Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).
This exciting five-volume series follows up on the acclaimed Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture to provide patristic commentary on the Nicene Creed. The series renders primary Greek, Latin, Coptic and Syriac source material from the church fathers in lucid English translation (some here for the first time) and gives readers unparalleled insight into the history and substance of what the early church believed.
Including biographical sketches, a timeline of ancient Christian sources, indexes, bibliographies and keys to original language sources as well as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in Greek, Latin and English (ICET version), this series illuminates key theological essentials in the light of classic and consensual Christian faith and makes an excellent resource for preaching and teaching.
This module includes the following five volumes:
Volume 1 – We Believe in One God (Edited by Gerald L. Bray)
Volume 2 – We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ (Edited by John Anthony Mcguckin)
Volume 3 – We Believe in the Crucified and Risen Lord (Edited by Mark J. Edwards)
Volume 4 – We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Edited by Joel C. Elowsky)
Volume 5 – We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (Edited by Angelo DiBerardino)
You may also be interested in the 29-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS Complete) and the 3-volume Ancient Christian Devotional (Ancient Devotional).
I made the announcement earlier, but tonight I will be on a webcast discussing/debating/trashing my opponent regarding Christianity Unity. You should be able to access it directly here or via Youtube (see the bottom of this post).
But for now, I wanted to lay out my reasons/goals/inerrant understanding of why I believe in ChristiaUnity (see what I did there) and then I will lay out how I envision this. This is only a brief summation of both precepts.
I draw my desire/need/wish for ultimate Christian unity from three specific passages:
John 17. That is easy enough. This is the Johannine Community’s admonition to the early Church (including some (little g)nostic elements) to strive for Unity. I’ve lost about half of you right now. Let me put it another way. This is Jesus’s prophetic call for the future of the Church, Jews such as Ebonites and Gentiles such as Platonists to come together to understand more fully who He really is.
Ephesians 4–5.21. This is not so easy. This is Deutero-Paul speaking in hope to a wider Church. Indeed, most of Ephesians can be read in the light of a Church universal. Ephesians 4.12–14 deals with the goal of Church unity, that of living into who Christ really is. You should notice a theme here. Both John 17 and Ephesians 4 calls us to be unified in order to understand just who Jesus Christ is. I think when the Church was unified at the Councils, we grasped this.
2 Peter 3.10–15. These remonstrances and remembrances tell us that we can hasten the Day of God/Lord with our unity.
I believe Scripture leads us to an orthodoxy. Indeed, the canon itself comes about because of orthodoxy, with the NT developed by and developing orthodoxy. In other words, we do not have the NT unless we have the early creedal/baptismal formulas. We have the later creeds because of the NT.
Caveat: I believe orthodoxy is a tenet of Christianity, but does not make one a Christian. I believe orthodoxy and doctrinal unity serves as a guide to strengthen us as believers in Christ and shows us to a better understanding, a fuller understanding, of who Jesus is. Because that seems to be our ultimate goal (a union with Jesus), then a guide is needed.
Christianity unity is not about one Church ruling everyone. It is about one body working together. I believe we can see how well it has worked in the West with pretending the Creeds could serve as a way to keep us unified in mission. We have Anabaptists and others who eschew the Creeds while many in the progressive side cast out wholesale Church History has some giant secret Roman society conspiracy theory. Many on the right do the same, trying to rely only on Scripture as if it is a biblical precept. This is not about the World Council of Churches, either. This polity would take the framework offered by Rome and the East and make use of that, significantly.
The goal is doctrinal in nature, but with a generous orthodoxy. Look at John and the Synoptics. While they are similar, they are just as different as they are similar. This should allow for a generous approach to a few things. Look at Paul. He has different arguments, even with himself! Again, a generous orthodoxy, built on the Creeds. As it shows in John 17 and Ephesians 4, our unity is meant to bring us closer to God and to the knowledge of who Jesus Christ really is.
I look at the Catholic Church with its various orders. I look at Orthodoxy with its various ethnic rites. They share a common creed and goal, but approach it differently and even, at times, understand things differently. Yet, they exist as one. Can we have more (g)nostic elements? Sure. There are many mystical elements/orders in the Catholic Church. Can we have more rational elements? Sure, look East.
A united Christianity is a missional Christianity. Right now, so many of us are concerned with “church growth” (i.e., congregational quantity) that we are no longer looking outward. In the United States, denominations are growing by stealing members from other denominations, all the while, Christianity as a whole in the US is shrinking. A united Christianity provides us with more than enough evangelistic traditions to actually go and do and go and preach and go and serve. Together.
That should be enough for now. I’ll see you tonight. By the way, for the live webcast, you can ask questions.
As many of us get ready for our Annual Conferences and then the General Conference, it would behoove us to go back and reread, relearn, or even learn the first time Wesley’s thoughts, theology, and heart. Granted, only his sermons and notes on Scripture are part of the Doctrinal Standards of the United Methodist Church, but I think the entire Wesleyan Corpus should help us grow as Christians and Wesleyans, even if they are not Standard.
So, that’s why I am beyond thankful Logos has sent me the collection of Wesley’s works (this goes beyond his sermons and letters, but into his works (letters) and journals:
The John Wesley Collection (29 vols.) contains all of his theological works, including the four-volume Explanatory Notes upon the Old and New Testaments, plus his journals, essays, letters, sermons, grammars, psalms, hymns, and addresses. Those familiar with the Thomas Jackson edition of The Works of John Wesley are aware they include some of his journals, but these are incomplete and missing large chunks of important entries—sometimes entire years are missing! The Logos edition of the John Wesley Collection (29 vols.) contains the unabridged and authoritative eight-volume journals edited by Nehemiah Curnock. Also included in this massive collection is a three-volume, in-depth biography on this extraordinary man of faith.
Albert C. Outler’s papers are now archived at Perkins. There is a new story on this, and on Outler, that is filled with historical inaccuracies. They note,
He taught at Duke Divinity School, Yale Divinity School and finally at Perkins. He edited a collection of John Wesley’s sermons and formulated the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which holds that Christians should bring to bear Scripture, tradition, reason and experience as they live their faith.
Exactly how true to John Wesley’s theology the Quadrilateral is remains a matter of debate. But it’s part of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, part of the education of United Methodist clergy and a big part of Outler’s legacy.
The Quad is not about “as they live their faith” but about how to understand Scripture and formulate doctrine and ethics. This may be semantics, but there is a difference that needs to be understood.
I think the Quad, properly understood, does well with Wesley’s method-ology.
Outler’s Quad is not what is in the the Book of Discipline, but something that has been added to since the beginning of the UMC. Maybe it once was, but now it is a camel (a horse designed by committee).
I cannot believe those statements appear on the UMC website, showing the amount of intellectual degradation when it comes to understanding, or even attempting to understand Outler’s framework.