Monday, February 02, 2015

Everett Ferguson: A Perspective on Early Councils and Creeds

I would like to offer another perspective on the early councils and creeds. It is similar to a viewpoint expressed to me by a theologian from India, Paulos Gregorios, who is a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church, one of the so-called Monophysite churches that rejects the authority of Chalcedon (I say “so-called,” because “Monophysite” is a label the members of these churches emphatically reject). He said that he was respectful of the early councils but did not feel bound by their wording. I would adopt a similar attitude. Given the philosophical context and the language in which the issues were formulated, I judge Nicaea and (unlike this Indian theologian) Chalcedon to be correct. I agree with the outcome in terms of the time and way the issues were phrased. But I do not feel bound by their wording, nor do I think we should bind their terminology on other times and other conceptual worlds. In other words, they may be accepted as confessions of faith but not imposed as tests of fellowship.

Ferguson, Everett (2013-06-10). The Early Church & Today, Vol 1: A Collection of Writings by Everett Ferguson (Kindle Locations 1932-1938). Abilene Christian University Press. Kindle Edition, pg. 120 in the printed edition.

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