Well Said

There are some whom I heard to say, ‘Unless I find it in the documents, I do not believe in what is preached.’ When I said, ‘It is the written word,’ they replied, ‘That is what is in question.’ For me, Jesus Christ is the written word; His cross and death and resurrection and faith through Him make up untampered documents. Through these, with the help of your prayers, I desire to be justified.

St. Ignatius of Antioch Letters to the Philadelphians

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25 Responses to Well Said

  1. Irenaeus says:

    Gotta love Ignatius. If you read serious conservative evangelical takes on church history, he’s usually the bad guy that made the Church catholic — introducing(!) bishops and stuff. You wind up with this thing that goes from Jesus to St. John (95), then the church disappears or is underground until the Reformation, for which we thank Luther, although we don’t accept almost any of his theology…*sigh*

  2. tap says:

    Well Said indeed!

  3. Rhology says:

    Reminds me of:

    “For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.” – Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, 4:17)

  4. tap says:

    Stacey let me know what your thoughts are concerning the preceeding quotes, if you don’t want to post them publicly, or if you have any further question please email me, parkerwiggins at gmail.

    Just want to leave you with a quote and a link from this same Cyril of Jerusalem the Statment in the Nicene Creed “In one Holy Catholic Church.”

    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

    and

    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

    Read the whole Letter here:
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.xxii.html

  5. Irenaeus says:

    Whatever the Fathers are, they sure as heck ain’t prot, even though — being good Catholic-Orthodox Christians — they love the Scriptures in a way even the most robust fundie cannot fathom today.

  6. Stacey says:

    I recently bought a fantastic tome containing excerpts from the writings of the Church fathers. It’s amazing how even then they dealt with people doubting the sincerity of the gospels and the realities written therein. Thanks for the links, tap.

    I have to say a hundred to five hundred years later they probably had a much better idea of what Christ and the apostles taught than people 1500 or 2000 years later. I have to say after reading some, the early church does look distinctly Catholic. Not only that, they seemed to see things marvelously clear, such as the tenuous relationship between free will and grace.

    Rhology, can you tell me what the Reformed schools teach about tradition? When do you believe it went wrong?

  7. Rhology says:

    Stacey,

    There are so many places in which the tradition to which RCC subscribes went wrong that it’s impossible to place some collective When. There are also places where they still have it right – Trinity, Christology (kinda), Bible as God’s Word (or, some RCs), etc.
    So we would have to ask which doctrine in particular. And even then it’s nearly impossible.
    I invite you to consider three things:

    1) How many churches in the NT already had it wrong? Even after apostolic teaching and even correction? Corinth, Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, Colossæ, Thessalonica, Crete, the church to which 1 John is addressed, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicæa. And these are in the lifetime of the apostles!
    And of course, the OT provides a paradigm for history as well – how much time did OT Israel spend in fairly-close obedience to God’s Word? Very little. Yet God always preserved a remnant, which had the upper hand in numbers and influence sometimes but infrequently.
    2) RCC picks and chooses which parts of CF writings it will follow and which it won’t. The final authority is the Church. ECF writer X will say this or that and RCC will say “well, he’s just speaking as a private theologian here”, but if he says something else in the same document, alluvasudden he’s a reliable witness to the universal and ancient church’s constant tradition. Why should anyone put any credence in an approach such as that?
    3) This is a subset of #2.

    Consider:
    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) Hebrews 9:27-28: “As it is appointed for each human being to die once, and the one who accepts death’s decree no longer sins but awaits the examination of what was done in life, so Christ the Lord, after being offered once for us and taking up our sins, will come to us again, with sin no longer in force, that is, with sin no longer occupying a place as far as human beings are concerned. He said himself, remember, when he still had a mortal body, “He committed no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth.” It should be noted, of course, that he bore the sins of many, not of all: not all came to faith, so he removed the sins of the believers only.” [Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 175.

    Or:
    1st Epistle of Clement of Rome:

    From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men. Amen

    Or:
    There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews…there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit” (Athanasius, Festal Letter 39:2-4, 39:7)

    Let’s just say for the sake of argument that Rome is right – Ath taught in more than one *other* place the opposite doctrine to what I’ve presented here. (And this happens all the time with all sorts of CFs.)
    That leaves us w/ CFs who have contradicted themselves. To be consistent w/ these Ch Fathers (and remember, my claim is that modern RCC is inconsistent w/ them), RCC 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 Tradition.

    The problem w/ 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 in real life.
    The thing about resolution B is that they have indeed already done just that. Somehow these two godly, forcible, powerful writers, from whom RCC ostensibly derives much of its tradition and doctrine, also produced impious, ungodly, and flat wrong teachings.

    Now, how would the RC know this? 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 is not totally faithful w/ Ch Fathers and then cite them when challenged. Then they say, “Hey, those aren’t part of Apostolic Tradition!” I say, “Thanks for proving my point.”
    Note how this is the exact same thing they do with Scripture. Sola Ecclesia.
    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 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’ll believe and what he won’t believe. Thus the RC 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 earn merit towards one’s salvation).

  8. Stacey says:

    Note to all, you are invited to continue this discussion at Beggars All.

  9. tap says:

    Stacey, just saw you invitation. Pardon me. I’ve decided for personal reasons to stop posting there (I’ll explain at a later time).

    Anyways, lets deal with some sentence in the last paragraph of Rhology’s latest statement.

    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…..but also later in practice (bowing down to images, praying to dead people, trying to earn merit towards one’s salvation).

    Well, Lets bring in The Great St. Cyril of Jerusalem, whom Rhology invoked earlier, and see what he says on this very topic.

    Hear what he says on Supplication of Saints, prayer for the dead: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.xxvii.html(Prgf 9)

    Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years ,have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the soul for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.

    This guy is reading the same scripture that Rhology is reading, yet so far from claiming that prayer to saints is an affront to God, St. Cyril says, its of “great benefit.” But Lets not stop there.

    Hear what St. Cyril’s view is on necromancy: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.viii.html(prgf 37)

    Also give heed neither to observations of the stars nor auguries, nor omens, nor to the fabulous divinations of the Greeks. Witchcraft, and enchantment, and the wicked practices of necromancy, admit not even to a hearing.

    St. Cyril rightly sees the difference between Augury/necromancy, and supplication of Saints. But modern day protestants are so indoctrinated by claims of pretentious and false teachers — & self proclaimed Bishops like James white,– that they don't see the Distinction.

    Its funny Rhology says the ECF's disagreed on some thing, and that the Catholic Church chooses which part of the Church Fathers to Believe. But on the very things they all agree, like The Real Presence, Chrismation, The Sacraments, Apostolic succesion. Rhology fails to believe in any of these things.

    I'll leave you with a quote from the Great St. Irenaeus:
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.iv.html

    It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about….For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.”

    God Bless

  10. Rhology says:

    tap,

    Lets bring in The Great St. Cyril of Jerusalem

    You’re walking right into my cannon fire.
    My last comment accounts for disagreements on topics of faith between CFs. It might profit you to reread my comment, especially the 2nd half.

    But on the very things they all agree, like The Real Presence, Chrismation, The Sacraments, Apostolic succesion.

    That’s the very issue here. They don’t all agree on those things.
    So, we’re back to my comment. I think you think you’re responding to something else. I know how knee-jerk these kinds of convos can be, but this is not an argument I’ve often seen, so I urge you to read it again, slowly. And I’m not trying to be patronising here.

    Thanks!

    -Rhology

  11. tap says:

    You’re walking right into my cannon fire.

    You walking right into your own canon fire. lol. Go back and re-read what you wrote in your first post on this particular thread. If it would help, go back and re-read your own post slowly. (I’m not being patronizing). You brought in St. Cyril of Jerusalem, as some sort of a witness to the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

    I set out to prove that the totality of his beliefs, in no way admitted Sola Scriptura, and in fact scorned it.
    — The first way being his own words concerning the mis-interpretation of scripture, and his words concerning Scripture and tradition.
    –Second by showing that the person whom you called as a witness to sola scriptura, believes things that you claim is not biblical, you know like apostolic succession, the real presense, chrismation, prayer to the saints.

    There you walked right into the Canon fire of St. Cyril. But After you’ve been confuted in both ways, you jumped into another argument of disagreement of ECF’s

    If they did disagree on things, there was a formula for resolution if they thought it was of great import, namely councils or synod, meeting the approval of the Bishop of Rome.

  12. Rhology says:

    Well, I set out to prove that the totality of his beliefs, in no way admitted church + infallible interpreter, and in fact scorned it. And MY quote does say that. And then YOUR quote says sthg else. Which my big comment expects and explains. You need an alternate explanation for that inconsistency, or there’s nothing else to say here.

  13. tap says:

    Rhology said: Well, I set out to prove that the totality of his beliefs, in no way admitted church + infallible interpreter, and in fact scorned it.

    If we were to ask St. Cyril what is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth, he will say; The Church. The Bible Agrees with him (1 Timothy 3:15)
    If we we then ask him; which church? He will then point you to his Catechetical Lectures on the One Holy Catholic Church and/or his lecture On the Sacred Liturgy

    You are the one with the inconsistency and the circular reasoning.

    Anyways Stacey, here is a good article on the material sufficiency of scripture:

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/04/material-vs-formal-sufficiency-of.html

  14. Stacey says:

    tap,

    I love links 🙂 No problem you posting here. It is hard sometimes to go places where people have rather passionate aversions to your own beliefs. I do hope to keep my blog as congenial as possible when discussing these things, though as Rhology has noted, I tend to be partial to the Catholics. That said, please be nice about James White. I don’t know that he ever proclaimed himself a bishop :oP

    St. Cyril rightly sees the difference between Augury/necromancy, and supplication of Saints.

    That’s so true. There’s obvious difference between necromancy and asking the saints to pray for us. There are many issues like that which are lost in semantics when apologists merely want to win an argument. I was starting to do that a bit methinks. It’s why I backed out for a breather. Can’t stay away though.

    But on the very things they all agree, like The Real Presence, Chrismation, The Sacraments, Apostolic succesion.

    I don’t know of any disagreements on these issues or any gospel issues (that did not go uncorrected) among the early church fathers. As I read more into it, that impresses me.

    Rhology, if there is such a disagreement as you say, please point it out plainly and walk me through the contradiction you see as you would a child. As you know, I often see no problem where you see many.

  15. Rhology says:

    Stacey,

    Hang around Roman e-pologists long enough and you’ll see far worse aimed James White’s way. Something about him (I think it’s the way he destroys their arguments) triggers the irrational setting in Romanist minds.

    Let’s just stick with the CF statements on SS for now. Here are a whole bunch of ’em, and I’d actually highly recommend this set to you, especially vol 2 and 3.
    Now, tap or someone will produce other CF quotes to the opposite effect, sometimes from the same writer. That is the question my comment raises and answers. Let’s start there, b/c I don’t think you’ve even started to deal with my points yet.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  16. tap says:

    Stacey, no worries, i will be nice to great Elder Bishop James, didn’t mean to increase the acrimony. Anyways. From now on his own words on Sola Scriptura should suffice to convict/convince him.

  17. tap says:

    I think it’s the way he destroys their arguments triggers the irrational setting in Romanist minds.

    Lol, if you want to keep believing here he is destroying the arguments for Sola Scriptura
    Sophistry is no substitue for good theology.

    Now, tap or someone will produce other CF quotes to the opposite effect, sometimes from the same writer. That is the question my comment raises and answers. Let’s start there, b/c I don’t think you’ve even started to deal with my points yet.

    Deal with what points? You have no argument.

    __You quoted St. Cyril as witness to Sola Scriptura.

    __You claim that beliefs, like –Supplication of Saints, The Real Presence, Prayer for the dead, Chrismation, Apostolic succession — are unbiblical.

    __St. Cyril beliefs those above mentioned things which you claim are unbiblical.

    _St. Cyril writes of the handing down/reception of Both Scriptures and Tradition from the Holy Fathers.

    __St Cyril says: “followers of every heresy gather the occasions of their error from the God-inspired Scriptures.”

    An unbiased reader will surely see that St. Cyril is not a great witness for that false doctrine called Sola Scriptura.

    ^^You have not refuted that^^

    Stacey, i would say save yourself $49.99 and rather read the the Church Fathers words in totality yourself (instead of hacked statements) at either at http://www.ccel.org/ or at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/ I prefer the ccel site b/c its more interactive has some good features.

    Personally i would use the money for 1 weeks worth of Chinese food 😉

  18. BJ Buracker says:

    Stacey,

    If you’re like me and prefer to read books not online material, then I’d recommend getting this set.

    Obviously, it’s rather pricey, but sometimes you can find good sales or individual volumes for cheap on Ebay, Christianbook.com, Amazon, etc. I think I got mine several years ago for $200.

    I prefer this set for a couple of reasons.
    1. I can underline, highlight, etc. I can’t do that with online stuff.
    2. I can check the context of quotes VERY quickly.
    3. I can read aspects of the Fathers, that aren’t frequently quoted.
    4. It’s a great reference tool for Bible study preparation, devotional reading, or history studies.

    Again, the links Tap gave you are pretty much the same things for free. It’s tough to beat that. But like I said, I prefer to hold a book in my hand. So I thought I’d give you another option.

    Blessings,

    BJ

  19. BJ Buracker says:

    Tap,

    You’re making me hungry. Perhaps you’re right, the money could be used for Chinese Food. 🙂

    BJ

  20. Paul in the GNW says:

    Stacey, I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while. I haven’t waded in so far. I just started a thread at my blog (not aimed directly at you – but a number of blogs w/similar themes). I’ve been down this path in my own version. I encourage you to continue the search, but in your search, don’t forget that what really counts above everything is your relationship with Jesus – this from a Catholic – I am not diminishing doctrine in the least, but struggling over doctrine can be a negative to one’s prayer and sacramental life.

    Come on over and peek at the discussion – I am starting slow and have a few more posts planned.

    God Bless I am praying for you.

    Paul in the GNW

  21. Stacey says:

    Rhology,

    the irrational setting in Romanist minds” Please be nice. Or talk about the weather.

    BJ,

    I prefer books too, thanks for the references.

    Paul,

    I know that forgetting the basis of your faith is a danger when you over-intellectualize things like I tend to do. Like you say, it’s all for naught if you lose your love of Christ. Thanks for the prayers 🙂

  22. Stacey says:

    BJ,

    Good Lord! I just clicked on the link for the book set you recommended. Wow, that’s a lot of books!

  23. BJ Buracker says:

    Stacey,

    Yeah it is a lot of books, but I have found them to be a nice investment. Plus, they look really cool on my shelves :).

    The nice thing about them is that they aren’t books of quotes but the sources themselves. Right now I’m reading, Against Heresises by Irenaeus. Difficult to slug through his description of the Gnostics, but that should give me better context when I reach the more quotable sections (e.g. book III).

    But, again, the links Tap gives you contain all the stuff in this set. I suppose the important thing is just to read it, regardless of medium 🙂

    BJ

  24. tap says:

    Stacey, it looks like i have some made some error in quoting. that i have conflated some writings of Cyril of Jerusalem with those of Cyril or Alexandria.

    It turns out the Letters to John of Antioch are from Cyril of Alexandria, and at a much later date. When Rhology, quoted Cyril of Jerusalem , for some reason i confuse the two Cyrils in mind and thought the it was the Bishop from Jerusalem that sent some letter to John of Antioch.
    In my haste in did a quick search for; “Cyril letter to John of Antioch”, and the got the letter which i quoted in making my case.

    Rest assured it was not out of malice, or a need to win a debate that i posted those quotes. It was inadvertent, and i in all honesty, made a mistake.

    Although, St. Cyril of Jerusalem made similar comments (to the other St. Cyril)in his Catechetical lectures on Faith, and even though the argument still stands that St. Cyril of Jerusalem is no witness to Sola Scriptura, i should have been more careful to avoid the mistake i made. My apologies to both you and Rhology, for the error

  25. Stacey says:

    No problem, tap. Thanks for the correction!

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