Crooked Finger (crookedfingers) wrote,
Crooked Finger

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fused into the new discipline of systematic Christian theology

"The eventual success of Tertullian's formula was possible because it translated Hebew (biblical) thought into categories that the Gentile world could recognize and accept. From the beginning, the church had been faced with the competing claim of two very different worldviews, one which it had inherited from the Old Testament and the other which it had to address as part of its evangelistic mission. Its long-term aim was to persuade the Gentile world to accept the Hebraic way of looking at the universe, but that could not be accomplished until that world had been converted to Christ. In order to achieve that, the church had to speak to Gentiles in a way they could understand, giving new meaning to familiar words and reshaping the way those words were used so as to make them conform to the teaching and thought world of the Jewish Scriptures.

In the process, biblical concepts (like the eternity of God) that had been assumed rather than expressly stated, and Gentile vocabulary (like "substance") that had never been precisely defined, fused into the new discipline of systematic Christian theology. Words that had been long been in common use became technical terms to describe a God whose being and acts could be known, sometimes with great precision, not by analysis of an inert object but by participation in a living relationship with him. From beginning to end, it was the objective reality of the biblical God that determined how the vocabulary used to describe him would be developed and understood. The suitability of any particular term would be decided not by the way it was used in everyday life (or in ancient Greek philosophy) but by the degree to which it could be applied to the character of the living God who revealed himself in Scripture.

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