Theology of the Reformers - Lesson 1
Church History as a Theological Discipline
Church History as a Theological Discipline
TH230-01: Church History as a Theological Discipline
I. Introduction to Church History
A. Purpose and Significance
B. Methodology and Sources
II. The Reformation as a Theological Movement
A. Key Figures and Context
B. Theological Issues and Debates
III. Theological Contributions of the Reformers
A. Sola Scriptura
B. Sola Fide and Sola Gratia
C. Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria
IV. Impact and Legacy of the Reformation
A. Influence on Modern Theology
B. Lessons for the Contemporary Church
- Through this lesson, you gain insights into church history as a theological discipline, the Reformation, key figures, theological contributions, and the lasting impact of the Reformation on theology and the church.0% Complete
- Through this lesson, you grasp Augustine's pivotal role in shaping Reformation theology, influencing key figures like Luther and Calvin, and leaving a lasting impact on the church.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteThrough this lesson, you gain insights into Scholasticism, Humanism, and Mysticism, understanding their roles in shaping the Reformation and the influences of key figures within each movement.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteIn this lesson, you explore Martin Luther's life and theological contributions, uncovering key events leading to the Reformation and examining the lasting impact of his work on Christianity.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteThrough this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the diversity in the Reformation in Saxony, its theological differences, and its impact on society and modern theology.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteIn this lesson, you gain insight into Huldrych Zwingli's life, theology, and contributions, exploring his views on the Lord's Supper, role in the Swiss Reformation and Anabaptist movement, and key writings, while also understanding his lasting impact on the Reformation.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteBy studying this lesson, you gain insights into John Calvin's central role in the Swiss Reformation, his theological contributions, and the lasting impact of his ideas on church organization, education, and social reforms.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteThrough this lesson, you gain insight into John Calvin's theology, its key components, and its lasting influence on the Reformed tradition and society.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteBy studying this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of John Calvin's theology in Book One of The Institutes, focusing on the knowledge of God, Christ, providence, and predestination, and its impact on Protestant theology.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteIn this lesson, you explore the key themes and insights from Book One of Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion," gaining a deeper understanding of God's sovereignty, human humility, and the centrality of Scripture in Reformation thought.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteGain insights into Book Two of Calvin's "The Institutes," exploring the knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ, sin's nature, law and gospel, and its lasting impact on Protestant theology.0% Complete
- By examining Calvin's Farewell Address and other Reformation issues, you gain insight into the key themes and controversies that shaped the theological landscape and learn about the enduring influence of the Reformers.0% Complete
The leaders of the Protestant reformation built on the thoughts and teachings of scholars who came before them and spent their lives seeking God and explaining his Word.
Dr. Timothy George
Theology of the Reformers
Church History as a Theological Discipline
[00:00:01] This is tape number one of Dean Timothy George's lectures the theology of the reformers given at Babson Divinity School in spring of 1997. Lecture number one's topic is church history as a theological discipline. Going to do today is all prior to the Reformation. And so if you haven't got your text yet, you're not going to be that far behind because we're going to start even before the Reformation and do some preliminary lectures. Now, the first lecture, though, is not about the Reformation. It's what I'm going to call church history as a theological discipline in church history as a theological discipline. I want to ask the question why it is that we need to be concerned about studying this kind of material. And this would be just as true if we were talking about the early church fathers or about the Wesleyan tradition as it is about reformation. And I want to begin by quoting a one of my former teachers, his name, Harvey. And we have heard Harvey Cox read something about him as a very popular writer. He was the most popular teacher at Harvard Divinity School when I was there. I don't think he was held in all that much respect by the other professors because he was a bit of a dilettante. He was always into different things, but he's probably the best known professor outside of Harvard that we had. And I remember one time he took us into the brown room, this huge kind of like our student commons up there, and it was a course on spirituality. And he had everybody stand in a circle and hold hands and look up at the ceiling and emit a primal scream. And that was a way of getting in tune with, you know, the spirit of living.
[00:01:59] And I showed you the sort of professor he was. What I want to quote from him is from when he wrote, This is entitled Turning East. I mean, Harvey's been going through different phases. He's actually a Baptist. You know, at one time, he was a teenage fundamentalist youth evangelist. But then, you know, he went through different phases and he became he wrote The Secular City in 1963. That's everybody knows that book. Harvey Cops, the Secular City, was a kind of the death of God movement, the secularization of Christianity. And then he went through a phase in which he began to explore the mystical dimension of Christianity. And that's when he wrote this book, Turning East. He traveled to India. He studied Buddhism, Hinduism. He learned a lot about that. And then later on, he got into Snake hand. And and then more recently, he's written a book on the Pentecostal experience. So, you know, he kind of has ranged across the whole thing. But in this book, Turning East, he makes the following state. Harvey Cox says, I believe that as late 20th century Christians trying to work out a viable spirituality, there are two principal sources to which we must look. They are the earliest period of our history and the most recent, the first Christian generations and the generation just before us. The ransacking of other periods for help in working out a contemporary spirituality is either antiquarian or downright misleading. Now, that's an important question for us to pose at the beginning of a course entitled Theology of the Reformers. Why should we late 20th century Christians being interested in what happened in the 16th century? Why must we ransack the nooks and crannies of the past when what matters is the present and the future? Who we are, where we are, where we are going? Now, it's interesting because Harvey Cox is a kind of far left out, left wing theologian.
[00:04:17] That's his reputation, very liberal theologian. But his view that what we really need to do is get in touch with the generation just before us and the very first generation of Christians way back there in the New Testament. That view is not restricted only to liberal theologians. In fact, it's held by a lot of very conservative and fundamentalist Christians, too. And it represents what I have called the imperialism. Of the present. What do I mean by the imperialism of the present? Well, you know, back in the 15th and 16th century, in fact, just during the time of the Reformation, the world experienced a totally new age shift. We call it today a paradigm shift in cosmology associated with the name of Nikolai Copernicus, who was a Polish astronomer, and who, through various mathematical calculations, discovered that the Earth was not at the center of the universe. The sun was. And so we moved from a geocentric to a heliocentric way of understanding our planetary system. But while we have undergone a Copernican revolution with respect to space, we have yet to undergo a Copernican revolution with respect to time. We still act and think as though we, ourselves and our own modern world are at the center of everything else. That is the imperialism of the present. And it is reflected in this statement, this quotation I gave from Harvey Karp, because Harvey Karp says, we've got to start over here with the first Christian generation, the New Testament generation, those that were with Jesus, or maybe we'll fudge a little and include the apostles, but that early, earliest church. Now, this is what we might call a primitive, this view. And then it's also of the most recent Christians, the generation that just before us.
[00:07:04] Mean, I'm going to call that I'm inventing a word here I think present is. Perspective. Those are the two poles we look to. Harvey Karp says to carve out our own contemporary spirituality. And those are also the two sources we go to to develop our own theology. Now, I want to say to you guys not only a perspective from a left wing liberal theologian. It's also a view that many conservative fundamentalist evangelical Christians have, too. What really matters is the Bible is the New Testament. We sometimes call ourselves New Testament churches and of course, the generation that just preceded us. It's like this cartoon one of my students brought me a few years ago. He said, We're going to study church history. And then underneath it said, Our pastor was born in 1943. I mean, we have this idea that, you know, we got our faith directly from our mom or dad or grandparents or brother Tom or Sally and some youth minister, and they got theirs directly from Jesus. And so we managed to ignore the fact that for 2000 years, Christians of all kinds of persuasions have lived and believed and prayed, have been persecuted, sometimes have been persecutors of others. Have blaspheme and a pastor signs and loved one another and sometimes have died for one another. The imperialism of the present provides us to this wider community of faith. It hides us to the fact that between Grandma and Jesus, there is a long line, not a trail of blood, but a trail of brothers and sisters, a trail of forgiven sinners, a company of fellow pilgrims in the family of a company to which we today as contemporary believers, are organically and everlastingly united. This is the church universal And the passage in Scripture that speaks most powerfully of this is in the Book of Hebrews.
[00:09:36] There are many other passages Ephesians, Galatians, but for my money, this is the text I would hold up in Ephesians Chapter two, Hebrews Chapter 12, beginning with verse 22. But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly to the church, the ecclesia of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men, made perfect to Jesus, The mediator of a new covenant of the writer to the Hebrews, is saying that in heaven there is this great, vast General Assembly. I know that's a Presbyterian church, but I'm using it in a biblical term about this great, joyful assembly that includes all of the redeemed of all of the ages. And even the angels get in on this too, and that's the church Capital C, And we are a part of that company of God's faithful people in the church. The body of Christ extended throughout time as well as space. Now we study the history of the church and historical theology because it is the story of that company as it is lived out here on Earth. The correct term for this. Is the church militant? As opposed to that church in Hebrews 12, which is the Church of Christ. Church history is the attempt to recall and recount the story of the people of God to reinterpret and reinvestigate that story in all of its manifold variations. And to do so from the perspective of one who recognizes that retelling and that reinvestigation as his or her own story, that is from the perspective of faith. Now, let me put this in a little bit wider context and then we'll take a break and come back and talk about this.
[00:12:20] And then I want to go into another lecture, a real a real lecture. This is just introductory comments on saying it best. Before we do that, let me try to step back from this this statement for a moment and. Say ask what it is we do when we study anything historical. Forget church history for a moment. It will come back to them. But any sense of history grows out of the fact that as individuals, our perception of ourselves and the world around us is determined by our finitude, that we are finite. I mean by that simply that we, all of us, perceive reality primarily in two dimensions spatial and temporal space and time. The fact that you were born in a certain place, in a particular culture, within a specific family, to a great extent is going to affect the kind of person that you become. You are key, as it were, in space geography. That's why geography is so important to studying history. The way rivers flow, how mountains are shaped and the world itself and its physical, its physicality. And you have a place in that. You came into the stream of history somewhere, but you also came in at some time. And so your life consists of a grid. Now, I was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the year 1950. You can fill in the blanks for yourself. But had I been born in Chattanooga a hundred years earlier, I would have grown up to live through the Civil War. Had I been born there 500 years earlier, I would have been an Indian. But if I had been born in 1950, but somewhere else, let's say in Zaire, what was then called the French Belgian Congo, then certainly my curriculum vitae, I would read very differently than it does today.
[00:15:04] But this is kind of kindergarten stuff, but it's very profound because what it means is this as human beings, we cannot escape the fact that we are historical creatures. We belong to particular places and particular times. And our identity derives from these critical coordinates. And not only where and when you were born. Obviously, that's a critical for Nick or anybody that's alive. But in your life, there are other critical coordinates that have given shape to the kind of person you have become. Events, persons moments. They may be moments of great beauty or of deep sorrow. Moments of death or tragedy or exhilaration. Moments in time when time stands still and you are given an insight maybe into what eternity might be like. All of us in this room have known such moments. Critical coordinates. It may have been a conversion experience and a revival or an insight gained from a Sunday school teacher or a relationship with a parent or grandparent. For me, one of those critical coordinates came when I was an inner city pastor in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a church that our world used to go to in the year 1972. And we had gathered a group of what we call street Christians because they still look and smell like they belong more to the street than to the church. But these street Christians had come together. They had accepted Christ. A number of them have been baptized, become a part of that fellowship and that inner city section of Boston. And we were sharing together for the very first time the service of the Lord's Supper. And as we broke the bread and poured the cup and repeated the words of Jesus, this is my body. This is my blood. The words of that ancient confession of faith, the Nicene Creed rang like a piece of nails in my mind, God of God, light of life, very God of very God and became a man.
[00:17:45] It was a moment in time and space had never happened before, never repeated again. A critical coordinate in which the incredible miracle of the Incarnation became real for me. Now you can give your own personal testimony and talk about these critical coordinates that have shaped your own life and your spirituality and your theology. We are historical beings. All of us are caught in numerous intersections of space and time shaped by these critical coordinates through which something of the wonder and the beauty and the depth and the mystery of eternity breaks down upon us. But it is also true, of course, that many negative features of our lives are equally determined by these critical coordinates. That is why child abusers themselves turn out often to have been abused as children. Now, the purpose of studying history, of ransacking the past is how we cut off. Is to enlarge. One morning. It's to enlarge your coordinates. It's to travel away from your, as it were, from your particular spacetime intersection into the past in order to gain. And here is a word that historians like with all around perspective. Perspective on where you are now. If we are to participate, even as responsible members of the human community, then we must enlarge our coordinates. And we can only do that insofar as we self-consciously relate ourselves to those things that have happened before we came on the scene. And so John Donne, one of the great points of England in the 17th century, also a great preacher and a great writer, said No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a man of my friends or of thine own house were.
[00:20:33] Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, do not send to me to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for me. So just as no one is an island, entire of itself, so neither is anyone. A moment or a lifetime. Entirely so. Everyone is a part of the hope of time, past, time, present and time to come and to ignore this interconnection. This interrelatedness that Donne wrote about is to ignore our own humanity. If we ignore history, we deteriorate. We become less than fully human and less also than fully Christian. Which leads me to this point If the purpose of study in history is to enlarge one's coordinates and gain perspective, then the purpose of studying the church's historical theology. Is to Catholicism and one's heresies. I've used two loaded words there, one phrase qualifiers and heresies. So I should explain a little bit what I mean. First of all, as size capital to make Catholic, your heresies has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church. I love to quote Luther's comment. He says, The problem with the pope is not that he's Catholic. The problem with the pope is he's not Catholic enough. However, the pope is that he's Roman Catholic. He's a sectarian. That was the claim that Luther and Calvin, too, by the way. But I'm using the word Catholic here. Of course, it's etymological sense as it derives from the Greek word Catholics, which means literally concerning the whole general universal first used in Christian literature by Ignatius of Antioch in the early second century in his letter to the Church of Smyrna. Chapter eight, paragraph two, where he said, Wherever Jesus Christ is, there is, Hey, Catholic Ecclesia, the Catholic Church, wherever Jesus Christ is.
[00:23:11] There is the Catholic Church. And while Ignatius may have been concerned primarily with the geographical extension of the church throughout that part of the Roman Empire, he was a bishop, after all, in Antioch. He was concerned with what we might call the church's universality in space as Catholicity in space. It is important for us to realize that the church is also extended in time. That it is, in the words of the Apostles Creed. A communion sanctorum, a communion of saints, a fellowship of prophets and apostles, of martyrs, albums and reformers and monks. A brotherhood and a sisterhood of forgiving sinners who are a part of the Catholic. A place here by virtue of their commonality in Jesus Christ. So to study historical theology, as we're going to do in this course, theology of the reformers, is to Catholicism one's heresy. It is to see ourselves and our particular tradition, whatever that might be, as Protestants, as that Southern Baptist, as evangelicals in the perspective of the entire people of God. And so I refer to my experience in Chelsea, Massachusetts, with that little group of straight Christians, that Bible study, fellowship, sharing together a service of the Lord's Supper. But my participation in that service presupposes a great deal more than what happened that night in 1972, when ten or 15 straight kids who had found Christ as Savior were sharing in their first experience of community. You know, to be a part of that experience is also to enter into the experience of Jesus and the disciples who were sitting in a dingy upper room. It is to hear him say, One of you will betray me. And it is to answer with all the rest of the facts with the apostles, is that I was a guy that I.
[00:25:43] And it is also to enter into a Greek Orthodox basilica in the air, heavy with incense bells. China everywhere in the sense of the angels impinging on their sanctuary. And it is to stand with a medieval priest with all of his corrupted theology, of transubstantiation, as he stands at the altar, believing that he holds in his hands the buried body in the blood of Christ, or it's to sit in the castle of Marburg when Luther and Zwingli come to debate the Lord's Supper, and to hear the debate raging back and forth on the meaning of those words spoken by Jesus long ago. This is my body. Until finally, Luther, in frustration, takes out his penknife and carves into the wood. Or in one version writes in chalk. You know, whether you like it, Luther, soft or hard, the words s e s t. This is my God. And it is two years lamely as he stands back and says, Ah, but Dr. Luther, don't you realize, didn't they teach you? That Jesus spoke Aramaic. And in Aramaic there is no such word as is. So many people have said, This is my body. He said this, my body. And it's a memorial, it's a symbol. And of course, it is also to be on the back side of a plantation here in Alabama or Mississippi or Georgia in the years of slavery with a little slave church meeting under cover of Dark after the day's work was over, as they sing and share just a crumb from a bread, maybe a bit of water. And they too are singing and sharing in the service because of the presence of Christ that is real to them. So to study historical theology is to Catholicism your heresies.
[00:28:12] To come back to John Donne again, who said No man is an island and himself. It's also true that no denomination is an ideal entirely say. He didn't say that I did, But it's true. We belong to a past. We are part of the people. We are subjects of a kingdom, members of a body. We belong to the church, Capital C extended throughout time as well as space. And so we have a vital interest in what these other Christians of different centuries and different confessions and different denominations have believed and why they have believed it in their worship and their piety and their doubts and their struggles and their understanding of who they were and what they were about as the people of God. The Roman poet Terence said, I am a man. Therefore nothing human can be alien to me. But if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, if you belong to him by faith, then nothing Christian can be alien to you either. And so that is why what we are studying in this course is undoubtedly the most important course you will ever take, at least in the industry. And you can tell Dr. Humphries and Dr. MATTHEWS and all the rest of the people I said that because everything that they teach is related to the subject matter here, not not so much the reformation, but this whole spectrum of historical theology and church history. Are you interested in theology? Well, think about the doctrine of the Trinity. Holy, holy, Holy Lord, God Almighty. We can only understand that doctrine as we see how it has been struggled for and defended against and won through many battles and and conflicts in the history of Christian thinking. Are you interested in the study of Scripture? Well, there's no way to study the Bible without also studying the way in which the Bible has been received as canon and how it has been understood in the development of the history of the church.
[00:30:33] So, so much so that Gerhard ably name you should know, because he was quoted still living. A great Luther scholar wrote one of the best, I think, introduction to Luther's Thinking Laying has gone so far as to say that church history is nothing other than the history of the interpretation of the scriptures. And that's a lot of what we'll be talking about in the theology of the reformers. How do they understand? ROMANS 9 to 11. Jacob have I love Esau, Have I hate it? Well, that gets us right back into the New Testament. Studies enter into biblical theology. That's why they were these reformers. They were biblical theologians. Luther said the number one prerequisite for a preacher is that he be bonus. Textual is a good one with the text. Well, maybe you're interested in ethics and how all of this relates to the world in which we live and what our responsibility is as Christians. But you can't even ask that question as a Christian without also looking at the way in which that question was asked in the 16th century and the issue of persecution and martyrdom and the role of the church in the state, in the state and the church. How does all of that relate? So we study history in order to enlarge our coordinates. We study church history in order to catholicism's our heresies. We ransack the past so that we might be liberated from the parochialism of the present, so that we can experience a Copernican revolution with respect to time as well as space, so that we might become truly contemporary, so that we might recognize, as Ignatius of Antioch said, where Jesus Christ is, there is a Catholic Iglesia. Well, we're going to start our own ransacking of the past after we take about a five minute break.
[00:32:44] Okay. Stand up. If you have to use the bathroom to quickly get in the water and let's be back at the textbook water. Oh, thanks a lot. Yeah. Appreciate your time. Okay. Thank you. So the textbooks are en route. Okay, I'm ready to go. No questions. Let's move ahead with some introductory comments. Anyway, today on Saint Augustine. Now, why am I doing this? Well, because I want to I want to quote I quoted Harvey Collins. I want to quote another one of my professors, really, my major professor at Harvard. Name is George Johnston Williams, and he's still living, is about 82 years old. Tremendous, great, great historian, also a great Christian. And he made a comment once on the Reformation. He said the Reformation is the acute Augustinian ization of Christianity. I repeat that the Reformation is the acute Augustinian ization. Of Christianity. Now, of course, he is paraphrasing at often Hancock, who the great German historian of of dogma, who said that Gnosticism was the acute Helen ization of Christianity in the second century. That was Hancock's comment. So he was paraphrasing Hancock and said the Reformation is the acute Augustinian ization of Christianity. And what did he mean by that? Well, there is no doubt in my mind that Augustine and the complex theologies more than one stream that flowed out of his thinking and writing was the single most determining factor in the development of reformation theology. Not the only one, but far and away the most important one. In fact, you could almost say the same thing about Roman Catholic theology, and that is why, to this day, both Catholics and Protestants appeal to some of us. He's like the Bible. I mean, he had almost that kind of canonical status in the Middle Ages.
[00:35:05] Everybody was an Augustinian. The question was, you know how you interpret it, I guess how you understood predestination. What was the relationship to merit in human works and justification? All of these things. But everybody worked out of the same vocabulary. You just couldn't be educated without knowing this and understanding. It's what was taught in schools. And the reformers came along and gave a double dose of Augustine. And so we we we have to deal with who he was and what he was about before we can even begin to think about talking about the theology of the reformers. So what I want to do today, in the time remaining to give a little bit of an introduction to Augustine's life and thought, Now that's a dangerous thing to do, but I'm going to give it a shot, an understanding. I'm leaving out an awful lot. By the way, if you want to. A good biography of Augustine, Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo is probably the the enormity of the biography of Augustine, most people would say today. It's a thorough study of, you know, from a classical point of view. There's also a book very much shorter, very brief little paperback by Henry Chadwick, who simply called Augustine. And it's in that series, What's that series called? But he would think, yeah, he went, obviously. But there's a name for the series Masters of Great Thought or something like that, but I recommend that to you. Also, if you want just a little brief read on Augustine on Henry Chadwick's little book on August. Augustine was born another way. Don't ever say in this class, Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine is in Florida and St Augustine doesn't have to do. But he was born in 354. He died in 430.
[00:37:04] So we're talking about the end of classical antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. In other words, about a thousand years before the Reformation. Luther was born in 1493. So was almost a thousand years after the death of Augustine. He was born in Castlegate, in the province of Numidia, which was a part of North Africa, which is today part of the country of Algeria. His father was named Patricia. He was a pagan that is a not a Christian. His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian. He had a I think it's not too much to say dominating influence on Augustine's life. And that's why in the Dome of the Divinity School Chapel, we included looking over Augustine shoulder, also a portrait of his mother, Monica Pilgrim, one when he talked about his own search for God. He described it in terms of a series of different philosophies, different religions from which he passed three of them. The first one was basically a conversion to his philosophy on the themes of the love of learning and wisdom. And this is what he was taught, what he was himself teaching, even as a professor of rhythm, until he came across a previous by Cicero called The Four Tenses. It's a treatise that's been lost to us. It's no longer extant that just a little phrase of it stuck in Augustine's mind, where Cicero said that riches and wealth and the gaining of material possessions is not the tell off goal of life. But it is only that true love of wisdom that will lead one to go. Well, this simple statement had a profound influence on the redirection of Augustine's own mind. Mean all that time. You know, he had lived as a heated essentially. He wanted to make the most out of life to earn as much money as he could to be as famous as he could.
[00:39:29] But now he realizes there's something more here. It's almost like that point in the movie that when you see that movie, a whole classical movie about Thomas Becket, what was it called? A one man proposition man for all seasons of Thomas movies. But anyway, Murder in the Cathedral was the play that T.S. Eliot really made a movie about Becket. You all Who? Thomas Becket was famous martyr in the Middle Ages in England. And he. He was made to be the Archbishop of Canterbury live when it wasn't lying and when lying in the winter. And there's a place where, you know, he's lived his whole life, driven for ambition and wealth and power and fame. There comes a point where he takes off his regal robes and all of the insignia of his office, and he stands bare on the stage and he says, there must be something more. Must be something more. That's what Augustine realized. And this little phrase from Cicero triggered it in the mind of pagan philosopher Cicero. Amazing what used to be. And then he became a follower of the religion of money. He became a martyr here. This was a radical, dualistic philosophy of life. It sought to answer the basic question Whence is evil on the island? Why is there evil in the world? That's a pretty basic question. A lot of religions seek to answer it. And Manicheism had an answer. Your here's father's evil in the world because there is an absolute good and an absolute evil. There's a power of darkness and a power of light. And these two are locked in an eternal and cosmic conflict. And not only is this something writ large in the cosmos, this great antagonism between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness.
[00:41:37] But this conflict is also raging inside my own heart and everybody else's heart. That's why we're pulled in different directions, too. So Manicheism offered a radical, dualistic perspective on life and salvation was to be achieved through leaving all the material world, which was regarded as a center of evil and seeking illumination. But eventually, I guess I became frustrated with the answers he was being given by the man. Aquino They never really seemed to satisfy the deepest longings of his heart. So let's turn to skepticism. Manicheism offered him a pure, fast, dogmatic answer to the problem of evil. Skepticism was the exact opposite. He said There is no answer. Agnosticism an answer. And for a while Augustine was satisfied with this kind of skeptical view of reality. But then he began to realize that this too, was not satisfactory because he began to question his own questions and to doubt his own doubts. If you if you're going to doubt everything, if you're going to hold everything up and question it, then sooner or later you've got to question that fact that you're questioning everything. And he realized that this was a circular kind of reasoning that was going to getting nowhere. So he moved out of this into what we call neoplatonism. Now Neoplatonism was not really Plato, and still you see his name in there. And of course he's the source of that way of thinking and philosophizing. But it was a philosophy that had been set forth by a man named Plotinus, a brilliant thinker and writer who had written a book called The Aeneid and and Plotinus had explained all of reality in terms of the Great Pyramid of Europe, and Mark was the one. There are many levels of reality going all the way down to the many.
[00:43:58] And the very lowest level was what they call in Greek roulette or would literally matter. And so unlike Manicheism, which said matter is all evil, Neoplatonism says no matter is low. It is not the highest level of reality. There is some level in it. And so what you want to do is move beyond the material toward the spiritual. The move from the mini to the one from top pulled off Greek to top in a one. Scholars still debate today the extent to which Neoplatonism continued to influence Augustine even after he became Christian while he in Neoplatonism Christian or Christian Neoplatonism. There's no doubt that Neoplatonism offered Augustine something that was very important to him, and that was. A model of transcendence, something he didn't find in skepticism he didn't find in Manicheism. But he now found a model of transcendence that helped him to understand some of the realities of the Christian faith. Although there were also things about the Christian faith that were incompatible with neoplatonism and namely what was most central, the incarnation, because the incarnation challenges this whole model. I mean, here hula is the lowest level, and the object of the life is to rise higher above all of that. What is John 114 thing? And the one the word was in the beginning with God was God. The one became ruler became flesh. Became the most vulnerable, suffer a lower level of human reality and not the down cross. That's a rather different twist than Neoplatonism. Yeah, so. So it's not it's not accurate to say simply that I guess and baptize neoplatonism. But it is true to say that that mechanism continues to provide him a model of looking at the world in a way that was much more compatible with some aspects of Christian faith than Manicheism and these other religions.
[00:46:34] Now he he became a Christian. This is all explained in the Book of the Confessions. How do you read the confessions? In the book. If you want to read about his conversion, that's great health about it. He was in a garden. He heard some children playing nearby. They were singing a little song. A part of the child's game included the phrase in Latin Holy Lekki, tollgate holiday gate take up and when take over, we take out the tree. He picked up and picked up a copy of the New Testament he had with him. He opened it. It fell open to Romans 13. And reading that passage about cutting off the old man, putting all the works in the flesh and living in the light of Jesus Christ, no longer following lascivious means. He left and so forth. And that experience in the garden, listening to the children, reading Paul's letter to the Romans, Chapter 13 became the event that catapulted him into the Christian faith to conversion. Many things led up to it. Many things followed from it. That was the central event. He sought baptism from Bishop Ambrose of Milan, and he was baptized on Easter Sunday in the year 387. Not too long after that, he became himself a bishop in the church. Remarkable story of how that happened. People just ran to him and as it were, forced him into it against his will. Now, I want to summarize, I guess, kind of thinking in theology for you. I'm going to be quick. I know that. But hang in there with me because I want you to see his theology in terms of four or five principles or axioms. Theological action. One of three is of God. In fact, we just had an interesting way of talking about it.
[00:48:36] He said, God is very happy that he was truly alive, truly real. Everything else in creation is only this. And that means hardly alive, barely alive. God, is this great? A bold use of reality. I am that. I am very healthy. Everything else, including ourselves, is fixed. If all being is of God, God alone is proving number two. Why is movement? There's no such thing as standing still. Life is a pilgrimage. It is a process. It is a movement. You're either moving toward God or you're moving away from God. You have no other choice. There's no standing still. There's no big step. Life is movement toward that which is ultimately real, or it is movement away from reality into nonbeing and nothingness. Three. The human is. Competitive on a planet. Well, you have an avatar. Human beings are characterized by their appetite. Not for Big Mac, but for what? But what are we hungry for? What is our appetite for? Well, I can hear the distinction that's very important for us to get a hold of is the distinction made between claims that can be used only in Latin and things which can be enjoyed freely in life. I think we get our utility from this and we get our provision improved from this that you had to endure. Now, his definition of enjoy is to cling to something with love for its own sake, to cling to something inherent. We do it with love for its own sake. Now what in all of reality is the only proper object of this kind of human God? God is the only reality that can be clung to with love for its own sake or in joy. Enjoy. Who knows what the first question and answer of the Westminster sort of catechism is? If you recite what the Chief lay out the whole thing, like what is the chief thing of man answer to glorify God enjoying forever.
[00:52:06] The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy forever. Now, that's a that's a hard thing for a lot of modern Christians. We don't think too much about enjoying God. We want to love God. We want to respect God, worship God. I know God for sure. But enjoy God. You go to church to enjoy God. Well, I got to confess that this is the only thing that we enjoy in this definition of enjoyment. That is to cling to something with love for its own sake is God. Everything else in the world we ought to use properly, appropriately as a means for the enjoyment of the greatest good, which is God. Four on 42 and a half. And what about so much? Oh, absolutely. Yeah. You know, this great capacity that God has placed within human beings. You know, he says it again in both one of the confessions, that famous line we all know, you know, anything from you know, this now has made us for thyself. And our hearts are restless until they find everything we need. Nothing else was catastrophic. But now here's the problem. This is how God made us. He made us to use the world and everything in the world as a means for the enjoyment of himself. Why we were created with the catechism. Question one. But the problem in the tragedy of human life is that we have gotten our beauty and our brulee all mixed up. And instead of using the world as a means of enjoying God, we end up using God as a means to enjoy the world. And that's a perfect recipe for unhappiness. And we use a modern word. And that's what we do all the time. We use God as a means to make us happy.
[00:54:16] And of course, that's not going to happen. And we try to enjoy things that are passing away. So what Agusta says is we have an appetite. God made us this way. And it's so important that we get it right. The object of our desire. Now quickly, number four and five in just one day. We'll pick up a bit on August four. Thin is. It's the ability. It's a lack of reality. It's nonbeing the metaphysical things. I I'm not talking here simply about physical illness. I mean, that's a that's a manifestation, of course, that you don't hear about the sickness of the soul. And Hassan is certainly what his family. We're. We all know that word. Now salvation. Salvation is being made whole in healing its restoration. Now. Think we may get a little bit more. In terms of what happened out of Augustine in the medieval Catholic system, if there is sickness and salvation is healing, what is the church? Oh, it's a hospice or a hospice and people that are dying. And what is the priest? Right. The doctor. The medical. And what are the sacraments? That is, you get a whole system at work here in the medieval Catholic Church that comes out of this way of understanding Soter theology. That's why I said Augustine is somebody that both the Protestant reformers could claim, and the Roman Catholic theologians of the Council of Trent could claim both legitimately in some way, because he's such a big current source of so many ideas and thoughts. I think the best way of expressing this theologically was study about Bebe Work, The great theologian of Princeton in the 19th century, has a wonderful book called Calvin and. If you really want to dig deep down in the deep, murky waters, go read More, feels Calvin Guston great book.
[00:57:18] And in the introduction to that book, he says that the Reformation was the triumph of Augustine. So periodically over his ecclesia. It was the triumph of his son to his view of salvation over his view of the church. The tension there. One of the things Luther is going to attack in the pagan servitude of the church that he desires to return. He's going to attack the medieval Catholic sacramental system that by saying so many Hail Marys and our Fathers and going to so many masses earning so many merit, you can somehow be made right with God and he'll have this disease of sin. He's going to attack that because it had failed him and it was not spiritually supportable as it had been developed in the Middle Ages. There are playing all of the in those two that and that's why we have to start with the gospel. In this course, if we're really going to understand where Luther Calvin and think some of these people coming from. Well, as the radio preacher says, the time has come and gone. So I'll see you next week, same time, same place.