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Showing posts from February, 2017

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Aquinas and Conclusion

When we reach Aquinas we come to the pinnacle of orthodoxy when it comes to the Trinity and Christology. Christology was important to Aquinas and he dedicated the first fifty-nine questions of Tertia Pars of his Summa Theologiae[1] to the topic. In many ways it is refreshing because he does not treat solely the more philosophical questions of who Jesus was that preoccupied theologians from the third century on. He also spent extended time on Jesus earthly ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification which was a major innovation.[2] Of course every possible topic of Trinitarian and ontological speculation is also probed. For the sake of space we will only hit some highlights.

Aquinas is clearly in step with the tradition that can be traced from Nicea, through Augustine and the Lombard, to the heart of the Middle Ages. One thing to briefly note is that even in his densest argumentation, Aquinas was not trying to prove elements of his theology via rational argument as that…

Calvin on Loving Your Neighbor

I ran across this paragraph yesterday when reading Calvin's Institutes. This is from book 2, chapter 6, section 55. It needs to be heard today as much as at any other time. Emphasis mine.

But I say: we ought to embrace the whole human race without exception in a single feeling of love; here there is no distinction between barbarian and Greek, worthy and unworthy, friend and enemy, since all should be contemplated in God, not in themselves. When we turn aside from such contemplation, it is no wonder we become entangled in many errors. Therefore, if we rightly direct our love, we must first turn our eyes not to man, the sight of whom would more often engender hate than love, but to God, who bids us to extend to all men the love we bear to him, that this may be an unchanging principle: whatever the character of the man, we must yet love him because we love God.

Calvin nailed the interpretation of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It's amazing how it still speaks today and rebuke…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Peter Lombard

From here we will fast forward to Peter Lombard. I realize I am skipping over several Christological controversies. I don’t view them as relevant for our purposes because they were either overly technical and seeking precision over matters I don’t view as important, or the views under discussion will come under discussion at some point in this or a future paper when discussing some of our key theologians, so I will leave them until then.[1]

The Lombard may seem like a bit of an odd choice. He’s certainly not one to be charged with originality. However, no work was more influential in shaping medieval theology than his Sentences. He also serves as a prime example of traditional orthodoxy and is particularly clear and consistent with his terminology.[2] Additionally, I believe the depth of his thought has been underappreciated.

Peter’s key source was Augustine, so there’s a high level of agreement between the two. Particularly noticeable is their unwavering commitment to divine unity, w…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Nicea and Augustine

Just as Arius and “Arianism” is greatly misunderstood, so is the Council of Nicea and its creed. The goal was not to create a universally binding statement of Christology that was authoritative for all time. Its purpose was to resist Arianism. Local baptismal creeds that often deployed different language were assumed to still hold sway over their congregations.[1] The creed’s goal was to win as wide a consensus as possible in renouncing Arius and those like him.[2] The Son was declared to be of the same substance as the Father and eternally generated from him. He was true God from true God which eliminated any possibility of an adoptionist Christology. Subordination is not entirely eliminated by the creed, just the Arian form that posited that the Son was ontologically inferior because Father and Son share the same being.[3] In the anathemas coming from the council, insistence on the immutability of the Son was also insisted upon.[4] The difficulty this last point makes for the incarn…