Friday, July 22, 2011

Christopher and the Church "Fathers"

Christopher Lake said:
I meant (that was) my last comment at Triablogue, nor merely my last comment under that thread.

And we can all see what good fruit that bore.


Scripture itself does not say that all we need to believe and do, as Christians, is explicitly stated in Scripture.

How can he then also affirm the words of Psalm 119?

In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, we see the richness of what the Scriptures are, and what they do:
-sacred
-can give one wisdom…
-…so as to be saved (through faith)
-breathed out by God (cf: Matthew 22:31)
-profitable for teaching and correction
-can train one in righteousness
-to render the man of God adequate for every good work.


Jesus thought enough of it to say "The words I have spoken are spirit and are life" (John 6:63).

John 20:30Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
Two things about this passage:
1) John's Gospel alone apparently was, to his mind, sufficient to have life in Jesus' name. What else do I need, again?
2) The "other signs Jesus also performed", which by his own admission receive no mention, are unnecessary to have life in Jesus' name.

I've done a whole debate on this.
So has TurretinFan. Oh, wait, he's done more than that.
James White might have done a few as well.


It does not even say that everything which is "essential" is *clear* in Scripture. 

"All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain." (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Second Thessalonians, 3, v. 5)
More on why Christopher won't accept this teaching from Chrysostom in a moment.


As a Calvinist Protestant, I had to, and did, assert that my own "private judgement" on the meaning of Scripture was better than that of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Augustine, Athanasius, and the other early Church Fathers

And you continue in that to this very day.
Here's the proof - they've said things that are contrary to the modern dogma of Rome, and you don't believe those things.
Now, you or some other Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox might remind us that a given Church Father taught elsewhere something that does in fact agree with the modern RCC/EOC.  So now we have two different teachings from the CF on a given topic. What do we do?

Let's just say for the sake of argument that you're right - the CF taught in more than one other place the opposite doctrine to what the Sola Scripturist already quoted.  
For example, that Athanasius taught Sola Scriptura.  Or that John Chrysostom, Basil of Caesarea, Jerome, Ambrosiaster, Hilary of Poitiers, and (Pope) Clement of Rome taught Sola Fide. Then an RC or EO friend counter-cites one or all of these men with clearly non-Sola-Scriptura/Fide verbiage.

That leaves us with CFs who have contradicted themselves. 

Now, to fulfill what Christopher wants us to do, namely to be consistent with these CFs (and remember, my claim is that modern RCC/EOC is inconsistent w/ them), we would either have to:
A: Teach just as inconsistently as these two guys do, sometimes saying one thing, sometimes the other, or
B: Call these teachings not actually part of Divine/Apostolic Tradition.

The problem with resolution A is that the cognitive dissonance would be pretty much unbearable. The upshot is that I don't know if I'd expect a lot of people to turn away from RCC/EOC in real life.

The thing about resolution B is that they have indeed already done just that. Somehow these godly, forcible, powerful writers, from whom RCC/EOC (and thus, by profession, Christopher) ostensibly derives much of their tradition and doctrine, also produced impious, ungodly, and flat wrong teachings.

Now, how would Christopher know judgment about wrong teachings? Apparently from judging these non-"Apostolic Traditions" by... yup, you guessed it! What The Church® Says.
In the end, it's a vicious circle of question-begging. I claim the modern RCC/EOC is not totally faithful with CFs and then cite them when challenged. Then they say, "Hey, those aren't part of ApostolicTradition!" I say, "Thanks for proving my point."

I also pause to note how pernicious this is. The Lord Jesus set an authoritative example for how one is to judge tradition - by Scripture. The RC/EO refuses to do that and instead appeals to his own doctrinal construct which is already in place to then look back on tradition and Scripture and pick and choose what he will and won't believe. Thus the RC/EO holds to the Scriptural teaching of the Deity of Christ and rejects the Scriptural teaching of salvation by grace alone thru faith alone. He accepts the Trinity and rejects Sola Scriptura. He accepts the fact that we should pray to God as commanded in the Scripture and rejects the fact that prayer to dead people and angels is strictly prohibited in the Scripture.

It becomes easy to see how this not only dishonors God in ideal (that is, that we should not judge men's teachings by God's) but also later in practice (bowing down to images, praying to dead people, trying to work one's way to salvation).

A few more points on this:

As Steve already reminded you, but you either didn't read, were too disingenuous to care, or didn't understand how this wrecks your point, you had to engage in private interpretation to choose Rome over other "infallible interpreters", other rival magisteria, such as the WatchTower, the LDS, the Eastern Orthodox, the Copts.
It's either sheer obstinacy or rank ignorance that brings Roman Catholics back to this ridiculous "argument" time and again. It's as predictable as a priestly sex scandal.

Christopher Lake said further:
anytime that I dipped into the above Church Fathers and found anything faintly "Catholic," I asserted that my understanding of Scripture was simply better than theirs. 

As mentioned above, however, you do that, and I commend you for it. The Apostle Paul's command to "test everything, hold fast to that which is good" is meant for everyone and anyone.  We test the 1st generation of the church just like we test this current generation.
Your problem is that you do the same thing but reproach us for preferring what the Scripture teaches versus the limited selection of "Church Father" teachings that Rome enjoins upon us. This brings up another fundamental incoherency of the "Church Father" argument.

  • You don't know that what these guys said is what the church of their time believed. 
  • You don't know how what they wrote was received by other churches. Any mere claims to "we believe thus" are not necessarily true. Not without proof, and  more proof than their say-so.
  • You don't know whether they were held in the highest respect by their contemporaries.  Maybe you're reading the Charles Stanley of their time - not really all that bad, but quite shallow compared to others, most of the time.
  • You don't know whether you have all their writings, or even what % their today-extant writings form of the total things they wrote over their lifetime. Thus you don't know if they ever took it all, or part of it, back.
  • You don't know whether what they said in public or in private teachings actually comports with the extant writings you have.
  • You don't take everything that is extant from a given "Church Father" and believe it. You believe only the parts that the modern Roman Catholic (though this applies to Eastern Orthodoxy too) Church has dogmatised and accepted for modern times. Why call them "Church Fathers" at all? Seems to me a traditional nomenclature that fails to take the above into consideration, fails to think through the divide between what any of them believed and what modern Rome believes, and has served as a useful tool for you, so you decided to keep it. And it is useful - citing "Fathers" sounds so imperial, so high-fallootin', so mysteriously powerful, that often it causes a brain block within the mind of the Sola Scripturist.  I myself have experienced this many times. 
Is this overzealous, unreasonably radical skepticism? Depends on whom you're asking, I suppose.
What this illustrates for certain is that our certain guide, our certain lamp for our feet, is the Scripture. The Scripture is simply not subject to these kinds of questions (at least not within the RC/EO/Sola Scripturist circle of debate), for we all accept its authority and sourcing - it is the very Word of God.
Such is demonstrably not the case for "Church Fathers", however. We read them like we read DA Carson today - to understand who they are, what they taught, and their theological contexts. They are not authorities. They (and I, or my pastor, or Billy Graham, or John MacArthur) have power only insofar as they repeat the Word of God. Where they do so, let us praise God for the insight they have shared. Where they have not, let us learn not to repeat their mistakes.

The only sense in which they are "fathers" is that they are older and came before us. They made many mistakes, however, and we do not necessarily know even the majority of what any one of them believed and/or taught.

Nobody invests them with great authority - not Sola Scripturists, not RCC, and not EOC.
Sola Scripturists - obviously.
RCC and EOC, for reasons mentioned above - if these men really were their authorities, they would teach like them: inconsistently. And they certainly wouldn't anathematise Sola Fide, for example.
No, for the RC and EO, the modern church is the only authority in practice. "By their fruits you shall know them."

But for us who love and follow Jesus and believe His words in Mark 7:1-13 wherein He told us to test traditions by Scripture, our Church Fathers are named: Jesus, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter and John and the rest of the 11, James, Jude, and the guy who wrote Hebrews. Do you want to know what the earliest church believed? Read the New Testament.


62 comments:

  1. Boom! Headshot!

    Thanks for the post Rho. :D

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  2. Rhology:

    I did read what Steve wrote about my having to engage in "private interpretation" of the Fathers, in order for me to reach the conclusion that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded, with apostolic succession, up to the present day.

    The reason that I haven't replied to Steve's assertion is that I have *already written* here that I would not be leaving further comments, as reasoning with the blog authors here seems to be unfruitful. Your post furnishes further proof of this unfruitfulness, as it demonstrates that what I have written here (about not posting further comments) has not been clearly read!

    Be that as it may, I am going to answer your reasoning here, such as it is, in the hope that, even if you and the other writers of this blog will not listen, someone else may be reached.

    You have continued to assert the perspicuity of the Bible (here, in this particular post, through Scripture quotes that were never intended to affirm the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura). You have continued to say that issues such as infant baptism vs. credobaptism are "non-essentials," given that they are less clear from Scripture, than, say, Jesus' sinlessness. The Reformers would have disagreed with you-- they *did* disagree that the time of baptism is a "non-essential"-- but you can continue to assert what you believe, as if it is simply the truth. (Even as Luther would have called you an enemy of the faith for doing so, unlike me, as a Catholic, who accepts your baptism as valid, if it was Trinitarian.)

    However, you have still continued to assert that the Bible is clear on all "essentials"-- as defined by *you*, in your *private interpretation* of Scripture, as against the early Church, the later Church, and the Protestant Reformers. (continued...)

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  3. The Bible is the inerrant word of God, to be sure. It is reliable in all ways, including that of historical reliability, when it intends to teach history, such as with Jesus' death and resurrection.

    Understanding all of the teachings of the Bible, however, is not a simple matter of comparing the "clear verses" with the "unclear verses"-- as evidenced by the fact that Protestant denominations disagree, among themselves, on which are the "clear" and unclear" verses! (And on matters which the Reformers considered to be "essentials!" Who are Calvinists, today, to say that they were wrong, simply from *your* interpretation of Scripture? Isn't this the road to radical subjectivism in Biblical exegesis?)

    As mentioned above, Protestant churches cannot even come to enough of an agreement on what their doctrines and practices are, *from the Bible*, to compose a "Protestant catechism" for all Protestants! Other than Jesus' death and resurrection (which were and are world-and-life-shakingly important, to be sure!!), what do *all* Protestants actually *agree* on, other than that they disagree with certain Catholic teachings? (continued...)

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  4. Now, to answer Steve's (and (Rhology's) assertion that I had to engage in "private interpretation" of the Church Fathers, just as Protestants, ultimately, even after other sources are consulted, engage in "private interpretation" of the Scriptures. The two do appear to quite the same on the surface. I certainly would have said so, as a "Reformed Baptist."

    The crucial difference, though, is that in contrast to the sometimes difficult task of reading and interpreting what Jesus and the apostles are *actually teaching* on certain matters, such as baptism and the Lord's Supper (Eucharist), the task of understanding the historical record left by the early Fathers, as to what the early Church *believed and did*, is often just a matter of going to those records and seeing what *the Fathers themselves *clearly present* the early Church as believing and practicing.

    The teachings of Jesus and the apostles are matters of definite historical record, to be sure, in the Bible, but those teachings are sometimes matters of difficult interpretation. This is part of why Jesus never commanded His apostles to *write His teachings down in a book*, per se-- He simply did *not* command them to do so, from the records that we have in the Bible itself! However, He also did not command the apostles *not* to write His teachings down, obviously, as we have some of them in the Bible.

    What Jesus did clearly do was to found a Church and ordain leaders for that Church to go out and *authoritatively spread* His teachings. "Whoever hears you, hears Me."

    The earliest of the Church Fathers, such as St. Polycarp, were taught by the last of the surviving apostles, who were taught by Jesus. Polycarp writes of learning his theology at the feet of the apostle John. If one reads the early Church Fathers, the line of apostolic succession is clearly presented. Again, go to http://www.churchfathers.org/ and see some of the clear attestation about apostolic succession from the Fathers, in the very early centuries of the Church.

    Today's Protestants cannot agree in regard to the Eucharist, and they define it as a "non-essential." However, in the early Church, no one, of historical record, for at least 800 years, took the Eucharist to *not* be the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Without a hard-nosed Protestant bias, the evidence becomes clear.

    The early Church, of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries, was simply not "Protestant" in theology and ecclesiology. This is a matter of the historical documentation of the early Church's beliefs and practices by the Fathers. It is not a matter of Biblical exegesis, for which "good, Biblical arguments" can often be made for many different *private interpretations*. When Ligon Duncan and other Reformed Protestants read the Fathers and claim to find the "true, Protestant Gospel" of justification by faith alone, in at least a few of them (although not very many, comparatively speaking, interestingly!), these Protestant brothers are searching and searching, amidst vast amounts of "Catholic things," from the earliest centuries of the Fathers, to find *anything* which they can even conceivably present as being compatible with historic Protestantism. I used to trust Reformed Protestant scholars on the Church Fathers too... and I learned the hard way. The early Church was *anything* but Protestant-- and this is the Church that, humanly and historically speaking, *compiled and canonized the New Testament*, so that you can read it now to argue against the Church! (continued...)

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  5. Now, one can say, and Protestants often *do* say, in response to the many disagreements in theology and practice in modern-day Protestantism, "Well, Catholics disagree about many things too, and many Catholics disobey the official teachings of the Church anyway, so what is the difference?"

    First of all, the disobedience of individual Catholics does not change the fact that there is a living voice of authority in the Church to authoritatively teach and interpret-- not only in an infallible book, which Christ never actually mandated for us, but in authoritative teachers, which He did mandate! To be sure, the Scriptures are alive and powerful, and they are authoritative-- yes, authoritative for the Catholic Church! However, they must be interpreted. Infallible Scriptures are still not "self-interpreting," even by comparing the supposedly "clear" verses with the "unclear" verses.

    The difference between the Catholic who wishes to be faithful, and the Protestant who wishes to be faithful, is that the Catholic Church has a visible, living authority in interpreting and applying the Scriptures, both explicitly and implicitly. This is one reason that the Catholic Church has historically, from the 1st century, maintained a stance against abortion, while even *conservative* Protestantism has been inconsistent-- *until* the last few decades, that is (although the Reformers were firmly against both abortion *and* against artificial contraception). (continued...)

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  6. the perspicuity of the Bible... You have continued to say that issues such as infant baptism vs. credobaptism are "non-essentials," ...The Reformers would have disagreed with you

    1) The Reformers are not my authorities, any more than the "Church Fathers" are yours. You hypocritically act sometimes like the CFs are your authority. I never say the Reformers are.
    2) Whether someone agrees with me or not has no necessary bearing on the Scr's perspicuity.
    3) Only someone who's never read a papal encyclical could complain that the Scr isn't clear. Or you're just very, very biased.



    you have still continued to assert that the Bible is clear on all "essentials"-- as defined by *you*, in your *private interpretation* of Scripture

    It wasn't me, actually; it was Chrysostom.


    as evidenced by the fact that Protestant denominations disagree

    So do all the Sola Ecclesia churches.
    So do the diff factions within Rome.
    "Even today there are heated debates among Catholic theologians on all manner of topics, including: (1) how to understand the creation accounts in Genesis 1 & 2; (2) whether or not a Christian can accept the theory of evolution; (3) how to understand the doctrines of providence and predestination; (4) the freedom of the will; (5) whether or not the Bible is inerrant; (6) how Mary should be venerated; (7) whether Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces or only some; (8) whether or not Mary should be viewed as Co-Redemptrix; (9) whether or not Vatican II should be accepted as an infallible council; (10) how to view those outside the RCC (including whether they can be saved); (11) whether church tradition can add to the teachings of Scripture; (12) which church councils should be deemed infallible; (13) which Greek manuscripts for the NT should be accepted; (14) the morality of capital punishment. There are even Catholics who debate whether the current pope is a legitimate pope!" (Source)


    Protestant churches cannot even come to enough of an agreement on what their doctrines and practices are, *from the Bible*,

    I have already pointed you to this article but I insist that you actually read it this time.


    the task of understanding the historical record left by the early Fathers, as to what the early Church *believed and did*, is often just a matter of going to those records and seeing what *the Fathers themselves *clearly present* the early Church as believing and practicing.

    This is a blithe, ignorant answer.
    You haven't even gotten close to touching the problem as I've laid it out. Go back, read it again, give us some reason to think you have actually thought this through.


    but those teachings are sometimes matters of difficult interpretation.

    At least they're not blatantly contradictory like so many "Church Father" citations are.


    The early Church, of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries, was simply not "Protestant" in theology and ecclesiology

    Given that Clement of Rome was sola fide and most of the early church was Sola Scriptura, it's far more Prot than RC.
    But the claim isn't that the post-NT church was Protestant. Just that the NT church was, and that's really all that matters.
    But even if it weren't all that matters, the post-NT church still isn't close to RC in its doctrine.

    In short, you haven't given us anything. You've just repeated yourself. Do yourself a favor and actually read the post this time.

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  7. The brutal truth is, Francis Schaeffer had to largely "wake up" conservative Protestants on the issue of abortion in the late 1960s and early '70s. Catholics needed no such waking up on the historic Christian stance on the issue-- because the Church had *taught it*, as a visible, living, authoritative teaching voice, reasoning from the Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, just as the apostles and the early Fathers had taught and reasoned, since the 1st century!

    *This* is the crucial difference between the Catholic Church and Protestantism, as a whole. Our Church has the living, apostolic, teaching authority to produce a Catechism for *all Catholics*, world-wide. Once again, where is the comparable "Protestant Catechism," for all Protestants, world-wide? There is none, and the reason for this should be obvious.

    If one wants to say that the Catholic Church makes things into "essentials" which are not "essentials," or even "Biblical," one sets oneself against Jesus, who never mandated the Bible, but rather, told His apostles to *teach*.

    From the historical record, left by the apostolic, post-apostolic, Nicene, and post-Nicene Fathers, the beliefs and practices of the early Church are simply not those of the "Tria-bloggers."

    The assertions, here, to the otherwise ("Athanasius is a Sola Scripturist"), and the assertions that *whatever* the early Fathers wrote, it is *all* to be judged by one's own private interpretation of Scripture, are the assertions of the very same "just me and the Bible" thinking which Reformed Protestants claim to detest!

    Now, when I post a very clear "Marian" quote from St. Athanasius, showing that he is not a "Sola Scripturist," Steve, Rhology, and others have mocked me for doing so. Some here have even speculated that, perhaps, St. Athanasius (the great defender of the Trinity) didn't write this quote (to which I say, read the book from which I quote here):

    "O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all. O [Ark of the New] Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides. Should I compare you to the fertile earth and its fruits? You surpass them. . . . If I say that heaven is exalted, yet it does not equal you. . . . If we say that the cherubim are great, you are greater than they, for the cherubim carry the throne of God, while you hold God in your hands."

    -- from the book, "Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought," by Luigi Gambero


    These and other "Marian" passages from the Fathers are found throughout the first five centuries of Christianity... as are copious other passages which would strike Reformed Protestants as being very "Catholic."

    Read St. Augustine (whom Calvinists claim as one of the more "Biblically sound" Fathers!) on Mary, apostolic succession, purgatory, and baptismal regeneration. The man was a faithful member of the Catholic Church and a defender of the Catholic faith.

    Reformed Protestantism can only be defended as "historic, Biblical Christianity" with the same Mormon-like thinking that the Gospel was lost after the deaths of the original disciples. Why side with non-Christian heretics just to hang on to Reformed Protestantism?

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  8. when I post a very clear "Marian" quote from St. Athanasius, showing that he is not a "Sola Scripturist,"

    Marian dogma has NOTHING TO DO with Sola Scriptura!!!
    Further, the fact that I can point to Athanasius' very clear TEACHING Sola Scriptura shows that you still haven't grasped the message of this post. Until you do, there's little to discuss.

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  9. Rhology:

    Marian teaching has *this* to do with "Sola Scriptura": you claim that Athanasius held to the latter. I provide an example, from Athanasius, of the former... illustrating that he could not have possibly been a "Sola Scripturist."

    Still, you continue to assert that he held to "SS"-- illustrating that you are impervious to objective evidence.

    Rhology, the fact that certain "Catholic theologians" (who are not the sources of official teaching in the Church) and sedevacantists and Eastern Orthodox, differ among *themselves*, subjectively, concerning the authoritative teachings of the Church (as set out in the Catechism), does not equate to the *utter inability* of world-wide Reformed Protestantism to get together and define what its *authoritative, essential* teachings even are.

    What are the authoritative, essential doctrines and teachings of Reformed Protestantism, or of Christianity, period? Luther and Calvin definitely had their opinions on the subject. You have your opinion. These opinions radically differ. Who is right?

    Certain voices in, and out of, the Catholic Church disagree with *official Catholic teaching* in the Catechism-- but that simply spotlights the fact that there *is* authoritative Catholic teaching with which to disagree!

    As for St. John Chrysostom being a "Sola Fide" subscriber... from his own homilies:

    (Romans 4) Verse 4 "For to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." Then is not this last the greatest? he means. By no means: for it is to the believer that it is reckoned. But it would not have been reckoned, unless there were something that he contributed himself. And so he too hath God for his debtor, and debtor too for no common things, but great and high ones. For to show his high-mindedness and spiritual understanding, he does not say "to him that believeth" merely, but Ver. 5. "To him that believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly." For reflect how great a thing it is to be persuaded and have full confidence that God is able on a sudden not to free a man who has lived in impiety from punishment only, but even to make him just, and to count him worthy of those immortal honors. (Homily 8 on Romans 4, NPNF1: Volume 11, page 386)

    For what he saith is this, "Your salvation is not our work alone, but your own as well; for both we in preaching to you the word endure affliction, and ye in receiving it endure the very same; we to impart to you that which we received, ye to receive what is imparted and not to let it go." Now what humility can compare with this, seeing that those who fell so far short of him he raiseth to the same dignity of endurance? for he saith, "Which worked in the enduring of the same sufferings;" for not through believing only cometh your salvation, but also through the suffering and enduring the same things with us. (Homily on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, NPNF1: Volume 12, page 277)

    For, "think not," saith he, "because ye have believed, that this is sufficient for your salvation: since if to me neither preaching nor teaching nor bringing over innumerable persons, is enough for salvation unless I exhibit my own conduct also unblameable, much less to you. (Homily 23, NPNF1: Volume 12, page 133)

    (Galatians 5) Verse 6 "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love." What is the meaning of "working through love?" Here he gives them a hard blow, by showing that this error had crept in because the love of Christ had not been rooted within them. For to believe is not all that is required, but also to abide in love. (Commentary on Galatians 5, NPNF1: Volume 13, page 37)

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  10. You still haven't begun to deal with the essence of this post.
    Sorry! Try again, please!

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  11. Rhology:

    The essence of this post seems to be that all teaching by anyone, outside of the Bible, is to be tested... by Rhology's interpretation of the Bible.

    I have been where you are. You may or may not believe it, but I have. I was right there, as a committed Reformed Baptist, at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, lamenting the blindness of the "Romanists."

    I used to assert that, with the early Church Fathers and anyone else, one had to "eat the meat and spit out the bones." What was the meat? That which agreed with my interpretation of the Bible. What were the bones? That which disagreed with my interpretation of the Bible. I was ultimately my interpretive authority over the Bible (through the "illumination of the Holy Spirit")... which is not Biblical.

    Through more extensive reading of Scripture and the Church Fathers, I discovered the historical, Christ-implemented reality of apostolic succession, which is the only way out of the subjectivism of Protestantism.

    The Catholic Church can call sedevacantists and the Eastern Orthodox and dissident "Catholic" theologians back to the full, historic understanding of apostolic Christianity-- because the Catholic Church *has* that understanding, and has had it, since the first century.

    Read here on apostolic succession:

    http://www.churchfathers.org/category/the-church-and-the-papacy/apostolic-succession/

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  12. The essence of this post seems to be that all teaching by anyone, outside of the Bible, is to be tested... by Rhology's interpretation of the Bible.

    Nope! Please try again!

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  13. I used to assert that, with the early Church Fathers and anyone else, one had to "eat the meat and spit out the bones." What was the meat? That which agreed with my interpretation of the Bible.

    And now what you do, as demonstrated in the post which you seem not to have read, with the early Church Fathers and anyone else, is "eat the meat and spit out the bones." What was the meat? That which agreed with modern Rome's interpretation of Tradition.
    Please, read it. You're not doing yourself any favors with these lengthy and mostly irrelevant comments.

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  14. Read what? Your article? I have been *answering that article* here. The fact that people exist who differ with the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church does not change the fact that there *is* authoritative teaching. Where are the authoritative teachings of Reformed Protestantism?

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  15. On the other link that you provided, Rhology:

    Turretinfan's part of the debate on "justification by faith alone" (in the Protestant understanding), supposedly found in the early Church Fathers, seems to employs a tactic that is, again, common in Reformed Protestantism: Read the sections of the Fathers which seem, out of context, to support Protestant doctrine(s). Then, simply declare it all but self-evident that said referenced Fathers were clearly not Catholic...

    I have been down that road with the Fathers as a Reformed Baptist. I was wrong. The early Church was Catholic, even though I wanted it not to be... as are the Scriptures, though I would vehemently denied that statement, and did, for years. The arguments of this blog are very familiar to me, because I used to make them myself.

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  16. Excuse the typos, Rhology... hours of reading and typing here...

    Anyway, Rhology, I know, again, that you think I am a reprobate, based upon your interpretation of Scripture. For years, I thought the very same thing(s) of "consistent Catholics"-- lost, mired in unBiblical traditions and idolatry, trying to earn their salvation, etc.

    However, in sober truth here, I was actually the unwitting heretic, for holding to "Calvinistic Baptist" Protestantism (and for being a Protestant, period), and I had to learn that the hard way.

    The "unwitting" part of my heresy reduced my culpability for it. When I came to know better though, I was *responsible* for *acting* on what I knew... which is why I returned to the Catholic Church. We are responsible, before God, for what we know... and we are also responsible for *refusing* to avail ourselves of knowledge about what He wants from us. Speaking of which:
    http://www.churchfathers.org/category/salvation/salvation-outside-the-church/

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  17. Read the sections of the Fathers which seem, out of context, to support Protestant doctrine(s).

    No, YOU read them out of context.
    Chrysostom said: For, what though thou be justified: yet is it of faith only. But we pray that thou shouldest have as well the confidence that cometh of good works.

    There's no context that's going to change the meaning of "justified, yet it is of faith only". It says what it says.

    Now, how do we solve this problem?
    You punt to Rome. I'm telling you that makes you guilty of the very thing you accuse us of, and I'm letting you have a way out of affirming contradictions.

    The rest of your comments are fluff. Respond to my arguments, please.

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  18. Rhology:

    You take one sentence from St. John Chrysostom (out of a larger writing), you declare that "it says what it says," and then, you feel free to simply go your way, believing (incorrectly) that he held to "Sola Fide" in the Protestant sense? Yet you proclaim that I am the one who is ignorant of church history. (!)

    Please, read the Church Fathers at greater length, so that you will (hopefully) stop (mis)appropriating a Church heritage that is simply not compatible with your Protestant theology.

    A question: if these early Fathers, such as St. Augustine, St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, and others, held to the *Protestant* understandings of "Sola Fide" and "Sola Scriptura"..... then why has the "Romanist" church, which you so detest, canonized these men, and in so doing, actually held them up as heroes of the faith, to be emulated by *all Catholics*?

    If you want to learn what these men, and the early Church to which they belonged, really believed and practiced on justification, faith, and works (through their *Biblical exegesis*), go to http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

    and

    http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/page5.html

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  19. "If, as you contend, these early Fathers, such as St. Augustine, St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, and others, held to the *Protestant* understandings of "Sola Fide" and "Sola Scriptura"..... then why has the "Romanist" church, which you so detest, canonized these men, and in so doing, actually held them up as heroes of the faith, to be emulated by *all Catholics*?"


    Well, to hijack their legacy for one thing. See Matthew 23:29-32 for the basic Pharisaical modus operandi, about decorating the tombs of prophets and all.

    For example, a person like John Chrysostom is simply a "too big name" to be posthumously denounced for teaching the perspicuity and sufficiency of Holy Scriptures. It would be bad PR to do so.

    So the better Roman policy is to bury such inconvenient CF teachings quietly to an Orwellian memory hole instead of drawing attention to such embarrassments.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Now, when I post a very clear "Marian" quote from St. Athanasius, showing that he is not a "Sola Scripturist," Steve, Rhology, and others have mocked me for doing so"


    If you try to pass spurious patristic materials on us (a woefully common phenomenon in the history of RC apologetics), then you DESERVE to be mocked for your credulity.

    Misquoting Athanasius

    "As noted above, Mr. Ray's use of this spurious, pseudographic work was published in the popular This Rock magazine in 2005, which would have given it a wide distribution. It is possible that many folks that are using this quotation simply got it from Mr. Ray, mistakenly believing that Mr. Ray carefully checks his sources.

    But where did Mr. Ray get it? Mr. Ray doesn't read Coptic (as far as I know) - so how did he get an English translation of the text to present? I think the answer to that question lies in Mr. Luigi Gambero's book, "Mary and the Fathers of the Church," first published in English in 1999. At pages 106 and 107, Mr. Gambero provides two quotations from this source. Mr. Gambero himself cites to the earlier work of Louis-Théophile Lefort, in Le Muséon 71 (1958).

    Scholarly citations aside from Mr. Gambero typically correctly identify the work as Pseudo-Athanasius (see, for example, Virginia Burrus' citation at p. 258 of Late Ancient Christianity or David Frankfurter's citation at p. 35 of Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt) or at least identify the work simply as "attributed to" Athanasius or other indicators of the dubious (at best) nature of the claim that Athanasius was the work's author.
    ...

    Updates: 4 March 2009

    1) As noted in my more recent post in response to William Albrecht's attempted defense of the spurious (or - at best - dubious) work, since the scholars I already named in the article above weren't enough for Mr. Albrecht, I've added one more, Mr. Angelo Gila. Mr. Gila is not only a doctor of theology, whose doctoral thesis was a study of the Marian writings of Severus of Gabala, but Mr. Gila is also a Servite friar - a friar in the order of the Servants of Mary - as well as a resident of the Turin area of Northern Italy (the very area where they papyrus manuscript fragments are housed). In a scholarly article published in the "Theotokos" journal, (Theotokos VIII (2000) 601-631), at page 613, Mr. Gila correctly identifies this work as Pseudo-Athanasius."

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  21. "The brutal truth is, Francis Schaeffer had to largely "wake up" conservative Protestants on the issue of abortion in the late 1960s and early '70s."

    Could it be that before the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalized abortion, conservative Protestants did not have to bother so much about abortion? In a pietistic fashion, they might have thought that secular government would take care of that, but once the world changed its mind about abortion and made it legal, they had to adopt a new attitude as well.

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  22. John Henry Newman, who certainly knew church fathers better than Christopher does, knew that there was no Marian cult to speak of during the first 400 years of the church. Could he have written the following if he had believed that that Gambero citation of Athanasius was authentic?


    http://www.sounddoctrine.net/Classic_Sermons/George%20Salmon/infallibility_church.htm

    "Dr. Newman himself, disclaiming the doctrine that the Invocation of the Virgin is necessary to salvation, says (Letter to Pusey, p. III): 'If it were so, there would be grave reasons for doubting of the salvation of St. Chrysostom or St. Athanasius, or of the primitive martyrs. Nay, I should like to know whether St. Augustine, in all his voluminous writings, invokes her once.' But he holds (p. 63) that, though 'we have no proof that Athanasius himself had any special devotion to the Blessed Virgin,' yet, by teaching the doctrine of our Lord's Incarnation, ' he laid the foundations on which that devotion was to rest.'"


    It was precisely the awareness of silences like this that forced Newman to come up with his "Doctrine of Development".

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  23. I'm reading all this and trying to figure out how Athanasius speaking highly of Mary is supposed to show that he didn't regard Scripture as normative for doctrine. Especially when he spoke so clearly to the fact that he did regard Scripture that way. Yet, contrary to what Athanasius said, according to Mr. Lake, we're supposed to believe that he held to the RC view in which the main purpose of Scripture is to mine it to find justifications for their doctrines.

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  24. Christopher Lake said:

    "The fact that people exist who differ with the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church does not change the fact that there *is* authoritative teaching."

    It is not merely that "people exist who differ with the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church". It is that there are people who differ over what it is, exactly, that the authoritative teaching of the Church is. The cognitive dissonance that Catholics demonstrate in this regard is truly astounding.

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  25. Soli Deo Gloria:

    For the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church, one can read Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (much of which consists of reflections on Scripture). The Catechism is, in th words of Blessed John Paul II, "a sure norm for teaching the faith."

    Moreover, when dissident (usually liberal, but not always) "Catholic" theologians differ with the Catechism, the Pope and the Magisterium are there, as a visible teaching authority to "clarify" things for them.

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  26. Viisaus:

    The earlier quote, which Luigi Gambero attributed St. Athanasius, *might* actually be from "pseudo-Athanasius." I won't say at this point, as Gambero is also a scholar, and he appears to be convinced that the source of the quote *is* Athanasius.

    However, even if St. Athanasius did not speak those words, himself, there are other passages from notable Church Fathers, from *well within*, and just after, the first 400 years of the Church, showing thatb the Fathers *did* believe things about Mary, as part of the Sacred Tradition of the Church, which no modern-day Protestant would accept.

    In the 2nd century, in his five-volume opus, "Against Heresies," St. Irenaeus, speaks of Mary's saying obedience in saying "yes" to the Holy Spirit, in bearing the Incarnation. Irenaeus states that through God's work in her, in her bearing of the Incarnation, Mary "was made the cause of salvation, for herself and the whole human race." Not very Protestant-friendly-sounding, is it?

    Here is the full passage from St. Irenaeus in "Against Heresies":

    “Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying, ‘Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word.’ Eve, however, was disobedient, and, when yet a virgin, she did not obey. Just as she, who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband—for in paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed; for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children, and it was necessary that they first come to maturity before beginning to multiply—having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. . . . Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith” (Against Heresies 3:22:24 [A.D. 189]).


    Viisaus, would your Protestant pastor feel comfortable preaching those words in the pulpit? My Catholic priest would. Here is more, from the 4thrd century, from St. Abrose of Milan:

    "Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin” (Commentary on Psalm 118:22–30 [A.D. 387]).


    And more on Mary, from St. Augustine, whom calvinists love to quote, incorrectly, to support their theology:

    “Having excepted the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, on account of the honor of the Lord, I wish to have absolutely no question when treating of sins—for how do we know what abundance of grace for the total overcoming of sin was conferred upon her, who merited to conceive and bear him in whom there was no sin?—so, I say, with the exception of the Virgin, if we could have gathered together all those holy men and women, when they were living here, and had asked them whether they were without sin, what do we suppose would have been their answer?” (Nature and Grace 36:42 [A.D. 415]).


    So much, then, for the idea that the Catholic so-called "cult of Mary" was not held to by notable early Church Fathers, whom Protestants love to (mis)represent as "Sola Scripturists!" (And even though Blessed John Henry Newman appeared to have missed at least some of the verneration of Mary present in the early Church Fathers, it is cearly there, as seen from the above evidence. Newman was a great scholar, but he wasn't perfect.)

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  27. Sorry for the typos above; I'm not typing under the best of circumstances. The points still stand. The Catholic Church teaches what was explicitly believed about Mary in the early centuries of the Church, documented from at least the 2nd century onward.

    As a Catholic, I have no trouble affirming *any* of the above passages which I provided, from St. Irenaeus, St. Ambrose of Milan, and St. Augustine. Do you affirm those passages? Would your church affirm them? Would your pastor preach them from the pulpit?

    The early Church was the Catholic Church, no matter how incovenient that fact might be for some here.

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  28. I have no trouble affirming *any* of the above passages which I provided

    My post accounts for all of this.

    When are you going to actually deal with the post's substance?
    After all these attempts, it's pretty clear you can't.es

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  29. Rhology:

    Your post "accounts" for Marian thinking in the early Church Fathers, and for my affirmation of it, with groundless speculation ("you don't know that this is what the Church of their time actually believed") and conspiracy-theory thinking ("the Roman church simply dogmatized whatever there was in the Fathers which agreed with unBiblical Romanist theology").

    None of this "accounting" truly makes objective sense of the objective evidence-- which, if studied in-depth, shows that the Fathers did not affirm either "Sola Scriptura" *or* "Sola Fide" in the Protestant understandings of those terms. Rhology, I haven't merely read some passages of the Fathers-- i.e. enough to make a "Catholic" point or a "Protestant" point on a blog. I haven't merely read enough to point to a passage from St. John Chrysostom, and then, to misunderstand it as teaching "Sola Fide" (in the Protestant sense), and then, to simply assert, as you did, "It is what it is."

    I've read enough of the early (and later) Fathers to know what former Calvinists and Catholic converts, Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn, and David Anders (among many others) know: there is no "Roman plot" behind the "Catholic things" in the Church Fathers. Those things are there in the Fathers (St. Irenaeus, St. Augustine, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, St. John Chrysostom, and others), because the early Church was the Catholic Church.

    In the words of the very same St. Irenaeus who wrote of Mary that she was "made the cause of salvation, for herself and the whole world":

    “It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about” (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).

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  30. Christopher is like a Mormon elder; all personal confession and "burning in the bosom" and no argument. It's really sort of sad.

    Oh, and my post doesn't even mention Marian thinking in the early Church Fathers. You either haven't read it or your reading comprehension is sorely lacking.

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  31. Rhology:

    Your post deals with the Church Fathers and their place in my thinking and in the theology of the Catholic Church. To a degree, one could say that I read and researched my way back into the Church. Not without serious prayer, of course, but it was a decision which had much research behind it. It was nothing like the "burning in the bosom" of Mormons. It was an intellectually tough-minded process. I had wanted to remain a Protestant, but the evidence of history, in both Scripture and the early Fathers, contradicted me!

    Moreover, this was not simply the "research" of Protestant "private judgment." I was reading the Scriptures (which are, of course, historical documents), trying to make sure that I understood Jesus' and the apostles' teachings in the Scriptures (without simply assuming that either a certain "Protestant" paradigm, or "Catholic" paradigm, was correct!), and as part of this process, I was also reading what the early Fathers *documented* about the historical Church of their time, and what it believed and practiced. What they documented is simply much more "Catholic" than Protestant-- which was not at all convenient for me to see, as one who had been a committed "Reformed Baptist" for years!

    Rhology, you and others here can speculate on all of the conspiracy theories in the world, as to why there are many "Catholic things" in the early Fathers (apostolic succession, the Eucharist as the true, real Body and Blood of Christ, baptismal regeneration, Marian thinking, etc). You can devise standards of criteria for evaluating these things that, if applied to other ancient, historical documents, would collapse all of ancient history into radical epistemological skepticism.

    The objective evidence of history is still there, and it contradicted me, as a "Reformed Baptist," and it contradicts you and other Protestants who continue to assert that the early Church was neither "Catholic" nor "Protestant."

    http://www.churchfathers.org/category/the-church-and-the-papacy/apostolic-succession/

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  32. Your post deals with the Church Fathers and their place in my thinking and in the theology of the Catholic Church

    Not exactly.


    It was an intellectually tough-minded process.

    And this post is an invitation to be yet more intellectually tough-minded, since you haven't thought this issue through yet. I know you haven't because you haven't given us any reason not to come to my conclusion.


    this was not simply the "research" of Protestant "private judgment."

    This sentence is meaningless.
    EVERYone exercises "private judgment" - there is no USB port in your brain. You have to read stuff, even Church Fathers, and yes, even "infallible Magisterial pronouncements".
    The fact that you keep saying stuff like "private judgment" is, by the way, a danger sign that you have NOT actually engaged in very much tough-mindedness. This is an extremely shallow way of thinking.



    why there are many "Catholic things" in the early Fathers

    And so many non-Catholic things in them too.
    Which you haven't dealt with yet. That's the problem. What's the solution?



    The objective evidence of history is still there, and it contradicted me, as a "Reformed Baptist,"

    You saw it shallowly as a "Reformed Baptist", clearly.
    If you were really on a search for truth at this point, you wouldn't be saying the things you're saying here. You've signed over your brain to Rome, and that's why your answers are so pitiful.

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  33. Rhology:

    I didn't "sign my brain over to Rome" when I met with one of the elders at my Protestant church for eight months (while I was still a Protestant, while still an active member of that church), usually on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, for hours at a time, to study Scripture, early Church Fathers, Protestant and Catholic apologetics, etc. In the end, I returned to the Catholic Church, because the objective evidence was against me, as a Protestant. Period.

    I continue to use the term "private judgment" here, because Steve, in his post, "The joy of adolescent sex-ed," wrote of Catholics, " They attack sola scriptura. They attack the right of private judgment." Yes, we do--because private judgement, concerning the Scriptures, is not "Biblical," and it is not in accord with historic Christianity, from the 1st century, and actually, preceding the 1st century-- from the time of Jesus Himself.

    You continue to assert that there are "non-Catholic things" in the Fathers (according to your Protestant interpretation of them, that is), while minimizing the incredible amount of very plainly Catholic things in them, from the earliest centuries. The words of 2Thessalonians 5:17 testify against you (and the "traditions" mentioned therein are not simply those of only "the (Reformed) Gospel"). The words of St. Irenaeus, on apostolic succession, also testify against you, from the 2nd century:

    “It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about” (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).

    Not to mention the words of St. John Chrysostom on Purgatory and offerings for the departed (which he wouldn't have held to, if he had believed in "Sola Fide"):

    “Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

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  34. Chrysostom doesn't actually mention Purgatory there. In fact, why would you think he was referring to Purgatory? Why not hell?

    I mean, aside from someone telling you that it supports Purgatory, or just a wish that it did.

    -TurretinFan

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  35. Turrentinfan:

    In relation to the passage from St. John Chrysostom-- why should anyone bring offerings for, and prayers to, the dead, in the hopes that they will be consoled, if, as Reformed Protestants believe, all of the dead are already either in Heaven or in Hell? This passage from Chrysostom's homily shows that he clearly believes that at least some of the dead are not in a place/state of perfect happiness (Heaven), yet also not in a place/state of unending torment (Hell), but rather, in a place where our "prayers to, (and) offerings for" (his language, not mine) them can help to "console" them. Our consolation, for the departed, is unnecessary if they are in Heaven, and it is of no use if they are in Hell. The remaining alternative is Purgatory.

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  36. "Our consolation, for the departed, is unnecessary if they are in Heaven, and it is of no use if they are in Hell. The remaining alternative is Purgatory."

    a) Why do you assume that there cannot be any consolation in hell in Chrysostom's theology?

    b) There was no "Purgatory" in Chrysostom's day. So, it wasn't an available alternative. If you read his massive body of work, you'll never find a reference to such a place, either by the name "Purgatory" or by any other name. That's why your church's apologists have to try to read the idea of Purgatory into quotations like the one you provided, in which Purgatory is not mentioned.

    c) Have you looked at the context of your quotation?

    d) Have you considered the evidence that Chrysostom did not believe in any place like Purgatory:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2010/06/chrysostom-passages-inconsistent-with.html

    -TurretinFan

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  37. Yes, we do--because private judgement, concerning the Scriptures, is not "Biblical,"

    Which of course you can't know unless you read it with private judgment. This is why your objections are so absurd. It's as if basic epistemology escapes you.
    "Private judgment" occurs EVERY TIME YOU READ SOMETHING. Whether that's Scr, CFs, papal pronouncements, whatever. You need to get that thru your head.


    it is not in accord with historic Christianity, from the 1st century, and actually, preceding the 1st century-- from the time of Jesus Himself.

    Oh, is that why Jesus kept asking people "Have you not read...?"



    You continue to assert that there are "non-Catholic things" in the Fathers (according to your Protestant interpretation of them, that is), while minimizing the incredible amount of very plainly Catholic things in them, from the earliest centuries

    FAIL.
    That is precisely what I did NOT do in the post.
    Again, you have failed to grasp the basic point.



    d) Have you considered the evidence that Chrysostom did not believe in any place like Purgatory:

    And that he taught sola fide?
    The fact that he did tells us that Chrysostom is not on your side. If he taught contrary to that elsewhere in his writings, then read my post.

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  38. Turretinfan:

    The passages St. John Chrysostom in the post at your link present Catholic teaching anout the state of the unrepentant soul after death. There *will* be no time for repentance after death. Chrysostom speaks of judgment at death, and torment afterwards, for some people, in the passages you provide, because Hell is very real. No one will get a chance to repent after the time of judgment at his/her death.

    However, Purgatory is not about second chances to repent. People only go to Purgatory (as a place of temporary purgation for their remaining impurities), *if* they are already on their way to Heaven.

    Purgatory is not a place in which souls get a "second chance" to repent for sins committed in this life. Death happens once, and judgment is final. One either goes directly to Heaven, or to Purgatory and then to Heaven, or to Hell. The earlier passage from Chrysostom that I provided clearly potrays souls that are not in Heaven, because no soul needs any "consolation" (from us, from our "prayers and offerings") in Heaven. These souls are also not in Hell, because our prayers and offerings can do them no good in Hell. There is no "consolation" in Hell. Again, the remaining alternative is Purgatory. The passage, again:

    “Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

    To say that Chrysostom does not believe in Purgatory, because the word is not explicitly mentioned in this passage, is similar to saying that the Trinity is an "invention" of later Christians, because the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible.

    The passage from Chrysostom, from the 4th century, clearly teaches that some souls are not currently in Heaven or in Hell, and that they can be "consoled" by our "prayers" to, and "offerings" for, them. The language is abundantly clear, and it does not fit with Protestant theology at all.

    On the passage from Chrysostom, at your link, which states that for souls who turn from their sin and to God, "no further satisfaction will be required from them," upon death, this is what the Catholic Church teaches. For souls are who so turned away from their sin that they are literally *ready*, upon death, to enter Heaven, there is "no further satisfaction... required of them." However, there are *degrees* of turning away from sin(s), in particular, and as a whole, in one's life. For souls who die, without having completely turned away from some of their sins in this life, there is Purgatory, which Chrysostom clearly held to, from the above passage. The word is not there, but the concept is clearly present.

    Again, in terms of Chrysostom's clear words on what *he* believes we should be doing for some souls--how can we "console" souls which are in Heaven or Hell, by "praying to, and making "offerings for," them? St. John Chrysostom clearly believes that we can, and should, do such things, for *some* souls-- and this thinking is not compatible with "Sola Fide," of which Rhology asserts that Chrysostom is a proponent. This thinking *is* compatible with the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. It makes no sense outside of it-- and this thinking is affirmed by Chrysostom, Augustine, and other heroes of the Catholic faith in the early Church.

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  39. this thinking is not compatible with "Sola Fide," of which Rhology asserts that Chrysostom is a proponent

    For those keeping score at home, Christopher has apparently not read that to which I linked.
    It's not that I *assert* that Chrys taught it. It's obvious and clear from the citations.
    If he ALSO taught AGAINST Sola Fide, that's what the post is about. Christopher again shows no sign of having read it.

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  40. Rhology:

    Does one have to use "private judgment" to know that some of the Founding Fathers believed in the God of the Bible, as revealed in Jesus Christ, while others were deists? Clearly, such things are not simply matters of "private judgment," because the Founding Fathers, in their own personal writings, *tell* us what they believe.

    It is a similar situation with the early Church Fathers. Certainly, not all of them agreed on everything-- every little detail, concerning every theological matter that they discuss-- but, for example, this passage, from St. John Chrysostom:

    “Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

    This passage is simply and clearly *not* compatible with Sola Fide, in the Protestant sense. If the souls mentioned above by Chrysostom were "justified by faith alone," in the *Protestant sense* of those words, then there is simply no need to "pray for" them, and make "offerings for," them. There is no coherent way in which Chrysostom's passage above can be "harmonized" with a Protestant understanding of "Sola Fide."

    Similarly, this passage on prayers to the saints in Heaven, from Chrysostom:

    “He that wears the purple [i.e., a royal man] . . . stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God, and he that wears a diadem begs the tentmaker [Paul] and the fisherman [Peter] as patrons, even though they be dead” (Homilies on Second Corinthians 26 [A.D. 392]).

    Why should anyone be "beggng of the saints to be his patrons with God.... even though they be dead," if that person is already "justified by faith alone" in the Protestant sense?

    My point with all of this is that, just as one can go to the writings of the Founding Fathers and see that some of them were Christians, and some were not, one can go to the early Church Fathers and see what they believed, and what the other early Christians of their times believed and practiced-- and it was *not* "Sola Fide" and "Sola Scriptura," in the Protestant sense of those terms.

    Back to the Founding Fathers for a moment-- for proper interpretation and application of the Founding Fathers' *legal* ideas and priciples, we need a living, visible, speaking authority, such as the Supreme Court. For proper interpretation and application of the infallible Scriptures, God has not left us to our personal interpretations, "as guided by the Holy Spirit," because, as is evident from the Reformation, even when one has supposed "sound, Biblical" teachers in the pulpit, private interpretation of the Scriptures cannot lead to either doctrinal unity or church unity-- and Jesus did pray that Christians would all be one, as He and the Father are one.

    St. Augustine, a Catholic, on celebrating the martyrs, sharing in their merits, and being aided by their prayers for us:

    “A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers” (Against Faustus the Manichean [A.D. 400]).

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  41. Rhology:

    I *have* read where you wrote that the Fathers taught contradictory things and even sometimes contradicted themselves. That is an assertion, not a proof at all, especially when applied to your contention that Chrysostom teaches "Sola Fide" in the Protestant sense.

    In light of his clear passages on things such as praying for the dead and making offerings to them, what reason do you have (other than your need to defend the Protestant understanding of "Sola Fide") to simply assert that his understanding of "justification by faith alone" is *your* understanding? Do *you* affirm prayers and offerings for the dead? Chrysostom does.

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  42. Yet another comment in which Christopher Lake fails to interact with the post.
    Amazing. When will it end?

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  43. Rhology:

    You set the terms. What is the essence of your post to which you wish me to respond? From what I can ascertain, I have responded to every argument, of any kind of substance, that *I* have seen you make in this post. In that light, obviously, in your view, I have missed something crucial. What have I missed? What do I need to address?

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  44. Tell you what; I have more respect for the readers than to try to get you to deal with something you've already shown yourself incapable of dealing with (ie, the fact that "CF" writings contain numerous anti-modern-RC teachings), though not for lack of trying.

    So, I'd like to ask you to respond to the "You don't know..." bullet points lower in the article. Please let us know how you DO in fact know those things, such that you can so confidently quote these men.

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  45. "The passages St. John Chrysostom in the post at your link present Catholic teaching anout the state of the unrepentant soul after death."

    So, you think that you cannot go to Purgatory unless you repent from all your sins, even the venial, in this life?

    If so, you don't understand Roman dogma relating to Purgatory.

    -TurretinFan

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  46. Rhology:

    For all of the "how do you know's" that you posed to me, in your post, I respond:

    I read and studied Scripture, without either Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant "lenses," so to speak, I did this *deliberately so* (so as not to quickly buy into, or re-accept, a particular paradigm from my past for reading Scripture), and I compared this reading of Scripture with what the writings of the early Church Fathers described of their beliefs and practices, and those of the early Church. I did not simply read isolated passages of the Fathers found in debates and works of Protestant or Catholic apologetics and polemics.

    The totality of what I had read, brought me to a point of knowing, as much as I can know anything, that the overall outlook of the Scriptures, the early Fathers, and the early Church is "Catholic," and to a very good extent, that outlook could also be affirmed as "Orthodox," but could not be affirmed as "Protestant"-- at least not without duplicity on my part, out of a sinful desire to "stay Protestant," simply for personal convenience.

    That is how I know the answers to your above questions. It was a cumulative case, one might say, comprised of studying Scripture, the Church Fathers (at length), other historical sources, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox apologetics, and prayer. (Not always in that order!)

    Rhology, I understand basic epistemology. Philosophy was my "minor" at university. As part of this minor, I also studied the structure of logical arguments. The private judgment of Scripture, which has been extolled by Steve as a seeming Protestant "right" on this blog, is not the same reasoning process that I used to compare Scriptural exegesis *coupled with* historical evidence (ultimately returning to the Catholic Church). The historical evidence, from the early Fathers themselves, helps to provide clear documentation, as to the exegesis, practice, and structure of te early Church. This historical evidence can help one to *not* simply endlessly engage in "private interpretation."

    Your way out of the maze of private interpretation seems to be to simply assert, "This is what Scripture 'clearly' says (no matter how many of the early exegetes disagree with you!), and there are some Church Fathers who 'clearly' support what Scripture 'clearly' says (in your view, although those same Fathers contradict what you assert that they 'clearly' believe from Scripture!), and anyone who says otherwise (from me) is interpreting the Scriptures incorrectly, is probably not a Christians, and probably does not have the Holy Spirit, with which to correctly interpret Scripture!"
    (continued in next comment...)

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  47. Now, that may have been Calvin's method of dealing with most of his theological opponents (to assert that they weren't seeing what was clearly there in Scripture, and therefore, to dismiss them as blind and hardened), but it's simplistic and not nearly sufficient.

    It is *your* personal contention that there are Church Fathers who teach (Protestant) things such as "Sola Fide" and "Sola Scriptura."-- things that, in your words, "are contrary to modern RC dogma."

    When I challenge you on this contention, providing passages from the very same early Fathers whom you cite, passages which *affirm* Catholic Sacred Tradition/dogma-- you then apparently claim that some of these Fathers taught *both" Sola Fide/Sola Scriptura *and* Sacred Tradition, at different points of their lives, contradicting and disagreeing with themselves-- and that, to decide which we should hold to, we judge by "Scripture."

    However, Scripture is not self-interpreting, and many things which seem to be "clear" to you were interpreted in very different ways by the Biblical exegetes of the 1st-15th centuries.

    Moreover, again, things which you claim to be "non-essentials," from the "clear teachings of Scripture," were viewed in exactly the *opposite* way by the Reformers.

    Speaking of which, and speaking of epistemology, how do you *know* that "infant baptism vs. credobaptism" is a "non-essential"? Luther and Calvin didn't "know" that, and they were firmly convinced of the opposite-- *from Scripture*.

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  48. Turretinfan, you wwrote to me:

    "So, you think that you cannot go to Purgatory unless you repent from all your sins, even the venial, in this life?"

    No, I do not believe that. The people who go to Purgatory go there because they *do not* repent of all of their venial sins in this life.

    In the passage from St. John Chrysostom, which you provided at your link, he speaks of people who "turn away from their sins," and from whom "no further satisfaction is required."

    These are not the people in Purgatory, because people in Purgatory have *not* completely turned away from their sins, and so, need our prayers and offerings-- as mentioned here, again, by the very same Chrysostom:

    “Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

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  49. If you're not going to answer any of my questions, Christopher, danged if I'm going to answer one of yours.

    Maybe someone else will come along who wants to actually try answering.

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  50. "The people who go to Purgatory go there because they *do not* repent of all of their venial sins in this life."

    Precisely. Now, do you think that those in Purgatory repent of their venial sins there?

    -TurretinFan

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  51. Rhology:

    I did answer your "how do you know" questions, to me, above, in your post. I answered them at the very beginning of my next-to-last reply to you here.

    Perhaps the ultimate "answer," as to why you still think I haven't replied to your questions, can be found in your reply to another person ("orthodox") at a post on your own blog:

    "Yes, I confess that right now early church beliefs and their implications are kind of confusing.
    But I do know what the answers CAN'T be: there is an infallible interpreter from whom we derive the Canon."

    I rest my case, Rhoblogy. You won't receive any answers that I give you as being legitimate, given that I am a Catholic, *and* given that you "know what the answers CAN'T be: there is an infallible interpreter from whom we derive the Canon."

    (Link: http://rhoblogy.blogspot.com/2007/06/athanasius-chrysostom-and-modern-eoc.html)

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  52. Rhology:

    Your reply to "orthodox," at your blog, which I quoted in my comment above, is found in the combox exchanges for your blog post at the link at the end of my last comment.

    You are, indeed, a presuppositionalist. In your own words to "orthodox": "Yes, I confess that right now early church beliefs and their implications are kind of confusing.
    But I do know what the answers CAN'T be: there is an infallible interpreter from whom we derive the Canon."

    In other words, you have presupposed that Catholicism *cannot* be true, and you are not open at all to any other possibility. On that note, this is the end of my conversation with you here. God bless you.

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  53. Turretinfan:

    You asked me: "Now, do you think that those in Purgatory repent of their venial sins there?"

    In one sense, one could say "Yes" to this question, but ultimately, it is really in a secondary sense.
    Those in Purgatory are already assured of their salvation, but their purgation, which they accept, is for the cleansing of the remaining imperfections which *led* them, in a sense, to not completely repent of all of their venial sins before leaving this earthly life.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Purgatory:

    III. THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY

    1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

    1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

    As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

    1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

    Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

    (The words in the section directly above literally *being* my earlier passage from St. John Chrysostom, from his Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392])

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  54. For anyone else here, still reading these comments at this point (perhaps?), *all* of the writings of the early Church Fathers are here, in full, for free (and they are also for sale, in numerous places, in book form): http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

    (In all respect and charity, if Catholic, conservative Protestant, and secular scholars all refer to them as the early "Church Fathers," then Rhology's objection to, and challenge of, the term simply does not carry much weight.)

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  55. Mr. Lake,

    Re: Repentance in the after-life, that is - of course - what Purgatory is about. That's why Chrysostom's position conflicts with the Roman dogma of Purgatory.

    Regarding the church fathers, the collection at ccel, both at the url you provided and at the "more fathers" page:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/

    is just the beginning. The writings of the early church fathers go far beyond that.

    -TurretinFan

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  56. you have presupposed that Catholicism *cannot* be true, and you are not open at all to any other possibility.

    Sorry, your citation of me was a CONCLUSION, not a presupposition.
    I have given reasons not to accept the Sola Ecclesia view of Church "Fathers" above. You have, in a dozen comments, not begun to deal substantially with any of them. It is indeed best you step aside; maybe some other Romanist or EO can answer.


    In all respect and charity, if Catholic, conservative Protestant, and secular scholars all refer to them as the early "Church Fathers," then Rhology's objection to, and challenge of, the term simply does not carry much weight.

    Naked argument from authority, in the absence of an actual argument.
    Typical Romanist.

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  57. For anyone else here, still reading these comments at this point (perhaps?), *all* of the writings of the early Church Fathers are here, in full, for free (and they are also for sale, in numerous places, in book form): http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

    Given such an expression of explicit ignorance about the literature of the early church, these comments alone are enough to inform you that the one who made them is clueless.

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  58. Mr. Lake,

    I went through my own process of reading the church fathers and genuinely pondering the case for Roman Catholicism more than ten years ago now, and I can tell you, the two just can't be reconciled. And what I witnessed then, and since, with those who've followed your path is that they read the church fathers with the implicit notion that, if they didn't sound like Reformed Baptists (or Protestants, in general), well then they good and well must have been Roman Catholics (or perhaps Eastern Orthodox, but for most of these people, that option is quickly dismissed). Few of the discrepancies between contemporary Roman Catholicism and the various opinions of the church fathers are seen or acknowledged, and for those that are, they're all subsumed under Newman's development theory--a very late and novel development itself. Then it's all deemed self-evident that the early church was Roman Catholic. And although these people may not have started by wanting to draw RC conclusions, at some point in the process, the RCC starts looking very attractive to them, and at that point, they're hooked.

    It's a lazy, narrow, shallow way to do history, and the results are quite predictable.

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  59. Christopher Lake said:

    *all* of the writings of the early Church Fathers are here

    Not all of the early church fathers have been translated into English, let alone are available in that volume. For example, some of Theodoret of Cyrus' works were recently translated, while most of them still remain untranslated:

    "The larger part of his extant writings still remains untranslated, which provides a fragmented representation of his thought and has led to his misrepresentation by ancient, medieval and some modern scholars. Theodoret of Cyrus offers of fresh collection of texts from all periods of his career, including two complete treatises (On the Holy and Vivifying Trinity and On the Inhumanation of the Lord) as well as representative selections from two others (A Cure of Greek Maladies and A Compendium of Heretical Mythification) so far unpublished in English, with a critical introduction concerning his life, legacy and place in the history of Christian doctrine. This book provides the reader with a more balanced picture of Theodoret's often neglected, depreciated and largely inaccessible theological legacy." (Istvan Pasztori-Kupan, Theodoret of Cyrus [New York, NY: Routledge, 2006], p. i)

    In my experience, Catholic converts who claim to have studied the fathers spent what appears to be a few hours reading previously collected lists of quotations without bothering to check their context. The truth of the matter is that anyone wishing to study the fathers needs to spend large quantities of time in order to claim any serious proficiency with their beliefs and teachings, and this is time that most Catholic converts have obviously neither spent nor seem willing to invest.

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  60. Also, you don't know that what these guys said is what the church of their time believed.

    You don't know how what they wrote was received by other churches. Any mere claims to "we believe thus" are not necessarily true. Not without proof, and more proof than their say-so.

    You don't know whether you have all their writings, or even what % their today-extant writings form of the total things they wrote over their lifetime. Thus you don't know if they ever took it all, or part of it, back.

    You don't know whether what they said in public or in private teachings actually comports with the extant writings you have.
    You don't take everything that is extant from a given "Church Father" and believe it. You believe only the parts that the modern Roman Catholic (though this applies to Eastern Orthodoxy too) Church has dogmatised and accepted for modern times. Why call them "Church Fathers" at all? Seems to me a traditional nomenclature that fails to take the above into consideration, fails to think through the divide between what any of them believed and what modern Rome believes, and has served as a useful tool for you, so you decided to keep it. And it is useful - citing "Fathers" sounds so imperial, so high-fallootin', so mysteriously powerful, that often it causes a brain block within the mind of the Sola Scripturist. I myself have experienced this many times.

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  61. Regarding A Compendium of Heretical Mythification ...One can obtain a good copy of this translation, as Pasztori-Kupan points out. Procure the dissertation by Glenn Melvin Cope, Ph.D. “An analysis of the heresiological method of Theodoret of Cyrus in the Haereticarum fabularum compendium” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Catholic University of America, Washington DC, 1990).

    I managed to purchase an electronic version of this dissertation with a full translation of this work by Theodoret in .pdf format some time back. It is well worth procuring. I think I ordered it through the publisher indicated above.

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  62. For example, here is Theodoret in this work tasking a heretical group to task called the Cainites who practiced among other things the invocation of angels as does the modern day Roman communion...

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466): Now others, whom they call Cainites, said that Cain was delivered by the power from above, and they acknowledge that Esau and Korah and the Sodomites, and all such [persons] are related to their own kind. And they said that, on the one hand, they are hated by the Maker, but, on the other, that they received no harm. For, indeed, Sophia was in the habit of carrying off from them [these things] which she had in them. They said that Judas alone, the traitor, of all the apostles, had this knowledge and that the mystery of the betrayal was accomplished through it.
    And they brought forward his Gospel. Indeed they themselves composed [it]. For that one immediately took the halter, the recompense of the betrayer. And doing things which are not permitted, they invoked a name of a certain angel, as if perhaps devoting [their] licentiousness to him. And they did this upon every sort of licentiousness. For they said that certain angels are equal in number to the kinds of licentiousness, who cultivate [their] actions. For translation, see Cope, Glenn Melvin Ph.D. “An analysis of the heresiological method of Theodoret of Cyrus in the Haereticarum fabularum compendium” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Catholic University of America, Washington DC, 1990), pp. 112-113.
    Greek text: Ἄλλοι δὲ, οὓς Καϊνοὺς ὀνομάζουσι, καὶ τὸν Κάϊν φασὶν ἐκ τῆς ἄνωθεν αὐθεντίας λελυτρῶσθαι, καὶ τὸν Ἠσαῦ, καὶ τὸν Κορὲ, καὶ τοὺς Σοδομί τας, καὶ πάντας δὲ τοὺς τοιούτους συγγενεῖς ἰδίους ὁμολογοῦσι, καὶ τούτους ὑπὸ μὲν τοῦ Ποιητοῦ μιση θῆναι, μηδεμίαν δὲ βλάβην εἰσδέξασθαι. Ἡ γὰρ σοφία ὅπερ εἶχεν ἐν αὐτοῖς, ἀνήρπασεν ἐξ αὐτῶν· καὶ τὸν προδότην δὲ Ἰούδαν μόνον ἐκ πάντων τῶν ἀποστόλων ταύτην ἐσχηκέναι τὴν γνῶσίν φασι, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο τὸ τῆς προδοσίας ἐνεργῆσαι μυστήριον. Προφέρουσι δὲ αὐτοῦ καὶ Εὐαγγέλιον, ὅπερ ἐκεῖνοι συντεθείκασιν ἐκεῖνος γὰρ εὐθὺς τὴν ἀγχόνην ἔλαβε τῆς προδοσίας μισθόν. Καὶ τὰ ἀπειρημένα πράττοντες, ἀγγέλου τινὸς ἐπιλέγουσιν ὄνομα, ὡς ἐκείνῳ δῆθεν τὴν ἀσέλ γειαν χαριζόμενοι· καὶ τοῦτο ἐφ' ἑκάστης ἰδέας ἀκολάστου ποιοῦσιν. Εἶναι γὰρ τοῖς τῆς ἀκολασίας εἴδεσιν ἰσαρίθμους τινὰς ἀγγέλους λέγουσιν, οἳ θε ραπεύονται τοῖς δρωμένοις. Haereticarum fabularum compendium, PG 83:368B-C.

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