Studying the Foundations of the Protestant Reformation: Early Church Fathers on "Bible Alone"


#21

Right, as he said, he doesn’t believe in it now, but remains open to it. However, he appears to dismiss things rather quickly before having all the facts. Again, at least that’s how it appears.


#22

I think I’m clear now. Thanks.


#23

If you don’t have time right now, I’ll wait. Let me know. I haven’t mentioned the papacy. You are the one who keeps bringing it up. All I’ve asked is for you to provide the scriptural status of the New Testament Canon under the criteria I set forth. Let me know when you are ready to demonstrate that it can be established, or concede that it can’t be.

Oh, and one more detail – I don’t hold that the canon of scripture is necessarily closed. That’s a Roman Catholic thing. I feel quite fine with the idea of reading the apocryphal books, and other works (such as the early fathers), because these are all simply words written by the inspiration of God. Those articles that are not canonical are made evident by their content.

Without realizing it I’m sure, you’ve just made your task exponentially more difficult by asserting that the canon of Scripture is not closed. In any case, none of this shows whether you can demonstrate what belongs in Scripture under the criteria provided.

  1. Which ECF wrote the fragment only matters once you explain what differentiates and early father from any other person of the period.

Not in this case. We don’t know who wrote the Muratorian Fragment. The writer could have been a heretic for all we know. We do know the identity of the ECF’s. Many of them were bishops or clergy of the Church.

  1. Are you saying modern-day writers cannot be inspired by God? Are you saying that all of the early fathers were not inspired by God?

No to both questions. I await your demonstration.


#24

He, read on a little further in Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, 4:33)
**Learn also diligently, and from the **Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray read none of the apocryphal writings: for why do you, who know not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble yourself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine scriptures the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters."

Seems to me that Cyril isn’t condoning Sola Scriptura. Also he refers to the Septuagint, in other words in modern terms the Catholic Bible. Since most of the protestant bibles aren’t based on the Septuagint.


#25

Exactly. My rule of faith consists of scripture (as I am guided to believe by the holy spirit), and the leadings of God (through the holy spirit). That’s how it is now. I don’t yet see reason to change this, but I’m not saying I never will.

Anywho, I have to run (to drop someone off at church, nonetheless). I’ll be back later, and will reply to other posts then.


#26

Interesting. If you don’t subscribe to sola scriptura, and you don’t follow the authority of the Catholic church and you reject Tradition, then that means you have eliminated the Eastern Orthodox…what’s left?


#27

But if everyone abided by what you now follow where does 2 Tim 3:15 and Mt 18:15-18 fit in?


#28

Translation: Even if it is offensive, and people tell me its offensive, I still won’t change my ways and stop offending them because they are being petty.


#29

It’s really way off-topic for this thread. I also never claimed to know the entirety of all books that contain godly wisdom.

Not in this case. We don’t know who wrote the Muratorian Fragment. The writer could have been a heretic for all we know. We do know the identity of the ECF’s. Many of them were bishops or clergy of the Church.

Explain to me what the definition is of an early church father, please. How do we define (by criteria, not name) which of the many people alive were early fathers?

Also, your point makes no sense – the writing confirms the beliefs Roman Catholics hold as infallible even now, so the writing itself isn’t heretical, even if the author were a heretic.

No to both questions. I await your demonstration.

So God can equally inspire people now, and did inspire some of the early fathers…but their works aren’t canonical?

2 Timothy 3:15 simply says that all scripture (referring here mostly to the Old Testament, I think) is useful for reproof. Scripture is a rule of faith. That doesn’t contradict the idea of having other rules of faith, so long as they don’t contradict scripture.

Regarding Matthew 18:15-18, we must first consider that the passage is part of Jesus’ reply to the question of who is greatest among the twelve. Thus, we must take it that this passage was intended to convey a meaning in regards to that question.

No. I won’t stop because it’s confusing to use just the term Catholic. That it’s confusing is more important to me than that you’re offended over a label (which as I’ve mentioned, is quite accurate, moreso than the non-Catholic or Protestant labels you would apply to me).

[edit]So, would someone care to explain how we can be certain that the Roman Catholic Church is a valid rule of faith, without relying on the statements of the church for confirmation?


#30

It isn’t off topic. It does no good to claim that Scripture is the sole rule of faith if you can’t even define what constitutes Scripture. I never asked you to give me every book that contains Godly wisdom. You are engaging in the fallacy of diversion. I’ve asked you, multiple times now, to demonstrate under the criteria given that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament canon constitute Scripture.

Explain to me what the definition is of an early church father, please. How do we define (by criteria, not name) which of the many people alive were early fathers?

I already answered this question in my last post. We have no idea as to the identity of the writer, regardless of what his name might have been. He could have been a heretic trying to mislead Christians for all we know. On what basis do you accept what he says? He doesn’t even say that the books he cites are scriptural, just that they were written by those who claimed to author them. If you want to use this author as the basis for your proof, then be my guest.

Also, your point makes no sense – the writing confirms the beliefs Roman Catholics hold as infallible even now, so the writing itself isn’t heretical, even if the author were a heretic.

But you see, you don’t get to skip over into my world view as a Catholic. There are all kinds of things I could claim about this writing from that standpoint. If you want to use his work, then you have to do so within your own theological framework. I’d be very interested to know why you find his work reliable.

So God can equally inspire people now, and did inspire some of the early fathers…but their works aren’t canonical?

These are not the same questions you asked before. Some of them I can’t make sense of, but here are the answers if I understand them correctly: Yes, God can equally inspire what certain people write; God may have inspired what some of what the early fathers wrote; and No, their works are not canonical.

Are you ready yet to demonstrate from the ECF’s no later than the third century that they explicitly held all of these books to be inspired and scriptural?


#31

Actually, since the argument here is going to boil down to “scripture (writings we hold to be divinely inspired) is the sole rule of faith, and the authoritative source from which we can define doctrine and dogma” against “scripture is a rule of faith, but so is ‘Sacred Tradition’, and tradition can be used as a definitive guide”, it doesn’t matter exactly what constitutes scripture. We already agree that scripture is a valid rule of faith. What matters is whether or not we believe that church tradition is also a rule of faith, and if so, what relation does it have to scripture?

Can you, at this very moment, define what constitutes church tradition regarding every tenet of faith, past, present, and future? Of course not. And no one should expect you to. The question being addressed here is more general than the specifics of whether or not Tobit is scripture, or whether church tradition teaches the assumption of Mary or not (both points would be contested by Protestants). The question really is whether or not tradition is a valid rule of faith. Can church tradition be trusted as a reliable guide to the Christian faith in its proper form (as God would define it, regardless of what any of us think)?

I never asked you to give me every book that contains Godly wisdom. You are engaging in the fallacy of diversion.

Actually, discussing what the criterion for scripture are is the diversion. The central issue here is whether or not scripture is the only rule of faith. What exactly is contained in scripture doesn’t necessarily matter at this point.

Really, at this point, we do not disagree that scripture is a rule of faith. The question is whether or not church tradition is, and so that’s the case that really has to be made. How can you prove that church tradition is a valid rule of faith?

I’ve asked you, multiple times now, to demonstrate under the criteria given that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament canon constitute Scripture.

And I have no intention of answering that question at this time. It’s off-topic in my opinion.

I already answered this question in my last post. We have no idea as to the identity of the writer, regardless of what his name might have been. He could have been a heretic trying to mislead Christians for all we know. On what basis do you accept what he says?

On the same basis of my acceptance of the rest of scripture – the leading of the holy spirit. Who the author was doesn’t matter. Does the fact that Paul didn’t actually author the letter to the Hebrews change the godliness of its content? Of course not! What it may or may not change is whether we recognize that godliness.


#32

Glad to see you are a St. Jerome fan! No doubt you would agree with him on these points, as well… :thumbsup:

“I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails” (*Letters *15:2 [A.D. 396]).

“The church here is split into three parts, each eager to seize me for its own. . . . Meanwhile I keep crying, ‘He that is joined to the chair of Peter is accepted by me!’ . . . Therefore, I implore your blessedness [Pope Damasus I] . . . tell me by letter with whom it is that I should communicate in Syria” (ibid., 16:2).


#33

Does it matter how you intend it or how we take it?

Can I use ethnic or racial slurs without regard for the feelings of others simply because I have decided that I mean no harm?

Finally, I have a copy of the Catechism here on my desk…funny, but it is not called the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


#34

This is my fault. I intended to say 1 Tim 3:15 which is the “church is the pillar and support of truth” but I inadvertantly typed 2 Tim 3:15, sorry.

Regarding Matthew 18:15-18, we must first consider that the passage is part of Jesus’ reply to the question of who is greatest among the twelve. Thus, we must take it that this passage was intended to convey a meaning in regards to that question.

Huh? Jesus answers the question of “who is the greatest” in verses 2-5, then Jesus goes on to announce “SIN” and the effects of and recognition and rebuking of the brother who is in “sin.” Then Jesus says if your brother is in sin go and tell it to him but if he refuses to turn from his sin, tell it to the church and if he still doesn’t repent then treat him as a tax collector (a non believer). Here you have the functioning authority of the church given from the words of Jesus Christ.
If you don’t use scripture alone as your only authority and nothing else save yourself as an authority, then how do you explain the function of the church?

Jesus is clearly saying the “church” IS authoritative and if you are your own authority how do you explain the clear authoritative function of the church?

And which “church” does one go to which sin?

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church;** and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.** Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”


#35

Are you ready yet to demonstrate from the ECF’s no later than the third century that they explicitly held all of these books to be inspired and scriptural?

Would you like me to start a new thread? One has to wonder why you provided the Muratorian Fragment and commented on it extensively if it was so obviously off-topic. It looks like it became “off-topic” for you, our volunteer moderator, once things didn’t work out so well for you. But wait! What is this? You are still commenting on it!?

On the same basis of my acceptance of the rest of scripture – the leading of the holy spirit. Who the author was doesn’t matter. Does the fact that Paul didn’t actually author the letter to the Hebrews change the godliness of its content? Of course not! What it may or may not change is whether we recognize that godliness.

You accept the truth of the Muratorian Fragment on the same basis as the rest of Scripture. :o You don’t have any reason to find that the writer of the fragment was led by the Holy Spirit, other than that it fits (well, not really) into your notion of what already constitutes the New Testament Canon. And yes, it matters very much that the evidence suggests Paul didn’t write Hebrews, especially since it isn’t included in the fragment you reference.

Let me know if a new thread will assuage your reticence to engage in this clearly off-topic issue.


#36

Irenaeus

"As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same" (*Against Heresies *1:10:2 [A.D. 189]).

“That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them [heretics], while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. . . . What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?” (ibid., 3:4:1).

John Chrysostom

“[Paul commands,] ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter’ [2 Thess. 2:15]. From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there is much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further” (*Homilies on Second Thessalonians *[A.D. 402]).

That the ECF’s looked to scripture for guidance and authority, yes they were the Christian leaders of the Catholic church; that they used scripture alone as their only authority, not at all, as the short list I’ve given proves.
catholic.com/library/Apostolic_Tradition.asp


#37

I’ve been doing an informal review of some Protestant sites claiming SS is supported by the ECFs.

Apparently the foundational principle for many Protestant groups who study this issue is to think “Scripture” every time an ECF uses the term TRADITION.

The claim is that, for the Early Church Fathers, Scripture was Tradition and therefore they just used the terms interchangeably!

What do y’all think of this bit–seems a bit like “sleight-of-hand” eisegesis to me.

Now I’m sure not all Protestants accept this principle, but I found it in multiple sites.

Are there ECF passages that make very clear a distinction between Scripture and Tradition as we understand it today?

DJim

PCM–it would be great if you could give any evidence whatsoever from history for your particular rule of faith. I’m assuming you don’t rely on the ECFs for it, right?


#38

Lateness is no proof of not being more faithful or reliable or accurate than earlier sources. Which is why later Fathers are drawn on for the theology of the Blessed Trinity, instead of the earlier ones: with the passage of time, it becomes possible for the later to see where the earlier were inadequate; & to distinguish the more nearly genuine developments from the less so.

So it could be argued that Luther had that advantage over the previous centuries, of seeing why they fell into error - namely, because they did not keep to Scripture alone, but muddied their theology by appeals to Plato, Aristotle, the canons, or the Church.

If we can canonise dogmas no Father ever did - such as the Assumption, over 400 years after the death of Luther - it is not clear that mere lateness is enough to disqualify the ideas of the Reformation: many of which are in continuity with those of the CC in any case.

Just a few thoughts

**We shall now return to you to your usual programming **


#39

Either you’re here to discuss SS (which I don’t believe), or you’re here to try to find some flaw with my faith (despite your claims of wanting to address SS, in which case, you’re dishonest). Either way, there’s no use in a response from me.


#40

[quote=]PC Master]
By the way, you don’t see me griping about the label Protestant, do you? I don’t define myself as a “Protester against the Catholic church” as you might define it. I define myself as a Bible-believing follower of Jesus’ teachings. But that’s too long to say all the time, so the term Protestant, while far less accurate for me than Roman Catholic is for you, will suffice. I say this even knowing that you’ll group me with such people as Calvin and Luther, and virtually all other not-so-great figures outside of the Roman Catholic Church that you can come up with (and believe me, there are plenty to choose from).

[/quote]

But whether you like it or not, you are historically speaking, a product of the Reformation; this is something you just can’t avoid, so the term Protestant isn’t meant by me to be a pejorative term for me, (for I was one for many years). It is meant to be a discription of those who were originally protesters of the Catholic faith by a direct schismatic act and in your case to those who yet no fault of their own in the schism, still inherit the beliefs and practices from those who trace their own church’s history back to the Protestant reformation. All Protestant churches can trace their begining back to the Reformation, so the term Protestant is used to in that non-pejorative way. You call yourself a “Bible- believing follower of Jesus’ teachings” but so do I, so when those who post things like “all Bible believing Christians” that certainly means me too! That’s why I’m Roman Catholic.

Anyway, I figure that explains my situation. I’m not going to change my use, because I do not intend it in an offensive way and have clearly explained this.

Back on topic, anyone?

I’m not at all offended. Sometimes we all use words without trying to place labels on them.


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