Monday, April 19, 2010

Did The Early Church Fathers Know The Gospel? (Also: Patristics For Busy Pastors)


Dr. Ligon Duncan, one of the growing number of Protestant scholars who is actually familiar with the writings of the Early Church Fathers, did a wonderful interview for Sovereign Grace Ministries titled "Patristics for Busy Pastors." This is a great introduction for those unfamiliar with the Fathers, especially those who don't have time to take seminary courses or attempt to wade through the massive body of Patristic literature on their own. If you're already familiar with the Fathers, this is still an interesting interview and well worth your time. And if you're like me, a Protestant who laments modern Protestant ignorance of the Fathers (this was not the case in the 16th century!), then you should be cheering that Dr. Duncan and others like him are attempting to cure that ignorance!

Now, on to the provocative title of this blog post! It is the title of Dr. Duncan's message from last week's Together For The Gospel Conference. The Video is below.

But, let's face it, the real reason for this blog post was an excuse to share this picture of Dr. Duncan's head on a Church Father's body (courtesy of Sovereign Grace's website).


T4G 2010 -- Session 7 -- Ligon Duncan from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

25 comments:

Timothy said...

This helped with a ton of things I've been worrying about--almost as though he was just talking directly to me! I'm glad you guys post things like this.

Jnorm888 said...

1.) He tries to read his theology into the fathers, he can do this with the first 4 points of Calvinism with Saint Augustine, but he can't do this with the 5th point. He ignores Augustine's views of Justification, and Regeneration in favor of Saint Hilary of Poitier's form of "faith alone". He doesn't make it known that the form of "faith alone" found before Martin Luther can by pass many of the anathema's of the Roman Catholic council of Trent. Shoot! Even the protestant Arminian form of "faith alone" can by pass some of the "faith alone" anathema's of the Roman Catholic council of Trent. The Reformed protestant iterpretation of "faith alone" is static, while the protestant Arminian version is dynamic. The same is true for the half dozen to dozen "faith alone" statements you will find among some church fathers, heretics, schismatics, and witnesses/nonchurchfathers. This is something Dr. Ligon Duncan ignores or just doesn't let the people know......he is making it seem as if they believed or understood "faith alone" in the same way the Reformed do today. If they didn't believe in "imputation".......then it is an obvious difference.

2.) He poisons the well by exaggerating their differences. I saw this with Rhology as well. For those that don't read the fathers, it is easy to tell others that they were "all over the map", "contradicted eachother", "didn't agree".......etc. Yes, it is true that the fathers, nonfathers, schismatics, and heretics dissagreed. But one needs to know the context of all of that. If the issue at hand is the doctrine of "free will", and if you include Augustine and his followers on the issue.........then yes, the fathers contradicted eachother! Then yes, they disagreed! But if you don't include Augustine and his followers......then no, the fathers mostely agreed on the issue of free will, no they were not all over the map on this issue! And so context matters! Also in the area of eschatology, their differences back then weren't as drastic chaotic, and all over the map like it is today in protestant circles. Back then you pretty much had 2 choices......chillism, and pessimistic amill.....well 3 if you want to include some statements by origin that would make it seem more optimistic......but it was pretty much 2 different views. 2 different issues is not being all over the map.......that difference is not as drastic and choatic like it is today with different views of Reformed protestant partial preterism.....they alone are all over the map in regards to what was or wasn't fullfilled in 70 A.D., but then you have the full-preterist / Hyper-preterist. You have postmillers, pessimistic and optimistic amill, and in modern chillism you have historist, pre-trib, mid-trib, and post trib. You have classical dispensationalism, progressive dispensationalism......etc.

And so, the contradictions, disagreements ....etc. of the past is not to the same degree to the disagreements going on now within protestantism.

Jnorm888 said...

3.) He tries to make an excuse for the early church fathers stress on free will.....by saying it was an over-reaction to the fatalism and determinism of their day. He denies that their belief of free will was similar to that of both modern Arminians and middle age Roman Catholics.
He is trying to make it seem as if they were compatibilists. Now, one can make that case for Saint Augustine in his mid to later years, but you can't make that case for the early Augustine nor for the Eastern Fathers and pre-Augustine western Fathers.
He never makes it known that Saint Augustine was at odds with everyone else.


4.) Outside of Saint Jerome, and some Eastern Fathers, and heretics either looking at the Hebrew or referencing the Hebrew from time to time, the earlychurches' Bible was not the Hebrew Bible. It was the ancient greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Their Bible was the LXX/Septuagint

5.) He reads penal substitution into the Classical/Ransom/Christus Victor statements of the Fathers. Also the translator he was reading used the word "propitiation" instead of "expiation". The greek word "hilasteriaon" can be translated either way.




Christ is Risen

Jnorm888 said...

If you want a more honest teaching of the church fathers from educated protestants.....go here:

AncientFaith Initiative

Now I may not agree with them on everything, but at least they will do a better job at what you are looking for.





Christ is Risen!

David N. said...

Timothy,

I'm glad we could help!

Jnorm888,

There is only so much you can do in a one-hour talk. His purpose was to show that the Fathers are not simply proto-Catholics (or proto-Orthodox), so obviously he is only going to cherry-pick quotations from the Fathers that agree with Protestant theology. He was by no means claiming that all of the Fathers are really just proto-Protestants.

Also, Dr. Duncan is not alone in suggesting that the Fathers were "all over the map" in terms of their theological differences. This is also the position of J.N.D. Kelly, a highly respected scholar of early church theology. The point is not to claim that their was little or no agreement whatsoever, but simply that there was far more difference of opinion on some important matters than modern Catholic and Orthodox scholars are willing to grant.

In any case, I'm afraid that Catholics and Orthodox are just as guilty in many cases of reading their own theology back into statements of the Fathers (this is especially true of the earliest writers), so you cannot really accuse Dr. Duncan of doing anything that Catholic and Orthodox scholars do not also do. The main difference is that Protestant scholars can actually be more open and honest and allow the early church writers to speak for themselves, because they have no problem admitting that the early fathers were wrong in some areas. Catholics and Orthodox, on the other hand, must fit every statement of every church father into a predetermined mold and then accuse everyone else of taking statements from the Fathers "out of context." I'm afraid it mostly doesn't work. I've been reading through whole works of the early church fathers for a few years now (which I think qualifies as "in context"), and the more I do the less plausible the Catholic/Orthodox story becomes.

Thanks for the comments!

Jnorm888 said...

David N,


Everything I said was accurate, and so, we will have to agree to differ.

I have been Orthodox for 3 years now, and most of what you say about us is not what I see from the inside looking out. You keep associating us with Rome, but we differ from both Rome and you on many points. As well as agree with both you and Rome on many points. So please, don't assume that we are always in the same boat as Rome. Treat us as a separate group....with a separate theology.
For much of what you say about us just isn't true from my perspective and personal experiences.


Also, you don't want the early fathers to be seen as proto-Orthodox, but that's exactly what they were. Out of the three......you know.....Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox, we(the Orthodox) are the closest to them in Theology and practice.

Saint Augustine and some of his followers can be seen as being proto-protestant in some areas, but that's about it.

Saint Augustine and most of his followers were proto-Roman Catholic in most areas.

That's if you want to be accurate.

I only responded because I been reading the pre-nicene, nicene, and early post nicene fathers off and on now since 1997/1998, and so, it was easy for me to respond.

Since becoming Orthodox(3 years ago).....I have been trying to read everyone else past the 5th century.

When I was a protestant(Baptist), I was seen as an odd ball from 1997/1998 onward. When I was Anglo-Catholic....things were different for there were others that read the fathers too, and so, I wasn't really an odd ball there, but I'm most definitely not an oddball now as an Orthodox Christian.

For alot of us actually read these people. And so, no I must dissagree with you. I feel right at home here!

Our interpretation of the doctrine of the Trinity is mostly the same as the pre-nicene Triniterian view.

And yes, I know where it differs, and so please don't argue with me on this point. One of the reasons why I chose East instead of Rome was because of the Doctrine of the Trinity. I was too use to the pre-nicene view, and I knew that the Orthodox view was extremely close to it. The east still has "Logos Theology". This is something hard to find in most places in the west.

I feel at home here for a reason.



David N,

What you will mostly find in the early fathers are stuff that will be extremely close to EO, if not the same as EO.

We still believe and hold to Recapitulation(Saint Irenaeus)

We still hold to a very strong view of the Incarnation (st Athanasius)

We still have a conflict/tention or Ambiguity when it comes to pacifism and war. I can go on and on. Overall out of the three different groups, we(Orthodox) are the closest to them in both theology, ethos, and practice.

And I will stick to that till the day I die.

Oh......I have J.N.D. Kelly's book....as well as a host of other books by scholars. I never denied that there were differences. I only denied the idea or picture that their differences were just like the differences found in modern protestantism today, and therefor it doesn't really matter what they had to say because they were all over the map.

That is what I disagree with. You have to look at their disagreements in context, and that is why I am sticking by what I said earlier.......what I said is really accurate. It really is!

If you take Saint Augustine out of the picture then you will see that on the issue of free will, grace, predestination, foreknowledge......etc.

You will see that they were not all over the map.

So I am rejecting the perception that some try to paint. I see it as Poisoning the well. I really do.






Christ is Risen!

Catz206 said...

JNorm

I'm glad you finally found a church you could feel at home at. What first drew you to reading up on our church fathers?

Jnorm888 said...

Catz206 said:
"I'm glad you finally found a church you could feel at home at. What first drew you to reading up on our church fathers?"



A number of arguments I had back in 1997/1998 with a few of my Seventhday Adventist and Oneness Pentecostal friends. Before 1997/1998 besides world religion/culture classes I had no real interest in the fathers. However, thanks to Hank Hanegraaff and maybe CRI in general (as well as a few others that I use to listen to back in those days), I learned to have a certain level of respect for what they called "the christian historic faith". Now they saw Once Saved Always Saved as being part of the christian historic faith. And at the time, I just took their word for it. I was raised Baptist, and so, I had that mindset and bias anyway, and so there was really no reason for me to question the claim of it being of the Christian Historic Faith. And as you know, alot of Baptists see Once Saved Always Saved as a christian essential doctrine, and if you don't believe in it, then they will pretty much doubt your salvation.....sense OSAS is closely linked to the issue of "the assurance of salvation".
But I started to get into the fathers in college. In high-school there were only a handful of different christian groups, but in college the variety was incredible. It was more than what I was use to. And I got into a bunch of arguments with 7thday Adventists, and Oneness Pentecostals. Uhm, at first we just shot a bunch of scriptures back and forth at each-other, and eventually they both started to use history against me. You know, they would tell me that either the Emperor Constantine or the Pope were the real reasons why I either went to church on Sunday or believed in the doctrine of the Trinity. Well, I told them that I couldn't just take their word for it, and in the case of the SDA nor the words of their scholars.....for back then, the Oneness Pentecostals really didn't have scholars unlike the SDA.
I told both of them, that I couldn't take their word for it and that I had to do my own research to make sure it was true. And so, that's how it started. I read the works of christians shortly before the time of Constantine as well as during the time of Constantine. Not only did I find out that Christians always gathered to worship on Sunday, but I also found out that Christians always believed in the doctrine of the Trinity. Sometimes they called it "the economy", "Triad", and it was Tertullian that termed it as "Trinity", but they all believed in the concept.
That's how it happened. It was by accident, and once I started I couldn't stop, and eventually I could no longer be a Baptist for I no longer believed in Once Saved Always Saved, as well as the humanist and Zwinglian interpretation of the Mysteries/Sacraments.

Jnorm888 said...

I followed David Bercot's ministry as well as the convergence movement for a time, before becoming Anglo-Catholic in the ECUSA in 2002/2003 (I joined an Oxford movement Anglo-Catholic parish in the ECUSA in 2002/2003)....they really helped me get over the icon issue, as well as other things I still had in my Baptist years, and I became Orthodox in 2007 in where it's common to read the fathers like some protestants read the old puritans.

Fr. Jack Sparks(Memory Eternal) did his own edition of the Apostolic fathers:
The Apostolic Fathers. You can find this book in a number of Orthodox parishes, as well as fresh translations of Saints Basil, Gregory, Chrysostom, Cyril, Ephrem, Isaac, Melito, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Athanasius......etc. And for us, the era of the Fathers doesn't end in the first few centuries nor even the first one thousand years. We don't have an end to the age of the fathers.....for we have modern church fathers and mothers as well. So yes, I feel at home here. There is a stronger continuity of the past here than in Rome. Rome has a strong continuity to Saint Augustine, but we have a stronger continuity with the pre-Nicene age. And most definitely with the Nicene and eastern post Nicene age. We still practice some of the things mentioned in the works of Saint Justine the philosopher/martyr, Saint John Chrysostom, and the church historian Socrates.









Christos Anesti

Catz206 said...

so was it for mainly for the sake of argument? Just curious is all. Why do you think you think they held your interest so much?

Personally, I got into them because I heard them used in debate and didn't have the means to know their context at the time. Later, when I started reading these primary sources I gained a broader understanding and found myself enriched by how Christians before me lived their lives in faith.

Jnorm888 said...

Catz206 said...
"so was it for mainly for the sake of argument?"


At first, yes! They wanted me to change my mind about the issues of the Trinity and Sunday worship....gathering to worship on Sunday. And they wanted me to take their word for it in regards to the Pope and Constantine.

The doctrine of the Trinity is a salvation issue.....that's what I was thinking at the time as a Baptist. And so, there was no way I was just gonna take their word for it. I had to see for myself if what they were saying was true.

And once I began, I couldn't stop. Not only did I find out they were wrong on those issues historicaly in regards to the Pope and Constantine. I found out I was at odds as a Baptist too.



Catz206 said:
"Just curious is all. Why do you think you think they held your interest so much?"



To be honest, I really don't know. All I know is that I trusted and respected what they had to say in regards to gathering on Sunday and the Trinity, and that same basic trust was carried over to whatever else they had to say. And the more I read, the more I wanted to read.
I saw them as being fascinating, however, I quickly found out that most of my protestant friends didn't share my Enthusiasm, and so, I eventually kept everything to myself, but it was eating me up inside. I was lonely for a long time. Over the years I have met others, but they were mostly online. It wasn't until I became Anglo-Catholic that I met others in person with the same interests, and when I became Orthodox I met more people....especially other converts with the same interests. Now I am no longer alone, and I can freely talk about these things without feeling weird or out of place. I hope that makes sense.....I don't know if it does or not.



Catz206 said...
"Personally, I got into them because I heard them used in debate and didn't have the means to know their context at the time. Later, when I started reading these primary sources I gained a broader understanding and found myself enriched by how Christians before me lived their lives in faith."



Yeah, I saw a different world......a world that I loved.

So what was the debate about when you first heard them referenced? And yes, I agree, they can enrich the life of any christian that reads them.

Also I would like to add that Contrary to what some in our day may think......over all they were far from being stupid, immature, and primative.

Most of them were very intelligent people with bright and insightful wisdom into the Scriptures and christian life in general.....and we can all learn alot from them.








Christos Anesti

Catz206 said...

JNorm-

What do you think inspired this great trust?

I'm sorry you had to keep it to yourself so much. I guess I was lucky to find other people at school who shared my interest in Church history...but this was at Biola, a university. At many churches there is not this same level of interest (at least not in this time period). I know many of us would love to see this change though.

A sense of belonging is very important in a church and I am glad you found that community.

And yes, many of the church fathers were very bright! Sometimes we don't realize that the reason we know so much or have the level of insight we do have is because we are working off of their foundations.

Jnorm888 said...

Catz206 said...
"What do you think inspired this great trust?"



Back when I was Baptist I would here the Bible Answer man talk about "the pale of christian orthodoxy", as well as "the christian historic faith". And some others would also talk about that as well as why cults were seen as being outside of it all.

Now they probably had a different context in mind, but they sure planted the seeds of trust in me by not being too specific.


And when I first read them, the picture I saw at the time was that their morality was something I wanted. There was a real strong tendency towards some form of pacifism in the first few centuries, and the love that they had for humanity in general was awe inspiring. It took me years to get a more balanced picture. Back then, I thought their pacifism was universal, but it really wasn't. And that is why now I say that they had a very strong tendency towards pacifism.....for there was a tension there.....both sides co-existed. Also, their love for humanity wasn't universal as well, for you still had christians that followed the basic norms of classism and other isms as found in their local cultures....and so, that too co-existed and there are different shades or depths of what "love of humanity" can mean in a given culture.....and so, the issue is more complex than what I once thought.

Now I know that everything in church history isn't always pretty nor will it always go the way I want it. Church history is what it is......both the good and the bad.




Catz206
"I'm sorry you had to keep it to yourself so much. I guess I was lucky to find other people at school who shared my interest in Church history...but this was at Biola, a university."



Yes, I am noticing more and more people from protestant evangelical institutions of higher learning getting into the fathers. Is there a Patristics program at Biola? I thought such a thing would of been crushed since the Talbot incident. Would a Patristics program be at odds with the statement of faith of Biola?

I know that Wheaton College is thinking about such a program. The more liberal protestant schools have them already, but I am noticing an interest by some of the more conservative evangelical protestant institutions.

I like the AncientFaith Initiative program going on here in Pittsburgh. It's by two Presbyterians and one Pentecostal. I think, if such a program is embraced by conservative protestant schools, then they should follow the basic format of AncientFaith Initiative.

I know of both Orthodox and Roman Catholics that like them.....and so they are doing a very good job. However, I have a feeling that if a program is implemented then it might go the way of what Dr. Ligon Duncan tried to do in the video.

But yes, there seems to be a growing interest by younger protestants in the more moderate to conservative evangelical institutions of higher learning.

Infact, this is where this Orthodox parish came from:
AllSaints

It was started by a handful of evangelicals at Wheaton College in a dorm as a Biblestudy group that was also into the church fathers.....I forgot the details....but eventually it turned into an Orthodox parish.
I forgot the details in how that happened as well. But they are a very missionary minded group, and they were also the main ones behind the launching of Ancientfaith Radio.

The details of which I forgot.....sorry.


Catz206
"A sense of belonging is very important in a church and I am glad you found that community."


Thank you,

Do you and your friends at school ever gather as a group to talk about church-history.....etc together?
Or is it more informal? You are truly blessed to actually have friends in a university setting that share those interests.

Do any of you have to watch what you say when in front of your teachers and other staff?

David N. said...

Jnorm888,

I poked around the Ancient Faith Initiative website, but there's a lot there.

What do you see as the major difference between what AFI is doing what you think Dr. Duncan was doing? What is so different about their approaches? I already tried to explain that Dr. Duncan was not at all guilty of attempting to "white wash" church history by making it seem as though all of the Fathers were Protestants. Is that what you think he was doing? If not, then what do you object to, and what does AFI do differently?

Jnorm888 said...

David N,
"I poked around the Ancient Faith Initiative website, but there's a lot there. What do you see as the major difference between what AFI is doing what you think Dr. Duncan was doing? What is so different about their approaches?"



I know one of the Presbyterian guys, and I sat in one of their classes, and what they do is go through a whole book or set of writings by a father or set of fathers, and you have to write a set of papers about what they believed, how they saw things, and their contexts. It was more academic in that you read them for them, and not from a more apologetic approach like what a Webster, and King would do.

An apologetics approach is what I saw in the video by Dr. Duncan. I also saw something similar once by Dr. Oden in regards to a different issue as well, and so he is not alone in this.

I guess it's only natural to want to read one's unique precise sectarian theology back into the fathers, non-fathers/witnesses, heretics, and schismatics. It is also natural to cherry pick what certain fathers believed on issues to support what a group today does.

I see that being done by Churches of Christ, now Anabaptists too.....thanks to David Bercot. And I see this among a number of other groups as well. There is nothing wrong with cherry picking for it is something we all do. It's just more unnatural when certain groups do it for most of what they believed would probably still be at odds with most of what a modern North American group today believes.

It would be more natural for someone to quote them that believed in most of what they taught, as well as having a real organic link with them.

It would be odd and unnatural for me to quote the Puritans in favor of what I believed. It also would be odd and unnatural to make the Puritans look like Orthodox Christians. It would be more natural for Congregationalists, Presbyterians (the ones in America), Low-church Episcopalians, and Baptists to do that since they all share a common link (in the case of the Baptists a more broken one) with them. A bond that is more natural.

I guess what I am trying to say is, some groups are more closer to the fathers than others. In protestantism, overall it would be the Lutherans(the moderate to conservative ones), and Anglicans(the moderate to conservative ones). When it comes to the lifestyle of the earlyfathers, the Anabaptists would fit them more than the Lutherans and Anglicans.....at least for most of their existence. But even that is hard to say for Lutherans didn't reject all of their monasteries as did the Anglicans. Now the Anglicans brought a monastic lifestyle back into existence, and this is why I would say over all....the moderate to conservative Lutherans and moderate to conservative Anglicans.

The conservative Presbyterians are rejecting ideas that are closer to the fathers. They rejected Norman Shepard, NPP, Auburn Ave, and Federal Vision. And yet, they still want to dive into Patristics? I really don't understand.....I really don't!


David N,
"I already tried to explain that Dr. Duncan was not at all guilty of attempting to "white wash" church history by making it seem as though all of the Fathers were Protestants."



It depends on what you mean by the word protestant. If you mean Lutherian and Anglican.....well, they would fit in more with the Augustinian brand of the fathers. But if you are talking about the Presbyterian Reformed, and Zwinglian Baptists (some Presbyterians are also zwinglian), then I would have to say no. Overall Most of them were not. The Methodists are close to a number of Eastern Fathers...as well as some moderate Augustinian western fathers, and so, it all depends on what you mean by the word "protestant".





Christos Anesti

David N. said...

Jnorm888,

In that case, I don't think it's particularly fair to compare them. Dr. Duncan taught a whole Patristics class at RTS, so I'm sure he was much more even-handed and scholarly than he was in his 1-hour talk to a mixed group of pastors and laymen. It's simply impossible to do the same work at a short talk like that as you would do in an extended class setting where everyone has read the source material. When you only have 1 hour, and your thesis is that the Early Church Fathers were not all "hostile" to Protestant theology, it's pretty much necessary to cherry-pick quotes and offer some basic, surface level explanations of things (like why most of the Fathers seem to stress free will, for example). You can't really fault Duncan for that.

But again, I fundamentally disagree with most of your claims, so I wouldn't expect you to like Dr. Duncan's approach anyway. You can't compare a Protestant claiming some of the Fathers as their own to an Orthodox person claiming the Puritans as their own. It's simply not the same thing. The Puritans were aware of and consciously rejected the main elements of Catholic and Orthodox theology, so of course it would be silly for an Orthodox person to claim the Puritans as being Orthodox. The Fathers were not aware of the debate over Sola Scriptura, or Sola Fide, and there was no free will debate until Augustine (which I don't find at all coincidental, by the way), so it is not silly to claim that their theology might agree with Protestants on some points, because they were not explicitly addressing our modern concerns.

However, there are some significant overlaps in theme and emphasis between the Reformed and the Orthodox, so it would not be so absurd for an Orthodox person to appreciate some of the Puritans and agree with some of their work. That's what's going on here with the Fathers. The Fathers were not aware of 16th century debates (or even 8th or 10th century debates), so it makes no sense to read those debates back into Patristic theology and claim that the Fathers were definitively "Orthodox" or "Catholic" or "Protestant." There is much in the Fathers that I would argue is essentially "Protestant" (specifically Reformed, not Anabaptist). But that does not make the Fathers Protestants.

In any case, now I'm rambling. My only point is that the Orthodox are just as guilty of reading their theology into the Fathers as everyone else is (especially when it comes to the Eucharist and a few other things). Orthodoxy represents an "easternized" development of Patristic theology, just as both Roman Catholicism and a few Protestant denominations (Reformed, Lutheran, and Anglican) represent slightly different "westernized" developments. Everyone has developed their theology beyond anything the Fathers could have originally intended, so it makes little sense to try to claim that everything one group believes today, after centuries of debates and developments that the Fathers had never heard of, is exactly what the Fathers believed. This is why Protestants can more honestly approach the Fathers, appreciating their insights without being forced to accept their errors or implausibly fit their theology into a predetermined mold that doesn't always fit.

Jnorm888 said...

David N,

You are mostly repeating what you said earlier. So in order to move the argument forward, I explained where and why I either agreed or disagreed:
A reply to David N

It was too long to post here in one piece.








Christos Anesti

Catz206 said...

That's interesting about the nonviolence. I will have to check up on that!

"Yes, I am noticing more and more people from protestant evangelical institutions of higher learning getting into the fathers. Is there a Patristics program at Biola? I thought such a thing would of been crushed since the Talbot incident. Would a Patristics program be at odds with the statement of faith of Biola?"

Biola has implemented church history for a long time. It is mostly in the Torrey program, but classes are also required for the rest of the program. Studying the church fathers or even Eastern Orthodoxy (i took a class there) is not against their statement of faith.

Wheaton...yeah I'm actually thinking about thier program. It is about time Protestants got back into the fathers like the historic protestants did.

"Do you and your friends at school ever gather as a group to talk about church-history.....etc together?
Or is it more informal? You are truly blessed to actually have friends in a university setting that share those interests."

At Biola many of my friends knew a bit or were into it. Some of them are right here on this blog.

When I was at Westminster it was a big thing throughout all the classes and now at my new school the same can be said. We have specific church history classes but really all of the classes look at whatever subject from a historical angle too.

"Do any of you have to watch what you say when in front of your teachers and other staff?"

At Biola? Never at all. I asked a bunch of questions all the time often from an Eastern Orthodox perspective.

I attended an Orthodox group at Biola (informal) for a while too, but I only found a need to watch what I said around certain people in that group. I actually didn't say much there, but was kicked out anyway (apparently against their actual rules) once one of them saw I wasn't quite buying into the arguments...unfortunately he tended to try and isolate the group and not let any outside desire for dialogue get through.

Anyway, I think Biola's whole thing had to do with the offical backing of any particular denomination or persuasion (you can't have a Calvinist only group) and staying true in offical classes to what they have said in their statement. If I say that I will be teaching from an Evangelical perspective then I shouldn't teach mostly from a Roman Catholic one...ect.

Jnorm888 said...

Catz206 said...
"That's interesting about the nonviolence. I will have to check up on that!"



I have to go to an AncientChristianity conference soon and so I may not be able to respond after this, but you probably already read some of them in one of the ANF(Ante Nicene Fathers) 10 volume series. Well, that's if you already read the first 2 books of that series, but if not, you can read it here:


We Don't Speak Great Things - We Live Them

The One Who Knows God

The Pilgrim Road


Secondary sources:
The Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument Against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology

But the opposite can be seen as well, and so both sides co-existed.....just as they do now.




Catz206 said
"I attended an Orthodox group at Biola (informal) for a while too, but I only found a need to watch what I said around certain people in that group. I actually didn't say much there, but was kicked out anyway (apparently against their actual rules) once one of them saw I wasn't quite buying into the arguments...unfortunately he tended to try and isolate the group and not let any outside desire for dialogue get through."


I'm sorry to hear that. I guess negative experiences can be found on both sides of the river. Thanks for reminding me of that fact.

I wish you well on your finals(if you haven't already had them yet)!







Christ is Risen!

Jnorm888 said...

Catz206 said:
"Anyway, I think Biola's whole thing had to do with the offical backing of any particular denomination or persuasion (you can't have a Calvinist only group) and staying true in offical classes to what they have said in their statement. If I say that I will be teaching from an Evangelical perspective then I shouldn't teach mostly from a Roman Catholic one...ect."



Yeah, that makes sense, I can't really nock(pick on them) them for that. It's understandable.






Christ is Risen!

Catz206 said...

JNorm,

Thankx for the links! I look forward to taking a look. I haven't specifically set out to research this subject, but have been somewhat interested.

As for the group, I met a lot of cool people there too. Most of them were very cheritable, kind and patient with me.

Enjoy your conference!

MG said...

David--

You wrote:

"The point is not to claim that their was little or no agreement whatsoever, but simply that there was far more difference of opinion on some important matters than modern Catholic and Orthodox scholars are willing to grant."

Which important matters are you referring to?

You wrote:

"Everyone has developed their theology beyond anything the Fathers could have originally intended, so it makes little sense to try to claim that everything one group believes today, after centuries of debates and developments that the Fathers had never heard of, is exactly what the Fathers believed. This is why Protestants can more honestly approach the Fathers, appreciating their insights without being forced to accept their errors or implausibly fit their theology into a predetermined mold that doesn't always fit."

What do you mean by "everyone has developed their theology beyond what the Fathers could have originally intended"? Do you mean that terminology has changed, or concepts? Where do you see the Orthodox going "beyond what the Fathers could have originally intended"?

Legion of the Grail said...

Hello friends,
I just found this website. I am formally a Presbyterian who went to a major presbyterian seminary yet has recently embraced the theology of the Eastern Fathers (and the pre-schism Western fathers). I am leaning towards Orthodoxy, but have yet to make such a move.

A few words on Duncan, since I took some of his classes. Duncan didn't teach the entire Church Fathers class at RTS. He "team-taught" it with another prof. The class covered the canon, major Christological issues, and some councils. He also tried to make the Fathers, or at least Melito of Sardis, teach the Covenant of Works. Go figure.

I look forward to the discussions on this blog.

peace

Legion of the Grail said...

I'm adding this comment so i can click on the "follow by email" option.

Anonymous said...

Well, the Byzantine Empire could not be pacifists. St Justinian reconquered North Africa and Italy, Granted, people can debate Justinian here. After the Byzantines lost a lot of their empire to Islam they had to fight wars on and off with different Islam Caliphates to gain land back. Thirdly they also reconquered their lands in Balkans from the Slavs. Then they had to fight the crusaders who sack Constantinople in 1204 and the Byzantines I belive reconquered back in 60 years or so. Fourth they fought the Ottomans and fell in 1453, So while shedding blood was something good orthodox try to avoid in the middle ages it wasn't always possible. Pacifism is the luxury of Modern Orthodox that live in the west or eas today both Byzantium and the Russian Empire were not pacifists.