Part 22 – What Happened To The First Christian Habitat?
About 300 years after Pentecost, we got pushed out of our habitat. And now, we are just about the only species on earth, whose almost entire population was cut off from their natural habitat.
30 AD to 380 AD – Churches met primarily in homes.
Jesus rose from the dead in 30 AD, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to earth to indwell believers on the day of Pentecost. On that day the church was born. For the next 350 years, the church met primarily in homes. They also met for the next year (30 to 31 AD) in the temple in Jerusalem for public proclamation of the gospel, since the early believers were Jews who believed that the Messiah had come, and so were still allowed in the temple.
31 AD – The great persecution against Christians began (Acts 8:1).
Only a year later, according to Acts 8:1, a great persecution against Christians began, and Christians were barred from the temple. From that point on, they met only in community homes.
306 AD – Roman Emperor Constantine I came to power.
In 306 AD Roman Emperor Constantine I came to power, and he reigned from 306 AD to 337 AD. At that time, less than 4 percent of the population were Christians, and they gathered together as Kingdom Communities in homes.
313 AD – Roman Emperor Constantine I decriminalized Christianity.
In 313 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine I signed the “Edict of Milan”, which decriminalized Christianity. Christians were still considered the fringe of society, but at least they were no longer considered criminals.
313 AD – First church buildings began to be constructed.
According to archaeological findings and historical documents, a few buildings began to be constructed for Christians to assembly in, but they were very small in number.
380 AD – Christianity declared by Emperor Theodosius I to be the religion of the Roman Empire.
In 380 AD the Roman Emperor Theodosius I signed the “Edict of Thessalonica”, which made Christianity to be the religion of the Roman Empire. All Romans were expected to “convert” to Christianity. He ordered that everyone had to be water baptized, and in doing so, they were declared to be Christians.
He began building places for believers to meet, that were given to the Christians, at the State’s expense.
380 AD – Christianity became a religious system.
At that time, the pagan mentality saw religion as reporting to a temple once or twice a week, standing around an altar watching solemn-faced, darkly dressed priests, and offering a sacrifice to a heathen god. When the ritual was over, everyone went home.
And it was that pagan mind-set that infiltrated Christianity. The corporate nature of the ecclesia was lost, community ended, the natural habitat of our species vanished, and so the proper place to learn how to live by the Lord’s life, vanished as well.
Church hierarchy was modeled around the Roman political system, and church meetings were modeled around pagan temple meetings. Christianity quickly degraded from a living relationship with a risen Lord, to a religious system of form and works.
380 AD – House churches banned by the Roman Church.
At the same time, house churches were banned by the newly formed Roman Church. Why were house churches banned? Because House Churches cannot be controlled by political systems, governments, or religions.
380 AD – Secularization of the church began.
Because Christianity became the state religion, people declared themselves to be Christians for personal gain, and without an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. As a result, the secularization of the church began.
476 AD to 1300 AD – Collapse of the Roman Empire, and entrance into the Dark Ages.
Less than 100 years after House Churches were outlawed and the Christian Church secularized, the Roman Empire collapsed, the Christian Church became a religion of superstition and control, and Europe fell into the Dark Ages.
(Note: I am indebted to Gene Edwards for many of the concepts in this series.)
… Next time …. Part 23 – The Importance Of Living In Our New Habitat