I just finished two systematic theology courses this semester. Phew! One resource that was really helpful to be able to reach for was Intervarsity Press’s 5-Volume Ancient Christian Doctrine.
It’s similar to the 29-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture set–like ACCS, Ancient Christian Doctrine compiles primary sources from early church theologians as a running commentary. ACD, however, is a full-blown compendium of commentary on the Nicene Creed.
It was an excellent resource, too, for helping me think through this last week’s sermon in my church’s Advent preaching series: “Who is This Jesus We Are Waiting For?”
I skipped ahead in my research to the Creed’s final phrase, “…the life of the world to come.” Here’s what you see at the beginning of the section in the Accordance edition I’ve been using:
You get the Creed in Greek, Latin, and English. Then, as you can see in the sidebar Table of Contents at the left, there is the commentary on that phrase–categorized helpfully in the volumes into sections like, “Two Advents” and, “The Intermediate State of Souls.”
Here was a powerful piece from Tertullian from that section:
We affirm that, as there are two conditions demonstrated by the prophets to belong to Christ, so these two conditions presignified the same number of advents. One of the advents, and that being the first, was to be in lowliness when he had to be led as a sheep to be slain as a victim and to be as a lamb dumb before the shearer, not opening his mouth, and not fair to look on. For, says the prophet, we have announced concerning him, “He is like a tender plant, like a root out of a thirsty ground; he has no form nor comeliness; and we beheld him, and he was without beauty: his form was disfigured,” “marred more than the sons of men; a man stricken with sorrows, and knowing how to bear our infirmity,” “placed by the Father as a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,” “made by him a little lower than the angels,” declaring himself to be “a worm and not a man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Now these signs of degradation suit his first coming quite well, just as the tokens of his majesty do his second advent when he will no longer remain “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” but after his rejection become “the chief cornerstone,” accepted and elevated to the top place of the temple, even his church, being that very stone in Daniel, cut out of the mountain that was to strike and crush the image of the secular kingdom. Of this advent the same prophet says, “Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days; and they brought him before him, and dominion and glory were given to him as well as a kingdom so that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and his kingdom is that which will not be destroyed.”
I’ve gotten this resource in Accordance so I can preview it at some of my upcoming Accordance Webinars, the schedule for which is soon to be posted. And I’ve also found it quite helpful in writing pieces of theology and sermon preparation.
This week it’s on sale through Accordance (here).
Let me leave you with this inspiration from Hilary of Poitiers:
He is born as man, while remaining God: this is in contradiction of our natural understanding. That he should remain God, though born as man, does not contradict our natural hope. For the birth of a higher nature into a lower state gives us confidence that a lower nature can be born into a higher condition.
See my other Accordance posts (there are many) gathered here.
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