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Pictured are clay pots found with the Dead Sea Scrolls in the community of the Jewish Essenes.  They represent vessels which contain nourishment.  Below are resources developed by NHI staff related to the early church, especially the first 400 - 500 years.  They either expand on early Christian teaching or activity, or draw upon that well as a resource or inspiration. 

NHI Resources on the Early Church


Slavery and Abolition


Slavery and Abolition in the Early Church:

How the Early Church Got It Right

long ppt presentation


Slavery and Abolition in the Early Church:

How the Early Church Got It Right

short ppt presentation


Slavery in Christianity, Part 1: 

Slavery in the Bible, Slavery Today (and ppt)


Slavery in Christianity, Part 2: 

Abolitionism from the First to Fifteenth Century


Slavery in the Bible - Worksheet


Powerpoint slides and Facebook video part 1 and part 2


Powerpoint slides and Facebook video


Powerpoint slides and Facebook video



Women in the Early Church part 1 and part 2


Women in Church Leadership part 1 and part 2


The Rights of Women in the Bible part 1 and part 2



Human Dignity:  Does Every Human Being Matter?


Children in the Early Church


Christian Restorative Justice: Beyond Charity -

God's Restorative Justice for Children and Families

Laws, Policies, and Governance


The Impact of Jesus (and ppt)


The Role of Jesus in Revolution and the Pursuit of Justice


White American Evangelical Political Attitudes and Behavior: Explanation and Correctives

a presentation given to the staff of Emmanuel Gospel Center, Apr 18, 2018, as a follow-up to how Christian restorative justice impacts ministry in light of white American evangelical political attitudes; audio file here

Concepts of Authority and Organization


Christian Ethics:

The Church, Organizations, and Organizational Authority

Judaism and Christianity


The Qumran Community: A Proto-Christian Sect

and What It Means for Jewish-Christian Relations

The Christian Concept of a Good God, the Trinity, and the Nicene Creed


The Son of God Shared in Our Fallen Human Nature That We Might Share in His Healed Human Nature

A short devotional on the Gospel of Matthew 1:18 - 25 using quotes from early church sources


The Council of Nicaea, the Origin of "the Trinity,"

and the Limitations of Human Language 

on the linguistic and logical dimension of how theological language works


The Council of Nicaea, the Origin of "the Trinity,"

and the Role of Political Power 

on the political history of the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and its later political significance


Big Questions About God: 

Comparing the Earliest Christian Theology

with High Federal Calvinist Theology, and Why It Matters

workbook style, with quotes and questions


Hell as the Love of God (and ppt) (short ppt)

This is a full exploration of how hell is the love of God because (1) the united church taught that for over a thousand years; (2) God's Triune nature requires all other activity of God to flow out of His love; (3) literary exegesis of "fire" shows that it is God's call to purification


C.S. Lewis' Theology of Atonement

An essay exploring Lewis' atonement theology ("medical substitution") and dependence on Irenaeus and Athanasius, submitted by Mako originally as a final paper to Dr. Gary Deddo for his class, The Theological Thought of C.S. Lewis


Penal Substitution vs. Medical Substitution: A Historical Comparison 

An analysis of the atonement theology ("medical substitution") of early church theologians, including Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, the Odes of Solomon, Justin Martyr of Rome, Melito of Sardis, Tertullian of Carthage, Methodius of Olympus, Athanasius of Alexandria (paper in progress to include later theologians, bishops, and councils)


Free Will in Patristic Theology

quotations from early church theologians


Why God is Not Evil, Not One Bit,

According to Irenaeus of Lyons

An attempt at reconstructing a lost work by Irenaeus, the most important theological writer in the second century AD and the first "biblical theologian" after the New Testament writers, based on his existing writings


Irenaeus, Theodicy, and the Problem of Evil: His Lost Work "That God is Not the Author of Evil" and Evangelism Today 

A paper submitted to the Pappas Patristics Institute in March 2019.


The Good God and the Healing of Creation

According to Athanasius of Alexandria

A presentation given Feb 4, 2019 to my class in Orthodox Dogmatics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary, at the kind invitation of Father Emmanuel Clapsis


A series of blog posts exploring the thought and context of Athanasius of Alexandria, who is considered the fountainhead of Christian theology.

The Christian Undoing of Scapegoating


Atonement in Scripture:

The Scapegoat Series

(NHI blog)


Donald Trump's Scapegoating

and the Myth of Retributive Justice

(Feb 12, 2016)


Donald Trump's Scapegoating

and the Scapegoating of the Black Community

(Feb 15, 2016)


What Lynching, Torture, and Scapegoating

Have in Common: Penal Substitution

(Feb 18, 2016)

on retributive impulses


Why Penal Substitution is a Gateway Drug to Right-Wing Extremism

(Feb 22, 2016)

on God as sorting, not uniting, creation


Why Evangelicals Scapegoat Gays, Muslims, Etc.

(Feb 29, 2016)

on the sacrificial system in the Pentateuch


Why Trump and Cruz Are the Direct, Logical Result of American Evangelical Theology

(Mar 6, 2016)

on Romans and the Sinai covenant


A Neuroscientific Reason for Why Retributive Justice is from the Fall,

and Penal Substitution is Immature

(Apr 28, 2016)

on the Fall and the exile from the Garden 

Spirituality, Trauma, and Emotional Life


Christian Mysticism: 

Are We Missing Something?


Jesus and the Shaping of Desire:

An Exploration of Early Church Spiritual Practices

Warfare and Conflict


Military Service According to Ambrose of Milan


Just War Theory According to Augustine of Hippo

The New Testament


The Formation of the New Testament:

Why Not the Gospels of Thomas and Judas?