Early Church Leaders – Ignatius …..

October 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

My study of the early church leaders is to show that there was much diversity in the early church that was later driven out. Many, if not most of the “church fathers” believed things that are now considered heretical. Ignatius was certainly no exception.

Ignatius and Irenaeus had definite ideas of how the young Christian congregations should be governed. Both authoritarians, they were hardly advocates of participatory democracy. Still, they respected the remarkable diversity of the churches and did not try to enforce any standardization. — The Future of Faith (Cox, Harvey)

As indicated by the above quote for The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox, Ignatius was a contemporary of Irenaeus. Even though they were powerful men in the early church they did not get into micro-managing the various congregations they were involved with. Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch after Saint Peter and St. Evodius. There are seven letters, commonly known as epistles today, attributed to him.  One of his major beliefs was the value of the Eucharist He called it a “medicine of immortality”. He, strangely to us today, had very strong desire for bloody martyrdom in the arena. He I expresses rather graphically in places.

An examination of his theology of salvation, technically called soteriology, shows that he regarded salvation as one being free from the powerful fear of death and thus to bravely face martyrdom. The idea of original sin was not part of his agenda for salvation but instead was to free us of our personal sins committed in our lifetime.

One of the interesting things about Ignatius is that there is now swirling doubt as to the authenticity of the seven letters attributed to him. Some evidence seems to point to one person who later modified the content to meet his view of theology. Without being able to find much about Ignatius I will leave the quote in The Future of Faith of respecting the diversity of the church as the main focus of this post.

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