For as in the beginning He created us when we were not, so do we consider that, in like manner, those who choose what is pleasing to Him are, on account of their choice, deemed worthy of incorruption and of fellowship with Him. For the coming into being at first was not in our own power; and in order that we may follow those things which please Him, choosing them by means of the rational faculties He has Himself endowed us with, He both persuades us and leads us to faith.

CHAP. XII. …each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions. For if all men knew this, no one would choose wickedness even for a little, knowing that he goes to the everlasting punishment of fire; but would by all means restrain himself, and adorn himself with virtue, that he might obtain the good gifts of God, and escape the punishments.…so whatever the Word forbids us to choose, the sensible man will not choose.

CHAP. XXVIII. …For the reason why God has delayed to do this, is His regard for the human race. For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born.(4) In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative. And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things…this is the greatest profanity and wickedness.

CHAP. XLIII. But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man's actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things…But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end;(2) nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.

CHAP. XLIV. And the Holy Spirit of prophecy taught us this, telling us by Moses that God spoke thus to the man first created: "Behold, before thy face are good and evil: choose the good."(3) And again, by the other prophet Isaiah, that the following utterance was made as if from God the Father and Lord of all: "Wash you, make you clean; put away evils from your souls; learn to do well; judge the orphan, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord:… if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye do not obey Me, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."(4)… So that what we say about future events being foretold, we do not say it as if they came about by a fatal necessity; but God foreknowing all that shall be done by all men, and it being His decree that the future actions of men shall all be recompensed according to their several value, He foretells by the Spirit of prophecy that He will bestow meet rewards according to the merit of the actions done, always urging the human race to effort and recollection, showing that He cares and provides for men…And if we persuade even a few…

CHAP. LXI. I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making…And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge…there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe…

Chapter VII. But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins…The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all I that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice].

CHAP. LXXXVIII. He submitted to be born and to be crucified, not because He needed such things, but because of the human race, which from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent, and each one of which had committed personal transgression. For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit.

CHAP. CII. …But yet, since He knew that it would be good, He created both angels and men free to do that which is righteous, and He appointed periods of time during which He knew it would be good for them to have the exercise of free-will; and because He likewise knew it would be good, He made general and particular judgments; each one's freedom of will, however, being guarded.

CHAP. CXLI. …God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand…And I, praying for them, said, "I can wish no better thing for you, sirs, than this, that, recognising in this way that intelligence is given to every man, you may be of the same opinion as ourselves, and believe that Jesus is the Christ of God."

Irenaeus, who was taught by John’s student Polycarp, also unequivocally teaches that salvation is available to all men. And he states that our salvation is a matter of our free will and choice and not a matter of divine appointment or enlightenment done without regard for man’s free will. Irenaeus even states that God cannot be both good and just if man’s evil or man’s repentance is not through our own free choice and capability. And he affirms that all men are born good and innocent rather than evil as a result of their being born in a physical body.

CHAP. X. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth.

CHAP. XXV. 2. Again, that they might remove the rebuking and judicial power from the Father, reckoning that as unworthy of God, and thinking that they had found out a God both without anger and [merely] good, they have alleged that one [God] judges, but that another saves, unconsciously taking away the intelligence and justice of both deities. For if the judicial one is not also good, to bestow favours upon the deserving, and to direct reproofs against those requiring them, he will appear neither a just nor a wise judge. On the other hand, the good God, if he is merely good, and not one who tests those upon whom he shall send his goodness, will be out of the range of justice and goodness; and his goodness will seem imperfect, as not saving all; [for it should do so,] if it be not accompanied with judgment. …3. For He is good, and merciful, and patient, and saves whom He ought: nor does goodness desert Him in the exercise of justice,(3) nor is His wisdom lessened; for He saves those whom He should save, and judges those worthy of judgment. Neither does He show Himself unmercifully just; for His goodness, no doubt, goes on before, and takes precedency.

CHAP. IV. 3. But the wheat and the chaff, being inanimate and irrational, have been made such by nature. But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect like to God, having been made free in his will, and with power over himself, is himself the cause to himself, that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff. Wherefore also he shall be justly condemned, because, having been created a rational being, he lost the true rationality, and living irrationally, opposed the righteousness of God, giving himself over to every earthly spirit, and serving all lusts...

CHAP. VI. 5. And for this purpose did the Father reveal the Son, that through His instrumentality He might be manifested to all, and might receive those righteous ones who believe in Him into incorruption and everlasting enjoyment (now, to believe in Him is to do His will); but He shall righteously shut out into the darkness which they have chosen for themselves, those who do not believe, and who do consequently avoid His light. The Father therefore has revealed Himself to all, by making His Word visible to all; and, conversely, the Word has declared to all the Father and the Son, since He has become visible to all.

CHAP. XIII. 3. Abraham also followed voluntarily and under no compulsion (sine vinculis), because of the noble nature of his faith, and so became "the friend of God."(3)

God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man,(12) while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged (condemned) because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who have obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured with immortality.

CHAP. XXVIII. 3. And again, who are they that have been saved and received the inheritance? Those, doubtless, who do believe God, and who have continued in His love; and innocent children,(3) who have had no sense of evil. But who are they that are saved now, and receive life eternal? Is it not those who love God, and who believe His promises, and who "in malice have become as little children?"(4) Irenaeus, AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK IV

CHAP. XXXVII. 1. This expression [of our Lord], "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,"(8) set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it…the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans…2. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it…All such passages demonstrate the independent will(8) of man, and at the same time the counsel which God conveys to him, by which He exhorts us to submit ourselves to Him, and seeks to turn us away from [the sin of] unbelief against Him, without, however, in any way coercing us. 4. No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man's power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. And on this account Paul says, "All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient;"(9) referring both to the liberty of man, in which respect "all things are lawful," God exercising no compulsion in regard to him;…If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things, and to abstain from others? But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God. 5. And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, "According to thy faith be it unto thee; "(1) thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, "All things are possible to him that believeth;"(2) and, "Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee."(3) Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith…the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power…6. Those, again, who maintain the opposite to these ['conclusions], do themselves present the Lord as destitute of power, as if, forsooth, He were unable to accomplish what He willed; or, on the other hand, as being ignorant that they were by nature "material," as these men express it, and such as cannot receive His immortality…for they were made rational beings, endowed with the power of examining and judging, and were not [formed] as things irrational or of a [merely] animal nature, which can do nothing of their own will, but are drawn by necessity and compulsion to what is good, in which things there is one mind and one usage, working mechanically in one groove (inflexibiles el sine judicio), who are incapable of being anything else except just what they had been created."…Since, then, this power has been conferred upon us, both the Lord has taught and the apostle has enjoined us the more to love God, that we may reach this [prize] for ourselves by striving after it. For otherwise, no doubt, this our good would be [virtually] irrational…

CHAP. XXXVIII. 4. He declares, "I have said, Ye are gods; and ye are all sons of the Highest."(1) But since we could not sustain the power of divinity, He adds, "But ye shall die like men," setting forth both truths--the kindness of His free gift, and our weakness, and also that we were possessed of power over ourselves. For after His great kindness He graciously conferred good [upon us], and made men like to Himself, [that is] in their own power…

CHAP. XXXIX. 3. If, however, thou wilt not believe in Him, and wilt flee from His hands, the cause of imperfection shall be in thee who didst not obey, but not in Him who called [thee]…the man who does not obtain it is the cause to himself of his own imperfection…nor, again, does God exercise compulsion upon any one unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill. Those persons, therefore, who have apostatized from the light given by the Father, and transgressed the law of liberty, have done so through their own fault, since they have been created free agents, and possessed of power over themselves.

From all of these quotes we can see the early church, the apostolic church, believed that all men were born good and innocent. And they also believed that salvation was equally available to all men, each of whom has the ability to rationally contemplate and freely choose to believe, obey, and be saved or not to believe, to disobey, and be condemned.

Unlike the Gnostics, the apostolic church did not believe that God predestined some men to be saved and other not to be saved. Nor did they believe that man’s physical body made him incapable of choosing faith and obedience. And they did not believe that salvation was directly imparted to man directly by God through some inward, intuitive, divine action that circumvented men’s will and rational faculties.

Related Outlines
> Church History Study

> Early Church Consensus

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