Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Pelikan on tradition and history

Josh Lim of Reformed Blogging has a knack for posting great quotes by great theologians. To save me having to constantly steal his material , I suggest that if you haven't already done so you subscribe to his RSS feed and nourish yourself with his wholesome offerings.

Here's his latest, on tradition and history:
“Tradition without history has homogenized all the stages of development into one statically defined truth; history without tradition has produced a historicism that relativized the development of Christian doctrine in such a way as to make the distinction between authentic growth and cancerous aberration seem completely arbitrary.” – Jaroslav Pelikan
[The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 9]
Interestingly, Pelikan, a Lutheran professor who co-edited 22 of 55 volumes of Luther's works, converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in 1996 (you can read a bit about this and other converts here). I love what he has to say here. I wonder if he'd say it differently now ... (or at least before he died in 2006)? Here's a comment on his conversion:
Members of Dr Pelikan’s family remember him saying that he had not as much converted to Orthodoxy as "returned to it, peeling back the layers of my own belief to reveal the Orthodoxy that was always there."

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