Monday, September 17, 2012

Carthage: agreeing and disagreeing, but not as offended as by Alexandria

In the last section on Apologists and Polemicists abut the Carthaginians, we see Tertullian again.  He seemed to emphasize modesty in dress and other ways to separate from Pagan influence.  He still wrote from Montanist influence, but it is good to have a practical code on how to withstand the world, just the same. 

Tertullian was the first to systematize the doctrine of the Trinity and even coined the word Trinity.

He believed in the transmission of the soul to a child from the parents.  This is called traducionism.  It became a popular doctrine.  It's not a deal-breaker for me, but I believe the soul comes from God, not the parents.  He also seemed to be a Baptist.  He believed that sins committed after baptism were mortal and so infant baptism was wrong.  I greatly disagree.  I believe all sins are mortal, but think, all our sins were committed after Christ died on the cross.  Does that mean his blood is not effective for all the people born since then?  No, it is effective for all time.  And baptism is effective for all time.  It may not erase original sin, but it still marks a person as a member of the visible Covenant Community, made for believers and their children.  It's not based on a cleansing from sin

It seems like Tertullian had issues with predestination.  I guess it's good that he was honest about it, when everyone else just tries to suppress misunderstanding.

Cyprian was bishop of Carthage until his martyrdom.  He seemed to develop some of the Roman Catholic doctrines.  He distinguished between bishop and elder and considered the bishop the center of unity in the Church.  He did not assert Rome's supremacy, but this led to it.  The Bible uses bishop and elder interchangeably.  It does seem like bishops covered more geography while elders were over individual congregations.  And I do agree that a good church leader can unify the Church and hope to see that.  But the only unity for the Church is Jesus and his Word.  Humans must interpret it correctly, but not just one person.  It needs to be a group of people to prevent egos from happening.

Cyprian also developed the concept of clergy as sacrificing priests as they offered Christ's blood and body during Communion.  This developed into the doctrine of transubstantiation.  At first, that doesn't offend me, but when the Jerusalem temple was destroyed, so was the sacerdotal system.  In fact, it was not necessary after Jesus's one time sacrifice on the cross.  I do agree that we really partake of Jesus's blood and body in the Lord's supper, but that he's alive and transports our spirits up to him in heaven.  This is an act of affection, not another sacrifice, but very much necessary to complete a believer's relationship with Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment