Church History 101

I am on this big learning curve with the church fathers, and might I say that I am having a really good time learning. There appears to be a resurgence in the interest of what they had to say, how they lived, and who they were. I say this because of the number of recent publications that are being targeted for the lay person.

I found this site, that has a good overview (introduction) to the early Christian history. But the nice thing about this site is that they also have a blog, and from what I can tell they post sporadically, every 1-2 months. So they are not super active, but at least you can post and hope to get a response at some point. The blog is not highly active with comments, but that could be for a number of reasons.

Early Church History

Early Church History Blog

If you know of others sites of similar interest feel free to recommend them.

A Theology for the Church

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Pub. Date: July 2007
Type: Hardcover
ISBN 10: 080542640X
ISBN 13: 9780805426403
Product #: 001317634
Weight: 3.05 lbs
Trim Size: 6.32 X 9.3 X 2.3
Binding: Hardcover
Price: $49.99

CBD

Amazon

Many thanks to Jim Baird from B&H Academic for the complimentary review copy!

Although I just received it today I wanted to post to say thank you to the publisher, and also give a quick overview. Again I have not read the entire book (997 pages). Several nice features about this book are:

  • In addition to discussing the various theology subjects, each chapter contains the following segments:
    • What does the Bible say?
    • What has the church believed?
    • How do the doctrines fit together?
    • How does each doctrine impact the church today?

I really do appreciate the sections “What has the church believed”. The sections “What has the church believed” are introductions to what the early church fathers believed. I have recently become very interested in studying the church fathers, so I find this section especially useful. To often they are overlooked or just introduce to students by way of the creeds and nothing more is ever discussed besides the occasional quote. With today’s innovations and the churches seeming to neglect our roots I am very glad to see that the church fathers are included, and will hopefully spark further interest in their writings.

Since the book is a new publication, and published by B&H publishing it includes the HCSB as one of the translations used. It also uses the ESV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, & the KJV. This yet another nice feature of this book. Because of this they also quote many of the recent theology books that have been written in the last 20 years, and of course they also quote all of the usual theological giants as well. Which introduces you to the many other books written on the subject if you wish to study deeper on any topic. I have read various other introductory theology books such as “Basic Theology” by Charles Ryrie, and he does not cover the church fathers at all in the way this book does. Also they don’t shy away from quoting or discussing theologians such as Karl Barth.

These are just a few reason why I think this would make a great addition to any library. If you are looking for your first introductory book to Systematic Theology, you can’t go wrong with this edtion. Each chapter is written by different theologians, and the editor is Daniel L. Akin president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

UPDATE:

I have been reading much more since I first received it, and I am very impressed, so much so that I am highly considering using this new volume as our standard text book for our Bible Institute. Currently we use Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, and I think that “A Theology for the Church” offers a bit more depth for our students.   I also think that laypersons will find much value in this book as it is not so technical that it will overwhelm them.  Although written by Southern Baptist I find this book to be useful for other denominations as they quote extensively from outside sources.  As it is clearly seen in how they present opposing views in an irenic manner.

Learning Theology With the Church Fathers – Review

Book Review – “Learning Theology With the Church Fathers” written by Christopher A. Hall

Well this is my first book review, kind of feels like I am back in school writing a book report (never really like doing that either). I have not been posting as often because I am buried deep in the books I am reading as I am preparing to start a monthly lecture series at our church on various subjects, in addition to starting to teach at our Bible Institute as well. I also took about two weeks off on vacation, and I have been ever so busy at work.

One of the lectures that I am preparing for is dealing with Historic Christianity. Now I’ll be honest and say that I have never fully read any of the church fathers writings (not the intent of the lectures) but I do need to deal with their conclusions and why it matters to us.

I came across this book called “Learning Theology With the Church Fathers” written by Christopher A. Hall. This is an introductory survey book about what the church fathers believed. Who do I recommend this book to? Anyone who has never really read the writings of the church fathers, and those who want to explore how the wisdom of the patristic traditions helps us understand how we developed the various doctrines that we now embrace, and how it might aid us in the proclamation of the gospel. He does not cover every single church father and what they wrote, but it is a good book to at least get you going and maybe spark a further interest in their writings. He writes very well and keeps you engaged. The book does have broad appeal and you are not required to be a scholar to appreciate this book. Keep in mind that this book is more of a survey, an overview if you will. I am not done with the book but I have really enjoyed the 2 chapters plus the introductions that I have read so far.

There are a few really good reviews on Amazon as well and recommend you read those as well.

The chapters in the book are:

  1. Christ the Son, Begotten and Not Made
  2. Mystery and Wonder of the Trinity
  3. Christ Divine and Human
  4. Holy Spirit
  5. Sin, Grace and the Human Condition
  6. Providence
  7. The Sacred Scriptures
  8. One Holy, Apostolic Church
  9. Resurrection and Eternal Life

This book is the second in a three part series surveying the various aspects of early church history.

Book 1 – Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (examination of various hermeneutical methods, focusing upon the differing schools of Alexandria and Antioch).

Book 3 (forthcoming) – Praying with the Church Fathers (deals with sacramentology and pietism among other things).

If you are in the area stop by

Does Historic Christianity Matter?

There is some great dialog going on at Parachment and Pen on the topic of Historic Christianity. I think it has jump around a bit, as most blog responses due, but the title of the blog was “How Many Beliefs Can One Abandon and Still be Called Christian?” Which people seem to have got hung up on.

This is a topic that I have been thinking much about. In light of recent issues such as Openess Theology, Preterism, etc how do we defend Historic Christianity?

Michael in his blog raises some serious questions for us to think about.

There are a lot of beliefs being abandoned today as people question “established” traditional Christianity…

Most of those who would deny a traditional Christian doctrine do so believing that they are reading the Bible more faithfully than those who have gone before them. In other words, they are not always denying the truthfulness of Scripture, but the truthfulness of “orthodoxy” as defined by historic Christianity. In their mind, they are restoring the true intent and teachings of Scripture by abandoning the views of the historic Christian faith.

That is the attitude I have received when speaking with Preterist, and Open theist. But isn’t this the same line of reasoning that the restorationist churches of the nineteenth century such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Disciples of Christ have taken?

Post here or just join the dialog over at Parachment and Pen

Excellent set of blogs on the Trinity

These are not just causal blogs on the Trinity, but well thought out written articles.

Topics include:

  1. A Trinitarian Wedding Meditation By Jeffrey Meyers
  2. Making Room By Peter J. Leithart
  3. The Trinity and the Nations: Insight from Galatians By Michael Halcomb
  4. Augustine Among The Social Trinitarians By W. Travis McMaken
  5. Trinitarian Spirituality: Relationships, not Roles By Darrell Pursiful
  6. Trinity in Jewish Terms? By Anne Kim
  7. The Trinitarian Grammar of Worship By Doug Chaplin
  8. Sent from the Father: A Case for Pre-Temporal Obedience By Nick Norelli
  9. God’s Being Is in Coming: Eberhard Jüngel’s Doctrine of the Trinity By David W. Congdon

 So check it out at: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

Open Theism Summary

First off I want to thank Brad, but especially Sam & Jonathan for engaging me on the subject with grace and humility. What started off as a simple question asked by me from a young member in my church has led to countless hours of reading, blogging, thinking, and praying.

I had studied this subject over 10 years ago, although Open Theism was not as popular as it is today so I never really tackled that subject as much as I have recently. The interesting thing is that I have concluded, what I had concluded 10 years ago. No body really seems to know. We have philosophical arguments, and arrive at theological conclusions, but in the end no body really knows how it works. My conclusion is that God has divine providence over his creation, has divine foreknowledge, and man has free will. How these work together is a mystery, and will be debated for many, many years. I understand that for the Academic world, and those seeking for logical answers this is not sufficient, but for me on a personal level it is.

I have personally chosen to approach this matter with the utmost humility, understanding that I am a finite creature trying to comprehend an infinite divine being. By no means am I done with the subject matter, as I have just come back from the book store with two more books to read. In all fairness to the Open Theist camp, I have purchased the 2nd edition of John Sanders book “The God Who Risks” 350+ pages worth, and “How Much Does God Foreknow?” by Steven C. Roy in defense of Traditional Theism.

At times like this I wish I was wired more artistically, than logically and would be fine with just expressing the wonders of God, rather than trying to understand them. I just feel like Job, and just want to express myself like singer/writer Matt Redman.

1 Then Job replied to the LORD:

2 I know that You can do anything
and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.

3 [You asked,] “Who is this who conceals [My] counsel with ignorance?”
Surely I spoke about things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know. – Job 42 – CSB

Blessed Be Your Name

by Matt Redman
- - -
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord...

Upcoming Lectures – BIOLA

I am planning to attend the following seminars. If you are in So. California and might attend let me know and maybe we can meet up.

Apologetics Events

Evidence for the Reliability of the New Testament

with Craig Blomberg, Ph.D.

Are the biblical accounts of Jesus historically reliable, or are they merely legendary? How can Christians reconcile the many variations and alleged contradictions in the copies of the New Testament? How do we answer tough new challengers, like Bart Ehrman, who have emerged in recent years?

Oh, we have the right Jesus–and this seminar will show you how to make the compelling historical case yourself from a world-renowned expert on the New Testament documents.

March 6th, 7th, & 8th
Thursday and Friday 6-10pm, Saturday 9am-5pm
Biola University
Business Building Lecture Hall
Cost: only $95

Key Philosophical Issues in Apologetics

with William Lane Craig, Ph.D., D.Theol.

What has happened in philosophy recently that has turned the world upside down and catapulted Christians into a leading role? One of the key figures in the revolution will present and explain for the average person the cutting-edge ideas that have captured the minds of a new generation.

Dr. Craig shares from a wealth of knowledge and experience in this can’t-miss seminar dealing with everything from the existence of God and divine foreknowledge, to the Resurrection, and more!

April 24th, 25th, & 26th
Thursday and Friday 6-10pm, Saturday 9am-5pm
Biola University
Business Building Lecture Hall
Cost: only $95

Open Theism

I have been reading non-stop regarding this subject. Currently I have two books that I have been reading, one is by The Benefits of Providence
by James S. Spiegel, and What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy over Divine Foreknowledge by Millard J. Erickson.

I have dropped “The Benefits of Providence” over Erickson’s book, because he seems to address it in a more systematic way, plus he presents the open theist views in an understandable way. I plan to write more on this subject when I am done as I see danger in embracing this particular view of God. Will give a small review of each book.

It was brought to my attention recently, and I was asked the following question, “does God know everything?” I responded with “yes”. “Does he know the future?” they asked. “Of course” I responded. After a few questions it became apparent that they had been talking to someone who has an Open Theist view, and created this sudden questioning of God’s Omniscients. I am always amazed when these sorts of doctrine’s make their way into the church.

The chief proponent of this view seems to be Gregory Boyd. You can read a short bio at Theopedia

I also plan to hold a seminar at my church dealing with the subject “Does God Know All Things”. I am a Traditional Theist, and I have different points of views on this matter, but to deny that God does not know all things is a something that must be challenged, and confronted.  to deny that God does not know all things, I think presents a set of challenges for us, and what are the ramifications of embracing such a doctrinal position?  As C.S. Lewis once said

“Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow.”

You can read Justin Taylor’s introduction on this subject from his book “Beyond the Bounds – Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity” Which is another book I plan to read as soon as I am done with the other two.

My question is:

  • have any of you had encounters with this subject?
  • do any of my regular visitors embrace Open Theism?

Theological Education – is it possible on the Net for free?

I was thinking about this the other day. Is it possible to get a Theological Education for free between the resources on the Internet and through the reading of books that would be equivalent to a B.A in Biblical Studies, or Theology? What about at a Master’s Degree level?

I am constantly looking for new sites that offer serious studies, with outlines, notes, and mp3’s.

Here are the sites that I have found so far that I think can make it happen:

  • Biblical Training
    • Mostly MP3’s
  • The Theology Program
    • Outlines, syllabus and MP3’s
    • Recommended reading assignments
    • You can also enroll and turn in assignments (no college credit)
  • Covenant Worldwide
    • Selected courses from their Seminary
    • Outlines, syllabus & MP3
  • Sonic Light
    • Extensive study notes and MP3’s on every book of the bible.
  • That’s my list tell me what you think. If you know of other great sites that offer at least this level of training feel free to share.