All These Things Are Yours: The Shape of Christian Wisdom
Gerald Sittser of Whitworth University comments on the Christian wisdom and skill of early Christianity’s Church Fathers and theologians from Christian history. He applies the Pauline idea that “All things are yours” (1 Corinthians 3:21-22), and points out the need for many voices to speak to us through history.
I recall this great line that Paul writes in first Corinthians four where he’s dealing with the party spirit in the Church of Corinth, Peter Paul Apollos. And he says at the end of this argument, “All things are yours,” he says. In one sense, this exclusive commitment to Peter or Apollos, to some sort of party within the Church was cutting them off from other sources of wisdom and insight that they could gain by embracing it all. Obviously, with a critical eye, with a submission to the Gospel. And so he says, “All things are yours.
Whether Paul or Peter or Apollos, all things are yours and you are Christ and Christ is God.” So he says take advantage of this resource that you have and don’t cut yourself off by identifying exclusively with Peter, for example. So, I guess, I say to myself, “Augustan is yours. And Calvin is yours. And Julian of Norwich is yours. And Hildegard is yours. And Melania is yours. And Macrina is yours and so on and so forth. That these people, that they’re part of my resource. They are members of my family and I want to come to know them and love them and to think critically about of them obviously.
No one’s ever entirely right except the scripture. But they can give us an angle of vision on our understanding of the Christian faith that could actually protect us from becoming a prisoner to our own age, the questions that are fashionable to us, the ideas that are binding us from living a fuller and richer Christian life. Now, I’m going to say that they’re really odd in many cases. But often in the history of the Church, you know, you read about people, you read about movements, and after a while, you get the idea that we’re odd to them.
And you wonder who’s right. Let me give you an example. Our Church today, especially in the West, almost entirely refuses to talk about money and wealth. And yet in other parts of the Christian community in other periods of history, they have addressed that in a very robust way. You know, when Wesly started his class system, for example, the method behind the Methodist movement. One of the things that they did every week was they talked about money. Can you imagine that happening in a small group today in a typical church or an evangelical church? You see, we wouldn’t touch that subject.
So, I just like multiple voices that can all bear witness to Jesus Christ and draw us into a deeper, richer, life with Him. And those voices are not simply somebody else in my church, but the voices that speak to us through the history of Christianity. And my job is to try to make them accessible.
And that means I have to study them a lot too. Which I try to do. [upbeat music]