Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Best Intro I've Read in a Long Time

The idea of 'mere Christianity' or the essentials of the faith as been coming up for me a lot recently - in my ACG, in private conversations, in thinking about evangelicalism's identity and how I fit into it, etc. I only heard the term 'paleo-orthodoxy' and Thomas Oden's name a few years ago (if my seminary prof's mentioned him, I apologize - I was tired that day). Travis Prinzi describes paleo orthodoxy: "The position is really quite simple: Go read and learn the Early Church Fathers, the great theologians of the faith who laid down the essentials in the midst of persecution, controversy, debate and heresy during the first several hundred years following Jesus. Learn the decisions of the first seven ecumenical councils. Return to the church’s classic creeds - the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed - and focus on those things that have been held by all Christians in all places at all times. In his classic book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton called tradition "the democracy of the dead" (chapter 4). Paleo-orthodox theology is a way of giving the dead their vote."

I'm diving into a couple of his books and am excited about it. I just got Thomas Oden's The Justification Reader (Classic Christian Readers) in the mail today. I've only read the introduction so far, but it's pushing all the right buttons in my head so far. Here's the first sentence:

"My purpose is plainly to set forth nothing more or less than the classic Christian teaching of salvation by grace through faith, and only those parts of that teaching on which there is substantial agreement between traditions of East and West, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, including charismatic and Pentecostal teaching."

Ambitious! Possible?

Second & third sentences:

"I promise to make no new contribution theology. I will not set before you anything new or innovative."

Yes. I'm over new (one of the things that makes me not want to pursue a PhD is the need to produce new, original work). He continues:

"As a former addict of fad theology, I have come home to ancient ecumencial Christianity. My only desire is to give voice to the truth of the early apostolic tradition without change or distortion. If something here should inadvertently seem to be new, it would be a decisive lapse from my intention."

Like I said, I'm now very excited to read the book. The 'staleness' of it is refreshing. I'll let you know how it goes.

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