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.