Thoughts About Tradition from Tertullian

January 31, 2008

Thoughts About Tradition from TertullianAgain, as we visit the subject of tradition and Scripture, seeking to better understand how the two fit together, I turn to Tertullian in his “The Prescription Against Heretics” and find again that his view of tradition to be different than what I understand both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches hold.

Chapter 21. All Doctrine True Which Comes Through the Church from the Apostles, Who Were Taught by God Through Christ. All Opinion Which Has No Such Divine Origin and Apostolic Tradition to Show, is Ipso Facto False. Read the rest of this entry »


Thoughts About Tradition from Saint Basil

January 30, 2008

Thoughts About Scripture From Saint BasilThere are many arguments as far as tradition vs. Scripture and how it all fits together. Are we to only follow what has been revealed in Scripture? Or are there extra-biblical traditions that were passed down from the Apostles that have been preserved in the Church? If there are these types of traditions, it means that much of the Christian world is in disobedience, for it is only mainly Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who claim they have the “true” and “authentic” tradition (and yet even they differ as far as what that tradition is). So one way to gain insight into what we are bound to, or what, if any, traditions the Apostles passed down, is to take a look at early church fathers and see what they thought was the rule, or the standard for what we should do. I found this quote in a letter from Saint Basil to Eustathius the physician, and thought it very insightful; Read the rest of this entry »


Faith According to What is Written

January 23, 2008

The Written Word

“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we also believe, therefore we also speak,” (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Looking at this passage helps us understand one aspect of what God desires for the minister of His Word; that such a one would be an authentic proclaimer of God’s Word because he believes that Word. This faith is tied with the written word, not with tradition communicated by word of mouth or through some sort of vision or extra-revelation, but simply through the written word. As Paul states, it is faith, “according to what is written.” As it was in the past, so it is now – men of faith spoke because they believed, and so now also, we speak because we believe. Read the rest of this entry »


The Nicene Creed vs. Jesus

January 21, 2008

The Nicene Creed vs. Jesus

A quote from Edwin Hatch in his book “The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church” on the first page:

“It is impossible for any one, whether he be a student of history or no, to fail to notice a difference of both form and content between the Sermon on the Mount and the Nicene Creed. The Sermon on the Mount is the promulgation of a new law of conduct; it assumes beliefs rather than formulates them; the theological conceptions which underlie it belong to the ethical rather than the speculative side of theology; metaphysics are wholly absent. The Nicene Creed is a statement partly of historical facts and partly of dogmatic inferences; the metaphysical terms which it contains would probably have been unintelligible to the first disciples; ethics have no place in it. The one belongs to a world of Syrian peasants, the other to a world of Greek philosophers.” 

Read the rest of this entry »


Random Thoughts from Reading Matthew

January 17, 2008

John the Baptist

“And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3)

This was a good reminder for me, just in thinking about doubt, and spiritually hard times, that even the best, those we would consider the most spiritually mature, have doubts. Here is John the Baptist, in jail, wondering what is going on, having already announced that this Jesus was the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world, and yet things aren’t exactly as he thought they would be. Jesus isn’t what even he expected. But there is a difference I think, as I ponder this passage, a difference between John and the Pharisees. Because John sought Christ out, he sought Christ to know the truth – whereas the Pharisees didn’t want the truth, but only sought to make Jesus say something wrong so that they could condemn Him to death. The difference is striking.

May I always remember to turn to Jesus in hard times, when I don’t understand what is going on, and be willing to take the answer He gives.


Should we pray to “Saints”? (revisited)

January 16, 2008

Should we pray to “Saints”? (revisited)I came across this verse today in my Old Testament Studies class (the second half of the OT). I thought it was an interesting verse to look at in regard to the debate about whether or not Christians should pray to “Saints” or even to Mary. There is a slight translation issue in this verse – but when I have more time, I’ll go into that (only to say now, given the placement of the ’athnach, I think the NASB and ESV got it right).

(Isaiah 8:19)

וְכִֽי־יֹאמְר֣וּ אֲלֵיכֶ֗ם דִּרְשׁ֤וּ אֶל־הָאֹבוֹת֙ וְאֶל־הַיִּדְּעֹנִ֔ים הַֽמְצַפְצְפִ֖ים וְהַמַּהְגִּ֑ים הֲלוֹא־עַם֙ אֶל־אֱלֹהָ֣יו יִדְרֹ֔שׁ בְּעַ֥ד הַחַיִּ֖ים אֶל־הַמֵּתִֽים׃

When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19, NASB)


Jesus Through the Ages

January 15, 2008

Jesus Through the AgesSeminary started up again today – in one of my classes, Theology II, a quote was mentioned that I wanted to share. It has to do with tradition, and the knowability of the truth of Christianity as we have it today.

Harold O. J. Brown’s book Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy from the Apostles to the Present (Doubleday, 1984):

“The history of Christian theology is in large part a history of heresies because Jesus and the claims he made, as well as the claims his disciples made about him, seemed to be incredible” (p. xxiii).

“Men and women as different as the lawyer Tertullian and the Empress-Mother Helena, the scholarly Origen and the diplomatic Catherine of Siena, the elegant Anselm, stolid Aquinas, bellicose Luther, and austere Calvin, and also the industrious Spener, tender Zinzendorf, and energetic John Wesley, knew far too much the same Jesus Christ for him to be a counterfeit fashioned from scholars’ theses or debaters’ points. Out of the confusion [of his search for the pure church and clear doctrine], in fact, there emerged a figure of Jesus Christ substantial, compelling, and believable; indeed, not only believable, but sufficiently clear and coherent so that one can truly say, believed by Christians through the centuries” (p. xv).

Some food for thought.