Concordia Theological Monthly

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Document Type



early church, faith, apostolic fathers, irenaeus, authority, canon, clement, dogma, postapostolic, tertullian

Submission Type

Bible Study; Lecture; Sermon Prep


A question sometimes posed by aides of dogmatic development within the church is this, “Would St. Peter have understood the technical Christological terms employed by the Nicene Creed or the Chalcedonian Formula?" Assuming that the answer is no, the questioner proceeds to insist that the development of dogma therefore represents a change, if not a deterioration of the pristine Gospel. Adolph von Harnack's well-known "fall of the church" theory is based on the assumption of a radical discontinuity between the kerygma of the Beatitudes and the dogma of later centuries. Somewhere and somehow, to use Chesterton's phrase, "the puppy became a cat instead of becoming more doggy." The relevance of the question is seen in light of contemporary efforts at renewal of the church.


History of Christianity

Submission Cost


Submission Audience

Laity; Ministers; Scholars