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Why do Catholics always talk about the Early Church Fathers (Apostolic Fathers)?[Ecumenical]
CatholicBridge.com ^ | not given | David MacDonald

Posted on 08/11/2010 12:04:07 PM PDT by Salvation

Why do Catholics always talk about the Early Church Fathers (Apostolic Fathers)?

Let us take the analogy of a courtroom. When looking for witnesses, we want people who were closest to the action. They have a better perspective than those who are far removed. Catholics feel the Early Church fathers were good witnesses to the Christian faith. They understood Scripture the way Jesus and the disciples taught it.

Some of the criticisms of the Early Church Fathers is that they were only human and the Bible is divine so it is a better source. The Catholic Church agrees with this. Catholics believe that God used the hands of some of the early Church Fathers to write the Bible. The Early Church Fathers were only human but so were the early reformers in the 1500-1600s. They were over 1000 years before the reformers. Catholics feel that the Early Church Fathers had an excellent perspective about the meaning of Scripture because of their proximity to the events.

One of the criticisms of the Early Church Fathers is that they thought the world was flat and that the universe swirled around the earth. Actually that's not true. There was quite a bit of discussion among the Early Church Fathers. For example, Augustine described the earth as round. We should also note that most of the "reformers" such as Luther, Calvin, Wesley also rejected the "Copernican" system (a round world spinning around the sun). They interpreted scriptural references to the world being "immovable" to reject the idea that the world is spinning. (i.e., 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and Psalm 104:5). This glitch in the reformer's interpretation of Scripture also shows one of the problems with the principle of Sola Scriptura. Scripture needs to be interpreted and discerned in the context of humanity's maturity.

Some Evangelicals might say that that the Bible is self-explanatory and needs no interpretation. My response would be that the Evangelical movement itself does not support that statement. There are presently dozens of conflicting interpretations of Bible passages by different Evangelical denominations and cell groups. (i.e., the Rapture)  Everyone interprets Scripture the moment they pick it up. Sometimes the Holy Spirit reveals stuff to us as we study which is great. But almost all of the conflicting views among Evangelicals are claimed to be revealed by the Holy Spirit. If we believe that Truth is not relative then there is only one truth. Catholics think its better that it is interpreted by the authority to which Jesus gave the authority. (Mathew 16:18-19). The Catholic Church doesn't claim that it understands everything about Scripture. Rather, it says that what has been revealed and defined as Dogma is true. The Church is on a pilgrimage of faith and its understanding of the mystery of God is evolving. More about the Church's interpretation of Scripture here.

The Church Fathers believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, honoured Mary, had elaborate ceremonies, prayed for the dead, respected the Church hierarchy, baptized babies, recognized Peter as the Rock, built the Church upon him with successors and followed a rich tradition of Christianity. That was the Christianity of the early days of Christianity and that is the Catholic Church of today. A timeline of the Catholic Church from 1-500 A.D. is here

So in short Catholics feel the Early Church Fathers were kicking Christians who were plugged into the teachings of Christ and knew what the apostles were saying about the faith. The Church Fathers propagated the Church and helped bring it to the world. Catholics feel it is very useful to study what they taught and wrote about the interpretation of Scripture. It is also noteworthy that the Early Church Fathers practiced a very Catholic theology.

Apostolic Fathers are those before 200A.D. and who were directly influenced or taught by the apostles. They include: Clement (d. 97) Bishop of Rome and Catholics believe third successor to Peter as Pope, Ignatius, (50-107), and Polycarp (69-155), Justin Martyr (100-165), St. Irenaeus (130-202), Cyprian (210-258) The Early Chruch Fathers lived between 200 and 800 A.D.



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; earlychurchfathers; freformed
This is an ecumenical thread. Please follow the Religion Moderator's Guidelines for Ecumenical Threads
1 posted on 08/11/2010 12:04:11 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: All
Here are some quotes of the early Fathers

Here are some quotes of the early Fathers,

from www.ScriptureCatholic.com

"See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles. Do ye also reverence the deacons, as those that carry out the appointment of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrneans, 8:2 (c. A.D. 110).

"[A]ll the people wondered that there should be such a difference between the unbelievers and the elect, of whom this most admirable Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna. For every word that went out of his mouth either has been or shall yet be accomplished." Martyrdom of Polycarp, 16:2 (A.D. 155).

“…to be in honour however with the Catholic Church for the ordering of ecclesiastical discipline...one to the Laodicenes, another to the Alexandrians, both forged in Paul's name to suit the heresy of Marcion, and several others, which cannot be received into the Catholic Church; for it is not fitting that gall be mixed with honey. The Epistle of Jude no doubt, and the couple bearing the name of John, are accepted by the Catholic Church...But of Arsinous, called also Valentinus, or of Militiades we receive nothing at all.” The fragment of Muratori (A.D. 177).

"[N]or does it consist in this, that he should again falsely imagine, as being above this [fancied being], a Pleroma at one time supposed to contain thirty, and at another time an innumerable tribe of Aeons, as these teachers who are destitute of truly divine wisdom maintain; while the Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1:10,3 (A.D. 180).

“For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,--in the reign of Antoninus for the most part,--and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled.” Tertullian, On the Prescription Against Heretics, 22,30 (A.D. 200).

”Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God's priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church, which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another.Cyprian, To Florentius, Epistle 66/67 (A.D. 254).

“But for those who say, There was when He was not, and, Before being born He was not, and that He came into existence out of nothing, or who assert that the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance...these the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.” Creed of Nicea (A.D. 325).

"Concerning those who call themselves Cathari, if they come over to the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the great and holy Synod decrees that they who are ordained shall continue as they are in the clergy. But it is before all things necessary that they should profess in writing that they will observe and follow the dogmas of the Catholic and Apostolic Church; in particular that they will communicate with persons who have been twice married, and with those who having lapsed in persecution have had a period [of penance] laid upon them, and a time [of restoration] fixed so that in all things they will follow the dogmas of the Catholic Church..." Council of Nicaea I (A.D. 325).

“Concerning this Holy Catholic Church Paul writes to Timothy, 'That thou mayest know haw thou oughtest to behave thyself in the House of God, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth'” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures,18:25(A.D. 350).

"[T]he Article, In one Holy Catholic Church,' on which, though one might say many things, we will speak but briefly. It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly… for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to thee now the Article, And in one Holy Catholic Church;' that thou mayest avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which thou wast regenerated. And if ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 18:23,26 (A.D. 350).

"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and eternal life. Amen." Apostles Creed (A.D. 360).

"And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the life-giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is together worshiped and together glorified, Who spoke through the prophets; in one holy Catholic, and apostolic Church." Constantinopolitan Creed (A.D. 381).

"Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation [of their errors] and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God." Council of Constantinople I, Canon 7 (A.D. 381).

“We must hold to the Christian religion and to communication in her Church, which is Catholic and which is called Catholic not only by her own members but even by all her enemies. For when heretics or the adherents of schisms talk about her, not among themselves but with strangers, willy-nilly they call her nothing else but Catholic. For they will not be understood unless they distinguish her by this name which the whole world employs in her regard.” Augustine, The True Religion, 7:12 (A.D. 390).

“Inasmuch, I repeat, as this is the case, we believe also in the Holy Church, [intending thereby] assuredly the Catholic. For both heretics and schismatics style their congregations churches. But heretics, in holding false opinions regarding God, do injury to the faith itself; while schismatics, on the other hand, in wicked separations break off from brotherly charity, although they may believe just what we believe. Wherefore neither do the heretics belong to the Church catholic, which loves God; nor do the schismatics form a part of the same.” Augustine, On Faith and Creed, 10:21 (A.D. 393).

"For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual, men attain in this life…--not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations…so does her authority…the succession of priests…[a]nd so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church…Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church…For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church…for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichaeus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you." Augustine, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus, 4:5,5:6 (A.D 397).

"You think that you make a very acute remark when you affirm the name Catholic to mean universal, not in respect to the communion as embracing the whole world, but in respect to the observance of all Divine precepts and of all the sacraments, as if we (even accepting the position that the Church is called Catholic because it honestly holds the whole truth, of which fragments here and there are found in some heresies) rested upon the testimony of this word's signification, and not upon the promises of God, and so many indisputable testimonies of the truth itself, our demonstration of the existence of the Church of God in all nations." Augustine, To Vincent the Rogatist, 93:7,23 (A.D. 403).

"Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges in his successors." Council of Ephesus, Session III (A.D. 431).

"I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or anyone else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they arise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church…Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation" Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory for the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith, 2:4,5 (A.D. 434).

"Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the Apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, hath stripped him of the episcopate, and hath alienated from him all hieratic worthiness. Therefore let this most holy and great synod sentence the before mentioned Dioscorus to the canonical penalties." Council of Chalcedon, Session III (A.D. 451).


2 posted on 08/11/2010 12:06:48 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Why do Catholics always talk about the Early Church Fathers (Apostolic Fathers)?[Ecumenical]
The Church Fathers' Marian Interpretation of the Old Testament (Catholic Caucus)
Writings of the Fathers of the Church

THE CHURCH FATHERS: A DOOR TO ROME (fundamentalist warns saying they sound too Catholic)
Were the Church Fathers Closer to Protestantism Than to Catholicism?
The Faith of Our Fathers
The Early Church Fathers
The Early Church Fathers on The Church (Catholic Caucus)
Early Church Fathers on (Oral) Tradition - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Salvation Outside the Church [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Early Church Fathers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Primacy of Peter/Rome (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)

Early Church Fathers on (Oral) Tradition - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Salvation Outside the Church [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Early Church Fathers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Primacy of Peter/Rome (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
Early Church Fathers on (Oral) Tradition - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Salvation Outside the Church [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Early Church Fathers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Primacy of Peter/Rome (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)

The Early Church Fathers on Hell - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Intercession of the Saints - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Real Presence - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Confession / Reconciliation - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on the Immaculate Conception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Justification - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Contraception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Baptism - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Mother of God - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Quotes from the Early Church Fathers

Early Church Fathers - Worship on Sabbath or Sunday
The Early Church Fathers on the Assumption [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Look to the Church Fathers to Shed Light on Modern Problems, Writes the Pope
On St. Clement of Rome -The Church Has a Sacramental, Not Political Structure (March 7, 2007)
Truly a Doctor of Unity (St. Ignatius of Antioch) (March 14, 2007)
St. Justin Martyr: He Considered Christianity the “True Philosophy” (March 21, 2007)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons: The First Great Theologian of the Church (March 28, 2007)
St. Clement of Alexandria: One of the Great Promoters of Dialogue Between Faith and Reason (April 18, 2007)
On Origen of Alexandria: He Was a True Teacher (April 25, 2007)
Origen: The Privileged Path to Knowing God Is Love

3 posted on 08/11/2010 12:14:17 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way, we have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together,
we give you absolute permission to move, Amen

4 posted on 08/11/2010 12:16:58 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Salvi,

In line with this article, I am going to ask you a question I have asked of many Catholics. Not one yet has answered.

If you are unable to interpret the Scriptures correctly without the help of the Magesterium, how can you correctly interpret the teachings of the Magesterium?

It would seem that you Catholics have the same “can’t interpret by yourself” problem - it’s just moved back one level.


5 posted on 08/11/2010 12:25:51 PM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: Salvation

Any question you or your friends in Sunday School have ever had about theology or Christology or doctrine was addressed in the first 500 years or so of Christianity, and all these questions were settled, and orthodox Christianity defined, by a long series of letters, debates, and councils.

A major review of orthodox Christianity and its practices was conducted beginning in the 1500’s (more or less), and all the significant questions were rearticulated and reaffirmed over a period of another 400 years or so.

The great minds in the first era are known as the Early Church Fathers. The great minds in the later era are known as the Reformers. At the end of the day, they agree (more or less) on the essentials.

The great minds who did all this thinking, debating, writing, counseling, and voting, are much smarter, wiser, and devout than you and me.

So it is wise for us to know them and read them.


6 posted on 08/11/2010 12:27:56 PM PDT by mbarker12474 (If thine enemy offend thee, give his childe a drum.)
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To: PetroniusMaximus

They have a lot more theology than I do. So the answer would be trust, correct?


7 posted on 08/11/2010 12:29:40 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: mbarker12474

Thanks.


8 posted on 08/11/2010 12:31:00 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
The problem is that the "Early Church Fathers" did not teach a common, coherent theology. They didn't always agree with each other. How do you pick and choose?

Either you form your theology and choose the teachings that support your theology, you choose the teachings and form a theology from that ... or you look at those men as fallible human beings that sometimes got it right and sometimes got it wrong and use the Bible as your source of doctrine and practice.

9 posted on 08/11/2010 12:41:44 PM PDT by dartuser ("Palin 2012 ... nothing else will do.")
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To: PetroniusMaximus

I thought about this a little bit more and came up with a question for you — actually two questions.

Isn’t your question a little bit silly?

Did you trust your profs in college and supply the answers THEY wanted on exams rather than your own opinion?


10 posted on 08/11/2010 12:44:00 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: PetroniusMaximus

I think that’s a lovely question.

I’ve chewed on it for a couple of years.

Here’s what I think. We’re never going to get it all right.

We just get better at it, those who do theology. But we don’t get “there.”

And we shouldn’t expect to. The sort of programmatic way of showing this is that the Truth is a person, and every person is unfathomable. How much more unfathomable is the Divine Truth.

To use the “fathoming” metaphor, all we can do is get longer and longer sounding lines, with better and better scoops to show us what lies at the bottom of this ocean. But we’ll never get it all

To use some practical examples: So, you understand the Trinity? The Hypostatic Union? You can “work” each doctrine confidently and faultlessly out to each application?

Not me! But, with guidance I get slightly less fuzzy pictures — not with the artificial crispness of heretical over-simplicity (Arianism really is simpler to understand. Fine, junior G-man demi god. No sweat) but just slightly better resolution on what I will never be able to see altogether, certainly not before death.

and the magisterium’s role, very practically, is not to give me the whole picture, but to guide and direct me as I get a WEE bit better and understanding how even an illegal immigrant is ‘due’ mercy, because of God’s love for him. I may not know yet how to show that mercy, but I’m working on that.

People think we are all about systems and philosophies. And I guess we are to some extent, but not ALL. But if YOU have a question about Mary or Jesus or virtue, the magisterium can probably help you take the next step with some confidence.

That’s my guess.


11 posted on 08/11/2010 12:48:38 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: dartuser

You are correct. Some of them did not agree with others. Those differences got ironed out in Councils of the Catholic Church when they met to discuss those difference. Usually heresies were involved if my memory serves me correctly.


12 posted on 08/11/2010 12:50:36 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: PetroniusMaximus
Dear PetroniusMaximus,

Excellent question!

In part, that's the purpose of the Magisterium - to engage in a dialogue to increase understanding of the Church's teaching.

Thus, when legalized abortion started to become prevalent in countries previously associated with Christendom, or at least, with overwhelming Christian majorities, and where it was thought that the laws were based on Judeo-Christian moral premises, the Church began to speak out on the evil that is abortion.

In our own country, prominent Catholics initially interpreted the teachings of the Magisterium to permit Catholic politicians to be “personally opposed” but nonetheless politically in favor of “choice.”

The Church listened, and then taught authoritatively, “No, you can't do that. To be a good Catholic, you must oppose legal abortion at every turn, and demand that the rights of unborn persons be defended in law.”

Many Catholic politicians tried various other methods of wriggling around this teaching of fundamental morality, but the Church magisterially answered all these evasions, objections and loopholes. This was possible because we believe in a living, continuing Magisterium.

Often, the Church takes the initiative to further clarify teaching, to answer questions, evasions, etc., with which clever people come up.

But layfolks and folks lower in the hierarchy can also, if they are in doubt about a teaching or practice of the Church, ask the Church for direction.

There is actually a process by which one may ask the Church a question concerning faith and morals and receive a direct, specific answer. Often, the process is used to clarify points of liturgical practice, etc., but the process can be used to clarify significant theological points, as well.

Thus, I've seen dubia (questions) asked about various theological issues, including the status of the baptism provided in the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Someone specifically asked, is LDS baptism valid? This is a pretty fundamental theological question for us Catholics, at least. Anyway, the answer was provided, no, LDS baptism is not valid, and then explained why.

But this sort of thing doesn't work unless the entity that answers the questions has the authority to do so.

We Catholics believe that our Magisterium derives its authority by being handed down by the Apostles through the ages to the current successors of the Apostles.


sitetest

13 posted on 08/11/2010 12:55:02 PM PDT by sitetest ( If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: Mad Dawg

Great answer! Better than mine. ~~Smiling


14 posted on 08/11/2010 12:59:50 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: sitetest

Super analysis! Thanks!


15 posted on 08/11/2010 1:01:18 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: dartuser; Salvation
The problem is that the "Early Church Fathers" did not teach a common, coherent theology.

Actually, they did.

If you compare their writings to the writings of the Gnostics, the Arians, the Manichaeans, the Pelagians, the Montanists, etc. it becomes clear that their points of difference among themselves were quite small compared to their agreement on important issues: most signally their unanimity on the Nicene Creed.

Most of the "incoherencies" that are perceived in them today stem mostly from disputes between Lutherans, Calvinists and Catholics on certain idiosyncratic features of one father's, Augustine's, writings.

All the Fathers are anachronistically viewed through the lens of the Reformers' interpretation of Augustinian theology.

But the Fathers all agreed on what we today call "mere Christianity" after C.S. Lewis' phrase: orthodox Christianity is their consensus.

16 posted on 08/11/2010 1:04:31 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: Salvation

Why do Catholics always talk about the Early Church Fathers?

Because one can only talk about baseball so much.

Do I win?

17 posted on 08/11/2010 2:04:43 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Salvation

Amen!


18 posted on 08/11/2010 2:10:40 PM PDT by Dubya-M-DeesWent2SyriaStupid!
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To: Mad Dawg

LOL! That would go for my 97 year old dad! Loves his baseball — even with glaucoma!


19 posted on 08/11/2010 2:59:56 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Friday, November 10, 2006
“Unanimous Consent” of the Church Fathers (Steve Ray)

The Church sees the Fathers as the successors of the apostles, the closest source to the apostolic teaching and tradition, and therefore authoritative. One must ask, why should I trust Protestant Joe X’s interpretation, or his pastor’s, when we can go back to the source and listen to those who knew the apostles?

One must understand what the Church means when she is bound by the unanimous consent of the Fathers. The Church cannot, has not, and does not contradict Herself. She can develop doctrine, but she cannot deny what is organically Her heritage and the foundation of her existence in the Scriptures, the Tradition and the Magisterium. The Church does not claim that all her “authority rests” on the consent of the Fathers. It rests on several things including Scripture; the Fathers are one element of this foundation.

Second, the Church has never understood or taught that unanimous consent means that the Fathers are individually infallible or that various Fathers have never held an alternative opinion. Any given passage of scripture may have several valid applications and they were all appropriated by the Fathers depending on the matter at hand. Thus, a Father may refer to Jesus as the Rock, Peter as the Rock, or Peter’s confession as the Rock. This in not unusual or unexpected. It certainly does not negate the literal intent of Matthew, nor does it invalidate the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

The Catholic Church has organically grown up from the apostles and the Fathers. To say that it does not agree with them is absurd. Now, what is the unanimous consent of the Fathers? The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary gives a good simple definition:

When the Fathers of the Church are morally unanimous in their teaching that a certain doctrine is a part of revelation, or is received by the universal Church, or that the opposite of a doctrine is heretical, then their united testimony is a certain criterion of divine revelation. As the Fathers are not personally infallible, the counter testimony of one or two would not be destructive of the value of the collective testimony; so a moral unanimity only is required.
The word “unanimous” comes from two Latin words: unus, one + animus, mind. “Consent”, as was used when coined means “to be of the same mind or opinion.” Where the Fathers speak overall with one mind, not necessarily each and every one, nor numerically complete, but by consensus and general agreement, we have “unanimous consent.”
To illustrate, I cite the following excerpt from Pope Leo XIII (”The Study of Holy Scripture”, from the encyclical Providentissimus Deus, Nov. 1893) where the pope admits that there are varying ideas among the Fathers and that not everything they write is a matter of dogma. He could not say this if he understood “unanimous consent” as having to agree on every detail:

Because the defense of Holy Scripture must be carried on vigorously, all the opinions which the individual Fathers or the recent interpreters have set forth in explaining it need not be maintained equally. For they, in interpreting passages where physical matters are concerned have made judgments according to the opinions of the age, and thus not always according to truth, so that they have made statements which today are not approved. Therefore, we must carefully discern what they hand down which really pertains to faith or is intimately connected with it, and what they hand down with unanimous consent; for “in those matters which are not under the obligation of faith, the saints were free to have different opinions, just as we are,” according to the opinion of St. Thomas. In another passage he most prudently holds: “It seems to me to be safer that such opinions as the philosophers have expressed in common and are not repugnant to our faith should not be asserted as dogmas of the faith, even if they are introduced some times under the names of philosophers, nor should they thus be denied as contrary to faith, lest an opportunity be afforded to the philosophers of this world to belittle the teachings of the faith” Henry Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma [London: B. Herder Book Co., 1954], 491-492).

Copyright 1996 by Steve Ray. All rights reserved.


20 posted on 08/11/2010 7:20:11 PM PDT by johngrace (God so loved the world so he gave his only son! Praise Jesus and Hail Mary!)
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To: johngrace

Wonderful post! Thank you.


21 posted on 08/11/2010 8:24:33 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
the magisterium’s role, very practically, is not to give me the whole picture, but to guide and direct me as I get a WEE bit better and understanding

Well put, MD. thanks for your post.

I'm a convert, and when old friends who are non-Catholics discover I'm now a Catholic, they almost always are surprised and say something like: "Never thought you'd be Catholic, it's so structured" or "so strict" or "authoritarian". I tell them that all churches have to have walls some where or they wouldn't be different from another - and the Catholic Church's walls are the farthest out of any; it's the biggest Church.

I've belonged or attended most all the major Protestant Churches and now I can sometimes see them as taking a piece of the Church, one room maybe, and making it the whole thing.

The Church keeps us from going off on the wrong path, but gives a lot room to explore.

22 posted on 08/11/2010 11:16:47 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Mad Dawg; Salvation

Oopers, so sorry, I meant to post my last reply to MD’s post.


23 posted on 08/11/2010 11:18:35 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: sitetest; All; PetroniusMaximus
dubia (questions)

Look, I know I just woke up, but isn't Dubia the 43rd president of the United States?

Y'all: This is a very nice thread. Really. I am very grateful to you for your well considered and articulate opinions.

@ Petronius: Feedback, D00d! What do you think of our attempts?

24 posted on 08/12/2010 4:39:44 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Salvation

Here are some more quotes

“They [heretics] gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures...We have learned from none 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”
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1.1

“I beg of you, my dear brother, to live among these books [scripture], to meditate upon them, to know nothing else, to seek nothing else.”
- Jerome (Letter 53:10)

“There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source. For just as a man, if he wishes to be skilled in the wisdom of this world, will find himself unable to get at it in any other way than by mastering the dogmas of philosophers, so all of us who wish to practice piety will be unable to learn its practice from any other quarter than the oracles of God. Whatever things, then, the Holy Scripture declare, at these let us look; and whatsoever things they teach, these let us learn; and as the Father wills our belief to be, let us believe; and as He wills the Son to be glorified, let us glorify Him; and as He wills the Holy Spirit to be bestowed, let us receive Him. Not according to our own will, nor according to our own mind, nor yet as using violently those things which are given by God, but even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them.”
- Hippolytus, Against Noetus, ch 9

“For how can we adopt those things which we do not find in the holy Scriptures?”
- Ambrose (On the Duties of the Clergy, 1:23:102)

“We use Scripture to answer heresy and preceive that it is power and truth.”
- Basil the Great

“Let the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words.”
- Gregory of Nyssa (d.ca, 395) “On the Holy Trinity”, NPNF, p. 327

“We are not content simply because this is the tradition of the Fathers. What is important is that the Fathers followed the meaning of the Scripture.”
- Basil the Great (ca.329–379) On the Holy Spirit, 7.16

“Neither dare one agree with catholic bishops if by chance they err in anything, but the result that their opinion is against the canonical Scriptures of God.”
- Augustine (354–430) De unitate ecclesiae, 10

“For our faith rests on the revelation made to the Prophets and Apostles who wrote the canonical books.”
- Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) Summa Theologiae, Question 1, Art. 8

“For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life,—to wit, hope and love, of which I have spoken in the previous book. After this, when we have made ourselves to a certain extent familiar with the language of Scripture, we may proceed to open up and investigate the obscure passages, and in doing so draw examples from the plainer expressions to throw light upon the more obscure, and use the evidence of passages about which there is no doubt to remove all hesitation in regard to the doubtful passages.”
- Augustine (On Christian Doctrine, 2:9)


25 posted on 08/14/2010 1:04:21 PM PDT by RnMomof7
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