Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Athanasius, Application for Today, and "No Creed but the Bible"

In John Piper’s recent biographical address on Athanasius (the “Father of Orthodoxy”) he draws these seven lessons for today:

1. Defending and explaining doctrine is for the sake of the gospel of Christ’s glory and our everlasting joy.

2. Joyful courage is the calling of a faithful shepherd.

3. Loving Christ includes loving true propositions about Christ

4. The truth of biblical language must be vigorously protected with non-biblical language.

5. A widespread and long-held doctrinal difference among Christians does not mean that the difference is insignificant or that we should not seek to persuade toward the truth and seek agreement.

6. Don’t aim to preach only in categories of thought that can be readily understood by this generation. Aim at creating biblical categories of thought that are not present.

7. Finally, we must not assume that old books, which say some startling things, are necessarily wrong, but may in fact have something glorious to teach us that we never dreamed.

Piper also thinks that point #4—which has tremendous application to many contemporary theological debates—has some implications for what the sufficiency of Scripture does and does not mean. (Hint: It doesn’t mean “no creed but the Bible.”)