"Church Fathers" as Catholic?


#1

I tried to start this thread and the post disappeared. I hope it works this time.

I have only recently heard of the argument that the “Church Fathers” were not Catholic. Part of how the “real church is not the Catholic church approach,” but Fundamentalists are the real churches because they always existed since the time of Jesus - only they couldn’t practice their beliefs in public until well after the Reformation.

Okay, I find these statments so ludicrous that they make me laugh, so I have trouble thinking of how to refute them, because I can’t believe people seriously think this way. How to address this approach?

To start with, who exactly are “the church fathers?” I use to think that anyone who elade the church in the past was a father of the church (and automatically Catholic since it was the only established Church). Now I wonder if there is a specific list; that only so many people are considered fathers because of the amount of writing they left us or their role in defining arguments that later became doctirnes of faith.


#2

[quote=serendipity]I tried to start this thread and the post disappeared. I hope it works this time.

I have only recently heard of the argument that the “Church Fathers” were not Catholic. Part of how the “real church is not the Catholic church approach,” but Fundamentalists are the real churches because they always existed since the time of Jesus - only they couldn’t practice their beliefs in public until well after the Reformation.

Okay, I find these statments so ludicrous that they make me laugh, so I have trouble thinking of how to refute them, because I can’t believe people seriously think this way. How to address this approach?

To start with, who exactly are “the church fathers?” I use to think that anyone who elade the church in the past was a father of the church (and automatically Catholic since it was the only established Church). Now I wonder if there is a specific list; that only so many people are considered fathers because of the amount of writing they left us or their role in defining arguments that later became doctirnes of faith.
[/quote]

“Fathers” and “Doctors” are specific titles. Fathers are associated with certain times. “Apostolic Fathers” or “Ante-Nicene Fathers”. Generally the writers first 600 years are important. May Doctors are from later times. Patrology, is the study of who they were. Anyone can claim the Fathers as their own. But what the Fathers taught in their writings tells you that they held very clear Catholic beliefs.

Next time ask: Which Early Fathers held and taught that Baptism was only a symbol and not necessary for Salvation, or which Early Fathers held that the Eucharist was NOT the Body and Blood of Christ, or which Early Fathers taught that the Bishop of Rome was NOT the successor of Peter?


#3

sure that is why fundamentalist preachers are always citing Iraneus, Clement, Justin and all the rest in their arguments.


#4

[quote=puzzleannie]sure that is why fundamentalist preachers are always citing Iraneus, Clement, Justin and all the rest in their arguments.
[/quote]

:rotfl: :banghead:

Ya know, I can’t remember when I ever heard of the “Church Fathers” until I started researching Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Baylor sure didn’t talk about them! :smiley: (Baylor Univ is the worlds largest Baptist Univ, though Catholics are the second majority at that uni. :smiley: )


#5

Thanks. That is a helpful approach.

I was aware that the doctors were a specific list of people who had a title conferred, but did not realize that the “fathers” were the first 600 years of Christianity.


#6

Hello serendipity,

Can anyone say that Jesus did not put authority over the other 11 Apstles and all of Christ’s flock into St. Peter’s hands? Can anyone say that Jesus did not want one man with unequaled authority over all the rest of His followers? The reason Protestants are not united is because they lack one leader in unequaled authority. One leader in unequal authority over all other members of a group unites most contries, companies, organizations, clubs and groups in the world. To unite His Church, Jesus put one man St. Peter and his successors in unequaled authority over all the rest of His followers.

How can the Protestants justify the suggestion that the “Holy Spirit” was so weak that Christ’s “true” Church was not seen until fifteen hundred years after Christ’s death? How can they say that fifteen centuries of billions of Catholics growing out from the time of Christ’s death bringing the gospel to the world had nothing to do with the power of the Holy Spirit?

Please visit St. Peter’s chair.

NAB MAT 16:13 Peter the Rock.
When Jesus came to the neighborhood of Ceasarea Philippi, he asked his disciples this question: "Who do people say that the Son of Man is? They replied, “Some say John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “And you,” he said to them, “who do you say that I am?” “You are the Messiah,” Simon Peter answered, “the Son of the living God!” Jesus replied, “Blest are you, Simon son of John! No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. I for my part declare to you, you are ‘Rock’, and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it. I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then He strictly ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

**NAB JOH 21:15 **

When they had eaten their meal, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” At which Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he put his question, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Tend my sheep.” A third time Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because he had asked a third time, “Do you love me?” So he said to him: “Lord, you know everything. You know well that I love you.” Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."
Peace in Christ,
Steven Merten
www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com


#7

Or ask them which early Church Father did not consider infant baptism as valid and scriptural. A reading of the writings of these illustrious men clearly mark them out as Catholic with a capital C.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#8

Recently in one of my Religion and Society class the teacher insisted that a lot things that Jesus said in the bible were actually written back in by the early church to support their beliefs…I had never heard this before. He specifically mentioned Matthew 28:19-20

(Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.)

He insisted that this was started in the 4th century. I am pretty sure that it is mentioned in the Didache. How do we respond to these kinds of attacks though? It’s clear the Church Fathers were Catholic but I’ve never heard this kind of argument.


#9

[quote=Cairisti]:rotfl: :banghead:

Ya know, I can’t remember when I ever heard of the “Church Fathers” until I started researching Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Baylor sure didn’t talk about them! :smiley: (Baylor Univ is the worlds largest Baptist Univ, though Catholics are the second majority at that uni. :smiley: )
[/quote]

When I was growing up in East Texas, I used to read Dr. Criswell’s “Baptist Standard.” in the public library. That was next to “Commonweal,” which was in those days an orthodox Catholic publication. The Baptist notion of “hidden Baptists” always struck me as unprovable, and the only sect closest to them were the Waldensians. However, we really don’t know the exact teachings of the Waldensians before the Reformation. All we can surmise is that they practiced a Christianity without a priesthood, Not much more than that can be determined from looking at Church court records.


#10

[quote=Sanctus]Recently in one of my Religion and Society class the teacher insisted that a lot things that Jesus said in the bible were actually written back in by the early church to support their beliefs…I had never heard this before. He specifically mentioned Matthew 28:19-20

(Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.)

He insisted that this was started in the 4th century. I am pretty sure that it is mentioned in the Didache. How do we respond to these kinds of attacks though? It’s clear the Church Fathers were Catholic but I’ve never heard this kind of argument.
[/quote]

My suggestion is that you demand that the individual provide proof of their assertion. If they provide something then research what they have and debunk it.


#11

Taken in their entirely the early church fathers were certainly catholics at an earlier stage in church history.

Would they identify with every theological coined term that we have today? Probably not but that means they would still know our faith in kernal form. Would St Ignatius know the term trinity?
No he wouldn’t Would he know The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit were all God? He certainly would.
Would St Ignatius know the complete 27 new testament canon as we know it today?
No he wouldn’t.
Would he know Matthew, Mark and Luke along with the Pauline letters? Yes he would.
We could flip it around the fathers were certainly not Protestant Christians none of them beleived in the Bible alone, no clergy and laity distinction and faith alone. All claims are wildly out of context and ignor the larger body of work in favor of cherry picking selective quotes.


#12

[quote=Sanctus]Recently in one of my Religion and Society class the teacher insisted that a lot things that Jesus said in the bible were actually written back in by the early church to support their beliefs…I had never heard this before. He specifically mentioned Matthew 28:19-20

(Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.)

He insisted that this was started in the 4th century. I am pretty sure that it is mentioned in the Didache. How do we respond to these kinds of attacks though? It’s clear the Church Fathers were Catholic but I’ve never heard this kind of argument.
[/quote]

Ask him for scholarly documentation/citations that categorically supports that allegation. I however seriously doubt if they can produce any. The burden of proof is on the one who alleges.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#13

The fathers of the Church were the early Christians who laid the foundations of the Church. They fought against heresies. Here is a link to several writings of the church fathers. There are others but these are most of the ones you can find online.

catholicfirst.com/churchfathersindex.cfm

Enjoy. If you read through these you will see that they were very Catholic in what they believed and taught.


#14

Jesus tells us that one of the signs of the end of times will be the rise of many false prophets. Well who fits the mold of being a false prophet at the end of time? Catholics or Protestants? The Church has taught pretty much the same thing from the beginning. Now we have the Protestants telling us that what was taught from the beginning about salvation is wrong and we should all convert and follow what they only now in the last five hundred years, and mostly in the last one hundred years, teach.

If you ask me it is the Protestants who fit Jesus description of being false prophets and not the Catholics.

NAB MAT 24:11
False prophets will rise in great numbers to mislead many. Because of the increase in evil, the love of most will grow cold. The man who holds out to the end, however, is the one who will see salvation.

Peace in Christ,
Steven Merten
www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com


#15

[quote=Maccabees]Taken in their entirely the early church fathers were certainly catholics at an earlier stage in church history.

Would they identify with every theological coined term that we have today? Probably not but that means they would still know our faith in kernal form. Would St Ignatius know the term trinity?
No he wouldn’t Would he know The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit were all God? He certainly would.
Would St Ignatius know the complete 27 new testament canon as we know it today?
No he wouldn’t.
Would he know Matthew, Mark and Luke along with the Pauline letters? Yes he would.
We could flip it around the fathers were certainly not Protestant Christians none of them beleived in the Bible alone, no clergy and laity distinction and faith alone. All claims are wildly out of context and ignor the larger body of work in favor of cherry picking selective quotes.
[/quote]

I assume when you say “Ignatius” you mean Irenaeus?

Irenaeus was the 2nd Century Bishop of Lyons, who is called “The First Chirstian Theologian.” Ignatius is Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.


#16

I see the Church Fathers as those Christians who have made a significant contribution to the progress of Christianity. Most of the Fathers came before the end of the first millenium. However, it is still possible that there could be a Church Father from today.

One thing to keep in mind as you read the Fathers is that their writings are not necessarily inspired, and therefore many of them may contain passages that contain error, or give an impression that leads to error. For example, in Tatian the Assyrian’s Horatory to the Greeks, he comes down a little too hard on the material world, as well as on the Greek philosophers. Later Fathers like Clement of Alexandria demonstrated that not all Greek philosophy was bad, and that, rather than misleading men, it could prepare men for the reception of the Gospel, which teaches the complete Truth.

There are a few things you have to watch out for when reading the Fathers and those who are half-Fathers (who are sometimes confused with the Fathers):

  1. Just because someone is named a Father, it does not mean that the individual remained orthodox his entire life.

Tatian of Assyria, for example, started out all right; but he ended up founding an exclusive and rigorist schismatic group called The Encratites. He abhorred marriage and considered the bodily flesh as essentially bad. Tertullian likewise started out orthodox but became a super-ascetic Montanist. Eusebius of Caesura wrote a invaluable history on the early Church, but he aligned himself with the Arian heretics. Clement of Alexandria was slightly Gnostic in what he taught; and Origen taught the heresy that all would be saved in the end, and that the human soul pre-existed before conception of each person. Even the great St. Ignatius of Antioch, who, despite his brave martyrdom, showed too much zeal in wanting to die.

So, don’t too readily accept what each Father says. Always compare what the Father says with what earlier Church councils said, and with the consensus of previous Christian writers.

  1. Understand the context in which the Father is speaking; and rather than reading into the text with your own thoughts, try to understand the historical, spiritual and intellectual conditions surrounding the Church at the time.

Sometimes you’ll come across a passage which has words that seem to favor a certain Catholic belief, such as the Real Presence, or apostolic succession. Instead of using the quotes simply to affirm your own belief, meditate on the reading and try to understand what the author really intended when he wrote that passage. Oftentimes I find myself in disagreement with the conclusions that some Catholics reach in reading the Fathers. However, I do agree that the Real Presence and the apostolic succession have a firm basis in Scripture and the early Church writings.

  1. Compare the Church Fathers and their views. See what the Church Fathers had to say about one another. Sometimes they commend other Fathers; sometimes they condemn some of their beliefs.

Hope that helped


#17

[quote=Madaglan]I see the Church Fathers as those Christians who have made a significant contribution to the progress of Christianity. Most of the Fathers came before the end of the first millenium. However, it is still possible that there could be a Church Father from today.

[/quote]

The term “Church Fathers” is pretty well defined.

We don’t say that the term “Founding Fathers” in American history could include George Bush or John Kerry, now do we?


#18

[quote=vern humphrey]I assume when you say “Ignatius” you mean Irenaeus?

Irenaeus was the 2nd Century Bishop of Lyons, who is called “The First Chirstian Theologian.” Ignatius is Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.
[/quote]

Ignatius of Loyla was named after an earlier Ignatius who worked with the Church in Epheus.


#19

Not to Hijack this thread, but your comment here brought to mind a Bible passage that is part of next Sunday’s Gospel readings in the Latin Rite. Our Lord said to his disciples:

Mat 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.

It seems to me that to say that the true followers of Christ were hidden for 1500 years, is to make a liar out of Christ himself!


#20

[quote=vern humphrey]I assume when you say “Ignatius” you mean Irenaeus?

Irenaeus was the 2nd Century Bishop of Lyons, who is called “The First Chirstian Theologian.” Ignatius is Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.
[/quote]

Hello Vern, :smiley:

I bet Macabees was refering to Ignatius of Antioch who was a late first/early second century bishop who wrote on the Real Presence amoung many other things. He is also one of the first, if not the first to refer to the Church as the Catholic Church. He was martyred.

God Bless You, :wave:

Joshua


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