Some shocking excerpts!

*“I myself wasted and lost much time on Gregory, Cyprian, Augustine, Origen. For the Fathers, in their time, had a remarkable attraction to and liking for allegories; they used them constantly, and their books are full of them. . . . The reason is this, that they all followed their own conceit, mind and opinion, as they thought right, and not St. Paul, who wanted to let the Holy Spirit act there from within.” * - Martin Luther

Most likely a hyperbole, and what Luther really means is that compared to reading Scripture, the Church Fathers aren’t too valuable.

Anyway, here is what one commentator said about this:

In many respects, a decision about the role of the Fathers seems, in fact, to have been reached today. But, since it is more unfavorable than favorable to a greater reliance upon them, it does nothing to lead us out of our present aporia.* For, in the debate about what constitutes greater fidelity to the Church of the Fathers, Luther’s historical insight is clearly proving itself right.** We are fairly certain today that, while the Fathers were not Roman Catholic as the thirteenth or nineteenth century would have understood the term, they were, nonetheless, “Catholic”, and their Catholicism extended to the very canon of the New Testament itself. With this assessment, paradoxically, the Fathers have lost ground on both side of the argument because, in the controversy about the fundamental basis for understanding Scripture, there is nothing more to be proved or disproved by reference to them. But neither have they become totally unimportant in the domain, for, even after the relativization they have suffered in the process we have described, the differences between the Catholicism of an Augustine and a Thomas Aquinas, or even between that of a Cardinal Manning and a Cyprian, still opens a broad field of theological investigation. Granted, only one side can consider them its own Fathers, and the proof of continuity, which once led directly back to them, seems no longer worth the effort for a concept of history and faith that sees continuity as made possible and communicated in terms of discontinuity.*

Guess who said that?

Cardinal Ratzinger. :wink:

My thoughts on this:

While the Church Fathers are still important and are useful for growing in Faith and deepening our understanding of theology, they shouldn’t be made into the decisive factor in dialogue for what makes Catholics/Protestants “right”. It’s clear that they are definitely Catholic in their essence, but it’s too easy for either side to cherry pick from them to suit their own liking (one of Luther’s criticisms). In dialogue between Lutherans/Protestants and Catholics, it’s best to go straight to the Scriptures, especially St. Paul.

What do you guys think?

May God grant Christendom more Benedicts!

I think Cardinal Ratzinger, and you here, are right. I will, however, reference Martin Chemnitz, the second generation Reformer who said, *“We also gratefully and reverently use the labors of the fathers who by their commentaries have profitably clarified many passages of the Scripture. And we confess that we are greatly confirmed by the testimonies of the ancient church in the true and sound understanding of the Scripture.” *

So, while using the Fathers for debate points seems useless, using the Fathers to better understand scripture and the faith is invaluable. :thumbsup:

Jon

I think we need the full version of the quote, or at least what follows part of this “quote”.

Is it from the Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger?

The dichotomy just discovered within reformational thinking exists, indeed, even to the present time. Nor is it removed when Benoit, following the direction indicated by Melanchthon, seeks to define the Father no longer – in the manner of Catholic theology – as ecclesial, because of their significance for the Church, but rather as scriptural, because of their position with regard to Scripture, and describes them as those Christian authors “who, consciously or not, sought to express and interpret the revelation of God in Jesus Christ as it is retold in the Scriptures”74. But this does not solve the basic problem of whether the Fathers as a way, a byway or a false way to the Scriptures, except that for the Fathers themselves, their scriptural way was not distinguishable from their ecclesial way, and to separate them is to open an unhistorical perspective. And in precisely this bond lies the ultimate question that concerns us.
74 – A. Benoit, 50 Cf. all of chap. 2: “Les Peres de I’eglise: Esai de definition”, 31-52.

Bold mine.

The message is pretty clear:

The emphasis of keeping Scriptural interpretation with Ecclesial Tradition should not be severed. And I think it emphasizes on the biggest stumbling block: Sola Scriptura (See my 2nd bold).

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is really difficult to quote from. While he concedes to points of view from our separated brethren, he also draws a line on things that are not negotiable - most times in the same breath.

I actually think this is why Lutherans, generally, are fond of him. He recognizes and doesn’t under-emphasize where we agree, and he states without overemphasizing where we disagree. There’s no fluff, and there’s no polemic. There’s no relativism, and there’s no Father O’Hare.

Jon

Yes, he is very respectful in his tone and has a gifted theological mind.

Really hard to understand at times. I’m in the habit of reading him by separating sentences - parenthesis - comas - and any other interjection he uses ----- all in order to understand him, lol.

:thumbsup:

Yes it is.

The message is pretty clear:

The emphasis of keeping Scriptural interpretation with Ecclesial Tradition should not be severed. And I think it emphasizes on the biggest stumbling block: Sola Scriptura (See my 2nd bold).

Correct.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is really difficult to quote from. While he concedes to points of view from our separated brethren, he also draws a line on things that are not negotiable - most times in the same breath.

He really is the Mozart of theology: what he says at one point doesn’t always seem to make sense, but in the end everything is brought together in harmony and makes perfect sense.

[quote=CrossofChrist] “I myself wasted and lost much time on Gregory, Cyprian, Augustine, Origen. For the Fathers, in their time, had a remarkable attraction to and liking for allegories; they used them constantly, and their books are full of them. . . . The reason is this, that they all followed their own conceit, mind and opinion, as they thought right, and not St. Paul, who wanted to let the Holy Spirit act there from within.” - Martin Luther

Most likely a hyperbole, and what Luther really means is that compared to reading Scripture, the Church Fathers aren’t too valuable.

Anyway, here is what one commentator said about this:

In many respects, a decision about the role of the Fathers seems, in fact, to have been reached today. But, since it is more unfavorable than favorable to a greater reliance upon them, it does nothing to lead us out of our present aporia. For, in the debate about what constitutes greater fidelity to the Church of the Fathers, Luther’s historical insight is clearly proving itself right. We are fairly certain today that, while the Fathers were not Roman Catholic as the thirteenth or nineteenth century would have understood the term, they were, nonetheless, “Catholic”, and their Catholicism extended to the very canon of the New Testament itself. With this assessment, paradoxically, the Fathers have lost ground on both side of the argument because, in the controversy about the fundamental basis for understanding Scripture, there is nothing more to be proved or disproved by reference to them. But neither have they become totally unimportant in the domain, for, even after the relativization they have suffered in the process we have described, the differences between the Catholicism of an Augustine and a Thomas Aquinas, or even between that of a Cardinal Manning and a Cyprian, still opens a broad field of theological investigation. Granted, only one side can consider them its own Fathers, and the proof of continuity, which once led directly back to them, seems no longer worth the effort for a concept of history and faith that sees continuity as made possible and communicated in terms of discontinuity.

Guess who said that?

Cardinal Ratzinger.

My thoughts on this:

While the Church Fathers are still important and are useful for growing in Faith and deepening our understanding of theology, they shouldn’t be made into the decisive factor in dialogue for what makes Catholics/Protestants “right”. It’s clear that they are definitely Catholic in their essence, but it’s too easy for either side to cherry pick from them to suit their own liking (one of Luther’s criticisms). In dialogue between Lutherans/Protestants and Catholics, it’s best to go straight to the Scriptures, especially St. Paul.

What do you guys think?
[/quote]

The problem is, your opinion and mine of scripture is based mostly on the great minds that came before us. We study, and research, and often are swayed by our prejudices.

The Father of the Church are human. They all at one time or another held opinions which may or may not have agreed with the Church during the period they lived. This is where the “cherry picking” you describe comes in. The Fathers and Saints are not infallible in matters of faith and morals

Given man’s tendency towards relativism, the Church, as a deposit of faith, is absolutely needed. It is beyond imagination that Christ would have not left an instrument to guarantee the Truth of the Gospel be maintained. Are you willing to bet that the instrument was Luther? Calvin? My bet is on the Church.

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Care to elaborate on that last part? Me=:confused:

[quote=CrossofChrist] Quote:

Originally Posted by concretecamper

Given man’s tendency towards relativism, the Church, as a deposit of faith, is absolutely needed… Are you willing to bet that the instrument was Luther? Calvin? My bet is on the Church.

Care to elaborate on that last part? Me=
[/quote]

Without the Tradition of the Church (of which the Fathers of the Church as a collective are part of) , interpretation of scripture is bound to cause confusion because of man’s relativistic leanings.

Go to scripture is great advice. But going to scripture without the Tradition of the Church is doomed to failure.

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The problem is if you focus too much on scripture (to or near the point of scripture alone) you are bound to put your own understanding onto the bible. One has to read the fathers and history to get a satisfying grasp on the word unless God has extroadinarily gifted some to read it and that only ever seems to happen rarely.

So we agree?

Awesome! God Bless

Indeed! Not only this, but the Fathers are the measuring stick as to what is orthodox. Everything we assert and teach must be measured against what came before. The implication that some latter day so called theologians understand God better than say St. Anthony of Egypt or St. Basil is ridiculous. That doesn’t mean the Fathers are infallible (they aren’t), but I note an unfortunate lack of Patristics in the Western Church…that doesn’t mean they aren’t studied, but there is this sense that the Western Church has “moved beyond the Fathers.”

:tsktsk:

Because we don’t emphasize St. Peter enough?..

Even Lutherans would not / should not argue with this.

**This is also certain, that no one should rely on his own wisdom in the interpretation of the Scripture, not even in the clear passages… We also gratefully and reverently use the labors of the fathers who by their commentaries have profitably clarified many passages of the Scripture. And we confess that we are greatly confirmed by the testimonies of the ancient church in the true and sound understanding of the Scripture. Nor do we approve of it if someone invents for himself a meaning which conflicts with all antiquity, and for which there are clearly no testimonies of the church. ** - Martin Chemnitz, second generation Lutheran Reformer

Jon

:confused:

You do realize that there were 11 other Apostles, not to mention St. Paul, Timothy, et al?

There is a distressing lack of emphasis on the First Millenium in the Latin Church today…it doesn’t mean it is non-existent, but it gets fuzzy when you get to the time before your saint Thomas Aquinas, and again I will note I am talking about in popular piety and the devotional life of the Church today, not the halls of Seminaries or among the Learned…this includes Ecumenical Councils. Again, before Trent…it gets fuzzy.

10, we can’t count Judas Iscariot as an Evangelizer, unless you are counting Mathias.

The 1st millennium includes both of us, unless you were in schism before (Chalcedon?).

Perhaps you can explain this fuzziness.

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