Comments On Theology: by David Ford.
To best describe what I was able to read in David Ford’s work on theology is, answers to how we got where we are today in our world of complex and diverse theological beliefs. Ford gives an amazing historical overview of the development of the christian faith and its doctrines. He traces the expansion of the early church across the then known world and the development as well as the, expansion of various aspects of theological thoughts. Ford helps us to learn not only theology but theology from a historical perspective. We are able follow the church through history and meet many those who help to shape some of the doctrines that have come to define various schools of thought within christiandom.
With new theological debates occuring all across the wide spectrum of christianity regarding the social changes emerging in culture and how the church should respond, many are looking for a sense of consensus. Efforts to gain consensus often come through the process of debating the issues but this can be full of tension. Tension and disagreement are trade marks of the christianity, it how we come hold a lot of theological interpretations that have seperated us into various demoninations. Could God not have made it much easier, by spelling out everying we need to know in black white, leaving no room for error? Or did he? It is somewhat chellenging to the simple mind, to think that God needed controveries to clarify and preserve his truth for all mankind. Yet it is without question that the controversies that developed within early and later church history, helped to strenghten the church and sharp many of our theological perspectives. God use these divisive and distructive elements of human nature to reaffirm his truths and fuel the church.
The person of and nature of Christ was and still remain an object of discussion and disagreement. The heries of the Gnosticism helped the church affirmed the human nature of Christ and contributed to our knowledge of Christ being God in human flesh. Arianism did more that to help the church developed one of the great creeds of the christian faith, it also served to reaffirmed the divine nature of Christ and serves as the bases for the doctrine of the trinity. These are today considered essential dogmas of the faith. Marcion’s attack on the unity of the Old and New Testaments was met by a strong defense of the unity of scriptures led by Tertullian. One can only imagine the impact on the church, if we were unable to show how the Old and New Testament serve to reveal God’s redemption plan and form and one single body divine revelation. Proving that Christ is the messiah may have been lot more challening.
We must not forget that the chuch was scatter in mayor cities of Asia minor as it moved beyond Jerusalem and Judea. From there it spread throughout Cappadocia and into Europe. This without having the tools of modern technology to keep it connect and imform. Yet in every region were it was present, these believer fought to preserve the truths that were handed down to them. Further, they developed great schorship and applied themselves to the truth of God, the defense of the beliefs against heries and schism from within and without the church. They made it possible for the truth to pass down to us. We are therefore indebted to the church of every generation before us for their labour to presere the the faith. As note by the author,”Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Schleiermacher, and all the others are not dead but living. They still speak and demand a hearing as living voices, as surely as we know that they and we belong together in the church” David Ford, Theology Kindle version. p3. Know where we have come from, how we got where we, and grasping these powerful voices of our christian past, would navigate through and chart our way to the future.
To summarize, the present day church owes many of its theological perspectives to the early and middle periods of church history, including the following:
- The doctrine of the unity of human and divine nature of Christ ( homoousios: one in being)
- The doctrine of the trinity: God manifested in three distinct beings
- The doctrine of Christ incarnation
- The doctrine of grace
- The doctrine of salvation
- Salvation through faith
- The church as a body of saints and sinners.
These early christian are giants of the faith on whose shoulders we stand in order to view the future.