1 John 3:16

"By this we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

Friday, 12 November 2010


The Nestorian college at Antioch developed a literalist hermeneutics to counter the allegory used by ascetics in northern Africa. But they took their literalism too far, denying all mysteries by making them only symbols.

In the 16th Century Luther argued against this approach. However, the humanist Zwingli defended it on matters related to the communion and baptism. Luther was not upholding Catholic sacramentalism, but refuting humanist Aristotelian logic that denies mysteries simply because they are not understood.

Luther’s position regarding scripture was that we should accept its plain meaning and not allow our personal experience or reason to override it. Luther took this stand to refute humanism, which he saw as the greatest risk in eroding the truth of God’s word. He was correct, as this humanism in Europe later developed into liberal theology that denied the supernatural.

We believe that Christ has one nature, which is fully God and fully human in incarnation. It is indeed a mystery! But this is the power of the gospel. It neither contextualizes (humanises) or denies human context. It accepts humanity, but meets it miraculously, not on humanity’s terms. The human context is sin. The remedy is His faith.

The humanism of Nestorians left certain legacies. One of these was based on their denial of total depravity. They were semi-Pelagian. Today this is often reflected in Arminianism. They believed that all human cultures contained something of God and could be used in theological development. They also believed in derived holiness by works, or progressive sanctification and power through spirituality.

This humanism meant two things: Nestorianism became the fastest and most successful mission movement in history up until today. It moved into foreign cultures with ease and dedication. But the very reason for its success became the reason for its failure. Look at where Nestorianism went. In every one of its mission fields the gospel was eventually lost. We do not want to repeat this today.

No comments: