What was Irenaeus' view of Scripture?

Irenaeus is considered on of the most important of the early church fathers. He was born around 140 A.D. in Asia Minor and in his early years he was aquianted with Polycarp, the martyr from Smyrna, who was a direct disciple of the apostle John. Irenaeus later became a bishop of Lyons and was highly respected as a church leader and theologian. He is most known for his refutation of the gnostic heresies and defense of orthodoxy.

It is clear from his writings that Irenaeus’ criticism of the gnostics was their lack of scriptural proof for their teachings:

“Moreover, they possess no proof of their system, which has but recently been invented by them . . . Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures.” (Against Heresies, II.28.8; I.8.1)

Likewise, it is the Protestant criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, that she too - like the gnostics - lacks scriptural proof to substantiate those teachings and dogmas distinct to her institution.

The purpose of this thread, then, is to demonstrate, with respect, that all teaching must be subject unto the scrutiny of the Holy Scriptures, which is the full deposit of the faith once delivered unto the saints.

I have simply chosen Irenaeus as my example of one who stands with today’s Evangelical Protestants on the issue of the final authority of Scripture. I did this to spark the interest of those catholics on this forum who often attempt to resort to the writings of the early church fathers for support of their religion.

My prayer is that throughout this discussion, many will come to realize that their apologists have been taking the fathers out of context, and redefining their terms to fit modern Roman Catholic teaching. This is unfortunate, but it is nevertheless true. With a clear and authentic look at Irenaeus’ writings, we will learn what the fathers really meant when they used the term “tradition.”

With that said, May Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, be magnified in the proclamation and defense of his holy word. Amen.

Except that you choose a quote that very clearly shows that it is not just from the Scriptures that we must look for guidance, but also from what “the prophets announced, the Lord taught, (and) the apostles delivered”- which speaks of Sacred Tradition. Really, if you take away all that Catholics have done for all Christianity, you have nothing except the word “alone” which Luther added to the Bible. The whole of the Bible is given to non-Catholic Christians from the Catholic church. Really- the Sabbath being on Sunday is a Tradition that is ours. Protestants should be going on the Jewish Sabbath if you are going to be Scriptural. I could continue.

Also, there is no “modern Roman Catholic teaching.” We have not changed in 2000 years. There has been fine-tuning, but the nuts and bolts and still what Jesus, the apostles and the early Church Fathers have handed down to us.

Sorry,you are wrong and the early church fathers were NOT Protestants that much I know is a FACT of history!

The purpose of this thread, then, is to demonstrate, with respect, that all teaching must be subject unto the scrutiny of the Holy Scriptures, which is the full deposit of the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Exactly! Actually the opposite is quite true about thousands of DIFFERENT Protestant,Fundamental, and Evangelical churches teaching different things.Present the scriptural proof were Jesus authorized thousands upon thousands different man-made churches?

I have simply chosen Irenaeus as my example of one who stands with today’s Evangelical Protestants on the issue of the final authority of Scripture. I did this to spark the interest of those catholics on this forum who often attempt to resort to the writings of the early church fathers for support of their religion.

No offense,but you are dreaming and need to snap out of it. You like so many Protestants merely 'proof-text" the early church fathers in order to justify the thousands of different denominations and the bogus belief of the Bible-Alone is the final authority. By the way,tell me what Evangelical Protestant church Irenaeus attended evey Sunday? Methodist? Lutheran? Baptists? Assembly of God?

My prayer is that throughout this discussion, many will come to realize that their apologists have been taking the fathers out of context, and redefining their terms to fit modern Roman Catholic teaching. This is unfortunate, but it is nevertheless true. With a clear and authentic look at Irenaeus’ writings, we will learn what the fathers really meant when they used the term “tradition.”

LOL! Look who is talking? It is you like so many Protestants who pervert and tweak the church fathers words to suit your "johnny-come-lately’ novelties. Truly sad and disingenious approach by so many Protestant apologists.

BTW: Can you provide me the overwhelming writings by Irenaeus were he taught and believed Scripture IS the final authority? In other words, the Bible-Alone doctrine?

What Scriptures were Irenaeus referring to I wonder? The Bible as we know it was not yet compiled… Just an fyi, the place in Scripture that says we must listen to Scripture ALONE doesn’t exist…sure the Bible says the Scriptures are holy and we must use them and listen to every word, it doesn’t say we should listen to ONLY the Scriptures.

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Thess 2:15. The Gnostics were contradicting both letter and tradition. The Catholic Church contradicts neither.

“Strike that, reverse it.” – Willy Wonka

The purpose of this thread, then, is to demonstrate, with respect, that all teaching must be subject unto the scrutiny of the Holy Scriptures, which is the full deposit of the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Well you should start with this novel assertion.

I have simply chosen Irenaeus as my example of one who stands with today’s Evangelical Protestants on the issue of the final authority of Scripture. I did this to spark the interest of those catholics on this forum who often attempt to resort to the writings of the early church fathers for support of their religion.

You might want to demonstrate that Irenaeus supported Sola Scriptura before you claim him as your advocate.

If anything “Against Heresies” and its documentation of the Gnostics beliefs is a perfect example of how wacky a theology “Sola Scriptura” can generate. These “perfect” theologians developed all of their beliefs from scripture in opostion to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I look forward to seeing how this supports your case against Catholic tradition.

My prayer is that throughout this discussion, many will come to realize that their apologists have been taking the fathers out of context

I’ll join you in the first part of your prayer.

I’ll have to skip your false accusations in the middle.

, and redefining their terms to fit modern Roman Catholic teaching. This is unfortunate, but it is nevertheless true.

With a clear and authentic look at Irenaeus’ writings, we will learn what the fathers really meant when they used the term “tradition.”

Why would you limit you look to Irenaeus? But other than that I’m back with you on that prayer.

With that said, May Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, be magnified in the proclamation and defense of his holy word. Amen.

Chuck

I’ve read bits and pieces of the Church Fathers (mostly as a result of claims made on forum threads) but never “everything” so I decided to read what was written in chronological order of the death of the writer.

I happen to be on Irenaeus at the moment (as you can tell I have lllllllloooooonnnnnggg way to go). Some of the explanations of the Gnostic biblical interpretation are pretty tedious but one thing is for sure, the Gnostics had to be pretty smart fellows. Your average Joe could never butcher scripture this bad:

“And while they affirm such things as these concerning the creation, every one of them generates something new, day by day, according to his ability; for no one is deemed “perfect,” who does not develop among them some mighty fictions. It is thus necessary, first,** to indicate what things they metamorphose [to their own use] out of the prophetical writings**, and next, to refute them. Moses, then, they declare, by his mode of beginning the account of the creation, has at the commencement pointed out the mother of all things when he says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;”(1) for, as they maintain, by naming these four,–God, beginning, heaven, and earth,–he set forth their Tetrad. Indicating also its invisible and hidden nature, he said, “Now the earth was invisible and unformed.”(2) They will have it, moreover, that he spoke of the second Tetrad, the offspring of the first, in this way–by naming an abyss and darkness, in which were also water, and the Spirit moving upon the water. Then, proceeding to mention the Decad, he names light, day, night, the firmament, the evening, the morning, dry land, sea, plants, and, in the tenth place, trees. Thus, by means of these ten names, he indicated the ten AEons. The power of the Duodecad, again, was shadowed forth by him thus:-- He names the sun, moon, stars, seasons, years, whales, fishes, reptiles, birds, quadrupeds, wild beasts, and after all these, in the twelfth place, man. Thus they teach that the Triacontad was spoken of through Moses by the Spirit. Moreover, man also, being formed after the image of the power above, had in himself that ability which flows from the one source. This ability was seated in the region of the brain, from which four faculties proceed, after the image of the Tetrad above, and these are called: the first, sight, the second, hearing, the third, smell, and the fourth,(3) taste. And they say that the Ogdoad is indicated by man in this way: that he possesses two ears, the like number of eyes, also two nostrils, and a twofold taste, namely, of bitter and sweet. Moreover, they teach that the whole man contains the entire image of the Triacontad as follows: In his hands, by means of his fingers, he bears the Decad; and in his whole body the Duodecad, inasmuch as his body is divided into twelve members; for they portion that out, as the body of Truth is divided by them–a point of which we have already spoken.(4) But the Ogdoad, as being unspeakable and invisible, is understood as hidden in the viscera.” .” – St. Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons (Against Heresies, Book 1 18:1)

All of this and so much more so that they could show they were among the “perfect” and therefore free of any moral obligation (i.e. they could get away with sleeping with anyone they like.)

There had to be and easier way to get girls.

Chuck

Irenaeus is not arguing for Scripture alone here. The Gnostics had other texts in competition with the Scriptures, so he is saying that their writings aren’t from true Scriptures.

In the very next book in Against Heresies, Irenaeus argues that the truth is only preserved by the Catholic Church via Apostolic succession, with the preeminent Church in Rome.*2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

  1. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth. (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.3.2-3)*

c_martyr,
Irenaeus viewed interpretation of the Scriptures as being like placing together a grand mosaic. Irenaeus argued that the Gnostics scattered the gems of that mosaic and configured them to form an alien portrait. He argued that the Gnostics came up with a story contrary to the Church’s Rule of Faith. The Gnostics exegesis was so damaging because it wasnt grounded in the Church’s perspective. There is a great variety of claimants to the NT writings and many diverse interpretative cultures to which you belong to one. Its interesting you bring up Irenaeus because athough he acknowledged the authority of Scriptures he also is an excellent example of how the Church’s rule of faith or tradition was used as a hermeneutical guide for their proper interpretation. IMO this clearly shows the importance of the Church and the central role it played protecting both oral and written testimony faithful to the message of Christ and the Apostles. For Irenaeus the Scriptures were authoritativre but the Church’s interpretation of them was equally authoritative and the norm used against the Gnostics. IMO your interpretation of Irenaeus is anachronistic and falls prey to your presupposition of sola scriptura.

:thumbsup:

I encourage you to read this book. It is written by an Evangelical scholar and gives IMO a very fair analysis of the relevance of the church in relation to the canon and scriptures.
amazon.com/Scripture-Authority-Formation-Evangelical-Ressourcement/dp/0801027780/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277157618&sr=8-1

Good call, justamoose!
That would be the problem with believing everything you hear without looking at the context.
Sometimes when I’d hear something for the first time on my way back to the Catholic Church, I was like :doh2:

Too bad the original poster is banned and won’t be able to read it.

Actually they can still read the forums, but that one looks like he laid on the a-C stuff a bit too heavy. It happens… :shrug: Who knows, maybe the Holy Spirit will turn the tables on him. He didn’t seem too open to anything much and he sure was loaded up with a-C propaganda from what I saw.

I think that the term tradition needs to be understood as the fathers used it. Seeing that we are supposed to be taking a look at Irenaeus, maybe we should seek to understand his use of the term. I happen to be a (beginning) student of the anti-gnostic fathers, particularly Ireneaus and Tertullian. And here is what I have come to learn.

After much reading it has become quite evident that “tradition” as defined by Irenaeus, is equivalent to “the faith handed down from the apostles” which he often refers to as “the rule of faith.” This rule, however, has a very specific content, all of which can be shown to be contained in Scripture. [We know this because that which he calls “the rule” and “the faith” has been expressed in creedal form]. What is interesting, however, is that Irenaeus makes no mention of other *perpetually oral doctrines *that are essential for the faith, but instead, every doctrine of “the rule” is derived from Scripture. Tradition therefore is the rule of faith, expressly taught in Scripture.

Note the following quote:

“We have learned from no others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith” Against Heresies II.28.8; I.8.1

What is interesting about this quote, is that the phrase ‘handed down’ is actually the verb form of the word ‘tradition.’ What he is saying, then, is that the transmission of apostolic teaching is traditioned by means of Scripture.

In other words, the apostolic teaching did not remain oral in nature, but was “at a later period” inscripturated. Therefore, it is important for us to recognize that for Irenaeus, the content of the apostolic teaching and preaching is *identical to *-and- *embodied within *the New Testament.

Hope this helps! :thumbsup:

was ban due to this thread? didnt seem too viral to me. must of been another thread:shrug:

You’d have to check the dude’s post history, but even so, the worst will likely have been deleted to avoid getting more complaints on them. Can you tell I’ve been around here a while? :slight_smile:

I can verify this. :o

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