Blog Archives

Flotsam and jetsam (6/20)

Many thanks to Brian LePort for handling these posts while I was at the Acton conference. I have returned and will be posting some more reflections on Acton over the next day or so. But, for now, here are some interesting links.

  • Peter Leithart has a very helpful post on whether we should continue to use the label “Arian” despite recent historical studies suggesting that Athanasius’ opponents were far too diverse to be covered by a single label like this.
  • There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Ron Hendel’s decision to relinquish his SBL membership over concerns that the society has changed its position on the relationship between faith and biblical studies, and that it has done so for largely financial reasons (i.e. they’re trying to recruit more evangelical and fundamentalist scholars). John Hobbins, Mike Bird, and Jim West have all offered comments.
  • Jim West asks if someone can be a committed Christian and a practicing homosexual. In the process, he presses on the popular notion of what it means to be a “committed” Christian and how this relates to ongoing sinful practices in general.
  • Diglogtting reviews Don Schweitzer’s Contemporary Christologies. It sounds like a good, brief resource for familiarizing yourself with a variety of recent less-traditional approaches to Christology. The apparent lack of material dealing with more traditional Christologies, though, belies the back-cover claim that the book deals with the “chief approaches” in Christology since WWII.
  • CT has posted its June 2010 interview with Al Erisman, who contends that “we need to think about ministry in the digital culture the way missionaries think about the culture of the people they serve”. They’ve also posted the responses by Wha-Chul Son, Haron Wachira, Nigel Cameron, and Juan Rogers. If you’re wanting to understand some of the pros and cons involved in using technology in ministry, this would be a good conversation to follow.
  • With the growing use of the rosary in popular culture, Alan Creech offers a helpful primary on the rosary.
  • Stuart discusses some recent claims that fundamentalist Christians are using the BP oil spill to support their eschatology. Joel Watts offers some thoughts as well.
  • C. Michael Patton offers some thoughts on his two days as an atheist. His story raises some interesting questions about the nature of faith, doubt, and disbelief.
  • And, apparently if you jump onto a moving semi on a dare, you should have some plan for getting down.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/10)

  • Kenton Sparks discusses the doctrine of inerrancy. Specifically, he looks at the problem or conflicting moral standards in the Bible – e.g. Jesus’ love ethic vs. OT commands to kill everyone. And, he argues that this is not simply a problem generated by modern sensitivities and that these are problems that cannot simply be set aside by conservative theologians.
  • Last Seminary offers a very list list of articles dealing with unity and diversity in the New Testament. (HT Nick Norelli)
  • In a NTY op-ed piece, Tony Judt discusses six cliches that make it difficult to talk intelligently about the Israel situation. I thought this was a very helpful article for clarifying some of the rhetoric that often gets thrown around in the discussion.
  • Claremont Seminary decides to become “the first truly multi-faith seminary in America.” I can understand the idea of a multi-faith religious studies program, but a multi-faith seminary? That seems like the final result of a mindset that thinks theology and ministry have almost nothing to do with each other.
  • And, in honor of Brian LePort (aka Arius), here’s James McGrath’s attempt to put Arius’ theology to music, in keeping with Arius’ own practice.

Greek fathers roundup

Here’s a roundup of all the papers and abstracts that we have posted over the last several weeks in our series on the Greek Fathers.

And, here is the Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography. Thanks everyone for submitting your papers and making them available here.

Origen: Heretic or Great Theologian?

Here is my paper that I wrote for our Greek Father’s class.  Before taking the class, the only thing I had heard about Origen was that he was a heretic.  After studying him this semester, I found that my conclusions were wrong.  There we definitely things he taught that would be considered unorthodox today, but he was clearly one of the first great Christian minds.  Therefore, I submit this paper for your reading enjoyment.

Origen’s Trinitarian Theology


Origen is one of the most controversial early church fathers.  He was accused of heresy by the 5th Ecumenical Council and was excommunicated from the church.  The anathema centered around several tenets of his theology, one of them being his doctrine of Subordinationism.  Subordinationism was the teaching that the Son and Holy Spirit were both subordinate to the Father in nature and being.  Origen is thought to be the first theologian to insinuate, if not out right teach such an idea, and that subsequent heresies derived their authority from Origen’s initial teaching.  In light of this accusation, this paper attempts to do three things.  The first section takes a look at what Origen actually said about the Father, Son, and Spirit and tries to piece together a coherent view of his Trinitarian theology.  An explanation is then given as to why Origen appears to be misunderstood, and clearly affirms that he does not adhere to a doctrine of relational subordinationism within the Trinity, but does see a subordination of roles within the divine mission.  The final section discusses two contradictions between Origen’s theology and that of the Arian doctrine that was linked to him.

An Introduction to the ‘Letters to Serapion on the Holy Spirit’ by Athanasius of Alexandria: Abstract and Paper

I wrote my final paper on the often ignored Letters to Serapion on the Holy Spirit written by Athanasius of Alexandria which he wrote to combat the heresy of the “Tropici” who denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Although it is a useful source for early Christian pneumatology it has often been ignored. This is likely because it is overshadowed by a very similar work written by Basil the Great (On the Holy Spirit). The abstract for the paper is this:

The Letters to Serapion on the Holy Spirit were written by Athanasius to address the heresy of the Tropici. These letters have been neglected by many scholars of early Christian theology. In my paper I will seek to introduce this work to a first time reader. This will include discussions on authorship, the context, the audience, and the opponents against whom this was written. Since these letters were written to combat the teaching that the Holy Spirit is a created being it is a primary source for early Patristic Pneumatology. It describes the Spirit as being closely related to the work of the Son who is the image of the Father. In other words, this is an apologetic for preserving the Trinity as Trinity.

You can download the PDF form here: LePort. An Introduction to The Letters to Serapion on the Holy Spirit by Athanasius of Alexandria