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