Adolf Harnack “The History of Dogma”

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March 31, 2018
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May 23, 2018

Adolf Harnack “The History of Dogma”

“Did not the doctrine of a heavenly aeon, rendered incarnate in the Redeemer, contain another remnant of the old Gnostic leaven? Did not the sending forth of the Logos to create the world recall the emanation of the aeons? Was not ditheism set up, if two divine being were to be worshipped?

A conflict began which lasted for more than a century, in certain branches of it for almost two centuries. Who opened it, or first assumed the aggressive, we know not…

We must describe it as the strenuous effort of Stoic Platonism to obtain a supremacy in the theology of the Church; the victory of Plato over Zeno and Aristotle in Christian science; the history of the displacement of the historical by the pre-existent Christ, of the Christ of reality by the Christ of thought, in dogmatics; finally, as the victorious attempt to substitute the mystery of the person of Christ for the person Himself, and, by means of a theological formula unintelligible to them, to put the laity with their Christian faith under guardians—a state desired and indeed required by them to an increasing extent. When the Logos Christology obtained a complete victory, the traditional view of the Supreme deity as one person, and, along with this, every thought of the real and complete human personality of the Redeemer was in fact condemned as being intolerable in the Church. Its place was taken by “the nature” [of Christ], which without “the person” is simply a cipher.

Jesus is mostly designated with the same name as God, o kyrios [the Lord]. The carelessness of the early Christian writers about the bearing of the word in particular cases, shows that in a religious relation, Jesus could directly take the place of God.

As the Gentile Christians did not understand the significance of the idea that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the designation “Christos” had either to be given up in their communities, or to subside into a mere name.”

pages 183-84



  1. Is it not strange how those who have set themselves up as the defenders of God’s word and truth are often the ones who pervert the truth and exchange it for their own traditions based on human wisdom and philosophy. So it was with the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day, whom Jesus rebuked for their nullifying of the Scriptures on account of their traditions. And so it was with the gentile Christian leaders of the 4th and 5th centuries, who declared themselves to be the ‘orthodox’, defenders of the faith, but who had actually abandoned the faith of the one they called Lord, replacing it with a system of religion based on human philosophy. And how sad that the history of this degradation of the true faith of Messiah and his apostles into a totally new religion, founded on pagan conceptions of God and his son, is virtually unknown to the masses who fill the Christian churches each week under the delusion that what they profess in their creeds is the very truth of God. How God must grieve. Yet the God and Father of our Lord Jesus is full of mercy and meets us where we are in our ignorance. For 35 yrs. I was in ignorance, yet I loved God and desired to continually bring my own thoughts in line with his truth. And so he graciously opened my eyes and brought me out of my ignorance. Praise be to his glorious name! Thank you brother for your work. Continue to expose the lie to the light of truth.

  2. Greg Lowe says:

    I would love to see more of this work. Very good.

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