Christianity 201

March 12, 2012

The Oldest Recorded Christian Sermon

Items here can sometimes run quite long, but this one is even more so, and requires you to click. However, even if you don’t read every word — and I read the first half of it out loud on Saturday night — you’ll get a sense of a type of teaching quite different from what we often hear today.

Jim Greer originally posted this in two parts at the blog Not for Itching Ears. Allow me to reblog his introduction, before linking you to the actual sermon. And grab a coffee before you start and then kick back for about 20 minutes and take a trip a long way back in time…

I have listened to a lot of sermons in the past 25 years. I have also read many old sermons from the great preachers of the past. I have amassed a huge library of books from great authors, both past and present. Many of these works have impacted my life in big and small ways. But none more than the writings and messages of the early christian church leaders.

In my quest to figure this thing called Christianity out, I have found it helpful to go back and read how the earliest Christ followers understood Christianity. For some reason unknown to me, many of my contemporaries are content to allow the modern preacher and theologian to shape their view of what it means to be a Christian. As if Christianity has not changed in 2000 years. What passed for authentic Christianity in the first and second century is not even close to what we see today in the larger body of Christ. I think that the earliest Christians would probably not even recognize us. Like the telephone game many of us played as children, the farther one gets away from the original, the more likely one is to distort the message. This is why I read the early church fathers, the anti-nicene Fathers in particular.

Today, I have posted 10 chapters from the book of Second Clement. Written sometime in the late first century or early 2nd century, it is the oldest sermon we have, outside of the sermons recorded in the New Testament. It was probably a message delivered in Corinth and meant to be spoken to the congregation. It was either written by Clement himself or simply attributed to him.

As you read it, you will find that it reads just like a letter from the New Testament. Of course, it isn’t scripture, but you will be encouraged to follow Him if you read it. In addition to that, you will see how the earliest Christian leaders understood our faith. Let me know if you recognize today’s church in anything that is written here.

Link to Part One of Have you Read the Oldest Christian Sermon Outside the New Testament? (click here)

Link to Part Two of Have you Read the Oldest Christian Sermon Outside the New Testament? (click here)

Note: Clement is not without controversy, but was not considered heretical by the Catholic church. You can read more about him at Wikipedia and Theopedia.