Posted by: Billy Marsh | February 9, 2010

Fatherly Wisdom from a Church Father

One of the assigned readings for my “Theological Method” research seminar with Dr. Malcolm Yarnell this semester is Vincent of Lérins’ A Commonitory. This work is the origin of the Vincentian datum concerning how to discern true, orthodox doctrine which states “that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all” (132). In this maxim, Vincent gives a three-fold criterion for orthodoxy by testing it against universality, antiquity, and consent. Despite whether or not Vincent’s method is sustainable for the development of doctrine, his essay has many high points of wise counsel concerning guarding and protecting orthodoxy. One admonition especially stuck with me. When speaking to Christians who are not within the realm of orthodoxy, Vincent counsel:

Let them unlearn well what they had learnt not well, and let them receive so much of the entire doctrine of the Church as they can understand; what they cannot understand let them believe (146).

These words of wisdom are worthy to be remembered by all of us as we seek out the truth of gospel. Vincent encourages us to be more than willing to humbly correct the error in our theologies and to walk in faith concerning the thngs we simply cannot grasp. Above all, he exhorts us to be supremely faithful and committed to the truth of the Christian faith, and not to ourselves.

*Quotes from The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, Vol. XI.


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