The Early Church can be bumpers on the bowling alley of theology

When ever we approach a passage in Scripture or a particular doctrinal claim we want to understand what the correct meaning is or whether that claim is correct. There are a variety of factors that are involved in working through that process.

640px-BowlingballImagine that the process is like tossing a bowling ball down the narrow alley.

We want to get a strike (the correct interpretation or assessment of a doctrine). If we can’t do that we would like to get as close as possible.

For us bad bowlers, we are happy to knock down some pins and often end up throwing gutter balls. In a game that might be fine, but from a theological perspective that would mean we are pretty far off the mark.

In a post last year, I proposed an Agile Manifesto for theology and doctrine. The goal was to offer up some principles to help us approach our theology and doctrine in the best way possible.

One of the proposed principles was: favor tradition and the historic Rule of Faith over novel theological views.  BillAndTed_NapoleanBowling Continue reading

A closer look at the Agile Manifesto on Doctrine

In the last post we proposed several principles that together were called the agile manifesto for doctrine and theology. The first principle was: focus on the essentials of the faith over the non-essentials.

This of course opens up a number of questions. Is dividing doctrine into essentials and non-essentials a valid pursuit? If it is then which doctrines are essential? How do we go about figuring out what is and what is not essential?

The doctrines that one adds (or does not add) to their list of essentials can be very subjective. I have recently taught a class on discerning doctrine and we wrestled with these ideas. Much of my thinking on essentials has been shaped by reading Scripture, reading the extant writings of the early church, and reading a series of posts over at the Parchment and Pen, particularly the Essentials in a Nutshell (which also was described here and here).

Fundamentals of the Faith

When wrestling with which doctrines are essential the first thing we need to do is define what an essential doctrine is. What I mean when I use the term essential doctrine are those truths that define Christianity. Without holding these doctrines as true a person could not be saved. The essential doctrines should unite all Christians. They should also divide Christians from non-Christians. Continue reading

An Agile Manifesto for Theology and Doctrine

In the field of professional software there is movement (that is well underway) toward agile development methods that is very popular. This movement was launched with the Agile Software Manifesto that focuses on values and principles that should guide how one develops software. These values and principles focus on delivering customer value through constant feedback and lightweight development methods.

I think that we could benefit from an agile manifesto for doctrine and theology. The ideals proposed here can be traced back to the 5th century and Vincent of Lérins. In the Commonitory he wrote what is now commonly known as the Vincentian Canon that states:

we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.

Based on this idea I offer an agile manifesto for working through doctrine and theology. Continue reading