Historical Authenticity?

How do we know that the Early Church writings are authentic?
There are some theories going around online and in many circles, that what we consider to be The Church Fathers, were selected as “Church Fathers” later on when their theories “won out”
There is also the theory that the writings were all fabricated at a later date. How do we know that this is not true? How do we defend the authenticity of Historical documents?

Could you cite some examples? I’m no expert, but I think it’s pretty widely accepted that some writings (however good) may have been falsely attributed to certain Fathers (or certain writers for various reasons wrote under their names), thus you see an attribution to Pseudo-so-and-so here and there. But if you’re talking about a wholesale dismissal of Patristic writings in general, I think that some people apply a double standard when it comes to Christian documents versus others. Test it out, see if any history is left after you apply the same criteria to all MSS across the board.

For example? Any of them. In particular, Pre-Nicene Fathers.
I suppose at the root of my question is how do we know that the traditions of the Fathers were the correct ones and not what we deem as Heretics?

Over the course of many centuries, the Catholic Church has listened carefully to all of her sons, Ignatius, Arias, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, Augustine, etc., and by the protection of God which we know as infallibility, she has discerned which ideas are correct and which are false.

How do we know the NT is authentic?

Randy,
This is a great excerpt, and I agree fullheartedly, however, this answer would not fly in the face of critical srutiny.
Tertullian, according to History, was a heretic before becoming a great Apologist. Origen’s later writings are considered heretical.
All of “Tradition” comes from the Apostles and then passed down through apostilic succession. When a Bishop or a priest starts teaching heresy, how do we know that it was they who taught the heresy?
Arius-the popularly known founder of Arianism(although there is debate as to where the origin of his theology started) had many followers. And it was quite popular.
How do we prove to those who deny the divinity of Christ that Arius was truly the Heretic and that Constantine didn’t sway it the way that he wanted. I’ve heard that Constantine was actually rooting more for Arius’ theology. Do we have proof for this?

Tertullian started out as a great apologist and ended up as a Montanist.

All of “Tradition” comes from the Apostles and then passed down through apostilic succession. When a Bishop or a priest starts teaching heresy, how do we know that it was they who taught the heresy?

By comparing the teaching of the new heretic with what has been taught before and by his contemporaries.

Arius-the popularly known founder of Arianism(although there is debate as to where the origin of his theology started) had many followers. And it was quite popular.
How do we prove to those who deny the divinity of Christ that Arius was truly the Heretic and that Constantine didn’t sway it the way that he wanted. I’ve heard that Constantine was actually rooting more for Arius’ theology. Do we have proof for this?

"The [Catholic] position is this: there are two kinds of proofs for any dogma. The main proof, the most efficient in any way, the proof that is the real motive for every Catholic, is simply that this dogma is taught now by the Church of Christ, that Christ has given to his Church his own authority, so that we can trust the Church as we trust Christ himself. “Who heareth you, heareth me” (Luke 10:16). The argument is the same for every dogma (that is why the Catholic position is essentially simple, in spite of apparent complexity); it can be understood by the most ignorant, as the religion of Christ must be (it is impossible for every child and peasant to make up his own Christianity for himself by his interpretation of Scripture or the Fathers…). This position admits no vagaries of private judgment for each dogma. No variety of interpretation is possible as to what the Catholic Church of today teaches, or, if such misunderstanding should occur, the Church is there to declare her mind. Even the most fundamental dogmas rest ultimately on the teaching of the Catholic Church today, even, for instance, that of the Holy Trinity. All we suppose, before we come to the Church, is that our Lord Jesus Christ was a man sent by God and whom we must follow if we wish to serve God in the proper way; that he founded one visible Church, to which his followers should belong; that this Church is, as a matter of historic fact, the communion of Rome (not, however, supposing anything about the papacy, but supposing only visible unity and historic continuity). This much must be presupposed and therefore does not rest on the authority of the Church. All else does.

“But there is another kind of argument for each dogma, taking each separately and proving that this was taught by Christ and has been believed from the beginning. This line of argument is neither so convincing nor so safe. It does now involve our private judgment as to whether the ancient texts do, or do not, really prove what we claim. It requires knowledge of the texts, of dead languages; to be efficient it requires considerable scholarship. It is impossible that our Lord should give us a religion requiring all this before you know what it is. This direct proof of each dogma can be only confirmation of the general argument for all, taken from the present teaching of the Church. But it is a most valuable confirmation, which we are always ready to offer, as long as it is understood that it is not the main reason of our belief. I am quite sure that Matthew 16:18 and the Church Fathers Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Chrysostom and Augustine all say what I believe about the Bishop of Rome. But I do not base my faith on what they say; I do not really care a jot whether convenire ad means “agree with” or “to go”. I base my faith on what the Catholic Church of today says. That alone is quite enough for all of us; in this we have an argument perfectly clear, convincing, final, the same for the student of patrology as for a peasant who can neither read nor write” (Adrian Fortescue, The Early Papacy to the Synod of Chalcedon in 451, [San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2008], 26-27).

I didn’t mean examples of the Fathers, but examples of the skeptics.

You might try a popular book by Mark Shea, titled “By What Authority?”

These kinds of arguments would be neither “perfectly clear” nor “convincing” to an outside skeptic. They are only convincing to a believing Catholic. This is saying that the history the church teaches is undoubtedly true because it says so.

Yes, but we believe the Church because a Risen Savior has promised to build it and to remain with it forever. That Church cannot teach error in His name.

That would be a reasonable idea if it were not for the fact that we have MANY examples of Church Fathers who disputed what would later become Church doctrine. In fact, two Church Fathers (Tertullian and Origen) later slipped into heresy (although I think Origen deserves a fresh look).

The Fathers were not always unanimous and they were not always right.

For example, there was the question about the validity of Baptism by heretical ministers. How many Church Fathers (and provincial Councils) opposed this idea? Well, let’s see - there was Tertullian (in his pre-heretical days), St. Cyprian of Carthage, the Seventh Council of Carthage (AD 256, Cyprian presiding), Pope St. Stephen-1, Firmilian of Caesarea, and the First Council of Arles (AD 314).

I named St. Cyprian of Carthage in this list - he is my favorite Early Father. But he was dead-wrong about Baptism by heretics, and was the most adamant opponent of the idea. His influence was so great that he was nicknamed “the African Pope.” But he would not even use the term “Baptize” in the context of heretics - he described “those made wet by heretics.” I think that’s funny.

Another doctrine of the Church is that the validity of a Sacrament does not depend on the faith of the minister. How many Early Fathers got that wrong? Well, let’s see - there was Tertullian (again, in his pre-heretical days), St. Cyprian (again), Pope St. Stephen-1 (again), and Firmilian of Caesarea (again).

Those guys had a pretty poor track record. But they are Fathers of the Church, even though they did not “win out” on the ideas that they felt most strongly about.

Amen…We believe and trust this because Jesus has given to anyone who wants it. A Divine and Catholic Faith.
For those who have it…No explanations are necessary. For many others no explanation is enough.

For those that no explanation is enough-what are we to do? We are called to evangelize, but I’m beginning to realize that no explanation will EVER be enough for some people. Some people, unfortunately, have been conned into believing a lot of misconceptions, misnomers, and lies, and they refuse to look at it from a different perspective or acknowledge facts even when they are placed in front of them. It saddens me

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