Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Restoring Christianity to its pristine form?

What appears to be new, innovative, fresh, and insightful (these are the terms to use to get a hearing and to get a movement going) can often be found to be old, incomplete, wayward, defunct, and after consideration discarded.

The bold voices of revolution today are often the echoes of long forgotten men. As long as we think that history is bunk then bright new things that attract us so much will not be seen for what they so often are, the worn out theological junk of yesteryear.


Repristinating Christianity is an age old practice. Don't expect it to go away.

Here is Richard Muller on some attempts made in the 16-17th centuries:
Over against the magisterial Reformers and the Roman Catholic theologians of the day, theologians like Michael Servetus, Giovanni Blandrata, Valentine Gentile, and Laelius and Fautus Socinus examined the text of Scripture in a strictly linguistic and non-traditionary exegesis and found no doctrine of the Trinity: on the one hand, in the name of a return to the original message of Jesus they and their followers leveled a biblical critique against the traditional churchly doctrine of the one divine essence and three divine persons.

On the other hand, looking at the writings of the earliest church fathers, they could argue no clear doctrine of the Trinity. Servetus in particular argued the case for a pre-Nicene, non-trinitarian view--with the result that his theology and that of other antitrinitarians looked like nothing so much as a reprise of ancient heresies.

...the antitrinitarian position is characterized by a radical biblicism coupled with a renunciation of traditional Christian and philosophical understandings of subtance, person, subsistence, and so forth, as unbiblical accretions. Yet it is hardly the case that the antitrinitarian stress on the utter and absolute unity of God to the exclusion of personal distinctions in the divine essence was utterly a-philosophical and simply the return to the basic Christian message.
Richard A. Muller, PRRD volume four: The Triunity of God, p. 74-5

1 comment:

robert said...

Martin, not sure what you felt about the Blue Like Jazz book craze across the U.S., but after reading your blog, i just have to recommend a book to you and your readers for the new year. It is Brown Like Coffee. Kind of wacky but real challenging. I found it at brownlikecoffee.com . It seemed kind of like a response to BLJ. I would love to get your response to both books.