What Happens When Doctrine Suffers from Historical Amnesia?

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Speaker 1: I think a lot of times evangelicals do neglect the doctrine of God because we tend to focus on the things where we’ve had to fight battles. Sometimes the doctrine of God is just assumed and we haven’t had to fight about it so it gets neglected. As a result of that I think there are parts of the doctrine of God that we’re often unfamiliar with and sometimes evangelicals can even reject a doctrine that was pretty standard for most Christians throughout church history without even realizing that we’re going against the grain because we were kind of having me and my Bible approach to theology. You know it’s one thing if there’s a doctrine and you recognize that this was sort of standard fare for most Christians throughout space and time but you feel strongly that you need to go in a different direction and that may be necessary sometimes. But it’s another thing when you go a different direction from what most Christians have believed and you’re not even aware that you’re going in a different direction. So I think the doctrine of God is one where with things like that God is simple or that God is impassible, those would be examples where sometimes evangelicals come to a conclusion and we haven’t really wrestled with the sort of historical backlog that can help us see the significance of that doctrine. Another doctrine I talk about in the book is the doctrine of the Atonement. And my intuition is that our approach to the atonement is more polarized, we tend to have more either or categories where many of the theologians in the early church and in the medieval church can have more both and categories. They can help us reframe issues and see actually some of these differences are complementary. One of the ways I’ve seen that is just the focus that early and medieval theologians have on the entire narrative arc of Christ’s saving work not just on the cross. As evangelicals we tend to go right to the cross and to Jesus dying to save us and sometimes we forget that’s not the only thing that he did to save us. There’s a broader narrative context to the saving work of Christ and I think the early church and the medieval church understood that in certain ways where even if we don’t agree with every nuance of what we might encounter we can be stretched by engaging that. The virgin birth was really significant in medieval liturgy and it was a point of worship for the medieval church and I think we can reflect upon that. What is it about the virgin birth that is significant that would make it that for so many Christians? I think theological retrieval can just help broaden us and can help us see the broader narrative context to what Jesus has accomplished. Not wanting to take away from the cross as a climactic moment in Christ’s saving work but also wanting to situated in relation to the larger picture of Christ’s birth, his life, his resurrection, his ascension to heaven, his ascended work now on our behalf, his intercession for us for example, and then ultimately his Second Coming which in Hebrews 9:28 is spoken of as a saving event. All of that Jesus has done to save us.

 

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