Tag Archives: church fathers

3-2-1 Homework!

I started the coursework for my seminary course on the Patristic Fathers tonight.  Cup of Evening Delight tea (Safeway Select’s peppermint chamomile concoction) in one hand, Henry Chadwick’s The Early Church in the other, the fire crackling in the TV (a fireplace DVD—need to get our real fireplace safety-checked*) I set about my task to read 2 chapters in the book and listen to the first lecture.

The verdict to this point:

1.  I am an incredibly slow reader and probably for that reason not worthy of the “Seminary Student” title.  Consider: it took me 2 hours to read the 40 pages that made up the first two chapters of the book.  Not good.  While it’s true that the flow of the text isn’t great (and I’m tired, which is a bad combination), I will need to learn to read much faster than I do.**

2.  The lecturer isn’t particularly engaging, but he sticks to the outline and the lecture is pausable and rewindable, so I can’t complain.  I’m about halfway through the lecture.  I don’t think I’ll finish tonight.

3.  Despite #s 1 and 2 above, the topic is fascinating from the get-go: church history, church order and heresies from the get-go.  Much of this was familiar territory (thanks to Mr. Gonzalez in 2006), but I don’t mind the refresher (Boo, Gnosticism!  Boo, Marcion!)

4.  Fireplaces on DVD aren’t so bad.

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*We’ve lived in this house for more than a year and have yet to use our fireplace.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  Every time I consider just lighting something in there already, I get images of chimney fires in my head.  I just keep forgetting to call someone (and when I did in the past, no one got back to me).
**The slowness of my reading is mostly due to wanting to catch everything in the text, which results in going back and re-reading.  This gets worse when I’m tired, as I’ll suddenly find myself “reading” the book without comprehending a single word.  My concern with reading faster is missing a lot more information, but maybe that’s OK.

Gregory MacDonald wrote an interesting post on the Trinity.

. . . it is important to point out that all the Christian thinkers who thrashed out the doctrine of the Trinity from 2nd to 5th centuries did not think that they were ‘inventing’ new truths or adding to revelation. They were simply seeking to find ways of doing justice to the divine self-revelation testified to in Scripture. They wanted to preserve the fine balances required to appreciate the God revealed in Christ. Indeed, for them the debate was never about abstract and irrelevant theological talk – though it may look that way to us at first glance – it was always about the God of the gospel.

. . . All the early Christians were good monotheistic Jews. For them there was one God and to worship any other deity was to commit the primal sin of idolatry. But here’s the funny thing: As far as we can tell from the extant evidence the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus offered to their Messiah the worship due to God alone and they did not think that in so doing they were compromising their monotheism.

Read the rest here.  It’s nothing really new or awe-inspiring, but the Trinity as a theological subject scares me (how do you even approach it?), so it’s nice to read something “untechnical” about it from time to time.

I like that bit about the doctrine of Trinity being a way to explain the way God is revealed in scripture without it necessarily explaining (definitively) God himself, you know what I mean?