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The Ghost Of Alexander Severus: Third Century Religious Pluralism as a Foretaste of Postmodernity, by Woodrow E. Walton

Christianity speaks of the risk of love and loving which is something none of the other religions offers. Instead of arguing points of divergence in beliefs, follow out their positions as to where they lead in pragmatic expression and implementation. This is the reverse apologetic in practice.

What is offered here is something other than argumentation in a postmodern pluralist world. In our postmodern world where there are many options open, Christianity best defines itself as to the Gospel it offers to the world, none other than what Christ has come to give.

Practically all the religions are man-made institutions. At its heart, Christianity is a Gospel to Man. Practically all religions are in one sense geared to make the believer feel good; particularly the pantheistic and panentheistic varieties. Christianity is disturbing because it exposes us and requires of us coming to terms with what has been uncovered that we may ultimately know the love of God that covers us by way of his grace at Calvary, vindicated by His Resurrection, and sealed by His Holy Spirit.

There is no need to be alarmed. We have been here before.

This is why the Christian gospel eventually won out over all its competitors in the fourth century. Politics may have played its part but overwhelmingly through the lives of the Christians, imperfect as they may have been, there was exhibited what its competitors could never exhibit and delivered what the others could never deliver, the truth that was, and is, in Christ Jesus.

In his work, The Philosopher and Theology, Gilson wrote of the Christian’s faith that “Faith comes to intelligence as a light that overflows it with joy and inspires it with a certitude that does away with questions.”17

 

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More Christian History from Woodrow Walton

A Time of Weakness, A Time of Strength: AD 315-450

Constantine’s Edict of Milan brought an end to the persecution of Christians, but that did not mean the Church was granted favor throughout the Roman Empire. What are the lessons for us today?

 

Notes

1 D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids, Ml: Zondervan, 1996), p. 146.
2 Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Severus Alexander 29.2, Cited by Michael Grant in The Severans: The Changed Roman Empire (London & New York: Routledge, 1996), p. 75.
3 Richard Linds, The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), p. 246. Quoted by D.A. Carson in The Gagging of God, p. 150.
4 Quoted by Brian Moynihan, The Faith: A History of Christianity (New York: Doubleday, 2002), viii.
5 John R. W. Stott, ed., Making Christ Known: Historic Mission Documents from the Lausanne Movement, 1974 – 1989 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), p. 240.
6 Vinoth Ramachandra, The Recovery of Mission (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 167.
7 D.A Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), p. 184.
8 Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner, Unveiling Islam (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2002), p. 31.
9 Etienne Gilson, The Philosopher and Theology. Translated by Cecile Gilson (New York: Random House, 1962), p. 81.

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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Winter 2013

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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