Sunday, Sept. 4
When we read the New Testament, it all seems rather straight forward, although filled with persecution and doctrinal issues. In reality, the issues were immense, both in number and complexity. Probably the first was reconciling Old Testament truth to the new truth revealed by Christ. The “one God” doctrine was probably the most important doctrine of the Jewish faith. They had endured years of domination by various pagan governments because of their idolatry and were currently living under a polytheistic Roman government. The idea of Christ being God was anathema to them. Some of that is dealt with in the N.T., including the problem of Judaizers, Christians that insisted that obeying the Mosaic Law was necessary in order to be saved. The “one God” doctrine escalated to other related problems. The virgin birth was one, but more complex was the dual nature of Christ. How can He be God and man at the same time? To make it more complex was the idea that he was fully man and fully God at the same time. On top of that, we have the introduction of a third God, the Holy Spirit. That led to the trinitarian controversy, which dealt with the nature of the three persons, especially of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Were they eternal? Were they separate persons? Is this Polytheism? It also dealt with the relationships among the three. Was the Father superior to Christ and the Holy Spirit? Was Christ superior to the Holy Spirit? And finally, it had to do with their roles. Was the role of the Holy Spirit inferior to that of Christ, for example? All of that had to be reconciled with somewhat hidden truths concerning Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. This also led to controversy concerning hermeneutics, inspiration, and canonicity—particularly of the New Testament. What N.T. writings were divinely inspired? Obviously, these complex matters were not going to be resolved over night. It took centuries to accomplish. I’m just trying to emphasize the problems that our early church scholars had to deal with.