Ad Fontes Part 2
A couple blogs ago, I wrote about the need to “get back to the sources.” In this case to the various sources of truth. In the history of Christianity, all four of the sources have played a role in the discovery and appropriation of truth. More importantly, the call to ‘all four’ of the sources represents a renaissance in Christian thinking. There is so much to be discovered in these treasure troves that can enhance and strengthen our Christian walks today.
A renaissance is a renewed and deepened appreciation for something. For our call of ‘ad fontes’ it is the renewed interest in the larger tool kit of the Christian. This tool kit has existed through the entire history of the church in one way or another. The writers of the New Testament drew upon all four sources in their formulating their arguments to various churches. Scripture has always played the prize role, and a person with a set of Scripture verses would trump the person with a set of experiences in the regular history of the church.
All of that being said, the role of the four sources can call our attention back to resources that can fully develop the Christian for the challenges we find today. Many of the great Christian thinkers used two, three, or all four in their discussions and arguments with those they were trying to reach or prove wrong. The Gnostics, Docetists, Ebionites, Marcionites, Arian’s (These were all heretical groups in the first few centuries of the church) were all curtailed with the use of a multiplicity of sources. Moreover, even our opportunities for witness today with non-believers or believers of other faiths, is best done from the foundation of all four.
From the position of all four, one is not entirely boxed into one language category. Their ability to navigate the heavy waters of challengers is all the stronger because their base has been broadened. Thinkers like the great Church Father Augustine or the later Anselm knew this well. Moreover, even Martin Luther, who is so famed for Scripture alone, appealed to both tradition (early Christian history) and reason to formulate his arguments. The great circuit riding preacher and Oxford grad, John Wesley became famous for his use of all four sources. From this base he could adequately address the corruption in both the world and the church and challenge them to more sound footing.
If you get the chance to read a book which could develop your own thinking in this respect, pick up “The Story of Christian Theology” by Roger Olson. It is a big one though, so time may not allow. However, going online and reading some of John Wesley’s sermons could do the trick as well. Taking the time to drink deeply from the wells of Christian history, and watch how they used Scripture and reason, may be the best way of being encouraged to grow your toolkit along with theirs. https://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons.ii.html