/* ----- ---- *?

Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Friday, March 26, 2004

Baptist Arians?

In my theology class, we are surveying the development of authority as it is now understood in the Anglican Communion. Our reading will be focusing on four junctures in the history of the church. The first of these is the Arian controversy (the Arians held, among other things, to a hierarchy within God, and saw Jesus as inferior "both in person and dignity"), and the Council of Nicea, which developed the Nicene Creed in response to same.

Trevor talked some in his lecture on Wednesday about the apostolic fathers, and their early church practices. When he got to a short description of "rules of faith" (proto-credal statements developed by individual faith communities, varying from congregation or region to another), I found myself thinking, "Gee, that sounds very Baptist." Tripp agreed; that's apparently where a good deal of Baptist understanding grounds itself.

Then I began reading the assigned reading for this portion of the class, Rowan Williams' Arius: Heresy and Tradition. The first section of the book gives an overview of the historical scholarship in this area. I was struck by his summary of some of 19th century theologian John Henry Newman's writing in this regard. Williams understands Newman to offer the following criticism of Arian thought:

"...a disputatious, rationalist temper, typical of the mind untutored by the heart. Naturally, this is linked, as Newman seeks later to show, with an impatience at the idea of mystery in theology and exegesis, a rejection of allegory, a refusal to read Scripture within tradition and an unintelligent adherence to the letter of the Bible combined with wooden syllogistic analyses of biblical language-- though the Arians can also, inconsistently, use allegory or metaphor when it suits them."

So, if one can consider the earlier apostolic fathers as the forerunner of Baptist practice (at least in this regard), I'm thinking that the Arians, in practice if not theology, sound uncannily like the SBC.


Post a Comment

<< Home