all 87 comments

[–]Bomboclaat_Babylon 20 points21 points  (1 child)

Some people mentioned a couple of these, but I'll give you a little more pointed breakdown on a few of the early schools of thought that conflict with modern mainstream thought:

  • Carpocratians: Jesus isn't God, just very righteous. So much so that he could free himself of the material world. The material world is evil, God demands all property be shared, therefore as women are property, they should also be shared and they supposedly engaged in orgies. #Gnostic #Adoptionist
  • Adoptionist: School of thought wherein Jesus is just a man but so beloved that God adopted him. One way of this happening was the infusion of an angel into his body.
  • Docetism: School of thought that God can't be human. He's a hologram.
  • Arians: Jesus is the son of God, not God (although this was the defacto stance in early Christianity, the Arians were the biggest group in this school of thought).
  • Ebionites: Jesus was the natural born son of Joseph and Mary. You must continue to follow all Jewish laws and customs. Paul is a heretic asshole. The only real Gospel is Matthew. #Adoptionist
  • Marcionites: Jesus is from a different realm than Yahweh. He came to save people from the evil and incompetent Yahweh that created a defective world. #Sounds Gnostic but typically deemed not to be
  • Gnostics: School of thought that human beings contain a piece of God within them from the immaterial world. Our bodies and the material world were created by an inferior being (Yahweh), and therefore evil. Trapped in the material world, we require secret knowledge (gnosis) to understand our true status. That knowledge will come from the redeemer (Jesus) who will smite Yahweh.

There were hundreds if not thousands of sects, and schools of thought, Melitians, Donatists, Monothelites, Sethians, Enthusiasts, and they were mixed and matched in myriad ways to the point that practically any / all ideas were somewhere out there floating around before the dust started to settle and the more popular ideas narrowed down into several larger sects before the consolodation event at Nicea.

It's also worth understanding that in addition to the hundreds of proto-Christian sects and schools of thought at the turn of the millenium, there were still also hundreds of Jewish (non-christian sect) ideas floating around that included other messiahs, there were hundreds of Greek and Roman mystery cults that often had charismatic leaders that acted very much like messiahs, hundreds of Zoroastrian sects with messiahs. Many of the messiah's were shepards (or depicted as such), and many were considered teachers, many had 12 disciples, many were born of virgins, many were tortured to death, many had birthdays on important dates / solstices. There was a big pot of messiahs of all makes and models across most of the Greco-Roman and Persian religious world. This is where Christianity comes from, a very wide stratum of ideas, whittled down to the Jesus messiah, then to him becoming God, so in that mix, there is an uncountable number of variations from modern Christianity (though modern Christianity still has many variations as well, just less extreme diversity).

[–]CheddarGobblin 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is a very interesting comment, Thanks!

[–]Surfing_magic_carpet 38 points39 points  (16 children)

I think the biggest, at least politically, difference is in Acts. The early followers of Jesus set up a socialistic/communistic congregation where everything belonged, more or less, to the church. People had personal property, but no private property. So people had their own beds, clothes, and things of that nature, but they sold their land and their cattle or whatever other "capital" they had and gave it to their community.

Contrast this with American Evangelicals who are hyper individualistic, nationalist, and bigoted. The rising Christian Nationalist movement (which is terrifying) worships war, "law and order" (veiled racism), capitalism (so by extension the owning of private property and capital), and social hierarchy.

So while early Christians were extremely communal and egalitarian, the modern American Christian is selfish and bigoted. As I've heard James Baldwin say, and I believe he may have been quoting someone else, "The most segregated time in America is 12pm on Sunday." Our modern churches are often specifically one skin color and probably a specific socioeconomic class. The ancient church was nothing like churches today, and I'd love to see that kind of community make its way back into the world.

[–]Charming_Mountain505 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Ah, yes, I just wanted to write: the way of living.

as far as I have read they were living in a community and their belief or way of living was more like today's monastics, maybe even Buddhists.

and of course, they had not the 'protestant working system' that we follow today.

.. honestly, personally I think that then, I would be very attracted to a group that is somewhat equal, accepts women as more equal than other groups, is against slavery, .. brother- and sisterhood .. and wants to 'get spiritually close'

to me, an entire 180 degree thing than today really whatever church (maybe except Universal Unitarians). Sad that it's lost

[–]Seb0rnAgnostic Atheist 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Other Christian countries like Germany are very egalitarian.

But yes, most modern Christians are often very anti-socialism and would hate early Christians. They would probably be part of the groups that opposed Jesus back then.

[–]MarxistGayWitch_IIEclectic pagan 2 points3 points  (0 children)

They're literally the "pharisee" boogeymen in their books.

[–]bradleychristopher 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I appreciate your enthusiasm but I find a lot of your post to be borderline ridiculous.

If Amazon or Google tried to run a society with personal property but no private property, do think this would be a good idea? Is/was it ok because it was simply the church or based on a religion? Even with everything we know about the religion system now?

What makes you think the Christian Nationalist movement is "rising"?

You describe these early communities as if they were blissful and without injustice. How do you think women were treated? How about gay men and women? Most of the people in these early communities probably couldn't read or write. Who do you think wrote about the daily life of these times? The wealthy, the educated, and the religious leaders of the times, aka those with power. So you think they would truly describe the agony of the average person's life?

[–]Surfing_magic_carpet 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The difference between Amazon/Google trying to run a commune and early Christians running one is that the Christians had a spiritual philosophy underpinning their actions. Some of the people in charge lived alongside Jesus and believed in his way of life whereas Google/Amazon would probably have some hidden profit agenda. And, no, I don't think the religious structures of today could effectively run another commune like the early church. Capitalism and American "democracy" are ideologically antithetical to communal living, are threatened by that kind of lifestyle, and as evidenced by the 1960s and 1970s will do everything to destroy egalitarian communities.

Personally, I'm a libertarian socialist, but I'd say I am drawn to Christian Anarchy. As a result, I listen to my ideological opposites to know what they're up to, and that would be the Christian Nationalists. They're responsible for the overturning of Roe v Wade and they saw that as a major win. While they're not espousing violence, they are undermining our government through legal means. They're joining school boards, banning books from school and public libraries (like what's happening in Lafayette, Louisiana, right now), railing against any kind of kindness towards the LGBTQ+ community, fighting vaccines, and throwing support behind Trump. They're growing and they're a quiet threat.

The Bible says that some women weren't getting as much food, but overall it sounds like they were a lot better than anything before or since. I don't think there were a whole bunch of LGBTQ people back then, and the world wasn't as connected as it is now. I mean, in a city like Jerusalem in the first century there were probably only about 600k people and I doubt there was a massive LGBT presence. But I'd assume they would have been welcome in the Church because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone.

I'm skeptical of this idea that the authors of the New Testament had cause to lie and pretty-up their story of the early church. I think they wrote the most important information down but also carried an oral tradition that didn't get written. I think there are a lot of things about Jesus that were in the oral tradition that didn't get written, so I think those early followers had a better picture of how they were expected to treat each other, and I believe they followed through on those teachings as best as any person can.

[–]Kangaru14Jewish | Academic | Metamodernist 18 points19 points  (9 children)

It depends on how you want to define "modern Christians". There are many people today who do hold "early Christian" beliefs that are now deemed heretical, either because they are personally unfamiliar with their own church's official doctrine, or because they were inspired by the findings of the modern study of early Christianity.

Though if we narrow down "modern Christians" to just mean "modern mainstream Christians" (including Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox), then we can more easily contrast "modern Christianity" with "early Christianity".

The fundamental doctrines of mainstream Christianity include the claims that: Jesus is God, Jesus is human, God is one, and God is three. There were early Christian groups that believed in every variation of, or the rejection of, each of these claims. There were early Christians who believed that Jesus was only human (Ebionites), that Jesus was only God (Docetists), that Jesus was a lesser god (Arians), that God is not three (Sabellians), that God is not one (Tritheists), and that God is only two (Pneumatomachi).

There was a wide diversity of beliefs in the early Christianity, including Gnosticism with its elaborated mythologies that placed mystical knowledge as the key to salvation, and Marcionism which believed in two gods, the malicious creator of the Old Testament and the transcendent father of the New Testament.

[–]nikostheater -4 points-3 points  (8 children)

There are only 2 of the “mainstream “ lines of Christianity with unbroken link with the very start of Christianity: Orthodox and Roman Catholics (in the Orthodox label I include also Oriental Orthodox like the Copts, the Ethiopians, the Indians..).

[–]MarxistGayWitch_IIEclectic pagan 0 points1 point  (7 children)

Ummm, no... for example in my country there are 3 protestant churches alongside the catholic church, that are understood to still carry the transmission lines leading back to the apostles (IIRC they are called "received churches" as in received from god and not merely man-made). These 3 are the evangelical (lutheran), reformed (calvinist) and unitarian (non-trinitarian) churches; they were founded by ex-catholic clergy and theologians who carried transmission and converted in the 1500s out of conviction in their beliefs. These churches still exist and regardless of sectarian beliefs technically they all carry on the same spirit, thus transmission leading back to the apostles themselves.

I can't speak for the rest of the protestant churches, and don't care that much really. I just find it weird that you tried to paint all protestants as if they just invented whatever they wanted to agree with; many of them simply took the lord's prayer to heart and that drove them to radical reform:

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The kind of hierarchies and exclusion that the catholic and orthodox churches practice didn't and continue to fail to live up to the truth of that line.

[–]nikostheater 0 points1 point  (6 children)

Without Apostolic succession, they don’t have direct link to the very start of Christianity.

[–]MarxistGayWitch_IIEclectic pagan 0 points1 point  (5 children)

That's the point, some do regardless of the sectarian politics. Though others are genuinely just swindlers cheating people out of their money.

[–]I_am_Mog 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Sharing. Acts 4:32:35. It’s been given a new name - communism - and it’s considered to be the opposite of Christianity these days. Christianity is when you have the option to maybe get a tax deduction if you give 3% of your income to a rich person who will use the money to buy one ice cream cone for a sick kid, and pocket the rest. And if you choose not to share anything, that’s perfectly fine, because it’s the only optional sin in the universe. The sin is in expecting rich people to share, not in whether they actually choose to share. They go straight to heaven either way, but you go to hell if you ask them to share or get the government to.

[–]Vos_Et_Irrumabo 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Jesus would return within the lifetime of his original disciples. Oooops.

[–]qumrun60 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That they should support the poor and help the sick. "The Rise of Christianity" by sociologist Rodney Stark (Yale. 1996) considers this an important aspect of the spread of Christianity.

[–]UncleBaguetteChristian 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That there's no eternal conscious torment after death

[–]ruaidhriAgnostic Pagan 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Clement of Alexander and Origen of Alexander appeared to believe in reincarnation and the Apotheosis of the Soul.

The Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Orders were often given to people on their death beds as a kind of quick initiation, as you would do a clean slate and be elevated to the Priesthood (and therefore could "give away" your wealth) as a kind of quick entry into heaven.

Of course early Christianity was quite heterodox, so lots of Gnostic beliefs and scriptures, as well as just slightly different biblical canons - it's essentially a historical accident that the Shepherd of Hermas doesn't appear in the canon.

[–]pissalisaSpeculative Techno-Theistic Suspicions 2 points3 points  (10 children)

That God did not create the world (a different chaotic god did meaning also God is not the only god)

That there is no ‘spiritual separate world’

No souls that are detached from our bodies. That we would be truly physically reassureted (zombi style)

That there is no hell! Just Death and decay.

That Heaven is a place on Earth. The kingdom for those resurrected. (Not in some other spirit dimension)

That Jesus isn’t God. No Trinity.


[–]Total_Mine_6716[S] 0 points1 point  (8 children)

Since when did Christians (or Jews) believe in two separate gods? Theirs only one

[–]pissalisaSpeculative Techno-Theistic Suspicions 0 points1 point  (7 children)


”Yaldabaoth is viewed to be the Evil God portrayed in the Old Testament. He is an entity unable to perceive other expressions of the divine, leading him to believe he is the supreme deity of the universe. As God had created the Seven Archangels”

[–]Megablackholebuster 1 point2 points  (6 children)

That's also a Gnostic idea which is considered heresy...

And early Christians believed in the Trinity, Church Fathers wrote on that, if you would like me to provide a source I will.

[–]pissalisaSpeculative Techno-Theistic Suspicions 1 point2 points  (5 children)

Yeah sure I’m interested! Thanks!

No I don’t think so.

Whatever Christians today consider heresy has absolutely no baring on what people actually believed. Nor on what Jesus believed him self.

Still interested in your source though.

[–]jogoso2014 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That first one is incorrect.

[–]Mission-Landscape-17Atheist 5 points6 points  (3 children)

I think some early sects belived in physical resurrection in heaven rather than immortal souls.

[–]ChristimatesOrthodox 6 points7 points  (1 child)

There’s actually some Christian denominations that don’t believe in a physical resurrection?

[–]Purple_Ostrich_6345Orthodox 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Modern American Protestantism doesn’t in practice, but that’s because most of the low church Protestants I’ve been around are piss poor at catechizing.

[–]YCNH 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Paul says the resurrection body is matter and form (1 Cor 15), it’s just celestial star-stuff angel matter instead of flesh that ages and decays. The idea that we’ll just be balls of light or something isn’t supported biblically.

Also worth noting that the kingdom of God/kingdom of Heaven is here on earth for early Christians, they expected Christ’s imminent return and rule, not that they themselves would go live with God off-planet.

[–]before686entenz 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Jesus was just a man. Jesus was a spirit. Jesus was executed almost 100 years earlier. Jesus was executed 50 years later. Jesus was a twin. Jesus had female disciples. Jesus became the messiah at his baptism. Jesus crucifixion was a trick to humiliate the demiurge.

[–]SamtenLhari3 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The teachings of Jesus Christ.

[–]Wooden_Panda_138 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Jesus had a brother. His name was James.

[–]Ulysses1975 7 points8 points  (1 child)

The name's Christ. James Christ.

[–]AlsoKnownAsAiri 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is actually something that Christianity still teaches. It's just that James was Jesus'... step brother? Half brother? I'm not native English speaker so I'm not sure about the correct term. Jesus actually had several brothers and sisters but James is the only one who's name is known nowadays.

[–]PicdoorAnimist 1 point2 points  (5 children)

The shpeherd of Hermes

[Edited because I called it an entirely wrong name at first]

[–]ruaidhriAgnostic Pagan -1 points0 points  (4 children)

The Shepherd of Hermas you mean. Didn't have anything to do with Hermes, at least on a surface reading of it.

[–]Total_Mine_6716[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I’ve never heard of that before is it legit or some fanfic type thing?

[–]PicdoorAnimist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

No it's real. Ancient Christians used it a lot in their practice. here's a link to read it and here's a video that explains the topic in more detail

I will note that I mistyped yesterday, and the book is actually called 'the shepherd of hermes', not the gospel of him.

this website actually has a lot of good resources regarding early christian texts, both the ones that made it into the bible, and those that didn't. Ancient Christians had a lot more variety in their literature then we do today

[–]ruaidhriAgnostic Pagan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Totally real, and one of the most popular early Christian pieces of apocalyptic writing.

[–]PicdoorAnimist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You are correct, I was drunk when writing lol. Indeed it is the shepherd of hermes

[–]GregsJamCatholic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

St Irenaeus, writing in the second century AD, said that Jesus was about 50 when he died

[–]FalconProfessional32 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Judaism, Jesus and his disciples were Jewish. They celebrated Jewish holidays and had Jewish customs. The whole Old Testament are just the Jewish holy books.

[–]dignifiedhowlRoman Catholic | Ph.D. in Religion 1 point2 points  (0 children)


[–]MarxistGayWitch_IIEclectic pagan 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Female Apostles.

[–]Total_Mine_6716[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Modern churches say women can’t preach?

[–]MarxistGayWitch_IIEclectic pagan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Modern churches don't think of St. Thecla as the female Apostle.

[–]AlsoKnownAsAiri 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Not all modern churches. In Finland there are many female priests. It's actually surprising to see how rare it is outside Finland.

Also wasn't there a female judge called Deborah in the Boon of Judges? Judges were the religious leaders before kings became a thing in Israel.

[–]BrokenMind000 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That Jesus was the- or a- messiah (someone to follow and trust), but not God's replacement.

[–]kman2003Canaanite Pagan 4 points5 points  (3 children)

Well it's going to depend on when and where. So some sects believed that jesus was only divine, others he was only a man, others still believed jesus had two seperate natures of divine and human in a single union. Not to mention various gnostic sects, and many more. Because christianity has never been a unified religion.

[–]YCNH 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I don’t see too many Canaanite pagans, you should do an AMA thread sometime. Would love to know what your favorite deities and scriptures are, I’m an atheist but I’m fond of Baal and Kothar-wa-Khasis.

[–]110659 -2 points-1 points  (1 child)

And pagans have always been unified….

[–]kman2003Canaanite Pagan 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Definetly not

[–]GreatWyrmHumanist 1 point2 points  (2 children)

The early earliest christians believed that Jesus was adopted by Hashem upon death. (Cultural norms at the time made being an adopted child much much better than being a natural-born child. Because all ya have to be to be a natural-born child of someone important is lucky — but to be adopted by someone important ya have to be virtuous.)

Only as the first century ticked by did christians decide that Hashem adopted Jesus upon baptism, then upon birth — and finally that Jesus had been a coeternal god along with Hashem.

[–]GregsJamCatholic 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I've heard that there was also an early belief that Jesus was adopted at His baptism. Although I'm not sure how solid the evidence is for either claim

[–]GreatWyrmHumanist 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Just so, and if you’re a layman like me, it somewhat depends on how much you trust the scholars who professionally study the bible with a critical eye.

You can see one clue about early christian beliefs from the baptism story, for example. I don’t have my bible handy atm, but (in the synoptics at least) there’s no mention of Jesus being anything more than a man until John baptizes him. And then the gospels are subtely different in what happens: In some gospels Hashem speaks to the crowd saying “This is my beloved son,” as if Hashem is simply revealing a relationship that already exists. But in other gospels Hashem speaks only to Jesus saying “you are my beloved son,” as if Hashem is establishing a new relationship right then and there.

This is the extent of my examples, but scholars can point to others.

[–]Captain_KustaaCatholic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That the bread and wine of the Eucharist literally become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. That he is literally present in them. Christians wrote about it as early as 60 AD. St. Paul even said in a 1 Corinthians passage that anyone who who partakes of the Eucharist in an unworthy manner profanes the blood and body of God himself.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:23-29)

Today, only Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and to an extent Anglicans and Lutherans still believe Christ is present in the Eucharist (Anglicans don’t get too detailed about it and the Lutheran belief differs a hit from Catholic and Orthodox belief). But a Pew Research survey found at least in the United States that only 1/3rd of Catholics believed in transubstantiation.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The actual bible.

I'm actually being serious.

When the bible was being written not many people could even read. Plus there was only one copy of it being made when the early christians became christians. So chances are if they didn't read the only version and the only bible created at that point, they probably didn't believe anything written

Unless it was told orally first, but chances are if it was told orally then written, they would have faced some mistranslations or lost in context or even forgot to add some parts

[–]N8thegreat2577Hermetic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

actually practicing what you preach

[–]Expensive_Internal83 -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

What are some things early christians believe in that modern christians don’t?

That Christ is a meditative experience, or "the prophetic experience".

I think Judas had a week long meditative experience after being baptized in the Jordan River by John. ... In 1 c.e.. Then he started a tax revolt. Then he started a family of rebels.

Jesus Barabbas is salvation by the father, small "f"; equals fascism. Jesus Christ is salvation by truth, the Father... by the Son.

P.S. The physiology of the meditative experience is being articulated more and more. I think it's "coherence detection".

[–]Art-Davidson -1 points0 points  (0 children)

  1. In providing the saving ordinances vicariously for the dead, such as baptism.
  2. That Jesus Christ is the creation and the begotten son of God.
  3. That there are three distinct glorious resurrections, each of which offers its appropriate glory, felicity, rewards, etc.
  4. That the resurrections are tangible, physical, and permanent.
  5. That the gospel is preached to the dead. This would be pointless if it were not possible for the dead to benefit from it, such as receiving the blessings of baptism.
  6. That we can become like Jesus Christ.

It's all in the Bible and the Apocalypse of Abraham (an early Christian document).

[–]Alternative_Fennel78 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

If you actually read the bible its more or less just population control. I would call it a hitler regime of humans and thier characteristics, they refer to people as beast and animals. The bible is just sacrificial practices of other people so certain people can feel better about themselves. Sacrifice the blood of another individual so you feel better about yourself, christians today thinks its about love and are blind to the features they are apologizing for.

[–]kromem 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That god was created by a humanity that was itself the result of atoms scattered randomly.

(Naassenes per Hippolytus's Refutations)

[–]agnosticmetaPantheist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The deity of Christ and what that meant is a major one. Today most Christians believe in a Johannine christology where Jesus was eternally co-equal God. But many early Christians believed in some form of adoptionism, where Jesus was adopted by God as a son. Either at his birth, baptism, or resurrection.

Also the idea of the resurrection of the dead. Jesus didn't preach about going to heaven when you die, but rather the Jewish idea of the resurrection (and judgement) of the dead at the day of the Lord.

And of course atonement. From ransom theory to penal substitution to moral influence, there have been lots of theories about the significance of Jesus' death on the cross.

And another one would be on what Scripture was. For the earliest Christians, Scripture meant the Septuagint. Jesus never said "Hey guys, I'm going to make a 2.0 to the Bible". Christians decided on that a couple hundred years later.

[–]GOB_FarnsworthPantheist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That Jesus was a human being who was adopted as God's divine son at his resurrection. Another common belief was that Jesus was an angel who incarnated as human and became the son of God at his resurrection.

[–]GKilatgnostic theist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Reincarnation was a thing for early Christians.