Friday, July 3, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus Canonical Epistle

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part I: Acknowledged Writings: Canonical Epistle

Well, my plan to regularly go through each of the readings in this volume was offset by work, current events, family, and all those other things that regularly drag us down ;)

But I'll keep plugging away at it, even if it means that by the time I actually post these reviews it may have been so long since I read the work that my memory of it isn't all that great. [shrug] What can you do?

The "Canonical Epistle," for example. Isn't really what it sounds like. It's not so much an "epistle that everyone admits is a part of the canon of Gregory's works" as it is a "list of guidelines and doctrines the same as we see released by councils and such." For example, there's Canon VIII:
Now those who have been so audacious as to invade the houses of others, if they have once been put on their trial and convicted, ought not to be deemed fit even to be hearers in the public congregation. But if they have declared themselves and made restitution they should be placed in the ranks of the repentant.
In other words, what are we to do with criminals who claim to be Christians? If they have been tried and convicted by the state, they don't even get to show up at the church meeting. But if they admit their sin and repent of it, they should be allowed back in to enter into the process of reconciliation that others have to go through.
Or, what about Christians who have been pressed into military service by marauding barbarians? If they forget their Christian obligations not to kill or pillage, again they must be expelled from the assembly--at least until a council has made a final decision about what to do in such instances.

This is worth reading to get a sense for how the church fathers thought about church life and the relationship between the general culture and the body of believers.

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