Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dedicated to unoriginality

I have begun reading Thomas Oden's Classic Christianity. From his introduction:
.... I do not pretend to have found a comfortable way of making Christianity tolerable to vanishing forms of modernity. I present no revolutionary new ideas, no new way to salvation. The road is still narrow (Matt. 7:14).

I do not have the gift of softening the sting of the Christian message, of making it seem light or easily borne or quickly assimilated into prevailing modern ideas. I do not wish to make a peace of bad conscience with dubious "achievements of modernity" or pretend to find a comfortable way of making Christianity expediently acceptable to modern assumptions. If Paul found that "the Athenians in general and foreigners there had no time for anything but talking or hearing about the latest novelty," so have I found too much talk of religion today obsessed with novelty.

I am dedicated to unoriginality. My aim is to present classical Christian teaching of God on its own terms, undiluted by modern posturing. I take to heart Paul's admonition: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we had already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted [par parelabete, other than what you received from the apostles], let him be eternally condemned [anathema esto]!" (Gal. 1:8,9, italics added). ....

My mission is to deliver as clearly as I can that core of consensual belief that has been shared for almost two mellennia of Christian teaching. Vincent of Lerins described this core as that which has always, everywhere, and by all Christians been believed about God's self-disclosure. ....
One of seven reasons Oden considers Classic Christianity to be distinctive:
This compendium is the first in many years to view systematic theology as a classic treasury of scriptural and widely received patristic texts that point toward this distinctive work of the Spirit: These texts all share a common classical premise that it is the same Spirit who inspired the canonical text who is actively creating the unity and cohesion of the whole doctrinal effort amid changing historical circumstances. This cohesion is not the product of the work of modern scholars, but of the work of the Spirit throughout twenty centuries of intensive, critical scriptural exegesis. ....
Thomas Oden, Classic Christianity