Most uncatholic church fathers


Hey there,

I am currently investigating Catholicism vs. Protestantism, and I must say many things speak in favour of Catholicism. Yet, coming from a Lutheran background, if I indeed do convert, I don’t want to be accused for “stacking the deck”, i.e. selecting my sources to reach the conclusion I search for.

So I was wondering if you could list the three of four most “un-Catholic” church fathers you can think of. (Not heretics, though!) That is, someone who are rarely used to defend the Catholic tradition, but still considered fathers of the church.

I plan to read St. Justin Martyr and St.Ignatius, and perhaps some Augustine, too, so it’s not that I want to stack the deck the other way around. :stuck_out_tongue:

  • CB


St. John of Damascus
Pope St. Gregory I, (the Great)
Gregory of Nyssa
Cyril of Jerusalem
Gregory Nazianzen



Well, no. That’s sort of an oxymoron-- an *uncatholic *Catholic Church Father.

Happy reading.


I don’t like the idea of Catholic VERSUS Protestant. Especially for Lutherans who really do hold strongly to the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. I prefer to think of cradle Protestants as not having the whole picture.

Pitting Church Fathers against one another doesn’t work either. A lot of these writings were penned in the struggle to consolidate doctrine, and any ECF might have passed through what is now a non-magisterial phase or have held a non-magisterial teaching without being a heretic or “against” the Church.

Aside from what Catholics consider grave defections from the faith in Protestant teaching, as a convert myself, I see the Catholic view more a matter of taking the whole elephant at once, rather than breaking it up into its parts and emphasizing one over another. Pretty much that is what heresy does: takes one aspect of the faith and exaggerates it at the expense of the rest.


I would hardly classify these as “unCatholic”.


I have to agree with this, and this is something that popped into my head the other day as I was thinking about how I see (more than just occasionally) this or that ECF quoted out of context to “prove” this or that is REALLY what the early Church thought. (My personal favorite is when St. Jerome is quoted to “prove” the deutero-canonical books were not considered Scripture by the early Church…but that’s another thread…I digress).

Some people tend to read the ECFs the same way they read their bible. They search for single passages that pertain to the topic of the day, and then string those single passages together to form the basis for their conclusion, most of the time ignoring the underlying message of the document their “proof-text” was taken from. This method, of course, can lead anyone to deduce pretty much anything they want to (or can conceive).

There are no “least Catholic” ECFs, and if you read their writings in their entirety, in not only literary, but also historical, and social contexts, and honestly search for the overall meaning each of them is trying to convey, independent of anyone else (as opposed to “stringing together” little snippets of each one) you will find they were overwhelmingly and undoubtedly Catholic.

Cardinal Newmann stated it better than I ever could “To become deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”.


Neither do I, but you can’t get around the question of CatholicISM vs. ProtestantISM. They can not both be true (Protestantism literally meaning protesting against Roman Catholicism).

Thanks for the list. I read something by Athanasius once, and I’m definitely going to read some more there.

[quote=1ke]I would hardly classify these as “unCatholic”.

I know that most Catholics will say, that all Church Fathers are Catholic, and exactly therefore I also want to read those that are “least” Catholic.

  • CB


I was concentrating on the spirit of his post which I took to be this part:

Just a matter of interpretation :smiley:



Origen. He was the perfect example of what we would today call a left-wing trendy dissident theologian. Silly enough to argue his way into castrating himself, which is why he was never canonised.


Oh YEAH! I forgot Origen. But stick mostly to his earlier writings as implied by Malcolm. Thanks MM. :tiphat:



Augustine held the Roman church and its bishop in high regard, but he had a non-papal view of church government. Roman Catholic historian Robert Eno comments:

“Elsewhere I have argued in detail Augustine’s views of authority in the Church and that, in my opinion, the council [not the Pope] was the primary instrument for settling controversies…I believe that Augustine had great respect for the Roman church whose antiquity and apostolic origins made it outshine by far other churches in the West. But as with Cyprian, the African collegial and conciliar tradition was to be preferred most of the time.” (The Rise of the Papacy [Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1990], p. 79)

Hippolytus goes on to tell us that the Roman bishop Callistus set up a school of theology that was in opposition to “the Church”. He explains that other churches (“sects”) acted independently of the Roman church under Callistus. He refers to other Christians belonging to a different “congregation” and a different “school” than that of the Roman bishop Callistus. He refers to Callistus’ followers wrongly considering themselves “a Catholic Church”. In other words, not only does Hippolytus not see Callistus and his church as the catholic church, but he doesn’t even see them as a catholic church. Apparently, Hippolytus had no concept of the Roman church and its bishop having universal jurisdiction.

“The impostor Callistus, having ventured on such opinions, established a school of theology in antagonism to the Church, adopting the foregoing system of instruction. And he first invented the device of conniving with men in regard of their indulgence in sensual pleasures, saying that all had their sins forgiven by himself. For he who is in the habit of attending the congregation of any one else, and is called a Christian, should he commit any transgression; the sin, they say, is not reckoned unto him, provided only he hurries off and attaches himself to the school of Callistus. And many persons were gratified with his regulation, as being stricken in conscience, and at the same time having been rejected by numerous sects; while also some of them, in accordance with our condemnatory sentence, had been by us forcibly ejected from the Church…And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church!” (The Refutation of All Heresies, 9:7)


Athanasius, the primary opponent of Arianism, sympathized with the Roman bishop Liberius because of the pressure placed upon him to support Arianism. However, despite sympathizing with him, he says that Liberius did support the heresy under pressure:

“Thus they endeavoured at the first to corrupt the Church of the Romans, wishing to introduce impiety into it as well as others. But Liberius after he had been in banishment two years gave way, and from fear of threatened death subscribed. Yet even this only shews their violent conduct, and the hatred of Liberius against the heresy, and his support of Athanasius, so long as he was suffered to exercise a free choice. For that which men are forced by torture to do contrary to their first judgment, ought not to be considered the willing deed of those who are in fear, but rather of their tormentors.” (History of the Arians, 5:41)

Tertullian apparently didn’t believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. He writes that Jesus’ brothers were “really” his brothers, his “blood-relationship” (Against Marcion, 4:19). Elsewhere, Tertullian comments:

“Behold, there immediately present themselves to us, on the threshold as it were, the two priestesses of Christian sanctity, Monogamy and Continence: one modest, in Zechariah the priest; one absolute, in John the forerunner: one appeasing God; one preaching Christ: one proclaiming a perfect priest; one exhibiting ‘more than a prophet,’ - him, namely, who has not only preached or personally pointed out, but even baptized Christ. For who was more worthily to perform the initiatory rite on the body of the Lord, than flesh similar in kind to that which conceived and gave birth to that body? And indeed it was a virgin, about to marry once for all after her delivery, who gave birth to Christ, in order that each title of sanctity might be fulfilled in Christ’s parentage, by means of a mother who was both virgin, and wife of one husband.” (On Monogamy, 8)


I know that John Calvin was heavily influenced by Augustine’s writings.


Why would the actions of some church fathers make your mind of how you should live your own life?

There are bad apples no matter where you go. There have been some in the Catholic church as well. Does that make me not want to be Catholic and part of the church that Christ himself started.

Think about it, the Catholic Church, its teaching and values have not budged for 2000 + years. If that is not divine intervention I don’t know what is. In the early years the following of Christ could have died, but it did not, it prevailed.

For every corrupt “Church Father” I bet there is a corrupt leader in all the protestant churches.


Would anyone agree with the following approach:

I’m thinking of becoming a Christian, but I don’t want to be accused of “stacking the deck” by studying just the Bible .Therefore, could anyone recommend any books like the Koran or the writings of Buddha or any other religions that I could read to balance out my study?

I don’t think so. Yo’ve probably heard the following:

“Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it.”

Whether this is really true or just an urban legend, the concept is valid.

Why study those Fathers who may have gotten wobbly on an issue or two to get a picture of truth? Will studying error help you to recognize it or will you simply be inclined to copy it - thus falling into error yourself?

Instead, why not study the orthodox Fathers and then determine which of the churches most closely resembles the Church described in their writings?

It won’t be Kaycee’s church, that’s for sure. :stuck_out_tongue:

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


I was thinking the same thing.

closed #17

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