Two Observations Gathered

Jaroslav Pelikan every once in a while makes, in the course of his five volume history of Christian doctrine, the odd observation that is arresting. Here are two that have stayed with me.

The first is that the theology of the church in the early ages was dominated by bishops. They argued, thought, wrote–in short, theologized. But then in the middle ages this changes. No longer are the bishops busy administrating theologizing, the monks are. And then there is a final transition at the Reformation when rather than monks doing the theologizing, now it has moved to professionals in universities. University professors theologize in our age. So it went from the bishop’s chair in the church, to the monastery, where it transitioned into the university.

The second is that whereas the sacrament of the early church was baptism–they wrote about it, prepared elaborately for it, explained it, preached all around it–in the middle ages the eucharist became the prominent sacrament. Isn’t that interesting? It is as if the earlier age were concerned with baptizing things and the second more on nourishing.

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