Monday, January 31, 2011

Canon of Theologians- January Report

In case you missed this post I am reading through various historical works of theology throughout the year. My goal is to blog on them at the end of the month. For January I read the Letter to Diognetus. This letter dates to the mid to late 2nd century and falls in the collection of writings known as the "Apostolic Fathers". These writings are so-called because they come in the generation immediately following the Apostles. Some of these writings are good, some bad, and some ugly. The Letter to Diognetus is a good one.

We don't know who wrote it. It is attributed to Mathetes which is the Greek word for disciple so literally it is 'a letter from a disciple to Diognetus'. There is some debate (and ultimately uncertainty) regarding who Diognetus is. Some suggest he was the tutor to Emperor Marcus Aurelius but all we really know is that he is addressed as "most excellent Diognetus" which suggests he was a man of great significance.

The letter is easy to read because it is brief and because it is so applicable. Obviously this is no inerrant, God-inspired writing but it expounds on the teachings of the apostles as any good preaching would today. I found the letter to be spiritually motivating and encouraging. I also found it to be "reformed" in doctrine, at least in some places. There are some passages that almost sound as though penned by Luther himself! Here are a few excerpts but go read it yourself- you will be blessed!

On why the world hates Christians- Diognetus 6:5...

"The flesh hates the sould and wages was with it, though it receives no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hates Christians, though it receives no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures."

On penal substitution and the imputation of Christ's righteousness- Diognetus 9:3-5...

"For what else but [Christ's] righteousness would have covered our sins? In whom was it possible for us lawless and ungodly men to have been justified, save only in the Son of God? O the sweet exchange, O the inscrutable creation, O the unexpected benefits; that the iniquity of many should be concealed in One Righteous Man, and the righteousness of One should justify many that are iniquitous!"

On the imitation of God/ God's sovereign grace- Diognetus 10:4...

"Marvel not that a man can be an imitator of God. He can, if God wills it."

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