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The Early Church

The Bible and The Early Church is for the middle school student who is interested in learning about the sweeping story of the Bible and how exactly the Lord Jesus fulfilled His promise that “the gates of hell will not prevail” against the church. The student in this class should be able to read at a middle school level, form paragraphs easily, follow instructions on how to mark a book, writing summaries, taking notes, and writing short essays.
While Canterbury House is a program of studies dedicated to rediscovering and renewing a lively Anglican heritage of theology, Scripture reading and prayer, this course in Early Church History is the study of a time when the church was undivided in the sense of modern “denominations,” but when there was still a diversity of opinions about the theological and doctrinal meaning of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. It is a course that would appeal to anyone interested in a survey of the Bible and the development of the beliefs, rites and practices of the Early Church. We will be looking at Biblical interpretation in a way that is as true to the Patristic (Early Church) understanding as possible.
The course starts with reading significant portions of the Old and New Testaments to trace the story of creation, fall and redemption. They will discover the Biblical message about God’s goodness, human sin, and the need for a Savior. Students will learn key terms (covenant, exodus, law, sacrifice, prophet, disciple, apostle, passion, great commission, etc.), key figures (Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, Ruth, Mary, Zachariah, Elisabeth, John the Baptist etc.), and important theological ideas (creation, fall, sin, atonement, incarnation, resurrection, grace, charity, etc.). They will learn about the fourfold sense of scriptural interpretation and the importance of each: the literal, allegorical, tropological (moral) and eschatological.
The second part of the course looks at the history of the Church from the time of the apostles through to the ecumenical councils of the 4th and 5th centuries: the teaching of the Apostles, the conversion of the Gentiles, the practices of the early church such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper, persecution and martyrdom, the successors to the apostles (known as the Church Fathers), the Apostles Creed, the establishment of the canon of scriptures, the controversies over the nature of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity to the final form of the Nicene Creed. Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s book When the Church Was Young will provide our entry into this time. Occasional supplemental material will be provided, such as the writings of the Church Fathers (all of which are available online or in book form, if desired).

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • ESV Bible
  • When the Church Was Young by Marcellino D’Ambrosio
  • Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible by Carl Rasmussen


  • Copies of the Apostles’ Creed, Didache, Nicene Creed, and other related documents

Nathan Dickinson holds a M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and currently serves as a deacon at Christ the King Anglican Church in Beckley, West Virginia. He is a West Virginia native who has had approximately a decade of teaching experiences in local churches and missionary settings. He has taught the Bible in Kenya, Zambia, Myanmar, and Jamaica, and has taught English (among other things) to students in a Christian school setting. He loves helping students see the beauty of God in Holy Scripture and helping students learn to engage in meaningful dialogue.
His two boys (Barnabas, 5, and Martin, 3) keep his home life interesting and full of adventure! When he is not adventuring with his wife and boys, he is looking for a good cup of coffee, a good book, and a good conversation.

Quarter 1

  1. The Overarching Story of the Bible
  2. Creation
  3. Noah’s Flood and God’s covenant with Noah
  4. Abraham and God’s Covenant with him
  5. Exodus, Law, and God’s People
  6. David and God’s covenant to him
  7. The New Covenant

Quarter 2

  1. The Promised Messiah
  2. The Life of the Messiah
  3. The Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah
  4. The Followers of the Messiah (Acts and Epistles)
  5. The Hope of the Followers of the Messiah (Revelation 21-22; “Already, Not Yet” paradigm)

Quarter 3

  1. The Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers
  2. The Cultural and Political Situation of the Early Church
  3. Didache
  4. Ante-Nicene Fathers

Quarter 4

  1. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
  2. Nicene Creed and its opponents
  3. Cappadocian Fathers
  4. Augustine
  5. The Papacy

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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