Lecture Twenty Two Teachers and Creeds

Scope: As religious communities expand in size and survive through time, they tend to develop more elaborate forms of institution and more structured patterns of belief. Earliest Christianity was characteristically simple with respect to structure and creed. Itinerant apostles and prophets exercised authority wherever they appeared, whereas in local churches, elders and supervisors carried out administration, as well as teaching. The Gnostic crisis of the second century—together with the prophetic movement called Montanism—forced the issue of belief and structure. In response to the charismatic leaders of Gnosticism and Montanism, orthodox Christianity located authority in the teaching office of the bishop, regarded as the successor of the apostles. In response to Gnosticism, orthodox Christians developed the "rule of faith," which eventually became the creed.

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