The Conservation of Patristic and Medieval Theology

Some people think the church died with John and began again recently with their favorite movement or their favorite denomination…

We are not by far the brightest; we have so much to learn from the great theologians of the past.

Just because we have the greatest exegetical software tools and books, and because we have the “grammatical-historical” method, that does not mean that we can dispense what others have said about the text over more than 2,000 years.

We are so unconsciously unaware how indebted we are to those who outlined the doctrines for us.

If someone claims that he or she got their doctrines just from the Bible, well my hat off to them. I cannot say that.

If we would have to come up with the doctrines we have nowadays, it would take us hundreds or even thousands of years … and none of us have that much time.

For example “The Doctrine of Trinity…” If someone would cast you away on deserted island with just your Bible, it would take you about 400 years to come up with the doctrine of the Trinity- that with the assumption that you possess the compounded theological minds of Athanasius, the Cappadocian fathers, and Augustine. Well, the truth is that we would never come up with the doctrine of Trinity on our own.

The same goes with Christology. Do you know anyone around us that would come up with the language of one person with two natures? That doctrine took another 400 years.

What about the doctrine of substitutionary atonement? It is so easy to preach it, but how long did it take the church to come up with this doctrine which most of conservative Protestants accept today? It took approximately 1,600 years.

Why do we need to study the history of doctrines? To keep us from re-inventing the “wheel,” to keep us from lapsing into heresy, to learn and appreciate good theology, to understand our roots…

Many claim to be conservative. I am wondering if they really understand the meaning. It would be good to understand, to know what is that we are conserving

authored by Cornel P,  M. Div. Biola University

6 comments on “The Conservation of Patristic and Medieval Theology

  1. So you mean that the apostles , including Paul, did not teach , or touch at least these subjects? Maybe I don’t get it, sorry.

    • Sarah, welcome to Delight in Truth. You will not find the the name “Holy Trinity” anywhere in the Bible, but the apostles taught it implicitly.

      The church fathers also implicitly believed it.

      But it took christianity hundreds of years to solidify and outline this important doctrine. It is something that we take for granted nowadays.

      So we must study these doctrines to prevent ourselves from falling into heretical beliefs.

  2. Great article, Delight.

    It’s nice to see this come out of Biola. I know it is a Christian college and one that I considered having grown up in Southern California. Just went to Biola’s web page and searched for a few new agers who have infiltrated the church and they weren’t there. “Contemplative prayer” was also not listed.

    Way to go, Biola!

    Also, I believe it was a Biola professor who was featured in the movie “Expelled” with Ben Stein. The film is about how Darwinian evolution has a monopoly in public schools. In fact, there is more intellectual freedom in “less free” countries. Several profs were canned or pressured just because they mentioned intelligent design.

    Mr.Stein had an interesting discussion with Richard Dawkins in the Movie:

    • Fascinating clip… interesting to see what goes on in the mind of these atheists…

      Biola is a solid institution. I know the author of the article very well and he attests that they still teach conservative theology.

      Thanks for the clip

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