Master’s Seminary | – Lecture 8: Historical Theology I – Dr. Nathan Busenitz

Professor Nathan Busenitz teaches a course on Historical Theology [support us] /> “The Ante-Nicene Fathers”
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The Master's Seminary The Master's Seminary. These are courses taught at The Master's Seminary in Sun Valley, California. - They are taped live during the school year and exist to better educate those who seek to understand and worship the God of the Bible. Joshua Crooch Director for Academic Media The Master's Seminary

Comment (8)

  1. Excellent recording! I'm not a Trinitarian but the historical data presented in lecture 8 is very accurate. Professor Nathan Busenitz is very knowledgeable and I'm enjoying this.
    Here are some notes I took as I listened.
    Patristic period starts after the death of the apostles. The apostle John died in about AD 100, at the beginning of the Emperor Trajan's reign.
    "Clement of Alexandria believed that Greco Roman philosophy (Greek Philosophy in particular) ought to be incorporated and utilized by the church for the purpose of evangelism. Clement believed that Christianity is the truest philosophy. Therefore we ought to harness the power of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and others. He saw them as lesser lights that pointed to ultimate truth and that ultimate truth is realized finally and fully in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In so far as Plato represented truth, that truth ought to be borrowed by Christians for the purpose of their apologetic.
    Tertullian of Carthage represented the opposite view in that he rejected Greek Philosophy. Tertullian wrote, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What has the church to do with the academy (Philosophy)?"
    Tertullian believed that "there is nothing in Greek Philosophy that Christianity ought to use."
    "Evangelicals in the broadest, most mainstream sense, tend to be more in Clement of Alexandria's camp."
    Modalists are neither in Clement of Alexandria's camp, nor in Tertullian's camp. Paul warned us by the Spirit that Greek Philosophical thought would cheat believers ought of their inheritance (Colossian 2:8-12). Tertullian's invention of new terms did not express theological truth's, but rather, introduced error. 
    "Tertullian invents terms from time to time to express theological truths. He actually introduces hundreds of new terms into the Latin. One of the terms that he coins .. is the term trinity by which he expresses three persons in one godhead." 
    There are only two of these early Christians not regarded as saints. Tertullian and Origen. Tertullian's Montanist tendencies led him to strict practices.
    Tertullian became a Montanist because of the influence of Greek Philosophy and worldliness that was entering the church.
    Irenaeus of Lione dealt with error and heresy within the church rather than making a defense of Christianity outside the church.
    The historical data proves that Tertullian and Origen opposed the majority of Christian believers who were Modalistic Monarchians (Against Praxeus  1-3) in the late second and early third centuries.
    Both Clement of Alexandria and his successor, Origen, were steeped in the study of pagan Greek Philosophy. Origen was the first to clearly affirm the eternality of the Son with no beginning (See Quasten's Patrology 1). Others called "Semi-Arians" had taught that the Son was in the heart and mind of the Father from eternity past but was later created to create all things. Historians identify the early "Semi-Arian" fathers as Justin, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Athenagoras, and Novatian. Pelikan wrote that Origen contradicted himself by teaching the eternality of the Son against Sabellianism and the creation of the Son when commenting on Proverbs chapter eight (I have the documentation). The scriptural data proves that the Son is the man who had a beginning (2 Samuel 7:14, Heb. 1:5, Psalm 2:7). Yet He who pre-existed His birth as the Son is "the mighty God" and "Eternal Father" who later became a man as "the radiance of His glory (the Father's) and the express imprint (reproduction) of His Being (Person)" as a human person (Isaiah 9:6, Heb. 1:3).

  2. Tertullian was a subordinationist who taught a small “t” trinity (trinitas). He was what would be classified as semi-Arian. He taught that the Son came into being at a point in time prior to creation & was of the same “stuff” as the Father but was not coeternal. In other words, according to Tertullian, the Father did not always possess the title…Father. What we have in this teaching (which I actually enjoy) is proto-orthodoxy trinitarian revisionist history at work. The Trinity DID develop over time. You could see the formulation taking place within the writings of these Ante-Nicean “fathers”. I was a former trinitarian. By God’s grace I was able to pull my head out of the sand.

  3. People will say that in {The New Testament} people saw Jesus and that this therefore means that the command not to make images (whether three dimensional or two dimensional) no longer applies.

    While it is true that there have been people long ago who saw God through Jesus Christ, this is an exception rather than the rule (Read {1 John 3:2} & {1 John 4:12}).

    Furthermore, Moses saw God (Read {Exodus 33:11}). The fact is that {Deuteronomy 4:23-24} still applies.