Christocentric nature of Christianity
After the birth, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Church placed most of its focus on the life of Christ, which had a great impact on decision making regarding church-related issues. Christocentric is a Christian doctrinal term that describes theological positions, which focus on Jesus Christ, who is the second person in the Holy Trinity relating to God the Father whose focus is theocentric and the Holy Spirit, pneumocentric (Breshears 1). According to Christocentric theologies, Christ is the central theme in which the rest theological positions are oriented. A christocentric method informs the interpretive task by taking into account some presumptions, which have been used by the church in making critical decisions. Christocentric is a Christ –centered model that is not only peculiar but also influences the church’s decision regarding important factors including gnosticism, martyrdom, asceticism and other Christological controversies.
Christocenticism is based on hermeneutical principles, which Jesus Christ himself taught and demonstrated. Through an Christological lens, the Bible teachings, especially in the second testament inform the existence of the Holy Trinity and the coming of Jesus Christ in person onto earth symbolizes the second person in the trinity (Breshears 1). The Christocentric principle is peculiar as its theological view is ideally diverse from the expected view. God the father is the most superior being and many anticipate that most of the theological actions should be related to the Supreme Being. Conversely, various readings indicate the significance of the christocentric approach and view, which affected various church decisions in the past.
Readings from the Holy Book indicate how Christ was crucified, died and resurrected, thereby acting as the foundation of martyrdom in the church. Christ died due to his belief in God the father by abiding to his word. Guided by this ideology, various individuals in the biblical period are viewed as allowing to be killed while standing by their faith in God with thee likes of Saint Paul and Saint Stephen. The church, at the time linked the actions of the martyrs to Christ’s actions thereby having an effect on its decisions concerning the self-proclaimed followers of Christ. Jesus is the son of God and part of the Holy trinity and actions made by civilians, which were symmetrical to those of Jesus including persecution due to their faith, thereby guaranteed them to acquire a higher status within the church history in their absence (Breshears 2). The church offered the martyrs a higher rank, as others were saints, who are highly regarded by the church.
The quest of seeking spirituality and gaining a close relationship with God has been part of the Church’s aim from the ancient times. Most individuals purposed on achieving spiritual goals through adoption of a lifestyle, exemplified by abstinence from worldly pleasures. Asceticism is a practice embraced from the beginning of the world when Adam and Eve were accorded the power to rule over the earth. Viewed as celibate beings, both Adam and Eve committed a physical sin and acquired a punishment involving sexual pleasures. Therefore, in order to acquire a closer relationship with God, people practiced asceticism. Christocentricism is closely related to asceticism as both bear the same agenda of believing in Christ alone. The church thereby, utilized this close relation in according male ascetics and virgins the beacons of the church, symbolizing the Christian perfection. Additionally, it also influenced the hierarchical nature of the church where the emperor is at the top, followed by the priests and finally the remaining majority at the bottom.
Additionally, various individuals in ancient Christian history believe in having a better understanding of God in ways that are not known to the normal person. Derived from Greek, the term gnosis literary means knowledge though interpretation, the word is otherwise understood best as enlighten or insight. Gnosticism is rational, intellectual and non-factual knowledge of either experimental or relational knowledge of the spiritual nature within, which requires definitive transcendence of the merely scholarly to be actualized. From a Gnosticism point of view, this knowledge is necessary in distinguishing the right from the wrong in making decisions and while seeking a spiritual direction. The belief in the knowledge of this spiritual being shapes the acts of Gnostics into adopting practices, which are accepted by God. Therefore, displaying a close relation to christocentricism, where belief is in Christ alone.
Gnosticism played a rather significant role in decision making within the church. Through an experiential and relational knowledge, salvation is achieved (Lacarriere 5). The church embraced this Gnostic ideology of the existence of knowledge of a spiritual being in the process of gaining salvation from sins. While heading towards the realization of Christ’s nature, knowledge pertaining to his ways and requirements has to be comprehended as humanity is progressing towards the Omega point, where all must either graduate or fall. Gnostics agrees with Jesus’s prophesy of the Day of Judgment during his second coming and for those who are in the path of transfiguration and reborn would be able to reach the treasury of light. Despite the fact that Jesus has not yet returned or the second time, the church still holds on the non-factual knowledge that the world would end and people have to repent.
Adoption of a characteristic nature involving self-denial of physical worldly pleasures in pursuit of spiritual goals best describes asceticism. Various religious practices including Christianity advocates restraint regarding the mind, speech and actions in teaching the importance and methods of achieving a deeper level of contentment and fulfillment, which surpasses that offered by corporeal pleasures. The earliest Christian scholars eschewed sensual pleasures by advocating the adoption of an abstaining character involving disregarding the common ordinary pleasures in order to acquire a deeper inner peace (“Asceticism and Exegesis” 17). Ascetics lived an abstemious means neither as a refutation of the practices since they are virtuous or the enjoyment of life but as abets in pursuit of deeper inner satisfaction and peace. The discourse presented the ascetics with a clear distinction of methods of acquiring an inner peace, which dictates the deprivation of sensual pleasures as they related themselves in the discourse perspective.
Ascetics adopted their behavior and lifestyle that best illustrates the life of a spiritual individual with the aim of achieving inner peace. They viewed their distinct character to the ascetic discourse with reference to Christ, Adam and Eve. According to the ascetic discourse, Adam and Eve are viewed as celibate creatures as they are not to engage in any sexual pleasures but focus on God solely. With the semi-angelic status of both Adam and Eve were created in order to guard the world while taking charge of the creatures within the land. Apart from the said responsibilities, their primary obligation was abiding by God‘s commands until they committed a sinful act. Ascetics view their lives as being similar to Adam and Eve before they sinned. Deprivation of bodily pleasures gives them a sense of resemblance to Adam and Eve’s spiritual status before sinning. Additionally, Jesus Christ lived a life full of denial of various pleasures including both sexual and food pleasures (“Asceticism and Exegesis” 18). In the view of the Ascetics, Christ acquired a closer relationship with God through fasting, which ideally means consumption of lesser amounts of food. By depriving themselves sensual pleasures, ascetics believe to have acquired a similar inner peace and satisfaction similar to Christ, Adam and Eve.
Through the life of Christ, ascetics believe that adopting an abstemious behavior would enable them live a meaningful life. Readings from the Bible indicate how Jesus denied himself sexual pleasures while remaining a virgin throughout his life. In addition, on numerous occasions, he is viewed as having fasted for days while praying and fasting in order to get closer to his father, God. Fasting in other terms is viewed as self-denial of food and avoiding being gluttonous. Christ lived a Holy life and eventually died as a holy being and rose into heaven. Ascetics aim at achieving the same accomplishments as Jesus Christ, and it therefore dictates that in order to live a meaningful life as Christ did, they have to deny themselves these pleasures(“Asceticism and Exegesis” 17). Additionally, Genesis indicates that Adam and Eve had a purposeful life upon creation. However, having committed a sin by allowing their lust for a fruit made them disown their meaningful. Punished for their sins, Adam and Eve lost the dignity and holy life they once had. Thereby, the scenario created an impression that in order to live a purposeful life, one has to deny themselves sensual leisure.
Nonetheless, a person is propelled into understanding the reason as to why ascetics prefer under sleeping, under eating, not drinking any water, and worrying about how much excrement one’s body expels. Ascetics believe in denial of bodily pleasures, which are propagated by the sense of comfortability. A certain form of contentment deteriorates ones activities by impeding their thinking capabilities and they are bound to perform certain activities, which are considered as evil. Overeating, taking of excess water and sleeping are all activities, which result in a desired outcome of absolute comfort. Therefore, denying one these pleasures acts as a self-check tool that enables an individual to stay focused at all times. The imbalance created by the inefficiency of these factors propels individuals into becoming meaning people.
Conclusively, early Christians focused on asceticism as a way of acquiring a meaningful life. Through the examples set by Christ, Adam and Eve, ascetics adopt a life full abstaining from various activities including abstaining from sexual and food desires. From the ascetics’ perspective, Adam and Eve act as celibate being and a representation of the ascetic discourse. Failure to abide by God’s commands by eating the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve are punished and denied a good life. Conversely, Jesus lives a life full of several body deprivations until he dies, which make him earn a meaningful life in finality. In doing so, they believe in gaining a purposeful life just as Christ did.
Historical Jesus should be separated from the Christ of Christian faith because of the diverse symbols in the different eras. Scholars believe that ancient Jesus is accompanied with some practices, which are not applicable in the present. His views regarding certain issues do not correlate with Christian church as it follows the proceeding teachings in the books later on. However, separating the Historical Jesus from the Christ of Christian faith makes the intended meaning and actions of Christ lose its true connotation though manipulation (Maretha 104).
It refers to a significant Jewish temple whose location was on Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516BCE to 70 CE. The Second Temple was built after the First Temple was destroyed at the time when the Jews from the Kingdom of Judah went into émigré in 586 BCE.
The Pharisees consists the association of Jews who were formerly a social movement, a school of thought and a political party in the period of the Second Temple in the Holy Land. This association began underneath the Hasmonean dynasty between 140 to 37 BCE during the wake of the revolt by the Maccabeans
The second coming of Christ, also known as Second Advent of Christ refers to the anticipated returning of Jesus Christ. According to the biblical messianic prophesies, Jesus is expected to come back to earth at an unknown time and this belief varies from one denomination to the next.
Achamoth refers to the inferior or second Sophia in the Gnostic of Pitis Sophia, which is a personification of nature’s productive force that is the lowest level surface in the astral light. Through delivery by Christos, Sophia Achamoth is displayed as having been lost in the chaos on her quest to reach the supreme light and in this case is the cosmic logos of the masculine manifestation.
Perpetua is a Christian martyr who is believed to have passed on in 203 of the 3rd century. At the age of 22 years, the noble woman who was married and she were nursing a child at the time of her death. Pepetua was a catechumen and it was during the emperor’s birthday celebrations that her servants, Revocatus, Felicitas, Saturninus and Secundulus together with her were put to death at the Carthage within the Roman province located in Africa.
Constantine, also known as Saint Constantine was an emperor in Rome from 306 to 307. The son of an army man, Flavius Valerius Constantius and Helena’s consort, Saint Constantine played a significant role during his rule. He ordered for the construction of the Holy Sepulchre church on the ostensible site of Jesus’s tomb, thereby making it the holiest place in the region.
The Basilica in ancient history refers to a king’s tribunal chamber. It also describes a Roman building of a public court, which is open and its location is adjacent to a Roman town’s forum. The name also applies to Christian buildings with similar forms and with the same architectural form with a central aisles and nave, which in the present refer to a vital church with special official rights accorded by the Pope.
Also known as Saint Augustine, Augustine of Hippo or Saint Austin was an early philosopher and Christian Theologian whose scripts were influential in the progress of Western philosophy and Western Christianity. Augustine was a Hippo Regius bishop in the African Roman province. He is one of the most important writers with Confessions and City of God being some of his books written in the Patristic Era.
Heresy is a term used to indicate any provocative theory or belief that varies strongly from the established customs and beliefs. From both apostasy, it is distinct and it is the explicitly repudiation of blasphemy and one’s cause, religion or principles, which is impertinence toward religion. It refers to violations of significant religious teachings.
Marcion of Sinope was a vital leader in early Christianity. His theology is characterized by rejection of the description in the Jewish scriptures by affirming that God was the true Father of Christ.
A bishop is a consecrated or ordained Christian clergy member who is entrusted with the roles of overseeing and authority in church. He claims apostolic succession, which emanates from direct historical lineage.
Thick flesh refers to the coming together of man and woman. According to asceticism, it referred to the sensual pleasure attained through sexual intercourse or even caressing between a man and a woman.
Also known as, last Adam, the title refers to Jesus in the New Testament. The title makes comparisons between Jesus and Adam.
Anthony the Great or Antony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, , Anthony of Thebes and Father of All Monks, was an Egyptian Christian saint and a prominent leader amongst the Desert Fathers. He helped in spreading monasticism in Western Europe.
In 381 C.E., the first Imperial Council of the Imperial State Religion in the Holy Roman Empire was made. The proceedings deliberately and falsely named the third Ecumenical Council in order to imply the inclusiveness of diverse Christian faiths and the subsistence of the Catholic Church before 742.
Symphonia is a musical instrument in the Book of Daniel, which refers to a bagpipe upon translation. It is a king of clavicord applied by Praetorius in the 13th and 14th centuries.
It refers to a mystery religion, which was practissed in the Roman Empire between the 1st and 4th centuries A.D. Adapted into the Greek as Mithras, the forename of the Persian god Mithra became a distinctive imagery.
“Of the same substance”
In ancient Greek, the phrase is used to symbolize similarity. In order to show a similarity between the words, God and Jesus were referred to be of the same substance, meaning they are equally God.
By definition, a martyr refers to a person who willingly accepts to undergo suffering or even die due to his or her principle, belief or cause and the value is attributed to martyrdom. In different periods, there existed different martyrs, of whom most were charged of heresy. The first martyr to be killed due to his belief in Christ was Saint Stephen, who according to the Acts of the Apostles, was stoned to death. In 44 A.D., James the Great was beheaded followed by the killing of Philip the Apostle in 60 A.D by a halberd. Some of the other earliest willing victims include James the Just, Mathias, Saint Andrew, Mark, Saint Peter, Apostle Paul, Saint Jude, Saint Bartholomew, Thomas the Apostle, Luke the Evangelist and Simon the Zealot. The famous Christian martyrs in the second and 3rd century A.D. include Bishop Polycarp, Ignacius of Antioch, Justin the Martyr, Origen, Saint Januarius, Saint Philomena, Blandina and Perpetua and Felicity (Banks 7). In the middle ages, John of Arc, Jerome of Prague and John Huss were killed due to their Christian belief. Most of the Christian martyrs suffered torturous and cruel deaths such as burning, crucifixion and stoning.
In the Christian context, different martyrs accepted to die due to diverse reasons. Christian martyrs in totality accepted to undergo pain and suffering due to their belief in Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus Christ accepted to die on the cross, the martyrs act in accordance to Jesus’s actions and teachings. In several occasions, they are viewed as declining to defend themselves and in the contrary, present themselves to any form of torture as an imitation of Jesus’ Christ’s willingness to be sacrificed. Additionally, there are female martyrs such as Blanddina, Perpetua and Felicity who showed that faith, belief in Jesus Christ was not linked to gender, and they offered to die in order to display their solidarity.
The Nicene Creed is a vital aspect in a mass that includes the profession of one’s faith. The Creed is a recital often performed at the beginning of the Liturgy, Eucharist. These statements have been proclaimed for 16 years, which is a summary of Christian’s professions. Every individual believes in one creed or the other as it encompasses life influences. The Creed is subdivided into three major sections, in which the first part focuses on the supreme most being in the Holy Trinity, God the father. The first section of part one begins by informing that God is the Almighty, symbolizing that there exists only one God. It progresses on inform that God is the creator of all creatures in the world symbolizing his prowess and immense capabilities and power. The existence of all existing matter should be attributed to God and therefore, creating an impression of God as being all-powerful.
The second middle section of the Creed identifies Jesus Christ as being God himself. Various important aspects of the existence of Christ are noted in this section, which is the longest among all other sections. It goes ahead and identifies the importance of Christ in his coming to the earth, his life, death and eventually rising into heaven. This section also displays how Jesus coming to earth was to save humanity from sin. Finally, the last section of the Creed includes the Holy Spirit who is the third divine person. Similarly, emphasis is placed on the Holy Spirit being God. The professions in this section identify the Holy Spirit as the foundation of sanctification and the fact that it forms part of the Holy Trinity and dwells within a person in order to attain the gift of grace.
Nestorians view of Humanity and Divinity
Developed by Nestorius, his Christological views attempted to explain rationally and comprehend the manifestation of the divine logos as being a man regarding the second person of the Holy Trinity. Nestorians have a diverse view of humanity and divinity in regards to Jesus Christ (Vandersluys 2). They believe that Christ is a combination of two forms, the Christian part and the human part. Nestorius argued that Jesus was born of human flesh and he grew up as a normal being therefore; he has a human part that links him to his existence on earth. Conversely, there is another section of Jesus, which symbolizes him as the son of God. This spiritual being is what notifies him as being supreme and different from other people. Therefore, Nestorians viewed Jesus as being composed of two aspects, the human form and the divine form.
Despite the rejection by the First Council of Ephesus in 431, Nestorian view of divinity and humanity has a significant role in the life of Jesus Christ upon his followers. Having a diverse perspective about Jesus Christ brings about a connection between humanity and spirituality. The presence of Jesus in the Human form can be viewed as a symbolic being to the people with the meaning that despite being of diverse origin, a person can still live a meaningful life by following God’s commands (Vandersluys 8). His human form is important in notifying people that indeed living a holy life is practical and achievable. Additionally, Nestorian view of Jesus as a spiritual being displays his role on earth as the son of God as well as I his importance to the human race.
Theotokos refers Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to the Greek terms, Theos means God and tiktein means to give birth. Therefore, Jesus’ mother was given the Theotokos, which means the one who gave birth to God. During its translation into English, Theokotos meant Mother of God. The use of this name was defended by Patriarch Peter of Alexandria in 322 and in 431, it was formally authorized by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus. Followed by the declaration by the Church, human natures and divine were united in Jesus as a person and as the son of Mary. Therefore, Mary was called Theokotos because the son she bore in flesh, Jesus, is the Divine personnel of the Trinity. Conclusively, the Marian title is an Christological statement that affirms that Jesus, the second person in the Divine Trinity is truly, God with us.
Asceticism and Exegesis in Early Christianity: The Reception of New Testament Texts in Ancient Ascetic Discourses. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013. Print.
Banks, Raymond. The Early Church: The Christian Church in the Roman Empire to Ad325. Newtownards: Colourpoint Books, 2010. Print.
Breshears, Jefrey. “Christian and Eastern Spirituality: The Fundamental Differences.” The Aeropagus. 2004: 1-2. Print.
Lacarriere, Jacques. The Gnostics. London: Peter Owen, 2005. Print.
Maretha, Jacobs. “The relation between Jesus, Christ and Christian faith in current historical Jesus.” Neotestamentica. 30.1 (1996): 103-130. Print.
Vandersluys, Marc. Personality and Terminology: The Nestorian Controversy. 2009: 1-17. Print.
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