How Then Have We Lived?

The resourcement pages of TCI will offer a collection of primary sources, biographical sketches of forgotten doctors and academies, important theological articles, and modern examples of reformed catholic scholarship.

The two 20th century men TCI regards as specially exemplary, CS Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, both pointed their readers ad fontes, toward the great sources; and not “back” to these, but rather, “up into” them; they both conceived engagement with the works of great Christian teachers as an elevation, not a retrogression. Schaeffer especially tried to correct certain tendencies prevalent among modern evangelicals- individualism, parochialism, ignorance of history- and called his readers to realize their status as heirs of a great tradition.

Unfortunately, many of those who heard that call often didn’t bother to correct that ignorance of history, which Schaeffer himself had diagnosed, before they did so; then, confusing the evangelical faith as such with the meager offerings of much modern evangelicalism, they often left the evangelical faith altogether, thinking that the only fontes deep enough to drink from were ancient and medieval ones, and consequently, any supposedly direct continuations of those- which “continuations” in fact, though, were very often simply unreformed appropriations of earlier patrimony.

But Schaeffer and Lewis both knew better. The Reformation tradition produced writers, deeply rooted in the truths of the ancient and medieval Christendom, who excelled in and advanced all branches of learning, both sacred and mundane; and helped build the world we live in today- for better, but sometimes for the worse too. But, even with respect to the flaws of the Reformation traditions, one has to understand them first in order to judge them and their effect on us now. Part of what we wish to do here is to offer a comprehensive view of the Reformation traditions especially, so that readers who do take the urgings of Lewis and Schaeffer seriously can do so in an informed manner.

We aim to take full recognition of scholarship which breaks free from those conventional categorizations which often obscure the real connections between people and ideas. We strongly admire the work of the Reformed compiler Heppe, the Lutheran compiler Schmid, and the Reformed historian Richard Muller. But, following Lewis and Schaeffer, we are not at all interested in “repristination;” we believe that the old masters are there to help teach and inform a Christian life lived now, and we hope to place them in conversation with more recent teachers.

Although we will focus especially on writers in the Reformed tradition, our principles for inclusion are Christian, comprehensive and irenic: if a writer has “the root of the matter” in him, and is especially useful either directly or indirectly, we are willing to include him whatever his distinctives or even flaws might be.  Most eminently, we are concerned to represent the great Christian architects, in the broadest sense, of their times: reformation is unintelligible without formation, and in is fact simply a renewal or reconfiguration of it in particular circumstances. Kings and jurists these stand here alongside theologians and philosophers; and, on the principle that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind,” we will include some of the great Christian poets, especially insofar as their work expresses a worldwide vision.

Thus, you will find here a map of the past which includes both creeds and constitutions. We may also include certain works for the illumination they give about their own time in history and to give a sense of the breadth of acceptable positions in their time, to help broaden the scope of our own minds. We are especially interested in those writers in whose works the unity of wisdom is most patent: whose works reveal a genuinely comprehensive vision of the truth that Jesus is Lord of all things. These writers differ widely, not only on matters of theologoumena and adiaphora, but sometimes on more basic things; even on the question of exactly what defines the scope of those basic things. Nevertheless, if they were not always friends, in hindsight, we think, it can be seen that they were brothers.

These pages will be consistently updated. It is our hope that the presentation of the material here will be of special interest not only to theologians but to civic and congregational leaders, and to missionaries.