“First Thoughts” of God; “Afterthoughts” of man


Understanding the ideas of the First thoughts of God and the Afterthoughts of man provides a baseline from which we can assess current Christian theology, understand how and why it got where it is, look at alternatives and perhaps figure out what an optimal model might look like.

I have been searching for the theology that animated the spirit-driven, miracle working primitive Christian Church for 40 years.  In that quest, I have read dozens of books ranging from early Christian writings, the New Testament itself, as well as associated commentaries, textual criticisms, and books on theology.  In the course of reading a rather obscure 19th century book on theology[1], I came across the idea of the First Thoughts of God and the Afterthoughts of man from its author, 19th century English cleric and theologian, John B. Heard.    While discussing the starkly contrasting paths of “the way of life” and the “way of death” contained in the early Church writing called the Didaché (Gr. didaxή, “teaching”), Heard observed:

“A lifetime has taught me the same sharp contrast between two theologies, the one setting out with the first thoughts of God, the other with man’s interpretation of these thoughts which I describe as second thoughts or afterthoughts.  The first thoughts, which are God’s thoughts, all address themselves to the conscience – they enter in, and they lodge there.”

His insight struck a chord of truth and intrigued me.  It made increasing sense to me the more I thought about it and tested his ideas mentally and spiritually.


[1] Alexandrian and Carthaginian Theology Contrasted by Rev. John B. Heard, T.& T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1893

Excerpts from the book “First Thoughts

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