2004 Conference - The Early ChurchDeep in History

Four Witnesses Brought Me Home – Rod Bennett

Rod Bennett | December 30, 2014 7 Comments

Former Southern Baptist Rod Bennett used to believe that the Catholic Church was the result of the “Great Apostasy.” However, as he was lead to read the works of the earliest Christians, he realized that the Early Church actually resembled Catholic beliefs and traditions!

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Study Questions:

-Did Bennett’s opening story make an impression on you? If so, what was that impression? Have you experienced a similar occasion in your faith journey?

-Have you ever heard of the “Great Apostasy” to which Bennett refers? How does Constantine play a part in the supposed “apostasy”? How does Bennett’s talk put the “apostasy” notion into perspective?

-Bennett said that his understanding of the Great Apostasy was based on claims that the Catholic Church and Constantine invented teachings that the first Christians did not believe.

-Bennett claimed that after reading the Early Church Fathers, he began asking the opposite question: “When did some
Christians stop teaching these things?” Have you had this experience?

-What was Christ’s method of passing down His truths before the Bible was compiled? How were Christians formed before the Bible?

-Discuss some of the descriptions of early Christianity that surprised you.

-Was post-Constantine Christianity very different that pre-Constantine Christianity?

-What is missing in the Great Apostasy theory according to Bennett? What was actually happening during the Great
Apostasy period?

Vocabulary:

Early Church Fathers: A title that gradually came to be applied to Christianity’s earliest teachers, who in the period of the Church’s infancy and first growth, instructed her members in the teaching of Jesus Christ and that teaching which He very specifically had given to His Apostles. An Early Church Father must be of must be of orthodox doctrine and learning, living a saintly life, and having a certain antiquity (usually, prior to the Council of Chalcedon).

The “Four Witnesses”: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyon.