Protestants and doctrinal development


#1

There have been some interesting discussion in the past few week regarding the development of doctrine but no thread on it.

There have been some, of the more Protestant Evangelical persuasion, who claim that it took some doctrines 1600 year to develope fully. Some of these are Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, the atonement, and the proper organization and true nature of the Church.

We as Catholics also believe in the development of doctrine, but I think in a different way. I would call the Catholic view the Harmony of doctrinal development–that is, what developes does not contradict what came before, as in the Protestant understanding of doctrinal development.

What are your thoughts?


#2

I think many Protestants, including myself, would agree that development doesn’t contradict what went before. But then, the form of Protestantism I come from–the Wesleyan tradition–doesn’t contradict the Tradition as much as the Lutheran and Reformed versions.

Furthermore, what counts as “contradiction” can get tricky. For instance, there seems to be good evidence that most Catholic theologians until the 13th century thought that unbelievers do not receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. Everyone knows that major Catholic theologians denied the Immaculate Conception. Of course there are plenty of ways to get around these things. The point is that from a Protestant point of view it seems that you have a double standard at work. When you find something in the Tradition that contradicts your current position, you either explain it away or point out that one theologian doesn’t speak for the whole Tradition. But you don’t allow us to use the same methods. This is understandable, given your commitment to the view that the Holy Spirit guides the Magisterium. But of course that’s what you need to establish when arguing with Protestants–you can’t assume it. We all read the Fathers through the lens of later tradition–Catholics just as much as Protestants.

In Christ,

Edwin


#3

[quote=Contarini]I think many Protestants, including myself, would agree that development doesn’t contradict what went before. But then, the form of Protestantism I come from–the Wesleyan tradition–doesn’t contradict the Tradition as much as the Lutheran and Reformed versions.

Furthermore, what counts as “contradiction” can get tricky. For instance, there seems to be good evidence that most Catholic theologians until the 13th century thought that unbelievers do not receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. Everyone knows that major Catholic theologians denied the Immaculate Conception. Of course there are plenty of ways to get around these things. The point is that from a Protestant point of view it seems that you have a double standard at work. When you find something in the Tradition that contradicts your current position, you either explain it away or point out that one theologian doesn’t speak for the whole Tradition. But you don’t allow us to use the same methods. This is understandable, given your commitment to the view that the Holy Spirit guides the Magisterium. But of course that’s what you need to establish when arguing with Protestants–you can’t assume it. We all read the Fathers through the lens of later tradition–Catholics just as much as Protestants.

In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

Edwin, I would have to agree with this entire post (except the stuff about Reformed soteriology contradicting earlier tradition–I think that that there are many seeds of Reformed soteriology in Augustine and Aquinas!!). Very well though out. I recognize this double-standard often.

My Church history professor at seminary has a great quote that become more true all the time:

“We all walk through the gardens of church history and pick the flowers that we like the best.” --John Hannah.

Thanks for the imput (BTW: I respect Wesley very much).

Michael


#4

The problem with development Protestants is that what constitutes a legitimate development vs. a Catholic corruption is completely arbitrary, and I’ve yet to see see an answer suggesting anything beyond the assumption that if it is Catholic, it must be wrong. For instance, if a small group of Fathers disagreeing with the Immaculate Conception disproves it, then not a single Father coming up with the correct canon of Scriptures until the 300’s AD disproves Sola Scriptura. They are left with the woefully inadequet “fallible collection of infalliable books”.

Scott


#5

[quote=Scott Waddell]For instance, if a small group of Fathers disagreeing with the Immaculate Conception disproves it, then not a single Father coming up with the correct canon of Scriptures until the 300’s AD disproves Sola Scriptura. They are left with the woefully inadequet “fallible collection of infalliable books”.

Scott
[/quote]

Scott, this issue has already been covered. You really ought to read this. It is not an issue of canon, as if “canon” is a magic word that causes uninspired writings to suddenly become inspired.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=27722&highlight=michaelp


#6

[quote=michaelp]Edwin, I would have to agree with this entire post (except the stuff about Reformed soteriology contradicting earlier tradition–I think that that there are many seeds of Reformed soteriology in Augustine and Aquinas!!). Very well though out. I recognize this double-standard often.

My Church history professor at seminary has a great quote that become more true all the time:

“We all walk through the gardens of church history and pick the flowers that we like the best.” --John Hannah.

Thanks for the imput (BTW: I respect Wesley very much).

Michael
[/quote]

This quote is no test for truth. There are alot of “flower” in Church history…Some are Arian, some are Nestorian, and they contradict the previous doctrine.

So it is with the main body of Protestant Evangelical theology regarding faith alone and Scripture alone–no Father, or official Council, or Pope when taken in context taught what Evangelicals believe regarding faith alone and Scripture alone.

Show me a Evangelical in the Early Church Church and I will conceed to your understand of doctrinal development.


#7

To begin this post I will state that I am neither a Catholic nor a reformist (Protestant). I am even one of those ex-Catholics.

When I realized that I left the Catholic Church ignorant of what I had, I began to search and study so that I might know what God’s will was for me.

In addition to the question of authority which I am discussion on another board, I think the question of doctrinal development is a big problem for the truth claims of Protestants.

I have read Cardinal Newman’s On the Development of Christian Doctrine. I recommend it to all. It is online here:

[/font]http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/index.html

After reading Newman I was left with the following impression.

(Among other impressions of course. A notable one somewhat unrelated to this discussion is that his seven characteristics of a true development is a powerful Catholic apologetic).

The development of Christian doctrine does not proceed as the simplest most straight-forward read of history and the Bible. If some of the Christian beliefs embraced by Catholics, EO, and Protestants are true; then God must have guided these developments.

The Arian heresy was at one time embraced by virtually every if not every Bishop east or west (Newman even suggests that it was the laity that saved the church from this heresy). Pre-Nicea nobody embraced the type of co-equality espoused in the Augustinian Trinity structure.

If the above developments are true, then why should one accept them and reject later developments. I have failed to see a reason for the abandoning of the authority of the Catholic Church after the 4th council (Protestant) or after the 7th council (EO). I do see some problems with the practices of the Catholic Church that created the outrage of the reformers, but worse problems seem to have existed before. And if schism was correct and sola scriptura was a reasonable foundation why do I see all the implicitly embraced ideas in western Christianity. I think if the reformers had truly split with the Catholic Church and built upon a sola scriptura foundation there would be a number of differences that we just do not see.

Charity, TOm


#8

[quote=dennisknapp]This quote is no test for truth. There are alot of “flower” in Church history…Some are Arian, some are Nestorian, and they contradict the previous doctrine.

So it is with the main body of Protestant Evangelical theology regarding faith alone and Scripture alone–no Father, or official Council, or Pope when taken in context taught what Evangelicals believe regarding faith alone and Scripture alone.

Show me a Evangelical in the Early Church Church and I will conceed to your understand of doctrinal development.
[/quote]

You’re going to have to define “evangelical.” By definition, every Christian is catholic, liturgical, charismatic, etc. “Evangelical” comes from the Greek euangellismos - literally, “Gospel.”

If you mean evangelical in an attempt to pigeonhole certain groups, be sure you recognize that not all Protestants are evangelicals. My own tradition recognized the role of tradition in the church and in the interpretation of scripture.

O+


#9

I think that it is important to dicern what the major difference is between the Protestant understanding of docrinal development and the RC understanding, so that we can see how we understand the development of doctrine differently. For both Protestants and Catholics we find “seeds” of our thought throughout Church history. It is in the justification of these seeds that the differences emerge.

Protestants would see the legitimacy of unspoken tradition as somewhat reliable for a time, but subject to corrution that all unwritten information is subject to. Therefore, a Protestant might be more willing to accept the concensus of the early Church’s beliefs when the early Church fathers attribute these belief specifically that which they recieved from the Apostles. But these are few and far between (and very undeveloped . . . i.e. theologies of the baptism and the eucharist are very simplistic).

Protestants also see the development of doctrine proceeding when conflict arises that makes it necessary to search for the correct understanding. This search sometimes would reference “apostolic tradition” (only infallible to the degree that it accurately represents the teachings of the Apostles) and Scripture. But for the most part, in the early Church, Scripture was the primary reference because of the inherent untrustworthly nature of tradition and because of the fact that it cannot be varified when it is not written (who is to say who has the right tradition?).

This worked out well when defining the Trinity against competing models (Arian, Modalism, etc) and when defining the nature of Christ (Nestorian, Eutychianism, Apollinarianism, etc) becuase the Scripture speak clearly about these issues. Therefore, the early Church could refer to Scriptures for their primary support, and then refer to “apostolic tradition” for secondary support. Protestants have no problem with this method.

This worked in the early Church (pragmatically speaking) to define the essential orthodoxy of who God is. It worked because the the controversy occurred within reasonable time proximity with regards to the apostles testimony (100-250 years) and because there was sufficient Scriptural data to justify such claims.

Once “tradition” had “settled” the case with the Trinity, it seems only understandable that the Church began to see itself as an “infallible” gardian of truth.

The problem arises when issues and doctrine surface that do not meet these two criteria: 1) to much time has passed for us to rely upon unwritten tradition, 2) Scripture does not speak sufficiently to a matter. Therefore, when issues such as Marian dogmas, savific nature of seven sacraments, and Papal infallibility arise, Protestants do not see them as legitimate “developments” in doctrine because they do not meet this criteria.

Issues such as the Atonement (developed in the 11th century) do meet the criteria because they rely less upon unwritten tradition, but upon the testimony of Scripture alone. The Scripture do speak sufficiently to tell us that the atonement was a price paid to God, not Satan. So this is a legitimate doctrinal development. Other issues such as the faith alone as well do not rely upon unwritten tradition, but upon Scripture alone (although it can be found in seed form in the proceeding centuries). The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is a necessary outcome as unwritten tradition becomes untrustworthy. While the Scriptures do not speak of tradition being theonustos (God breathed), they do say that they themselves are theonustos (although this does not “prove” that they are, but is an arguement post facto that is sufficient for this discussion). Therefore, sola scriptura is a necessary argument from deduction. The unwritten tradition of the apostles is almost impossible to validate, but the written testimony of Scripture is not. Therefore, the Scripture is our only reliable source and the only sourse that is God breathed.

Now, even today, as issues arise, we can study the Scriptures (and written tradition as a secondary source) for the truth. We can continue to develop in our understanding of these things. So docrinal development continues today. This is the principle of semper reformanda (“always reforming”).

This model is not at all unreasonable. All we are saying is that we may know more now than they did then because we have had the time and the circimstances to study issue more carefully. I don’t think there will be any major changes (since the Scriptures are our guide), but maybe better articulations of doctrines already “established.”

Hope this helps to understand the Protestand understanding of docrinal development.

Michael


#10

Where does scripture say that?


#11

[quote=michaelp]I think that it is important to dicern what the major difference is between the Protestant understanding of docrinal development and the RC understanding, so that we can see how we understand the development of doctrine differently. For both Protestants and Catholics we find “seeds” of our thought throughout Church history. It is in the justification of these seeds that the differences emerge.

Protestants would see the legitimacy of unspoken tradition as somewhat reliable for a time, but subject to corrution that all unwritten information is subject to. Therefore, a Protestant might be more willing to accept the concensus of the early Church’s beliefs when the early Church fathers attribute these belief specifically that which they recieved from the Apostles. But these are few and far between (and very undeveloped . . . i.e. theologies of the baptism and the eucharist are very simplistic).

Protestants also see the development of doctrine proceeding when conflict arises that makes it necessary to search for the correct understanding. This search sometimes would reference “apostolic tradition” (only infallible to the degree that it accurately represents the teachings of the Apostles) and Scripture. But for the most part, in the early Church, Scripture was the primary reference because of the inherent untrustworthly nature of tradition and because of the fact that it cannot be varified when it is not written (who is to say who has the right tradition?).

This worked out well when defining the Trinity against competing models (Arian, Modalism, etc) and when defining the nature of Christ (Nestorian, Eutychianism, Apollinarianism, etc) becuase the Scripture speak clearly about these issues. Therefore, the early Church could refer to Scriptures for their primary support, and then refer to “apostolic tradition” for secondary support. Protestants have no problem with this method.

This worked in the early Church (pragmatically speaking) to define the essential orthodoxy of who God is. It worked because the the controversy occurred within reasonable time proximity with regards to the apostles testimony (100-250 years) and because there was sufficient Scriptural data to justify such claims.

Once “tradition” had “settled” the case with the Trinity, it seems only understandable that the Church began to see itself as an “infallible” gardian of truth.

The problem arises when issues and doctrine surface that do not meet these two criteria: 1) to much time has passed for us to rely upon unwritten tradition, 2) Scripture does not speak sufficiently to a matter. Therefore, when issues such as Marian dogmas, savific nature of seven sacraments, and Papal infallibility arise, Protestants do not see them as legitimate “developments” in doctrine because they do not meet this criteria.

Issues such as the Atonement (developed in the 11th century) do meet the criteria because they rely less upon unwritten tradition, but upon the testimony of Scripture alone. The Scripture do speak sufficiently to tell us that the atonement was a price paid to God, not Satan. So this is a legitimate doctrinal development. Other issues such as the faith alone as well do not rely upon unwritten tradition, but upon Scripture alone (although it can be found in seed form in the proceeding centuries). The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is a necessary outcome as unwritten tradition becomes untrustworthy. While the Scriptures do not speak of tradition being theonustos (God breathed), they do say that they themselves are theonustos (although this does not “prove” that they are, but is an arguement post facto that is sufficient for this discussion). Therefore, sola scriptura is a necessary argument from deduction. The unwritten tradition of the apostles is almost impossible to validate, but the written testimony of Scripture is not. Therefore, the Scripture is our only reliable source and the only sourse that is God breathed.

Now, even today, as issues arise, we can study the Scriptures (and written tradition as a secondary source) for the truth. We can continue to develop in our understanding of these things. So docrinal development continues today. This is the principle of semper reformanda (“always reforming”).

This model is not at all unreasonable. All we are saying is that we may know more now than they did then because we have had the time and the circimstances to study issue more carefully. I don’t think there will be any major changes (since the Scriptures are our guide), but maybe better articulations of doctrines already “established.”

Hope this helps to understand the Protestand understanding of docrinal development.

Michael
[/quote]

Michael,

How do your current beliefs compare to those of the early Church?

Would you say you what you believe and hold to be true is closer to what the early Church taught than say what a Catholic believes? And please provide examples where they agree.


#12

[quote=dennisknapp]Michael,

How do your current beliefs compare to those of the early Church?

Would you say you what you believe and hold to be true is closer to what the early Church taught than say what a Catholic believes? And please provide examples where they agree.
[/quote]

I don’t believe that the early Church had much by way of docrinal development. Their beliefs were very simplistic. They did not have the time to think through, much less, articulate many things. As you read through Clement and Ignatius, you see that they were more pastoral in intent. Therefore, I agree with their simplistic doctrines. When they spoke about scripture authoritatively, they were not concerned with sola scriptura, since time had not passed enough for that to become a necessary controvesy. When they talked about Christ, they did so in simplistic language. They believed He was God, but they were not concerned so much with the implications that that had in relation to the other memebers of the Godhead. When they spoke about baptism and the Lord’s supper, they did so simplistically, not dealing with it in relation to other undeveloped doctrines of soteriology.

Therefore, I find most of what they say very agreeable. I try not to look at them through the lense of later docrinal controveries. They were simplistic.

I believe the same way about Paul and the other NT writers. I don’t think that they had dealt with some of the ramifications of their own words and beliefs in relations to other docrines. Paul develped in his understanding of the Trinity as time passed so that his earlier writing, while speaking accurately, did not speak with the clarity that later ones did (expecially in relation to his understanding of Christ deity).

Michael


#13

So, you hold your own fallible interpretation of Scripture even though it contradicts 1600 years of Church teaching?

Why is unwritten tradition untrustworthy? Some would say that written tradition and Scripture can be just as untrustworthy. I mean, with all the various translations and recopying, how untrustworthy. Why could the true message not have been lost in translation?

If you say by the will of God and his purposes than I can say the same for unwritten tradition. God is not limited to that which is written. Remember, faith comes by hearing not by reading.


#14

[quote=michaelp]I don’t believe that the early Church had much by way of docrinal development. Their beliefs were very simplistic. They did not have the time to think through, much less, articulate many things. As you read through Clement and Ignatius, you see that they were more pastoral in intent. Therefore, I agree with their simplistic doctrines. When they spoke about scripture authoritatively, they were not concerned with sola scriptura, since time had not passed enough for that to become a necessary controvesy. When they talked about Christ, they did so in simplistic language. They believed He was God, but they were not concerned so much with the implications that that had in relation to the other memebers of the Godhead. When they spoke about baptism and the Lord’s supper, they did so simplistically, not dealing with it in relation to other undeveloped doctrines of soteriology.

Therefore, I find most of what they say very agreeable. I try not to look at them through the lense of later docrinal controveries. They were simplistic.

I believe the same way about Paul and the other NT writers. I don’t think that they had dealt with some of the ramifications of their own words and beliefs in relations to other docrines. Paul develped in his understanding of the Trinity as time passed so that his earlier writing, while speaking accurately, did not speak with the clarity that later ones did (expecially in relation to his understanding of Christ deity).

Michael
[/quote]

Could you provide me with some evidence?

What do you mean by “simplistic?” What Justin "simplistic in his Apology? What did he have to say about baptism and the Eucharist?


#15

So by that reasoning, you certainly agree with:

Ignatius of Antioch, who had been a disciple of the apostle John and who wrote a letter to the Smyrnaeans about A.D. 110, said, referring to “those who hold heterodox opinions,” that “they abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again” (6:2, 7:1).

Forty years later, Justin Martyr, wrote, “Not as common bread or common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, . . . is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66:1–20).

Origen, in a homily written about A.D. 244, attested to belief in the Real Presence. “I wish to admonish you with examples from your religion. You are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries, so you know how, when you have received the Body of the Lord, you reverently exercise every care lest a particle of it fall and lest anything of the consecrated gift perish. You account yourselves guilty, and rightly do you so believe, if any of it be lost through negligence” (Homilies on Exodus 13:3).

Since these fall into the timeframe you refer to, do you believe the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist?

God Bless,

Robert.


#16

Oh yeah, and how about Confession…

The Didache
"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure" (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas
"You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74]).

Ignatius of Antioch
"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]).

“For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop” (ibid., 8).

Irenaeus
"[The Gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women. . . . Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses" (Against Heresies 1:22 [A.D. 189]).

Tertullian
"[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness" (Repentance 10:1 [A.D. 203]).

Hippolytus
"[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command" (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215]).

Origen
"[A final method of forgiveness], albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, ‘I said, “To the Lord I will accuse myself of my iniquity”’" (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 248]).

Need more? This page (from the Forum sponsors) shows tracts with quotes from Church Fathers on many of our Church’s dogma.

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I don’t think the Early Church fits the description of not having much in the way of doctrine.

Just because they didn’t have it organized in to a Catechism, doesn’t mean the doctrine didn’t exist. As has been noted, just because the Bible wasn’t organized into one book doesn’t mean Scripture didn’t exist. I think the Church did a good job of assembling both.

To look at the teaching of the Early Fathers through the lens of Sola Scriptura is to deny their capability of understanding what was taught to them directly by the Apostles. I trust their judgement better than 20th-21st century scriptural experts.

God Bless,

Robert.


#17

So, you hold your own fallible interpretation of Scripture even though it contradicts 1600 years of Church teaching?

Like I said. It existed in seed form. What would you have said to Anselm when he helped to develop the doctrine of the atonement? Before him for 1000 years the Church generally believe that the atonement was a price paid to Satan. He said that it was a price paid to God. By your line of reasoning, you would have pulled Anselm aside and said, “Your teaching contradicts 1000 years of Church history.” But this is true and untrue. The Church had not yet dealt with the issue of the atonement in such detail until the. But the Scriptures speak clearly about it.

Why is unwritten tradition untrustworthy? Some would say that written tradition and Scripture can be just as untrustworthy. I mean, with all the various translations and recopying, how untrustworthy. Why could the true message not have been lost in translation?

Because it is not in any verifiable form. Scripture is. We can test the trustworthness of Scripture through textual criticism. In the over 6000 handwritten portions of the NT that we have in existence, there are over 300,000 variations. Through a process of textual criticism we can come to the original with reasonable certianty. Just think of unwritten tradition. How can you test the variation that exist. You can’t. You cannot ever know what the original is. If the scripture has so many variation that are written, how many might we expect from unwritten. It would virutally be lost within the first few hundred years.

If you say by the will of God and his purposes than I can say the same for unwritten tradition. God is not limited to that which is written. Remember, faith comes by hearing not by reading.

But I did not say that. Textual criticism is a reliable science. SO much so that even liberal who don’t believe the Bible is God’s word, do not deny the reliability of the transmission of Scripture.

Michael


#18

[quote=dennisknapp]Could you provide me with some evidence?

What do you mean by “simplistic?” What Justin "simplistic in his Apology? What did he have to say about baptism and the Eucharist?
[/quote]

What I mean is simplistic and undeveloped. Remember, “in contrast, there is clarity.” Only when something has been challenged and disected by antagony does it become clarified and articulated. The early Church just believed what they were told and did not work out all the details.

Justin was concerned with proving the Christian religion as philosophically coherent, not doctrinal development. In other words, his focus was apologetics, not polemics.


#19

[quote=rlg94086]So by that reasoning, you certainly agree with:

Since these fall into the timeframe you refer to, do you believe the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist?

God Bless,

Robert.
[/quote]

Not necessarily. I believe that this is a very simplistic and literal understanding of the eucharist that does not prove it true or false.

These people also believed that Christ was ontologically subordinate to the Father. Do you agree with them?

They also believed in a literal 1000 year millennium. Do you?

Most (if not all) also believed that Christ’s atonement was made to Satan. Do you?

Origen also believed that the soul of a man pre-existed the creation of his body. Do you?

Origen also believe that all people will be saved. Do you?

You see, it is difficult to say that they had better understanding than we do. Most of what they say is good and reliable, but you have to be careful since they had not dealt with some of these issues in any detail.

Michael


#20

Oh yeah, and how about Confession…

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Actually, this is all good pastoral advice. I have no problem with it. You just read it through Catholic eyes and anachronistically insert your understanding of confession into this.

I don’t think the Early Church fits the description of not having much in the way of doctrine.

Believe me, I do think that they had doctrine–good doctrine for the most part. It was just very simplistic and unarticulated. Therefore, it is difficult to tell exactly what they believed. Either way, what they believed, while important, is not paramount, since we know that they believed many heretical doctrines. But they held to them simplistically.

Just because they didn’t have it organized in to a Catechism, doesn’t mean the doctrine didn’t exist.

True, but it does not exist in any well articulated or thought through form. They did not have 2000 years of Church history behind them for the study of the issues. Most were all heritics with regards to they hypostatic union and the trinity. But they did their best with what they had.

As has been noted, just because the Bible wasn’t organized into one book doesn’t mean Scripture didn’t exist. I think the Church did a good job of assembling both.

I do to. We have done many good things throughout Church history by the grace and guidence of our sovereign God.

To look at the teaching of the Early Fathers through the lens of Sola Scriptura is to deny their capability of understanding what was taught to them directly by the Apostles. I trust their judgement better than 20th-21st century scriptural experts.

Can you tell me EXACTLY what was taught to them by the apostles? How do you know?

How do you know that they are being truthful or accurate?

How do you know that it was handed down uncorrupted?

Michael


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