Quoting Dead Christian Theologeans

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by saturneptune, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    We spend lots of effort on this board quoting extra-Biblical sources from theologians, scholars, historians, officials of various denominations throughout history, etc. There are lots of quotes from Josephus, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Pink, Wallace, and so many more. They can range in doctrine from Calvinism to end times, and extend out to things like Bible versions when debating the KJV.

    Do you think the earlier these writers lived to the time of Christ makes their observations and opinions any more valid than someone who lived later?

    For example, it seems like when someone quotes Calvin (just an example) and someone counters with a point from Augustine, that most think Augustine's point wins out because he was from a time nearer to Biblical times.
     
  2. Rippon

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    What? William Wallace? I don't think many have quoted him here. Now Daniel Wallace is a living scholar.

    No.

    You heading down a dead-end. Calvin largely agreed with Augustine. There were numerous times when he disagreed as well. I don't see a point here at all.

    "Most think Augustine's point wins out because he was closer to biblical times"? I don't know of anyone who subscribes to that view.
     
  3. Winman

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    I don't spend much time reading commentaries, when I do, it is often to show someone here that my interpretation of scripture is very much in agreement with scholars in most cases (not all). I figure, they won't listen to me, but maybe they will listen if they see a known scholar came up with the exact same interpretation.

    The time a commentator wrote has little bearing on whether they are accurate or not. To me the issue is honesty. I like a commentator who will tell the truth come what may, who will say what the scriptures are really saying regardless of the consequences.

    Of all the commentators, I easily prefer Albert Barnes over everyone else. I do not agree with everything he says, but I love his honesty. He ran into lots of problems and was accused of heresy several times simply because he sought to interpret the scriptures honestly. My kind of man. :thumbsup:

    You can keep all these puppets and parrots that tow the party line.

    Believe it or not, I have a lot of respect for John Gill, not because he was correct, he was as far from correct as you can get many times, but he was brutally consistent with Calvinism. He came right out and plainly said that God did not love the non elect.
     
    #3 Winman, Jul 6, 2013
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  4. saturneptune

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    Yes, he largely agreed but not all the time. I know of several on this board that subscribe to the view of earlier dating being more accurate. It is kind of like, the more times a story is repeated, the less accurate it becomes.
     
  5. preachinjesus

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    I don't think that is true and I don't know anyone who makes this assumption when referencing an older theologian.

    Well if I were to quote Augustine to counter a point from Calvin it would likely be due to 1) the reality that Augustine informs Calvin as much as the Bible theologically and 2) to offer a different vantage point from another reputable theologian. It wouldn't be due to Augustine's life dates.

    The only Christians who I would consider having a better view of the biblical times are those within the first generation of believers. If we do a careful study on the nature of theology from the second to fourth generations, we see how quickly things got reinterpreted from their original states.
     
  6. Herald

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    The value of long dead theologians is in providing a bench mark to measure truth and error.
     
  7. quantumfaith

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    Herald, doesn't that mean that one must assume that they got it completely correct, or even more so, in order to serve as that benchmark?
     
  8. psalms109:31

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    I have to quote old theologians, because people are not going to agree with you if you have only the scripture to back you up. It is dangerous for one to learn scripture and the meaning of it on their own.

    If we only stay were they are at and don't learn more of what the scripture is saying we will never mature or grow. The old theologian and us has so much more to learn from scripture it is wrong for us not to take advantage of going further than them and finding what they are missing. I refuse to live in 1689, I want to live in today.

    If we only listen to people who only tell us what our itching ears want hear then we will never see what is missing in their understanding. The scripture is the final word it is good to see how they viewed the scripture, but they are not our god.
     
    #8 psalms109:31, Jul 6, 2013
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  9. Dr. Bob

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    Some truths and understanding took many centuries. The "early church" (ante-Nicene fathers) was no more/less spiritual than me. They put their toga on one sleeve at a time. :)

    Lots of pagan and false religious influences in the early fathers. I find their works fraught with error, assumptions and grossly unbiblical thinking. And some good stuff too.

    500 years to Augustine and then some "systematic" thinking developed. Even more in the 1400-1500's with some reformers. Some areas of doctrinal understanding are still "developing" today or in our lifetime. Seems every generation there is a doctrine that is "under the gun" and thinking/understanding of it deepens.

    Happened that way in the doctrines of grace with the Calvin era. Then with the doctrine of prophecy/unfolding God's plan 150 years ago with dispensationalism. Even in the later half of last century the Ecumenical Movement came to the front (cooperation with the ungodly) and that developed doctrinal emphasis in other areas.

    No one has a "corner on the market" with truth. MY generation has to stand on the shoulders of giants for sure . . but dig deeper in study and fight doctrinal battles of this era.

    (Bob steps off his soapbox)
     
  10. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Solid points...thanks:thumbs:
     
  11. Herald

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    First, no human being is infallible. In fact, the early church Father's were a collection of "mixture and error". Men like Athanasius could be spot on about the homoousious (nature of Christ) and wrong about baptism. So, we can use Athanasius as a benchmark for doctrine of the deity and eternal generation of the Son, while disagreeing with him on baptism.
     
  12. HankD

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    It can get volatile here at the BB discussing their writings, but we could, I suppose, be doing worst things.

    No, those closer to the Christ and the apostles in history doesn't guarantee accuracy with the scriptures. If one studies the early church fathers you will see that they spent most of their time correcting error and in accord with Matthew 13 the church branched off in many doctrinal directions, gnosticism being an early (maybe the earliest) heresy.

    But even the early church fathers had some views of which modern Baptists would take offense - e.g. a study of the church fathers concerning The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist would probably surprise many Baptists.


    HankD
     
  13. quantumfaith

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    I completely agree Herald, but that very same principle applies equally to us as well. We all do our best, in the midst of our fallibility and frailties determining the nature, message and "mission of God."
     
  14. Herald

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    The only difference is that there is confidence to be found in tracing sound doctrine back through the centuries. When we can look back on a consistent thread of truth we are less likely to believe novelties or outright falsehood.

    I use the analogy of hiking through the forest. You can travel the proven trail or just head into the woods. Which choice is more likely to get you lost?
     
  15. quantumfaith

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    While I understand your point, and there is certainly truth to it, simple analogies of "common sense" do not out of necessity imply absolute truth or correctness in such.
     
  16. asterisktom

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    Reading this thread reminds of me a good observation CS Lewis made. I think his term was "chronological bigotry". I forget in which of his books I read it. His point is well-taken that we need to study writings from all centuries. His reasoning was that, though each century has biases and blind spots, they will be different ones for each century. Reading from a wide selection will tend to smooth out the imbalance, helping us to arrive at more correct viewpoints.

    The bigotry he spoke of was the assumption that modern writing is better, because we are supposedly more advanced. While there is something to this - the nature of the Incarnation and the Triunity of God were only discovered over many decades - it can easily be overstated.

    For the most part, I don't think they were necessarily closer to the truth the closer they were to the time of Christ. I say for the most part because there are a couple or three writers that were indeed closer: Clement of Rome and the writer of the Didache in particular. The reason why, IMO, these should be in a special category is that I believe their writings come from before the close of the canon. For this reason, although they clearly are not inspired, they would have a unique value as far as their testimony is concerned.
     
    #16 asterisktom, Jul 7, 2013
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  17. Herald

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    If it was simply common sense we were subscribing to then there are much easier ways to accomplish that task. But when discussing biblical truth the stakes are much higher. It's not the reference to a long dead theologian that matters, it's the truth itself. If I am leaning towards a view of the atonement that is held by a majority of Protestant theologians, then I can feel comfortable that I am within the bounds of orthodoxy. However, if my view is championed by theologians who are consistently outside the bounds of orthodoxy I should take caution.
     
  18. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Exactly Herald...guide posts!
     

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