For some reason, I’ve had a strong desire as of late to read more from church history – not just folk from the past couple of centuries, but from the 2000 year span of the Christian church. The desire was stirred a few years back, and I attempted to get into more of church history. But, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve started to do this on an almost daily basis as I’ve headed back into Justo Gonzalez’s The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 and Volume 2.
I was conversing with a friend of mine just a couple of days ago and he said one of the biggest things that destroyed his theology in seminary was to realize that there is an historical context to theology – history has shaped every single bit of our theology today. None of it was formulated in a vacuum. You and I, we, do not normally believe something because we saw it in Scripture. Rather, it’s usually because it’s been handed down to us over either millennia or centuries.
Thus, we have a story.
That’s what I love about church history, even including the possession of creeds and confessions. We have a story, which has multiple stories enfolded within it. And I want to love that story – the good, bad and ugly. It keeps the narrative authentic, real and earthy. I can grab a hold of something that is authentic, even if it isn’t perfect.
I’d say our theological story is easily summed up in the Apostle’s Creed, and we find the earliest written version of this creed from the early part of the 3rd century.
How does that summary go?
Below is the creed, a modern-day translation of it (like the NIV version of the Apostle’s Creed).
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.