Monday, April 16, 2012

Do Not Cast Off Mooring Lines of Church History

A church without patristics becomes a sect. – Herman Sasse

Some in our day … have the impression that the Reformation was about discontinuity with the previous tradition of the church.  The story goes something like this: the Reformers rejected the corruption of the church and its superstitious practices, which can be traced to the emergence of Christendom in the fourth century during the reign of Emperor Constantine.  During this dark period of history, church and state were confused, and philosophical assumptions foreign to the Scriptures were embraced.  Given this historical reality, good evangelicals need not trouble themselves with a study of the early and medieval church—after all, that's Roman Catholicism—but need only to read their Bibles.  The Bible is their creed; they have no need for anything else.  The murky and obscure period—considerable as it may have been and encompassing, among other things, the great creeds of the Christian faith—need not be studied, since it involved only the distortion of the gospel and the so-called hellenization of the Christian faith.… For those indebted to the theological arguments and conclusions of the Reformers, this view of history … must be wholeheartedly rejected.  Indeed, when we look at the writings of the Reformers, we find them assuming that they stand in continuity with the broader tradition of the church.

Carl L. Beckwith, Evangelicals and Nicene Faith, p. 66

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