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Exciting New Mission Program – Revolutionary!

October 21st, 2011
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“By the year 250, Christianity had spread to the limits of the known world. . . . The Church spread rapidly over a wide geographic area, increasing phenomenally in numbers . . . This work was done by ordinary Christians. We know of no missionary societies; we hear nothing of organized effort. Wherever Christians went doing their regular tasks, the pagan saw a different kind of individual and heard about ‘the Savior.’  … When the early Christians themselves recount how they learned of the Gospel, they usually confess that their faith was the result of casual contact with that “way of life.” . . . The work was not done by people who called themselves missionaries but by rank-and-file members. The least among men, even the unknown, are indeed the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

The Church from Age to Age, p. 13. Print edition. Kindle edition.



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  1. October 21st, 2011 at 07:11 | #1

    That’s just a little different from the prevailing mentality of church-sponsored social events like model railroad clubs and Super Bowl viewings where we try to sneak the Gospel to the “unchurched” past their “radar”…

  2. Richard Kauzlarich
    October 21st, 2011 at 21:35 | #2

    Isn’t this quote actually from “The Church of the Catacombs” by Walter Oetting, CPH 1964, pages 23 and 24?

    • October 22nd, 2011 at 04:08 | #3

      Yes, and from this book too. Please read the book’s description via the links provided in the blog post for further details. Blessings!

  3. Tom McHagel
    October 22nd, 2011 at 17:29 | #4

    Rev von Cain,

    Your author is absolutely correct if he includes in his definition of “rank and file”: the 72 and apostles and bishops and itinerent prophets and martyrs and apologists and polemicists and catechists.

    Tom McHagel

    • October 22nd, 2011 at 17:57 | #5

      My dear McHagel, do you seriously wish to suggest that the laity did not do precisely as the author said? I never realized you Lutheran Irish were so sacerdotalist.

  4. Tom McHagel
    October 23rd, 2011 at 12:42 | #6

    Rev von Cain,

    Rather than being sacerdotal, I am using the categories of your author. When he refers to rank and file, he implies officers. There are more than an ample examples that officers played intentional and extensive roles in the mission work of the church.

    For example, what was the arena but the place of mission festivals: the martyr stood up and publicly confessed in word and deed the Christian faith to the thousands in attendance. Again, apologies were mission tracts. Again, Gregory the Wonderworker was converted while enrolled at Origin’s catechetical school. Read Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History.

    I am not saying that the rank and file were not involved, though there is scant evidence of this. As your author notes: many are unknown. I am pointing out that even though the officers may not have been called missionaries, those who were not rank and file were very much involved.

    Tom McHagel

    • October 23rd, 2011 at 21:53 | #7

      Dear McHagel, I again ask you: are you wiling to suggest the laity had no role in the expansion of the church? Must we, in our desire to defend the office of the ministry, suggest otherwise?

  5. Tom McHagel
    October 24th, 2011 at 07:55 | #8

    von Cain,

    I am not trying to defend the office of the holy ministry, just providing information. And I am not denying that the rank and file had a role in the mission of the church. Did you read my posts, or are you simply looking for an argument? I am merely concerned that your author has overlooked or dismissed the role of the officers in the early mission of the church.


  6. Tom McHagel
    October 24th, 2011 at 11:10 | #10

    von Cain,

    Would you please clarify for me: does your author acknowledge and provide examples of the intentional and extensive roles that the officers played in the mission of the pre-250 church?


    • October 24th, 2011 at 14:01 | #11

      McHagel, yes, actually, he does a nice job of explaining the “how” and “why” of the episcopal arrangement of the church, beginning very early in its history.

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