15 May 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we find our faith in the Fathers, we must not always expect to find it couched in the terms which we should now employ. It is their faith rather than their theology we are seeking; and we should compare our faith with their faith rather than our dogmatics with theirs. Systematic thinking and nicely balanced expression are the growth of ages in the Church. -- Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 726

5 comments:

Adam Roe said...

That's a very helpful insight. Thanks for sharing this quote, Pastor Weedon.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Except that, of course, you cannot, not, have the same faith without the same theology. That's like the time I stood before a large chart of the family tree of hominids and thought to myself, "Gosh, I sure hope I'm not descended from one of those lines that fizzled out!" Can't be. If you cannot accept their theology, you do not have their faith.

William Weedon said...

Anastasia,

Of course you can! By "theology" he means the way that we think about and explain to others the faith that we've received. Precision in dogmatic expression is something that comes over time, as the Church realized that certain ways of saying things - innocent enough when they were first uttered - could be taken in a totally different sense than they should be. Before the Church faced the Pelagian controversy, she spoke with a carlessness that she learned to restrain afterwards. Similarly with all the great controversies. We don't judge the fathers for not speaking with precision over controversies they'd not yet encountered. For example, St. Gregory the Great flat out rejected veneration of icons - but it was before the 7th ecumenical council and the whole iconclastic controversies revealed what was really at stake.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Obviously there is an exception now and then as to a particular point. No saint is infallible. But unless we agree with what most of the fathers and saints have said most of the time, we do not have the same faith as they.

Or if we have, how could we tell, if not by comparing theology?

William Weedon said...

Certainly, but what Krauth was warning against is taking their answers to questions that HAD been asked as answers to questions that HADN'T been. There is a history of growing precision about the "form of sound words" in Christ's Church, a history shaped by the controversies through which she has passed as she sought faithfully to confess the faith - the incarnate, crucified, risen, reigning and returning Lord.