Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Preface to the Third Edition Revised.”
§2. “General Character of Ante-Nicene Christianity” Loc. 12175-12259.
Schaff describes the character of the Church after the Apostolic age as one in transition. He sees it as an abrupt change, which should draw attention to the value of Scripture as opposed to human wisdom (Schaff 2014, Loc. 12182). Yet even when under persecution, the Church held firm to the Scripture. The actions of believers to preserve the New Testament stand out as faithful efforts (Schaff 2014, Loc. 12189). The second and third centuries saw the rise of theologicans and apologiests who would explain the Christian faith in detail (Schaff 2014, Loc. 12195). The Christians would integrate into societies but always find a way to live out their Christian distinctives. With a quote from the “Letter to Diognetus” Schaff speaks of the kindness and charity found among Christians (Schaff 2014, Loc. 12208).
Schaff notes that “the ante-Nicene age has been ever since the Reformation a battle-field between Catholic and Evangelical historians and polemics, and is claimed by both for their respective creeds” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 12228). Rather than viewing it as a battle ground, Schaff sees it as a “common root.” The Church was concerned with a defense against paganism. It quickly developed an episcopal structure (Schaff 2014, Loc. 12241). By the fourth century there was a great deal of consistency in both doctrine and practice.