Did Christians Teach Predestination Before Augustine?

A reader named David recently wrote to the Heidelblog to pass along a question that someone else asked of him: “What do the church fathers prior to Augustine believe about free will? I was told that all of the church fathers prior . . . Continue reading →

Interpreting Scripture For Love: Augustine’s Threefold Hermeneutic (Part Three)

The final aspect of Augustine’s hermeneutic that we will observe is this: Augustine believed biblical texts could have more than one meaning or interpretation. Scripture, for Augustine, was not a one-dimensional black-and-white text filled with brute facts of history and bare propositions.1 . . . Continue reading →

Interpreting Scripture For Love: Augustine’s Threefold Hermeneutic (Part Two)

“Thou has pierced my heart with Thy Word, and I have loved Thee.”1 In the last article, we examined Augustine’s vigorous Christ-centered interpretation of Scripture. Another significant aspect of his biblical interpretation is love. For Augustine, the proper interpretation of Scripture leads . . . Continue reading →

The Establishment Principle

In my mind, the Old Testament model of theocracy doesn’t clearly correlate with the New Testament or Apostolic Church practices, or even the Patristics for that matter, which suggests that applying Old Testament concepts to Christian statecraft might be anachronistic or misguided. . . . Continue reading →

Laboring For The Spoils Of Scripture: Augustine’s Threefold Hermeneutic (Part One)

“Like fingernails on a chalkboard.” Sometimes that phrase captures my response to a bizarre interpretation of Scripture. For example, I recently read a modern commentary on the story in Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus heals a man with leprosy: “Jesus stretched out his . . . Continue reading →

Irenaeus Did Not Teach A Romanist Doctrine Of Eucharistic Sacrifice

When the minister consecrates (i.e., sets apart for sacred use) the elements of the Lord’s Supper (i.e., bread and wine), what happens? Does the substance of the elements change? Does the bread become something other than it was? Does it become the . . . Continue reading →

What I Learned From Polycarp About Pearls, Swine, And Modern Evangelicals

In the fall semester I teach two courses on the ancient church. One is a seminar in which we read the Apostolic Fathers (a somewhat arbitrary collection of texts from the second century) as well as other important writers from the period. . . . Continue reading →

Why Do Good Men Approve Of Bad Texts?

One of the more interesting questions we face each semester arises when we get to the Shepherd of Hermas, which was a wildly popular but almost certainly heretical text from (probably) the mid to late-second century A.D., is why it was so . . . Continue reading →

Incorrect Item Delivered: A Review of Paul’s “Works of the Law” in the Perspective of Second-Century Reception by Matthew J. Thomas

When I was a student at Westminster Seminary California, I once ordered a used volume of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series online. When the package arrived, I was surprised to discover that in its place I had been shipped a commentary . . . Continue reading →

The Lapsed Now And Then: What The Decian Persecution Teaches Us About Recovering From Covid

The Roman soldier handled Perpetua roughly. There was no question who was in charge. He took her before the Captain to be questioned and then to the Procurator. The procedure was simple. He asked her one question three times: “Are you a . . . Continue reading →

On The First Day Of The Week

Now on the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet dark, unto the tomb, and seeth the stone taken away from the tomb. She runneth therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple . . . Continue reading →

The Main Purpose Of The ‘Rule Of Faith’ Is to Help Readers Identify Jesus As The One To Whom The Scriptures Point

Jesus Christ is not the solution to a puzzle, whether that solution is derived by means of a sophisticated homiletical method or a sophisticated hermeneutical method. Jesus Christ is God the Son in person. Someone, not something, is the central subject matter and scope of Scripture. Someone, not something, should be the central subject matter and scope of Christian preaching. Continue reading →

What’s Going On Right Now: Sex, Race, Politics, and Power with Dr. W Robert Godfrey (3)

In this third session of Dr. Godfrey’s Sunday school class at the Escondido URC, he develops how Christianity fared under Christendom. He explains the trajectory of challenges Christianity faced as it became wealthy and influential and, sadly, moved away from the gospel. . . . Continue reading →

Gregory of Nyssa Against The Chiliasts

Now if we loudly preach all this, and testify to all this, namely that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, always changeless, always imperishable, though He comes in the changeable and the perishable; never stained Himself, but . . . Continue reading →

Polycarp: A Model For Ministry In The Post-Christian West

Polycarp (Πολύκαρπος), whose name might be translated as fruitful was the leading pastor (ἐπίσκοπος) of Smyrna (today, Izmir, Turkey) on the Agean coast of Asia Minor. We do not know a great deal about his life. He was friends with Ignatius, the pastor of Antioch, who was (presumably) martyred about AD 115. Continue reading →