The infallibility of Protestants

That is a broad leap to suggest just because they followed they were baptized…In fact the cases of Gregory of Nazianzum, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustin, who had mothers of exemplary piety, and yet were not baptized before early manhood, show sufficiently that considerable freedom and variation in views on baptism existed.

But what is a “consensus of the fathers” ?

None of the earliest held to the assumption, surely there is no consensus there?
None of earliest recognised a monarchical church governance.

That’s correct. Most members of my wife’s side of the family were baptized as infants in the Lutheran church.

I’ve always wondered why other Protestant denominations don’t have see the same problem with this for Lutherans as they do for Catholics.

I’ve never really thought about this as an apologetic issue, but I know there are other specific elements of Catholic belief (that is, the beliefs that anti-Catholic Protestants hold against the Catholic Church) that are held individually by at least some of the other Protestant denominations. Can anyone list any of those? It might be, ecumenically speaking, a way to show there is not as great a divide between us as some argue.

Often, Catholics will ignore what Clement said in chapters 32-33 and quote what he said elsewhere. But that doesn’t explain chapters 32-33. And what they quote from other parts of the letter doesn’t necessarily contradict what Clement wrote in chapters 32-33. For example, Catholics often cite the following:

“justified by our deeds, and not by our words” (30)

That sounds like a rejection of sola fide, until you read the context. Here are the same words, but with the surrounding context included:

“Let us clothe ourselves with concord, being humble, temperate, keeping ourselves far from all whispering and evil speaking, justified by our deeds, and not by our words. For he saith, He who saith many things shall, in return, hear many things. Doth he that is eloquent think himself to be just? – doth he that is born of woman and liveth but for a short time think himself to be blessed? Be not abundant in speech. Let our praise be in God, and not for ourselves, for God hateth the self-praisers. Let the testimony of right actions be given us from others, even as it was given to our fathers who were just. Audacity, self-will, and boldness belong to them who are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness, to them that are blessed of God.” (30)

Clement is addressing justification in the sense of vindication, such as we see in Luke 7:35, not in the sense of attaining eternal life. He says, “Let the testimony of right actions be given us from others”, which is a reference to vindication, not a reference to the attaining of eternal life. Roman Catholics often single out the phrase “justified by our deeds”, but the context doesn’t support the meaning they pour into that phrase.

Some Catholics cite the following:

“Through faith and hospitality Rahab the harlot was saved” (12)

But, again, we should read the context. Clement is addressing salvation in the sense of safety from the Israeli invasion, not the attaining of eternal life. Clement goes on to quote Rahab saying to the Israeli spies, “save me and the house of my father” (12). Clement then quotes the spies saying, “When, therefore, thou hast perceived that we are coming, thou shalt gather together all thy household under thy roof, and they shall be saved” (12). The salvation in question is physical, not spiritual. Rahab wasn’t asking the spies to give her eternal life.

Clement does say some things that suggest that he may have held to something closer to the Methodist view of salvation than the Calvinist view. For example:

“For as God liveth, and as the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit, the confidence and hope of the elect, he who observeth in humility with earnest obedience, and repining not, the ordinances and commands given by God, he shall be reckoned and counted in the number of them that are saved by Jesus Christ” (58)

Clement could be referring to the possibility of loss of salvation. Or he could be referring to the fact that saving faith produces a life of good works, which is a concept that the Protestant reformers taught. Even if we assume that Clement rejected eternal security, his view of salvation was still contradictory to that of Roman Catholicism. He said nothing of baptismal regeneration, but instead referred to us being saved the same way people were saved prior to the institution of baptism. Clement believed that people are saved today the way they always have been, through faith and apart from works, including good works. Thus, the earliest church father, who was a Roman bishop, agreed with the Reformation doctrine of salvation through faith alone.

Or abortion and contraception.

We are all very indebted to the Protestants who jealously and meticulously preserved the writings of the ecf and conveined councils to decide which teachings were orthodox and which were not.

I am catholic just not roman catholic…I am a universal church Christian just like the early christians were.

Bear in mind that the choice is not between traditional Catholic Christianity and evangelical Protestant Christianity.

There is a form of Protestantism that appeals to me (raised in a mixed Catholic/Protestant heritage). It seems to be dominant in such mainline denominations as Methodism, Episcopalianism, UCC, Presbyterianism, etc. It does not claim infallibility but permits adherents enormous latitude when it comes to doctrine. For example, many believe the Virgin Borth of Jesus; others may question it. There are those who believe that Jesus raised the dead and walked on water, and others who try to follow the moral teachings of Christ but are less sure of some of these reported miracles. Maybe true, maybe tradition, maybe legends, etc. There were, after all, many other scriptures that were not included in the canon that, for example, had the child Jesus blessing clay pigeons and they fly off.

 Fundamentalist Protestantism and traditional Catholicism share this idea that there is a revealed and infallible truth and their 'tribe' alone teaches it. Most mainline Protestants and millions of Catholics - probably the majority in the USA - are not that dogmatic. They think for themselves and accept or reject various Christian teachings from centuries ago. I recall seeing a poll in the *US Catholic* magazine a year or so ago that over 50% of American Catholics do not believe in transubstantiation, the central dogma of the faith. I have attended some ecumenical Bible study group and note that Protestants may interpret the Bible differently here and there but are agreeable about it. The idea is that this world is a vast, inscrutable mystery, the Bible often is not entirely clear, and none of us should be proud as so much is beyond human understanding. I find that true - walk by faith and not by sight - "now we see through a glass darkly". I have no problem in not knowing whether this or that dogma is true. God will someday make all such matters clear, and I can wait, trusting in his grace and awe-struck by this mammoth and miraculous universe which the Lord has created, 

 As for the Church Fathers, I have read many of them. Brilliant men, but much of what they wrote is heavily tainted by the lack of scientific knowledge of their age. If you don't have a decent telescope and no microscope you find it easy to believe many things that simply are not true. I was disappointed that so many Church Fathers did just that.

Seeing as you cannot see the clear consensus of the Fathers on this matter, I will give you the following:

For He came to save all through means of Himself–all, I say, who through Him are born again to God–infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2,22:4 (A.D. 180).

I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord.” Polycrates, Fragment in Eusebius’ Church History, V:24:7 (A.D. 190).

And they shall baptise the little children first. And if they can answer for themselves, let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer or someone from their family.” Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition, 21 (c. A.D. 215).

[T]herefore children are also baptized.” Origen, Homily on Luke, XIV (A.D. 233).

For this reason, moreover, the Church received from the apostles the tradition of baptizing infants too.” Origen, Homily on Romans, V:9 (A.D. 244).

Baptism is given for the remission of sins; and according to the usage of the Church, Baptism is given even to infants. And indeed if there were nothing in infants which required a remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous.” Origen, Homily on Leviticus, 8:3 (post A.D. 244).

But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day…And therefore, dearest brother, this was our opinion in council, that by us no one ought to be hindered from baptism…we think is to be even more observed in respect of infants and newly-born persons…” Cyprian, To Fidus, Epistle 58(64):2, 6 (A.D. 251).

It shows no crease when infants put it on [the baptismal garment], it is not too scanty for young men, it fits women without alteration.” Optatus of Mileve, Against Parmenium, 5:10(A.D. 365).

Have you an infant child? Do not let sin get any opportunity, but let him be sanctified from his childhood; from his very tenderest age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Fearest thou the Seal on account of the weakness of nature?” Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism, 40:17 (A.D. 381).

Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses. For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealed and uninitiated.” Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism, 40:28 (A.D. 381).

“'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ No one is expected: not the infant, not the one prevented by necessity.” Ambrose, Abraham, 2,11:79 (A.D. 387).

We do baptize infants, although they are not guilty of any sins.” John Chrysostom, Ad Neophytos (A.D. 388).

While the son is a child and thinks as a child and until he comes to years of discretion to choose between the two roads to which the letter of Pythagoras points, his parents are responsible for his actions whether these be good or bad. But perhaps you imagine that, if they are not baptized, the children of Christians are liable for their own sins; and that no guilt attaches to parents who withhold from baptism those who by reason of their tender age can offer no objection to it. The truth is that, as baptism ensures the salvation of the child, this in turn brings advantage to the parents. Whether you would offer your child or not lay within your choice, but now that you have offered her, you neglect her at your peril.” Jerome, To Laeta, Epistle 107:6 (A.D. 403).

Now, seeing that they [Pelagians] admit the necessity of baptizing infants,–finding themselves unable to contravene that authority of the universal Church, which has been unquestionably handed down by the Lord and His apostles,–they cannot avoid the further concession, that infants require the same benefits of the Mediator, in order that, being washed by the sacrament and charity of the faithful, and thereby incorporated into the body of Christ, which is the Church, they may be reconciled to God, and so live in Him, and be saved, and delivered, and redeemed, and enlightened. But from what, if not from death, and the vices, and guilt, and thraldom, and darkness of sin? And, inasmuch as they do not commit any sin in the tender age of infancy by their actual transgression, original sin only is left.” Augustine, On forgiveness of sin and baptism, 39[26] (A.D. 412).

“'C. Tell me, pray, and rid me of all doubts, why little children are baptized?
A. That their sins may be forgiven them in baptism.
” Jerome, Against the Pelagians, 3:18 (A.D. 415).

Canon 2. Likewise it has been decided that whoever says that infants fresh from their mothers’ wombs ought not to be baptized…let him be anathema.” Council of Carthage, Canon 2 (A.D. 418).

“**Concerning the Donatists it seemed good that we should hold counsel with our brethren and fellow priests Siricius and Simplician concerning those infants alone who are baptized by Donatists: lest what they did not do of their own will, when they should be converted to the Church of God with a salutary determination, the error of their parents might prevent their promotion to the ministry of the holy altar **.” African Code, Canon 47/51 (A.D. 419).

Now unless you can establish a consensus AGAINST the church’s teachings, your argument lacks authority and is nothing more than an opinion.

“Just like”? Even Catholics don’t give themselves that much credit.

Why don’t you take a moment to fill in your personal info so we know where you are coming from?

Anyways, welcome to CAF.

Clement, a first century Roman bishop, wrote that we’re saved through faith, apart from works. He excludes all works, even "works that we have done in holiness of heart" (First Clement, 32). Just after excluding works from the gospel, he goes on to encourage Christians to do those works he had just excluded. Thus, it can’t be argued that he was only excluding bad works, graceless works, faithless works, etc. He was excluding all works, including good works:

“And we who through his will have been called in Christ Jesus are justified, not by ourselves, or through our wisdom or understanding or godliness, or the works that we have done in holiness of heart, but by faith, by which all men from the beginning have been justified by Almighty God, to whom be glory world without end. Amen. What, then, shall we do, brethren? Shall we cease from well-doing, and abandon charity? May the Master never allow that this should happen to us! but let us rather with diligence and zeal hasten to fulfil every good work. For the Maker and Lord of all things rejoiceth in his works. By his supreme power he founded the heavens, and by his incomprehensible understanding he ordered them. The earth he separated from the water that surrounded it, and fixed it on the firm foundation of his own will. The animals which inhabit therein he commanded to be by his ordinance. Having made beforehand the sea and the animals that are therein, he shut them in by his own power. Man, the most excellent of all animals, infinite in faculty, he moulded with his holy and faultless hands, in the impress of his likeness. For thus saith God: Let us make man in our own image, and after our own likeness. And God made man. Male and female made he them. When, therefore, he had finished all things, he praised and blessed them, and said, Be fruitful, and multiply. Let us see, therefore, how all the just have been adorned with good works. Yea, the Lord himself rejoiced when he had adorned himself with his works. Having, therefore, this example, let us come in without shrinking to his will; let us work with all our strength the work of righteousness.” (32-33)
For a Roman bishop to advocate salvation through faith alone has devastating implications for Roman Catholicism. Thus, Roman Catholics have put forward various arguments in an attempt to prove that Clement didn’t advocate the doctrine.

For example, it’s sometimes argued that Clement was only excluding works we do in our own strength, not works God empowers us to do. But notice the closing words in the quote above. Clement encourages people to do works “with all our strength”. In the previous chapter, he had excluded from the gospel works “done in holiness of heart”, which can only be good works. Therefore, this popular argument used to reconcile Clement with Roman Catholicism fails.

Oh, would that you understood what you post. No Catholic who understand his faith believes in initial justification by works

OUR WORKS of obedience as Christians don’t earn our initial justification. How could they, since such deeds follow and flow from it? The Council of Trent says as much when it observes that “we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification” (Session Six, Chapter VIII).

The above was taken from CA I believe the author was Mark Brumley and he quoted Trent.


What does science have to do with theology? :confused:

If you would answer me what contstitutes a consensus 1st…is it 2 or 3 or how many?

A fair question. If people believe that the sun goes around the earth, that heaven is up above the clouds and hell in the bowels of the earth, that illness is caused mainly by demons (no germ theory yet) or maybe as a punishment, that floods and earthquakes are caused by our sinfulness, that some tribes are condemned wholesale by God, that slavery is okay, that there are witches and ghosts - well, I am not inclined toward putting my faith in such people. I found all these concepts and other false ones in various Church Fathers - along with some brilliant insights, too.

 Science has a lot to do with theology. Any doctrine disputed, or disproven, by science needs to be questioned. I would include Genesis 1-11 in this - myths, legends, and parables, perhaps, but certainly not historic truth. The notion, for example, that God repented that he made humankind, instructed Noah on how to build an ark for a 150-day flood, saved only one family and drowned all the rest, including children and babies in the womb - give me a break! Various Church Fathers certainly accepted such folklore as fact.

How many is a consensus?

The majority and while you’re at it you can rebut all the Church Fathers I’ve cited.

Science can’t prove that God doesn’t cause earthquakes or some illnessess or a punishment or that witches don’t exist or for that matter Ghosts. Nor can it disprove that God made man or punished man in a flood and so on.

As for the sun going round the earth, the church doesn’t claim infallibility as regards science or even history that matter so thats really not relevant to The Church Father’s views on theology.

I believe and trust the bible is the word of God…
I trust that Jesus is the Christ, my LORD and Savior.

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