Description : The problem of change has assumed great prominence in much of the current ferment in theology, and many of the issues in question can best be interpreted as relating to the validity and limits of doctrinal development. The questions cannot be faced constructively, however, until the development of doctrine has been clearly charted, a historical as well as a theological assignment. In this unique introductory survey—more modest in scope but more scholarly in method than Cardinal Newman’s great programmatic essay of 1845—Mr. Pelikan presents three case histories of the particular doctrines that have crucial points of division among Christians. His cogent analyses of Cyprian on Original Sin, Athanasius on the Virgin Mary, and Hilary on the Holy Spirit demonstrate the interaction between the sacramental life of the Church and the intellectual work of the theologian that consistently marked the development of doctrine by the early Fathers. Thus they clarify some central aspects of the continuing theological and ecumenical debates. Mr. Pelikan, Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale University, is the author of many books and articles, including a forthcoming full-scale history of the development of doctrine.
Orthodox Christians tend to be far more conservative and suspicious of change than either Roman Catholics or Protestants. As such, many Orthodox theologians reject the concept of doctrinal development outright, instead arguing that the entire deposit of faith has been present in the Church from the very beginning, and has never changed. However, authors such as Daniel Lattier have argued that some older Orthodox thinkers did not reject the concept outright, and that Orthodoxy may allow a form of doctrinal development, albeit more limited than Western forms of it.
An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
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