Friday, April 11, 2014

Early Requirements of Church Membership

I was just reading where in the Early Church (around 200 AD) converts to Christianity had certain requirements they would have to meet before being baptized into the Christian religion.  In most denominations today if a person claims to have accepted Jesus then they are baptized and brought into the Church.  In this day, however, background checks were made, assessments were made of the candidate's suitability, and then they were given training on what it meant to be a Christian.  This training would last three years.  Only then could they become members of the Church.

The profession of a person also had a lot to do with whether one could become a Christian or not.  For example if one were a prostitute they would be excluded.  Other examples of professions that would keep you out were anything to do with magic or divination or the theatre.  What I read did not say whether or not if they could become a Christian if they gave up that profession.  I would hope so.  Otherwise the teachings of grace and forgiveness would be null and void already.

There were also certain professions where one would have to make certain vows about their jobs.  Soldiers could join provided they vowed never to take part in an execution.  If ordered to do so, they must deny the order at risk of being executed themselves.  Painters and sculptors could become Christians only if they vowed not to make idols.   

To us today this may seem like a lot.  On the other hand, you might think they had the right idea.  Either way, I believe that joining the Church today can be done very easily without any actual repentance or even true belief or desire for Jesus.  I wonder how different our churches would be if things today were more like things in the third century.

In the love of Christ,


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