Skip to comments.The Early Church Fathers on Salvation Outside the Church [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Posted on 02/01/2007 5:23:18 PM PST by NYer
The Early Church Fathers taught that those outside of the Church had no hope of salvation. However, they made allowance for those who didnt know any better or had no means to comply.
Ignatius of Antioch
Be not deceived, my brethren: If anyone follows a maker of schism [i.e., is a schismatic], he does not inherit the kingdom of God; if anyone walks in strange doctrine [i.e., is a heretic], he has no part in the Passion [of Christ]. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons (Letter to the Philadelphians 3:3-4:1 [A.D. 110]).
We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the Logos of which all mankind partakes [John 1:9]. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason [Greek, logos} were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus, and others like them. . . . Those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason [logos] were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live according to reason [logos], whereas those who lived then or who live now according to reason [logos] are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid (First Apology 46 [A.D. 151]).
In the Church God has placed apostles, prophets, teachers, and every other working of the Spirit, of whom none of those are sharers who do not conform to the Church, but who defraud themselves of life by an evil mind and even worse way of acting. Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace (Against Heresies 3:24:1 [A.D. 189]).
[The spiritual man] shall also judge those who give rise to schisms, who are destitute of the love of God, and who look to their own special advantage rather than to the unity of the Church; and who for trifling reasons, or any kind of reason which occurs to them, cut in pieces and divide the great and glorious body of Christ, and so far as in them lies, destroy it men who prate of peace while they give rise to war, and do in truth strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel. For they can bring about no "reformation" of enough importance to compensate for the evil arising from their schism. . . . True knowledge is that which consists in the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place [i.e., the Catholic Church] (ibid., 4:33:7-8).
There was never a time when God did not want men to be just; he was always concerned about that. Indeed, he always provided beings endowed with reason with occasions for practicing virtue and doing what is right. In every generation the Wisdom of God descended into those souls which he found holy and made them to be prophets and friends of God (Against Celsus 4:7 [A.D. 248]).
If someone from this people wants to be saved, let him come into this house so that he may be able to attain his salvation. . . . Let no one, then, be persuaded otherwise, nor let anyone deceive himself: Outside of this house, that is, outside of the Church, no one is saved; for, if anyone should go out of it, he is guilty of his own death (Homilies on Joshua 3:5 [A.D. 250]).
Cyprian of Carthage
Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress [a schismatic church] is separated from the promises of the Church, nor will he that forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is an alien, a worldling, and an enemy. He cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother (The Unity of the Catholic Church 6, 1st ed. [A.D. 251]).
Let them not think that the way of life or salvation exists for them, if they have refused to obey the bishops and priests, since the Lord says in the book of Deuteronomy: "And any man who has the insolence to refuse to listen to the priest or judge, whoever he may be in those days, that man shall die" [Deut. 17:12-13]. And then, indeed, they were killed with the sword . . . but now the proud and insolent are killed with the sword of the Spirit, when they are cast out from the Church. For they cannot live outside, since there is only one house of God, and there can be no salvation for anyone except in the Church (Letters 61:4 [A.D. 253]).
The baptism of public witness [desire] and of blood cannot profit a heretic [one who holds the faith and then abandons it] unto salvation, because there is no salvation outside the Church (Letters 72 :21 [A.D. 253]).
It is, therefore, the Catholic Church alone that retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth; this, the domicile of faith; this, the temple of God. Whoever does not enter there or whoever does not go out from there, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. . . Because, however, all the various groups of heretics are confident that they are the Christians and think that theirs is the Catholic Church, let it be known that this is the true Church, in which there is confession and penance and which takes a health-promoting care of the sins and wounds to which the weak flesh is subject (Divine Institutes 4:30:11-13 [A.D. 307]).
Heretics bring sentence upon themselves since they by their own choice withdraw from the Church, a withdrawal which, since they are aware of it, constitutes damnation. Between heresy and schism there is this difference: that heresy involves perverse doctrine, while schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the bishop. Nevertheless, there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church (Commentary on Titus 3:10-11 [A.D. 386]).
We believe also in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church. For heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently; neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church, not heretics, because the Church loves God, and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor (Faith and the Creed 10:21 [A.D. 393]).
When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body. . . All who are within [the Church] in heart are saved in the unity of the ark (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:28 [A.D. 400]).
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"Christ did not recognize seven churches. He recognized seven congregations of the same church. His church, the ONE that He established."
Yes, of course, but as +Ignatius of Antioch taught us, the fullness of The Church is found in a single diocese, or at that time congregation, made up of the bishop surrounded by his clergy and the people of God focused on the Eucharist. The Church, NYer, the whole One Church, is in many places. On another level, and as +BXVI points out, The Church is made up of many "particular churches", yours is one, mine is one, etc.
E's comment as far as it goes, is right on the money.
"But this can only happen if there is one Church with one body of faith.
We have that One Faith. It is called Christianity.
Indeed we do, but when it comes to what is The Church, where is The Church found, there's more to it, at least insofar as Orthodoxy and the Latin Church are concerned. There is in my mind no doubt, as there is apparently no doubt in the mind of +BXVI himslef, that Protestant "ecclesial assemblies" and Protestants are connected to The Church in some way including holding certain fundamental beliefs in common. But those ecclesial assemblies are not properly "churches" in our ecclesiology which is formed by our theology. That ecclesial definition of where one finds The Church is best stated by +Ignatius of Antioch.
The effect of this is not fully known to Orthodoxy as a general proposition. We know that theosis is found in The Church. We cannot say, because we don't know, what happens outside The Church except to say that no man comes to The Father save through Christ and we can't limit His ways and methods. It may well be that there is no theosis outside The Church. certainly there is a large minority in Orthodoxy and I believe a large majority in the Latin Church which believe that...but we Orthodox really, at base, don't know. In part that's what +Symeon the new Theologian is saying in the snip I posted earlier.
They were not different "churches" in the sense of a separate Church, but a separate parish or diocese. They were all part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church, and they all answered to the same authority.
St. Paul also wrote to seven churches. Ephesus is the only one included in both lists . . .
These have been great. Thank you for educating more people!
**The "seven churches" in the Book of Revelation are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. They are right there in Chs. 2 and 3.**
All part of the Catholic Church in Asia Minor. Epesus was the main church center.
I'm in the process of a Bible study course on Revelation.
Revelation really is pointed to the Church at that time, written in coded words about the Roman Empire. The people of that time would have understood the coded symbolisms.
Of course, there is a deeper thread to all that is written as is might apply to us today. and it's amazing how much does!
"If there are no objections, I will then leave this as an open caucus." ?"
So is the thread open to heretics or not?
Unless I am mistaken, it literally means "down + whole", and yet it is translated to mean "universal". Has this word changed over time in such a way as to have obscured its original meaning?
Could the Greek word "catholic" have originally meant "the whole faith handed down" or "the whole faith written down", reflecting what Jude says: "a faith once delivered to the saints", not handed out a little at a time, but the whole thing down on papyrus right there in front of them.
Thus it is not until the final book of the NT scriptures [John's Book of Revelation] has been passed down to the church that Ignatius coins the word "catholic" as regards the church. Before this the church did not have the whole apostolic testament, but Ignatius now recognizes that the church now has the "whole" testament of the faith handed "down" to it.
For the most part, every Christian agrees that outside the Church there is slim chance of salvation. What we don't agree on is exactly what the term "Church" means.
I don't think so. It would seem to me that if it meant that it would have been spelled "κατολικη" as opposed to "καθολικη" with "κατ'" meaning "down" in the way you are looking at it. Certainly, though we today look at the canon of the NT as closing with Revelations, that wasn't at all true in the time of +Ignatius.
Lies are not welcome here.
How can you call this a caucus when the topic is an attack on all professing Christians who chose not to be a member of your particular religion???
Caucuses however cannot be used as "cover" to take shots at other confessions. So if you see something in the article or in the reply posts which is directed to your confession and is either incorrect, incomplete or a strawman - let me know. Otherwise keep your peace.
If the offensive material is in the article, the thread may be opened, if it is in a reply post - the post may be removed to keep the caucus.
Paul didn't hope the way you think of hope...
Fromἔλπω elpō which is a primary word (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence: - faith, hope.
Hope is assurance...All those verses you listed about hope were mis-interpreted...
God has never blessed arrogance, even if sincerely believed with some evidence.
I've heard compelling theories that the 144,000 mentioned in Rev. 7, the "144,000 Sealed", are Jews who make it into heaven the "old fashioned way." That is to say, they worship the Father alone with no regard to the Trinity.
Said theory goes on to say that we Christians represent "The Great Multitude in White Robes", also of Rev. 7.
However, that same 144,000 is mentioned again in Rev. 14 and Rev.14:4 says that "They follow the Lamb wherever he goes."
The Lamb is obviously Jesus, which is what makes me skeptical of this concept.
The usual counter to that is "Tribulation Saints" and such.
Well, it can make for an interesting discussion.