Monday, August 31, 2009

An Inspired Systematic Theology?


True knowledge is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient constitution of the church throughout the whole world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ that is according to the succession of Bishops, by which they have handed down that church which exists in every place and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved (by the Spirit of God), without any forging of scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither addition or curtailment to that which was handed down. This consists of reading the word of God without falsification, and diligent exposition in harmony with the scriptures, both without danger and without blaspheme; and above all it consists in the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all other gifts. (Against Heresies, Iraneus of Lyons, 200 ad.)


Iranaeus was a leader in the 2nd generation after the death of the apostles, and a student of Polycarp, who was a student of St John the apostle. He was also a staunch defender of the truth which was passed down to him by Polycarp from St John. He explains that the truth which was passed down to him is made up of three parts: “the doctrine of the Apostles (written and spoken), the ancient constitution of the church, and the succession of Bishops.” Then he tells us that to these bishops who were in succession was also given a very complete system of doctrine. In other words a complete systematic theology, one not of their own invention, “without any forging of scriptures,” but rather a system that presented a “diligent exposition in harmony with the scriptures, both without danger and without blaspheme.” If one says that there was no spoken truth given outside the enscripturated truth, then one must conclude that these are lies and fabrications on behalf of Iranaeus, and that was not actually what occurred in the early church, or that he was a lunatic. However, history dictates otherwise regarding Iranaeus. Moreover, this claim is not unique to Iranaeus, but rather the standard testimony of the early church fathers. Hence, in their writings we find an inspired systematic theology, taught by the apostles, and for this reason we give them pre-eminence in all theological matters and in the interpretation of Scripture.

No comments:

Post a Comment