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Why the Reformers Read the Fathers [Calvinist/Reformed Caucus thread]
Christianity Today ^ | 2003 | Christopher A. Hall

Posted on 02/10/2007 7:44:52 PM PST by Alex Murphy

The Reformers taught "Sola Scriptura," which meant every person became their own Bible interpreter, right?

Wrong...the Reformers strove to ensure their own interpretations of Scripture matched those of the Fathers....

"The Reformers use the Fathers all over the place. We know Calvin read Augustine, and we discovered recently that Luther read Jerome—he had copies annotated in his own hand. The index of Calvin's Institutes is filled with an enormous number of quotations from the Fathers. And in the first preface to that work...Calvin did his best to show his teachings were in complete harmony with the Fathers.

"The Protestants did this because they were keen to have ancestors. They knew that innovation was another word for heresy. 'Ours is the ancient tradition,' they said. 'The innovations were introduced in the Middle Ages!' They issued anthologies of the Fathers to show the Fathers had taught what the Reformers were teaching.

"But they also turned to the Fathers because they found them important sources of insight into the text of Scripture. Calvin and Melanchthon both believed it was a very strong argument against a given theological position if you couldn't find authorization for it in the Fathers.

"All the Reformers loved Augustine (Luther, remember, was an Augustinian friar). Calvin, though he loved Augustine for doctrine, preferred Chrysostom's approach to biblical interpretation...Calvin doesn't mimic Chrysostom, but he appreciates his model.

"Finally, the Reformation was not an argument about everything, but about just some things. It was not, for example, about the Trinity or the two natures of Christ. The Protestants...agreed basically with Roman Catholics. Both confessed the Trinity and the two natures of Christ. And if we ask where these accepted doctrines came from—they came from the Fathers' reflections on the Bible!"

(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...


TOPICS: Apologetics; History; Mainline Protestant; Theology
KEYWORDS:
Regrettably, I had to cut about 150 words from this excerpt, which is taken from an article titled The Habits of Highly Effective Bible Readers. A series of dots in the text serves to mark where text was cut.

A reminder to all that this is offered up as a Calvinist/Reformed Caucus thread. In keeping with the guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, Catholics/Orthodox/non-Reformed Protestants are welcome to post comments, but as guests in our house. Restraint from attacks would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic and Biblical background of the Protestant Reformation.

1 posted on 02/10/2007 7:44:58 PM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

My Protestant brothers and I are so unappreciated.

*Sniff*


2 posted on 02/10/2007 8:09:10 PM PST by Enosh
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: Alex Murphy

Had enough of the Catholic/Orthodox Caucus threads with the Fathers, eh? LOL!


4 posted on 02/10/2007 8:21:43 PM PST by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: rrc

Which part of the caucus bit did you not understand?

Protestants are not Catholics.

Now, my dear brothers, please join me in a righteous giggle...


Amen.


5 posted on 02/10/2007 8:23:11 PM PST by Enosh
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: rrc
i cant get an answer....

Okay.

Did that help?

I know you are thinking the word Trinity.

That is what I mean when I say God.

7 posted on 02/10/2007 8:38:41 PM PST by Enosh
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To: Alex Murphy

That's an excellent article, Alex. I can't find a thing in it I disagree with from a patristics standpoint. I particularly liked this (which will come as no surprise):

"What is theoria?

It's a spiritual meaning, inherent in the literal framework of the text, which takes the reader to higher plane of contemplation. Eastern Orthodox folks are very familiar with this way of reading the Bible."

Theoria is a little discussed subject in the West.

And this bears repeating:

"Finally, we will surround our reading with prayer. Prayer was the sine qua non of the Fathers in understanding Scripture."


8 posted on 02/10/2007 8:51:10 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Enosh

"My Protestant brothers and I are so unappreciated.

*Sniff*"

Now, now. You are regularly invited to the Catholic/Orthodox caucus threads by us Orthodoxers. We appreciate you! :)


9 posted on 02/10/2007 8:54:35 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

Eh?


10 posted on 02/10/2007 8:57:05 PM PST by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: Pyro7480

Forget it.

Kolo is my bro.


11 posted on 02/10/2007 9:07:10 PM PST by Enosh
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To: Enosh; Kolokotronis

Yeah, I've noticed your participation on some of them. I was just taken aback by Kolo's posts on this thread.


12 posted on 02/10/2007 9:09:40 PM PST by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: rrc

This is a Calvinist/Reformed Caucus. If you are not Calvinist or Reformed then you must behave on this thread as you would if you were a guest in the other guy's church.


13 posted on 02/10/2007 9:12:43 PM PST by Religion Moderator
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To: rrc

--i never understand how these reformers(?)claimed to have used the writings of the church fathers to somehow bolster their positions, but at the same time, can not point to any of these same church fathers, VOICING ANY OBJECTION TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH that they themselves belonged to, and whos allegiance to the vatican they also followed......

Sola Scriptura my fine sacerdotal friend. If it doesn't agree with what is in the Scriptures it might as well be book of Mormon...and will lead to the same place.
(Not exaltation and your own little planet, for those Mormons reading...)

The ECF can be used for things that do agree with Scripture as reference, just as the works of Calvin and Luther can. They didn't write Scripture either. We don't hold those guys up as many claim we do. I have no works of either in the house, but you can pull the Bible outta my cold dead fingers.


14 posted on 02/10/2007 9:13:06 PM PST by Ottofire (O great God of highest heaven, Glorify Your Name through me)
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To: Pyro7480; Kolokotronis

LOL! We are all brothers, my friend.


15 posted on 02/10/2007 9:18:12 PM PST by Enosh
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: Alex Murphy

Early Christian writings:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/


17 posted on 02/10/2007 10:33:28 PM PST by GoLightly
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To: Alex Murphy

**The Protestants...agreed basically with Roman Catholics. Both confessed the Trinity and the two natures of Christ. And if we ask where these accepted doctrines came from—they came from **

Bingo! Thanks for posting this!


18 posted on 02/11/2007 1:00:02 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Enosh

Why do you say that?


19 posted on 02/11/2007 1:05:17 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Alex Murphy

An excellent article. I know Calvin often refers to Chrysostom but I haven't read much by him. He's on my list.

People should read the fathers. They give a lot of insight as to their thought process. Sometimes they get a bit wacky but there are great truths as well.


20 posted on 02/11/2007 4:18:07 AM PST by HarleyD
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To: Alex Murphy; Enosh; rrc; Pyro7480

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Calvin and the other reformers, it would be interesting and beneficial to show the comparatives between the writings of the Early Church Fathers and the Reformers, much like I did on the ECF threads. Thanks.


21 posted on 02/11/2007 5:32:03 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Pyro7480; Enosh

"I was just taken aback by Kolo's posts on this thread."

Why so? I am always happy when people read, or are advised to read, the Fathers! I have noticed, over the past say 5 or 6 years, that there is an increasing interest in patristics among Protestants, especially in their theological seminaries. Of course that doesn't mean they are all going to run off and become Orthodox, but it does mean that they will better understand what Orthodoxy is saying.


22 posted on 02/11/2007 6:32:56 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Alex Murphy; Pyro7480; Kolokotronis

This is why a brother in Christ of mine, a conservative Baptist type once told me of his attitudes towards Protestants from Anglicans to Presbyterians "...the past churches would split out of denominations because they were hearing things that were against the word of God. Sometimes they would keep ideas and just reform them. The hooks left in the jaw of the protestant churches in their reform are the very same hooks that are drawing them back to the RCC[and Orthodox church]... They [mainline Protestants] cannot understand us because they were never of us. Anabaptist were on the outside of the RCC while the RCC is their mother. It is no wonder they understand her."


23 posted on 02/12/2007 5:20:15 AM PST by NZerFromHK (The US Founding is what makes Britain and USA separated by much more than a common language.)
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To: NZerFromHK; Alex Murphy
They [mainline Protestants] cannot understand us because they were never of us.

That is quite a claim, especially in light of the article that began this thread. Did you read it? Think it's at all possible we've taken the position we have, because we understand you only too well?

24 posted on 02/13/2007 10:16:03 AM PST by GoLightly
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