Monday, March 7, 2011

Canon of Theologians- February Report

In case you missed it and care I'm working through various writings of theologians throughout history- my canon of theologians (to borrow Mark Dever's phrase). It is sad to me when Christians today think church history is only the last 40 years (or worse, the last 40 days). Most of what is written today has been written before in one form or another-- that goes for good theology and bad theology. So it is helpful to see how Biblical doctrine has been taught throughout the centuries by faithful teachers. Now I'm a few days late in posting on February's theologian but I read through Tertullian's On Idolatry. He was a Latin Church Father who lived in the 2nd-3rd centuries.

I found Tertullian's essay On Idolatry very convicting, challenging, and encouraging. Much of what he said could easily have been written today and sound very contemporary. He opens the essay by emphasizing the problem of idolatry, "The principle charge against the human race, the world's deepest guilt, the all-inclusive cause of judgment, is idolatry." He essentially argues that the nature of all sin is idolatry which "defrauds God, denying him his proper honors and conferring them to others." Tertullian then begins exposing various forms of idolatry. A lot of the things he hits have to be thought through to consider a more contemporary parallel (ex. he rebukes the guys who train gladiators but are still embraced in the church). There is however great instruction here and he draws from Scripture throughout (be aware though there are apocryphal books he considered canonical). It is especially helpful how Tertullian brings Scripture to bear on his culture and considered how Christians ought to be set apart from the world. There are so many ways that we blend in and are lured to the feet of idols. We need to take this as seriously as this ancient theologian did.

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