By Paul; Edited by Braaten, Carl E. Tillich
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Extra resources for A History of Christian Thought: From its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism
Eclecticism Eclecticism is another reality which was taken over by the Christian Church. This comes from a Greek word meaning to choose some possibilities out of many. Americans should not have contempt for this because in this respect as in so many others they are like the ancient Romans. The Eclectics were not creative philosophers like the Greeks. The Roman thinkers were often at the same time politicians and statesmen. As Eclectics they did not create new systems. Instead, they chose (Cicero, for example) the most important concepts from the classical Greek systems which they thought would be pragmatically useful for Roman citizens.
This tradition had various names, like truth, gospel, doctrine, and commandments. This, however, was a large amount of material; it had to be narrowed down for those who were to be baptized. So a creed was created which they could confess when they became members of the church. This creed had a similarity to our present Apostles' Creed, because its center was also christological. Christology was at the center because this is what distinguished the Christian communities from Judaism as well as paganism.
We may call them protective doctrines, for they were intended to protect the substance of the biblical message. To an extent the substance was fluid; of course, there was a fixed core, the confession that Jesus was the Christ. But beyond this everything was in motion. When new doctrines arose which seemed to undercut the fundamental confession, the protective doctrines were added to it. In this way the dogmas arose. Luther recognized this fact that the dogmas were not the result of a theoretical interest, but arose from the need to protect the Christian substance.
A History of Christian Thought: From its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism by Paul; Edited by Braaten, Carl E. Tillich