"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Apostolic Father: Ignatius of Antioch

or Sanctification by the Church.

Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, another member of the generation after the apostles.
Protestants all know, one can have too high a view of the Church. But another sin Protestants forget, is having too low a view of the Church. Ignatius introduces us to a very foreign topic to Protestants: Sanctification by the Church. While we know the primary agent in sanctification is God (1 Pet 1:2, 1 Thes 5:23, 2 Thes 2:13), we may forget that sanctification is also mentioned in a group context (1 Cor 1:2).

Ignatius develops this thought further, in lines such as:

“He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, ‘God resisteth the proud.’”

“I am far inferior to you, and require to be sanctified by your Church of Ephesus.”

“being subject to the [Church leaders], ye may in all respects be sanctified.”
So Ignatius might say to the modern Christian: Just you and Jesus? A Christian without the Church? No such thing. God may alone sanctify, but he does by means of the Church and if we take Rom 6:22 seriously, sanctification must precede eternal life. And if the Church is the means, either here or in the next life, we have to learn to love the Church, and be sanctified by it.

Ignatius wrote seven letters which survive. His letter to the Ephesians is best for a one letter introduction to his thought.

Ignatius also ended his life in martyrdom, fed to the lions in Rome.


Aaron said...

Love this post. So very relevant. It leaves little else to be said.

M. Jay Bennett said...

Good stuff!

I like what Cyprian said:

"He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother."