By Hubert Jedin
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Additional resources for A History of the Council of Trent (Vol I): The Struggle for the Council
Both adhered to very much the same doctrinal standards, and appealed in their work to scripture both in itself and as its teaching was summarised in the credal confessions which were shared by all parts of the early church. Where they differ is the way in which they responded to aspects of the Greek culture within which the church was set. A simple way of describing the difference between them is that they were, respectively, theologians of crisis and of culture. For Irenaeus, the culture which dominated his concerns - 'Gnosticism' was an enemy to be overcome by the use of every intellectual weapon at his disposal.
He was unable to be as positive as Irenaeus about the goodness of this material world, postulating a two-stage creation, in the first of which purely intellectual beings were created and only then the material world. This dualism led him to a relative disparagement of the world: it is indeed good, but only instrumentally so, for its main purpose is to provide a place of education whereby the fallen spirits should be able tofindtheir way back to God. His is not a pure dualism, because the spirits, like matter, were all created by God, but dualism is by no means banished.
However, as it became less and less clear among Protestants what it 'means' to be Christian there have increasingly been attempts to 'do' ethics. The difficulty is that no consensus about what ethics is or how it should be done exists. As a result, theologians have often turned to philosophy for resources in their search for an ethic resources that ironically helped create the problem of how to relate theology and ethics, because now it is assumed that 'ethics' is an autonomous discipline that is no longer dependent on religious conviction.
A History of the Council of Trent (Vol I): The Struggle for the Council by Hubert Jedin