an intellectual effort that spanned generations

The Christianity of the Nicene Creed isn’t a set of self-evident statements that follow inexorably from a quick read of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It’s the fruit of an intellectual effort that spanned generations—an effort that took one of religious history’s most striking stories, as told and retold in a multiplicity of styles and voices, and tried to tease out its implications for ritual, theology, and belief. The project may have been guided by the Holy Spirit, as orthodox Christianity insists, but it clearly was a project rather than a simple matter of reading the gospels and believing what they said. And, like any other complicated intellectual undertaking, its conclusions can certainly be doubted or dismissed.

From Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat.

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