Newton's theology
Mon, 17 Mar 97 07:53:00 -0500

George Murphy offered the view that post-3rd [I think
he meant 4th] century Christians can't go back and view
things (such as christology) from an earlier standpoint,
that is, we can't reverse the advance in theological
understanding -- or so I take him to mean.

Interestingly, this is just what Newton did. When he
assumed the Lucasian professorship at Trinity, he was
obligated to take holy orders within a specified time.
Never one to take someone else's word for something,
he undertook exhaustive studies of early church history,
to satisfy himself that they had gotten things right,
and concluded that they hadn't, at least with regard
to the Trinity. He found Arius to be more correct than
Athanasius, and ultimately ranked the Trinity along with
the Papacy as one of the two greatest heresies in the
history of Christianity.

I'm not saying here that he was correct to draw his
conclusions about the Trinity, only that he did indeed
view things from an older perspective. CS Lewis once
said that, when things have gotten on the wrong track,
progress involves going back to where we went wrong and
then going forward along the correct path. Newton, no
doubt, would have seen it this way. So do I, on certain
other issues -- such as the Protestant modernist rejection
of divine transcendence, about which I have made some
comments of late.


Ted Davis
Professor of the History of Science
Messiah College
Grantham, PA 17027
717-766-2511, ext 6840