Thursday, August 16, 2007

Conversion Discernment

My five questions for Catholic-Protestant discernment:

1) Is there authority or not within the church?

2) If so, who gave the church that authority? If not, where then lies the rule of faith?

3) Was authority with the Apostles, and did they pass on this authority?

4) If so, did they pass it to men or exclusively to their written words?

5) What authority permitted a definition of Canon, and why are the books therein contained beyond question?

I have a hard time answering these questions from either perspective. Maybe after my vacation I'll try to give what I think is the PCA / Reformed response.

16 comments:

JP Manzi said...

When time permits, I would like help in answering these questions. Hopefully Saturday.

Enjoy the vacation.

Adam Roe said...

Thos,

Great questions! Let's see how the church fathers understood authority:

Tertullian - If, because the Lord has said to Peter, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church,’ ‘to thee have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom;’ or, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens,’ you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? ‘On thee,’ He says, ‘will I build My church;’ and, ‘I will give thee the keys’...and, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt have loosed or bound’...In (Peter) himself the Church was reared; that is, through (Peter) himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what key: ‘Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you,’ and so forth. (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ’s baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which kingdom are ‘loosed’ the sins that were beforetime ‘bound;’ and those which have not been ‘loosed’ are ‘bound,’ in accordance with true salvation...(Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Volume IV, Tertullian, On Modesty 21, p. 99).

Origen - And if we too have said like Peter, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ not as if flesh and blood had revealed it unto us, but by the light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, ‘Thou art Peter,’ etc. For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the Church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.

But if you suppose that upon the one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, ‘The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,’ hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church?’ Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them? But if this promise, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ be common to others, how shall not all things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them?
‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ If any one says this to Him...he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to that Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches to every one who becomes such as that Peter was. For all bear the surname ‘rock’ who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters...And to all such the saying of the Savior might be spoken, ‘Thou art Peter’ etc., down to the words, ‘prevail against it.’ But what is the it? Is it the rock upon which Christ builds the Church, or is it the Church? For the phrase is ambiguous. Or is it as if the rock and the Church were one and the same? This I think to be true; for neither against the rock on which Christ builds His Church, nor against the Church will the gates of Hades prevail. Now, if the gates of Hades prevail against any one, such an one cannot be a rock upon which the Christ builds the Church, nor the Church built by Jesus upon the rock (Allan Menzies, Ante–Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Origen, Commentary on Matthew, Chapters 10-11).


Yet you will not in any way err from the scope of the truth if you suppose that ‘the world’ is actually the Church of God, and that its ‘foundation’ is in the first place, that unspeakably solid rock on which it is founded, as Scripture says: ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’; and elsewhere: ‘The rock, moreover, was Christ.’ For, as the Apostle indicates with these words: ‘No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.’ Then, too, after the Savior himself, you may rightly judge the foundations of the Church to be the words of the prophets and apostles, in accordance with the statement of the Apostle: ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.’ These foundations of the world have been laid bare because the enemies of God, who once darkened the eyes of our mind, lest we gaze upon divine things, have been routed and put to flight—scattered by the arrows sent from God and put to flight by the rebuke of the Lord and by the blast from his nostrils. As a result, having been saved from these enemies and having received the use of our eyes, we have seen the channels of the sea and have looked upon the foundations of the world. This has happened in our lifetime in many parts of the world (Commentary on the Psalms, M.P.G., Vol. 23, Col. 173, 176).

Augustine - In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built’...But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable (The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1968), Saint Augustine, The Retractations Chapter 20.1).

Ambrose - He, then, who before was silent, to teach us that we ought not to repeat the words of the impious, this one, I say, when he heard, ‘But who do you say I am,’ immediately, not unmindful of his station, exercised his primacy, that is, the primacy of confession, not of honor; the primacy of belief, not of rank. This, then, is Peter, who has replied for the rest of the Apostles; rather, before the rest of men. And so he is called the foundation, because he knows how to preserve not only his own but the common foundation...Faith, then, is the foundation of the Church, for it was not said of Peter’s flesh, but of his faith, that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ But his confession of faith conquered hell. And this confession did not shut out one heresy, for, since the Church like a good ship is often buffeted by many waves, the foundation of the Church should prevail against all heresies (The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1963), Saint Ambrose, Theological and Dogmatic Works, The Sacrament of the Incarnation of Our Lord IV.32-V.34, pp. 230-231).

St. John Chrysostom - ‘And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’; that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd...For the Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son; but the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys; who extended the church to every part of the world, and declared it to be stronger than heaven (Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume X, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 54.2-3; pp. 332-334).

Theodoret of Cyr - Other foundation no man can lay but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. iii.11). It is necessary to build upon, not to lay foundations. For it is impossible for him who wishes to build wisely to lay another foundation. The blessed Peter also laid this foundation, or rather the Lord Himself. For Peter having said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;’ the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church.’ Therefore call not yourselves after men’s names, for Christ is the foundation (117Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1,12. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 149).

Jerome - The one foundation which the apostolic architect laid is our Lord Jesus Christ. Upon this stable and firm foundation, which has itself been laid on solid ground, the Church of Christ is built...For the Church was founded upon a rock...upon this rock the Lord established his Church; and the apostle Peter received his name from this rock (Mt. 16.18) (Commentary on Matthew 7.25, M.P.L., Vol. 26, Col. 51. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen der Auslegung von Matthaus 16,13-18 im lateinischen Mittelalter, Dissertation (Tubingen, 1963), Footnote #200, p. 49).

Basil of Seleucia - Now Christ called this confession a rock, and he named the one who confessed it ‘Peter,’ perceiving the appellation which was suitable to the author of this confession. For this is the solemn rock of religion, this the basis of salvation, this the wall of faith and the foundation of truth: ‘For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.’ To whom be glory and power forever (Oratio XXV.4, M.P.G., Vol. 85, Col. 296-297).

John of Damascus - This rock was Christ, the incarnate Word of God, the Lord, for Paul clearly teaches us: ‘The rock was Christ’ (1 Cor. 10:4) (Homily on the Transfiguration, M.P.G., Vol. 96, Col. 548).

As for the canon, try reading St. Gregory of Nazianzus' Concerning the Genuine Books of Scripture," which is contained in his book, On God And Man

I hope this has been helpful.

Blessings to you,
Adam

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Three words (and a particle) for you:

Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

Thos said...

Wow, two more reading assignments! Saint Ignatius of Antioch and St. Gregory of Nazianzus... appreciate any synopsis anyone wants to give (as I try to do for fellow bloggers!). GFF, I'd really like a synopsis on the Ignatian Epistles debate (any old posts you have?) - I tried brushing up with Google, but became dismayed. Some believe their authenticity, others don't?

Adam Roe said...

Thos,

In the words of the pastor who recommended Gregory to me:

Gregory basically gives you the typical PROTESTANT canon, except he leaves off Revelation. Then he adds: "If there is anything else besides these, it is not among the genuine." So here is the greatest of the Cappadocian theologians whose "canon" was the typical Protestant Bible, minus the Apocalypse. He, at any rate, would not have any trouble with Luther's intro to the other books: Books which, though they are not like Scripture, still contain many good things to read.

Blessings to you,
Adam

Thos said...

Adam,

Thanks, Gregory's testimony is interesting. But how do you believe we should decide the Canon? Could any one of us, like Luther, devote ourselves to study and then decide which we believe to be inspired by the Holy Spirit (and will therefore submit to as authoritative)? Are we bound by Luther's conclusion? Was Luther bound by someone else's? If I have the authority to set my Authority, I am my own Authority.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thos - I just so happen to have such a summary on St. Ignatius glad you asked - let me reach in to my bag of tricks:

St. Ignatius Part 1

Part 2 Church hierarchy

Part 3 The Authority of Rome

Part 4 On Christian Unity

Part 5 - On The Real Presence & Summary/Conclusion

I view St. Ignatius as sort of a foundational intro into early Church father readings (even though St. Clement was a little earlier and several other writings like the Didache & Barnabas were also likely written earlier).

Hope that helps.

Adam Roe said...

Thos,

I think it helps to remember that all authority ultimately rests in Christ. Because revelation is given to the church by God, we must make decisions on how best to decide between what is established revelation as opposed to that which can be helpful but is not inspired.

Understood this way we see that no body of believers has a perfect, clean system by which they base their conclusions. Whether it be Orthodox, Roman Catholics, or Protestants, all have made decisions about the canon and all have reached different conclusions. We have to ask, therefore, what was the criteria used for the canonization process? What have theologians throughout the history of the church had to say about the canon? As a group of theologians, the Lutheran reformers looked at all the evidence and concluded that the intertestimental books do not merit canonical status. Roman Catholic theologians disagreed and they chose to canonize the books. Orthodox theologians disagreed with both bodies and included even more books than Roman Catholic theologians.

The point I hope I'm demonstrating is that Luther, and the reformers who worked the canon out with him, used the same criteria for determining this issue as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theologians. They looked at all the books, compared them for consistency of thought, consulted the church fathers, and then reached their conclusions.

It's for that reason that I believe our criticism or praise should rest entirely in the merit of the conclusions that are reached; not on how we deduce who has the authority to determine the canon.

That's it for me until Monday. Have a great weekend and God bless, Thos. :-)

Blessings to you,
Adam

Amber said...

Yes, let's see how the Church Fathers understood the primacy of Peter:

Clement of Alexandria
"[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27], quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? ‘Behold, we have left all and have followed you’ [Matt. 19:27; Mark 10:28]" (Who Is the Rich Man That Is Saved? 21:3–5 [A.D. 200]).

Tertullian
"For though you think that heaven is still shut up, remember that the Lord left the keys of it to Peter here, and through him to the Church, which keys everyone will carry with him if he has been questioned and made a confession [of faith]" (Antidote Against the Scorpion 10 [A.D. 211]).

"[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church" (Modesty 21:9–10 [A.D. 220]).

The Letter of Clement to James
"Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter, the first fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles; to whom first the Father revealed the Son; whom the Christ, with good reason, blessed; the called, and elect" (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]).

Origen
"[I]f we were to attend carefully to the Gospels, we should also find, in relation to those things which seem to be common to Peter . . . a great difference and a preeminence in the things [Jesus] said to Peter, compared with the second class [of apostles]. For it is no small difference that Peter received the keys not of one heaven but of more, and in order that whatsoever things he binds on earth may be bound not in one heaven but in them all, as compared with the many who bind on earth and loose on earth, so that these things are bound and loosed not in [all] the heavens, as in the case of Peter, but in one only; for they do not reach so high a stage with power as Peter to bind and loose in all the heavens" (Commentary on Matthew 13:31 [A.D. 248]).

Cyprian of Carthage
"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

Cyril of Jerusalem
"The Lord is loving toward men, swift to pardon but slow to punish. Let no man despair of his own salvation. Peter, the first and foremost of the apostles, denied the Lord three times before a little servant girl, but he repented and wept bitterly" (Catechetical Lectures 2:19 [A.D. 350]).

"[Simon Magus] so deceived the city of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him. . . . While the error was extending itself, Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church, and they set the error aright. . . . [T]hey launched the weapon of their like-mindedness in prayer against the Magus, and struck him down to earth. It was marvelous enough, and yet no marvel at all, for Peter was there—he that carries about the keys of heaven [Matt. 16:19]" (ibid., 6:14).

"In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, both the chief of the apostles and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, in the name of Christ healed Aeneas the paralytic at Lydda, which is now called Diospolis [Acts 9:32–34]" (ibid., 17:27).

Ephraim the Syrian
"[Jesus said:] Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on Earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples. Yours is that life-giving sweetness which I dispense. I have chosen you to be, as it were, the firstborn in my institution so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures" (Homilies 4:1 [A.D. 351]).

Ambrose of Milan
"[Christ] made answer: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church. . . .’ Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?" (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).

Pope Damasus I
"Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

Jerome
"‘But,’ you [Jovinian] will say, ‘it was on Peter that the Church was founded’ [Matt. 16:18]. Well . . . one among the twelve is chosen to be their head in order to remove any occasion for division" (Against Jovinian 1:26 [A.D. 393]).

"Simon Peter, the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion . . . pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to overthrow Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord" (Lives of Illustrious Men 1 [A.D. 396]).

Pope Innocent I
"In seeking the things of God . . . you have acknowledged that judgment is to be referred to us [the pope], and have shown that you know that is owed to the Apostolic See [Rome], if all of us placed in this position are to desire to follow the apostle himself [Peter] from whom the episcopate itself and the total authority of this name have emerged" (Letters 29:1 [A.D. 408]).

Augustine
"Among these [apostles] Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the Church, which only he bore, he deserved to hear ‘I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’" (Sermons 295:2 [A.D. 411]).

"Some things are said which seem to relate especially to the apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning unless referred to the Church, which he is acknowledged to have represented in a figure on account of the primacy which he bore among the disciples. Such is ‘I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ and other similar passages. In the same way, Judas represents those Jews who were Christ’s enemies" (Commentary on Psalm 108 1 [A.D. 415]).

"Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter?" (Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]).

Council of Ephesus
"Philip, presbyter and legate of [Pope Celestine I] said: ‘We offer our thanks to the holy and venerable synod, that when the writings of our holy and blessed pope had been read to you . . . you joined yourselves to the holy head also by your holy acclamations. For your blessednesses is not ignorant that the head of the whole faith, the head of the apostles, is blessed Peter the apostle’" (Acts of the Council, session 2 [A.D. 431]).

"Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome] said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors’" (ibid., session 3).

Pope Leo I
"Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles, and from him as from the head wishes his gifts to flow to all the body, so that anyone who dares to secede from Peter’s solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery. He wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18], that the building of the eternal temple might rest on Peter’s solid rock, strengthening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it" (Letters 10:1 [A.D. 445).

"Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . established the worship belonging to the divine [Christian] religion. . . . But the Lord desired that the sacrament of this gift should pertain to all the apostles in such a way that it might be found principally in the most blessed Peter, the highest of all the apostles. And he wanted his gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realize that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery" (ibid., 10:2–3).

"Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. . . . [So today through the bishops] the care of the universal Church would converge in the one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head" (ibid., 14:11).

Amber said...

Did the apostles pass on their authority?

Pope Clement I
"Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry" (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).

Hegesippus
"When I had come to Rome, I [visited] Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus [died], Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In each succession and in each city there is a continuance of that which is proclaimed by the law, the prophets, and the Lord" (Memoirs, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:22 [A.D. 180]).

Irenaeus
"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]).

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul—that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3:3:2).

"Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time" (ibid., 3:3:4).

"Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. . . . For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant conversation, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?" (ibid., 3:4:1).

"[I]t is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth" (ibid., 4:26:2).

"The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (ibid., 4:33:8).

Tertullian
"[The apostles] founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches. Every sort of thing must necessarily revert to its original for its classification. Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive Church, [founded] by the apostles, from which they all [spring]. In this way, all are primitive, and all are apostolic, while they are all proved to be one in unity" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 20 [A.D. 200]).

"[W]hat it was which Christ revealed to them [the apostles] can, as I must here likewise prescribe, properly be proved in no other way than by those very churches which the apostles founded in person, by declaring the gospel to them directly themselves . . . If then these things are so, it is in the same degree manifest that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic churches—those molds and original sources of the faith must be reckoned for truth, as undoubtedly containing that which the churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, [and] Christ from God. Whereas all doctrine must be prejudged as false which savors of contrariety to the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God. It remains, then, that we demonstrate whether this doctrine of ours, of which we have now given the rule, has its origin in the tradition of the apostles, and whether all other doctrines do not ipso facto proceed from falsehood" (ibid., 21).

"But if there be any [heresies] which are bold enough to plant [their origin] in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [their first] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter" (ibid., 32).

"But should they even effect the contrivance [of composing a succession list for themselves], they will not advance a step. For their very doctrine, after comparison with that of the apostles [as contained in other churches], will declare, by its own diversity and contrariety, that it had for its author neither an apostle nor an apostolic man; because, as the apostles would never have taught things which were self-contradictory" (ibid.).

"Then let all the heresies, when challenged to these two tests by our apostolic Church, offer their proof of how they deem themselves to be apostolic. But in truth they neither are so, nor are they able to prove themselves to be what they are not. Nor are they admitted to peaceful relations and communion by such churches as are in any way connected with apostles, inasmuch as they are in no sense themselves apostolic because of their diversity as to the mysteries of the faith" (ibid.).

Cyprian of Carthage
"[T]he Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop [of Rome], Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way" (Letters 69[75]:3 [A.D. 253]).

Jerome
"Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians" (Letters 14:8 [A.D. 396]).

Augustine
"[T]here are many other things which most properly can keep me in [the Catholic Church’s] bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15–17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

Amber said...

We know that the Bible is inerrant and the inspired word of God. But how do we know which books are to be in the Bible when the Bible itself does not contain a list of inspired and inerrant books? Since the Bible doesn’t contain a list, we have to have a source OUTSIDE the Bible to determine what books belong and which do not. What was this source? The Catholic Church… They put the Bible together, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and they gave it to the world! If the Church didn’t have this authority, then the Bible doesn’t have this authority either! For the first 350 or so years, the New Testament as we know it today did not exist… and no one knew prior to this time that there were exactly 27 inspired books floating around. The decision had to come under great discernment. It is no secret, then, that not every individual in the Church agreed which should be included and which should not. But the list (OT and NT) has not changed in the Catholic Church since the Council of Rome in 382 A.D. It was the same at the Council of Hippo in 393 and at the Council of Carthage in 397. And it was then ratified by the pope. Those who disagreed with the inclusion of certain books remained obedient to the Church’s authority to decide the matter and it was settled. They didn’t go off and start a new brand of Christianity with their own canon.

So, if the Church had no authority, then it certainly didn’t have the authority to decide the canon of Scripture because we wouldn’t have any way to discern what is or is not Scripture. Every Christian who accepts the 27 NT books, agrees with the authority of the Catholic Church even if they don’t realize it.

Thos said...

Adam,

Interesting. You juxtapose the Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox canons. I'm more familiar with the canon-rationale of the latter two and much more familiar with Reformed views, but I do know a bit about Luther (his "epistle of straw" line is used often in my circles). I don't think it's fair to separate Orthodox and Catholic in this discussion as if they are examples of different denominations. They are both in the non-sola scriptura camp, so can be viewed together (note that different Bishops of Orthodoxy STILL have different books in their deuterocanons!).

You said: "As a group of theologians, the Lutheran reformers looked at all the evidence and concluded that the intertestimental books do not merit canonical status." AM I BOUND BY THESE THEOLOGIANS' RULE? I gather from your full response that I need to (individually) weigh the canon criteria they used (incidentally, when they outvoted Luther).

I know that I have read at least three entirely distinct rationales for canon selection used by Reformed Theologians. This is very disconcerting to me - we all agree on our 66 books (as Protestants), we just don't agree with why we agree in the 66 books!

I believe all involved would agree that Christ is the Head of the Church (I know Calvin agreed). The question then is whether he placed some type of Regent (i.e., the Pope) or some college of Overseers (Bishops and Metropolitans with Conciliar Authority) in charge, or whether he is the only Head, and we have the difficult task of devining what electrical impulses are coming from the brain.

Tiber Jumper said...

"The question then is whether he placed some type of Regent (i.e., the Pope) or some college of Overseers (Bishops and Metropolitans with Conciliar Authority) in charge, or whether he is the only Head, and we have the difficult task of devining what electrical impulses are coming from the brain."

I think Amber provided a reasonable answer in the form of a ECF BARRAGE! There may be those who say she "cherry picked" from among the Father's for a more Catholic view of the papacy, but sheesh, I don't think she missed an ECF!
Nicely done.

Joseph said...

I guess you can say that Adam opened up that can of worms. There didn't seem to be any stopping Amber's zeal. His "cherry pickings" are valid Early Fathers' writings as well. If one combines and reads all of the writings together, perhaps they will be able to grasp a clearer understanding of both Adam's and Amber selections. I still prefer reading entire texts, whatever is extant.

I'm not sure if it is Early Fathers' quotations that you are seeking, Thos, but I could be wrong. I'm sure that you've seen your share of tossing quotes and Sacred Scripture around during your long journey. I'm a bit daft so I'm still unsure what it is exactly you are trying to find out, how, and from whom. Certainly, you would know where to find the answers to your questions. The blogosphere can be helpful but oftentimes it can be a dangerous place.

Whatever choice you make, make it well. If you are sincerely searching, cling to God for help at all times. Discern carefully, with His help only. Be careful not to separate faith from reason. They belong together. I just realized that my posts are too long. I apologize.

Thos said...

It's not about me, and I don't mind, but certainly don't need the Church Fathers' quotes. I know where to access such material in my own research.

I feel sad - I haven't asked these questions (and haven't blogged) in the (silly) hope that someone out there happens to know all my answers. I'm asking them because they've challenged me to grow in my faith and I hoped (silly-ly?) that others might be challenged to think beyond the borders of their cultural-denominational affiliations and affinities.

Joseph said...

Ah, thank you for the clarification. I understand a bit more now.