If you’re thinking soley in terms of strict numerical unanimity, its a pretty tall order to ask us to demonstrate this as empirical fact almost two thousand years after the era of the Early Church Fathers.
Furthermore, finding an answer to a question like this is really not something that can be done adequately on an internet forum, it takes time and real research of a lot of different sources.
I may not be able to provide you with a cut and dried list of Fathers’ names who all unequivocally supported the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, but I think if you ask a lot of those who become or remain Catholic due to their discovery of the Fathers’ writings, they will freely admit they never compiled any such unanimous list.
For one, I’ll admit it. But I can tell you that from what I have read of the Fathers’ writings, for me personally, they sound a lot more like Catholics than anything resembling modern day, Reformation-style Protestants. I see in their writings words and phrases like “Eucharist,” “altar,” “priest” and “bishop,” “body, blood, soul and divinity,” “Sacrifice,” and so on. It seems that many people who convert to Catholicism come to similar conclusions when reading these ancient documents- they general impression is marked much more by the appearance of an early Catholic Church than a federation of Reformed Baptist or Presbyterian churches.
So the coined term “UNANIMOUS CONSENT OF THE FATHERS” Really has no weight to it?
Because it’s my understanding that this forms, to a large extent, what Catholics mean by Sacred Tradition.
I surely wouldn’t base my salvation by a democratic means of consensus and general agreement.
Well, for one thing, none of them had a problem calling priests “Father.”:rolleyes:
I’m not sure the question has a logical point to it. If there is a solid consensus on a belief, that’s proof enough that most Christians held that belief since Apostolic times onward and therefore it is part of the Apostolic Faith. An example would be the hypostatic union.
But, you know, if we use common sense, we could easily see that if there is no evidence of a certain belief, say, sola scriptura, among Christians of the first millennium or of the first part of the second millennium, that the belief is a novelty and an invention by later Christians. You know, if something’s essential to the Christian faith, you would think that at least a decent amount of Christians would hold that belief at every point in time after the Resurrection (since Christ promised that they would be led by the Holy Spirit.)
Okay, Simon, I’ll give it a shot to see what you come up with! I’m just interested in the quotes you’ll provide.
Baptismal regeneration. In other words, that something spiritual (i.e. the washing away of sins) does happen when we are baptized.
It has weight for believing Catholics like myself because we have faith in the Church, the main reason being that we have much more evidence for the claims of the Catholic Church regarding its continuity with early Christianity than any Protestant faith tradition does.
Who’s coining this term? Actually, I think “strong general consensus” would probably be more appropriate than the word “unanimous”. There have been voices of dissent in every age of the Church. More often then not, the theological implications of different views would be debated, and eventually, a general opinion would form based on the consensus.
Who said anything about democratic means?
Look, if the vast majority of the Fathers are saying that a certain belief is essential for hundreds of years from the earliest times, then it is logical that a certain belief was part of the Apostolic Faith. If the guys taught by Apostles teach certain things, and then their successors teach the same things, and so on, common sense demands us to believe that those teachings go all the way back to the Apostles, especially because Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would lead his followers.
What is totally illogical is to say that something is essential to the Christian faith but not have that belief found anywhere (except for alleged Biblical verses that prove the belief) for the first centuries+ of the Christian Era.
I’m curious, do you think the earliest commentary on that verse is during/after the Reformation?
Find me one ECF who had a problem with it.
Okay, but it makes more sense to me than staking out my own claim as regards Divine Truth. It seems to me that if God would decide to form a Church (which is referenced among other instances in Matthew 16:18) then His teachings would find consensus with all or most of this Church’s leaders.
See how he speaks of Christ righteousness covering our sins…
“As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!” (The Epistle to Diognetus, 9)
That’s almost like asking if there is one major issue within the Protestant world that all of them agree on…
Trinity - No
Sacrament - No
Same Version of Sola Fide - No
You get the point…
I am not blaming Protestants; neither should you blame the ECFs.
If God didn’t want the Catholic Church to birth the New Testament as we know it, He could have provided some other means.
If God wanted to reveal to the apostles that their successors should go by scripture alone, He could have managed that as well.
Those who affirmed which books belonged in the Bible believed in Transubstantiation, Mary veneration, Tradition, Apostolic Authority, Prayers for the Dead, Infant Baptism, on and on…
I’m not even sure the apostles themselves agreed on everything!
If you want to find a consensus sure. If you’re looking for unanimous agreement on all matters all the time, I don’t think you’ll find that anywhere.
Recognitions of Clement…
OPPOSITION To it.
That the heretics interpreted scripture apart from the traditions and teachings of the church?
All you did was quote a lengthy section of a letter by Mathetes that does not mention baptism AT ALL, pro nor con. It’s possible he never had occasion to discuss baptism at all. As Catholics, we agree to everything Mathetes was quoted by you as saying. We also believe in baptismal regeneration. Catholics are not hindered by false either/or dichotomies. That’s why we are THE Full Gospel Church.
**To prove your assertion you have to show in his writings (or those of the other ECF’s) a denial of baptismal regeneration. **
As Catholics we hold that the ECF’s unanimously believed in baptismal regeneration. You charge that they did not. The burden of proof is on he who brings up the charge. We’ll leave the light on for you…:whistle:
For the entire article, go to:
Partial quote from the article:
The phrase “unanimous consent of the Fathers” had a specific application as used at the Council of Trent (Fourth Session), and reiterated at the First Vatican Council (Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council, chap. 2). The Council Fathers specifically applied the phrase to the interpretation of Scripture. Biblical and theological confusion was rampant in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. …
The Council Fathers at Trent (1554-63) affirmed the ancient custom that the proper understanding of Scripture was that which was held by the Fathers of the Church. In this way, they hoped to bring order out of the rising chaos. Opposition to the Church’s teaching is exemplified by William Webster (The Church of Rome at the Bar of History [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1995]), who misrepresents the Council Fathers by redefining and misapplying “unanimous consent.” First in redefining, he implies that unanimous consent means 100% affirmation by each Father. …
Second, Webster misapplies the term, not to the interpretation of Scripture, as the Council Fathers intended, but to tradition. His assertions are patently untrue, but using a skewed definition and application of “unanimous consent,” he uses selective patristic passages as proof-texts for his analysis of the Fathers.
Firstly, that text is not written by an ECF. Notice that it is under the category “pseudo-Clementine literature.”
Anyway, the text you pointed out doesn’t show opposition (my emphasis and [comments]):
When the old man had said this, I Clement said to him: “Hear, my father: [As you see, Clement is quoted as addressing the old man as “father.” Clement then has no problem with it.] if my brother Niceta bring you to acknowledge that the world is not governed without the providence of God, I shall be able to answer you in that part which remains concerning the genesis; for I am well acquainted with this doctrine.” And when I had thus spoken, my brother Aquila said: “What is the use of our calling him father, when we are commanded to call no man father upon earth?”812812 Matt. xxiii. 9. [Aquila raises the objection you raise] Then, looking to the old man, he said, “Do not take it amiss, my father, [Aquila contradicts himself] that I have found fault with my brother for calling you father, for we have a precept not to call any one by that name.”** When Aquila said that, all the assembly of the bystanders, as well as the old man and Peter,** 168laughed. [Everybody, including the Apostle Peter, catches Aquila’s mistake.] And when Aquila asked the reason of their all laughing, I said to him: “Because you yourself do the very thing which you find fault with in another; for you called the old man father.” [Aquila is shown his objection is based on a faulty interpretation] But he denied it, saying: “I am not aware that I called him father.” [Either he lied or has bad memory] Meantime Peter was moved with certain suspicions,813813 [Another foreshadowing of the approaching recognition; peculiar to this narrative.—R.] as he told us afterwards; and looking to Niceta, he said, “Go on with what you have proposed.
So, as you see, the text actually counters your argument.
Furthermore, in Ch. 6, Niceta addresses Peter as “my father” and in Ch. 7 Peter addresses Niceta as “my son.” It seems like Peter had no problem with it.
So, you have not shown me one ECF (and let me clarify this time, pseudo-ECF literature doesn’t count) that holds to your interpretation of the verse.