Tertullian and Bauer in San Francisco
I'm looking forward to the Evangelical Theological Society meeting this year in San Francisco on November 16-18. This week, the program was published. I look forward to joining other evangelical early church scholars to present a series of papers (see p. 23) that will be published as a book critiquing the German theologian Walter Bauer's proposal that what is now "heresy" actually preceded orthodoxy in the formation of Christian doctrine. My critique will be based on a survey of early North African Christianity and, in particular, the thought of Tertullian of Carthage (c. 160-220) and the abstract is below:
The story of North African Christianity, including the thought of its leading Christian theologians (Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine), is generally regarded by advocates of the Bauer thesis as too late and thus inadmissible evidence for the debate on the emergence of orthodoxy and heresy. Bauer does not even deal with North Africa in his geographical survey of early Christianities. However, Bauer does seems to contradict his own method by finding support for his arguments on more than a few occasions from Tertullian of Carthage (c. 160-220). It was for this reason that Walther Völker in his critique in 1935 concluded that Bauer “arrives at these astonishing conclusions by . . . inferences from later periods.” In this paper, I will first show briefly how Bauer presents Tertullian in light of his broader argument. Second, since Bauer has opened the door to “later” early Christian thought, I will attempt to argue for why Tertullian’s theology and example of a second- and third- century African Christian indeed challenge Bauer’s core thesis. Put another way, I will show why Tertullian matters to Bauer and then argue why Tertullian ought to matter more to him.
 Walther Völker, trans. Thomas P. Scheck, “Walter Bauer’s Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 14:4 (2006), 404.
One of my favorite bands Switchfoot just released their new album "Vice Verses." In listening to the album for the first time, I was especially impressed by the fourth song called "Restless" linked above. My hunch is that the song is directly based on the thought of Augustine of Hippo (354-430) who declared in the opening lines of his Confessions:
Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and of Your wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Your creation, desires to praise You . . . You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.
I look forward to enjoying this song and meditating on this enduring truth that restless hearts only find their true rest in God.