Jaroslav Pelikan died Saturday of lung cancer. He wrote what is certainly the best history of Christian doctrine published in the last hundred years. He gives one reason (among others) why he wrote it:
For those who believe that you don't need tradition because you have the Bible, the Christian Tradition has sought to say, "You are not entitled to the beliefs you cherish about such things as the Holy Trinity without a sense of what you owe to those who worked this out for you." To circumvent Saint Athanasius on the assumption that if you put me alone in a room with the New Testament, I will come up with the doctrine of the Trinity, is naive. So for these readers I have tried to provide a degree of historical sophistication, which is, I believe, compatible with an affirmation of the central doctrines of Christian faith.
A devout Lutheran for much of his life, he was received into the Orthodox Church in America in 1998. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.