Irenaeus, a 2nd century theologian, defended Christianity from the Gnostic philosophies that were popular at the time. His 5 volume work, Against Heresies, dedicates the first two volumes to describing the Gnostic views and then precedes to dismantle them in the remaining volumes.
Throughout the work we are invited to explore the fundamental beliefs of the early church as they are contrasted with the opposing system.
Underlying Irenaeus’ defense lies the questions: how do we know what the truth is? and how do we decide between different interpretations of Scripture?
The heretics did not just offer a different worldview. They were using Scriptures to uphold their ideas – which centered on two gods – a good one and an evil one. It was the evil god who created the physical world that we must rid ourselves of. Continue reading
In the last post we examined the idea of using the early church theologians as guides to help us make sure that we are rightly interpreting Scripture and evaluating doctrine. In this post we will explore how the principles presented in that post might work when the “bowling ball is thrown down the alley”. Or using the more common expression when the “rubber meets the road”.
Before we go much further let’s make sure we understand what this post sets out to do and what it does not set out to do. Each of the case studies presented in this post are not meant to be a full treatment on the subject.There are other aspects that can be brought into the discussion to provide a more robust examination. Obviously, it is not my goal to settle each of these doctrinal debates in this post.The main point of this post is to highlight how the early church writings can be used as part of a theological argument. Continue reading
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.
Imagine 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. Continue reading