Early Church Fathers are...?


#1

Hi,
I was organizing my e-books collection and I have a bunch of stuff by Tertullian. I was looking why he isn’t a Saint, thus I tried to find out whether he was a Catholic. But… at that time (2nd/3rd AD), there was only Catholic Church, right?

So is it safely assumed that the writings of the early Church Fathers are safe to read for Catholics? Considering that many converts read the writings of the early Church Fathers.


#2

Yes, they are good reading. Remembering that they are reflective of the beliefs and practices of the early Christians. Some of the material is not necessarly in conformity with Catholic teaching because either the early writer wandered away from the Church for a time or they were expressing an opinion prior to when the Catholic Church defined a Doctrine and it was open to limited debate.


#3

He was Catholic and there was only one Church back then and it the Catholic Church.

Tertullian didn’t became a saint because later in his life, he fell into heresy.

Here is a brief on his life from Wikipedia:

In middle life (about 207) he (Tertullian) broke with the Orthodox Church and became the local leader and the passionate and brilliant exponent of Montanism, that is, he became a heretic. But even the Montanists were not rigorous enough for Tertullian, and he broke with them to found his own sect. The statement of Augustine (De Haeresibus, lxxxvi) that before his death Tertullian returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church is very improbable.

So is it safely assumed that the writings of the early Church Fathers are safe to read for Catholics? Considering that many converts read the writings of the early Church Fathers.

It is safe to read books that he wrote before he converted to Montanism.


#4

The 3 Volume Set, The Faith of the Early Fathers , is a good place to start.

For each section or writing it lets you know where that particular writer sat in regards to the Church. To use Tertullian as an example, before each letter Jurgens lets you know if that particular document was written during his Catholic period or later when he became a Montanist.


#5

Wrong. Tertullian left the Catholic Church and joined the Montanists (one of several other Christian or quasi-Christian churches existing at that time). I’ve heard it claimed that he eventually left the Montanists too and started his own group, but I’m not sure if this is true or not.

Edwin


#6

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.