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William Franco
William Franco

A History Of Christian Doctrine


The doctrine of the Trinity, considered the core of Christian theology by Trinitarians, is the result of continuous exploration by the church of the biblical data, thrashed out in debate and treatises, eventually formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 in a way they believe is consistent with the biblical witness, and further refined in later councils and writings.[1] The most widely recognized Biblical foundations for the doctrine's formulation are in the Gospel of John,[1] which possess ideas that originate in Platonism and Greek philosophy.[2]




A history of Christian doctrine



Nontrinitarianism is any of several Christian beliefs that reject the Trinitarian doctrine that God is three distinct persons in one being. Modern nontrinitarian groups views differ widely on the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.


Urgent concerns with the uniformity of belief and practice have characterized Christianity from the outset. The New Testament itself speaks of the importance of maintaining orthodox doctrine and refuting heresies, showing the antiquity of the concern.[31] The development of doctrine, the position of orthodoxy, and the relationship between the early Church and early heretical groups is a matter of academic debate. Some scholars, drawing upon distinctions between Jewish Christians, Gentile Christians, and other groups such as Gnostics, see Early Christianity as fragmented and with contemporaneous competing orthodoxies.


In the middle of the 2nd century, three groups of Christians adhered to a range of doctrines that divided the Christian communities of Rome: the teacher Marcion, the pentecostal outpourings of ecstatic Christian prophets of a continuing revelation, in a movement that was called "Montanism" because it had been initiated by Montanus and his female disciples, and the gnostic teachings of Valentinus. Early attacks upon alleged heresies formed the matter of Tertullian's Prescription Against Heretics (in 44 chapters, written from Rome), and of Irenaeus' Against Heresies (ca 180, in five volumes), written in Lyons after his return from a visit to Rome. The letters of Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna to various churches warned against false teachers, and the Epistle of Barnabas, accepted by many Christians as part of Scripture in the 2nd century, warned about mixing Judaism with Christianity, as did other writers, leading to decisions reached in the first ecumenical council, which was convoked by the Emperor Constantine at Nicaea in 325, in response to further disruptive polemical controversy within the Christian community, in that case Arian disputes over the nature of the Trinity.


The Renaissance yielded scholars the ability to read the scriptures in their original languages and this in part stimulated the Reformation. Martin Luther, a Doctor in Bible at the University of Wittenburg,[35] began to teach that salvation is a gift of God's grace, attainable only through faith in Jesus, who in humility paid for sin.[36] "This one and firm rock, which we call the doctrine of justification", insisted Martin Luther, "is the chief article of the whole Christian doctrine, which comprehends the understanding of all godliness."[37] Along with the doctrine of justification, the Reformation promoted a higher view of the Bible. As Martin Luther said, "The true rule is this: God's Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so."[38] These two ideas in turn promoted the concept of the priesthood of all believers. Other important reformers were John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, Philipp Melanchthon, Martin Bucer and the Anabaptists. Their theology was modified by successors such as Theodore Beza, the English Puritans and Francis Turretin.


The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press.[48] Within two weeks, the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.


After the conclusion of the Schmalkald War, Charles V attempted to impose Catholic religious doctrine on the territories that he had defeated. However, the Lutheran movement was far from defeated. In 1577, the next generation of Lutheran theologians gathered the work of the previous generation to define the doctrine of the persisting Lutheran church. This document is known as the Formula of Concord. In 1580, it was published with the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Large and Small Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope. Together they were distributed in a volume entitled The Book of Concord. This book is still used today.


Some of the doctrines of Protestantism that the Catholic Church considers heretical are the belief that the Bible is the only source and rule of faith ("sola scriptura"), that faith alone can lead to salvation ("sola fide") and that there is no sacramental, ministerial priesthood attained by ordination, but only a universal priesthood of all believers.


From the late 19th century to the early twentieth groups established themselves that derived many of their beliefs from Protestant evangelical groups but significantly differed in doctrine. These include the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Latter Day Saints and many so called "cults". Many of these groups use the Protestant version of the Bible and typically interpret it in a fundamentalist fashion, adding, however, special prophecy or scriptures, and typically denying the trinity and the full deity of Jesus Christ.


The Historical Volume of what was originally called "Reformed Dogmatics" now appears with a new title, namely, History of Christian Doctrines. Works on the gradual development of theological truth in the Church of Jesus Christ usually appear alongside of those which deal with the systematic reproduction of it, and thus stand out as separate works. It was thought best to follow this practice, since this will stress the fact that after all the history of the development of Christian thought in the Church is a separate study.


But while it is a separate study, it is not one which students of theology can afford to neglect. The study of doctrinal truth, apart from its historical background, leads to a truncated theology. There has been too much of this in the past, and there is a great deal of it even in the present day. The result has been the lack of a sound understanding and a proper evaluation of the truth. There was no appreciation of the fact that the Holy Spirit guided the Church in the interpretation and development of the truth as it is revealed in the Word of God. The checks and the roadsigns of the past were not taken into consideration, and ancient heresies, long since condemned by the Church, are constantly repeated and represented as new discoveries. The lessons of the past are greatly neglected, and many seem to feel that they should strike out entirely on their own, as if very little had been accomplished in the past. Surely, a theologian must take account of the present situation in the religious world, and ever study the truth anew, but he cannot neglect the lessons of the past with impunity. May this brief study of the history of doctrines serve to create a greater interest in such historical study, and lead to a better understanding of the truth.


The Post-Apostolic Age to the Middle Ages A.D. 100-1500 A History of Christian Doctrine traces doctrinal developments in church history, evaluating them from an Apostolic Pentecostal perspective. It introduces leading historical figures and movements in Christendom and conveys a basic understanding of their beliefs. This scholarly book describes how biblical doctrines were abandoned, how unbiblical doctrines were embraced, and how some still affirmed apostolic teachings.


The Reformation to the Holiness Movement A.D. 1500-1900 A History of Christian Doctrine traces doctrinal developments in church history, evaluating them from an Apostolic Pentecostal perspective. It introduces leading historical figures and movements in Christendom and conveys a basic understanding of their beliefs. This scholarly book describes how biblical doctrines were abandoned, how unbiblical doctrines were embraced, and how some still affirmed apostolic teachings.The series continues by describing the major theologians, movements, and events from the Protestant Reformation onward. It demonstrates how many biblical doctrines were rediscovered and provides a basis for understanding various denominations today.


The Twentieth Century A.D. 1900-2000 A History of Christian Doctrine traces doctrinal developments in church history, evaluating them from an Apostolic Pentecostal perspective. It introduces leading historical figures and movements in Christendom and conveys a basic understanding of their beliefs. This scholarly book describes how biblical doctrines were abandoned, how unbiblical doctrines were embraced, and how some still affirmed apostolic teachings.The series concludes with the significant movements, theologians, and events of the twentieth century. It gives particular attention to the Pentecostal movement but also describes others.


The lessons of the past are greatly neglected, and many seem to feel that they should strike out entirely on their own, as if very little had been accomplished in the past. Surely, a theologian must take account of the present situation in the religious world, and ever study the truth anew, but he cannot neglect the lessons of the past with impunity. May this brief study of the history of doctrines serve to create a greater interest in such historical study, and lead to a better understanding of the truth.


PERIOD OF THE REFORMATION1. The Reformers improve on the doctrine of Anselm1822. The Socinian conception of the atonement1823. The Grotian theory of the atonement1864. The Arminian view of the atonement1885. The compromise of the School of Saumur190IV:THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT AFTER THE


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