I need a good synopsis of The Patient Ferment of the Early Church by Alan Kreider.

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Alan Kreider’s book The Patient Ferment of the Early Church examines the early years of the Christian church. Kreider takes a close look at the church’s first four hundred years and how they marked a period of gradual expansion in the face of extreme persecution. He ultimately argues that it was the Christian virtue of patience that was at the root of the church’s growth.

Kreider begins the book by explaining why the growth of the church is impressive because it was up against so many social and political obstacles. He goes on to explore the holy role of patience in early Christianity and how it was at odds with mainstream Roman values. He examines how early Christians like Augustine wrote and taught about patience and how their lessons instilled patience in the faithful. Just as Jesus Christ was patient with his people, so, too, were the early Christians patient in gaining acceptance and respect. This is why the text is called “the patient ferment” of the church. Fermentation is a process of chemical change that takes a significant amount of time. The image of the early church fermenting prompts readers to envision how patience is at the heart of the church’s history.

Kreider also discusses how a definitive feature of early Christians’ patient attitude was small-scale conversions. He shows how Christianity was initially spread by small interpersonal interactions rather than large-scale preaching. He then shifts to discussing Constantine, the emperor whose dramatic conversion to Christianity led to the church's rapid growth. He calls Constantine impatient and feels his aggressive approach led the church in a violent, power-hungry direction. Ultimately Kreider encourages readers to reflect on the values of early Christians to understand important, foundational values of their religion.

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