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Post-Nicene Western Fathers: Augustine

Throughout this year we have surveyed how sixteen early church fathers contributed to the church’s understanding of truth during the years AD 100–420. Some defended the teachings of Scripture as the foundation of the Christian faith in a day when Christians were persecuted. Others defended Christianity against the attacks of paganism. Several men we studied […]

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Post-Nicene Western Fathers: Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome

Studying the ancient church fathers, young people learn important doctrinal and practical lessons. This has been our theme in 2023. Before concluding next month, we briefly note three men who shared two characteristics. First, they lived after the Council of Nicea (AD 325). Second, they served the church in western Europe; most men we studied […]

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John Chrysostom, the Golden-Mouthed Preacher

Thinking back a few months to the June issue of Beacon Lights, readers will remember that the early church father Origen taught at a school (seminary) in Alexandria, Egypt. Also remember that he interpreted Scripture allegorically, finding deep spiritual meanings in a passage that weren’t really the passage’s intended meaning.   The main rival to the […]

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Cappadocian Fathers: Basil, Gregory, and Gregory   

The Council of Nicea (AD 325) opposed Arianism, which taught that Christ was not divine. The council formulated the Nicene Creed, which emphasizes that Christ is divine. After the council finished, the Arians and semi-Arians continued to promote their views. Athanasius, we saw last time, opposed them.  The question then arose: What of the Holy […]

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Nicene Fathers: Athanasius

Young people, if you remember only two names in the history of the early church, remember Athanasius (AD 293/296–373), who stood valiantly for the truth of Christ’s divinity, and Augustine (AD 354–430), who defended the total depravity of mankind and God’s irresistible grace.    His Theology   Athanasius was probably born in Alexandria in the […]

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Church Historians: Eusebius of Caesarea

The ancient period of church history (AD 100–590) is subdivided into the pre-Nicean era, the Nicean era, and the post-Nicean era. These divisions refer to the first ecumenical council at Nicea (AD 325), which is a focal point in church history. In this article, we move from pre-Nicean church fathers to the Nicean church fathers.  […]

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Apologists: Origen

No survey of the apologists would be complete without noting Origen (c. AD 185–253).  His life  Origen was born in Alexandria, Egypt. Clement of Alexandria had founded a school there, which taught catechumens and prepared men for ministry. This school was known for teaching the allegorical method of interpreting Scripture, which will be explained below. […]

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Apologists: Irenaeus and Tertullian

The apologists were early church fathers who defended Christian doctrine against the teachings of Judaism and paganism. The last article examined Justin Martyr. This article focuses on Irenaeus and Tertullian. Other apologists whom we have no time to examine include Clement of Alexandria and Cyprian. Origen’s place in church history, however, is too great to […]

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,  In the February 2023 issue, Onderwijzer was asked whether music’s rhythm or beat have “an inherent morality.” I appreciated his emphasis that music’s lyrics can be immoral. I am concerned with his view of music’s rhythm and beat as being amoral. He said, “Much of modern popular music is out of bounds for […]

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Apologists: Justin Martyr

The first generation of church fathers after the apostles were known as the post-apostolic fathers. In our last two articles, we noticed three of them: Clement (died AD 101), Ignatius (died AD 107), and Polycarp (died AD 155).  After the post-apostolic fathers came the apologists. This name “apologists” comes from the Greek word apologia, meaning […]

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From Clement of Rome, we learned to promote church unity by honoring God-appointed officebearers. Ignatius and Polycarp were also prominent church leaders after the apostles died. Both were martyred, and through this they teach us to be ready to die for Christ’s sake.  The Men  Ignatius was born around the year 30 AD, and his […]

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Ancient Church History Fathers: Clement of Rome

What is the solution to disunity and schism in the church? Especially, what is the solution when the church that is troubled and divided is truly the body of Christ, made up of his redeemed saints? Clement of Rome gave an answer to that question.  The Man  Clement was born in Rome about AD 30 […]

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Ancient Church History Fathers: Introduction

Young people, how well do you know church history, especially the history of Christ’s church since the time of the apostles?  Maybe you know it better than other young people before you. In 1968, Protestant Reformed parents founded one high school (Covenant Christian High); now we have six affiliated with our denomination. Young people in […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Malachi

After the return from captivity, the people began to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, then ceased their work. Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, spurred them on to resume the work. By Malachi’s time the temple had been rebuilt and sacrifices were again being offered (1:7–10; 3:8–10).  One would think […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Zechariah

In some ways, Zechariah is the most difficult of the minor prophets to understand. The first six chapters record visions that God gave Zechariah. These visions are full of symbolic images, and understanding symbolism properly is challenging.  Yet Zechariah more clearly than any other minor prophet points to the coming Savior. Prophecies of Christ’s coming, […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Haggai

The first nine minor prophets spoke before Judah’s captivity. Their message was God’s judgment on Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations. The last three minor prophets—Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi—spoke of God’s judgment and blessing on his people after they had returned from captivity. In 536 BC, Cyrus declared that the captives could return; Haggai prophesied […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Zephaniah

“I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord” (Zeph. 1:2). Zephaniah’s message is that Jehovah will utterly consume the wicked, not only in other nations, but also in Judah.  Every minor prophet announced the nearness, the certainty, and the justice of Jehovah’s judgment. But only three others alluded to its […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Habakkuk

Young people, would you rejoice in Jehovah, even if you were poor and hungry? Would you praise him, even if all around you were trouble and grief? Would you bless him, if what he sent you appeared to be evil?  Habakkuk did. We can too, in the Spirit’s power, believing God’s promise that earthly troubles […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Nahum

The book of Nahum is a divine sequel to Jonah. Both Jonah and Nahum prophesied to or about the Ninevites, and Nahum prophesied later than Jonah.  Jonah prophesied sometime before 722 BC, when Samaria fell. During his day the Assyrians were threatening to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel. Nahum prophesied after Samaria’s fall, when […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Micah

We have seen that Hosea and Amos prophesied to the northern kingdom of Judah. Jonah and Obadiah prophesied to or about nations that were not Jews: Jonah to the Ninevites, and Obadiah about the Edomites. Joel had the southern kingdom of Judah in view. So did Micah.  Let’s begin with the structure of Micah’s prophecy. […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Jonah

Jonah. Sent to Nineveh, but fleeing to Tarshish. A great storm. Jonah thrown overboard; the storm stopped. A great fish that swallowed Jonah. Jonah’s beautiful prayer in the fish’s belly. Jonah’s deliverance from the fish.  Jonah sent to Nineveh again. Jonah preaching that Nineveh would be destroyed. The repentance of the Ninevites, and God’s declaration […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Obadiah

What must the believing young person in God’s covenant know about the prophecy of Obadiah?  First, that it was uttered by a man who was Jehovah’s servant (the name “Obadiah” means “servant of Jehovah”), about whom we know nothing more. This prophecy is the shortest book in the Old Testament.  Second, that Obadiah prophesied of […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Amos

As did Hosea and Joel, Amos prophesied that God would judge his people. Amos also specified Israel’s sin: she had despised the poor, freely committed adultery, and despised those who rebuked her with God’s word (2:6–12); she worshiped Jehovah, but not according to his law and not from the heart (4:1, 4, 5); she had […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Joel

Hosea had prophesied that God would judge the kingdom of Israel, the northern ten tribes, by destroying them. Joel’s prophecy is also about God’s judgment. His attention is on the southern kingdom of Judah, out of which Christ would come. The judgment that God would visit on Judah would not destroy Judah, but would save […]

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Overview of the Minor Prophets: Hosea

The book of Hosea is a true story about two faithful husbands (Hosea and God) and two unfaithful wives (Hosea’s wife, Gomer, and the nation of Israel). Chapter 1 records God’s command to Hosea to marry a whore—a woman who let many men use her body sinfully, sexually, and for their pleasure. Hosea did so, […]

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