Cultural Christians in the Early Church Video Lectures
Get to know sinful saints and saintly sinners in the early church.
Christians today tend to see the earliest followers of Jesus as zealous converts who were much more counterculturally devoted to their faith than typical churchgoers today. Cultural Christianity might seem like a modern concept, one most likely to occur in areas where Christianity is the majority culture. However, Cultural Christians in the Early Church Video Lectures explains that in the early church, cultural Christians were the rule rather than the exception.
Using categories of sin as an organizing principle, classicist Nadya Williams considers the challenge of culture to the earliest converts to Christianity as they struggled to live on mission in the Greco-Roman cultural milieu of the Roman Empire. These believers blurred and pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be a saint or sinner from the first to the fifth centuries CE. Their stories not only provide the opportunity to get to know the regular people in the early churches, but they offer a fresh perspective for considering the difficult timeless questions that stubbornly persist in our own world and churches. Recognizing that cultural sins were always a part of the story of the church and its people is a message that is both a source of comfort and a call to action in our pursuit of sanctification today.
Session Titles and Runtimes
1 - Introduction (25 min)
2 - More for Me, Less for Thee: The Curious Case of Sharing without Caring in the Early Church (27 min)
3 - BBQ and Wine: When Food Leads to Sin (27 min)
4 - (Un)Holy Bodies, (Un)Holy Minds: Resisting the Cultural Views of Sexuality (27 min)
5 - Trouble in Bithynia: How Cultural Sins Lead to Apostasy (28 min)
6 - Unexpected Martyrs: Women’s Challenge to Cultural Christianity in the Third-Century Church (26 min)
7 - When Sharing and Caring Disappear: The Problem of Self-Care in the Age of Crisis (27 min)
8 - “Are You Washed in the Blood?”: Sectarian Violence among Cultural Christians (29 min)
9 - The Altar and the Cross: Christian Nationalism in the Twilight of Empire (29 min)
10 - The Siren Call of the Desert: Why Running Away from the Church Cannot Solve the Problem of Cultural Sin (40 min)
About the Author
Nadya Williams (PhD, Classics and Program in the Ancient World, Princeton University) is a military historian of the Greco-Roman world and the co-editor of Civilians and Warfare in World History. She is Book Review Editor at Current, where she also edits The Arena blog. She is a regular contributor to the Anxious Bench, and has also written for Plough, Front Porch Republic, Church Life Journal, History Today Magazine, History News Network, and The Conversation.