When we receive His Truth and let His truth reside in us as the ground of all truth, then out of the overflowing of our souls our mouths speak Godliness. Godliness in this sense is the same as Christliness which is saying the same thing that God, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, has already said. John 8.12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” This verse here corresponds with the above verse, Ps. 36.9. The fountain of Life, Jesus Christ, is the Light that we are able to make our own by abiding in it, allowing it to shine out of us and be personally guided by it. The Light speaks and acts in a way that is tangible and is able to be comprehended by all those who seek to grasp it. No matter if one is most eloquent, or less articulate, He speaks and acts in a way that is within reach of all allowing His Life to freely flow through all.
Having establish the whole scope of Scripture as the reliable witness to the Person of Jesus Christ, this gives us the point that is fixed from which we can reliably draw the Truth. If we establish this truth and build upon it then as a community we should arrive at the same conclusions. Irenaeus was confident that what he wrote in his conclusion drawn from the reliable witness of Scripture, would be the very same conclusion throughout the Catholic church in the ancient world. The “properties” exhibited in Uncreated Light as the foundation for our truth is built on Uncreated Truth, Jesus Christ; i.e. He is the only one who knows the Father and is the only One who can provide us with reliable information on the ways and works of God. In this way, what we share is His Light through us. We share His relationship with the Father, His relationship with us by the Spirit of Christ in us. What we endeavour to do is to share the relational unity of the Father, Son and Spirit in union with us as a whole. This is what we can call the stable point in Theological Science by which all those who engage in healthy theology must pursue. This is as reliable as the method employed by James Clerk-Maxwell and Albert Einstein that has led to astonishing and breathtaking advances in technology. They too explored the relational unity in their objects to better understand the truth and reality that resided in them. To find any reason to disregard this is denying reality and bordering on insanity. Both disciplines have enormous faith in the object they study in their respective fields because the object they study is reliable and true to their nature. What the respective parties are witnessing is reality and to the best of their ability, they are trying to best reflect the reality they see in the way the speak and write about it.
Even though science has shown us that pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world, so also, a logical approach to laying out Christian doctrine in any systematic way will fail to yield any true knowledge of God. Our knowledge of God should come from our experience of God disclosed in the Scriptures. Beginning with fixed premises regarding the nature and character of God will only work if it is God Himself who provides us with His own tangible premise that is within reach of all. We either take seriously the Incarnate Word of God as the starting point for all His ways and works and pursue a stable theology or we disregard Him and pursue a wildly erratic mythology. It is here through Jesus Christ where we have a real and tangible contact between God and humanity and clear ideas have been exchanged in language that is accessible to all.
In the ancient world, there were established ideas on the nature and character of gods. These myths were the very fabric of societies throughout the world and the culture and way of life sprang from these beliefs. Some societies were polytheistic and others had the belief there was a cause or source which all life originated from. With all these communities there was no established, tangible contact with any form of deity. There was always a dualism between gods and the people who worshipped them. What was spoken of regarding “god” or the “gods” were legends and theories without any established contact with the deity they believed to exist. Even the nation of Israel, whose history is so filled with the mighty acts of salvation during her troubled history, had fixed ideas about who God was. This nation was characterised by their stiff-necked and rebellious attitude towards God who had chosen them out of all the other nations. This relationship spanned over many generations. God made contact with Israel and established a relationship with them making this nation His very own. Their interaction with Yahweh became embedded into their culture and language. This made the nation of Israel ripe for the Incarnation so that it could be interpreted through her culture and history providing a uniquely Hebraic way of seeing and knowing the meaning of God becoming man. They were all imbued with the promise of the Messiah who would free them from their oppression and carefully studied the Scripture for signs of when He would come. As the chosen nation, Israel were given the privilege of having a glimpse of who God is and the way He spoke and acted. This germinated within the mind of Israel’s people in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
However, when Jesus Christ appeared to them with many signs and wonders proving without a doubt that He was the promised Messiah, His very own did not receive Him. The Jews and the Gentiles both played their hand in having Him put to death. The resurrection was the final act par excellence that vindicated all that He said. After the Day of Pentecost when the spirit was poured out on all flesh, the church grew rapidly. The message contained the personal witness to all that Jesus Christ did making it absolutely clear that the Maker and Framer of the World had come to us as Man. They shared what He did and what He said, giving to all the Reality of God in His own Person, speaking on His own behalf. As people were confronted with the reality of Jesus Christ, those who were willing to come to His knowledge had their whole lives transformed. Once they grasped the reality, their belief was unshakable, even when faced with death. The church grew as the living body of the recipients of the reality of God expressed precisely in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Not only were they taught by the witnesses, pastors, teachers and evangelists etc., but they had the Spirit of Christ within them giving them all the ability to intuitively know the truth. It did not matter if one was gifted in eloquence or less confident to express it, they all knew what was consistent with the truth.
This is in far contrast to the modern world where we have well over 30,000+ denominations. Is there the same level of unity amongst these denominations? In my own experience over the last 27 years I have been a Christian, I find there is very little unity. There is much disharmony towards what is the “true gospel,” and what is the “right belief.” This has been the church’s struggle for two thousand years. The church stated from the beginning that Jesus Christ is the precise representation of the Father’s being as testified in Scripture. When we see Him we see the precise nature and character of His Father, as testified in Scripture. There has always been the constant endeavour to place a wedge between the Father and the Son, between the Son and creation and between His own divinity and humanity. Yet, the ancient church held with the utmost pride and reverence the deposit of the gospel handed to them by the Apostles that Jesus Christ is the whole rule of faith from which, in His Incarnation, He disclosed all the ways and works of God. There is no other name. There is no other way, There is no other truth. It is exclusive to Jesus Christ who universally discloses to all like a lighthouse upon a hill. The reality starts here. To start anywhere else is engaging in pure fantasy and madness. There is only the narrow path which we all must pursue and it is only Jesus Christ who is on it. When we participate in Him as the only true Light in which we see the light of what is true, then we walk in the light as He is in the Light.
What the Apostolic and the church Fathers endeavoured to do was to produce work that was in line with the reality of God they were confronted with in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. To begin anywhere else is a betrayal of the revealed God in this Person. Like the scientist who employed Newtonian mechanics, the heretics ignored the reality of the object disclosed and the ways and works of God was fabricated according to whatever they imagined god to be. They were fabricating in their own mind a god who did not exist. Once the fabrications were satisfactorily laid out, the text had to be manipulated and the unity of Jesus’ Person and work had to be torn apart and His unity with the Father severed. The way God was presented by the Christians did not make sense to the heretics. It sounded insane that “God” would place Himself in what they believed to be the defiled creative existence. God is too holy to be so close. As far as they were concerned the spirit was good and all matter was evil. Instead of being transformed by the renewing of their minds and turning away from the selfish desire of the flesh, the reality of God in Jesus Christ became a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the rest of the nations. The text needed “correction” so it would mean what they want it to mean according to their theories rather than accepting the clear testimony of God out of the mouth of Jesus Christ.
As far as the ancient church was concerned, the Person and work of Jesus Christ who being the precise representation of the Father’s Person, the image of the invisible God, became the Christological hermeneutic for all that was said about God. God coming to the world as the Man, Jesus Christ meant that there is no other human being under heaven and on earth can know God like God as Man knows Himself. The emphasis of Irenaeus is that it takes God to know God and without Him God cannot be known. Therefore it is God who must teach. This very same emphasis was employed throughout the ancient world where Irenaeus was confident this was the very same approach which ensured all would say the same thing. It is clear Irenaeus understood the vital importance of making Jesus Christ the central object, within our weak and feeble minds, for understanding the ways and works of God. It is Jesus Christ as Uncreated Light, Uncreated Truth and Uncreated Life showing us exactly where the narrow path is upon which He walks. As we grasp Him in all His reality, our minds are lightened up transforming us from the ways of darkness towards the truths of God. As we abide in Him, we too begin to walk the narrow path that leads to life. This precise method he employed would become the hallmark of the ancient church. Early in the fourth century, a young Athanasius was to become the most prominent figure in the Church as the champion of orthodoxy in his battle against Arius and Arianism. It was to him that the theological scientific method was employed with such vigour and power that was to make him one of the most gifted theologians of all time.