• The 13th Century Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2013

    More traditionally minded Roman Catholics have seen the thirteenth century as the golden age of Roman Catholic civilization. Certainly it witnessed the papacy achieving the summit of its power over the politics and culture of Western Europe. THE REIGN OF POPE INNOCENT III The pope who presided over this Catholic “high noon” was Innocent III, who was bishop of Rome from 1198 to 1216. His baptismal name was Lothario Conti. Born in 1160, he came from one of Rome’s most ancient aristocratic families. After studying theology and law at Rome, Bologna, and Paris, he lectured at Bologna law school … View Resource

  • All Truth Is God’s Truth Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2008

    During the nineteenth-century potato famine in Ireland, my great-grandfather, Charles Sproul, fled his native land to seek refuge in America. He left his thatched roof and mud floor cottage in a northern Ireland village and made his way barefoot to Dublin — to the wharf from which he sailed to New York. After registering as an immigrant at Ellis Island, he made his way west to Pittsburgh, where a large colony of Scots-Irish people had settled. They were drawn to that site by the industrial steel mills led by the Scot, Andrew Carnegie.  My great-grandfather died in Pittsburgh in 1910 … View Resource

  • Back to Barbarism Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    We Western Christians have been sending missionaries to spread the Gospel to cultures throughout the world. We sometimes forget that, unless we have a Jewish background, our cultures too were originally evangelized by missionaries. This is certainly true for those of us whose ancestors were English, Celtic, German, French, or Scandinavian, as well as other European tribes deemed “barbarian” by the Romans. Those ancient tribal societies were very much like those of Africa or the American Indians. Tribal societies — whether European, African, or American — tend to be ruled by local “chiefs” (which the Europeans called “kings”), with a … View Resource

  • The Battle for Grace Alone Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    The early part of the fifth century witnessed a serious controversy in the church that is known as the Pelagian controversy. This debate took place principally between the British monk Pelagius and the great theologian of the first millennium, Augustine of Hippo. In the controversy, Pelagius objected strenuously to Augustine’s understanding of the fall, of grace, and of predestination. Pelagius maintained that the fall affected Adam alone and that there was no imputation of guilt or “original sin” to Adam’s progeny. Pelagius insisted that people born after the fall of Adam and Eve retained the capacity to live lives of … View Resource

  • The Benedictine Rule Article by Andrew Hoffecker

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    Ever since the New Testament epistles were written, Christians have received advice on how to live the Christian life. How much should we pray? What progress can we expect to make in achieving biblical holiness in this life? Is perfection an attainable goal? Is Christianity best lived out in normal circumstances of family, marriage, and vocation, or in hermit-like isolation from others or in communities specially formed for the purpose of cultivating prayer, worship, and work? As persecution of the early church died out and Christians gained freedom of worship in the Roman Empire, the monastic life originated as a … View Resource

  • Bernard of Clairvaux and Mysticism Article by Stephen Nichols

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2012

    One has to appreciate a medieval figure whom Martin Luther and John Calvin looked on with favor and, to a certain degree, approval. The figure in question is Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cistercian monk, abbot, mild mystic, and formidable theologian. It’s an understatement to call him an abbot. His monastery eventually founded a daughter institution, then another, then another. By the time of his death, seventy monasteries had been directly planted or started by him, with those institutions responsible for establishing hundreds more. So revered was Bernard that Dante left his faithful Beatrice behind as his guide and had … View Resource

  • Boethius: The Philosopher Theologian Article by Carl R. Trueman

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    One of the least known but most significant Christian thinkers of antiquity was a sixth-century layman called Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boethius, or simply Boethius for short. The son of an old senatorial family, he lived between 480 and 524, being consul (a largely ceremonial political position) in 510, and then Master of the Offices at the Ostrogothic court in Ravenna in 522. It was while serving in this latter capacity that Boethius was accused of treason, imprisoned, tried, and executed. It remains unclear to this day whether he was actually guilty of treason or, as seems more likely, was … View Resource

  • Columba: Missionary to Scotland Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    In reading the “lives of the saints” it is difficult to the point of impossibility to discover the unvarnished truth. That is certainly true in the case of Columba, or Columcille, the Irish missionary to the Scots and Picts in the second half of the sixth century. Columba’s biography, written by Adamnan one hundred years after his death, contains all the stock-in-trade elements of medieval hagiography: visions and revelations, prophecies, visitations of angels, healings, resurrection of the dead, and battles against dark forces (including, in Columba’s case, banishing by the sign of the cross a sixth-century ancestor of the Loch … View Resource

  • God’s Truth Abideth Still Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2008

    One could perhaps make the argument that the history of the church consists of one division after another. Nevertheless, while history is replete with ecclesiastical divisions, there is a unity that transcends all the worldly clamor and devilish confusion surrounding the history of God’s people. This unity is not the result of ecumenical doctrinal compromise. It is just the opposite. It is a unity that transcends all heresies on account of the fact that it is a unity established in God Himself.  For God sees not as man sees, and His story of the unfolding covenant of redemption brings … View Resource

  • Gottschalk Article by Steven Lawson

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2009

    Amid the swirling controversies of the ninth century, there was raised a strong voice for sovereign grace belonging to an unknown German monk named Gottschalk of Orbais (ca. 804–869). Like Augustine before him and Luther and Calvin after him, Gottschalk possessed an overriding sense of the sovereignty of God in salvation, and he brought it to bear upon his turbulent generation. It was in this dark hour of history that this medieval theologian stood in the gap to uphold the banner of the doctrines of grace. Born at Mentz in modern Germany, Gottschalk was the son of a respected nobleman … View Resource

  • Graven Images? Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2008

    In 726, Emperor Leo’s order to destroy the image of Christ at the imperial palace provoked a riot, and a long and virulent controversy engulfed the Eastern church. Not until the Empress Irene called the second council of Nicea in 787 was the issue settled in favor of images. Even then, a revival of iconoclasm followed and only in 843 was the turmoil finally ended by Patriarch Methodius, an occasion marked thereafter as the Feast of Orthodoxy. The controversy was savagely violent. Monks were publicly lashed to death or had their nostrils slit; one was torn to pieces by a … View Resource

  • A ‘Great’ Leader Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2009

    These days it’s easy to become cynical about politicians, government officials, and other national leaders. Governing a country takes hard-nosed, practical realism. Morality and religion are well and good, many of us say, but someone who follows such ideals in the political arena will be eaten alive. Yet, consider the example of a ninth-century king named Alfred the Great. In his day England (“Angle-land”) consisted of isolated Germanic tribes whose kings were closer to tribal chiefs than heads of state. The various Angles and Saxons had converted to Christianity thanks to seventh-century missionaries, but holdover practices from paganism such as … View Resource

  • Gregory “the Great” Article by Tom Nettles

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    A candid review of the accomplishments of Gregory, known as “the Great,” gives pause to an evangelical Protestant about such an exalted attribution. That he was a conservator of orthodoxy, an effective missiologist, and a zealous and clever churchman cannot be denied. While he disciplined and corrected heretics in one category of doctrine, however, he just as surely baptized a gospel that was no gospel. Born around 540 in Rome, Gregory was reared as a “saint among saints.” His father was a devout Christian while his mother, Silvia (in her widowhood), and two paternal aunts lived austere cloistral … View Resource

  • The Light of Glory Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    Humanistic historians and secular sociologists are eager to assign their carefully crafted, far-reaching labels to just about anything. Centuries-long periods of history and entire generations of people have been adorned with meaningless titles and simplistic definitions. From the so called “baby-boom generation” to the “me generation” and “generation x,” our society has determined that bestowing a general category upon an entire population based on age is appropriate. Similarly, entire periods of history are known for the type of metal prominently used during that particular period, for instance, the “Bronze Age.” We have “golden” ages and ages of “enlightenment … View Resource

  • The Lone Monk Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2007

    The seventh century is something of a forgotten epoch for most Protestants. But it is well worth knowing. The creative heart of its theology lay in the East — the Byzantine Empire, centered on Constantinople. Here the Christological controversies of the fifth century were still bubbling away. As a result of the councils of Chalcedon (451) and of Second Constantinople (553), the Eastern church and empire were bitterly divided between two great parties. These were the Chalcedonians, loyal to the orthodox creed of Chalcedon, that Christ is one person in two natures; and the Monophysites, numerous in Egypt and Syria … View Resource