Why study the heretical doctrines of the past? Questions for Discussion: Lesson 1A- “Introduction” and “The Opening Act – Part One” from  The Story of Christian Theology by Roger E. Olson .

1. Why should Christian laymen study heretical doctrines of the past? What is one of Olson’s reasons for understanding these doctrines?

2. The story of the Secret Service training and counterfeit money: How does this anecdote help us understand our purpose in studying orthodoxy and heterodoxy?

3. According to Olson, Athanasius criticized a Jehovah’s Witness-like belief in “Christ as a great creature of God”.  How did Athanasius accomplish this?

4. Olson argues that throughout Christian history doctrinal points have mattered a great deal to laymen, commonly more in the past than today. He uses an episode reported by the fourth century Cappadocian church father Gregory of Nyssa about the Trinity to illustrate the troubling and widespread acceptance of the Arian and semi-Arian heresies. What do these heresies involve and how did Gregory oppose them?

5. What are the risks for a Christian, according to Olson, when little is known or understood of Christian doctrines?

6. Olson says “I make no pretense of historicism” and sees his approach in The Story of Christian Theology as contrasting with this perspective because…?

7. Do you believe that Christian history reveals periods of excessive concern for doctrinal correctness?

See Lesson 1B for Correlated Readings  

Athanasian Creed; Gregory of Nyssa on the supremacy of scripture

Bible Verses for Reflection


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