Church Fathers

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Ps104_33, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. Ps104_33

    Ps104_33
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    Anyone who has been on this board for any length of time and has followed many of the discussions that have ensued here with Roman Catholics would have noticed that they depend greatly on the writings of the "fathers" as proof of their doctrine and that the Roman Catholic Church is what Jesus and the apostles had in mind. It seems that for every quote that one can come up with to support Sola Scriptura, for example, one can be found to support Tradition.
    How much emphasis should be put on the writings of the pre and post Nicene fathers? Do they all contradict one another? Is there any one father that you can fully trust? If they contradict Scripture in any point can we trust any thing that they write? Or are their writings up for interpretation? I have even seen Protestants and Catholics argue over how to interpret what an individual Church Father meant. How do you feel about the fathers?
     
  2. Charles Meadows

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    I think we can often get some good info from the "fathers" as to what early Christians thought about various passages of scripture. But it would be a mistake to trust everything written. They are human and just as fallible as modern commentators, arguably moreso when it comes to grammatical and textual issues.
     
  3. gb93433

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  4. mioque

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    "How much emphasis should be put on the writings of the pre and post Nicene fathers?"
    "
    They are of great historical importance, but outside of that context their views are not any more significant than those of other famous theologians/Bible scholars.

    "Do they all contradict one another?"
    "
    Ofcourse they do.

    " Is there any one father that you can fully trust?"
    "
    No, the best example is Augustine, the darling of Western Christianity, who is responsible for the widespread adoption of infantbaptism. Practically all of them believed in transubstantion, practically none of them believed in Sola Scriptura by modernday (or Reformation era) baptist standards.

    " If they contradict Scripture in any point can we trust any thing that they write?"
    "
    Sure, a good case can be made that all Bible scholars on earth with a significant body of work are guilty of that some of the time.

    "Or are their writings up for interpretation?"
    "
    Often yes.

    "How do you feel about the fathers?"
    "
    I'm fond of them, I did write my thesis about Origenes Adamantios.

    gb93433
    One should NEVER trust Charles Chiniquy on anything. Always use a different source.
     
  5. Priscilla Ann

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    I have read enough of the Church Fathers to know that they do not agree with each other on many things. The writings of the Church Fathers can be helpful, but scripture must remain the primary authority on matters of doctrine.
     
  6. MIZ83

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    Ps104_33,

    Some of the earliest Church Fathers were disciples of apostles. That should give us pause for thought, right there. They learned from them and could ask questions of them. The earliest ones were reared in the culture of Bible times. Some spoke the language as a native tongue. Those are some pretty significant advantages, don't you think, over interpreters a couple of thousand years later? Furthermore, it is difficult to believe that apostolic beliefs and traditions immediately vanished after the death of the last apostle.

    With those things in mind, I value what the Church Fathers have to say greatly. They are uninspired and fallible, but they are the very best commentary on what Biblical Christianity is. No, I do not look to any one writer. Quite the opposite. I look for unanimity amongst writers from different geographical locations. If many writers address a topic from divergent locations and they all agree, then it is quite likely that their teaching comes from a common source, that source being the Word of Truth as delivered and interpreted by the apostles.

    I only pay attention to the Ante-Nicene Fathers, ie. those before the Nicene Creed.

    Blessings,

    Bob
     
  7. Ps104_33

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    We Protestants believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Roman Catholics believe in Scripture plus Tradition. Those doctrines which they hold to which cannot be found in scripture they attribute to the Tradition of the Fathers. The apostles told the early fathers and the early fathers told others and so on and we have doctrine not found in Scripture. If the fathers disagree with each other on issues such as the papacy, Mary, Infallibility of the Church, how can Roman Catholics trust Tradition and reject the doctrine of Sola scriptura?
     
  8. mioque

    mioque
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    Ps104_33
    "If the fathers disagree with each other on issues such as the papacy, Mary, Infallibility of the Church, how can Roman Catholics trust Tradition and reject the doctrine of Sola scriptura?"
    "
    Wrong question, the churchfathers talk only comparatively rarely about Mary and the papacy, a little more about the infallibility of the Church (that is, if one suitably stretches the definition of infallibility). But if they do they usually agree and usually take positions baptists don't like. Calling Mary the mother of God, holding the office of the bishop of Rome in high esteem and strongly supporting the church that would in 1054 break apart into among others the RCC.
     
  9. MIZ83

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    I believe that the Scriptures are the source of authority for belief and practice. I do not look to the Church Fathers for authority. Rather, I give them weight as evidence in understanding NT faith and practice. When my faith and practice differs from theirs, I re-examine the Scriptures and try to see it from their perspective. I don't automatically adopt their views; but usually I do find myself in agreement. I am typically a bit uncomfortable with being in disagreement with them.

    How do we arrive at our beliefs, anyway? I don't think any of us come to the Scriptures without any preconceived notions. We all have a set of experiences that influence us. Many of us grew up in a religious tradition that serves as a lens through which we view Scripture. Even if we think rather independently, we can never totally escape all of our past influences. Most of us had teachers. Most of us have some favorite commentaries. I believe it makes the most sense to have the Christians of the first 2 or 3 centuries after Christ as our favorite commentaries. They were closer to the action, culturally and linguistically literate, and some had been taught by apostles or by disciples of the apostles. It is thought that Clement of Rome is the Clement mentioned in Scriptures. Many of them proved their faithfulness at the cost of their lives.

    I find that on many topics, the earliest Christians were in significant agreement. But I think they are not always liked because their views often challenge those of modern Protestants.

    Blessings,

    Bob
     
  10. Ps104_33

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    I am not saying that tradition has no place in the Church, but when it comes to the issue of salvation the Scripture should be the only authority we should use.
     
  11. dean198

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    I agree....there are some excellent resources on the early church available at www.scrollpublishing.com.
    Some of these CDs are available to listen online...if you want a link for this let me know.
     
  12. MIZ83

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    Dean,

    I recommend that site, also. I think everyone should own the DICTIONARY OF EARLY CHRISTIAN BELIEFS.

    Ps104_33,

    Again, I don't suggest the Church Fathers as authority. I suggest that they are evidence on the one hand, and commentary on the other. They are the best commentary in that they were in a better position to understand the Scriptures culturally and linguistically than modern commentators. They are evidence in that the earliest Fathers probably were following the course of performance of the apostolic church on most, if not all, matters. It is difficult to believe that all the beliefs and practices of the apostolic church changed overnight after the last apostle died. Thus, their beliefs and practices are evidence.

    That said, we should always go back to the Scriptures to see where they got their ideas. I believe it is wise to skeptically reexamine my own beliefs when they contradict theirs. But I have not adopted all of the concensus beliefs of the Church Fathers. For example, I am not a pacifist, although they were. But I intend to study the topic more carefully from the Scriptures. The Scriptures are our authority. But I think it is unwise to ignore the so-called Church Fathers, even in our understanding of salvation.

    Blessings,

    Bob
     
  13. dean198

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    I recently heard Bro. Bercot's tape on War....it used alot of disappointing reasoning on the scripture, but the quotes from the church fathers seemed to be conclusive, though some were simply against personal revenge, and not war. A friend of mine has been doing some study on this, and I wrote to him, and this is what he shared....you might find it interesting:


    Turtullian – The Apology - c. A.D. 200

    http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-03/anf03-05.htm#P253_53158

    “So far from that, we, on the contrary, bring before you one who was their protector, as you will see by examining the letters of Marcus Aurelius, that most grave of emperors, in which he bears his testimony that that Germanic drought was removed by the rains obtained through the prayers of the Christians who chanced to be FIGHTING UNDER HIM. And as he did not by public law remove from Christians their legal disabilities, yet in another way he put them openly aside, even adding a sentence of condemnation, and that of greater severity, against their accusers.”



    “So we sojourn with you in the world, abjuring neither forum, nor shambles, nor bath, nor booth, nor workshop, nor inn, nor weekly market, nor any other places of commerce. We sail with you, and FIGHT WITH YOU, and till the ground with you; and in like manner we unite with you in your traffickings-even in the various arts we make public property of our works for your benefit. How it is we seem useless in your ordinary business, living with you and by you as we do, I am not able to understand. But if I do not frequent your religious ceremonies, I am still on the sacred day a man.”

    Clement of Alexandria
    The Pedagogue - Book II - Millitary Service not objected to…

    Chapter XII.-On Shoes.


    Women, are to be allowed a white shoe, except when on a journey, and then a greased shoe must be used. When on a journey, they require nailed shoes. Further, they ought for the most part to wear shoes; for it is not suitable for the foot to be shown naked: besides, woman is a tender thing, easily hurt. But for a man bare feet are quite in keeping, except when he is on military MILITARY SERVICE. "For being shod is near neighbour to being bound."
     
  14. MIZ83

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    Thanks for the quotations, Dean. They would seem to show that there was not total unanimity on the subject.

    I have that tape, also, but I haven't listened to it yet.

    In Him,

    Bob
     
  15. rsr

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    Mioque said:

    "One should NEVER trust Charles Chiniquy on anything. Always use a different source."

    The fact that Chick quotes him is enough to make his writings anathema. (It's from Chiniquy that Chick gets his story that the Jesuits were behind the assassination of Lincoln.)

    The fathers are valuable in that they provide glimpses of the development of doctrine and history. They are not infallible.

    Tertullian, for example, advocated the priesthood of the believer and helped formulate the doctrine of the Trinity; he was, however, a believer in baptismal regeneration and got sucked into the Montanist charasmatic movement (which, giving him the benefit of the doubt, was essentially anti-hierarchical in his time and not subject to the wild things that happened later. Still, Pentecostalists claim him as one of their own.)
     
  16. Ps104_33

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    I was told by a Roman Catholic on this board (Littledrummerboy, no longer with us) that Tertullian was not considered a Church Father By the RCC and he was eventually excommunicated. Any truth to this?
     
  17. Bro. James

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    Tertullian--

    Espoused many doctrines which are contrary to the ever-changing doctrines of Rome. Trying to make any sense out of a comparison is probably wasted effort. Quoting men usually gets one into trouble. Sola Scriptura.

    Have not found many RCC theologians quoting Tertullian--do not read after theologians much.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  18. Ps104_33

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    Her are some quotes on Mary by the Church Fathers from a catholic source, which makes me suspect of anything that comes from their pen:

    This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God, is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one." Origen,Homily 1(A.D. 244),in ULL,94

    "Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair, there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother."
    Ephraem,Nisibene Hymns,27:8(A.D. 370),in THEO,132

    "Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin."
    Ambrose,Sermon 22:30(A.D. 388),in JUR,II:166

    A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns."
    Theodotus of Ancrya,Homily VI:11(ante A.D. 446),in THEO,339

    Now was all this info passed on down to these men from the apostles or did they make all this stuff up? Did the cult of Mary evolve as the Church got farther from the source of her teachings? There is none of this in Scripture, and the quotations seem to get wilder as time goes on.
     
  19. dean198

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    ps104 - Bercot has an excellent tape on Mary, showing how the later doctrines about her were not held by the early church. Also there is his Dictionary of early Christian quoations on Mary and icons and images. RCs can be very deceptive in their use of quotes.
     
  20. dean198

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    Tertullian began as a presbyter of the church at Carthage (which RCs dispute because he was married), and wrote his apology as a catholic (small 'c') Christian. He later went into serious heresy, teaching that the Montanist prophecies superceded Paul's teaching, and into radical self-denial, which he tried imposing on everyone elses consciences.
     

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