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History, according to one cynic, is nothing but the succession of one d___ thing after another. Unfortunately, most Christians would agree, although one hopes they wouldn't use precisely the same terminology! The fact is, people wonder why the history of Christian theology is worthy of our time and energy. Facts, dates, and dead people do not inspire much excitement, and many doubt the practical value of spending time on something that cannot be changed. Alister McGrath ...Read More

Although it is to some degree artificial and inaccurate to break down the history of the Christian church into distinct periods or ages, it is, nevertheless, a helpful tool for envisioning the development of church life over the past two millennia. Most church historians recognize three general periods:   I.              Patristic Christianity - a.d. 95 to a.d. 590   (So called because of the ...Read More

It is fair to say that no doctrine of the Christian faith was subjected to as penetrating analysis in the early church as was the doctrine of God. This lesson will highlight the development of Trinitarianism in the patristic age.   The history of this doctrine falls into three stages.   ·First, there is the Pre-Nicene period, extending from the death of John the Apostle to a.d. 325.   ·The second stage focuses on the climactic encount...Read More

A. The Council of Nicea (a.d. 325): the Contribution of Arius and Athanasius to the Development of Trinitarian Thought   1. Arius and his Theology - The details of Arius’s life are unknown. Some speculate that he was born in what is now Libya in North Africa. Arius was a presbyter over the church district of Baucalis in Alexandria, who was asked by his bishop to explain Prov. 8:22-31. Arius affirmed, among other things, that "the son, born of the Father befo...Read More

A.            The “Doctrine” of the Holy Spirit in the Post-Apostolic Fathers   The fact is, there was no “doctrine” of the Spirit, per se. References to the HS were personal, experiential, catechetical, and doxological. The focus is on his activity and work but not his nature or relationship to Father and Son. For example:   Clement of Rome coordinates three persons in an oath: ...Read More

The relevance of the debate between Augustine and Pelagius may be seen from the following list of questions that emerged then and continue to be asked today:   ·Are infants born innocent or guilty? ·Are those who die in infancy saved or lost? ·Are people morally and spiritually corrupt? ·What affect did Adam’s fall have on the human race? On you? ·Is sin only an act of will or a character flaw? ·Is grace essenti...Read More

A. Augustine’s Theology   It will help if we review the main points in Pelagius' theology and then observe Augustine's point by point response.   ·First, Adam was created neither holy nor evil. His will was in a state of moral equilibrium or moral indifference.   ·Second, Adam would have died physically whether he sinned or not. Physical death is not a penalty for sin but is the inevitable corollary of being a creature.   &...Read More

A.            Medieval Theological Controversies   The first two controversies were particularly significant in terms of the role they played in dividing East from West (something we will address more thoroughly in our study of Eastern Orthodox theology).   1.             The Iconoclastic Controversy [The word iconoclastic = lit., "image-breake...Read More

  "When picturing Christ in the way I have mentioned, and sometimes even when reading, I used unexpectedly to experience a consciousness of the presence of God of such a kind that I could not possibly doubt that he was within me or that I was wholly engulfed in him. This was in no sense a vision: I believe that it is called mystical theology" (The Life of St. Teresa of Avila [Doubleday Books, 1960], 1.10; p. 119).  A. Towards a Definition of Mysticism Wh...Read More

There are @ 6 million people in the U.S. (among whom are Peter Gillquist and Franky Schaeffer) who identify with the Orthodox faith, and @ 200-215 million worldwide (70 million of whom are in Russia alone), all of whom are gathered into one of the 13 autocephalous or "self-governing" Orthodox churches throughout the world. The head of each autocephalous church is called a Patriarch. The Patriarch of Constantinople is given greater honor but has no authority to interfere ...Read More