Thursday, 30 April 2015

Justin A. Mihoc: The Pre-existence of the Church Topos in Early Christianity

In early Christianity, the question of the origins or foundation of the Church has been central in a number of anti-heretical rhetorical texts, and was answered in various ways according to each group’s agenda. Despite being a slow process, it is evident that ever since the first Christian communities began to organise themselves they felt the necessity for self-identification as a new movement.
According to Genesis 1-2, God is the only pre-existent, uncreated and eternal being, who brought into being the entire created world. He is thus the originator of both physical and spiritual beings. Early Christians, believing in the filial relationship of Jesus to the Heavenly Father and Creator, were keen to determine their place within the history of salvation as the true inheritors of creation. In this context, the idea of the Church as the fulfilment of creation emerged, leading subsequently to the notion of the heavenly ecclēsia and the Church as present in the mind of God from the moment of Creation and even before that.

In order to understand this development it is necessary to understand early biblical and patristic ecclesiology first. In my paper, I shall briefly present the origin and development of the idea affirming the pre-existence of the Church in the mind of God.

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