MD 045 Historical Theology

Christian Academy for Leadership Studies

History of Doctrine

(Historical Theology)

  1. Course Description

This is a study of important doctrine of church with attention to the development of each theological theme from the time of church fathers to the present day.


  1. Course Objectives.
  2. The student will know the historical development of the major branches of systematic Theology.
  3. The student will gain insight into the historical setting and catalytic issues in the formulation of doctrine.
  4. The student will gain appreciation for the major formulation of systematic theology.
  5. The student will gain insight and understanding of contemporary trends within Reformed / Protestant Thought in order that the student can more intelligently understand the issues which challenge and distract the church today.
  • Course Text Book
  1. Class notes
  2. Bingham D.J. Pocket History of the church. Downers Grove: IVP, 2002
  3. Hannah, John D.Our Legacy: The History of Christian Doctrine. Colorado Springs, Co: Nav Press, 2001.
  4. Course Requirement
  5. Attending the class regularly (minimum attendance 70%)
  6. Reading the class notes – (at home)
  7. Reading the books (at least one of either 2 or 3 given above in No.III. or reading 500 pages in related title).
  8. Writing a report on the subject based on class listening and reading the notes and books (minimum 25 pages).
  9. Course Policies.
  10. 25% for assignment and class attendance.
  11. 75% for exam
  12. Totally minimum 70% is required for graduation.
  13. Marks will be deducted for submission of assignments late.











  1. Defining the Key Terms


There are two key terms that every student of Theology must know, namely Dogma and Doctrine, both are not synonymous.

  1. Dogma

It is a Greek word, and its derivation dogmata (Act 16:4). (Dogma – Lk 2:1, Act 17:7, Eph. 2:15. It technically refers to the study of confessional statements). The history of dogma is the study of the gradual development of theological thought from its rise in the post-apostolic age to its final creedal formulation.


  • Eastern Orthodox church dogma ends with the second council of Nicaea (AD.787).
  • Roman Catholic Dogma ends with Vatican II (1963-65) or the recent statement of faith (1992).
  • Lutheran Dogma ends with the formula of Concord (1580).
  • Reformed Church Dogma ends with the synod of Dordt (1619) and the Westminster confessions (1649).


Although Dogma is the work of theology, its content is derived from the common faith of the Christian Church in relation to Particular Denomination.


  1. Doctrine

The Greek word ‘Didaskalia’ is translated ‘Teaching’ in the NT. Doctrine is the broader sense of this term. Doctrine refers to the whole body of Teaching based on the Bible. Hence Doctrine frequently has a meaning related to biblical procedures from thought to action.


Dogma limits its focuses on the confessional statement of a church where as Doctrine deals with the entire teaching of the Bible on particular theme. This course, content will consist of a study of both dogma and doctrine.


A particular dogma is confessed in churches like, Roman, Lutheran, Reformed whereas doctrine gets emphasized in non-confessional churches like Evangelicals, Baptist, Brethren, Independents.


  1. The Development of Doctrine:
  • The teaching or doctrine in scripture never changes (But Dogma can be re-written or edited/ deleted /added.)
  • Doctrines are refined and clarified in the context of heresy.
  • Knowledge about doctrine should not be confused with a mature relationship with God.






  1. The method of the study of the History of Doctrine.
  • The Historical- Analytical Method.

This method divides and seeks to segment church history as a framework for the study of the development of systematic theology. However, this method often rejected by some scholars because it makes the study of doctrine disjoined in respect to church age (Ancient, Medieval, Reformation, and modern). It makes the study of doctrine anatomic rather than organic.

  • The Synthetic – Historical Method.

This method attempts to trace each branch of systematic Theology individually through the entire history of the church. It helps us to know how a doctrine was formulated to its final form from the Bible as the history of church progressed.


  1. The history of the history of Doctrine

The study of the history of doctrine is a recent origin (from the eighteenth Century). A German Church historian named Johannes S.Semler is called the father of the history of doctrines.


  1. The Difference between church History and the history of Doctrine

The Church history focuses on the persons and the events that happened in the history of Church where as the history of doctrine, although a part or branch of church history, mainly focuses on the persons and the theological terms and how the historical settings paved the way to form those theological terms and the doctrine for church.


  1. Doctrine of Scripture


When one studies the doctrine of scripture as to how it got development in the history of church, one must know the following theological terms.

  • Canon (Measuring rule/rod)
  • Inspiration (superintending work of God)
  • Interpretation (How to determine right meaning)
  • Tradition
  1. Knowledge of Truth.

Pilate’s inquiry before our Lord, what is truth? The same question has been repeatedly asked and challenged throughout the history of the church. First challenge was:

-How do we know/determine truth?

-What is the final authority for truth?

-This was the first challenge. Then we must know.

  • How and why did the church recognize a need to establish a standard of authority?
  • How was the authority conceived and interpreted?

These questions have a tremendous influence on the understanding of the development of systematic Theology.


  1. Five Bases for knowledge.
  • Rationalism –knowledge begins from self-evident first principles (Plato and Descartes Method: Independent Logic).
  • Empiricism – mind is a tabula rasa All knowledge comes through the five senses (Aristotle. Method: Independent logic).
  • Mysticism – The mind intuitively gueses truth or imagines truth. Thus, mysticism like rationalism, is an interior act of the mind, (Method: Rejection of logic)
  • Tradition – It accepts teaching and practices from the past, which may have its ultimate authority in any combination of the other four.
  • Revelation – information got/given from outside of the created universe. This is the issue of authority and canon. (Method: Dependent logic)
  1. The challenge: is to prevent presupposition from the first three from shaping our mind or understanding of the fifth. Revelation must stand apart as the creator stands apart from the creation. Failure to resolve the authority question is fundamental to every other problem in the history of doctrine.
  2. Summary of Christen Epistemology in History.

Epistemology means the study or theory of knowledge. It is derived from philos (GK).

  • Pre-modern Christian Epistemology.
  • The existence of omniscient God was presupposed.
  • Human knowledge was limited and dependent on divine knowledge.
  • Thus, human knowledge did not begin with the self (the ‘I’).

but with God.

  • Man lived in an open Universe, a universe open to divine revelation, providence, and causation in history.


  • Modern Epistemology.
  • Modern epistemology began with finite man, “I ”, not with God. (Descartes: I think, therefore I am).
  • Human knowledge can be built on a foundation common with the knowledge of the unbeliever. This is called foundationalism. Ancient Greek Philosophy was also foundationalist.
  • Human knowledge builds on this foundation through the use of logic that is independent from revelation.
  • The truth they arrived at they believed was universal for all time and for all cultures (What I know is right) (ehd; gpbj;j KaYf;F %d;W fhy;)
  • Early modernists were theists, but as modernism developed, it led to the logical end result of philosophical naturalism, materialism, secularism, nihilism, and atheism.
  • Modernist’s universe was close to God: divine revelation, providence and causation in history are presuppositionally




iii. Post – modern Epistemology:

  • Post – modernism also begins with man, “I”. However, since each person is different, there are multiple perceptions and multiple truths. (khw;whd; Njhl;lj;J ky;ypiff;Fk; kzKz;L).
  • All foundationalism is rejected. Since there are multiple truths there is no single foundation (as Ruth 4:25).
  • There is no one method. Just as there are many truths there are many equally valid methods for knowing truth.
  • Objective knowledge (absolute truth) is impossible and unattainable. No truth is exclusive or absolute.
  • No knowledge is universally true for all time and cultures. All truth is conditioned by culture and times.
  • Since all truth is relative and subjective, post-modernism has a trend toward and affinity with mysticism and mystical Eastern religions (trying to mix Christian truth with Yoga and transandental meditation)
  1. Doctrine of the scriptures in the church fathers.

The church fathers both Apostolic fathers and sub-apostolic fathers evidenced vagueness and misconception when compared with our more developed and clarified perspective in relation to systematic theology. This has been rationalized a follow.

  • Since the non-Jewish branch of the church (i.e., Gentile Christian) had only the Old Testament scripture to enlighten their understanding, they erected what to us often appears as a legalistic understanding of the new faith.
  • The early second century church did not have raging battles emerging from its teachings. If happened so, that would have forced the church out of the noncritical naiveté.
  1. The Church fathers and the Old Testament.

Since the Fathers believed that OT is the revelation of God, the prefaced their O.T. quotations with phrases like:

“For the Holy Writing Saith”

“for thus it is written”

“For thus saith God,”

“For the scripture Saith”.

Justin Martyr states that the writings of the apostles were used alongside of the OT prophets with equal authority. (I. Apology. 67).


  1. The fathers and the sayings of Jesus and Paul.

While the words of Jesus and Paul occupied a high position of acceptability, they were seldom quoted precisely or prefaced as with O.T. citing. Clement of Rome spoke of an elevated regard for Paul. (I. Clement. 47). The “Fathers made allusions to all the N. T. books with the exception of Philemon, II & III John, which were limited in circulation.

Along with the apostolic writings various writings soon came to be regarded with equal veneration. (i.e, Hermas, Barnabas)


The fathers simply were not technical and, did not respond to systematize their thought, because of the absence of threatening issues. So, the fathers were not thinking analytically or critically. They simply accepted without questions, therefore, there are little answers. They are not denying canonicity, although they haven’t yet realized it.


  1. Authority was deposited in the bishop’s office and apostolic succession.

The early church accepted what the church father said, without much questions to avoid heresy.


  1. The Doctrine of the scriptures in the Apologists and Theologians.

In the second and third centuries, the church was forced by external and internal forces to systematize its standards of authority, because of the growth of heresies.


  • Ebionitism, a Jewish – Christian heresy taught Jesus was mere man.
  • Elkesaitism rejected the OT, and taught it is heresy based on its supposedly sacred book, the book of Elkesai.
  • Gnosticism was a most influential heresy. It blended oriental theosophy Hellenistic philosophy and Christianity. They often altered the sources to prove their position by their fake way of interpretation.
  • Marcionism was the first heresy with in church and it caused first church schism (AD 140). Marcion influenced by Gnosticism and Anti-Semitism taught that Paul’s Christ and the OT were irreconcilable. He also taught the God of the OT was distinct from the father of Jesus, hence in his Antitheses he rejected OT, and its God, as lesser deity, but elevated Paul’s epistles.
  • Montanism founded by Montanus, based on his self-utterances. He called himself the paraclete, and dictated false prophecies and added self-revelation to the canon. In comparison, Marcionism and Montanism represent the two-opposing assault on the Holy Scriptures; the former takes away from the canon and the latter adds to the canon.
  • Persecution on the church and the confiscation of sacred writings also forced the church to form the canon.
  1. The Concept of the Canon

The term canon (kanon) is used in the N.T. but not with its technical sense of a standard (Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16). However, this word was not used for a list of authoritative scripture until Athanasius used it in his Festal Letters of the fourth century. In the second and third centuries, a nucleus of NT writings gradually was recognized. The initial step towards standardization for self-preservation was the Rule of Faith, then the embellishment of the bishop’s office, and finally the canon of books.

(i). The Rule of Faith (Old Roman Symbol) was essentially a baptismal formula, which was confessed by the one who took baptism. It developed to the Apostle creed in the fifth century from the Old Roman Symbol, traced back in the middle of the third century (340A.D)

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His heavenly Son, Our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born by the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hades, the third day He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead, And I believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the Forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the body;  and the life everlasting.”   (The Apostle Creed,

(ii)Apostolic successes and the Rise of the Monarchical Bishop, were also looked upon as a legitimate source for preventing heresy, and stabilizing the faith of Church.

N.B: Some bishops had apostolic succession and some did not have it, but all their churches were apostolic because all their faith agreed with the faith of the apostles. At this time the understanding of apostolic succession was still not such that succession is required to confer validity to the Episcopal office.

(iii)The Canon.

  • The early attempts to formulate the canon.

In a nontechnical sense, the concept of a collection of sacred writings emerged in the middle of the second century.

  1. The Muratorian canon (160-180 AD) was the first known collection of N.T books.           Italian archeologist L.A. Muratori found this list of canons in 1740 in an       excavation. He found it in the Ambrosian Library in Milan and dated this copy          from the eight century AD. It had O.T and many N.T. books, except of a few like I         John, I and 2 Peter. It also rejected the Shepherd of Hermas.
  2. Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyon (west) had a list of canons except Jude, 2 Peter,          James, Philemon, 2,3John and Revelation. He once quoted from Hermas, the most        revered books among the church fathers.
  3. The Syriac Version (3rd cent) from interior Syria had the books except Revelation.          At this period, there was no debate as to the fact of canon, but merely its extent.
  4. Origen, the most influential leader made a list of disputed books (Hebrews, 2      Peter, 2&3 John, James, Jude, Epistle of Barnabas etc.).
  5. Clement of Alexandria disputed James, 2 Peter, and 3 John.
  6. Eusebius of Caesarea, the ecclesiastical historian, disputed James, Jude, 2 Peter and 2&3 John.


N.B. By the beginning of 4th century, two things emerge.

(i). The rejected books were unacceptable largely because they were increasingly unknown   or unavailable.

(ii). The apocryphal writings were increasingly seen as qualitative less than other books.


  1. The attempt to codify the canon.

In the fourth century, the church men in the East and the West sought to form the canon.

1.In the East-Rome

  1. Athanasius of Alexandria in the bishop’s Easter (festal) letter (AD365/66) to fix the date of Easter for that year, listed twenty-seven books, but his list of OT books included Wisdom, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus and Baruch followed Jeremiah. Like Athanasius, Epiphanius, the bishop of Salamis, accepted the N.T in Today’s form but rejected Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus.
  2. The Council of Laodicea (363) was a provincial council, in its Sixteenth canon recognized all the N.T. books except Revelation but added Baruch in the OT.

2.In the West-Rome.

i.. Jerome (331-419) in his letter to Paulinus, bishop of Nola (394), Specifically listed thirty-nine OT books and twenty-seven NT books of canon, although he was aware of other books. However, in his Vulgate has some non-canonical books after the sixty-six books, which are not to be read in the churches (in 382, Damascus bishop asked Jerome to standardize Latin text, the result was the Vulgate). Augustine renders the same testimony to twenty – seven books.


  1. The Synod of Carthage (397) first in this city determined only canonical books to be read under the name “Divine Writings” and canonized sixty-six books.


iii. The fourth synod of Carthage (418/9) reaffirmed the previous council and appealed to the bishop of Rome (Innocent I) for his approval (Here an interesting tradition that was developing in the church – that to appeal to Rome).


The councils at Carthage, under the influence of Augustine in the west and Athanasius in the East are generally viewed as closing the canon issue. However, Innocent -1 did not put his full approval upon the synod of Carthage. By 400 AD, Issue of canon virtually settled by consensus rather than council or creed for the New Testament twenty-seven books agreed; the only issue is the apocrypha in the OT.


Note: The criteria for determining the worth of books as followed.

1.Generally – Internal witness of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Specifically –

-Apostolic origin or sanction

-Ecclesiastical usage or acceptance.

-Intrinsic content and historical Value.

– Spiritual and moral /Ethical effect.

-Attitude of the early church.


Special note: Only four gospels were accepted into the canon. The other gospels by Gnostics such as Gospel of Barnabas, Gospel of Peter were written too late. The only possible gospel written earlier was the gospel of Thomas, which was used by a minor sect, gradually disappeared and died out. (Gospel of Thomas available today was a corrupt version of Gnostics).


  1. The Concept of Inspiration (Intrinsic nature of the holy books)

The Fathers of the ancient church agreed that the scriptures were inspired. (Klotsche, History of Christian Doctrine, pp.44-45)

However, they differed “in what manner or how it was inspired”.

But they never questioned the divine origin nor the inerrancy of the scripture.

  1. The Church fathers did not give any more definite explanation.
  2. Justin Martyr is the first writer to more specifically delineate the manner of inspiration. He did refer to the extent of inspiration as verbal and plenary. He meant that the Divine Spirit descending from heaven and using righteous men as a musical instrument to reveal us the knowledge of things divine and heavenly. (scholars like Klotsche noted Justin view close to Montanus’ view of inspiration)
  3. Clement of Alexandria maintained that God speaks in the scriptures and the manner in which this fact is related to the men who actually wrote the sacred text is not a problem of primary importance.
  4. Augustine held that all scripture was divinely inspired. He stressed that what the scriptures tell of history must be believed firmly, including the account of creation. In any case, the authority of the scriptures surpasses the capacity of all our reason.
  5. Even Gregory, the Great maintained the strictest theory of inspiration.
  6. C. The Concept of Interpretation.

In the conflict with Gnosticism, the early Christian scholars reacted first by organizing the canon of scripture. Then both Gnostics and non-Gnostics appealed in order to prove their views- The matter then became hermeneutical. Literal hermeneutics was more normative in early centuries.

  • Irenaeus, when confronting the Gnostics, complained of the dangers of allegorization, (Against Heresies. I.3.6) although he seldom used this method (three spies at Jericho = Trinity).
  • The Alexandrian Tradition was influenced by Philo’s thought. He believed the Rabbinic tradition of exegesis.
  1. Clement of Alexandria idea was that in the case of historical and prophetic texts, to deny the first and literal sense of scriptures would imply a denial of God’s action and promises. However, if the text contains anthropomorphism, there allegory may play its role.
  2. Origen although believed allegory to some extent, he strongly advocated of the errorlessness of scripture, and its verbal inspiration. He declares that the Holy books are not the compilation of men, but were written and have reached us as a result of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” He believed that Moses did not write a single unnecessary word. Origen was also influenced by Philo and Rabbinic tradition of exegesis.
  3. D. The concept of Tradition

The early church did not perceive a distinction between the written scripture and the oral tradition of the scriptures message, that is, the tradition of the gospel (oral or telling) and scripture were equal. In confronting heretics, the approach was twofold – Bible and apostolic history (Rule of Faith, Succession). Even Irenaeus and Tertullian did not yet know any “Traditio Humana” within the church which could in any way contradict the “Traditio Apostolica” In conflict with error, the Word stated and the Word held (written) were equaled.

  • Irenaeus  declared that nations have been converted to Christianity not in the first instance by the scripture, but by means of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and faithfully preserved tradition.
  • Clement of Alexandria referred to the rule of faith as authority.

The purpose of this lesson has been to gain some conception into Pilate’s quest for truth, from the Ancient church view point. Because of heresy, the Apologists and Theologians were forced of erect a line of defense called “the Canon”. The canonical books were conceived to be both verbal and plenary integrity although the exact mode of inspiration was unresolved.

4.Doctrine of Scripture in Medieval and Reformation Period

The ancient church including Augustine firmly convinced that the Bible was divinely inspired. But the issue was essentially that of the canon. The extent of the canon was a prime consideration in the ancient Church as was the relationship of tradition to authority.  (Ex: Augustine elevated the Book of wisdom into the canon, because he held Septuagint not Hebrew original inspired. But Jerome rejected the O.T. apocryphal books, because they were written in Greek, he held that Hebrew was the language of OT inspiration).


  1. The Doctrine of the Scripture in the Medieval Church

It is evident the canon was not finalized by the council of Carthage (397AD) and Athanasius’’ Festal Letter (365/66 AD). Although inspiration was almost settled, with an exception of manner of inspiration.

  1. i. The scripture to the School men.
  2. Gregory the Great (604) understood the Maccabees to be apocryphal but elevated Tobias and wisdom as scripture. (He ascribed fifteen epistles to Paul, not fourteen)
  3. Isadore of Seville. (636) placed Apocrypha into the canon while reservations about Hebrews, 2 Peter, James and John’s letters.
  4. John of Damascus (754), the first Christian Theologian who attempted to formulate systematic Theology, rejected the OT apocrypha, but added the letters of Clement (I &II) & to his N.T.Corpus of Sources.
  5. Nicephorus of Constantinople (828) added Baruch to the OT and rejected Revelation in the NT along with other O.T and N.T apocryphal books.
  6. Hugo of St.Victor (1141), a mystic, stated that the O.T.Apocrypha was read in the churches, but not written into the canon. Some others like John of Salisbury (1182) had the same view.
  7. The Scripture after the Schoolmen

Although discussion concerning the canon went on, the matter continued to be unsettled even in fourteen century as it was in fourth century. The Bible had its practical value, people of this medieval age consulted the Bible for every question they had in every walks of life including science. If there is no direct answer in the Bible in the science of the schools, the people consulted the authorities who formed their opinion. However, the question on the canon remained unsettled even though sincere efforts are made.

  1. Pope Eugenius IV at the counsel of Florence (1438-45), in an attempt to bring the Eastern church back into the fold, published the first papal bull regarding the canon. His list contained those in the vulgate as universally inspired but he tactically obliterated Jerome’s careful distinction between the books to be read in the churches (OT-Hebrew Texts) and those to be read for knowledge (Greek O.T.Apocryphal books.) However, there was a low-profile resentment to Pope Eugenius IV., in this matter of Canon. Hence the issue of canon continued to the sixteenth century.
  2. Thomas De Vio (Cajetan), bishop to Gaeta and Luther’s opponent at Leipzig evidenced reservations about the OT and NT apocrypha. He had the concept of Jerome regarding OT.

The Roman church finally spoke to the issue at the provincial synod at Paris in 1528, by denouncing as heretical and divisive anyone who refused to adhere to the synod of Carthage (397), and Innocent-III. However, this declaration was provincial not ecumenical or papal. (synod of Carthage recognized Sixty-Six books). But the polarization in the church between Roman Catholics and Protestant Catholics began regarding the four articles of the council, particularly the article saying “that to the church it belongs to determine the authenticity of the canonical books, and to settle the sense of Holy Scripture”.



  1. The Doctrine of Scripture in the Reformation Church.

The advent of Reformation brought major schism between Romans and Reformers; each appealed to the error of others; each claimed divine and apostolic authority. In that, the question of ultimate authority was finally addressed.


  • The Scripture and the Dogma of Rome.
  1. Due to the Reformers, the Roman Church was forced to call for the first ever Ecumenical council in the history of Rome, to counter protestant movement.
  2. Hence the council of Trent was convened in December 1545 and it decreed the following:
  • The council decreed that the tradition of the church was of irrefragable authority in determining the truth. (Essentially Augustine’s “time – hallowed Church usage to neglect of intrinsic context on the witness of the Holy Spirit – that is in Scripture)
  • All the books as found in the Latin Vulgate to be of equal canonical and divine authority (This Obliterated Jerome’s distinction of inspired books and books worthy to be read for knowledge).
  • The council equaled the authority of tradition and the Scripture, pronouncing anathemas for contrary opinions. The Vulgate became the official translation of the Church.

This decree of the council of Trent settled the matter of canon. As scholar Reuss wrote (History, 280) “Had the protestant Reformation not taken place, the indecision regarding such questions might have continued.”


(ii). The scripture and the Reformation Tradition

Since the Roman Catholics declared the Vulgate as their canon, the Reformers were compelled to face the issue of the canon. The reformers-based canonicity upon the internal witness of the Holy Spirit instead of church usage and tradition.

  1. Martin Luther, the morning star of Reformation spoke of the Bible as the Word of God. However, he had some reservation for four books;
  • Jude, because it added nothing to the faith.
  • James, because its teaching differed from Paul’s emphasis of grace Vs work.
  • Hebrews, because it refused repentance to sinners after baptism.
  • Revelation, because its images and signs could not give definite meaning.


  1. John Calvin also argued for the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, rejecting tradition but he added the conscience of the godly along with the witness of the Spirit. Calvin’s canon as well as all other reformers was the same we have.
  2. The Reformed Confessions of the Sixteenth century
  • The first Helvetic Confession (1536) has a brief statement that does not delineate the exact number of books in the canon, but assumed the Sixty-Six.
  • The Gallican Confession (1559), Article III lists every book in the canonical scriptures.
  • The Belgic confession (1561) Listed the canonical books Sixty-Six and stated that the apocryphal books may be read and instructions may be taken from them, so far as they agree with the canonical books.
  • The Westminster Confession (1647) lists the reformed canon book by book, and adds, “all which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of Faith and life”.
  • The thirty-nine Articles (1571) represents the statement of religion of the Church of England. The O.T books are listed, (Article.VI) followed by certain apocryphal books with this preface “And other books of the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manner. but yet it doth not apply them to establish any doctrine.”
  • William Ames was an English theologian wrote an excellent systematic theology in 1633.

He gave clear basis for rejecting the Apocryphal

-Some of them contain fables, not history (Tobias and Judith)

-They often contradict the sacred scripture.

-They were not written in Hebrews, the Jews rejected them

-They were not approved by Christ during His earthly life and after.

-They were never received nor by the apostles or by the church.


  • James Arminius (1610d), though often an opponent of Calvin and Luther, agreed with them over the nature and canon of the Bible. He argued that the validity of the scriptures ultimately rested on the character of God (Disputation I, II).


At the end of reformation, the canonicity was resolved by both the Roman Church and the reformed Churches. The Roman Church determined its canon on the basis of usage and tradition, but the reformers based their canon upon the witness of the Holy Spirit to consistent truth that is upon the testimony of the prophets, Christ and the apostles.


5.The Doctrine of Scripture in the Modern Church.


By this time, the perfect quality of scripture was assumed, but the extent of canon was not fully finalized between the Roman Church and the Reformed Church.


  1. The Philosophical setting of the Post-Reformation.

Moreover, the scenario of the Christendom gradually started to shift from a theistic view to a pantheistic view. The source of the shift ultimately found in the emergence of the Renaissance   in the fourteenth century. This philosophical shift resulted to view the world as a closed system (Rejecting Cause of God) and the effect of that shift on theology (particularly Bibliology) is the matter of our concern/study.


Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) a famed mathematician and naturalist proposed an empirical approach for the observation of the universe, and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) went beyond Galileo to conceive of science as a means to rule nature. Thus, they laid the foundation for modern science and technology in the field of natural phenomena without invading the religious phenomena. This naturalistic approach later applied those concepts to religion with devastating effect.


  1. Rene Descartes (1596-1600) was a naïve theist, who was influenced by Galileo. The basic problem with Descartes and all those after him is they presuppose, a starting point with man or the ‘I’ and not with God. This inevitably leads to naturalism and post modernism. (He said, “I exist so God exists”). Descartes believed that his method defended orthodox but after him philosophers used his system (I) to erect entire systems on human-self reason alone. (ehNd uh[h> ehNd ke;jphp> ehNd vy;yhk;) Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Liebniz, Thomas Hobbes; are such philosophers).
  • John Locke (1632-1704) rejected cartesianism, and stated knowledge is acquired through empiricism, revelation is not denied, but is must be experienced. It is also called sensationalism. His Deism went beyond showing the reasonableness of Christianity to demonstrate the rationality of natural religion. David Hume (1711-76) demonstrated the inadequacies of empiricism. Ex. One cannot physically feel or experience or measure the physical pain of other.
  • Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) a philosopher proved that Deism, which was flourishing in England was a rationally questionable as any appeal to revealed truth. Kant rejected Cartesian innateness and Lockean empiricism for a position between them. He felt that knowledge results from an interplay, between incoming sense perception (empiricism/ Sensation) and the mind (ideas). Phenomenal knowledge (things about us) is knowable; noumenal knowledge (spiritual) is not. Religion becomes little else than morality. Truth became an exclusive function of experiences.


Note: This quest for truth without revelation (of God) opened the gates for new options to ethics and religion. (The point of this philosophy survey is to demonstrate that mind was set free from revelation and it paved a way to develop a world view that left God out (Closed System). Man, not God, became the center or focus of meaning.

Observation: The problem of Humanism: How can one evaluate the quality or goodness of Humanism. In other way, which is the measuring rod for Humanism.

(kdpjk;-flTis kw kdpjid epid@ ey;yJ nra;. Mdhy;  ,jpYs;s gpur;rid –  kdpjk; my;yJ ey;yij / ey;ytid vg;gb mstpLtJ / kjpg;gpLtJ).


Kant’s philosophy set the frame work for the nineteenth century. He elevated both the mind and empiricism.



  1. German Theologians and the Scriptures.

(i).  Frederick Schleiermacher and the Scripture

Frederick, himself enmeshed with Kantianism which he studied in university. He said man must be free from depending on religion, and neglected the revelation. He put discovery in the place of revelation; religious consciousness in the place of the word of God, and the mere “not – yet” of imperfection in the place of sin.” His interpretation of scripture is a –historical. Frederick placed the essence of religion wholly on feeling. However according to him “Faith in Christ is antecedent to belief in the scripture; indeed, faith authenticates the scripture.” He assumed, that the scripture becomes the word of God.

  • David Strauss and the Scripture:

He authored “Leben Jesu” (Life of Jesus-1835). He attacked the gospels and tried to say them as myths (Legends). He also assumed the gospels were written in the second century. Strauss ‘Life of Jesus’ was the most intellectually reasoned attack which has even been mounted against Christianity. However, then came the reactions (from believing scholars), step by step, the Gospels and Epistles were reinstated in their place of honour, and Strauss ideas and his methods were themselves discredited.


(iii)Karl Barth and the Scripture.

   He was brought up in Reformed tradition. He became discontent with Liberalism and wrote Romer brief (1919). Barth assumed that God as utterly transcendent; He is not to be identified directly with anything in the world, not even the words of scriptures. His view about God was helpful corrective to the anthro-theism of nineteenth century, but yet his view of scripture was not without defects and demerits. He viewed that the Bible is only a witness to revelation and the Bible becomes the word of God (as Frederick Viewed).

  1. The American theologians and the Scripture

The nineteenth century German liberalism had its influence of the following centuries, as well as influenced the English and the American thinkers. Barthian thought penetrated American since 1945 through the writings of Emil Brunner. It has allowed many liberal institutions and even some Pentecostal institutions to use of traditional terms, but turns devoid of traditional content (devoid of true meaningful respect to the Scripture)

D.The postmodern Authority in the Emergent Church.

Even in this century, this negative influence of German theology, some level, at least continues. Hence modern Church miserably fails to communicate to post moderns who need the gospel (of grace in Christ Jesus). The Emergent Church tries to mystify the historic revelation of God. In mysticism, “Faith comes not by hearing the word of God, but by feeling, smelling, tasting and touching God; Empiricism internalized with mysticism becomes the norm for truth; the word of God alone is not a enough, it is being added to and replaced by a sense based spirituality. (Indian Example: Angel TV in some extent).


The believers in Christ and the Holy Word need to be aware of these ideological attacks of these so-called theologians after post-modernism from German. The church must know how Jesus responded to the so-called wise men of His days of ministry in the world (Mt 22:29). Apostle Paul also gave a wise advice to Timothy how to face false philosophies of his days in 1 Timothy 6:20,21 which is still applicable for all of us who stand on the grace of God according to the revelation of God in the Bible.


  • The Doctrine of God


In the Doctrine of God, the existence of God is assumed and accepted. However, the relation between God the Father and His relation with Christ, the Son of God is discussed from the period of the church fathers till date. As the struggle went on in formulating the doctrine of Scripture, the discussion of Theology Proper (particularly Trinity) was also going on during early centuries.

1.During the Fathers and Apologists.

The early church used the Baptismal Formula, (Trinitarian Formula) but this formula did not provoke them to a discussion of the relation of the three to each other.


  1. Clement of Rome (AD 99)

(i).   The unity of Persons, Clement in his Epistle to the Corinthians Co-ordinated the three persons by saying “As God lives, and the Lord Jesus Christ lives, and the Holy Spirit” and elsewhere (46:6) “ Have we not one God, and one Christ, and one Spirit of grace poured upon us.”


(ii). The pre-existence of Christ is taken for granted, since He spoke through the Spirit in the Psalms.

(iii). The Holy Spirit is regarded as inspiring God’s prophets in all ages.


  1. Ignatius spoke of the triadic formula in his letters (to Ephesians). He mentioned that He is “Our God” describing Christ as “God incarnate” and “God manifest as man”. About pre-existent being, Christ was seen as “ingenerate” (agennetos), that is the technical term reserved to distinguish the Uncreated from creatures.


  1. Doctrine of God in Heretical writings.

In the early second century, Monarchianism was a prominent heretical teaching. Monarchian referred to the sole rule or government of God as distinct from polytheism. This term is coined by Tertullian (Against Praxeas.3). It has three forms.

  1. Ebonite or Unitarian Monarchians

Ebonite sect was founded by one Ebion. (Jew). The sect denied the deity of Christ and rejected virgin birth of Christ.


  1. The Dynamic Monarchians

This word Dynamic is derived from “dunamis” (Gk) which means power. This group of monarchians said God gave power to Jesus: According to them, Father adopted the Son because of his obedience. So, this group was also known as Adoptionism. They attempted to reconcile monotheism and the deity of Christ; defended the unity of God while rejecting binitarianism. They regarded the divinity of Jesus as a power or influence that came upon him (ie, a human Jesus that was deified).

This second country sect, emerged in Asia Minor said the concept of the Alogi (170-180), the deniers of the LOGOS doctrine. Theodotus of Byzantine, a preacher of this sect said that Jesus was an ordinary man but he received the title Christ at his baptism and was made God after the resurrection from the dead. Hippolytus refuted this doctrine, proved wrong, then Theodotus was excommunicated from the church by bishop Victor of Rome in 190. Artemas of Rome and Paul of Samosata were prominent leaders of this heretic sect. This Paul was condemned for his wrong views at the synod of Antioch in AD 269, when he refused to confess that “the only begotten Son (was) begotten before the foundation of the World” But he remained in his church until A.D.272, when he was removed by imperial edict (first such in history).



  1. The Modalistic Monarchians

This group tried explain God the Father and God the Son are one person; Only the mode is different. It is Homoousian (the same person) doctrine. Tertullian identified this false doctrine as “patripassionism.”  Praxeas was a leader of this heretical group. Praxeas said “the father himself came down into the Virgin, was bore of her, Himself suffered, indeed, was Himself Jesus Christ.” Hence Tertullian condemned Praxeas as heritic because Praxeas, confused the unity of God (one Essence) but neglected the persons of God (Different Persons). Another leader of this group, Noetus said” Father is called the Son according to events at different times and that the Father suffers and dies. Hippolytus in his “Refutation” also rebuked this group and leaders Noetus of Smyrna, Epigonus, Callistus who were influenced by the teaching of Praxeas,


Sabellius of Pentapolis was a very prominent leader of Modalism. Which was hence, later called Sabellianism. Tertullian’s as well as Hippolytus’ scholarly attack on Modalism led to its decline as early as A.D.250., and triumph of his view on Trinitarian concept.

3.Doctrine of God and the Apologists.

The Church fathers did not discuss the pre-incarnate relationships of the God head, but they were clear about the deity of Christ. Since the Monarchianism infiltrated the Church, the Apologist were challenged to defend the doctrine of Trinity.


  1. Trinitarianism in the second century.
  2. Justin martyr clearly argued for the pre-incarnate deity of Christ, by offering proofs such as O.T, theophanies and quotes like “Let us” in Genesis 1:26. Justin argued (First Apology.63) “for, they who claim that the Son is the Father are reproached for knowing neither the Father nor that the Father of all has a Son, who as the First born Word of God, is also God.”
  3. Athenagoras stated that Christ as God’s offspring in the incarnation and as one who never had a beginning. He wrote (A plea for Christians, 10) “the Son of God is the Logos of the Father, in idea and in operation; for after the pattern of Him and by Him were all things made; the Father and the Son being One” (Here One refers to one in essence)
  • Irenaeus summed up the thought of the second century Church expressing a belief in the Trinity, saying “the Father is God, and the Son is God, for whatever is begotten of God is God.”

Although the apologists of the second century argued for the deity of Christ, they could not delineate, the relationship of the persons in the eternal trinity.

  1. Trinitarianism in the Third century
  2. Tertullian followed Irenaeus in his concept of God’s solitariness (oneness from all eternity). He spoke of the Word or Son as a person (a second addition to the Father) and the Spirit as a distinct person; thus, he was the first to speak of the Godhead as a ‘trinitas’. He wrote (Against Praxeas.12) “Everywhere I hold one substance (Essence) in three cohering… all are one, by unity of substance (Essence)… for they are of one substance and one Essence and one power, in as much as He is one God”. He postulated that the three persons share one identical substance (I and my Father are one), but are not one in person, pointing as it does to identity of substance, but multiplicity of persons.
  3. The School of Alexandria

Alexandria championed the Homoousios, (i.e. Same Essence – One Essence).

  1. Clement of Alexandria added to the discussion of the Trinity, the concept of the “eternal generation of the Son”. (the Father is not without His son; for along with being Father, He is Father of the Son. That is, Clement stressed the unity of God and recognized diversity.
  2. Origen stressed the one universal Monad (Father) being alone ingenerate (only true God.Jn17:3). The Father begot the Son by an eternal act so that it cannot be said that the Son had a beginning. He argues that the Father, Son and Spirit are three distinct persons (Hypostasis)

Note: Hypostasis (persons) and Ousia (Essence) are separated.  The failure to separate persons and essence is the error of Modalism, Origen stated.

Tertullian in the west coined the term Trinity, Whereas Origen in the East had the concept of Trinity before Nicea in A.D. 325.

4.Doctrine of God and the Theologians

Although the concept of Trinity was being strengthened, yet it could not come to a clear and final definition until Nicean council

  1. The setting for the council of NICEA
  2. The opinions of Arius.

Lucan was a disciple of Paul of Samosata taught Adoptionism  of his leader. After Lucan’s martyrdom, Arius, the pupil of Lucan, likely a Lybian by birth, became a deacon in Alexandria. Although Arius was strictly a Lucanist he was subordinationist.   Therefore, he said ‘Jesus was not a manifestation of the essence of the Father; Jesus is not equal, no, nor one in essence with Father”.

  1. The clash with Athanasius
  2. Alexander, bishop of Alexandria under whom Arius was a deacon. Arias opposed Alexander, supposing Alexander promoting Modalism; but Alexander advocated on the unity of the Trinity. Without understanding this, Arius increased his attack on Alexander. Hence Arius was expelled from Alexandria. So, Arius sought refuge for his views with Eusebius of Nicomedia – a Lucanist (Adoptionsim) – who was influential bishop in the court of the Empress. Due to the expulsion of Arius, on the issue of Christology, the Churches in the empire rapidly polarized.

By this time, AD 323, Constantine became then sole emperor defeating all his challengers.  His empire was sorely divided from bishops to laity over the issue raised by Arius. Constantine wanted to reconcile both Arius and Alexander. So, he sent Hosius of Cordova to Alexandria. (Where he came to favor Alexander’s views) and to Nicomedia (Where he met Eusebius). Later two men were the early protagonists in the debate. In the council, its outcome resulted infavour of Alexandria.


  1. Athanasius (AD 296-373) born in Nitnia and was a student of Alexander. After Alexander’s death, Athanasius was elevated to Bishop’s office. He wrote two books (The Incarnation and Against the Heathen). In his second book, Athanasius argued for a strict monotheism, positing that Arius view leads to polytheism. He wrote (Incarnation, 54). “He manifested Himself through the body that we might take cognizance of the invisible Father and He underwent insult at the hands of men that we might inherit immortality” …. and to sum up, the successes of the saviour brought about by His Incarnation”.


Athanasius argued in favour of Trinity. Although he did not develop distinctive terminology for his discussion.


  1. The Findings of the council of Nicea.

Constantine, fearing the dissolution of his newly won empire, called the first ecumenical   (Worldwide) Council at Nicea in Bithynia (AD 325) ., through the advice of Hosius of                Cordova.

  1. The nature and Decision of the Council.

Nearly by three hundred bishops gathered to discuss the conflict. There were three groups – minority Lucanists (Adoptionists), -minority Alexandrians (Trinitarians) and majority who did not understand the issue. After heavy discussion the council crushed the Arian party by drafting.

“We believe in One God, Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of His Father, only begotten, that is of the Ousia of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, true God of True God; begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth, who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was made (became) flesh and was made (became) man, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended into the heavens and comes to judge living and dead”.

“But those who say there was when He was not, and before being begotten He was not, and  He was made out of things that were not or those who say that were not or those who say, that the Son of God was from a different substance (hypostasis) or being (ousis) or a creature, or capable of change or alternation,  these the Catholic church anathematizes”





  1. The Aftermath of the council

Although the declaration was made, it did not solve the issue of Trinity, because   some felt that the council did not clearly define the term homoousia (i.e, the same substance /essence).

Meanwhile, Eusebius of Nicomedia convinced Emperor Constantine that anti-Arians were the trouble makers, and charged Athanasius with Murder. On Constantine’s death bed, Eusebius baptized him. (AD 336) As a result of this, Arianism was temporarily victorious. Constantius, his son become a defender of Arianism in the east.


  1. The Heteroousians (Extreme Arians) argued that the Son was unlike the Father in every respect (Anomoeans)
  2. The Homoiousians argued that Son had similarity of substance, but avoided all attempts at specifics. (Ousiai means two – similar – substances. Greek = Homoios = Similar)
  3. The Homoousians argued that the Father and the Sons were of the same essence. (ousia means Essence = one nature / quality)

As the Arians veered into extremisms, the homoiousians drifted toward the Homoousians. The two parties were finally merged in AD 362, after proper clarifications and understanding of each other.

  1. The Trinity Doctrine Established

In the Alexandrine Synod (AD 362), the Homoiousians and the Homoousians came to an understanding that both terms are not opposite; although they could not offer proper definition. This was later given by the “Three Great Cappadocians.”

  1. Lobor of Cappadocians

Hilary of Poiters, an Athanasian, in his writing ‘De Trinitate’ demonstrated that the homoousians and homoiousians agreed theologically “… This is I believed that nothing could be similar according to nature unless it was of the same nature”. This means Homoiousia (substance – ,iznghUs; / cl;nghUs;) is the same nature of Homoosia (Essence – guk;nghUs;). Based on this definition of terms, three Cappadocians argued for Trinity- Diversity of substance and unity of Essence.

  1. Basil of Caesarea (d.379) instead of theology, philosophically declared that “ousia” and “hypostasis” were two distinct term. The distinction between Ousia and hypostasis is the same as that between the general and the particular. According to his philosophical approach, the Godhead (Ousia) is common; the fatherhood (Hypostasis) is particular. He said that we must combine the particular (person) with the Common/General (Essence-Godhead-Ousia), By this, he declared,” I believe in God the Father, I believe in God, the Son and I believe in God, the Holy Ghost.”
  2. Gregory of Nazianzus (d.389) advanced Trinitarianism by defining the relationship between the persons of the singular essence; saying “the terms Father, Son and Spirit” denote relationship not essence. He argued “therefore let us confine ourselves within our limits, and speak of the unbegotten and the Begotten and that which proceeds from the Father as somewhere God the Word Himself saith” (Jn 5:26;14:17-23). His argument is similar to that ‘As the sun generates heat and ray at the same time from its very coming into existence, God the Father generates the Son, and from the Father and the Son proceeds Holy Spirit.”
  3. Gregory of Nyssa (d.394), was gifted to defend Trinitarianism from a biblical-philosophical view point as his mentor Basil of Caesarea in his writing – “On the Holy Trinity, On Not three Gods.”


  1. The Council of Constantinople ()

The rise of Emperor Theodosius in the second half of fourth century marks the final Condemnation of Arianism, in 381, in the gathering of hundred and fifty church men at Constantinople.  However, at Chalcedon (AD 451), the creed was accepted as originating at Constantinople.

“We believe in one God, the Father, All Governing, creator of heaven and earth of all thing visible and invisible, And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father, before all-time begotten not created of the same essence (Reality) as the Father (homoousian to patri) … and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit… His kingdom shall have no end”.

Augustine built his understanding upon the Cappadocian’s. It was the three great cappadecians in the East who clarified the misconceptions, brought about the merger of Homoousians and Homoiousians. Augustine in the west (ca.419) brought unanimity of opinion to the entire church. He wrote (On the Trinity, 4.21.30)”. So, the Trinity together wrought both the voice of the Father, and the flesh of the Son, and the dove of the Holy Spirit, while each of these things is referred severally to each person. And by this similitude it is in some degree discernible, that the Trinity, which is inseparable in itself is manifested separably by the appearance of the visible creature; and that the operation of the Trinity is also inseparable in each severally of those things which are said to pertain properly to the manifesting of either the Father; or the Son or the Holy Spirit.”


  1. Doctrine of God – The Holy Spirit

There is not much said in the original Nicene creed about the Holy Ghost, except the simple mention of His name; because up to that time, the discussion on the doctrine of Theology Proper has essentially dealt with the pre-incarnate relationship of the Son to the Father. However, there were a few references about Holy Spirit.


  1. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit and Church Fathers
  2. Clement of Rome ( in his letter to the Corinthians, speaks of the Spirit ten times, mostly in reference to the Spirit’s inspiration of OT.
  3. Ignatius of Antioch ( used a Trinitarian formula, Son, Father, and Spirit – only the order is different (To the Magnesians 13.1)).
  • Hermas (ca.130) The Shepherd of Hermas abounds in allusions to the Spirit, but the writer has no consistent pneumatology because he failed to distinguish between the Son and the Spirit. In similitude, 9:1, he stated “that the Spirit is the Son of God”. Another time he confuses the Holy Spirit and the human Spirit (Mandate, 5:1-3)


  1. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Apologists.

The Apologists did clearly advance the understanding of the Spirit, but still           evidence some of the confusion manifest in the Fathers.


  1. The Apologists of the Eastern Church.
  2. Justin Martyr calls the Holy Spirit the gift come down from heaven, which Christ imparted to believers after his glorification, and to the prophets (OT) before his incarnation. However, he had some confused statement regarding the Holy Spirit. For example, he placed the spirit below angels. (First Apology. 1:6) “But both Him (Father) and the Son who came forth from Him, and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him, and the prophetic Spirit…”.

Note: Justin’s confusion here is negligible, because, the doctrine of Spirit was in formative stage then.

  1. Theophilus of Antioch was the first Christian writer to speak of God as a Triad, at times separates the Spirit from the Logos. However, he, at other times, identified Christ and the Spirit as one (To Autolycus.2.10)
  2. Athenagoras in his ‘Plea for Christians’ stressed the unity of essence, yet admits to a division of persons in a certain order that includes subordinationism.
  3. Origen affirmed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and is not a creature though the Spirit is said to have begun in eternity.
  4. The apologists of the Western Church.
  5. Tertullian is looked upon as a pioneer in Trinitarian theology. He speaks of the Son and Spirit as being a part of the Godhead. He employed such illustrations as the fountain, stream, and river or root, branch, and fruit to explain the triad of persons.
  6. Irenaeus, like the church fathers, conceived of the Spirit as the inspiration of the O.T. Scriptures. He appears to be the first to grasp the full equality of the Spirit with the Son (two hands of the Father) He wrote (Against Heresies, 1.2.1) “Now man is a mixed organism of soul and flesh, who was formed after the likeness of God and molded by His hands; that is by the Son and the Holy Spirit, to whom also he said “Let us make man”.
  7. Novation was a presbyter whose doctrine of the Spirit is insightful. He had full concept of the work of Spirit. He writes (Trinity.29) “For it was He who in the prophets (OT) reproved the people and in the apostles gave an invitation to the Gentiles. Therefore, it is one and the same Spirit who is in the prophets and in the apostles.
  8. Hippolytus of Rome closely identified with Irenaeus affirmed plurality in the Godhead. (A Refutation of All Heresies, 10.33), “Though alone, He was multiple, for He was not without His Word and His wisdom His power and His counsel”

In this brief survey the point to make is that the confusion of the identity of the Spirit with the Son was resolved.



  1. The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Theologians
  2. Athanasius and Nicea
  3. Athanasius and the Holy Spirit.

Athanasius focused upon the deity of Christ. Athanasius developed his views affirming that the Spirit is of the same substance as the Father. Athanasius’ delineation of the consubstantiality of (,iz cl;nghUz;ik) the Spirit with the Father and Son in a singular essence is stated in his writings. His idea is that the Holy Spirit is the source of true life; When he is imparted to us, we attain to communion with God. This would be impossible if the Holy Spirit were foreign to the divine nature.

  1. Council of Nicea (325AD) did focus upon the deity of Christ but only mentioned without details “We believe in the Holy Spirit.”
  2. The Cappadocian and Constantinople.
  3. Cyril of Jerusalem (386) (not strictly Cappadocian) had a fully developed view of the work of the Holy Spirit, but did not tangle with the difficulties of His nature and substance. “The Father, through the Son, with the Holy Spirit, bestows all gifts. The gifts of the Father are not different from the gifts of the Son, or those of the Holy Spirit. For there is one salvation, one power, one faith. There is one God, the father. One Lord, His only begotten Son; One Spirit, the Advocate. It is enough for us to know this much; inquire not curiously into His nature and substance. For if it had been written, we would have spoken about it; what is not written let us not essay. It is enough for salvation for us to know that there is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  4. Basil of Caesarea(d.379) in the East advanced the orthodox understanding of the trinity by delineating essence and persons (Epistle 236.6) The distinction between ‘ousia’ and ‘upostasi’ (hypostasis) is the same as that between the general and the particular, so he stated that we must therefore confess the faith by adding the particular to the common. the Godhead is common; the Fatherhood particular. We must therefore combine the two and say, I believe God, the Father; The same formula must be followed in the confession of the Son, saying “ I believe in the God the Son, as well as saying ‘I believe God the Holy Spirit’ for there is one Father and one Son, so is there one Holy Ghost.

This treatise of Basil’s is considered a landmark for the defeat of Arian conceptions of Holy Spirit.


  1. Gregory of Nazianzus (d.389) clearly affirms that the Spirit is God. He presented his argument (Theological Oration 5.4) “If ever there was a time when the Father was not, then there was a time when the Son was not. If ever there was a time when the Son was not, then there was a time when the Spirit was not. If the One was from the beginning, then the Three were so too… (From the beginning). So He asserted that there were three in the Godhead from the very beginning (Elohim-Gen1:1).
  2. The Council of Constantinople (381AD).

The reaffirmation of the Nicene creed happened at the council of Constantinople. At this, the consubstantiality (,iz cl;nghUz;ik) of the Spirit as well as of the Son was formally endorsed.

The Creedal statement concerning the Spirit simply needs (Ed) “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Life – giver, who proceeds from the Father, Who is worshiped and glorified together with the Father and Son, who spoke through the prophets; and in one , holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”

Augustine in the west endorsed the Cappadocians by writing (On the Trinity, 4.21), “Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit cannot be named by our words, which certainly are bodily sounds …. but…. yet each is uttered by all three …. so, the Trinity together wrought both the voice of the Father and the flesh of the Son and the dove of the Holy Spirit, while each of these things is referred severally to each person. And by this similitude it is in some degree discernible that the Trinity, which is inseparable in itself  is manifested separably by the appearance of the visible creature; and that the operation of the Trinity is also inseparable in each severally of those things which are said to pertain properly to the manifesting of either the Father, or the Son, or the Holy spirit.”

However, In the provincial Synod (Toledo, 589), The western Church added a phrase, following the lead of Augustine to the Constantinople creed, by adding “Holy Spirit, Proceeds from the Father and the Son (Filioque from the Son).

  1. The Medieval and Reformation Church. (600-1500 AD)

This medieval age presented not actual advancement in the debate of Trinitarian concept of God, only repetition of established doctrine (Nicea as clarified by Constantinople is simply assumed). Berkhof summarized this “Later theology did not add materially to the doctrine to the Trinity” (History of Doctrine, 94).

However, there were a few who raised questions on the existence God and on the trinity, but there were some orthodox thinkers answered them to proceed an orthodox doctrine. Hence the conception of Godhead remained unchallenged from 381 AD.

  1. Anselm (d.1109) had views as Augustine had. Anselm held that proof is unnecessary since God is self-evident. (either for existence of God or for Trinity). To him, the Father begets, the Son is begotten, and the Spirit proceeds.
  2. Thomas Aquinas (d.1274), the foremost teacher of the Dominican school and one of the greatest theologians of all times, suggested the means for arriving at truth. (reason and faith). Although he favored rationalism, he believed that some Christian truth were not subject to rational verification (Ex. Trinity concept). He differed with Anselm, not in his concept of the Trinity, there he is quite orthodox, but in his insistence that God’s existence can and must be proved by rational argument.
  3. Doctrine of God in the Reformation Church.

The polarity of historic Catholicism into Protestant (Reformed) and Roman Catholic camps did not reflect radical divergence of opinion in all areas. Indeed, Reformed churches and Roman Catholics alike agreed on the doctrine of God, and simply reaffirmed their convictions in a creedal fashion.


  1. Roman Catholic Church.
  2. The council of Trent (1545-63)

A reaction to the growth of Protestant opinions, as well as reforming council spoke to the heated issues of that day (authority, justification, and the means of grace/sacraments). The Tridentine Profession (1564), a creedal synopsis of the findings of Trent, in Article I, states the dogmatic truth of Nicea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD).

  1. The Decrees of Vatican –I (1870.AD) do not speak to the issues of the Trinity, because it was assumed by previous statement (Trent)
  2. The Decrees of Vatican. II. (1963-65), are silent on the topic  of Trinity.  The three persons in single Godhead are assumed.

Note: The ‘de fide’ statement of the church is simply: “In God there are three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Each of the three persons possesses the one (Numerical) Divine Essence”.


  1. Reformed Church Tradition;

The Reformers do not reflect a departure from the ancient creeds of the church.

  1. Martin Luther (d.1546), accepted the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity because he felt that it was supported by scriptures. On trinity, he stated (works 10,191), “If natural reason does not comprehend this, it is proper that faith alone should comprehend it; natural reason produces heresy and error but faith teaches and holds the truth for because it sticks to the scripture which does not lie or deceive”.
  2. John Calvin (d.1564) states (Book-I- of the Institutes 13.2)

“The fair inference from the Apostle’s word is, that there is a proper subsistence (cl;nghUz;ik> hypostasis) of the Father which shines refulgent in the Son. From this, again, it is easy to infer that there is a subsistence (hypostasis- cl;nghUz;ik) of the Son which distinguishes him from the Father. The same holds in the case of the Holy spirit…”


  1. The shorter catechism of Westminster (1647)

The Westminster catechism states (II.1.3) “… In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power and eternity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.”

But the shorter catechism of Westminster, conveys this truth in question-answer method. (Ex)

Quest– What is God?

Ans – God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.


Quest – Are there more Gods than One?

Ansu – There is but one only, the living and true God.


Quest – How many persons are there in the Godhead?

Ans    – There are three persons in the Godhead: The Father, the Son, and the Holy   Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and          glory.

  1. The church of England stands within the same pale of orthodoxy as seen in the thirty-nine Articles

During this age, there were some heretical concepts were formed by some heretical   leaders. They were given fitting reply by Calvin “before the world was created the Logos was God” (Jn1:1)


  1. Doctrine of God –After Rationalist movement from Nineteenth century.

The fertile period for the delineation of trinitarianism was in the fourth century through Athanasius and the Cappadocians that led to the final triumph over Arianism at Constantinople in 381 AD. Since trinitarianism proved the orthodox doctrine, the church universally believed it, although there were a few heretical movements that rose every now and then.

But the Post-Reformation era experienced a shift from a theistic world view to an anthropocentricism which is the result of the reinterpretations of life and its meaning through the humanism of the scientific method.

  Note: Scientific method is not demeaned here. The error was not in the method but to the sphere in which the method is applied. That is: In the realm of Bible study, the scientific method can apply in the sense that the Bible provides the data and man uses his reason to understand, classify, and categorize the data, but not to validate the existence of God.

  Note: Science deals with physical things whereas theology deals with metaphysical matter. They both must have different measuring system. Ex: Water should be measured by liters whereas a wall must be measured with meter scale. So also, Theology and science must have different validating or measuring system. These two cannot be measured by One measuring rule.

As a result of this scientific method mingled with theological realm, some started to think in humanistic way, leaving away God. Hence:

  • Reason or religious consciousness was put on par with revelation (of God in the Bible).
  • It tried to reduce Christianity to Virtue (Editor comment: This is the reason Europe suffers from Islamic Invasion).

Note: How can one know or measure the best virtues if there is no clear revelation of God. Ex.Cain thought what he did was right.

  • German Thinkers & Philosophers:

Influenced by this false validating system, some German thinkers gradually reduced the value of revelation of God of the Bible, but claimed “Religion begins in man not in God.” They elevated man to the place or position of God (Satan lied to Eve the same). This position is knowns as anthrotheism. (For Example: Ham Brahmasmi – you are brahman / god or modern Enlighten Movements).

  1. Frederic Schleiermacher

(1768 -1834) – Religion begins in man.

  1. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-72) – Religion is an idealistic fiction without any actual truth (He is the precursor of modern Positivists Agnostics).
  2. Albrecht Ritschl (1822-89) God should be thought of only as love
  • The Theism of Karl Barth

Although the German thinkers and philosophers promoted man (humanism – kdpjk;) Barth reversed the Century’s trend toward the humanization of God, as a personification of man’s need. Barth is quite Orthodox in theology proper. On trinity, Barths states “… It is God who reveals Himself in a like manner as the Father in His self-veiling and Holiness as He does as the Son in His self- unveiling and mercy, and as the Spirit in His self – impartation and love (Church Dogmatic. I., 1:437-39)

  • Anthro – Theism of American Thinkers in twentieth century.

The rise of Darwinism in Western Europe and the rise of Socialism in Eastern Europe, had significant influence on the European churches. This influence resulted in as Liberalism (1890-1930) and Neo-Liberalism (After 1930- till date). These Liberal concepts had significant influence not only Europeans but also American thinkers.


Paul Tillich (1886-1965) and Thomas J.J. Altizer were prominent among them. They tried to promote man to God. Thus, they tried to reject Personal God but to make human person to God. (Note: It was the same that Satan promised to Eve and Adam)

The true church always stands and contends for the Orthodox doctrine on theology proper. (Jude 3), when such heretical humanist ideas try to influence the Christendom.





When the discussion on the deity of Christ going on in the early Church, the discussion concerning the Person of Christ was also gaining momentum gradually. The deity of Christ and the doctrine of Trinity was finally accepted in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 AD and formally settled in the council of Constantinople in 381 AD. But doctrine on the Person of Christ, that is the union of two natures, technically Hypostatic union was not settled there. (Until Fourth Ecumenical Council in 451 A.D. in Chalcedon)

  1. The Person of Christ in the Church Fathers.

The Church Fathers followed the tradition of Apostles who were pastoral in character and tone. Hence Fathers did not think of theological speculations concerning Christ’s Person However in their writings Christology was prominent.


  1. Clement of Rome.

“The Apostles received the Gospels for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God (To the Corinthians, 42) Clement also speaks of Christ as the preexistent Son of God (

  1. Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius has a text about Christ’s natures that was often quoted in later history (To the Epesions 7,2). “There is only one physician of flesh and of Spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first possible and then impossible, Jesus Christ Our Lord”.

  1. The Person of Christ in the Apologists.

The non-Christian philosophers (Docetism) attacked the Christian faith. Docetism of Celsus denied the humanity of Christ saying God can not dwell among men. The early church was forced to respond to this heresy. Apologists took this mission of defending faith, and deity of Christ who was in the human form (body).

  1. The Person of Christ and Western Apologists.
  • Irenaeus of Lyons (Ca 140-202 AD) stressed the unity of Christ (Pre and Post incarnation) that his oft- repeated phrase (Christ, one and the same) will appear seven times in the Chalcedon Creed.
  • Tertullian of Carthage (ca 155-240/60 AD), began his confrontations of Praxes with firm Trinitarian presuppositions. “Learn therefore with Nicodemus that what is born in the flesh is flesh and what is born in the Spirit is Spirit’ (Jn 3:5). Flesh does not become spirit, not spirit, flesh. Evidently, they can (both) be in one (person). Of these Jesus is composed, of flesh as man, and of Spirit as God”. (Against Praxeas’ 27.14) Tertullian’s contribution was his stress on “One Person” in Christ.
  1. The Person of Christ and the Eastern Apologists.
  • Meilto of Sardis (ca.170) was the first in the Eastern Church to speck of Christ two natures. Eusebius quoted Polycrates (Church History. v. 24) that this man (Melito), a eunuch, was a defender of the church in Asia Minor and in V.28 that he announced Christ as “God and Man”.
  • Origen of Alexandria (ca.185-254 AD) seeks to postulate a twofold rule in Christ, the one Christ. Although he was unclear about two natures, to him the conjunction of the Logos and humanity is real and permanent.

Over against the Gnostics and the docetists, the early theologians of the Church had above all to stress the duality of the two natures of Christ and their reality. True, the first reflections on the problem of the unity of Godhead and manhood are made. The Church Fathers know for sure that the incarnate Logos is one and the same (in God’s natures).


  1. The person of Christ in the Theologians.

Seeburg summarizes “Two things had been transmitted by tradition as fixed; the reality of the humanity of Christ, with his human activity and sufferings and the reality and Homousia of his divinity. Divinity and humanity are now combined in one Person; there is a synthesis, but as to the question how this union was conceivable, especially how two personal natures can constitute one person there was no investigation” (The History of Doctrine, 243).


  1. The Person of Christ and the Apollinarian Controversy.

Apollinarius (ca.310-90 AD); bishop of Laodicia, attempted to answer the question of the Logos – sarx / Logos- soma relationship by a synthesis of body and soul within substantial unity (One nature).

The Christology of Apollinarius arises from trichotomist presuppositions: the deity occupied (supplanted) the human spirit so that in the one person a human body and soul was joined to divine reason. (Spirit – word of God/Logos). Apollinarius, then, found no other solution than to mutilate the human nature of Christ, taking away its rational faculties, and putting the word in the place these should occupy. He substituted the human flesh for the complete human being controlled by the Logos because he was little able to understand the divine-human nature. He stated that Christ lost his human nature.

  • The Cappadocians were the first to recognize the hidden danger within his Christology, which, for all practical purposes, denied the reality of Christ’s human nature and the Christian doctrine of Salvation.
  1. Gregory of Nazianius (329-89AD)

He wrote (Epistle ,101): If anyone has put his trust in Him as a man without a human mind, he is really bereft of mind, and quite unworthy of salvation. For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole. Let them not, then begrudge us our complete salvation or clothe the savior only with bones and nerves and portraiture of humanity. For if His Manhood is without soul, even the Arians admit this, that they may attribute His passion to the Godhead, as that which gives motion to the body is also that which suffers. But if He has a soul and yet is without a mind, how is He man, for man is not a Mindless animal?”

So Gregory in his epistle 102, (to Cledonius) stated, “and since a question has also been mooted concerning the Divine Assumption of humanity or Incarnation, state this also clearly to all concerning me, that I join in One the Son, who was begotten of the Father, and afterward of the Virgin Mary, and that I do not call Him two Sons, but worship Him as One and the same in undivided Godhead and honour. But if any one does not assent to this statement, either now or hereafter, he shall give account to God at the day of judgment’.

  1. Gregory of Nyssa (d.395 AD) is clear in his rejection of a one-nature Christ. However, he was unclear as to the cohabitation of the two natures.
  2. The Condemnation of Apollinarius

The Bishop Damascus of Rome condemned the one nature view of Apollinarius in local councils in 374 AD and 376 AD. The final condemnation was done at the second Economical Council in Constantinople in 381 AD.


  1. The Theological Schools of Antioch and Alexandria.

Although the Apollinarianism condemned as heresy, the Church still struggled to define how two natures united at Incarnation. Hence the school of Antioch as well as Alexandria brought forth its views, although there was jealous among the eastern cities (Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople) over supremacy.


  1. The Antiochian school of Theology:

The Antiochian scholars, such as Theodore of Mopsuestia (He was also the teacher of Nestorius) stressed a literal hermeneutic and biblical exegesis particularly in the Gospel accounts thus placing a large emphasis on the true humanity of Christ. They distinguished sharply between Christ as Son of God and Christ as Son of Man giving the human nature of Christ a more distinct recognition. They emphasized on the humanity of Christ.

Thy tried to explain this union saying as God dwells in believers; thus, in unique and preeminent way, the Logos dwelt in Christ’. The human spirit of Jesus so perfectly appropriates the divine as to become entirely with it. Christ’s thinking and willing as man are truly the thinking and willing of God in Him, yet is human nature not there by annulled but rather raised to its highest degree of perfection.

Note: Although Antiochian recognized two nature, due to their over stress on human nature; they made Jesus a Superman, instead of Divine One.

  1. The Alexandrian school of Theology.

The Alexandrian School continued the theological spirit of Athanasius, influenced by Apollinarian Christology. Their stress was homoousia’.


  • Athanasius, an Apollinarian in Christology, taught that Logos, who was God from all eternity, became man. “He became man, and did not come unto man. as in former times the Logos used to come into each of the saints (prophets)” (Oration. 3.30).

Note: While Athanasius attempted to reply to Antiochian’s Superman concept, he over emphasized Divinity, as divinity absorbed human nature, including infirmities of the flesh. Thus, Athanasius tried to neglect the human nature of Christ or unknowingly failed to balance the two nature.


  • Gregory of Nyssa and other Cappadocians also followed the track of Athanasius, although they recognized two natures, they focused on Divine nature.

They suggested commixture (,uz;lw fyj;jy;) of natures but dominated by divine nature (as Apollinarius said).

“And as fire that lies in wood hidden below the surface is often unobserved by the sense of those who see, or even touch it, but is manifest when it blazes up, so too, at His death (which He brought about at His will, who separated His  soul from his body, who said to His own Father ‘Into Thy hands I command My Spirit, ‘ Who, as He says ‘had power to lay it down and had power to take it again). He who, because He is the Lord of glory despised that which is shame among men, having concealed, as it were the flame of His life in His bodily nature, by the dispensation of His death, kindled and inflamed it once more by the power of His own Godhead, fostering into life that which had been brought to death, having infused with the infinity of His divine power that humble first – fruits of our nature, made it also to be that which He Himself was –making the servile form to be Lord, and the man born of Mary to be Christ , and Him who was crucified through weakness to be life and power, and making all that is piously conceived to be in God the word assumed, so that these attributes no longer seem to be in either Nature by way of division, but that the perishable nature being, by its commixture with the Divine, made anew in conformity with the nature that over whelms it, participates in the power of the Godhead, as if one were to say that mixture makes a drop of vinegar mingled in the deep to be sea, by reason that the natural quality of this liquid does not continue in the infinity of that which over whelms is”. (Eunomius,5)


  • Gregory of Nazianzus took the position that in the incarnation, the humanity of Christ            had, by the process of mixing or commingling, entirely disappeared in the divinity. He       compared the divinity and humanity of Christ to the sun and the stars; the sun shines                                 with such brilliancy as practically to extinguish the stars.

         Note: Antioch stressed humanity, which obscuring deity, and Alexandria stressed         Divinity. Both were correct in what they asserted wrong in what they denied. The two            schools came to different opinion because of

  • Trying for Ecclesiastical superiority
  • Different hermeneutics (literal of Antioch versus Speculative)
  • Different stresses on Christ’s person
  • Different starting points in theology (Alexandria in soteriology and Antioch in the Gospels) The church could not arrive then to an acceptable solution regarding the union of two natures.
  1. The Nestorian Controversy and Ephesus

Since the Church was still arguing on the unity of two natures, there came some other views from other leaders.

  1. The view of Nestorius.

In 428 A.D., the Antiochene Nestorius came to occupy the patriarchal See of Constantinople. In his zeal for orthodoxy, he prosecuted and excommunicated Arians, Apollinarians, and any who spoke of Mary as mother of God (theotokos) Because Nestorius would accept Christokos (Bearer of Christ =Mother of Messiah)

Regarding the union of two nature Nestorius suggested that the two natures existed together as two personalities. Nestorius hold that there were two natures, a divine and a human, subsisting in the closest moral union. The Logos inhabited the humanity, which had a personality of its own.

Note: As Apollinarianism denied duality in Christ’s nature and affirmed unity, Nestorius affirmed duality but practically denied their unity.

Note: Some scholars think that Nestorius had never suggested this view but his followers attributed this view to Nestorius.

  1. The view of Cyril of Alexandria

Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria was zealous defender of the authority of his bishopric. Cyril could not accept the view of Nestorius. Cyril called a council at Alexandria in 430 A.D, in which he set forth the teaching of Nestorius in the form of “Anathemas”. One of the twelve is here:

  1. “If any one shall not confess that the Emmanuel is in truth God, and that therefore the holy Virgin is Theotokos, in as much as according to the flesh she bore the word of God made flesh; let him be anathema.”

Gonzalez notes (History, 1:367) “This, however did not end the controversy, for many theologians claimed that Cyril’s twelve anathemas against Nestarius were themselves heretical…. Rome, with a Christological tradition that was very different from that of Alexandria, found Cyril’s document very embarrassing.”

  1. The Council of Ephesus (431 AD)

The controversy took a “universal twist” when both patriarchs appealed for support from the Bishop of Rome (Celestine). Celestine supported Cyril because of the historical policy of Rome to support Alexandria to avoid the dominance of Constantinople.

The Emperor (Valentinian III) called a general council in 431 (The third Ecumenical Council). Cyril was influential in imperial palace in Constantinople because of the wealth of his city (gold).  He got the support of some authorities.

When Nestorius and John of Antioch arrived four days later, they convened a separate council and condemned Cyril, and his previous council (430). The Emperor however, sided with Cyril –Celestine opinion and so he condemned Nestorius.

As for Nestorius, he was sent away to a monastery in Antioch, later to Petra, and a desert oasis in Libya. He did live beyond the council of Chalcedon (451 AD), in which he believed that his own doctrine was vindicated. Was he really heretic? Or was he condemned for his lack of fact and Cyril’s ambition and political ability?

Note: Some think that the council of Chalcedon in   451 only just modified, clarified, and restructured the view of Nestorius, who was hence vindicated.

  1. The Eutychian controversy and Chalcedon (451 AD)

As in the Apollinarian controversy, Nestorian view of Christ (Two natures two persons) was condemned, but no positive, declarative statement was issued. The debate, therefore, continued.

  1. Eutyches ( 378 -454A.D), a monk of Constantinople, began teaching that after the incarnation Christ had only one nature, two natures being consubstantial, a mixture of both. Pope Leo, I, who characterized him as “quite rash and ignorant “stated (Epistle. V;28): That man Eutyches must be considered as totally lacking in this mystery of the faith. He did not recognize our nature in the only-begotten-son of God, neither through the lowliness of His mortal state nor through the glory of His Resurrection. And Eutyches did not fear the sentence of the blessed Apostle and Evangelist John, saying: Every Spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is of God, and every spirit that severs Jesus is not of God, but is of Antichrist.’

What is meant by severing Jesus if not the taking away from him of His human nature and nullifying by the foulest imaginings the mystery through which alone we have been saved.”


Thus, According to Eutyches, Christ was of one nature in which the humanity and deity were deprecated (“of two natures, not in two natures”) a comingling of the two into one.

  1. The clash between Dioscurus and Flavian

Dioscurus, succeeded Cyril in 444 AD in Alexandria and he wanted to make Alexandrian See the dominating institution in the church of the East.

Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople examined Eutyches about the two nature of Christ. Eutyches replied to Flavian “I confess that our Lord was of two natures before the union [i.e. the union of divinity and humanity in the incarnation], but after the union (Incarnation] one nature…”

Since Eutyches reflected the view of Cyril of Alexandria, Dioscurus, of Alexandrian See supported monk Eutyches of Constantinople against Flavian, but Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople questioned the view of Eutyches. So, there was clash between Alexandria and Constantinople.

  1. The Leading for the Council of Chalcedon (451, A.D.).

The Bishop of Rome supported Constantinople in the matter concerning two natures of Christ, because Flavian was correct in opposing Alexandria. Although there was a competition among these three, who would be the first. Rome was competing with Constantinople. [New Rome]. But Leo’s opponent in the rivalry of the bishoprics was then not Constantinople, but Alexandria. If Constantinople defeated Alexandria, only Rome would be unblemished theologically.


  • The Council of Ephesus (449 AD) was chaired by Dioscurus before 130 bishops by imperial appointment. Bishop Leo of Rome called this “the robber’s synod.” because the letter, sent by Leo was not read and because Flavian was treated violently at this council. (Probably Flavian died few days later due to violent treatment] Flavian party was silenced and Eutyches was declared orthodox (Although he was incorrect/False views)
  • The Tome of Leo was a letter sent by Bishop Leo of Rome to be read at Ephesus in 449 AD. Although it was not read, it became the essential declaration of orthodox Christology. Leo argued for two distinct natures after the union. [Leo supported the view of Flavian].
  • The Council of Chalcedon (451AD)

This council was considered as the fourth Ecumenical council, a gathering of 520 bishops. They witnessed the condemnation of Dioscurus and the affirmation of Leo’s Tome as orthodox Christology (One person, two perfect natures, without mixing, without confusion)

The Definition of faith needs:

“Following the holy Fathers, we all with one voice teach men to confess that the Son and our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same, that He is perfect in godhead and perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body, Consubstantial (xj;j ,iz epiy) with us as to His manhood, in all things like unto us (yet), without sin; begotten of His Father before all worlds according to His  Godhead; but in these last days for us and for our salvation of the virgin Mary, the Theotokos, according to His manhood, one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten Son, in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of nature’s being preserved and concurring in one person and hypostasis, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only begotten, God, the Word the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have spoken concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and  as the creed of the fathers has delivered us.”


Note:  The orthodox triumph of Leo I, was a victory for his See. Antioch, and Constantinople had been discredited over Nestorianism; Alexandria over Eutychianism, Rome’s prestige was unblemished (Remember, have the succession theory of truth!)

Note: Although, this definition was accepted, some preferred Christakos instead of theotokos.


  1. The Person of Christ – the Medieval and Reformation Church:

The council of Chalcedon in 451 AD formulated the orthodox statement. But debate on Christology went on for a period of years. while the doctrine was not advanced, it was strongly, even violently, controverted. As a result of this, the medieval era witnessed two major controversies over Christology.

  1. In the East.
  • Monophysitism (from AD. 476).

In Greek; Phyisicos means nature; ‘mono’ means one. Hence ‘monophysitism’ refers to ‘one nature’.  In one sense, monophysitism is a continuation of Eutychiansm, which taught Christ has one nature after incarnation.

Those who were disturbed by the Chalcedonian definition of Christology were really opposed, not to the doctrine the council asserted, but to the words “in two natures”. The reason they opposed to “in two natures” phrase was that they equated ‘nature with person’. (They so misunderstood “in two natures” with “ in two persons”).


Note: Monophysities were also known as ‘Theopaschites’ because they believed that ‘God suffered’ on the cross.

There were two groups of monophysities namely, Verbal Monophysites and the Real Monophysites, who adopted Eutychianism (one nature) To discuss this issue and bring unity among, these two groups, Emperor Justinian called for the fifth Ecumenical council at Constantinople in 533AD, with 165 bishops, (five from East). However, the council failed to reconciling the monophysites, rather it sealed their final separation from the Church of the Empire. Hence there was a minor schism and it has survived the centuries – Jacobites in Syria, the Copts in Egypt and Ethiopia and the Armenians.

  • Monothelitism (633-680 AD)

In Greek, ‘thelematos’ means ‘will’. Hence Monothelitism means “One will” In order to reconcile Verbal Monophysites patriarch Sergius of Constantinople sought, as a means of repprochement, the formula one energy (,af;f tpir) with two natures’. The bishop of Alexandria reconciled. Servians with the formula “a single hypostatic energy”. As opposition from Chalcedonians mounted, Sergius proposed Monothelitism – a single will in Christ.

However, the sixth Ecumenical council in Constantinople in 681 AD. condemned Monothelitiism, including patriarch Sergius and Honorius of Rome. (Honorius was a bishop condemned even in seventh and Eight councils).

The council decreed two wills in Christ; one pertaining to each of His natures. The council stated “… that our Lord Jesus Christ must be confessed to be our very God, one of the holy and consubstantial and life giving Trinity perfect in deity and the same perfect in humanity, truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with His Father as to His Godhead, and consubstantial with us as to His manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin (Heb 4:15)… in two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, inseparably  (indivisibly to be recognized); the peculiarities of neither nature lost by the union, but rather the properties of each nature preserved, concurring in one person, and in one subsistence (xU Jiz epiy = xU cly;) not parted or divided into two persons and these two natural wills and not contrary one to the other (which God forbid), as the impious heretics say, but His human will follows, not as resisting or reluctant, but rather therefore as subject to His divine and Omnipotent will.

By the decree, passed in the Sixth Ecumenical council in 681 A.D., Monothelitism was declared heresy and the council declared “Anathema” on those who follow this movement including bishop Honorius of old Rome.


Note: Perfect man has a perfect will, and this perfect will is able to perfectly submit to the perfect divine will. That is the reason when Christ died on the cross as perfect man his perfect human will perfectly submitted itself (himself) to the divine will (Which God intended).

In this perfect human will, Jesus died, nevertheless, In His perfect divine will He rose again.


  1. In the West

During this medieval period, there was not much controversies in the west as it was in the East, but there were some to the Adoptionstic view. (This Adoptionistie view is not of third century).

This adoptionist view of eight century refers to the semi-Nestorianion. However

after the death of the chief champions (Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgel) of this view, it disappeared. This view was condemned in the provincial councils Frankfurt (794) and Aachen (799 AD).


  1. The person of Christ and the Reformation Church.
  2. In the Roman Catholic Tradition.

There is no issue between the Roman Catholic and the Reformed theology regarding Theology proper, and Christology.  The major issue between these two churches is on the doctrine of soteriology. On the doctrine of the person of Christ, both Catholic and Reformed theology state almost the same. (Except of Chritokos)

  1. In the Reformed Tradition
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the chief caption of Reformation, although there were a few like Wyclif, John Huss who were the pioneers by sowing the seeds for reformation. Luther adopted the traditional dogmatic doctrine of the two natures; Divine nature and human nature perfectly inseparably joined together in unity of person-One Christ; true God and true Man.
  • John Calvin (1509 – 64) was a great theologian after Martin Luther during Reformation era. He stated in Institutes (2.14.1) “He who was the Son of God became the Son of Man, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For we maintain, that the divinity was so conjoined and united with humanity, that the entire properties of each nature remain entire, and get the two natures constitute only one Christ. If, in human affairs, anything analogous to this great mystery can be found, the most opposite similitude seems to be that of man, who obviously consists of two substances, neither of which, however, is so intermingled with the other as that both do not retain their own properties, For neither is soul body nor is body soul. Wherefore that is said separately of the soul which can not in any way apply to the body; and that, on the other hand, of the body which is altogether inapplicable to the soul; and that, again, of the whole man, which cannot be affirmed without absurdity either of the body or of the soul separately”.

Note: This unity is a miracle of God. (,izaKbahjJ – Divinity – mJ jd;Dld; ,izj;Jf;nfhz;lJ –Humanity) Calvin’s opinions on Christology are carried throughout the Reformed Tradition around the globe. The Church confessions reflected the same view.  For example:

  • The First Helvetic confession (1536)
  • The Gallican Confession (1539)
  • The Scottish Confession (1560)
  • The Westminster Confession (1647) states (VIII.2): “The Son of God, the second person of Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin… Very God and very Man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man.”
  • The church of England, by virtue of its Thirty – Nine Articles (1539) confirms traditional Christological orthodoxy (Article -11): “The Son which is the word of the Father begotten from everlasting of the Father the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took, Man’s nature, in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance : so that two whole and perfect Natures that is to say , the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, where of is one Christ, very God and very Man; Who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men”.

Hence, in the Reformation era the Roman Church and the Reformers agreed in the Chalcedonian Formula on the two natures of Christ.

  1. The Person of Christ in the Modern Era

There was no deviation from the Chalcedonian confession in this era. But some scholars tried to explain this union in their own way yet they could not give anything new to this accepted doctrine regarding two natures in Christ.

  1. Karl Barth, a German theologian conceives of Christ in the orthodox form of the Chalcedonian creed. Christ is at once God and Man in unity of a single person. He wrote (Dogmatics .1.2., 160-61), “If we paraphrase the statement ‘the word became flesh’ by the word assumed flesh” … God cannot cease to be God… As his own predicate along with His original predicate of divinity, He take over human being into unity with Himself” … Jesus is the Mediator, the God-Man, in such a way that He is God and Man”.
  2. American Theologians, like some German counterpart of their era, attempted to give new explanations to the unity of two natures in Christ, but yet their explanations could not stand before the orthodox faith that is confirmed in the Chalcedonian council. (451 AD)

Conclusion:  Union of two nature is ontological. Ontology refers to Being. For Example; God is a being; man is a being, angel is a being; so, from this ontological union God-Man, that is the union of divine nature and human nature, is an unique being-Ontologically two natures are united in Christ Jesus. (Note: Christ Jesus)




  1. The Work of Christ


After theologians discuss the pre-incarnate nature of Christ and the relationship of the two natures in his incarnate person, it is both customary and logical to turn to the accomplishment of Christ (from Person to work).

  1. The work of Christ and the Church Fathers.

The fathers, although believed Christ’s death, generally maintain a vagueness, an unspeculative approach to the meaning of his death.

  1. Clement of Rome (AD 95)

In his letter to the Corinthians, he connects the blood of Christ with redemption, “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ and understand how precious it is unto His Father, because being shed for our salvation is won for the whole world, the grace of repentance (7:4)

  1. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD).

He wrote in one of His epistles “Christ died for us that believing on His death ye might escape death” (To the Trallians 2:2). However, Ignatius more devoted to the cross; (to the Ephesians 18:1) he wrote:” My spirit is devoted to the Cross”.

  1. The Work of Christ and the Apologists
  2. The Western Apologists
  • Tertullian (ca.155-240/260) of Carthage had legal outlook which naturally led him to emphasize the necessity of reparation when an offence had been committed, and he transferred the idea from law to theology. Only by his death could our death be destroyed. But He did not attempt to delineate the meaning of the atonement. However; he is the first to use the term ‘Satisfaction” in reference to the death of Christ.
  • Irenaeus (ca.140-202 AD) of Lyons

Before him, there were a few spoke men in the church tried to delineate the atonement in relation to the doctrine Satan; (that is the ransom was paid to Satan to deliver man from the power of evil. Col 2:15; Heb 2:14). Irenaeus rejected ransom to Satan theory. This is not to say the Satan is entirely removed from the Soteriological framework because Irenaeus is clear that in what Christ did, he over threw, destroyed the power of Satan; the focus, however is Godward not, Satanward. He introduced the idea that the death of Christ as the Act (not Satan’s) and power (Not Satan’s) which liberates. In the classic passage (Against Heresies. 5:1.1) on the atonement, there is no mention of Satan.

Irenaeus idea is known as Recapitulation Theory (tpOiff;F Kd; ,Ue;j gioa epiyia jpUk;g nra;Jf;fhl;ly;) which means Christ broke the power of satan whereby men are expiated by God. (i.e, Men are delivered; justice is satisfied by Christ’s life). Under this idea, Irenaeus brings the thought that Christ (As the Second Adam) recapitulates in Himself all the stages of human life, and all the experiences of these stages, including those which belong to our state as sinner.

Although Irenaeus had lack of ideas, he stressed the need of atonement (i,e, justice of God), the focus  of the atonement (ie, God, not to satan) and the means of atonement (i.e, the life and death of Chrsit), and the result of atonement (i.e, satan was defeated – Adam’s life restored).


Note: He errs in saying man is almost restored to Adam’s pre-fall state, But it is not so. But he is correct in saying satisfaction and forgiveness in Christ.


  1. The Eastern Apologists.
  2. Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) had little regard for a ransom – to – satan concept. He wrote (Apology.1,32) “After this He was crucified in order that the rest of the prophecy be verified …. He was to endure, purifying with His own blood those who believe in Him”. Justin focused on sanctifying power of Jesus’ death.
  3. Clement of Alexandria (150-216 AD). In his work, “who is the rich man that shall be saved?”, He wrote (23), “But on the other side hear the saviour ‘I regenerate thee, who were ill born by the world to death. I emancipated, healed, ransomed thee. I will show thee the face of the good Father God”. (Probably Clement of Alexandria idea is that Christ paid ransom to God the Father, not satan).
  • Origen (185-254 AD) had a defective and confused view of atonement. Some think he suggested ransom paid to satan. But other scholars say that “Probably Origen intended to say is ‘the ransom was paid due to satan’s work, not meant paid to satan, but the emphasis is on ‘paid due to”. (Ransom was paid to God due to Satan’s work)



  1. The work of Christ and the Theologians
  2. Athanasius of Alexandria (295-373 AD), had two fold view of atonement; First is Restitution view (gioa epiyf;F jpUg;Gjy;) (i.e, Christ took our humanity to give us what we lost, God’s image) and the second is a penal substitution. He stressed that Christ’s death was both penal and substitutionary (He rejected a ransom –to-satan)

Jesus took the body in the virgin as a temple (Heb 10:5) unto Himself; that He might turn men again toward incorruption (restitution view). He wrote; Again (Incarnation, 9), “He surrendered it to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father… in order that by all dying in Him the law with respect to the corruption of mankind might be abolished… The Logos of God, being above all, by offering His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitution for the life of all, satisfied all that was required by His death.”


  1. Cyril of Jerusalem (ca.315- 86 AD), is quite clear, that the death of Christ is both expiatory and substitutionary, it satisfies the wrath of God, and is endured in the place of sinner. He quoted the Biblical incident. “If Phineas by his zeal in slaying the evildoer appeased the wrath of God; shall not Jesus, who slew no other; but gave himself a ransom for all ‘take away God’s wrath against man?”.


  1. Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 89 AD)

Gregory repudiated with scorn the idea of a ransom paid to satan. He speaks of an expiatory substitution made to God to satisfy His judicial demand. He said (Oration, 30.20); He sets us free, who were held capture under sin giving Him a ransom for us, the sacrifice to make expiation to the world”.


Note: Gregory idea is that man was not captive of satan but captive under sin. If every man is under captive of satan, then, it means everyone is possessed by satan. In fact, not all is possessed by satan, but inherited with sin.

  1. Augustine (354 – 430 AD), although a famous theologian after Paul, the apostle, provided proper view on atonement. However, his view may go with substitutionary in nature. He in the treatise on the Trinity (4:14) said “… four things are to be considered in every sacrifice to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered what is offered, for whom it is offered; the same one and true Mediator Himself reconciling us to God, by the sacrifice of peace, might remain one with Him to whom He offered, might make those one in Himself for whom He offered, Himself might be in one both the offerer and the offering.


However, the most productive period in the delineation of the meaning of the atonement is through the Protestant Reformation from Anselm.


  1. The work of Christ and the Medieval Church.
  2. The work of Christ before the Schoolmen
  3. Gregory, the great (540- 604 AD) was the bishop of Rome, commonly called as the first Pope by Protestants, wrote (Moralia, 17), “Guilt can be extinguished only by a penal offering to justice. But it would contradict the idea of justice, if for the sin of a rational being like a man, the death of an irrational animal would be accepted as a sufficient atonement. Hence, a man must be offered as the sacrifice for man; so that a rational victim may be slain for a rational criminal. But how could a man, himself stained with sin, be an offering for sin? Hence sinless man must be offered.

Gregory the Great has no traces of a satisfaction rendered to Satan.

Note: In the court of law, even today, no criminal or accused or fraud can be produced himself as Jamin for getting bail for one charged with severe or serious accusation.

  1. John of Damascus ( ca. 794 AD), wrote (The Orthodox Faith) that the death of Christ as a sacrifice offered on the sinner’s behalf and in the sinner’s place to the Father, rejecting ransom to satan view “… For God forbid that the Lord’s blood should have been offered to the tyrant” (III, 27)

The five centuries which separate Gregory the Great from Anselm were not of a character to promise, theological learning and penetrating thought.

  1. Work of Christ in the Schoolmen.

From Anselm through the Reformation is the era of the classical development of the doctrine of the atonement.

  1. Anselm of Canterbury (1033 -1109 AD).

Anselm stated that man is indebted to God, not to the devil, and God’s justice demands reparation. Anselm idea is that if one fails to honour God, one takes away from God that which is His, and does dishonor God, and this is sin. Since man has taken away that which belong to God, man is indebted to God.

Hence God could not simply forgive a debt without any satisfaction, for this is would be surrendering to disorder, man is unable to pay his debt. This is the reason the two natures of Christ are necessary. Anselm wrote (cur Deus Homo.II.7), “For God will not do it, because He ought not, and man will not, because he cannot, therefore that God and man may do this, it is needful that the same person shall be perfect God and perfect man, who shall make this satisfaction; since he cannot do it unless he be very God, nor ought, unless he be very man. There since it is necessary, preserving the entirety of either nature, that a GOD-MAN should be found, no less needful is it that these two natures should meet in one being; which can be done in no other way but that the same person should be perfect God and perfect man.” He rightly stresses the atonement as the goal of the incarnation, a ransom to God and a substitution.


Note: Although Anselm is almost right in presenting a proper view, in comparing to his previous era, he is also criticized by some reformers for at least one reason; that:

  • Anselm focuses on offended honour, but reformers, upon offended righteousness.
  1. Thomas Aquinas (1224 AD), speaks of a satisfaction view of the atonement in that He paid the debt of sin to God. (Refer his: Summa Theologia). So he rejected the view that ransom toward Satan view.
  2. The work of Christ in the Reformation.

While Roman Catholics and protestants agreed theologically upon the doctrines of the person of Christ both pre-incarnate and incarnate, they sharply divided over the meaning of his death.

  1. In the Roman Catholic Church.

Roman Catholic views that death of Christ is not an absolute penal satisfaction. The effect of atonement is not instantaneous, but gradual. It does not absolve guilt, but provides a basis for progressive sanctification. It means, according to Roman Catholic, that total forgiveness is impossible. (i.e: – Sin is being cleansed little by little, as one delete what is written on  the black board; God gradually deletes and cleanses sin of the one who repents and becomes member in Roman Church).

Note: It contradicts what Jesus said in Mark 2:1-12 where Jesus demonstrated the forgiveness of sin instantaneously. Ex: As the wave of an ocean instantaneously deletes within its reach all what is written on the shore when the wave passes back)

  1. In the Protestant / Reformed Tradition.

The Reformers stressed that Christ death was a substitutionary and the forgiveness is instantaneous, not gradual.

  1. Martin Luther (1483 -1546 AD), the hero of Reformation, wrote (Works, X,49)” Christ, the Son of God stands in our place and has taken all our sins upon his shoulders. He is the eternal satisfaction for our sin and reconciles us with God, the Father”. He emphasized on “Justification by faith alone” quoting Rom 1:16,17. (Sola Fide).


Althaus compares “For Anselm, there were only two possibilities either punishment or satisfaction. For Luther, satisfaction takes place through punishment not of the sinner but of Christ” … Thereby He has ‘paid God’ and brought it about that God takes his wrath and his eternal punishment away from us.”

Hence, Good works follow, such faith or redemption or forgiveness of sin or righteousness as the fruit of faith. Good works will not help in anyway to delete our sins, rather it can demonstrate the fruit of faith.


  1. John Calvin, a notable theologian of Reformation, favored satisfaction view of atonement. He wrote in his work, (Institutes II. 16.6), “For the Son of God, though spotlessly pure, took upon him the disgrace and ignominy of our iniquities and in return clothed us with his purity.” To the same thing, he seems to refer, when he says, that he “Condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3) the Father having destroyed the power of sin when it was transferred to the flesh of Christ. This term therefore indicates that Christ, in his death, was offered to the father as a propitiatory victim; that, expiation being made by his sacrifice, we might cease to tremble at the divine wrath”. (quoting Is 53:5-10; 2Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13,14; I Pet 2:24; Col 2:14,15; Heb 9:14)

Note: Anselm stressed satisfaction of the honour of God while the Reformers stressed satisfaction of the righteousness of God, a penal sacrifice.


Based on Reformers movement, the creeds formed by Reformed Churches reflected the views of Reformers, particularly Calvin’s Views. For example, The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) has a particularly instructive section (creeds. II.307-308)


Q.13 – Can we make this payment ourselves?


Ans – By no means. On the contrary, we increase our debt each day.


Q – 14- Can any mere creature make the payment for us?


Ans – No one. First of all, God does not want to punish any other creature for man’s debt. Moreover, no mere creature can bear the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.


Q- 15. Then, what kind of mediator and redeemer must we seek?


Ans: One who is a true and righteous man and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is at the same time true God.


Q-16-Why must he be a true and righteous man?


Ans: Because God’s righteousness requires that man who has sinned should make reparation for sin, but the man who is himself a sinner cannot pay for others. (xU Fw;wthsp ,d;ndhU Fw;wthspf;F [hkPd; /tpLjiy ju ,ayhJ)


Q- 17-Why must he at the same time be true God?

Ans.- So that by the power of his divinity, he might bear as a man the burden of God’s wrath, and recover for us and restore to us, righteousness and life.


Q-18-Who is this mediator who is at the same time true God and a true and perfectly righteous man?


Ans – Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is freely given to us for a complete redemption and righteousness.


  • The Church of England and the Atonement.

The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England does not have a particular section devoted to the meaning of Christ’s death, but it does contain scattered statements. For Example, Article XI, reads “we are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour.”


Articles XV reads, “Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world; and sin….”.


  1. The work of Christ in the Post Reformation (17th century).

During the Reformation, the proper view of atonement is established with the help of scripture. However, there were a few movements brought some contrary views of atonement after seventeenth century.


  1. Faustus Socinus and the Atonement.

Faustus Socinus was from Reformed church of Poland. But he taught against the atonement view of Reformed church. He taught that Christ died for the highest benefit of us all, not as a substitution.


He rejected the idea that Christ died in the place of or instead of sinners (gjpyhf my;y) but proposed Christ, died on account of sin (ghtj;jpd; fhuzj;jhy;)


According to Socinians., the death of Christ is not a substitution, but a ‘Moral Impetus’. So, by the death of Christ, Christ encourages man to repent. If man will of his own ability, God will forget his character and grant forgiveness, and Christ set on example of obedience, and man is to follow it in the exercise of his natural power. (Socinian View; Systematic Theology, II, 385-860)


Note: How can man repent by his own ability, since man is dead in sin? (Eph 2:1,2; Jn 15:5)


Note: The question remains unsolved is why should Christ die in obedience as example when he has no sin?


Note: It has no guarantee for the forgiveness of sin and assurance of salvation since it depends on men’s ability to repent and natural ability to trust, instead of God’s grace (Ehp. 2:8,9)


Note: If repentance depends on man’s mental ability, only the highly educated with sophisticated mind can repent and get forgiveness. But the truth is opposed to Socinus.

Since Socinian’s fail to answer the questions like above, the Reformed churches rejected Socinians view. Finally, this movement could not make impact on the Reformed Doctrine of Atonement, and gradually Socinians reduced to none.

  1. Hugo Grotius and the Atonement

Hugo Grotius was a Dutch man, and jurist and statesman. He enmeshed in the religious struggles of Dutch Church. He was imprisoned by Prince Maurice for his non-reformed position and later fled to Paris.

Although he did not know theology, he brought out his own theology. Grotius view is known as Governmental view. He stated that Christ had to suffer was not to pay the sins of humankind, but rather to show that although God was willing to forgive us, He still considered the transgression of his law a serious offence that could not go without consequences’.

(As a government has right to punish or pardon, God acts according to this view)

More over Grotius’ idea of atonement suggests that God simply relaxes the claims of the law (no real satisfaction) and saves sinners.

This view is not as clear as reformation view of atonement, hence the Reformed churches rejected this view.

The problems of this view:  If God relaxes the law, why should Christ die for sinners?

(Ask ourselves: If so, God could relax the law for all instead of the atoning death of Christ)

Note 1: Why should God punish Christ who is sinless to show us the consequence of sin?


Note 2: Consequences of sin is already known by the sin and subsequent death of Adam. (This is logical reply for the question in Note.1).


  1. The Arminians and the Atonement.

James Arminius and his followers known as Arminians of Holland, although agreed with Calvin and other Reformers in Bibliology. They greatly differed in the doctrine of atonement. Among the Arminians , there are various views – some accept Christ death is a satisfaction for all the sins of sinners to God. But some Arminians say Christ death is not for all sins. Limbroch, one of the Arminian theologians tells that the satisfaction is not for all sins forever.

They say “Christ’s sacrifice was not a substitute penalty, but a substitute for a penalty.


Note 1: A substituted penalty (for all the sins of sinner’s forever) is a strict equivalent, but a substitute for a penalty (Sin done before conversion) may be of inferior worth by the method of acceptilation.


Note 2: It suggests that there is no guarantee for security of salvation; because, according to the Arminians, it is believers’ responsibility to keep their salvation after being saved. They reject the truth that believers are the Children of God (Jn 1:12).



  1. The work of Christ and the Modern Church.

Due to the influence of science, some questioned the doctrine of atonement, forgetting the fact that scientific formula could not be applied to philosophy. Because one scientific field cannot be evaluated or measured by other scientific field; for Example, Chemistry formula is not applicable to physics. If so how one can apply scientific idea into philosophy which is entirely different from science; Moreover, philosophy is a part of theology. Trying to apply scientific idea into philosophy will be fatal and nonsense, because science is based on observation and has formula for arriving truth, whereas philosophy is based on order of logic to arriving truth. So, both often differ, in method for verification of truth. But some, unknowingly, try to compare both; as a result of this false comparison, in the nineteenth century, some questioned the Christian faith, particularly atonement of Christ.


  1. The Work of Christ and the German theologians.

The German theologians such as Friedrich Schleiermacher, Albrecht Ritschl, reduced the value of atonement of Christ by their humanistic Views.


  1. Friedrich Schleiermacher presented a view that stated; Christ our satisfying representative. He tells that Representation will consist chiefly two things: Christ appears before the Father, first, to establish our fellowship with Him, and then second, further, to support our prayer before the Father.”

But the Reformed theologian questions his view asking “how can a sinner establish fellowship with the Father unless he gets forgiveness first”? Then how can God answer prayer of the sinner unless he first repents and satisfy, God’s requirement for forgiveness?”  (Jer. 13:23; 17:9; Isa 64:6)


Problem: 1. If everyone dies as Christ’s satisfying death, how one can satisfy God and get saved? Because none is perfect as Jesus is.

  1. Why should Christ die to establish fellowship with the Father because Christ was already in heaven having fellowship with the Father.


  1. Albrecht Ritschl (1822-89) said lack of fellowship with God is sin and the atonement’s focus is on reconciliation, not penal satisfaction.

The Problem: How could there be any reconciliation without satisfaction. Hence the Reformers rejected Ritschl’s view.

  1. The Work of Christ and Karl Barth.

Move or less, Karl Barth emphasized the reconciliation as Ritschl said yet Barth sees in the event of the atonement not simply the removal of penalty of sin but the renewal of the world. The cross and resurrection simply confirm and reveal what has already taken place. Thus, the cross is a moral conquest of the world’s evil by the Victor.

Hence, Barth attempts to say that Christ’s resurrection sets a model that we will have resurrections. For Barth, Cross is a symbol of victory, and resurrection is the result of victory.


Note: while Barth is quite encouraging in his doctrine concerning God and Christ’s Person, he is difficult, vague in the work of Christ.


Problem: If Christ resurrection is only a model, why should he die and resurrect; because God has already demonstrated resurrection of Lazarus.


  1. The Work of Christ and American Theologians.

The American theologians of the Nineteenth and twentieth centuries taught atonement. However, they explained it often in different and vague sense.


  1. Jonathan Edwards, the Younger (1745-1801) was a preacher, rather than a theologian.

He stated that the atonement was a demonstration that disobedience to moral government brings punishment. He reflected the view of Grotius.


Question: Why should God demonstrate through the death of Christ, the punishment of sin, if it is not an atonement? He could have punished any other man as a demonstration of punishment instead of the death of Christ who has no sin. (Note: Adam was already punished for sin; and; was it not a demonstration?)


  1. Charles Fenney (1792 – 1875) was a Famous Preacher. Although he believed penal substitution, he defined the atonement by saying that “the atonement of Christ was intended as a satisfaction of public justice”. That is, the atonement is not for sinners, but for society at large.

(He attempts to say that Christ death was caused by the failure of the society, which crucified him. He died not for sinners, but sin of the society that killed Him. Hence he is vague in his view of atonement).

Note: According to Fenney, society failed to recognize Jesus and killed Him. i.e; because of the ignorance of society he was killed.






  1. The Doctrine of Salvation (Sin and Grace)


The doctrine of sin and grace are vitally and inseparably linked. The character of salvation which is in Christ can never be properly comprehended apart from Sin which is in the sons of Adam. The one word that expresses both the nature and end or aim of Christianity is Redemption. The correlate of Redemption is sin. Any alteration in the biblical teaching on the nature and capacity of man, will inevitably bring changes in the content and appeal of gospel preaching.

  1. The Doctrine of Salvation in the Church fathers.

As the Church fathers have evidenced a theological vagueness, a non-speculative spirit in the previous doctrines which we have hitherto studied, it is also true of the doctrines of sin and grace.


  1. In the West.
  2. Clement of Rome, who penned the epistle to the Corinthian’s wrote (Chapter -16) “Ye see, dearly beloved, what is the pattern that hath been given to us; for if the Lord was this lowly of mind, what should we do, who through Him have been brought under the yoke of His grace”.

ii.The Shepherd of Hermas : Hermas is the only father to broach an idea of a sin nature with a rabbinical concept of a wicked imagination or desire. Yet salvation is seen in a moral self-motivated contest. (Mandate 12:6,2) “If ye turn unto the Lord with your life, and serve Him rightly according to whole heart, and work righteousness the remaining days of your life and serve him rightly according to His will, he will give healing to your former sins and ye shalt have power to master the works of the devil”.

  1. In the East.
  2. The Epistle of Barnabas (ca.117-32A), contains the only hint that the fathers connected man’s plight to the narrative of Genesis 3. In chapter 16, it states, “Before we believe on God, the abode of our heart was corrupt and weak, a temple truly built by the hands; for it was full of idolatry and was a house of demons, because we did what so ever was contrary to God, but it shall be built in the name of the Lord…. by receiving a remission of our sins and hoping on the Name we become new, created a fresh from the beginning”.
  3. The Homily of Clement (ca.150 Ad) had some statements relative to sin and salvation. It recognizes that all mankind is sinful and full of lust (13:1). We are full of much folly and wickedness.

Note: The writings of fathers period suggest that the fathers did not understand the nature and extent of sin, although they believed that forgiveness of sin is in Christ. However, their idea of salvation is also not as scripture teaches. Example; some wrote eternal life as reward of moral living.

  1. The Doctrine of Salvation in the Apologists.

The question which the apologists of this period tried to answer is “Is man’s power to good (to be/ do good) diminished by sin, and, if so, to what extent?”

Apologists approach to this question was from the view of dichotomy; most of them are dichotomist, rather than tricotomist.

Context: The Apologist tried to refute the claims of Gnosticism, which viewed matter is evil.  Gnostics asserted that man was created sinful and that he had no freewill. Gnosticism denied ‘man is a responsible agent’; attempted, to say God is the source of evil. Hence Christian apologist had to challenge Gnosticism and to establish that man has free will and freedom.


  1. The Major Apologists in the East.
  2. Justin Martyr (ca 100-165 AD) argued that man has no choice in being born but that we have a choice, ability, to select the good as opposed to the evil.

Note: Birth of any human except Jesus was the result of exercising free will of two human being, namely parents.

All men have been created with the power to reason and reflect. This implies freewill then is the basis of God’s dealing with man (Apology .1:28)


Note:   Foreknowledge is defined as fore sights that is, that God does not so much predetermine man’s actions as foresee how by their own volitions they are going to act and so announces it beforehand. He wrote (Apology .1, 84): “Plato, too, when he stated: To him, who chooses belongs the guilt, but in God there is no guilt, borrowed the thought from the prophet Moses. Indeed, Moses is more ancient than all the Greek authors, and everything the philosophers and poets said in speaking about the immortality of the soul, or retribution after death, or speculation on celestial matters, or other similar doctrines, they took from the prophets as the source of information, and from them they have been able to understand and explain these matters..”

Martyr has little conception of Original sin; and treats the sin of Adam and Eve, yielding to the devil’s devices, as simply a prototype of our sin. (It means, man commits sin due to his environment, but no innate sinfulness or inherited sin nature)



  1. Origen (ca.185 – 253 AD) maintained an eternal concept of the origin of the soul (pre-existence of souls). However, he holds that the human will includes both holy and sinful tendencies; that is, the will is the ultimate efficient cause of action.
  2. The Major Apologists in the West.
  3. Tertullian (ca.155-240/60 AD) is outstanding figure in the west. As to the origin of the soul, he rejected Origen’s pre-existence theory and advocated a traducianism (i,e; sin is transformed from Adam as a unit with the body) Out of this concept of the origin of the soul comes Tertullian’s Maximum. Tradux animae, tradux peccate (the propagation of the soul implies propagation of sin), that is innate sin and the soul’s origin are compliments. Shedd comments (History 2, 44-45) “If there can be a traduction of the soul, there can be a traduction of sin. If a free –agent follows the agent and shares in all its characteristics”.

Hence Tertullian maintains that while Adam received from God true human nature in its integrity, the nature he passed on to his descendants is vitiated by an inclination to sin; an ‘irrational element’ has settled in the soul”.


  1. Irenaeus (ca.140-202 AD) teaches that man was created in the divine image with supernatural endowments and likeness (i.e: reason and free will) to God. The essence of Adam’s sin was disobedience that plunged the entire race to ruin (“through the disobedience of that one man … the many were made sinners and lost life” (Against Heresies 3.18.7). In the fall, the image of God was destroyed, but remnants of the “likeness” (i.e: will) remain.


Irenaeus quoted Paul’s statement “But glory and honour, he says to everyone that doeth good”. God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this epistle and they who work it shall receive glory and honour, become they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who did it not shall receive the just judgment  of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do”. (Against Heresies. 4.37.1).

Irenaeus further stated (Against Heresies sin 4,37,3)”, All such passages demonstrate the independent will of man”.


  1. The doctrine of Salvation in the Theologians.

It is in the period of the theologians that the doctrine of sin and grace are most clearly delineated. Most particularly in the theological conflict between Augustine and Pelagius.

  1. ‘Sin and Grace’ before Augestine and Pelagius
  2. In the East
  3. a) Athanasius (ca.295-373 AD) speaks of a solidarity of relationship between Adam’s first sin and the race.
  4. b) Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 89AD) understands that the entire race participated in Adam’s first sin and fall (Oration 33,9). And, to the fall, he traces a weakness of the will (i.e, ignorance and power). Gregory then stressed sovereignty and free will. (Oration 37:13): “…. Since to will also is from God, he has attributed the whole to God with reason. However much you may run, however much you may wrestle, yet you need one to give the crown. Except the Lord build the house, they labored in vain that built it; Except the Lord keep the city, in vain they watched that keep it…”

Note: Kelley in his ‘writing (Early Christian Doctrine, 351 – 52) mentions that the theologians in the East advocated synergistic view of the will, “Though falling short of Augustinianism, there was here the outline of a real theory of original sin. The fathers might well have filled it in and given it greater sharpness of definition had the subject been directly canvassed in this day. A point on which they were all agreed was that man’s will remain free; we are responsible for our acts”.

  1. In the West

Gnosticism did not pose such a potent threat in the west; hence the church in the west moved to a monergistic concept of soteriology. As a consequence, less emphasis was placed upon the doctrine of human power and move upon that of divine grace.


  1. Ambrose (340 -397 AD) appears much clearer than theologians of the East in the solidarity of the race with Adam. He wrote (on the death of satyrus 2,6),” In Adam I fell, in Adam I was cast out of Paradise, in Adam I died. How should God restore me, unless He find in my Adam, justified in Christ, exactly as the first Adam I was subject to guilt and destined to death?’ And yet he at times speaks advocating a synergism (Exposition on Luke.2.84), “In everything the Lord’s power cooperates with man’s efforts; our free – will gives us either a propensity to virtue or an inclination to sin”. In numerous passages the grace of salvation will only come to those who make the effort to bestir themselves”.

Note: Thus, Ambrose favoured monergism, yet did not reject synergism.

  1. Hilary (d.368) shared the common theological opinions of Adam’s origin and state. but is strongly given to synergistic impulses (i.e.) assisting co-operating grace). He wrote (Psalm 119): “In preserving one righteousness, unless we are guided by God, we shall be inferior through our own nature. Where fore we need to be assisted and directed by his grace in order to attain the righteousness of obedience. The persevering in faith is of God, but the origin and commencement of faith is from ourselves. It is the part of divine mercy to assist the willing, to conform those who are making a beginning, to receive those who are approaching. But the commencement is from ourselves, that God may finish and perfect.”

Note : The western Apologists and theologians, without the negative influence of Gnosticism were much more free to stress Genesis  3 and Romans 5.(i.e, solidarity of Adam and the race) but still did not see the effect of sin on the race as would Augustin and thus stressed assisting or cooperative grace (Synergism). All the early church men before Augustine stressed freedom of man within the confines of the “mere” assisting grace of God.

  1. The clash between Pelagius and Augustine.
  2. Pelagius (ca; 354 – 424).

The little is known of certainty about the early life of Pelagius. His birth details are uncertain however he was of British Origin (Pelagius Brito) as many scholars agree. His character, in contest to Augustin’s, shows no sign of having passed through any serious moral crisis in its developments, rather, he led a silent life in the midst of studies and monastic asceticism. He was a man of intellect, mild disposition, and high moral integrity. He had the build and the strength of a wrestler. He was a monk (not a monastic or hermit) with enormous learning (Antiochene), fluent in both Latin and Greek and linguistically superior to Augustine, his most formidable opponent.

He became a highly regarded spiritual director for both clergy and laity while he lived in Rome (380-409). His followers were few but influential and this rigorous asceticism was a reproach to the spiritual sloth of many of their fellow Catholics. In between 385-398, he travelled in the East, and befriended many Christian leaders there.

He lived in Africa between 409-12, and tried to meet Augustine. Then he went to Palestine (412-418) and befriended John of Jerusalem. In 417, he was condemned by Pope Innocent. Emperor Honorius upheld this condemnation and ordered Pelagius banished from the empire. Hence, he left Palestine. Little is known of Pelagius after 418, except a notice in 424 by Augustine.


  1. Augustin of Hippo (354-430)

Aurelius Augustine was born in Tagaste, North Africa. After a lustful pursuit of peace, he turned to religion (Manicheanism in 373, Neo-Platonism in 382) but found frustration. Due to illness, the rhetoric teacher went to Rome, then to Milan where he met Ambrose. After rejecting the gospel initially and struggling with continued illness, he came to Christ in 387. In 391, he became a priest and in 395, the Bishop of Hippo. He wrote Voluminously, until the Vandals stood at the gates of his city. Most of his writings were after 400AD, thus after the period of his eschatological shift from pre- millennialism to a – millennialism.

During Augustine’s ministry he dealt with three major doctrinal controversies: The Manichaean controversy, the Donatist controversy and the Pelagius Controversy. The Donatist controversy focused on doctrines of ecclesiology but also impacted Augustine’s views on eschatology. This shift in his eschatology in turn impacted his soteriology and must therefore be briefly surveyed to understand the context of his soteriology.


  1. The Manichean Debate: Augustine was born to a pagan Father and Christian mother, Monica. Loosely raised a Christian, he rejected Christianity in adolescence and by 18 he became a devotee of Manichaeism for the next decade.

Manichaeism believed in two equal powers as deism, and flesh is evil. Everything is determined and stars determine human history.

He came out of Manichaeism, and he was enamored with neo Platonism. After his conversion to Christianity, he wrote many tracts against the teachings of Manichaeism, Nevertheless Augustine remained influenced by Mani’s contention that unregenerate humanity lacks freewill to perform any good action, and the proposition that sexuality exercises a downward pull on the soul. (Common to man and the Platonists), was important to Augustine both in his ascetic ideals and in his articulation of the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’.

Later, Augustine changed his view on free will. Augustine criticism of Manichaeism had been typical philosopher’s criticism of determinism generally. It was a matter of common sense that men were responsible for their actions; they could not be held responsible if their wills were not free; therefore, their wills could not be thought of as being determined by some external forces, in this case, by the Manichaean ‘power of Darkness’.

  • The Donatist Controversy: Donatus was leader of this group. It was started in North Africa in 311 opposing to the election of Caecilian (Died 345) as bishop of Carthage. The Donatists held that only those living a blameless belonged to the church. Moreover, Donatists opposed Traditors who to save their life surrendered copies of scripture that they possessed to the Roman authorities during the great persecution of Diocletian who also burned some scriptures too. Caecilian was accused by Donatists as Traitors.

Whereas Donatists died martyrdom for refusing to worship the emperor by burning incense. Donatist claimed superiority and refused to accept sacrament from those traditors. The Donatists held perfect life necessary for salvation; and if one sinned, rebaptism is necessary. They told the traitors should not be ordained to any position of the Church. The Donatists held drunken feast in remembrance of their martyrs. The Donatists were also premillennial, a position also held by Augustine. However, their concept of materialistic millennial complete with revelries and parties led him, out of his neo-platonic asceticism to reject millennialism altogether.

Augustine later adopted allegorical method of Origen to interpret the Book of Revelation.

In Augustine’s soteriology, he had influence of the fatalism of the Manicheans. Augustine had a poor grasp of Greek and translated ‘dikaioo’ as ‘to make righteous’ rather than “to declare righteous”. Thus, for Augustine and his followers in the Roman Catholic Church a person gradually become righteous and could be both righteous and a sinner at the same time. This doctrine was not recovered until the reformation.

Augustine based his soteriology on Mathew 24:13 in the light of mount Olivet discourse of Jesus. He held that the only way to validate one’s election was to persevere until the end of his physical life on earth.

Note: The Donatists emphasized that perfect life is necessary for salvation, whereas Augustine claimed that attaining righteous gradually is a sure sign of salvation.


Note: In his early years Augustine, consistent with his pre millennialism, understood “saved” in Mt 24:13 ‘to be saved from physical destruction’, the context for him was the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. But following his shift to a millennialism, Augustine interpreted “saved” in Mt24:13 to be salvation to eternal life, however his later position does not fit with the context:

  • Pelagion Controversy

Pelagius held that man is ‘anamartetos’, that is to say, without sin (Hamartia is sin; anamartetos is without sin).  That a man is able to be without sin if he wishes; that infants, even if they are unbaptized, have eternal life; that rich man, even if they are baptized, unless they renounce and give up all, have whatever good they may seem to have done, nothing of it reckoned unto them, neither can they possess the kingdom of heaven”.


The synod of Palestine held by John of Jerusalem in 415 commentated and said “Pelagius also held that Adam was made mortal and that he would have died, whether he sinned or did not sin; that Adam’s sin injured himself alone, and not the human race … that new-born infants are in the same condition that Adam was before the transgression … the entire human race does not die on the account  of Adam’; death and transgression”.

The three principle corollaries of Pelagius system are its denial of an Adamic fall, Original sin, and unmerited, unassisted grace. These heretical views were condemned at the third Economical council held in Ecumenical in 431 AD.

  1. Theological Opinions of Pelagius.
  2. Pelagius on Original Sin

There is no original sin, i.e. no sin which passes by generation from the first man to his posterity. Hence man is born in the same state in respect to moral nature, in which Adam was created. (Nfhl;ghL: ve;j Foe;ijAk; ey;y Foe;ij jhd; kz;zpy; gpwf;ifapNy).

Hence bodily death is no punishment of Adam’s imputed sin, but a necessity of                    nature’.

Rom. 5:12 – Pelagius took ‘death’ not with Augustine for bodily death but for spiritual.


  1. Pelagius on Free will,

All man is governed by their own will, and each one is left to his own inclination.

“We are born capable of good and of evil; and as we are created without virtue, so we are without vice”

God has imparted to us the capacity of doing evil, merely that we may perform his will by our own will. They very ability to do evil, is therefore a good.

iii. Pelagius on Grace.

Free will is a gracious gift of God, by which man is in a condition to do good from his own power, without special divine aid. This may be called creating grace’ (Grace in the wider sense-at the time of creation)

-This gracious gift all men possess. But that man may the more easily perform good; He gave him the law, by which knowledge is more easily gained and the reasons why he should do this and not otherwise. Jesus was example; He aids Christians further by supernatural influence. This is illuminating grace.’ and in reference merely to supernatural influence; co-operating grace.

-The supernatural operations of grace, do not relate immediately to the will of man but to his understanding. This becomes enlightened by those operations; and thus, also the will is indirectly inclined to do what the understanding has perceived as good (Note: Buddhist concept of Illumination)

-These gracious operations do not put forth their influence in an irresistible. manner, (this would be determinism); but the man can resist them. There is therefore no irresistible grace.”

  1. Pelagius on Predestination.

Pelagius bases the decree of election and reprobation upon prescience (Fore sight). Those of whom God foresaw that they would keep his commandments, he predestinated to salvation : all other to condemnation.

Schaff’s (Who is Calvinistic) summary is valuable (History. 3,78); “The Pelagian controversy turns upon the mighty antithesis of sin and grace. It embraces the whole cycle of doctrine respecting the ethical and religious relation of man to God and includes, therefore, the doctrine of human freedom, of the primitive states of the fall, of regeneration and conversion of the eternal purpose of redemption and of the nature and operation of the grace of God. It come at last to the question, whether redemption is chiefly a work of God or of man; whether redemption man needs to be born anew, or merely improved.”

D.The Theological opinions of Augustine.

  1. Augustine on Original Sin.

Augustine maintains Adam’s first sin, in whom all men jointly sinned together, sin and the other positive punishment, (guilt), came into the world. By it, human nature has been both physically and morally corrupted. Every man brings into the world with him a nature already so corrupt that it can do nothing but sin. After the fall, Adam was still free, but he lost the gift of grace which enable him not to sin (posse non peccare) and was freedom only to sin (non posse non Peccare; i.e- not able not to sin)

Gonzalez summarizes (History 2.44): “Natural man is free only inasmuch as he is free to sin, thus we always enjoy a free will; but this will is not always good. This does  not mean that freedom has lost its meaning in fallen man, who is only able to choose a particular sinful alternative. On the contrary, natural man has true freedom to choose between several alternatives, although, given his condition as a sinner subject to concupiscence, and as a member of this mass of damnation, all the alternatives  that are really open to him are sin . The option not to sin does not exist. This is what is meant by saying that he has freedom to sin (posse peccare) but does not have freedom not to sin (posse non peccare). This means man is “non posse non Paccare” (i.e. not able not to sin).

ii.Augustine on free will.

Augustine maintains that by virtue of Adam’s initial transgression that freedom to choose the good, not freedom itself, has been lost entirely. In this present state of corruption, man cannot will out of a pure motive (selflessness), hence all his thoughts in God’s sight are evil. God judges’ motive of action, not simply action. No natural man wills the glory of God, hence all he does is sinful in God’s reckoning. At the moment of salvation, God provides grace that restores man’s will to choose the good, that is (primarily)Christ”.

Again (29) Now if faith is simply of free will, and is not given by God, why do we pray for those who will not believe, that they may believe? This, it would be absolutely useless to do, unless we believe, with perfect propriety, that Almighty God is able to turn to belief and wills that an perverse and opposed to faith. Man’s free will is addressed when it is said, “To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts’… for where a good will precedes, there is, of course, no longer a heart of stone”.


Note : Logically, not chronologically, since conversion is instantaneous, regeneration precedes faith (the exercise of the free will). Free will and God’s grace are simultaneously commended (according to Augustine).


Note: The freedom to choose the good out of a proper motive, which was lost in the first Adam, is renewed by means of grace. The believer by grace now has freedom of choice (good-evil). Augustine calls the freedom a gift. “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His own good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). As it is written, “The preparation of the heart is from the Lord.” Also “It is not of him that willeth,  nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth, mercy, ‘ as is it meant the will of man done is not sufficient; if the mercy of God do not with it – then it will follow that the mercy of God alone is not sufficient, of the will of mango not with it and therefore if we may rightly say, ‘It is not of man that willet, but of God that showeth mercy.



  • Augustine on Grace

If, nevertheless, man, in his present state, wills and does good, it is merely the work of grace. It is an inward, secret, and wonderful operation of God upon man. It is a preceding as well as an accompanying work. By preceding grace, man attains faith. by which he comes to an insight of good, and by which power is given him to will the good. He needs co-operating grace for the performance of every individual good act. As man can do nothing without grace, so he can do nothing against it. It is irresistible.

Augustine simply stated that grace is free, unmerited, “Being justified, say the apostle, freely through His blood’, also, “I am confident of this very thing, that he which hath began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’. He operates, therefore, without us, in order that we may will, but when we will, and will that we may act, He co-operates with us. It is said, It is God which worketh  in you, even to will, while of His co-working with us, when we will and act by willing, the apostle says, ‘We know that in all things there is co-working for good to them that love God.’

This grace to Augustione is irresistible. God, through His grace, boosts the will, strengthens, and stimulates it, so that the will itself, without any coercion, will desire the good. Man does not save himself, nor is he saved against his will. Augustine said (On Nature and free will;10); Neither the grace of God alone, nor he alone, but the grace of God with him.”


iv.Augestine on Predestination

From eternity, God made a free and unconditional decree to save a few from the mass that was corrupted and subjected to damnation. To those whom he predestined to this salvation, he gives the requisite means for the purpose. But on the rest, who do not belong to this small number of the elect,-the merited, ruin falls.

Augustine wrote (Predestination of the saints, 19) “… Between grace and predestiration there is only this difference, that predestination is the preparation for grace, while grace is the donation itself.”

Note: God’s grace in its fullness is manifested on the cross when Christ died; so no more special grace is needed for the so-called elect, predestined for salvation. God’s grace is available to all (for those who are saved or those who reject) equally on the cross which itself is sufficient for those who believe.

v.Summary of Augustin’s Theology.

Despite Augustine’s valied attempt to teach the depravity of man and the imputation of Adam’s Original sin and guilt to all mankind, he has an equally heretical soteriology as Pelagius.

  • He believed in the inspiration and canonicity of Apocrypha, and the inspiration of the Septuagint. (He had no knowledge of Hebrew and little knowledge of Greek)
  • He interpreted the scripture allegorically
  • Although he was pre millennial, later became ammillennial and rejected literal one thousand rule of Christ on earth.
  • He believed the devil is currently bound.
  • He equated the church with the kingdom
  • He believed a person could be regenerated but not elect.
  • He believed that a person was regenerated through water baptism.
  • He believed that salvation was kept through Perseverance. He wrote in “On Rebuke and Grace” “But they who fall and perish have never been in the umber of the predestined” (36)
  • He believed in limbo for those who died in infancy and finalized the form of purgatory.

Schaff compares Pelagius and Augustine as following : The soul of the Pelagian system is human freedom; the soul of the Augustinian is divine grace – To Pelagius, Christ is merely a teacher and example; To Augustine Jesus is the Priest and king – Pelagus admire the strength and strong of man; Augustine adores the glory and omnipotence  of God (in salvation) – Pelagius flatters natural pride; Augustine promotes a gospel for penitent publicans and sinners.


  1. The Doctrine of Salvation during Medieval Period.

Augustine argued that God through the preaching of Christ’s cross must move upon man to cause him to be willing to choose the saviour, while Pelagius felt Christ’s death was gracious but not necessary. Hence the third Ecumenical council in 431 condemned Pelagius. However, the issues of the nature of sin and grace continued to be debated in the Church further.

  1. The Doctrine of salvation and the Synod of

While Pelagius views were condemned (431, Ephesus), the council also rejected Augustinian view of predestination; hence the controversy continued from 427 to 529AD.

  1. The opinions of John Cassian. He was born and educated in the East, and moved to the west probably in 405, when he went to meet John Chrysostom, his friend and patron. After sometimes being in Egypt, He established two monasteries. Cassian was responsible for the spread of monastic life in the west.

He, through his work ‘Spiritual Discourses’ sought to mediate the extremes of Augustines soteriolgy, particularly the concepts of predestination, grace and free will. Cassian rejected the Pelagian view of complete moral ability of man, as well as Augustine’s complete moral inability of man.

  • Adam’s fall entailed death and corruption of nature upon his posterity (original sin)
  • Original sin does not eliminate the free will, but weakens it, nor does it involve complete impotence, but only moral infirmity.
  • The Natural man is accordingly neither morally dead (Augestine) or morally healthy (Pelagius)) but morally sick and weakened (with infirmity)
  • Man needs, therefore, divine grace as the co-operative agency of the human will in conversion. Accordingly, the main share in our salvation is to be ascribed not to the merit of our own works, but to heavenly grace.
  • Sometimes it is the divine agency as in the cases of Paul and Mathew, sometimes it is the human agency (Zacchaeus), which begins the work of regeneration.
  • There is no unconditional election to eternal salvation. Predestination is based on foreknowledge. Those who perish, perish against God’s will (but Permissive will plays its role), for He willeth all men to be saved.

ii.Faustus of Rhegium wrote “On the Grace of God and free will “against Augustine view.  He argued that the first step of faith (initium fidei) depend on human freedom. This freedom gives man the natural capacity to turn toward God and to seek him until he responds. “To God, the liberality of his reward; and to man, the devotion of his search.” Those who claim that human free will is able only to sin and can do no good, are mistaken.

Note: Unsaved man in his free will and freedom is capable of doing some good humanly, in order to please himself, or to please others but certainly not God.


  1. The Mediating Position of the synod of Orange (529)

      There was some opposition to the views of Cassian, who rejected Augustine’s view of man’s complete moral inability and predestination. Discussions went on in 475AD, synod; between the supporters of Cassian and Augustine’s view.

  • Synod of Orange (529)

The synod in Arles (475) rejected Augustine’s views (extreme ones), and Faustus’ views gained support in Gaul, but the bishops in Rome rejected semi-pelagianism but favored Augestinian, although rejected Auguestinian predestination. Hence the Synod of Orange (529) was crucial.

The council of Orange made up of several bishops and some lay notables. Felix IV of Rome sent a statement against Cassians. The council added few more statements to that of Felix; And the canons that of this synod as following (Example) “Cannon 3. Whoever says that the grace of God can be bestowed in reply to human petition, but not that the grace brings it about so that is asked for by us, contradicts Isaiah, the prophet and the Apostle (Is 65:1; Rom 10:20).

“Canon.7. Whoever asserts that by the force of nature we can rightly think or choose anything good, which pertains to eternal life or be saved. that is assent to the evangelical preaching, without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all grace to assent to and believe the truth, is deceived by an heretical spirit, not understanding the voice to the Lord (John 15:5) and of the Apotle (2 Cor 3;5)

Schaff’s quotations on the canons of this synod is quite helpful (History 5.258-60) “The canons are strongly anti-semi-pelagian – 3: The grace of God is not granted in response to prayer, but itself causes the prayer to be offered for it. 4 That we may be cleansed from sin, God does not wait upon, but prepares our will 5: The beginning of faith is not due to us, (but) to the grace of God – that state of believing by which we believe in Him who justifies the impious, and attain the regeneration of holy baptism, is brought about through the gift to grace, i.e , the inspiration of the Holy Spirit correcting our will from unbelief to faith, and it is not ours naturally- 6:It is the work of grace that we believe, will, desire, attempt, knock, etc; and not vice versa-7:- We cannot without grace think or choose, by our natural powers, anything good that pertains to Salvation. -8: – It is untrue that some attain baptismal faith by mercy other by free will’ -9: As often as we do good, God works in and with us, that we may work -10: – Even the regenerate and holy always need the divine aid”.


Note: In the synod of Orange, the necessity of divine grace was affirmed, but not grace as irresistible. Baptism is the Vehicle of grace. Election to grace is recognized but unconditional election is not mentioned and predestination is expressly anathematized. Orange is not Augustian, Pelagian or Cassian. Orange advocated co-operative salvation from an Augustinan perspective (i.e, God initiate through grace, man co-operates through –faith).

Gonzalez stated (History 2,61) “It would be incorrect to say that the synod of Orange was a victory for semi-plagianism. On the contrary, the synod clearly rejected such typical semi- Pelagius doctrines as that of the human ‘Initium Fidei’. It is true, however, that the synod was not truly Augustinian in its doctrine.”


  1. Augustine – Salvation is totally, causatively of God.
  2. Orange – Salvation originates in God, proceeds God and man
  3. Semi-Pelagianism-salvation originates in man, proceeds by man and God (Cassian)
  4. Pelagianism – salvation is totally, causatively of man.
  5. The Doctrine of Salvation in the Pre-scholastic Era

The more devout and evangelical minds in the 5th and 6th centuries propagated the teachings of Augustine respecting corruption of human nature and the regenerating work of Holy Spirit. However, they were less distinct and bold in their statements regarding predestination which they could not give sufficient explanation. Hence the Medieval Age progressively evidenced a shift from Augustinian to a semi-Pelagianism.

I.Gregory, the Great (540-640), bishop of Rome shows the influence of weakened Augustinianism. He rejected predestination and irresistible grace. He developed the doctrine of penance and progressive satisfaction of sin. He is a mile- stone in the development of Romish theology, which is semi- Pelagianism.


ii.Gottschalk (804-869), a monk of Orbais, tried to revive Augustinianism with in Church. He started his argument from the immutability of God. So, he stated that God with his immutability predestined eternal life to the elect and predestined everlasting punishment to the reprobate. Hence God did not predestinate to sin, but only predestined the punishment for sin.

However, he was condemned, by Hinkmar, Archbishop of Rhiems, and he was publicly whipped, and forced into a secluded monastery and lost his sanity and died.

  1. The Doctrine of Salvation in the scholastic Era
  • Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) was an Augustinian and but seems to clarify the doctrine of sin and grace.
  • Doctrine of sin: Anselm defines sin in two ways: First, it is the non-payment of the debt of obedience to God and second, a dishonoring of God.

According to Anselm, Original sin is innate. He wrote (The Virgin Conception, 27) “I think that this is equal in all infants generated in the natural way, and that all who die in that sin alone are equally condemned”.

  • Doctrine of Free will: – Anselm defines that natural man has freedom in direct opposition of God. Man has freedom, but not to choose the good.
  • Doctrine of Grace: – Anselm holds that the fall has corrupted human nature. So that the natural man, unaided by grace ad revelation, cannot understand the requirements of justice or righteousness.

Hopkins wrote on Anselm (A companion, 158): “Baptized infants, who have not yet reached the state of rational choice, are saved by grace alone “… for the acceptance is identical with an act of faith, and this act of faith is itself encompassed by grace. thus, Anselm can speak of faith as coming through grace; and like Augustine, he can silently leave it a mystery why this grace, which co-operates with the act of faith by being it necessary precondition, should be given to some men and not to others.”


Note: Infants, not yet reached the state of rational choice, are saved whether baptized or not because Christ’s death is sufficient for all and available to all who do not willfully reject His grace that is manifest on the cross.


(ii).       Thomas Aquinas (1224/25-74) designated as “the Doctor” of the Roman Church, is semi-Augustinion. For example, he stated that God alone is the cause of grace.”  On the linkage of grace to the will, Aquinas says that the will of man is not coerced, but made willing (Summa Theologia.Q-113-3); “…According to Roman 4:5, Now God moves every thing in its own manner, just as we see that in natural things, what is heavy and what is light are moved differently, on account of their diverse natures. Hence, he moves man to justice according to the condition of his human nature. But it is man’s proper nature to have free – will. Hence in him who has the use of reason,  God’s motion to justice does not take place without a movement of the free-will; but He so infuses the gifts of justifying grace that at the same time He moves the free-will to accept the gift of grace, in such as are capable of being moved thus.”


Aquinas sees man as an absolute debtor to God and cannot merit converting grace.

Having said all this, Aquinas seeks God’s grace through sacramental forms “… Thenfore before Christ’s coming, there was need for some visible signs whereby man might testify of his faith in the future coming of a saviour. And then signs are called sacraments. It is therefore clear that some sacraments were necessary before Christ’s coming… And it is thus that the sacraments of the New Law cause grace. For they are instituted by God to be employed for the purpose of conferring grace.”


Note: Rome and Reformed churches agree in definition on a majority of theological terms, but are miles apart on the method of reception of God’s gracious benefits. (work or a gift; assisting, co-operating grace or grace alone)


6.The Doctrine of salvation in the Reformation Church

Many of the Reformers more or less fall in the line of Augutinianism.

  1. The Doctrine of salvation in Martin Luther

Luther had the idea that man, in soteriological sense, has no free will, but is in bondage to sin; Adam’s fall plunged men into guilt that made him liable to punishment. Luther’s conception of original sin is delineated in the great Luthen creeds such as ‘The Augsburg confession, (Article II) “… original fault, is truly sin, condemning and bringing eternal death now also upon all that are not born again by baptism and the Holy Spirit”.


  1. Regeneration: According to Luther, the loss of power in natural man is one of the inevitable effects of sin. so that sin might be defined to be an inability to holiness. (nfl;l kuk; nfl;l fdpia nfhLf;Fk;).

Hence the regeneration is the work of God. The formula of Concord (Article II) says “We believe, teach and confess, moreover, that the yet unregenerate, will of man is not only averse from God, but has become even hostile to God … Therefore, we believe that by how much it is impossible that the dead body should vivify itself and restore corporal life to itself, even so impossible is it that man, who by reason of sin if spiritually dead, should have any faculty of recalling himself to spiritual life; as it is written (Eph 2:5): Even when we were dead in sins; he hath quickend us together with Christ.”(2 Cor 3:5).

  1. Justification: – Martin Luther initiated the reformation with his challenge to the sale of indulgences, initially he did not understand forensic justification, so he continued the Augustinian view, that a person was “made righteous” over a peried (gradually) of time, a lifelong process.

About ten years after the Reformation began, Philip Melancthon, a systematizer of Lutheran theology, convinced Luther that a person could be justified in an instant and still remain a sinner. (simil iustus et peccator). This meant that a person remained a sinner, though his legal standing before God was righteous.

Then Luther eventually understand forensic justification, he still maintained a Augustinian view of sin and grace and the bondage of will so that he held to an Augustinion view of perseverance based on a flowed interpretation of Matt 24:13


  1. The Doctrines of Salvation in John Calvin.
  2. Calvin and the Bondage of the will:

As Luther, Calvin conceived the will of natural man to be enslaved and totally alienated from the thought of justice. Calvin stated (Institute 2.2.26), “We must now examine the will , on which the question of freedom principally turns, the power of choice belonging to it rather than the intellect” since, then, the natural desire of happiness in man no more proves the freedom  of the will than the tendency in metals and stones to attain the perfection of their nature…”


  1. Calvin and Regeneration: Calvin’s doctrine of regeneration is simply that it is the ‘sole’ work of God upon the basis of ‘mere grace’. According to Calvin, the will is not restored; it is totally reconstituted, Salvation is a work of God, not man.

He wrote (Institutes 2,3,7-8),” It is certainly easy to prove that the commencement of good is only with God; and that none but the elect has a will inclined to good. But the cause of election must be sought out of man and hence it follows that a right will is derived not from man himself, but from the same good pleasure by which we were chosen before the creation of the world.”

  • Calvin and Justification: Calvin first published his “Institutes of the Christian Religion” in 1536 with only six chapters. He held to a forensic view of justification by faith alone based on Rom 4. Once justified, no sin or series of sin could jeopardize this legal status. He understood He did not appear to have an Augustinian view of perseverance of saints. (Augustine-gradually justified)

Initially, Calvin understood a clean break between justification and progressive sanctification. Justification was instantaneous; sanctification is progressive.

Pressure from Roman Catholic reaction as articulated at the council of Trent in charging the Reformers with promoting licentiousness led calvin to re-examine his views. By 1559, in his 80 Chapter ‘Institute’ he stated, “You cannot possess Christ,   without being made partaker in His sanctification …. in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification just as much included as righteousness”. Once Again, due to influence of Augustine, justification was joined to progressive sanctification and perseverance was the guarantee of Salvation.

Calvin’s doctrine of sin and salvation is summarized by the acronym TULIP. (T – stands for Total Depravity; U – for unconditional Election /Unmerited grace; L – for Limited Atonement; I – for Irresistible grace and P –  stands for Perseverance of the saints).


7.The Doctrine of Salvation in the Post-Reformation Era.

  1. The Doctrine of Salvation in Arminianism. The Arminians were a protestant party in Holland that receded from the dogmatic monergistic position of Luther and Calvin to a                             synergistic conception of sin and grace in relation to Salvation.
  2. a) Arminianism and Original sin: – The Arminian party accepts the doctrine of the Adamic unity and states it in substantially the same phraseology with the Reformers but explain it                     quite differently.

They say “… all their posterity, who, at the time when this (first) sin was committed, were in their (First Parents) loins, and who have since descended from them by the natural mode of propagation according to the primitive benediction. For in Adam ‘all have sinned’ (Romm 5:12) wherefore, whatever punishment was brought down upon our first parents, has likewise pervaded and yet pursues all their posterity so that all men ‘are by nature the children of wrath (Eph 2:3) obnoxious to condemnation and to temporal as well as eternal death; they are also devoid of that original righteousness and holiness (that Adam had before sin) (Rom 5:12.19) with these evils, they would remain oppressed forever, unless they were liberated by Christ Jesus, to whom be glory forever (works 1.7.486).

The Article three of the Five Remonstrants of 1610 is instructive, “That man has not saving grace of himself, not of the energy of his free will, in as much as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself either think, will nor do anything that is truly good, (Such as having faith eminently is ); but that is need full that he be born again of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

Note: (Editor) Jesus death is the only absolute centre of irresistible grace.


b.Arminianism and Regeneration: Arminian theologians accept as Luther and Calvin the impotency of the will, but explain it so as to conflict with the reformers. Regeneratian is viewed within a co-operative matrix of gracious influence and human response (i.e., grace causes man to move his will, not grace that overcome a hostile will – synergism not monergism). Arminius stated (works I.11,526): VII. In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and (attenuatum) weakened; but it is also (captivatum) imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless, unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said; ‘without me ye can do nothing’.

Again (works 1.3.251) “This is my opinion concerning the freewill of man: In his primitive condition as he came out of the hands of his creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge, holiness and power, as enabled him to understand, esteem, consider, will and to perform the TRUE GOOD, according to the commandment delivered to him. Yet none of these acts could he do, except through the assistance of Divine grace. But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated and renewed in his intellect, affections, or will , and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will and perform whatever is truly good. When he is made a partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider that, since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking, willing and doing.”

The Remonstrant’s (Article IV) reads: “That this grace of God is the beginning, Continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following, and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, not withstand any temptations to evil’s; so that, all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But as respects the mode of the operation of this grace it is not irresistible, in as much as it is written concerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Act 7, and elsewhere in many places.”

Note (Editor): They (Israel) resisted what (what did they resist)

  1. Did they resist the fullness of grace that was manifested on the cross of Christ and the power that was manifested at resurrection of Christ? No. It “could not be resisted. (Resurrection could not be resisted or stopped by Israel or Romans)
  2. Then, what did they resist?

They resisted the regenerating grace that was made available through the gospel (available to nation Israel and individual person).


A brief summary of Arminian view in the arena of the doctrines of salvation is given by shedd (History 2. 194-96) “…5. The will of man, though not competent to perfectly obey the law of God, without the assisting influence of the Holy Spirit, is competent to cooperate with that assistance.


6.The influences of Holy Spirit is granted upon condition that the human will concurs and co-works. The success of divine influence depends, upon the use which man makes of his own will; consequently, election is conditional upon a foresight that a particular man will co-operate with the Holy Spirit;


Note (Editor): According balanced Scriptural teaching, it is that “the success of the divine plan (not divine influence of salvation) for man (Individual) depends upon the use which man makes of his own will.


  1. The Doctrines of Salvation in Wesleyanism.

Although John Wesley has been considered an Arminian, it must be known that his theological construction differs from the Dutch Arminians; It is samewhat unique. Theologically it fits between the Datch Arminians and English Calvinists.


  1. a. Wesly and Original Sin: – Wesley held to the unity of the race and the imputation of Guilt (death) in Adam’s first sin. He is explicit and Calvinist. He wrote (sermons 1.11.534); “Original sin is conceived as inbred sin, as inate corruption of heart and inner most nature, as an evil root in man from which all other sin springs forth, both inward and outward sins.
  2. Wesley and Free will : At this point, Wesley follows the Arminian tradition. He wrote (Sermons,7.228-29): “I am conscious to myself of one more property, commonly called liberty. This is very frequently confounded with the will; but is of a very different nature. Neither is it a property of the will, but a distinct property of the soul capable of being exerted with regard to all the faculties of the soul, as well as all the motions of the body. It is a power of self, determination; which, although it does not extend to all our thoughts and inaginations, yet extends to our words and actions in general, and not with many exceptions. I am full as certain of this, that I am free, with respect to these, to speak or not to speak, to act or not to act to do this or the contrary, as I am of my own existence. I have not only what is termed, a liberty of contradiction.:- a power to do or not to do; but what is termed ,a liberty of cont rarity. – a power to act one way, or the contrary. To deny this would be to deny the constant experience of all human kind.”
  3. Wesley and Salvation: The two previous point are obviously contradictory. (inabilily and freedom with in soteriological contexpt) but, how did Wesley correlate them? Wesley does this in a novel fashion; he postulates two works of grace to save; one to restore ability, the other to save (first is totally of God, the second a mutual co-operation). He wrote (Sermons 85.509), Salvation begins with what is usually termed (and very properly) preparing grace; including the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will and the first sight transient conviction of having sinned against Him; All these imply some tendency toward life; Some degree of salvation the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling hear, quite insensible of God and the things of God. Salvation is carried on by convincing grace, usually in scripture termed repentance, which brings a larger measure of self-knowledge and a farther deliverance from the heart of stone.”

The sequence is simply this: “(1) preparing grace (elimination of deadness), (2) repentance (sign of human acceptance of Christ’s provision – resistible) and (3) saving grace (Repentance as an act precedes regeneration Chronologically.)

He Wrote (Sermons 2.451-52);..God does undoubtedly command us both to repent and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance; which if we willingly neglect,   We cannot reasonably expect to be justified at all: therefore both repentance,and fruits meets for repentance, are in some sense necessary to justification. But they are not necessary in the same sense with faith, nor in the same degree. Not in the same degree for those fruits are only necessary conditionally; if there be time and opportunity for them. Otherwise a man may be justified without them…but he cannot be justified without faith; this or ever somany of the fruits meet for repentance, yet all this does not at all avail; he is not justified till he believes. But the moment he believes, with or without those fruits, yea, with more or less repentance and its fruits are only remotely necessary; necessary in order to faith; Whereas faith is immediately and directly necessary to justification. It remains, that faith is the only condition which is immediately and proximately necessary to justification.”

Note: Luther and Calvin stressed monergism, absolute inability and free grace. But due to the influence of rational and logic approach, the Arminians and Wesleyans followed mild synergism (native ability and assisting grace)


Note: Irresistible grace (Death of Christ on Cross and subsequent resurrection) removed guilt the of original sin; preparing grace prepared the heart by convicting the sins and while saving grace, if not resisted to the conviction of sin during regeneration process by faith – (although instant) results in salvation of individual.

Editor: Preparing grace was demonstrated on the Cross, hence preparing grace is not necessarily directed individually.


  1. The Doctrines of Salvation in the Modern Church.

            As   discussed earlier, modern Church age focuses on the last two centuries (19th &20). In these centuries, the doctrines were influenced by humanism and so called enlightenment movement as the result of its bare rationalistic hermeneutics of German as well as English Theologians.

A.Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

He viewed sin, as a lack of God’s consciousness. He defined conversion as the “change of heart” in which “existence in the common life of sin ceases and existence in fellowship with Christ begins”. Moreover, he stated that human will co-operated with the influence of God’s word. He wrote (Christian faith .2.493-94) “… For the word through which the influence of Christ is mediated, can mediate only by making an impression on men, and for this the activity of his sense-faculties as well as of the inner functions of his consciousness is required. In so for as the activity of all these functions depends on the free will of man….”


Schleiermacher and Justification: He understands that conversion and justification are simultaneous. Justification is conceived to have two elements (i.e; forgiveness and adoption). He is remarkably Reformed in his explanation of justification as “Purely declarative act” through faith (i.e holds believingly on Christ) “This Faith which “needs no supplement”. “alone” is of God. He stated “(Christian faith 2.504-505) “… that Faith is the causa instrumentalis” of justification.”



He is also a famous German theologian of modern era.

  1. Barth and concept of Sin.

He firmly holds to the historicity of our first parents and their fall as described in Genesis3. The essence of Adam’s sin is viewed as pride. He wrote (Dogmatics 4.1.451) “To use the words of the serpent in Genesis 3, When our eyes are opened to the possibility of our own exaltation in judgment, we become truly blind to what is right and wrong.”

He holds that the error of the Enlightenment (Human is perfect –  kdpjk; Nfhl;ghL: ve;j Foe;ijAk; ey;y Foe;ijjhd; kz;zpy; gpwf;ifapy;)  is the failure to difine sin biblically. He wrote (Dogmatics 4.1.500), “…. And yet it is supposed to be my determination for evil, the corrupt disposition and inclination of my heart, the radical and total ‘Curvitas’ and ‘iniquitas’ of my life, and I myself am supposed to be an evil tree merely because I am the heir of Adam.. “(nfl;l kuk; nfl;l fdpia nfhLf;Fk;).


  1. Karl Barth and concept of Justification:

To understand, Barth’s concept of soteriology, the place to initiate the discussion is with Lapsarianism (Latin Lapso means fall). Barth, unlike many in the Reformed and Lutheren Churches (Infralapsarians) was a supralapsarian in which the eternal decision of grace precedes the fall. Barth maintains that creation is the presupposition of reconciliation and redemption, he contends that in another sense reconciliation is prior to creation in that it has already happened in the pre –existence of Jesus Christ. The Eternal Son of God in his determination to unite himself with humanity even before the creation and incarnation, already assured our reconciliation and redemption (cf. 2 Tim 1:9; Rev.13:8 KJV). The creation signifies the beginning of the revelation of the eternal decision (Eternal Decree) of reconciliation and redemption which is universal and all-inclusive in its scope. This eternal decision is given historical confirmation and concreteness in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ. In the cross of Christ, we see the divine verdict of election and salvation, which is pronounced on all, though not all have been awakened to its far-reaching cosmic significance.

Barth conceives, of justification as pardon that is not theoretical but both actual and complete.He wrote (Dogmatics  4.1.596-97) , “… The act of divine forgiveness is that God sees and knows this stain (Stains of sin) infinitely better than the man himself, and abhors it infinitely more than he does even in his deepest penitence –Yet He does not take it into consideration, He overlooks it, He covers it, He passes it by, He puts  it behind Him. He does not charge it to man, He does not ‘impute’ it (2Cor 5:19). He does not sustain the accusation to which man has exposed himself, He does not press the debt with which he has burdened himself, He does not allow to take place the destruction to which he has inevitably fallen victim. That God forgives means that He pardons.”


Note : “ Barths view of Faith has been soundly debated. According to him, faith is awareness that you are chosen.

Bloesch summarizes on Barth (Jesus is Victor, 38-39): “Barth’s understanding of the ordo salutis (order of salvation) also reflects an objectivistic stance. In traditional Protestant orthodoxy, the ordo salutis connotes sharply distinguishable steps in the salvific process: a demarcation is often made between justification, calling, regeneration, conversion, sanctification, etc. Bath sees the ordo salutis as different moments of the one redemptive occurrence of the humiliation and incarnation of Jesus Christ, an occurrence that has its foundation in eternity and its realization in time. Election, conversion, reconciliation and redemption are all aspects of the eternal decision of Jesus Christ to identify and unite himself with fallen humanity. Justification and sanctification are not two separate divine actions but facets of the event of reconciliation, though he does not identify them. Faith is simply the subjective response to the one event of salvation, which encompasses election, reconciliation, calling, conversion etc.

“…… Barth does have an order of Salvation after a fashion in that he sees the eternal decision of Jesus Christ unfolded in creation and reconciliation and culminating in an eschatological redemption. His stress is on the simultaneity of the one act of salvation, but he nevertheless seems to affirms a temporal sequence in his distinction between creation, reconciliation, and the eschatological fulfillment.

  1. The American theologians (in 19th to 20th century).

The American theologians of these centuries had the influence of humanism, as their counter parts in German. However, they recognized the effects of sin, particularly original sin, either directly or indirectly.

Jonathan Edward, the Younger wrote (works 2.270), “That Adam’s sin should be ours, and that we on account of it should be judged and condemned as sinners….”

However, due to the influence of humanism, and the change in the traditional understanding of sin brought severe reaction in the churches of Europe as well as America. This eventually resulted in the fall of morality in the western hemisphere, gradual down fall of European nationalism and gradually caused invasion of terrorism from other-non-Christian religious followers. Now Europe is trying to do away with invasion of terrorisam. But it may be possible only when they acknowledge their sin and turn to the Saviour Jesus Christ.


  • The Doctrine of the Church.

The doctrine of Church is vital in studying theology as the Church is an institution of God, given to this world followed his resurrection and ascension.

  1. The Nature of the Church in the Apostolic Fathers.

The fathers have frequent references, to the Church both visible and universal. Clement of Rome (Letter to the Corinthians -29) speaks to the church at Corinth as an “elect Portion”. Ignatius implies the ‘head –body’ analogy when he wrote (Letter to the Ephesians, 17), “For this cause the Lord received ointment on His head, that he might breathe incorruption upon the Church. He further adds that the Catholic Church is found where ever Christ is present. (Letter to the Smyrneans,8), “Where so ever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church.

The Epistle of Barnabas (5) calls the Church ‘the New people”

Hermas (Similitude 9.17) speaks of the church as drawing its members from the whole world, gathered into one body.


  1. The Nature of the Church in the Apologists.

A). Justin Martyr (ca 100-165) speaks of the Church as “Where those that are called brethren are collected.” He further views the believers as under the new Covenant’ the old having been abolished (Dialogue to Trypho, 11)

B). Aristides (ca.AD.125) speaks of the Church much like Barnabas as “a third race” or “a new race”. He explains that there are, besides pagans and Jews, a third category of people, Christians (Apology .2)


C). Irenaeus (AD 140-202) regards the Church as the ‘New Israel’ (Against Heresies 32:2, 5, 34,1) “…. As John the Baptist said; For God is able from the stones to raise up Children to Abraham… Saying (Apostle Paul to Galatians) , the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Now he does not say, and of seeds, as if (He spoke) of many’ but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ”.


According to Ireneaus, the church is endowed with mysterious powers which it exercises, without charge and bestows grace which cannot be counted. And It is the unique sphere of the Spirit, who has been indeed trusted to it, so that we can only attain communion with Christ there.


Note: The Church is viewed as the sole depository of truth, because it has a monopoly on the apostolic writings, the apostolic oral tradition, and the apostolic faith, this in contrast to the variegated teachings of the Gnostics.

  1. The Alexandrins
  2. Clement (AD 150-211/16) understands the church to be primarily a gathering of saints for instruction and the hearing of the scriptures. He wrote (Stromata 4.9), “The earthly Church is the image of the heavenly as we pray also, that the will of God may be done upon the earth as in heaven, and further says of the visible Church , “I call a Church not a place, but the collection, congregation, of the elect , “This he derives from the idea of ‘Ekklesia’.

iii.  Origen (185 -254 AD)  defines the Church as the universal, saying (Against Celsus  6.48). “We say that the holy scriptures declare the body of Christ, animated by the Son of God, to be the whole Church of God, and the members of this body – considered as a whole – to consist of those who are believers…”


  2. The Rise of Monarchial Government –Preserver of Truth

The first century church followed the practice of the Apostles and appointed the elders (bishops/ pastors). They practiced the plurality, leadership in the church. For Example, Clement of Rome writes (Letter to the Corinthians 42,44): “The Apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. Christ, therefore, was from God, and the apostles from Christ. Both these appointments, then, came about in an orderly way, by the will God. Having, therefore, received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus, preaching through countries and cities, they appointed their first fruits, having proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterward believe….”

The writer of the Didache explicitly Commands (15): “Appoint (i.e, lay hands on), therefore, for yourselves bishops and deacons, worthy of the Lord, men meek, not lovers of money, truthful and approved; for they also render you the service of prophets and teacher …”

However, much has been made of the shift in the second century from plurality leadership in the church to singularity, to an early Episcopal form of government of church. Particularly in Ignatius of Asia Minor, perhaps where John’ Revelation 2-3 was prominent, a shift from plurality to singularity is stated with the implication that “the church” is intrinsically related to the bishop. He is not only the first to employ the term “Catholic”, but also the first to speak of this singularity. He writes (Letter to the Smyrneans, 8) “(But), shun divisions, as the beginning of evils. Do ye all follow your bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; and to the deacons pay respect, as to God’s commandment, … There is the universal church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast; but whatever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God; that everything which ye do may be sure and valid.” He also wrote (To The Trallians,2); “… It is therefore necessary, even as your wont is, that ye should do nothing without the bishop, but be ye obedient also to the presbytery …… And those likewise who are deacons of the mysteries of Jesus Christ must please all men in all ways. For they are not deacons of meats and drinks but servants of the Church of God. It is right therefore that they should beware of blame as of fire”.

It must be realized that a monarchial bishop was not recognized in Rome until after 140 AD.

The early Churches were apostolic, whether the bishops were succession or not (succession means, whether appointed earlier by apostles and followed that tradition). Gonzalez has a statement (Historyl.1.151), concerning the nature of Apostolic succession and apostolic Church “… some bishops had that succession and other did not have it: but all their churches were apostolic because their faith agreed with the faith of the apostles as it had been preserved in churches whose bishops were in their succession     (i.e. appointed by apostles).


  1. The Importance of Cyprian of Carthage (AD 205-258)

Although Irenaeus and Tertullian opposed the heretics by emphasizing the importance of the church and apostolic succession, neither of them took time to develop a doctrine of the church. Cyprian, the disciples of Irenaeus, is the first to do this and casts a sacerdotal shadow over it.


  • Cyprian and Unity: Cyprian sees the unity of the church in the episcopate. The bishops are the successors of the apostles, and their authority, which derived from that succession, is the same that Christ granted to the apostles. Every bishop represents the totality of the episcopates. He wrote that each bishop is autonomous. (unity of the church., 5)

He held that no bishop has the right to dictate to other bishops; he postulates a federation of bishops that seek advice of one another, a parity of authority. But He does give priority to Rome because of the primacy of Peter. On the other hand, Cyprian refused to grant the bishop of Rome any jurisdiction what so ever in the internal affairs of his diocese as seen as his response to Bishop Stephen (Epistle 70:3)

“… For neither did Peter, whom first the Lord Chose, …when Paul disputed with him afterwards about circumcision, claiming anything to himself insolently, nor arrogantly assume anything, so as to say that he held the primary, and that he ought rather to be obeyed by novices and those lately come! Nor did he despise Paul because he had previously been a persecutor of the church, but admitted the counsel of truth (2 Pet 3:15) , and easily yielded to the lawful reason which Paul asserted, furnishing thus an illustration to us both of concord and of patience, that we should not obstinately love our own opinions.”

  • Cyprian and Salvation: – Cyprian is adamant that salvation is only in the Church, not in sacraments, but in truth. He wrote (unity of the Church, 6) : “The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous: she is in-corrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom … If anyone could escape who was outside of the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside the Church…”

How can this church outside of which there is no Salvation be defined and recognized? According to Cyprian, the church is recognized by its truth and unity. Although he affirms that truth is one of the Characteristics, his opposition to schismatic led him to emphasize unity. He sees no truth without unity. (i.e, unity have referred to the unity of Church)


  1. The Sacraments of the Church.

The Church’s sacraments are those external rites, more precisely signs, which the Ancient church believed, conveyed an unseen sanctifying grace.

  1. The sacrament of Baptism.

From the beginning, baptism was universally accepted as the rite of admission to the church; similarly, “It was always held to convey (to demonstrate / declare) the remission of sins”.

Justin Matyr wrote (Apology, 61); For in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water….”.

  1. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

The early church held to an ambivalence concerning the table for they saw it both in terms of a spiritual reality and a thanks giving. Of importance is that it focused on a past event, not an ongoing reality. The Didache states (9-10); “… But let no one eat or drink of this Eucharist thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs”.


Ignatius says even more graphically (Letter to the Ephesians, 20), “Breaking one bread which is the medicine of immortality and antidote that we should not die but live forever in Jesus Christ.”

The early church held to the ambivalent position of a Eucharist that at once was real, yet symbolic, memorial, yet spiritual.

During this period, the church was viewed as the body of Christ. The sacraments were viewed as grace conveyed; Baptism the grace of regeneration and the Eucharist as a memorial grace of sanctification.


  1. The Doctrine of Church in the Ancient Medieval Church

This part of our lesson focus on the development of ecclesiology from the era of Cyprian through Gregory I and the beginning of the Medieval era.

  1. The Ecclesiology of Augustine (AD 354 – 431)

As Cyprian reacted against the schismatic Novations  in the 3rd Century, Augustine debated  the separatist Donatists, on two questions first; whether a church by tolerance of unworthy members who lost the essential attribute of purity and catholicity and second whether the character of a bishop affected his official acts. This issue led Augustine to develop his conception of the church and the sacraments.

  • Augustine and the Nature of Church: First, like Cyprian, Augustine maintained that the true church is the one Catholic or Church universal, because of geographic distribution throughout the world; second the authority or apostolicity of the church is based on the apostolic succession whose successors are the bishops. It is possible to point to an uninterrupted succession beginning with Peter. At this, Augustine accepted Cyprian’s idea of the historic primary of the apostolic chair, but he knows nothing of a special authority invested in Peter or his successors, simply (accepted) Cyprian’s “Federation Concept”. Third; the unity of Church is manifested in love and where there is no love there is no church. Outside of this one catholic church, the body of Christ; there is no truth, no salvation, and union with church is essential to salvation. He stated that “unity (united with church) as a prerequisite for the benefits of baptism.” (Baptism 1.12,18). He also stated that if one had deceit (while or after baptism), “… there is no second baptism, but he is purged by faithful discipline and truthful confession,” and the former deceit is done away by the truthful confession. So also the one who was heretic “… So also in the case of the man who received in any heresy and schism the baptism of Christ, which the schismatic’s in question had not lost from among them, though by his sacrilege his sins were not remitted, yet, when he corrects his error, and comes over to the communion and unity of church, he ought not to be again baptized.”

More over Augustine believed the gospel only on the authority of the Catholic Church. Augustine saw the church composed of “Wheat and tares” and the reception of baptism was a sign only, not the reality of salvation (Wheat are good believers, live a sanctified life, tares are those who live unsanctified   life) And the tares “…. are not able to help one who is placed with the church if by a wicked life he himself retain the debts of his sin against himself, and that though he be baptized, not by this hawk but by the pious ministry of the dove herself.”

Note: Although one received baptism, but his   life not pious, he will not be saved as tares. (Ex. Simon Magus. Act.8)

In this sense Augustine can speak of the church visible and invisible. Salvation is only in church, but many in the church are not saved the sacraments do not save. Salvation is only in the church because the truth (gospel) is there. The Donatists were viewed as Christians because they were viewed as in the church, although they emphatically rejected the notion.


ii). Augustine and the Sacraments.

Augustine grappled with the sacraments within the context of the Donatist schism. The sacraments are gifts from God and the moral condition of the administrator cannot detract from the gift conveyed. Augustine divided the sacraments in two parts: the symbol and significance. The visible signs are symbols of an invisible content; in the former, they are symbolical and, in the latter, there is an actual exertion of divine energy. Of baptism he wrote (Baptism 5.21.29) “… Where fore God gives the sacrament of grace even through the hands of wicked men, but the grace itself only by Himself or through His saints… therefore either no remission of sins is given to them if their baptism is accompanied by no change of heart for the better, or if the sins are remitted, they at once return on them again; And we learn that the baptism is holy in itself, because it is of God; and whether it be given or whether it be received by men of such like character, it cannot be polluted by any perversity of theirs, either within or yet outside the church.”


Note: Yet, Augustine recognizes that grace is only in Christ by faith, hence, the invisible reality is within the sacraments.  “Christ is not faithless; from whom the faithful man receives not guilt but faith. For he believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, that this, faith may be counted for righteousness.” (Letter to Petilian 2.4.9)

On the Lord’s supper, Augustine spiritualizes the rite as a salvation – sacrament through believing for believers – The gift that the Eucharist conveys is the gift of life. This is a spiritual gift and eating and drinking are spiritual process (Note: The elements are not sensual, but animated life by the Spirit in the elements)

Kelley, a scholar, wrote of Augustine (Early Christin Doctrine, 449): “…. In the first place, he makes it clear that the body consumed in the Eucharist is not strictly identical with Christ’s historical body and (but) represents Him, ‘You must understand what I have said in a spiritual sense. You are not going to eat this body which you see or drink that blood which those who will crucify me are going to shed; The Historical body ascended in its integrity to heaven … secondly and more positively, the gift which the eucharist conveys is a gift  of life. This is a spiritual gift, and the eating and drinking are spiritual process. The eucharist body is not the sensible flesh, rather we receive the essence of this flesh viz the spirit which quickens it.


Note: Augustine’s view of the Lord’s Table is non-sacramental though spiritually real, being the gift of life.


B.The Ecclesiology of Gregory I (AD 540-604)

Note:  Between Augustine and Gregory I stand a massive figure and crucial political events which shaped later history, particularly the emergence of the hierarchical primacy of Rome.

(i). Political Event: – Following the battle of Adrianople in AD 378, political Rome collapsed. The bishops of Rome came to political and ecclesiastical prominence as preservers of the west. Their success brought prestige!

(ii) Les I, the Great was the bishop of Rome from 440-61. He pressed the primacy of Rome being conscious of inherited Petrine prerogatives as the head of the church under Augustine’s city of God.

(iii) Gregory and the Nature of Church – Gregory understood the church to be the kingdom of heaven – one, holy, and universal-although it is composed of wheat and tares. Seeberg, a scholar summarizes Gregory (History 2.26), “… Separation from the church proves lack of love… But everything upon which the necessity of the church to salvation depends lies in the hands of the officers…. Binding and loosing are prerogatives of the clericals. And whether the pastor binds justly or unjustly, nevertheless the pastor’s declaration (Sententia) must be revered by the multitude”.


Note: Gregory greatly extended the ecclesiastical power and prestige of Rome. He recognized the supremacy of his episcopates, but would not take the title of Father (Pope).


(iv) Gregory and the structure of the church. He was a gifted administrator who organized and gave structural form to the church.

  • The Mass, a sacrifice. Gregory conceived of the Eucharist as a real transub stantiation.
  • Gregory appears to have borrowed from Cyprian and Augustine in advocating the doctrine of the interim state. Commenting on Mathew 12:32, Gregory stated (Moralia 4,39) “In this sentence it is given to understand that many sins can be remitted in this word but also many in the world to come.”
  • Gregory also introduced ritualism, chants, into the church and a stress on miracles.


  1. The development of the Eucharist in the church.

Of the seven sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, penance, orders and Extreme unction) that gained in the Medieval church, which was dogmatized at Trent in the sixteenth century, the Eucharist as a continual sacrifice, was most hated and repudiated by the Reformers. Because of this fact, it would do us favourably to focus upon the orgins and development of the Eucharist as “the Mass.”


  1. The Development of the Eucharist to Origen.

Religious scholars indicate that prior to the later third century the Lord’s Table was conceived as a dualism, both a real and a symbol sacrament. It did not have a transubstantial connotation although there was a deep realism.

  • Irenaeus (AD 140-202), the Bishop of Lyons, understood that the Holy Spirit unities the Logos with the elements and makes them something that they were not before, namely, the body and blood of Christ. Neve, a scholar wrote (History 1,160) “This is not meant to be transubstantiation but it is the union of the Logos with the elements that makes these the body and blood of the Lord.”

Note: The Elements are conceived as real and Christ really present. However, it is for Christians, not as a medium of forgiveness, but thanks for forgiveness. Christ is not re-sacrificed there by removing venial sins. Luther adopts this view as held by Irenaeus. It is a real sacrifice of praise.”

  • Tertullian (155-240/60 AD), a lawyer, of Carthage, advocated a similar realism though at times, manifested as symbolic interpretation. (Against Heresies 4.40) “He (Jesus) Likewise when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed ‘In His blood’, affirms the reality of His body….” Turtullian for his argument used the old Testament passage in Isaiah “… how anciently wine is used as a figure for blood … he washed His garments in wine…” Tertullian said garments represent His body, wine represents His blood.


  • Origen (AD 253/54), a teacher at Alexandria, was the first to set forth a purely symbolic view of the Eucharist. He wrote (Commantary on Matthew 8:5): “That bread which God the word declares to be His body is the nutritious word of souls, the word proceeding from God the word. And that drink … is the word thirst –Quenching and splendidly inebriating the hearts of those drink it… For not that visible bread which He held in His hand, did God the word call His body, but the word in whose sacrament (mysterium) that bread was to be broken…”

The word of Christ (i.e, the words that he spoke while institute on Last supper) of which that elements are a symbol, is, therefore, the effectual thing in the Eucharist.


  1. The Development of the Eucharist after Origen
  • In the East
  • Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 315-85) had a developed Transubstantiation view of the Lord’s Table. He considered the Eucharist upon the invocation of the priest, to be the very body and blood.
  • Gregory of Nyssa (d-395) clearly teaches that the elements are transformed and most particularly, that salvation grace is thereby obtained.
  • John of Damascus (d.794) formulated and finalized the doctrine of transubstantiation for the Eastern church. He taught that by virtue of consecration, the elements are transformed into actual body and blood of Christ.
  • In the West

Augustine advocated both ‘realism’ and a ‘symbolism’ but not a grace-giving regenerative rite. His theological impact was immense in the west. The church did progressively come to a purely sacramental view at the fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and is perhaps best expressed by Aquinas. He wrote (Summa Theologica 3.76.1): “I answer that, it is absolutely necessary to confess according to Catholic faith that the entire Christ in this sacrament…..By the power of the sacrament, there is under the species of this sacramental that into which the pre-existing substance of the bread and wine is changed… by the words –  This is my body, or, this is my blood.”

Aquinas then says that its actualized forgiveness of venial sins (Summa Theologica.3.79.4) “… it belongs to this sacrament to forgive venial sins. Hence Ambrose says (De Sacram-v) that this daily bread is taken as a remedy against daily infirmity.”


Note: The first council to explicitly affirm the Eucharist as a work of superogation a duty that obligates   God to forgive sin, is the council of Florence (1455) . It affirmed the Eucharist, as well as, six other sacraments (baptism, confirmation, marriage, penance, orders, and extreme Unction)


The council of Florence (1438-45): This council makes them explicit for the first time (i.e, the number and benefit).

“There are seven sacraments of the New Law, viz, baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders and marriage. These are quite different from the sacraments of the old law, which did not cause grace, but foreshadowed the grace that was to be bestowed solely through the passion of Christ. Our sacraments however, not only contain grace, but also confer it on those who receive them worthily. The first five have been ordained for the spiritual perfection of every individual in himself, the last two for the government and increase of the whole church. Through baptism we are spiritually reborn, through confirmation we grow in grace and are strengthened in faith.  Having bean regenerated and strengthened, we are sustained by the divine food of the Eucharist. But if we become sick in soul through sin, we are healed spiritually as well as physically, in proportion as it benefits the soul, through extreme unction. Through orders the Church is governed and grow spiritually, while through marriage it grows physically.”


Three elements are involved in the full administration of all these sacraments; viz, things as the matter, words as the form, and the person of the minister performing the sacrament with the intention of doing what the church does. If any one of these is lacking the sacrament is not affected. There are three of the sacraments; baptism, confirmation and orders which imprint on the soul an indelible character; (i.e) a kind of spiritual seal distinct from the others. They are not therefore, to be received more than one by the same individual. The rest, however, do not imprint a character and may be performed more than once.”


And finally, the canons of the council of Trent are quite explicit of creedal Romanism, the official unalterable position of the church (canons II. V and VII).


Note: This council advocated Transubstantiation view of Eucharist.


  1. The Doctrine of the Church – Reformation and Modern Church

The ecclesiastical legacy of the twentieth century finds its roots in the reformation era after break from Roman church. As to Church government for protestants four alternatives emerged.


  • To retain the Episcopal hierarchy, without the Papacy or to create a new one in its place (The English church, Anglican Church or Church of England)
  • To substitute a parity of ministers and superintendence by civil magistrates without Episcopal apostolic succession (Luther, Puritan, Congregationalism).
  • To organize a Presbyterian polity on the basis of parity of ministers, congregational lay, leaders and deacons with a representative synodical government (Calvin, C.S.I)
  • To advance a congregational independency, the organization of self-governing congregations of true believers in free association with each other. (Independents, Brethren, Baptist)

From the above four, the Reformed Churches opted anyone.

A.The Nature and structure of the Church.

(i)  In Martin Luther and Lutheranism.

Luther maintained both invisible and visible, the Latter being constituted of wheat and tares. The Augsburg confession states (Article 7,8) “Also they teach that one holy church is to continue forever (i.e, invisible Church) …. And unto unity of the church, it is sufficient to agree concerning the doctrine of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments…

…..Though the church be properly the congregation of saints and true believers, yet seeing that in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled with it, it is lawful to use the sacraments administered by evil men, according to the voice of Christ (Matt 23:2): “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat’ … And the sacraments and the word are effectual, by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, though they be delivered by evil men.”

  • The Marks of the Church are primarily two: Accurate doctrinal preaching and the observance of the sacraments.
  • The ecclesiastical organization of the churches was essentially congregational with the equality of all ministers (No episcopacy). However, a hierarchy of sorts did prevail as Luther substituted a lay- civil magistrate episcopate for a clerical one. Supreme ecclesiastical power rested in the hand of civil magistrates who appointed ministers and superintendents.

(ii) In John Calvin and Calvinism.

Almost any analysis of the theological foundations of Calvin’s ecclesiology will show that for Calvin, as much as for Luther.

  1. The Definition of church: – Calvin is not unique with his concept of the church as invisible and visible.
  2. The formation of the church
  • According to Calvin, “the whole order of nature was perverted by the rebellion of Adam; man has disrupted the orderly pattern established by God. In order to avoid contradiction, God moved to bring salvation (orderliness) through church. The church is to Calvin, a restoration of order.
  • Calvin indicates that the church initiated in the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • In the advent of Christ, the covenantal promise of God to Abraham was fulfilled.
  • But between the ‘first birth’ of the church (Abrahamic Covenant) and that coming (Christ birth) stands the Exile, which Calvin thinks of as an ‘interruption’ of the Covenant. The coming of Christ (First Advent), therefore, not only constitutes the completion of covenant, but also a ‘second redemption, ‘a second birth of the church, the new covenant fundamentally different from the first is established. Calvin does not see two covenants, per se, but one covenant that has been renewed.
  1. The Marks of Church.

“After the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh and because of that the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church commences (in grafted into Abraham’s stock). God now makes His covenant with all nations. Calvin concluded the following two are the marks of the church (Institutes 4: 1,8,9)

  • The preaching of God’s word
  • The observance of the Sacraments.

(The sacraments to Calvin were simply symbols. Ex:The faith of Abraham was increased by the sight of the stars-Gen 15:4)

  1. The ordering of the Church.
  • Pastors – (Potential Pastors were selected by the existing pastors and were confirmed in office by the city council)

Note: The Pastors, normally eight, met weekly for Bible study, and quarterly for mutual criticism of faults.

  • Teachers (Doctors)- They functioned to instruct believers
  • Elders – They were twelve lay men, responsible for the machinery of discipline.
  • Deacons – functioned to provide the needs of the poor
  1. Calvinism adopted ‘Presbyterial’ (consistory) form of government.
  • The Reformed church of France states:

(Gallican confession 1559): “Article xxx :- We believe that all true pastors, where ever they may be, have the same authority, and equal power under one head, one only sovereign and Universal bishop, Jesus Christ; and that consequently no church shall claim any authority or dominion over any other.”

  • Westminster confersion (1647) reads (of synods and councils) – for the better government and further edification of the church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.

iii.In the Anabaptist Tradition.

The Anabaptist Tradition differed in its teaching from the major reformers by insisting upon regenerate church membership, believer’s baptism and congregational independency. This is the only tradition with no political assistance. The marks of church include regeneration, baptism (believers), Communion and holiness. The Schleitheim confession says of pastors “…. This office shall be to read to admonish and teach, to warn, to discipline, to ban in the church, to lead out in prayer… to lift up the bread…. and in all things to see to the care of the body of Christ in order that it may be built up –and developed…. But if a pastor should do something requiring discipline, he (pastor) shall not be dealt with except (on the testimony of) two or three witnesses. And when they sin, they shall be disciplined before all in order that the others may fear.”

Each church is independent with a strong aversion to any outside control whether it be state or an ecclesiastical court. For this reason, they were strenuously opposed by Rome, the various governments and the Reformers.

Note: This, obviously, is the birth of the free church Tradition. Yet, they had a confession or statement of faith.

  1. The Nature and Meaning of Sacraments in the Reformation Chruch
  2. In Martin Luther and Lutheranism.

i.The sacrament of Baptism. As the sacraments are outward signs of inward realities, Luther conceives them as conveying of the outward symbol of grace, true grace is conferred only by means of the word of God.

Small Catechism, Part IV, explains:

“… How can water do such great things (Ex. Forgiveness)?

Answer: It is not water, indeed, that does it, but the word of God which with and in the water, and faith, which trust in the word of God in the water.

Note: The outward symbol is not grace conveying, but grace is conveyed through the word, the inward reality, when coupled with faith.


Baptism and Infants: –

Luther argues for the validity of baptism through faith only. The question is; how does faith come into existence in children? Luther wrote, (works 17,82-83); “God works though the intercession of the sponsors who bring the child to be baptized in the faith of the Christian church. This is the power of someone else’s faith. such faith cannot save the child but through its intercession and help the child may receive his own faith from God; and this faith will save him.

Althaus wrote of Luther’s ideas (Theology of Marin Luther, 369), “… We bring the child to be baptized because we think and hope that it will believe, and we pray  that God will give it faith; we do not baptize it because of this, however, but only because God has commanded it.”

Note: God never commanded to baptize a child.


ii.The sacrament of the Eucharist: – Luther argued in the tradition of Irenaeus for a realistic, non-transubstantional view of the Lrod’s Table as a sacrifice of praise and a means of grace. The effet of the Lord’s supper, like that of the sacrament s generally, is that faith or its equivalent the new-life, is strengthened and increased constantly. Faith needs this “re –creation” and “strengthening”, because in this life, it is constantly attacked and endangered by the devil and the world. He wrote (small catechism, V)

  • What is the sacrament of the Altar?

Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, given unto us Christians to eat and drink (As Christ instituted)

  • What is the use, then, of such eating and Drinking?

Ans: – It is pointed out to us in the words:“Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins, Namely, through these words, the remission of sins, life, and salvation are given us in the sacrament…”

  • How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

Ans: Eating and drinking, indeed, do not do them, but the words which stand here; ‘Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins’… and He who believe these words has that which they declare and means namely, forgiveness of sins.

  • Who, then, receives this sacrament worthily?

Answer: Fasting and bodily preparations are, indeed, a good external discipline, but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, “Given and shed for you, for the remission of sins. But he who does not believe these words, or who doubts, is unworthy and unfit, for the words ‘for you’ require truly believing hearts.”


  1. In John Calvin and Calvinism.

Calvin places the sacraments within the discussion of the “Marks of the Church” natural elements which have been consecrated by God to a different and higher purpose,”

  • The sacrament of Baptism: – Calvin argues for three purposes in baptism, namely: to attest to forgiveness, to teach our death to sin, and to reveal that we are partakers of God’s blessings. He wrote (Institute 4,15,1); “Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the followship for the Church…”

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) states that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality.

Calvin and Infant Baptism: –

Infant baptism is justified as a replacement for the rite of circumcision. The Heidelberg catechism tells us:

“Q-74-Are infants also to be baptized?

Ans: Yes, because they, as well as their parents, are included in the covenant and belong to the people of God. Since both redemption from sin through the blood of Christ and the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit are promised to these children no less than to their, parents, infants are also by Baptism, as a sign of the covenant, to be incorporated into the Christian Church and distinguished from the children of unbelievers. This was done in the old covenant by circumcision. In the New Covenant baptism has been instituted to take its place.”

  1. The Sacrament of the Eucharist: – In contradiction to Luther, Calvin rejected “Realism” in the Lord’s Table for a spiritual presence view, a mystical realism. Christ is actually present, but not in any corporeal sense. In the observance, he understands that the worshipping saints are elevated to heaven, Christ is not brought down, and fellowship is there had. Again, it is a means of Christian strengthening grace. He wrote (Institute 4,17,10): “… Therefore, what our mind does not comprehend let faith conceive –viz. That the Spirit truly unites things separated by space. That sacred communion of flesh and blood by which Christ, transfuses His Life into us, just as if it penetrated our bones and morrow, He testifies and seals in the supper. Calvin argued that “… it is beneficially received by believers only who receive this great benefit with true faith and heartfelt gratitude…”
  2. In the Anabaptist Tradition.

The Anabaptist Tradition is rooted in the Zwinglian tradition of the German Swiss Reformation. The ‘Free-church’ tradition differed radically from both Calvin and Luther in the area of the sacraments.

  1. The Anabaptist and Baptism: – Anabaptists repudiated infant baptism as a necessary correlation to a stress on the “gathered Church” as opposition to the “Folk Church”. Baptism though mode was not uniform, was for believers only as a sign of the procession of faith. The Schleitheim confession reads “… Baptism shall be given to all those who have learned repentance and amendment of life, and who truly believe that their sins are taken away by Christ, and to all those who walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and wish to be buried with Him in death, so that they may be resurrected with Him, and to all those who with this significance request it (baptism) of us and demand it for themselves. This excludes all infant’s baptism, the highest and chief abomination of the pope. In this you have the foundation and testimony of the apostles. Mathew 28, Mark 16, Acts 2,8,16,19. This we wish to hold simply, yet firmly and with assurance.”


  1. The Anabaptists and the Eucharist: At this point the Anabaptist tradition reflects its intirmacy with Zwingli with a non-corporeal, non-real, spiritual presence, but memorial conception of the Lord’s Table.

The Schleitheim confession reads: “… In the   breaking of bread we are of one mind and are agreed (as follows): All those who wish to break one bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ, and all who wish to drink  one drink as a remembrance of the shed blood of Christ shall be united beforehand by baptism in one body of Christ which is the church of God and whose Head is Christ. For as Paul points out, we cannot at the same time be partakers of the Lord’s Table and the table of devils; … Therefore all who follow the devil and the world have no part with those who are called unto God out of the world. All who lie in evil have no part in the good.

“Therefore it is and must be (thus): whoever has not been called by one God to one faith, to one baptism, to one Spirit, to one body, with all the children of God’s church, cannot be made (into) one bread with them, as indeed must be done if one is truly to break bread according to the command of Christ.”


Summary: Church Government:

After Reformation, ecclesiological re-orientation and church government has four forms- three within a state church structure, one outside it.

  1. Episcopal Hierarchy, but without the pope, was retained in England (Anglican Churches).
  2. A modified congregationalism was developed by Luther in Germany, with parity of ministers and autonomous churches, but political control of Church appointments (ie; ministers and superintends) This has been modified in non-state/church countries such as the U.S.A (Evangelical Luther church in America).
  • A Presbyterian form was developed embryonically by Calvin of a parity of ministers, local church autonomy, and synodical appointments. (Ex.Presbyterian Associate Reformed.
  1. A fully congregational, non-state church structure was developed in the Anabaptist tradition with complete local church autonomy, which is dominate among Baptists and independents.


Summary: The Sacraments

  • Luther, Calvin, and the Anglican community interpreted baptism an both symbolic and spiritual.
  • Anabaptists understood baptism to have a symbolic significance.
  1. The Lord’s Table
  • Luther advocated a corporeal presence of Christ in the elements with symbolic spiritual significance.
  • Calvin saw the Eucharist as possessing a spiritual presence with symbolic and spiritual significance
  • Anabaptists understood the Lord’s Table having a past symbolic significance (Remembrance)


  • The Doctrine of Last Tings

This doctrine of last things focuses on the issue of Chiliasm, the thousand-year reign of Christ or Millennialism. In Greek, Chilias means thousand and in Latin, million means thousand, hence Millennialism means to “thousand-year rule of Christ on the earth”.

  • The Eschatology of the Church Fathers.

The fathers never attempted a systematic exposition of eschatology. But they were fully aware of the end of the world, the final consummation, the resurrection of the dead, the life everlasting based on the hope of the returning of Christ. Kelley wrote (Early Christian doctrines 462) “Four chief moments dominate the eschatological expectation of early Christian Theology – the return of Christ (Parousia), the resurrection, the judgement and the catastrophic ending of the present world-order”.


  1. The fathers and a Physical Resurrection.
  2. I (26): “Do we then think it to be a great and marvelous thing; if the creator of the universe shall be about the resurrection of them that have served him with holiness in the assurance of a good faith…”
  3. Ignatius wrote (To the Trallians -9)

“…. Jesus Christ …. was truly raised from the dead, His father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe on Him – His Father, I say, will raise us…”. Ignatius makes it clear that heretics have no part in this resurrection (Smyrneans, 7).


  1. The fathers and the second Advent.
  2. The theme of immediacy is dominate in the Fathers. (1 Clement 23)
  3. This imminent appearing of Christ is a visible appearing as stated in the ‘Didache -16’ Clement noted (II Clement -17), “… And the unbelievers shall see His glory and His might; and they shall be amazed when they see the kingdom of the world given to Jesus, saying, Woe unto us…”
  • As indicated in the above quote, the fathers associated the advent of Christ with the establishment of the kingdom.
  1. The shepherd of Hermas (ca.140 AD) speaks of a possible pretribulational concept of escaping the tribulation. (The Shepherd of Hermas 1.4.2). “You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast, Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it…”.


  1. The fathers and the kingdom.
  2. The Fathers vary the time of the establishment of the kingdom. I clement places it at the resurrection of believers (50); II Clement at the second Advent (12) and the resurrection (9) and the Epistle of Barnabas, immediately preceding the resurrection (21)
  3. The purpose of the Kingdom also varies. II Clement sees it as rest for believers (6) and worldwide role by Christ (17).

The Epistle of Barnabas sees it as a time of holiness in which Christians live and rule the earth. (6) Ignatius as the future home for the believers (To the Ephesians -16).

Note: The time of judgment of the wicked is seen in II clement as immediately occurring at the second Advent (16,17).


  1. The fathers –The church and Israel.

While the identification of Israel as the church is an integral historical argument set forth by many in our day, it must not be supposed that this is the view of the earliest fathers. Peter Richardson argues (Israel in the Apostolic Church, Cambridge.1969) that Israel is nowhere seen as synonymous with the church until A.D.160 in the ‘Apology’ of Justin martyr”. He also argues “The word ‘Israel’ is applied to the Christian church for the first time by Justin Martyr… Nowhere from the close of the New Testament canon to Justin is the church explicitly said to be Israel.”

  1. The Epistle of Barnabas makes a clear distinction between Israel and the Church. (5.2)
  2. The Shepherded of Hermes is silent in ‘Similitudes 8-9; When discussing the church of any identity with Israel.
  3. The Fathers and the ‘Last Days”.
  4. Clement and Ignatius maintain that the ‘Last Days’ began with the incarnation, (citing Hebrew 1:1-3). Barnabas sees special events in the future, such as a Great Tribulation (also Didache -16)


  1. The Eschatology of the Apologists.
  2. The Hermeneutical Challenge.

In the early church, two competing approaches to hermeneutics developed – a literal hermeneutics by Antioch, and non-literal Hermeneutics which developed in Alexandria under Clement and Origen.


Bernard Ramm says (PBI,49), “The Syrian school thought Origen as the inventor of the allegorical method, and (it) maintained the primacy of the literal and historical interpretation.”

Note: A literal, historical, grammatical interpretation dominated the first 100 years after the apostles of Christ.

  1. Eschatology within Literal Hermeneutics.

Premillenialism or chiliasm as it was called in the early church was the pervasive view of the earliest orthodox fathers. This is the consensus of both liberal and conservative scholars who are experts in early church Theology.


Kelly notes: “The great theologians who followed the Apologists, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Hippolytus, were primarily concerned to defend the traditional eschatological scheme against Gnosticism … They are all exponents of millenarianism”. (467, 468).

Joseph Cullen Ayer, (A source Book for Ancient Church History: From the Apostolic Age to  the close of the Conciliar Period (25)) states, “Primitive Christianity was marked by great chiliastic enthusiasm… by chiliasm, strictly speaking, is meant the belief that Christ was to return to earth and reign visibly for one thousand years. The return was commonly placed in the immediate future.”


  1. Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165)

Osborn, a scholar wrote (186): “The future meant everything to Justin….. the return of Christ is glory, the resurrection and the judgment are mentioned on almost every page of the Apology and Dialogue.” Justin’s ideas can be briefly sketched.


  • The Resurrection would come about at the second advent and consist of believers and the wicked (Dialogue 69)
  • The second Advent is stressed in his polemic with the Jesus. He stresses imminence (I. Apology, 32.4) to judge the unbelievers, world rulers, and Satan to institute the eternal kingdom. He links the Day of Judgment and the second Advent together. (1 Apology. 52)
  • The kingdom is inaugurated by the second Advent and is centered in a renewed Jerusalem (Dialogue.113).
  • Justin indicates that the reign in Jerusalem will be a thousand years followed by another judgment and the eternal state (Dialogue 81) : “ For Isaiah spoke  thus concerning this space of a thousand years: For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, and the former shall not be remembered or come into their heart… And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem…”.
  1. Irenaeus (ca.AD 140-202) understands human history to be divided into seven eras of one thousand years each. In his day, he understood that he was in the sixth era, the end of which would come with the intense activity of Satan in the personage of the Anti-Christ.
  • After the period of satanic deception, Christ’s advent takes place at which time the first resurrection occurs and the seventh and final millennium commences. He wrote (Againt Heresies 5.28.3) “. For in as many days as this world were made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. … God rested upon the seventh day from all His works… For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed; It is evident, therefore that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand years.”



Note: Irenaeus equaled one day to a thousand-year rule by comparing with creation day. He also stated that after the seventh millennium, the present earth is destroyed and the eternal state begins with a new heaven and a new earth.

  • Tertullian (ca.A.D.155-240/260). Tertullian as Justin or Irenaeus, holds to the same seven-fold millennial theory of eschatology. He wrote (Against Marcion-111.25) “… We do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence in as much as it will be after the resurrection for thousand years in the divinely built city of Jerusalem “let down from heaven,’… After its thousand years are over… We shall then be changed in a moment into the substance of angles, even by the investiture of an incorruptible nature and so be removed to that kingdom in heaven.”


  1. Eschatology with in an Allegorical Hermeneutics.

A shift from literal to an allegorical hermeneutic took place in the late second century. Alexander of Alexandria and Origen (185 – 254) developed the allegorical approach to biblical interpretation in the early third century.


  1. Origen (ca 185-253/54 AD)

Origen based his views on Proverbs (22.20), that supported a threefold meaning in each passage of scripture. Frederick Farrar (History of Interpretation, 196-97), explains”. The Bible, he (Origen) argued, is meant for the salvation of man, but man, as Plato tells us, consists of three parts-body, soul and spirit. Scripture therefore must have a threefold sense corresponding to this trichotomy. It has a literal, a moral and a mystical meaning analogous to the body, to the soul, to the spirit … But of two of these three supposed senses Origen makes very little use. To the moral sense he refers but seldom; to the literal sense scarcely at all.”

Accordingly, Origin appears as the first major theologian to spiritualize the future kingdom as a present reign of Christ in the hearts of man.


  1. Dionysius of Alexandria (d.265)

He was a disciple of Origen, set out to discredit chiliasm by discrediting the integrity of authorship of the book of Revelation.

By the end of the third century, chiliasm held a disputed place in the church. In the Alexandrians the shift is away from premillennialism to a non-millennial position; from realism and literalism to Platonism and allegory.


  • The Eschatology of the Theologians.

Belief in a literal, actual millennium rapidly waned in the west and all but disappeared in the East, in the fourth and fifth centuries. Augustine confessed that he was attracted to a literal millennium at one time but later he changed his attitude and favored an allegorical interpretation of the book of Revelation. Augustine introduced a dual hermeneutic, literal for most of scripture; allegorical for prophecy.


  1. Augustine (354-430 AD) and the meaning of History

Augustine was the first theologian in the church to attempt a comprehensive history of human politico-religious existence. This was occasioned in 410, When Alaric the Goth pillaged Rome, an event that had a deep demoralizing effect upon the west. To explain such an event Augustine wrote ‘The City of God”. In short, Augustine put forth the idea of the existence of the two contemporaneous, yet incompatible societies –one dominated by God, the other of Satan.

Augustine refuted the charge that Rome fell due to a neglect of the gods by saying the empires come and go as God wills, earthly cities ebb and flow. Rome’s historical mission was accomplished (i.e., peace for propagation of the gospel) and therefore, fell as a result of her own sin and idolatry.

Eschatologically, Augustine maintained that these two cities were inseparable and incompatible until the end of time in the final judgment when they will be separated.


  1. Augustine and Eschatology.

Augustine spiritualized the major events of the prophetic history.

  1. Augustine and Resurrection:- Augustine maintained two resurrections – The first resurrection is one to life from death(at the time of faith and baptism), a spiritual event that inaugurates the Christian life, the second transpires for all saved and otherwise, at the end of the present age (historic end time event).
  2. Augustine and the kingdom of Heaven

Augustine spiritualized the kingdom to mean the existence of the church in the world. He wrote (City of God.20.9), “During the ‘thousand years’ when the Devil is bound, the saints also reign for a ‘thousand years’ and doubtless, the two periods are identical and mean the span between Christ’s first and second coming,” …


He interpreted the verse “Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you” for the future kingdom; but “he said” Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (as the present kingdom.)


Again (City of God 20,9) “… In this text there are surely two kinds of ‘kingdom of heaven …. This makes it clear that the mixed kingdom (wheat and tares) must be the church, such as she exists in her temporal stage, while the unmixed kingdom is the church such as she will be shown she is to contain no evil doer (no tares). Consequently, the church, even in this world, here and now, is the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of heaven. Here and now Christ’s saints reign with Him, although not in the way, they are destined to reign hereafter, but the ‘ weeds’ do not reign with Him, even now though they grow along with the wheat in the church…” those alone reign with Christ whose presnce  in His kingdom is such that they themselves are His kingdom…”


Note: Augustine understood that satan was bound at the beginning of the church era (i.e, the kingdom)


He wrote (City of God, 20.8), “To conclude : The Devil is bound throughout the entire period covered by this Book from Christ’s first coming to His second coming at the end of the world – but not bound in such a way that this special binding during the period which St. John calls the “thousand years” implies his powerlessness to deceive the church…” When he is let lose at last, there will be little time left, since, as we read, he and his will rage with the fullness of strength only for three years and six months” …”


After the millennium, Satan will be released to deceive the nations against the church fostering a grand rebellion at the end of which God reduces Satan and his followers in the final judgment and then inaugurates the eternal state, the single city prevailing. He wrote (City of God, 20.11) “…. very last of all judgments – a persecution which Holy church, the world wide City of Christ is to suffer at the hands of the world wide City of the Devil, in every place where the two cities will then extend.”         Again (City of God 20.13) : “Therefore, during the three and one half years, not only the souls of earlier martyrs but also the souls of martyrs put to death during that final persecution itself will reign with Christ and will continue to reign until the world is no more and then pass to the kingdom when death is no more.


  1. Pseudo – Ephraem and the Rapture

It the 4th century, a writer named Ephraem (Popularly known as Pseudo Ephraem) from Syria preached a sermon entitled “On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the world” includes a concept very similar to the pre-tribulation rapture more than one thousand year before the writings of John Nelson Darby.

Concerning the timing of the rapture the sermon reads:

“We ought to understand thoroughly therefore my brothers, what  is imminent or overhanging … why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world?……… for all the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.”

Ice and Demy (scholars) note that Pseudo- Ephraem clearly presents at least three important features found in modern pre-tribulationalism


  1. Two Distinct comings: The return of Christ to rapture the saints, followed later by Christ’s second advent to the earth.
  2. A defined interval between the two comings, in this case three and one-half years and
  • A clear statement that Christ will remove the Church from the world before the tribulation.

Note : The fact that Pseudo – Ephraem placed the rapture three and half years before the tribulation is not an argument for mid-tribulationism because it appears that for him the whole tribulation was only three and half years in duration (Even J.N. Darby first believed that the rapture world  occur three and half years before the second coming.)

  1. The Eschatology During and After Reformation.

Martin Luther gave importance to soteriology, rather than Eschahology. However, he had the idea of a tribulation. Yet he admitted (about the book of Revelation) that he could not understand the book in parts and that one must wait until the prophecy is fulfilled to really understand it.

John Calvin believed that the culmination of redemption is the resurrection at the second advent of Christ. This expectation is a means of grace, a benefit of Christian growth. At the advent of Christ, the day of resurrection, Christ will separate the sheep from the goats, assigning to each their eternal destiny. He did not give much importance to the earthly rule of Jesus Christ.

However, the rebirth of Millennialism and its related teachings delineated from 1620 through the proper exegesis, used by the English Puritans. Joseph Mede (b.1582) was considered the father of the pre-millennialism in modern times. Followed him, John Nelson Darby promoted Pre-millennialism, dispensationalism and the concept of a “Secret Rapture” through his writings since 1830 AD.

Conclusion: The theologians and Apologists prior to Origen, like Irenaeus, Tertullian and Justin Martyr, were clearly chiliastic. With Origen and his allegorical method, the millennial future kingdom was spiritualized to mean the present church age from Adam, Amillinnialism, Augustine popularised the same eschatological perspective through “the City of God”, which became undisputed eschatology until after the reformation era. However, the proper exegesis based on the scripture with its context helped to understand the Scripture and God’s plan for the ages and also  helped to establish pre-tribulation rapture and Dispensational theology.