A Concise History of Christian Doctrine


Gonzalez, Justo L.: A Concise History of Christian Doctrine, Abingdon, 2005, ISBN 068734414X, ppI-X, 1.220. Book Review.

NOTE: Gonzalez' technique for analysing doctrine is to define salient features within the limits of a doctrine and those which fall outside it, like 'foul lines' in baseball, thus preserving his central thesis that doctrinal truths are fundamentally mysteries. Where he uses this technique the content will be headed: "Synthesis" - KC.


Doctrine is the official teaching of the church, held by almost all Christians. Apart from 4th and 5th Century Ecumenical Councils, doctrine arises out of the Sensus Fidelis, emerging more from worship and practice than  from philosophical abstraction: Lex Orandi est Lex Credendi.

Doctrine is human not divine; one fundamental error is to confuse doctrine with God which is a form of idolatry. With the exception of some post Reformation Protestant sects, doctrine is relatively plastic, representing a balance between competing and frequently incompatible positions; it seeks to define areas of safety and of danger.

Doctrine is often confused with faith; doctrines change, the love of God remains the same.

The Gospel cannot be immune from culture: there are problems of translation; and problems of words changing meaning through time and in different places. Doctrines must change to be living but they also require an element of continuity.

Related Study Sheets…


Please select a section:

  1. Israel, The Church and The Bible
  2. Creation
  3. Culture
  4. God
  5. Humankind
  6. Christ
  7. The Church
  8. The Sacraments
  9. Salvation
  10. Tradition
  11. The Spirit of Hope