Warning - THE CHURCH FATHERS: A DOOR TO ROME


#1

THE CHURCH FATHERS: A DOOR TO ROME

In this online article, the author gives a warning to non Catholic Christians about reading the early church fathers.
Many people have walked into the Roman Catholic Church through the broad door of the “church fathers,” and this is a loud warning today when there is a widespread attraction to the “church fathers” within evangelicalism.

He states: “The fact is that the “early Fathers” were mostly heretics!” and then goes on to prove this assertion by showing the quotes of the early church fathers which show that they taught distinct Catholic doctrine.
He then states:
Having seen some of the heresies that leavened the “church fathers,” it is not surprising that a non-critical study of their writings can lead to Rome. That is where they were all headed! And for the most part we have only looked at the more doctrinally sound “church fathers”!

He claims the the only true Church Fathers are the authors of the New Testament.

He gives a final warning:
This is a loud warning to those who have an ear to hear the truth. We don’t need to study the “church fathers.” We need to make certain that we are born again and have the indwelling Spirit as our Teacher (1 John 2:27), then we need to study the Bible diligently and walk closely with Christ and become so thoroughly grounded in the truth that we will not be led astray by the wiles of the devil and by all of the fierce winds of error that are blowing in our day.

I just can’t understand this type of logic.

He seems so assured that his personal interpretation of scripture in the only correct one, that who ever goes against his personal interpretation in wrong or even in heresy.

What about everyone else, how much credence do you put into the writings of the early church fathers, and how have they affected your view of Christianity?

Do you think they were mostly heretics, and if so, how do you determine what is true and what is false in their writings?

Do you filter your understanding of scripture through the lens of the early church fathers, or do you filter your understanding of the early church fathers through your own personal interpretation of scripture?


#2

I have read quite a bit of the Church Fathers and continue to do so. While I do not consider them as infallible, so far I have not seen anything that would cause me to cease being a Protestant. I think that this is at least partly because many of the issues that divide Catholics and Protestants were not in controversy at that time when more emphasis was on basic concepts like Christiology upon which we agree. When they dealt with matters in dispute today, they often used fairly broad language since they did not anticipate that differences might arise on them. Also what we view as important today, they may not have considered as important differences then.

I know I read through Protestant coloured-glasses but I think anyone will carry their own preconceptions with them when they read such materials.


#3

Hi savedsinner,

I suppose a person could read the Church Fathers like that evangelical did and conclude they were all heretics since they taught Catholic doctrines. I think that is definitely the wrong way to read them.

As for me the Church Fathers were instrumental in my conversion to Catholicism. One of my presuppositions was that if Christ established a church then the first few centuries would see a church that was teaching what Christ intended. In my research (if it can be called that) I’d try to find out what did the Fathers say about the Eucharist, the See of Peter & hierarchy, the Virgin Mary, Saints, Scripture, tradition etc.

I tried to balance what they wrote by comparing it to the Catechism. Of course the Church fathers didn’t always write in the technically precise language we’d favor today but to try and apply a Protestant definition or understanding to what they wrote did more violence to their meaning than a Catholic interpretation did. In my opinion they were Catholics and the Catholic Church today was faithfully handing down and preserving these same teachings. It was a conclusion I couldn’t escape.

As for their disagreements and differences as Sycarl points out they weren’t infallible. I never let their differences bother me to the point that I’d want to throw them away.

ChadS


#4

The Fathers are not themselves infallible, they however do present many things deemed infallible teaching by the Catholic Church. One main teaching found throughout the Fathers is that the Bread and Wine become the Real Body and Blood of Christ after Consecration, by a validly Ordained Bishop or a validly Ordained priest in union with a validly Ordained Bishop.


#5

With respect to a validly ordained priest or bishop, I have only come across that in Ignatius so far in my reading. This of course does not mean there may not be others of whom I am not aware yet.

I would agree that most of the Fathers agree with the Real Presence in the Eucharist, but their language is often general, and does not necessarily mean the Real Presence as presently understood by the Catholic Church. My church refers to the elements as the body and blood and that is generally how the Fathers address it. An exception would seem to be Eusebius of Caesarea who speaks more of symbolism. We must be careful not to anachronistically read back into those writers the present understandings we have of certain concepts.


#6

David Cloud is a KJV-only fundamentalist extremist who should not be taken seriously on any subject.


#7

I have one thing to say here. i dont expect everyone to believe or see the Truth. it didnt happen in Jesus time and it wont happened in His Church’s time.

:highprayer: :byzsoc:


#8

I guess coming from a fundementalist website we shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, this direct attack on the validity of the ECF’s only points up how powerful they can be to those who seek the truth. I especially Love this part:

He gives a final warning:
This is a loud warning to those who have an ear to hear the truth. We don’t need to study the “church fathers.” We need to make certain that we are born again and have the indwelling Spirit as our Teacher (1 John 2:27), then we need to study the Bible diligently and walk closely with Christ and become so thoroughly grounded in the truth that we will not be led astray by the wiles of the devil and by all of the fierce winds of error that are blowing in our day.

The author of this article is frightened. He is Frightened of Truth, of History, and of being led home himself.
This author needs our prayers badly.
May God open his eyes to his error.
May The Full and Complete Truth of Chrit’s Church flood this man’s soul that he might be truly saved and lead others to true salvation in Christ’s Catholic Church.

Peace
James


#9

I consider those who follow him to be even worse.

:signofcross: :highprayer:


#10

Read on if you have the stomach, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.


#11

But still, I have seen where members of other denominations and faiths view the church fathers with suspicion on these forums, like the LDS and the Oneness Pentecostals.

Plus, I have seen others when confronted with a teaching of the fathers which contradicts their understanding of scripture, pull the “interpolated” wild card, and therefore throw out anything they don’t want to accept. That is quite a convenient tactic.


#12

I have also seen Catholics whose only reply to some quotes from the Fathers are that they were Catholic and therefore couldn’t have been saying what they appear to have been saying.


#13

I did skim through much of it.
It just becomes more and more "cloud"ed and rediculous.

The one thing that struck me early on is how these people can take something written so long ago and extrapolate subsequent “error” from it.
He refers to Ignatius teaching about elders and bishops and call this a “set-up” for later error of exhalting the Church Hierarchy instead of calling it what it actually is, which is a reaffirmation of the Church as it already existed. Hierarchy and all!!
Yet this same person has no problem quoting 2 Timothy to extrapolate that a single comment from one letter can be used to cover the entire canon of the Bible.

Another thing that he conveniently skips is the fact that Ignatius was a contemporary of Peter and Paul and John and that Ignatius is believed to have been baptized by St Peter Himself.
So the only way that Mr. Cloud(y) can attempt to make his case is to ignore the “oral” tradition of the Apostles passing on the Church’s teaching.

We need to pray hard for this one.

Peace
James


#14

True, this is why one needs to read as much of the fathers as possible to gain a perspective of what the father believed and taught overall, not in just one selected quote. Plus one must not be of the “either/or” mind set, the bible as well as the church fathers were of the “both/and” mindset, by this I mean both scripture and tradition and both faith and works - not either/or.

The whole writings of the fathers are in a 38 volume set, that is quite a lot of reading for the average person.

I like the three volume series “Faith of the Early Fathers” by William A Jergens. He starts out with the complete writings of the Apostolic Fathers, then as the volume of the writings increase, he cuts it down to paragraphs of these later fathers but still keeps it more than just a quote. I like this series because it has an index to Catholic doctrine, plus the location of the paragraphs so you can look them up online to read them in context of the whole letter. And he also includes the writings of the heretics so you can compare what they are teaching compared to what the church fathers are teaching.

Though the set is not a complete collection of the writings of the fathers, it is a nice size for the casual church historian or apologist trying to gain an insight of the early Christian church.


#15

Exactly.
I have seen fundamentalists do the same with the Bible as well. I confronted a ‘learned’ pastor once with what Paul says in Acts "Be baptized and wash away your sins…"
I honestly thought the man was going to explode as he tried to explain that Paul really didn’t mean what he just said.
But then our politicians do the same thing. What does ‘is’ mean after all? :wink:


#16

The more ‘sacramental’ denominations (Episcopal, Lutheran) don’t have the hang-ups with the ECFs others have. Evangelicals simply ignore them, fundamentalists attack them.


#17

BTW, this fellow is a missionary…somewhere, I don’t remember. He is quite literally against just about everything. There are fundamentalists who aren’t fundamental enough for him.
Check out his church directory, you will find every extremist IFB church in every state of the Union.


#18

Actually much of the Church Father’s writings have not been translated into English. I believe you are referring to Philip Schaff’s series on the writings of the Church Fathers. They can basically be found on line at New Advent of CCEL. He of course was a Prebyterian.

Many previously untranslated Fathers are included in the Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures series published by Inter-Varsity Press. I have all 22 volumes that have currently been released. They still have forthcoming part of the Psalms, Jeremiah and the Apocryphia (Deutercanonicals).


#19

He then states:
Having seen some of the heresies that leavened the “church fathers,” it is not surprising that a non-critical study of their writings can lead to Rome. That is where they were all headed! And for the most part we have only looked at the more doctrinally sound “church fathers”!

This is the crux of the matter for him, really. If it weren’t for the fact that so many have been led to Rome via the Church Fathers this guy would never have cared about them one way or the other.

Whenever Catholic apologists start to emphasis something those who are frightened of Rome haven’t considered before/have no real knowledge of, they pounce on it with all the ferocity of tiger, hoping to prevent others from looking into it for themselves. It’s a tactic that works quite well for them since most of the kind of people who are terrified of Rome/complacent/innocently ignorant are more than willing to be told there’s nothing in what Catholic apologists have to say.

The thing this guy and others like him seem to forget is they are going to have to explain to God why they felt the need to poison people’s minds and hearts against the Catholic Church with silly articles/arguments such as this one.

(And no, I don’t think that everyone who reads the Church Fathers and doesn’t become a Catholic is of the same ilk as this fellow, so let’s not go down that road. Okay?)


#20

There is a book I found interesting called, “Four Witnesses” by Rod Bennett ( a convert) It’s I nice introduction to Four of the Fathers, Clement, Ignatius, Justin, and Areneus.
Easy to read and with long passages of their writings.
The book is even subtitled, “The Early Church in Her Own Words”

I would recommend it to anyone interested in an introduction.

Peace
James


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