Beginning with luther?

I had provided evidence from clement of Rome and Chrysostom that both believed in justification by faith alone in Christ. But many if you were not accepting this.

What about this?

Oecumenius (6th century), on James 2:23: “Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars.” Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 33.

Reckon with the citations from thus website

hello erick. we are saved by faith but not alone. grace alone yes but not faith alone. faith without works is dead. the only time that faith alone is used in the bible is when the letter of james says that we are not saved by faith alone. this does not however mean than that our works save us. the opposite is also true. works without faith is dead. our works are a product of genuine faith. Jesus says if you love me you will keep my commandments. we cannot say for instance we are good people. no one is good but God alone. everything is grace. faith is necessary for salvation but works must accompany that faith. Jesus also says by their fruits you will know them. i’m also brand new to catholic answers. i welcome you also. God bless and keep you.

I truly don’t understand what exactly you are trying to ask.

Remember, even the ECF and the theologians don’t necessarily get everything ‘right’. They are not speaking infallibly. You could find a phrase here or there in virtually any work which might appear to support your point, but you have to know the context and you have to know what it was ‘meant’ to say.

Cardinal Dolan, for example, could be making jokes (as he did at the Al Smith Dinner last night). . .and somebody could read a transcription of his jokes and say, “Look here. This illustrious member of the Catholic Hierarchy said this, therefore this supports my position that this is truth”–even if what the Cardinal said were an obvious joke . .). . .though in a speech at a dinner the Cardinal certainly does not mean to teach or express Catholic faith, or at least not in the way he would do in a pastoral letter, or something similar.

Plus we would have his remarks ‘on tape’ as it were. We would not be working with material written in the 6th century (as yours is above) and with works that are not firmly even known to be the authors’ words. We would not know whether the author was speaking to give judgment on a truth, or was simply writing his personal opinion.

And above all, you really have to be careful with the term ‘faith alone’. Those two words (as another reminded you, the only time they are used together in Scripture, the concept is condemned as LIFELESS unless they are joined with works) did not then, and do not now, mean to Catholics what they mean to many (not all, but many) Protestants at the time of Luther, or what they mean to a modern 21st century Protestant.

Because the two groups --Catholic and Protestant-- have a different understanding of what those two words truly mean, we cannot say that what was written by a Catholic in AD 600 would mean the same as what was written by a Protestant in AD 1600, or AD 2012.

Just look at the word “pray”. Even in Shakespeare’s time, it meant ‘ask’ (of any); it was not limited to ‘communication with God alone’. But a Catholic who speaks of prayer and many (not all) Protestants who speak of prayer are not speaking of the same thing at all, and thus are very confused when they see ‘earlier’ works. For the Protestant, seeing the word ‘prayer’ (which he thinks means 'communication to God alone) used in a book and referring to saints (or to a Shakespeare play and used among secular characters), feels that the people using the word to mean ‘ask’ are being heretics and wrong.

And the Catholic, looking at the Protestant’s insistence on confining the word strictly to ‘communication with God alone’, feels totally mystified that these people are trying to hijack a word and change and retro-fit that word, making it say what the people who used it did not mean for it to say.

Stop fighting it.

Make a concious decision to accept, even if you don’t know what you are accepting, and step into the unbroken stream of history. Take your place in the unbroken stream of Christian worship which stretches back to the cross itself and which will continue flowing forward until the end of time.

If you don’t like it then you can always go back.


The finding together of the two terms “faith alone” is not the same as the writer professing say what Luther may have (it is to be noted too that there has been much dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans over the years which has cleared up a good deal of misunderstandings).

A writer can say “one is saved by faith alone not by works” (speaking of initial justification) without meaning “alone” in the shades it can be used by those after the 16th century.

Even Pope Benedict XVI noted:

“Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love. So it is that in the Letter to the Galatians in which he primarily developed his teaching on justification St Paul speaks of faith that works through love (cf. Gal 5: 14).”

But you see Chrysostom said that Abraham was justified by faith alone even years after his initial justification. That’s the problem.

No matter what he may have said or did not say (or what is misunderstood by 21st century readers from a particular background)-- such is not really a problem

For various splendid Church Fathers did not get everything right …did not say everything the way later theology would work out more systematically down the road etc.

It is the Teaching Office of the Church -principally that of Peter to whom it falls to Teach and judge what is right Teaching. Individual Church Fathers or Bishops can get things wrong or not choose the best words.

Justification is both initial …and then “a process” …and faith is involved throughout.

This is what it boils down to. I just am very doubtful now because catholic apologists are always saying justification in the reformed sense is new when early fathers and catholics believed it

Getting into the great thicket of thorns that is the 16th century debates of Justification…which include not only errors but also misunderstandings…differing uses of terms…varied schools of thought …differing Protestant groups and persons…

is well wading into just that a great thicket.

And trying to pick up various strains of 16th century Protestant thinking and uses of terms and trying to lay it over the writings of the Church Fathers who where yes Catholic and see how they look …that too is a thicket rather thick.

Yes a great thicket. But the same thicket exists within the catholic apologists modern day. One says onething, another says another.

If we are stripped of our rational ability to read historical documents with the same objective materials at hand to best understand it, then it is just a power plant to overcome all resistance.

Hands down the protestant doctrine was there in the fathers.

Yes for sure Catholic Apologists of modern day can too be of varied backgrounds…some can yes make a mistake…or some may be better in an area…or some may be addressing a different aspect than what one is listening for.

Milage will vary

And of course Catholic Apologists too are usually not the Teaching Office of the Church…

And some historical and theological things need years and years of study to get a good grasp on…

The Fathers being Catholic not Protestant…I would disagree with the last line there…

Remember too not everything that the various “Protestant doctrines” held was at variance with the Catholic Faith - so yes much will be found among the Fathers. And I would think at various points the persons involved “talked passed each other” where there was more essential agreement than thought.

What Bookcat is trying to tell you is what I tried to tell you, essentially, in your St. John chrysostom thread. It seems, and I only make this as a suggestion, that perhaps more modern writers, with an understanding of the 16th century debate, might serve you better.
For example:

And there are others, along with disagreements to this document. The point is, Catholic and Protestant apologists both can and do cherry - pick the ECF’s. I’m more inclined to listen to the theologians and Church leaders.

In closing, I find Jimmy Akin’s essay below quite informative.


Erick have you read chryostoms body of work to make this claim or just the homily in book of Romans?..I read that homily and it does not conflict with catholic theology at all…

It’s the whole body of St. John Chrysostom’s work that contradicts Catholic Theology.

According to St. John Chrysostom, Abraham was “justified by faith alone” even when he was adorned with many works which may have justified him. Chrysostom neither views “works of law” as exclusively those outward ceremonial rituals of the Torah, nor does he understand “justified” to be of the meaning “make righteous”, for he explicitly denounces such a view.

Therefore, what Catholic reading is left? Modern day Catholic exegetes would never approach Romans the way Chrysostom is approaching it. They have to portion “works of the law” with those outward jewish laws or if they are willing to accept it as any law, they have to say that “justified” means to ontologically make righteous. Both options are avoided by St. John Chrysostom, and we are left with the protestant teaching.

Namely, that Abraham, even though he worshiped God and obeyed God and had many good works, was not justified by and or through them.

Such would not be a correct assessment.

We do not recognize a man as a Father of the Church and then make him a Doctor of the Church if the whole body of work contradicts Catholic Theology.

I recommend you contact Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers.



Saint Peter’s Square
Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Saint John Chrysostom (1)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This year is the 16th centenary of St John Chrysostom’s death (407-2007). It can be said that John of Antioch, nicknamed “Chrysostom”, that is, “golden-mouthed”, because of his eloquence, is also still alive today because of his works. An anonymous copyist left in writing that “they cross the whole globe like flashes of lightening”.

Chrysostom’s writings also enable us, as they did the faithful of his time whom his frequent exiles deprived of his presence, to live with his books, despite his absence. This is what he himself suggested in a letter when he was in exile (To Olympias, Letter 8, 45).

He was born in about the year 349 A.D. in Antioch, Syria (today Antakya in Southern Turkey). He carried out his priestly ministry there for about 11 years, until 397, when, appointed Bishop of Constantinople, he exercised his episcopal ministry in the capital of the Empire prior to his two exiles, which succeeded one close upon the other - in 403 and 407. Let us limit ourselves today to examining the years Chrysostom spent in Antioch.

He lost his father at a tender age and lived with Anthusa, his mother, who instilled in him exquisite human sensitivity and a deep Christian faith.

After completing his elementary and advanced studies crowned by courses in philosophy and rhetoric, he had as his teacher, Libanius, a pagan and the most famous rhetorician of that time. At his school John became the greatest orator of late Greek antiquity.

He was baptized in 368 and trained for the ecclesiastical life by Bishop Meletius, who instituted him as lector in 371. This event marked Chrysostom’s official entry into the ecclesiastical cursus. From 367 to 372, he attended the Asceterius, a sort of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of young men, some of whom later became Bishops, under the guidance of the exegete Diodore of Tarsus, who initiated John into the literal and grammatical exegesis characteristic of Antiochean tradition.

He then withdrew for four years to the hermits on the neighbouring Mount Silpius. He extended his retreat for a further two years, living alone in a cave under the guidance of an “old hermit”. In that period, he dedicated himself unreservedly to meditating on “the laws of Christ”, the Gospels and especially the Letters of Paul. Having fallen ill, he found it impossible to care for himself unaided, and therefore had to return to the Christian community in Antioch (cf. Palladius, Dialogue on the Life of St John Chrysostom, 5).

The Lord, his biographer explains, intervened with the illness at the right moment to enable John to follow his true vocation. In fact, he himself was later to write that were he to choose between the troubles of Church government and the tranquillity of monastic life, he would have preferred pastoral service a thousand times (cf. On the Priesthood, 6, 7): it was precisely to this that Chrysostom felt called.

It was here that he reached the crucial turning point in the story of his vocation: a full-time pastor of souls! Intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated in his years at the hermitage, had developed in him an irresistible urge to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he himself had received in his years of meditation. The missionary ideal thus launched him into pastoral care, his heart on fire.

Pope Benedict XVI continued:

Between 378 and 379, he returned to the city. He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386, and became a famous preacher in his city’s churches. He preached homilies against the Arians, followed by homilies commemorating the Antiochean martyrs and other important liturgical celebrations: this was an important teaching of faith in Christ and also in the light of his Saints.

The year 387 was John’s “heroic year”, that of the so-called “revolt of the statues”. As a sign of protest against levied taxes, the people destroyed the Emperor’s statues. It was in those days of Lent and the fear of the Emperor’s impending reprisal that Chrysostom gave his 22 vibrant Homilies on the Statues, whose aim was to induce repentance and conversion. This was followed by a period of serene pastoral care (387-397).

Chrysostom is among the most prolific of the Fathers: 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and on Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews) and 241 letters are extant. He was not a speculative theologian.

Nevertheless, he passed on the Church’s tradition and reliable doctrine in an age of theological controversies, sparked above all by Arianism or, in other words, the denial of Christ’s divinity. He is therefore a trustworthy witness of the dogmatic development achieved by the Church from the fourth to the fifth centuries.

His is a perfectly pastoral theology in which there is constant concern for consistency between thought expressed via words and existential experience. It is this in particular that forms the main theme of the splendid catecheses with which he prepared catechumens to receive Baptism.

On approaching death, he wrote that the value of the human being lies in “exact knowledge of true doctrine and in rectitude of life” (Letter from Exile). Both these things, knowledge of truth and rectitude of life, go hand in hand: knowledge has to be expressed in life. All his discourses aimed to develop in the faithful the use of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and to put into practice the moral and spiritual requirements of faith.

John Chrysostom was anxious to accompany his writings with the person’s integral development in his physical, intellectual and religious dimensions. The various phases of his growth are compared to as many seas in an immense ocean: “The first of these seas is childhood” (Homily, 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).

Indeed, “it is precisely at this early age that inclinations to vice or virtue are manifest”. Thus, God’s law must be impressed upon the soul from the outset “as on a wax tablet” (Homily 3, 1 on John’s Gospel): This is indeed the most important age. We must bear in mind how fundamentally important it is that the great orientations which give man a proper outlook on life truly enter him in this first phase of life.

Chrysostom therefore recommended: “From the tenderest age, arm children with spiritual weapons and teach them to make the Sign of the Cross on their forehead with their hand” (Homily, 12, 7 on First Corinthians).

Then come adolescence and youth: “Following childhood is the sea of adolescence, where violent winds blow…, for concupiscence… grows within us” (Homily 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).

Lastly comes engagement and marriage: “Youth is succeeded by the age of the mature person who assumes family commitments: this is the time to seek a wife” (ibid.).

He recalls the aims of marriage, enriching them - referring to virtue and temperance - with a rich fabric of personal relationships. Properly prepared spouses therefore bar the way to divorce: everything takes place with joy and children can be educated in virtue. Then when the first child is born, he is “like a bridge; the three become one flesh, because the child joins the two parts” (Homily 12, 5 on the Letter to the Colossians), and the three constitute “a family, a Church in miniature” (Homily 20, 6 on the Letter to the Ephesians).

Chrysostom’s preaching usually took place during the liturgy, the “place” where the community is built with the Word and the Eucharist. The assembly gathered here expresses the one Church (Homily 8, 7 on the Letter to the Romans), the same word is addressed everywhere to all (Homily 24, 2 on First Corinthians), and Eucharistic Communion becomes an effective sign of unity (Homily 32, 7 on Matthew’s Gospel).

His pastoral project was incorporated into the Church’s life, in which the lay faithful assume the priestly, royal and prophetic office with Baptism. To the lay faithful he said: “Baptism will also make you king, priest and prophet” (Homily 3, 5 on Second Corinthians).

From this stems the fundamental duty of the mission, because each one is to some extent responsible for the salvation of others: “This is the principle of our social life… not to be solely concerned with ourselves!” (Homily 9, 2 on Genesis). This all takes place between two poles: the great Church and the “Church in miniature”, the family, in a reciprocal relationship.

As you can see, dear brothers and sisters, Chrysostom’s lesson on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society is still more timely than ever today. Let us pray to the Lord to make us docile to the teachings of this great Master of the faith.

I have tried to email Jimmy Akin. I have not gotten a response in a week.

All that I am saying is that he does not really go with the Catholic exegesis of romans, he goes in line with protestant exegesis. Not only romans, but galatians, 2 corinthians, 1 corinthians,etc,etc

As to the first --he is quite busy but has recommended in the past to email persistently…so keep emailing.

As to the later again I repeat what I noted above…he is a Doctor of the Church etc …he is writing as a Catholic.

Your assessment is not on target.

Are there many things in the various Protestant exegesis that are in harmony with Catholic Teaching etc? Sure.

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