Archive

Posts Tagged ‘medieval history’

Church History (iTunes U): Medieval Scholasticism

August 25, 2015 2 comments

Nearing the end of the RTS Church History series, the last several lectures provide interesting information about the middle and late medieval period, specifically related to Anselm, Aquinas, and the scholastic era. In this section comes consideration of the Christian faith and rationalism, an idea which began with Anselm (late 11th century). Another good basic point — which makes sense considering the variations within Protestant theology and even within overall “Covenant Theology” — is that Medieval Catholicism was not monolithic, with everyone believing and emphasizing the same doctrinal and philosophical ideas. General groups of this time included the mystics and scholastics, represented to varying degrees by several scholars including names I knew at least a little about – Anselm, and Bernard of Clairvaux – along with a few other lesser-known names.

The lectures on the scholastic period note three philosophical approaches to “universals” – ideas about reality and truth and what they are based in — developed especially in the late-Medieval era. As also described in this Wikipedia article, the three views of various Medieval scholastics:

  • Platonic realism: This world is a shadow of reality; universal ideas exist outside of this world, what is actually real; everything in our world is a “shadow” of what exists beyond our world.  (The rationalism /realism of Anselm.)
  • Nominalism takes the opposite view, of skepticism, that there are no “universals” but only what actually exists.  Names associated with this view include William of Ockham and Peter Abelard.
  • Conceptualism / Moderate or Aristotelian realism: a middle-ground position that recognizes universals, but grounds the existence of the universal in the object itself.

The lecture considers as an example the existence of two white stones, and what each of these views would say about it: 1) whiteness is a universal that exists outside of this world and seen in the two stones (platonic realism); 2) no significance whatsoever to the fact that the stones exist and are white (nominalism); and 3) there is such a thing as whiteness but that truth exists in the reality of the stones themselves, not outside. Also briefly noted, over time the nominalist view came to dominate medieval philosophy; and Martin Luther in his early education was taught the nominalist view (which he later rejected). Though all of this is rather abstract, going beyond the explicit teaching of scripture, Anderson observed that these views have implications for our theology, such that he more liberal view of nominalism was thought to be incompatible with the doctrine of the trinity, whereas the two conservative views (platonic realism and moderate realism) do not conflict with Trinitarian understanding.

The first view (Platonic realism) I recognize as basically a teaching of C.S. Lewis, as brought out in the two “Shadowlands” movies about his life, as well as in a scene from the “Chronicles of Narnia” series’ The Silver Chair. The Narnia setting involved characters who lived underground and had never seen the world above, and Lewis’ character Puddleglum philosophizing to the evil witch (who is trying to convince Puddleglum and two human children that her world is all that ever exists) about the reality of the sun, of which the underground world’s lamp is a “shadow” and “like” the sun. Interestingly enough, though the lecturer never mentioned C.S. Lewis in reference to this idea, he did mention the philosophical idea of a creature that only lived underground and had never seen anything of this world.  An overall observation at this point is that C.S. Lewis (who was not at all evangelical, with questionable theology at many points) was quite familiar with medieval theology and philosophy, to the point of including the pre-Anselm popular medieval “ransom” atonement theory (Christ’s death as a payment to Satan) in the plot of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” as well as referencing medieval scholastic philosophy about universals.

This church history series ends with a look at Aquinas for a conclusion to pre-Reformation church history. Again, I appreciate these seminary class series offered through iTunes U, as informative lessons that explore more in-depth the different topics such as church history and worldviews.

Premillennialism and Church History, Part IV: Chiliasm and the Westminster Confession

August 6, 2014 2 comments

Continuing in this series through the history of premillennialism, we now come to the 17th century and the Westminster Assembly. Nathaniel West in his essay, “History of the Premillennial Doctrine,” detailed this time period and event, affirming several important points:

  • The Westminster Assembly included a large number of chiliasts, including the chairman himself.
  • The wording of the Westminster confession in no way invalidates premillennialism, and its silence concerning the specifics of premillennialism no more proves that the 1,000 years are not a measure of time, or that the Pre-Millennial Advent is not true, than does the silence of Daniel and Paul, in their eschatology, prove that the later and more developed eschatology given by Christ Himself to John, is contradictory of the earlier and less developed, and on that account uninspired. The silence and the expression are both harmonized by the “apotelesmatic” character of both prophecy and symbolism.
  • The eschatology of the Westminster confession includes references to ideas which adhere to a non-allegorical interpretation (at least so far as basic sequence and ideas including the 1000 years being future)

The chiliasts among the Westminster divines: Dr. Twisse, the Prolocutor, described as an ardent disciple of Mede – the earliest well-known chiliast in the Protestant era. Also the following names: Marshall, Palmer, Caryl, Langley and Gataker, Greenhill and Burroughs (“the morning and evening stars of Stepney”), Goodwin, Ash, Bridge, Nye, Selden and Ainsworth, and Peter Sterry. The statements from the anti-chiliasts well attest to this fact, and that the chiliasts in the assembly were sound, orthodox men and not representing the false chiliasm. West includes quotes from several here, including Baillie: “Most of the chief divines here,” he murmured, “not only Independents, but others, as Twisse, Marshall, Palmer, and many more, are express Chiliasts.” (Letters, No. 117, Vol. II, p. 313) Vitringa says: “Very many erudite men, far removed from a carnal Chiliasm,—a carnali Chiliasmo alienos—gave suffrage to this view.” Principal Cunningham, of Scotland, has affirmed that they who entertained it were “of the soundest among the Westminster divines.”

A few further points from Nathaniel West, related to the Westminster Confession’s wording:

As in the earlier Scriptures, however, so here in these Standards, the “Last things” are crowded together in one picture, of which the Parousia is the centre, and not distributed, or separated into their temporal relations, as in the Apocalypse. The 1,000 years are not named precisely as they are not named by Daniel, Christ, or Paul, but are implicate throughout. Any argument drawn from the silence, or non-mention of the 1,000 years by the Standards, against the truth of the pre-millennial advent, is an argument against the canonicity of the Apocalypse, which is not silent, but does mention these years, uncovering only what is elsewhere concealed or pre-intimated, 1 Cor. 15:23, 24, and arrays, at once, the Apocalypse against all the other Scriptures.

In response to amillennial and postmillennial thought, West lays emphasis as well on the overall eschatology, and hermeneutical approach, of the Westminster Confession:

In the Westminster Standard Rome is Papal, not Pagan; Antichrist is the Pope, not Nero; the Parousia is personal and visible, not merely spiritual and providential; the breath of the Lord’s mouth that slays “that Wicked” is judicial, not evangelical; Antichristianity is destroyed, not converted by a revival; the Dragon is the Devil, not Paganism; the “tribes of the earth” that mourn when Christ comes are not merely the Jews, but all nations; the “earth” is not simply Palestine, but the planet; and the “clouds,” on which the Son of Man comes to the Judgment, are not “poetic drapery borrowed from judicial imagery,” but atmospheric thunder-heads. … The Domitianic date of the Apocalypse and the Year-Day theory, are interwoven through the Standards of Westminster, which are the strongest pre-millennial symbol ever made, buttressed by every proposition needed for that conclusion.

Explanatory note: the ‘Year-Day’ theory is a construct of historicism, such that prophetic days are really “years” and thus the 1,260 days of the Great Tribulation are actually 1260 years. See this article, from historicist historic premillennialist H.G. Guinness (1879)

and

None in the Westminster Assembly ever took ground that the 1,000 years are not a measure of time. The vast majority dated their commencement, not from Constantine, but from the Judgment on the Papal Antichrist, so repudiating the idea that Armageddon and the overthrow of Gog are identical, and refusing to violently rend the indissolvable temporal sequence of Rev. chapter 20th upon chapter 19th, or to identify the “Parousia,” with the “End,” in 1 Cor. 15:24. Clearly, they refused to arbitrarily interject the 1,000 years between the Judgment on Antichrist and the Parousia, but made both these events contemporate. They thus threw the 1,000 years into the future, beyond the Second Advent; in other words, made the Parousia pre-millennarian. And because the reign of Antichrist can not contemporate with the Millennial triumph over Antichrist,—the 1,260 years with the 1,000 years—but is the core of the Kingdom of Satan and Sin, they expounded the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer as invoking, among other things, the fullness of the Gentiles, the conversion of the Jews, the overthrow of Satan’s Kingdom, so “hastening the time of Christ’s Second Coming and our reigning with Him forever.” Emphasis was laid on this in the Scotch Directory for Public Prayer. The classic passage in Acts 3:19-21, pre-intimating the conversion of the Jews, miraculous, like that of the healed cripple, leaping and praising God and ascending to the Holy Temple, they referred to the time of the Second Advent, the Last, the Judgment Day, the “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” and paralleled it with the “Rest” that comes to the troubled Church, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven.” (2 Thess. 1:7.) And because the 1,000 years come after, and not before, the Judgment on Antichrist, and in view of the fact that the hour of Christ’s coming is unknown to men, they declared it to be the duty of all men, now to “shake off all carnal security,” and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and be ever prepared to say: Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” Pre-millennarians could ask no more.

One final selection regarding the doctrine of premillennialism and the Westminster Confession:

The pre-millennial advent is no merely allowable interpretation, to be graciously tolerated among “heretics,” by ostensibly orthodox men, who cut the Standards down while professing to defend them, but is an imposed corollary, implicate in the very warp and woof of the symbol itself, an immediate conclusion without a middle term, the rejection of which is an open abandonment of the Reformed ground, and open assault upon the Westminster Confession.

Premillennialism in Church History, Part III: The Reformation, and Return to Chiliasm

August 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Continuing with this series on Premillennialism in Church History, now part III: the return to premillennialism in the Protestant era.

It was the failure of the apostate “church triumphant” Roman Catholic church that led to the Reformation–as well as the return to the original chiliast doctrine. This section I find particularly interesting: that the late-medieval historicist idea of the Pope identified as the antichrist, provided the logical consequence of abandoning amillennialism and embracing chiliasm, albeit in a modified, historicist, version.

As seen from the chiliast writings, premillennialism was originally futurist, at least so far as recognizing, from texts in Daniel and Revelation, that at some yet future point in time antichrist would come and reign for 3 ½ years, which would be followed by Christ’s return, at which time He would deliver His people and slay the antichrist. The medieval eschatology introduced by the apostate church shifted the basic thinking — this great, successful church triumphant era was the millennium spoken of in the scriptures – along with the introduction of allegorical hermeneutics, and the non-literal interpretation of events once considered future. When the literal plain language hermeneutic is abandoned, anything goes in terms of interpreting the prophetic texts of the Bible, and thus the church began to think of prophecy as “symbolically” describing actual events occurring in history in the early Christian era. As mentioned in the previous post, of course, the difficulty here is that no one knows for certain what those actual events really are, as many actual events can be “correlated” to various scriptural “symbolic” events. Throughout the Middle Ages, past events were correlated to certain apocalyptic wars; but when the end of the world did not occur around 1000 A.D. and the start of the 1000 years shifted, it was convenient enough to ascribe “Gog and Magog” of Revelation 20 to the Ottoman Turk empire invading Christendom.

Following in this allegorical type of thinking, by the 12th century some Christians began to express doubts about this age really being the millennium. As Nathaniel West observed:

 Scintillations of light, however, began to gleam through the Papal darkness. The lapse of centuries had been required in order to lay the historic basis for a true interpretation, in connection with prophecy, of the Apostasy and Antichrist, and to demonstrate the early error that confined the 1,260 days to the Pagan persecution, Babylon to the Secular City of Rome, and Antichrist to Nero. Goth and Vandal had indeed scourged the apostatizing empire. Saracens had accomplished their mission. Turks were executing theirs. Christendom “repented not” of its crimes and idolatries. (Rev. 9:20, 21.) The sacred page had predicted things of Rome not fulfilled either under the sword of Constantine or Attilla. Antichrist had not been revealed when the “let” was taken out of the way. (2 Thess. 2: 7.)

The idea of identifying the “Church” with evil had come up before; the corruption in the papacy gradually brought it to the forefront, that the Roman “Church” itself was the evil Babylon of scripture:

Even Jerome had intimated long ago that Babylon was the “Church” and Gregory had uttered some ominous words about John the Faster as “the Forerunner of Antichrist,” which the act of his own successor Boniface III only intensified. “The days of Antichrist are come,” said he, “this proud bishop is like Lucifer—0 tempora, 0 mores!” (Villemain, Life of Gregory, p. 96.) … Convictions began to grow, as the predicted marks of Antichrist broke out like plague-spots on the body of the “Man at Rome,” not only that the Seven-hilled City was the seat of the Antichrist about to be revealed in all his blaspheming and persecuting deformity, but that the Roman “Church” itself was no less than the “Babylon” of the Apocalypse.

The logical implications of this became obvious to many, given the basic sequence of events in biblical eschatology: if the Pope is the antichrist, and the antichrist is destroyed by Christ before He establishes His kingdom, then since the Pope is still here and not destroyed, therefore we are not in the kingdom now. As expressed by a German writer, “The contemporaneousness of the Beast and the 1,000 years’ kingdom, or even the contemporaneousness of the existence and dominion of the Beast and the imprisonment of Satan, is a monstrous thought.” (Koch, Das tausend., Reich, 197.) The Protestant idea fixed the final judgment as being on the Papal Antichrist, associated with Christ’s Second Advent, and threw the 1,000 years into the future: not in the medieval period, but beyond the Second Advent.

And what the value of this for Chiliasm? What the bearing of this mighty movement? Much, every way, infinitely much. Ere even the Reformers were aware, the back-bone of the Lateran theory of the millennium was broken. The 1,000 years were thrown into the future. The medieval position was flanked and turned by an act of Providence—the Reformation—and the pretended Millennial Kingdom of Christ was held to be what Eberhard had called it, “the Babylonian Empire of Antichrist.” The movement that restored the Apostolic doctrine of the Church, opened the door for the restoration of the doctrine of the pre-millennial advent of Christ. If the Man of Sin (2Thess. 2:3.) is the Antichrist, (Uohn 2:22, 4:3; 2 John 7,) an identity unanimously held by the whole primitive Church as well as the Reformers, and, if this Antichrist is the Pope, the Head of the Papacy, figured by the Beast and False Prophet (Rev. 13:1-18); an identity unanimously held by the purest Catholics of the Middle Age, the Albingenses, Waldenses, and the whole Reformation— “communem Protestantium sententiam” (De Moor VI. 82-117. Turrettin IV. 147-177,) to be destroyed by the Parousia of Christ (2 Thess. 2:8. Rev. 19:11-21) and which destruction comes before the 1,000 years, as all interpreters of every school admit, then the demonstration is simply adamantine that the millennium is future and dependent on the Second Advent for its inauguration, when Christ shall personally and visibly come to destroy Antichrist by a sentence of judgment from His lips before all nations. The most ingenious Preterism is incompetent to evade this conclusion without first assailing, either covertly or openly, the Reformation doctrine and repudiating its symbols on this subject, and especially the strongest of them all, the Westminster standards.

The actual re-introduction of chiliasm had a few more obstacles to overcome, including the carnal, false premillennialism of extremist groups, including Thomas Miinzeer and the Anabaptists, the Prophets of Zwickau, and later the Fifth Monarchy men (Cromwell’s time, the 17th century), the notion of a secular kingdom of the saints, set up by fire and sword, and before the resurrection—a purely later Jewish conception. Calvin and the other Reformers attacked this false premillennialism in an environment still devoid of true, biblical premillennialism. Nathaniel West details the situation of Calvin’s day and the Augsburg confession, pointing out that the anti-millennial attacks of that time were directed against a false Chiliasm.

Here, too, belongs the strong protest of the Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter XL and the celebrated XVIIth Article of the Augsburg Confession, so “ill understood” by many who assume it to be aimed against a PreMillennial Advent of Christ, because aimed against a false Chiliasm. On the contrary, it only condemns those who scatter “Judaicas opiniones” and Melancthon’s comment in the “Variatio” expressly inserts “Anabaptistas” as those to whom the article referred. (Prolog. Var. Hase Lib. Symbol, p. XVIII. Walch. Introd. Luth. Symb. p. 314.) To the same parties are the “Judaica somnia” condemned in the Helvetic Confession, attributed, as also in the Belgic Confession. (Niemeyer, Coll. Conf. pp. 486, 387.)

Next time: A look at the Westminster confession, and its presentation of eschatology which is not at all in contradiction to premillennialism but follows even the biblical presentation style – and the chiliasts who understood and affirmed that confession.

Premillennialism in Church History, Part II

July 28, 2014 5 comments

Continuing from Part I in this series, now for a brief look at the early medieval period, when the martyr doctrine was itself martyred. As well established from the available writings of the early church, the true church pre-Constantine (those who were of the Christian faith and not heretics) affirmed chiliasm. Nathaniel West’s essay points out the connection between the martyrs and their “martyr doctrine,” the hope of the future reign with Christ. Premillennialism is the doctrine of the martyred church, a great truth that has no place in apostate Christianity, that false faith that springs forth in times of peace, free from persecution.

This part of the history is more known to premillennialists, at least in general terms: the allegorical approach in the Alexandrian school, and Augustine formulating what is now called amillennialism, including “progressive parallelism” as a “spiritual” answer in response to the “carnal” excesses of some chiliast groups. And the political climate after Constantine, the church triumphant, was contrary to the idea of the persecuted church and a future time of Christ ruling the earth – after all, the church is doing just fine now, so this must be the kingdom.

The details here are interesting, though, as to the spiritualizing that took place. I had not realized that the Roman Catholic idea of venerating the saints, their bones having miraculous power, setting forth images of them, etc., was the 5th century papacy’s advancing of their reinterpretation of the former chiliast (premillennial) faith, “the reign of the risen saints.”

 The fatal blow to the doctrine of Polycarp and Irenaeus was given, first of all, by a Roman Pope, whose secretary was Jerome, at the close of the fourth century — Damasus I., A.D. 380 — who condemned the martyr faith as a ” heresy,” in the person of Appolinarius, the opposer of the principles of Origen and Dionysius, while the advancing Papacy began to expound the reign of the risen saints, — ” secundum ana gogen!” — as meaning their idolatrous worship, the miraculous virtue of their bones, the presence of their images, the sanctity of their tombs, and their ghostly intercession.

Nathaniel West provides some great quotes at this point of the history:

 The martyr age had passed away. No more councils like that of Nice, in which martyrs, fresh from the Maximian persecution, answered to their names. No Paphnutius, any more, venerable with silver hairs, one eye gouged out by the tool of the Pagan torturer, its frightful socket seared with red-hot iron, both legs ham-strung, and standing beside young Athanasius of only twenty-seven summers, defending the orthodox faith. A new generation has appeared, intoxicated with the Christian conquest of heathenism, the careering splendor of a church and state establishment, and whirling a mystic dance around the tranquility of the empire. As the aspect of outward affairs changed under Constantine, these views lost their hold on men’s minds. The church now prepared for a long-continued period of temporal prosperity, and the State-Church of that time forgot the millennial glory of the future.

By union of church and state, and perversion of victory, the foundation was laid in the empire for a carnal caricature of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on earth before the time. A Millennium sunk in the gross materialism and idolatry of medieval, political and military Christianity. By union of church and state, the martyr doctrine itself was martyred, not merely the unfortunate Jewish admixtures cast away, but the truth itself rejected, no council resisting, and vanished from view with the departing glory and last remnant of a suffering but pure apostolic church.

The “church is the kingdom” idea really only prevailed until about the 12th century, and this particular form of amillennialism had a temporal starting point, to continue for 1000 years until some yet-future time. First it was to end in the 6th century (the world’s six thousand years to have ended); then around 1000 A.D.: 1000 years after Christ’s birth. When nothing happened then, the starting date for the kingdom was changed to begin with Constantine’s victory in the year 312 A.D.. As West aptly observed: This new lease of three centuries caused the Ottoman Turk invading Christiandom to be regarded as the Gog and Magog of Revelation, and reserved for the fourteenth century another Antichiliastic panic, revived by the Flagellants and Loquis, less extensive, however, than the former; and followed by the general opinion that the 1,000 years were of indefinite duration.

It was the corruption in the Catholic church, the wickedness seen in the Pope and his system, that gradually brought people to see that this age of the Church is not the kingdom. And that leads to another interesting point, for next time: the connection between Historicism, and the Pope as AntiChrist, and the Return to Premillennialism.

The Doctrines of Grace through the Middle Ages: Steve Lawson’s Pillars of Grace

January 25, 2013 2 comments

Continuing through Steve Lawson’s Pillars of Grace, vol. 2,  I’m now reading through the chapters that highlight a few key Christian leaders of the Medieval period:

  • Early Monastics: Isidore of Seville (early 7th century) and Gottschalk of Orbais (9th century)
  • English Scholastics:  Anselm of Canterbury (11th century) and Thomas Bradwardine (early 14th century)
  • Late Monastic: Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century)

I had heard these names in previous Christian history lessons (such as here), though with very little information about a few, such as Gottschalk and Bradwardine.  Here again, Lawson adds good biographical and historical information on these key figures who, in spite of the spiritual darkness of the Roman Catholic age, understood and believed the truth concerning God’s sovereignty, the doctrines of Grace.

Among the highlights, some interesting details:

Gottschalk had been assigned to a monastery life by his father, and took the monastic vow at his father’s insistence while still young.  Upon reaching adulthood, Gottschalk sought to be free of his vows, appealing his case through several levels of church hierarchy, finally losing and being consigned to be a lifelong monk.  The one reprieve granted him was a transfer to a different monastery, at Orbais in northeast France.  While in the monastery at Orbais, Gottschalk came in contact with Augustine’s writings, and became convinced and excited about the truth of God’s sovereignty over all things including man’s salvation.  The man who had so desired to keep Gottschalk a monk for life (yet allowed him to transfer to Orbais), semi-Pelagian Maurus, later strongly opposed Gottschalk and was instrumental in the subsequent persecution. Gottschalk spent his last twelve years in prison, “imprisoned for life in a monastery and repeatedly tortured him with floggings.”  As Lawson observes, “It is amazing that Gottschalk endured twelve years of this treatment before he died insane, still convinced that an omniscient God cannot logically choose some for salvation without at the same time choosing to reject others, even though they are no more sinful.”

Anselm is best known for his improvement on the atonement theory, rejecting the prevailing view of the atonement as a ransom paid to Satan.  In modern times I have seen this idea portrayed in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” in which the Christ figure Aslan pays the penalty for young Edward’s sin that is owed to the evil one (the White Witch).  Anselm’s answer to such a ransom idea puts the focus on God’s sovereignty:

he unequivocally stated that the Devil has no rights over the human race, but is a robber who has taken sinners unlawfully. It is therefore illogical, he argued, to claim that Christ’s atoning work is a means of rescuing us from the Devil. Anselm writes: “I cannot see what force this argument has. If the devil or man belonged to himself or to anyone but God, or remained in some power other than God’s, perhaps it would be a sound argument. But the devil and man belong to God alone, and neither one stands outside God’s power; what case, then, did God have to plead with His own creature?”  Man, he asserted, is God’s own creation and therefore God’s possession, not Satan’s.

Anselm’s theory was still not fully developed, focused on “the idea that God’s honor has been injured by man’s sin. Therefore, God could vindicate His honor either by punishing the sinner or by accepting a suitable payment for man’s egregious sin.”  His view relied on medieval justice theory, with emphasis on God’s honor rather than God’s justice, and no mention of any penalty for man’s sin.  “Although Anselm emphasized sin’s infinite debt rather than God’s justice, and though he said nothing of the lifelong obedience of Christ as an aspect of vicarious satisfaction, the Reformers did not reject his thoughts on the subject, but complemented them.”

Bernard of Clairvaux was a well-known, influential church leader in the 12th century, and a “watchdog of orthodoxy” looking out for false teachers, such as heretic Peter Abelard.  He also was a “mystic” in the original meaning of that word (not its later connotations): the spiritual experience of contemplation.  In this pursuit, the supreme object of contemplation was the triune God in the beauty of His holiness. The mystics sought to know and love Him with their entire being.  This did not include things we often associate with the term — emotional excess and ecstatic experiences — but true meditating on the word of God, a scripture-based focus with expository teaching.  Much of his literary output came from Bernard’s sermons to the monks at Clairvaux. We also note here that Bernard interpreted scripture allegorically, as with his most famous work, 86 sermons on the “Song of Solomon.”  Still, Bernard of Clairvaux was one of a few outstanding medieval thinkers who affirmed the doctrines of grace, God’s sovereignty in election. The Reformers referenced Bernard of Clairvaux and Anselm as teachers before them, who had continued belief in the doctrines of grace, that belief traced back especially to Augustine and (in some measure) to the earliest church fathers.