“The simple fact was that in the context of the course that church doctrine was taking by that time, Montanism was obsolete and could not succeed or survive. Its principal significance for the development of church doctrine was to serve as an index to the gradual solidification of the church’s message and work, and to its inevitable need for fixed forms of dogma and creed.”
I’m enjoying Pelican and am really glad there are five volumes to this particular work. I hope they hold up. Southern requires his first volume of The Christian Tradition for their entrance essays, and I’m going to make an effort to get the others in before autumn comes dropping swift.
The insight above represents the kind of understanding you want to be able to achieve as a historian, should you ever become one. The quotation is his bare conclusion, but of course his book doesn’t just provide unsubstantiated conclusions; it leads up to them. Pelican proceeds by suspending judgment while he weighs the evidence and carefully excludes inadequate conclusions–as good historiography should, of course.
How do you persuade? That’s one of the fundamental questions. I enjoy how Pelican goes about it. Not that he always convinces me, you understand, but he opens the question up for consideration, and his writing is full of the possibilities for inquiry that are interesting to anybody inquisitive about the subject.