Having completed the Old and New Testament courses it’s now time to study for my next course: Christian Doctrine. The Christian Doctrine course builds on the introductions to the Old and the New Testaments and considers the core Christian teaching and concepts (“doctrine” – from Latin “doctor” – teacher). If the Old Testament (in academic usage more properly called the Hebrew Bible) is the foundation of Judaism, and the New Testament is the foundation of Christianity, the Christian Doctrine is what Christians understand, believe and proclaim when they read the New Testament (and the Old Testament in light of the New) and very importantly, why they do so. Despite what many atheist authors would like us to believe, theists in general and Christians in particular have many reasons to believe what they believe – and while one can subject these reasons to analysis and critique one has to understand them first – which some atheist authors fail to do.
Where the Old Testament and the New Testament “connect”, and where specifically Christian (not just theistic or Abrahamic) doctrine begins, is of course the person, teaching and work of Jesus of Nazareth – who Christians believe is Christ (Christos) – “the Anointed One”.
The Christian Doctrine course covers three interconnected and interdependent topics:
- Christology – who is Jesus and why it matters
- Trinity – who and what is God
- Salvation – what does it all mean for us
Needless to say that all three are complex and contentious topics – even more so in our time; however it is interesting to note that that is not a new development – Christians and non-Christians alike have been discussing, debating and disagreeing in all three areas ever since the first century of the Christian Era, and no doubt will continue to do so.
These three areas are covered across the following subjects of inquiry that comprise the content of the course which I am looking forward to:
- Historical Jesus
- Holy Spirit
- Filioque controversy
- Spirit Christology
- Doctrine of Incarnation
- Doctrine of Trinity
- Doctrine of Salvation
- First Council of Nicaea
- Council of Chalcedon
- Universal salvation
In a future post I hope to cover some of them in more detail.