Sola Scriptura and the Empty Tomb

Workshop of Daniel Chorny and Andrey Rublev, Icon of the Women at the Grave (1420s)
Workshop of Daniel Chorny and Andrey Rublev, Icon of the Women at the Grave (1420s)

Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) is the Protestant belief that all binding Christian doctrines must come from Scripture alone. (We Catholics believe that Christian doctrines can come from either Scripture or Apostolic Tradition – that is, we’re more concerned with whether a teaching goes back to the Apostles than whether that teaching was initially transmitted orally or in writing.) An important question for those who believe in sola ScripturaWas sola Scriptura true during the time of the Apostles?

That is: were the Apostles and the first-century Christians bound to follow Scripture alone? Some Protestants say yes, some say not.

I. If You say “No”

If you say that sola Scriptura wasn’t true during the Apostolic age, a few things follow:

  • You can’t use sola Scriptura proof-texts. To try to defend the doctrine of sola Scriptura, there are a handful of out-of-context proof-texts that get frequently used (for example, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is inspired… and therefore, somehow, only Scripture is inspired, and it’s all we need). But you can’t say that the Bible is teaching sola Scriptura while claiming that sola Scriptura wasn’t true while the Bible was written.
  • You can’t deny that the Bible teaches contrary to sola Scriptura. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says to hold to Scripture and Tradition: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” A common Protestant response is that Paul doesn’t actually mean that you need to follow both, because the two (Gospel-by-epistle and Gospel-by-word-of-mouth) are coextensive. But that explanation of the passage doesn’t work if you acknowledge that that the Christian Gospel was broader than Scripture at the time Paul wrote those words.
  • You have to concede that sola Scriptura is unscriptural. If you take this first option, you’re conceding that sola Scriptura is a post-Apostolic tradition, and one that contradicts the explicit witness of Scripture. But the whole point of sola Scriptura is that it seeks to reject any sort of post-Apostolic tradition, particularly those traditions contrary to Scripture.

So there’s a strong temptation to take the other option, to say that sola Scriptura was true during Apostolic times. But that leads to problems of its own…

II. If You say “Yes”

Consider the alternative, to believe that the Apostles and early Christians held to Scripture alone. If that’s the case, then you have to reduce the entire Christian message to mere exposition of the Old Testament. Christ and the Apostles can’t say or do anything new and never-before-heard-of… or if they do, they must teach it in writing before they proclaim it orally. That’s a big problem, given that the New Testament texts weren’t written until at least a couple of decades after the Resurrection. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this view literally renders the New Testament redundant.

There’s also the glaring problem that Scripture teaches that the Apostles weren’t believers in sola Scriptura. Just listen to St. John’s account of Easter morning (John 20:1-9):

Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag′dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 

On Easter, St. John still thinks that the Old Testament Scriptures have nothing to say on the Resurrection. As the text makes clear, this was an ignorant mistake (see also Luke 24:25-27). But it didn’t matter. Thinking that Scripture didn’t teach the Resurrection, John still freely comes to believe in the Resurrection because of what he’s seen: namely, his encounters with Christ and the Empty Tomb, and the subtle evidence-from-order found in a neatly-wrapped face cloth.

So for the sola Scriptura Protestant who takes this second option, what do you do with this? Should John have resisted believing in the Resurrection until someone could come by and open up the Scriptures for him?

Conclusion

These are the two options. You can claim, despite the clear evidence to the contrary, that the Apostles and early Christians believed in Scripture alone. But doing so both undermines John’s faith in the Resurrection and renders the New Testament irrelevant. Or you can concede that the Apostles and early Christians didn’t believe in Scripture alone. But then you have to throw out all of the alleged “Scriptural proofs” for sola Scriptura, and concede that it’s a post-Apostolic man-made tradition that contradicts the written word of God.

 

120 Comments

  1. Two quick points:

    -Sola Scriptura was true because the Old Testament Scripture, correctly understood, taught of the resurrection. Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 attests to this fact. He expected that his audience would be convinced by the authority of the Scriptures that what he purported about the resurrection would be true.
    -The New Testament Scriptures are helpful in that most of us need a teacher to help us understand that the Old Testament was teaching of Christ. The Apostles were the teachers, but now they are all dead .New Testament Scriptures, written by them, stand in their place. This was essentially the view of Irenaeus, and it still works today.

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. Hi Craig.

      Sorry that I got a bit heated in my last comment to you in the other thread. But I think your position see runs afoul of what Joe is talking about. If sola scriptura was true during time of the apostles, then the apostles were irrelevant and not needed. Why wasn’t the Old Testament sufficient on it’s own to get all the Jews to the truth of Christianity? It took the Apostles to authoritatively explain the scriptures to hem. Like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, they needed the Old Testament explained. Likewise, there is new material in the New Covenant. It’s true that the New is concealed in the Old and the Old is revealed by the New but that’s just it. The New is CONCEALED in the Old. It has to be brought out by an authoritative interpreter. It didn’t just automatically or else all Jews would have become Christian. This also shows that the scriptures are not perspicuous.

      As to your second point, I would like to know where you see that in Ireneaus (I’m just curious). It also just not true that the Apostles were the only teaching authorities. Paul clearly tells Timothy and Titus to teach with authority. They received the authority to interpret from Paul and we have no indication that the scriptures are to replace their teaching office. How could they? The Canon wasn’t even complete, much less authoritatively decided.

      May God be with you.

      Matthew

    2. Craig: -Sola Scriptura was true because the Old Testament Scripture, correctly understood, taught of the resurrection. Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 attests to this fact. He expected that his audience would be convinced by the authority of the Scriptures that what he purported about the resurrection would be true.

      Me: This points to (potentially) the sufficiency of the Old Testament Scriptures, not their exclusivicity with regard to infallibility. Sola Scriptura requires both criteria.

      Craig: -The New Testament Scriptures are helpful in that most of us need a teacher to help us understand that the Old Testament was teaching of Christ. The Apostles were the teachers, but now they are all dead .New Testament Scriptures, written by them, stand in their place. This was essentially the view of Irenaeus, and it still works today.

      Me: The Scriptures do, in fact, stand in for the apostle’s teaching according to Catholic theology, but so does Apostolic Tradition. The principle of Sola Scriptura that is wanting here is denial of the infallible authority of Tradition. We assume the authority of Apostolic Tradtion because we believe the authority of the New Testament on account of them having been written by the Apostles/students of the Apostles (also, because the Church said so). Since Apostolic authority is the basis of accepting the New Testament, extra-scriptural Apostolic Traditions come alongside that, unless it was somehow conclusively proven that none of the extra-scriptural Apostolic Traditions are actually Apostolic. The primary objection here is that we don’t know which traditions are Apostolic since there was so much doctrinal confusion going on in the early church, especially with the Gnostic sects (this is actually a very persuasive argument by the way). The answer is that this does not rule out the authority of the New Testament, so neither does it rule out Apostolic Tradition. The New Testament was handed down through mediators (scribes, the Church Fathers, and the councils that established the biblical cannon), and Apostolic Tradition, while a bit more muddy, was also handed down through mediators (bishops, the Church Fathers, and the councils that established the Church’s doctrine). The second objection is how do we find out which doctrines are really apostolic, since the Church Fathers sometimes voiced their opinions? 1st option is to simply trust that when they say it’s apostolic, it’s apostolic. 2nd option is to go with what they all agree upon, relying on the principle of sensus fidelium (which itself rests on Christ’s teaching that the gates of Hell will not prevail). The 2nd option is the one that is more certain, with the 1st option at least giving some weight.

    3. Sola Scriptura cannot be true because where is your table of contents within the Bible itself which tells us which books belong in the Bible? You cannot go to sources outside of the Bible to prove the books of the Bible, you must stick to your argument of furnishing an inspired table within the Bible itself.

      Until 382 AD Council of Rome, 393 AD Council of Hippo and 397 AD Council of Carthage (recorded history), there were 300 books in circulation (many of them frauds) and 90 Gospels. Those councils gave us the 73 books.

      With no Bibles, no printing press until 1430 and 90% of the world being illiterate, there simply could not have been sola scriptura. And, the Bible doesn’t even make the claim for sola scriptura.

      1. Amen! Your statement is clear and to the point. Thank you. Sola Scriptura isn’t anywhere in the bible just as there isn’t anything in the bible about “Faith alone” will save us.

    4. Sola Scriptura was true because the Old Testament Scripture, correctly understood

      What authority decreed the correct understanding?

      The Apostles were the teachers, but now they are all dead .New Testament Scriptures, written by them, stand in their place. This was essentially the view of Irenaeus, and it still works today.

      That actually made me laugh. Thank you. Are you trying to imply that Saint Irenaeus was a bible only Catholic?

    5. Are you forgetting the liturgies and confirmations, and laying of hands to form priest, and sacrament of penance, and the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist which the Apostles did and taught and taught the priest the same andvwas all written down too just like scriptures, that’s what all the oldest Christians, eastern and western rires have in common and were united as one flock fought against every heresy together and after 1500, years people stop believing in the super natural and all these things were no longer believed in. Look up liturgies of St James, Peter and Paul, Matthew and the Didache, everywhere the apostles traveled to taught these and made priest for the Church as it was united as one called Catholic which means universal.

    6. I think if Jesus wanted ‘sola’ anything, He would of said it while He preached in Israel. And to complicate the Christian faith so much that one needs a degree in philosophy to understand it, really seems to go against the Gospel message that Christ came to teach us. If the faith were so complicated, Jesus would not have said ” the harvest is great, but the laborers are few’. He would have said few will have the time to study everything you need to know to enter Heaven”. When He says ‘the harvet is great’, He means that there are prostitutes, slaves, children, retarded persons, homeless persons and every other sort of miserable person out there who is capable of having great faith. It was the philosophers, the Pharisees, the highly learned and lawyers who were most often rebuked by Christ. And He also chose the humblest of laborers to be His disciples in His own divine wisdom. And He Himself waorked as a very humble laborer, so much so that His own town of Nazareth hardly even knew him.

      So, everything here says…simplicity. The faith is more ‘love’ based, than ‘intellect’ based. And this is probably why the first commandment is to LOVE God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And Jesus’ command in the Gospel is similar…’Love one another as I have loved you”. He also said that if you want to find out who His true disciples are… “You will know them by their love for one another”. And He said “those who love much, have been forgiven much.” And even further, “unless you are like a little child you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” He also promised a thief that He would be in Paradise after only knowing Jesus for a few hours.

      So, my own opinion is that we must all love Jesus, and Our Father, in a very simple manner, as we learn in the Gospel. We must trust the Church that Jesus started and marvel at every advance it has made from it’s first beginnings.

      And Jesus called His teachings “Good News’. This lends one to think that it is not too complicated. We really don’t need to know every Father of the Church to be saved. But we do need to try to imitate the Good Jesus, and then to take up our own cross and follow Him.

      Doctrines such as ‘sola scripture’ seem to only complicate the simple and beautiful Gospel message that Jesus and the Apostles have taught since the beginning.

    7. KO - Son of Odin, the Lord of the Worlds, Smasher of Worlds, Lord of Asgard, the Old, the Wise Worshipper of Sacred Trees and Stones says:

      “Sola Scriptura was true because the Old Testament Scripture, correctly understood, taught of the resurrection.”

      1) Conceding that some Jewish books or sects taught the resurrection [whose resurrection?], they didn’t teach the Messiah would resurrect [or else show me proof that Messianic beliefs in the 1st century implied that the Messiah would rise from the dead]. The first Christians believed in the resurrection of the Messiah because Christ resurrected and they believed he was the Messiah; they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the Messiah before Jesus’s resurrection, because the Messiah wouldn’t resurrect according to the Jewish apocalyptic expectations of the time. So yes, the fact that they had visions of him after he was dead caught them off-guard: they didn’t think it was normal, expected, OK, or even miraculous. It was literally unbelievable. No one said: “Wow, I knew that would happen, I was waiting anxiously those three days”.

      2) Who has the authority to “correctly understand”? The Sadducees? The Pharisess? The Essenes? The first Christians? The post-Pauline Christians? The Johanine Christians? The Calvinists? The Baptists? The Greeks, the Copts, the Chaldeans? The Russians?
      3) If something teaches the resurrection [whose resurrection? Jesus’s? man’s?], that something is proof for sola scriptura. OK, so if the Egyptian Book of the Dead or a pagan oracle teaches resurrection, that’s proof for sola scriptura. Never seen such a convoluted, vomited argument (OK, I’ve seen worse, but that’s ludicrous according to any logic anyway).

      “He expected that his audience would be convinced by the authority of the Scriptures that what he purported about the resurrection would be true.”

      He didn’t seem to have convinced too many people, in which case they were either ignorant of the Jewish books or they interpreted them differently, ie, according to traditional Jewish principles. Jews didn’t teach sola scriptura. Christian Jews didn’t, either, and future Christians wouldn’t teach that either. There is no evidence of a creedal statement about the sacred books such as “we believe in the Bible” (even if that name, bible, meant something, which it didn’t). By some counts the proportion of Christians in the Roman empire was only 50% by the end of the 4th century!. So the argument that people were converted because of Paul’s superior interpretation of Jewish sacred scriptures against the Jews’ interpretation of Jewish scriptures doesn’t mean anything.

      4) “The New Testament Scriptures are helpful in that most of us need a teacher to help us understand that the Old Testament was teaching of Christ.” So what? You need new books to explain old books, and then you’d need newer books to explain the new books that explain the old books, if you only believe in books. The certainty that written books tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth amounts to a deification, or properly speaking, sanctification and worship of the written word.
      5) “The Apostles were the teachers, but now they are all dead .New Testament Scriptures, written by them, stand in their place.” That made me laugh. How many apostles wrote books in the NT? Mark? No. Luke? No. Matthew? No. John? No. Paul? Some (not an eye-witness, though). Peter? Some. James? Some. What about the others? Why do you argue those books “stand in their place”, then? It has never worked, and doesn’t work today.

      You once wrote:

      “This is unlike the Scripture, which we know comes from the Apostles, was breathed out by God, and unlike vacuous claims to oral tradition there is no debate as to its unadulterated nature.”

      “we know comes from the Apostles” — how do you know? written/oral non-sacred traditions about authorship?

      “breathed out by God” — no evidence, except a book that says inside that it was inspired by God/Deus/Theos/Allah.

      There are many debates and a virtual consensus that those “scriptures” are the result of oral traditions. If oral traditions are unreliable, so are written traditions based on oral traditions. A claim that the scriptures come from the apostles is a vacuous claim to oral tradition, too. And there are obvious debates about the adulterated nature of written traditions [ie, NT, OT, the Qur’an] derived from oral traditions.

    8. So it’s true that the Old Testament, properly understood, taught the Resurrection. And so it’s true that, had Jesus opened up John’s understanding of the Scripture, John could have come to belief in the Resurrection on the basis of Scripture alone.

      But that’s not what happened. John explicitly comes to faith in the Resurrection apart from the witness of Scripture.

      Craig, given what you’ve said, should John have withheld belief in Christ’s Resurrection until someone showed it to him in Scripture?

      1. Joe, as I already said before, the Old Testament was sufficient until the coming of Christ. Then, knowing CHrist, being all sufficient but not contradicting Scripture, was of importance. When He resurrected, He promised the Holy Spirit would lead specifically the Apostles into all truth. These Apostles do not live (on Earth) anymore, so if you want all truth, you need to look at what they wrote, as Irenaeus said.

        God bless,
        Craig

        1. Craig,

          I’m not following. Are you saying that it went:

          – sola Scriptura is true (pre-Christ)
          – sola Scriptura is false (Christ’s earthly ministry)
          – ???? (Apostolic period)
          – sola Scriptura is true (post-Apostolic period)

          Or are you saying something else? I can’t really tell how you would answer the question that I asked.

          1. Good reply Joe.

            First, let’s reiterate what Sola Scriptura even means. It means the Scripture is the sole religious authority for doctrine. It does not mean one has to read the Scripture to be saved. It does not mean that the Scripture can be interpreted any way one likes or in complete disregard of tradition. Tradition, however, can be fallible in points. This is not true of Scripture, so nothing is over, beyond, or on the same playing field as Scripture.

            The following would be my speculation:

            “– sola Scriptura is true (pre-Christ)”

            Yes and no. For a period of time there were still legitimate prophets in the land. Further, God did not require the same level of knowledge for salvation. We are not talking about rocket science though. Job trusted in his Redeemer and he did not have Scripture. The story does not tell us how he received revelation. As for the Jews, it was through prophets, and special esteem was reserved for the books of Moses, as they predated contemporary prophets.

            So, in short, whatever prophet and Scriptures existed during the time were the sole inerrant authority, and completely sufficient for doctrine as God wanted man to practice.

            “– sola Scriptura is false (Christ’s earthly ministry)”

            Yes, as everything Christ said was infallible, so the Scripture could not be the sole infallible authority.

            “– ???? (Apostolic period)”

            Similar yes and no answer that I gave about BC.

            “– sola Scriptura is true (post-Apostolic period)”

            Yes, no more continuing prophecy that is infallible.

            I know the way you phrased the questions was meant to be incredulous, but the questions are good and the answers to them are relatively simple.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. KO - Son of Odin, the Lord of the Worlds, Smasher of Worlds, Lord of Asgard, the Old, the Wise Worshipper of Sacred Trees and Stones says:

            “Job trusted in his Redeemer and he did not have Scripture. The story does not tell us how he received revelation.”

            Did Job write the book of Job? Did he receive revelation? I don’t think so. Of course in his story he didn’t have scripture.

            “As for the Jews, it was through prophets, and special esteem was reserved for the books of Moses, as they predated contemporary prophets.”
            “Special esteem” does not mean exclusivity. Otherwise, there would be no interpretive tradition to speak of. Arguing that the Jews derived no authority from their religious authorities and just read their books and that there were no oral teachings in a 90% illiterate society just outstretches reason.

            You could take a look at the book “Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine”, by Hezser.
            According to a review, “Rabbis can certainly be classed as literate intellectuals, though Hezser believes that this intellectual effort took place more on the oral than on the written level”

            As for the “NO” part of your answer, you really just argued for “YES”.

            I still wonder why Christ would have gathered a band of illiterate Galilean peasants to be his disciples, and why he didn’t tell them to write down his teachings. If he really cared about sola scriptura, he’d have ordered people to start writing about him right away, so that there would be no danger of later corruption. As I said earlier,


            ” those “scriptures” are the result of oral traditions. If oral traditions are unreliable, so are written traditions based on oral traditions. A claim that the scriptures come from the apostles is a vacuous claim to oral tradition, too.”

          3. Craig,

            Your point about Job is astute, and I think it is a good model for answering the broader question of the knowledge needed for salvation. One way of describing faith is saying yes to the revelation of God. So there’s a big difference, then, between the person who believes X contrary to what’s been revealed to them, and the person who believes X in innocent ignorance. The first person is saying “no” to God’s revelation (which is the same as saying no to God); but the second person isn’t. We see this distinction alluded to in Acts 17:29-31, when St. Paul says,

            “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.”

            This is somewhat afield from the specific question of whether God’s revelation includes Scripture only or more than that, but it IS relevant to the errancy of the anti-Biblical impulse of focusing upon the “sufficiency” of Scripture, as if we ought to be looking for the bare minimum of God’s revelation rather than His fullness.

          4. Craig,

            More to the heart of your point, your distinction makes sense. When Christ is walking the earth, or a prophet, an Apostle, or anyone receiving ongoing revelation is alive, it would be indefensible to claim that only their writings are inspired or binding.

            But we know that not every word that these prophets and Apostles said was recorded (as far as I can recall, we have only a single line in the Bible from the Apostle Jude, and nothing from the prophetess Anna). So wouldn’t the message that they proclaimed remain binding even after their death?

            I mean, picture being a Christian in the late 1st century. I’m bound (it sounds like we agree) to follow both what I read in the writings of the Apostles, plus what I’ve heard them preach, or reliably know from others that they preached. And while those two sources are going to overlap significantly, they’re not coterminous. (Do we agree so far?)

            Now eventually, the Apostles start dying off, one by one. But I haven’t forgotten what they’ve taught, and I am still bound by it, right? And the same would hold true for anyone else who I shared this witness with, right?

            I’m just wondering where the point is where that changes, and why. It seems like the two points would be (a) if every single thing preached was written down;or (b) if every single thing orally transmitted was lost. But what evidence do we have of either of those things happening?

            I.X.,

            Joe

          5. Joe,

            I think we are on the same page, other than on one point so let me highlight that.

            You make the point that when an Apostle, let’s say Paul, walked the Earth and taught that what he taught had authority and was binding.

            Now, it is a matter of no dispute, that Paul taught and wrote things we no longer have today. He mentions another letter he wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Cor, he mentions a letter to the Laodiceans, he writes of “the word of God,” which isn’t a written word per se but a summation of his teachings.

            So, I will readily concede that we know the Apostles taught a lot of things that are not existent in writing today.

            However, the part where we differ I think is this:

            -You think what is not in writing was preserved liturgically or in oral tradition, only to be written about later. These additional things are necessary to worship God in His fullness.

            -I think the New Testament letters we presently have are the only written, Apostolic authorities we have beyond dispute. Hence, they are infallible and inerrant, something we can say of no other writings. Further, being that the Old Testament itself is sufficient, so is the New Testament, “for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things” (Athanasius, De Synodis). What I find historically lacking is the serious postulation of another authority alongside the Scriptures, which leads me to infer the exclusivity of the Scriptures inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency.

            In early church practice, we can see extensively in the writings of someone like Irenaeus he appeals to no other authority. The same would be said of anything written within the first two centuries of the Church. As we get into the third, fourth, and even fifth centuries we have mentions of oral traditions which “carry the force of Law” (I forget if that is Jerome or Tertullian), but even Catholics must admit none of these things are doctrinal. Tertullian speaks of crossing oneself on his forehead, there is the tasting of milk and honey after baptism, and other rites but not essentially doctrines. Then, as we continue on, we have continued affirmations of the role of Scripture as the authority pertaining to doctrines.

            So, I view sola scriptura as historically grounded, as we can all readily admit to the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of the Scripture.

            God bless,
            Craig

          6. Craig,

            I’m not sure what you mean about the Old Testament being “sufficient.” An Israelite couldn’t decide to follow the Old Testament alone, and reject the oral teachings of a prophet… right? I think we already established that. But if that’s the case, what does it even mean to say that the OT (or Scripture more broadly) is “sufficient”? We both already agreed that it’s not the fullness of revelation, and that anyone with more revelation is bound to follow all of that revelation.

            That leads me to a couple of points. You’re of course right that ” the New Testament letters we presently have are the only written, Apostolic authorities we have beyond dispute.” By definition, unwritten Tradition wasn’t initially transmitted in writing, even if it has long since been written.

            But if you take these concentric circles, with the outermost (blue) one being “Revelation,” Scripture is the interior (yellow) circle that doesn’t occupy that full space. This much you seem to concede, at least during the Apostolic era. But is it plausible that the earliest Christians reliably recorded none of that body of orally-proclaimed Gospel? That is, are we really to assume that everything in the blue has been lost to history?

            You suggest that sola Scriptura is “historically grounded,” and it’s true that Scripture is the clearest common authority. I haven’t closely followed your claims about Irenaeus, or why you claim he “appeals to no other authority” than Scripture, but he explicitly appeals to both Scripture and Tradition in Book III, Chapter 2:

            “When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. [….] But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth.[….] It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.”

            You might assume that the content of Tradition is identical to the content of Scripture, but that’d be assuming your conclusion. And even if you wanted to assume that the two were functionally identical, it wouldn’t support your demonstrably-false contention that he only appeals to one of the two.

            The Patristic writings on the regula fidei make it clear that they viewed the transmission of revelation as a single whole consisting of the text of the Scriptures, the proper interpretation of the Scriptures, particular elements of praxis, etc.

            And in any case, claiming that sola Scriptura is true because – despite being unsupported by Scripture, and contrary to the written text – it is “historically grounded” is more than a little ironic, right? And by that I mean, isn’t it inherently contradictory to reject Scripture alone to affirm it?

            I.X.,

            Joe

          7. Joe,

            “I’m not sure what you mean about the Old Testament being “sufficient.””

            Sufficient in the sense that Paul was talking of it in 2 Tim 3:16. In the absence of a prophet, all the run-of-the-mill Jew had was the Scripture. But, in order to prevent us from getting into the confusing period of Judges to the Babylonian Captivity (where the Law was lost, the prophets operated regionally, etc) sufficiency would apply to the Scriptures at large after Ezra.

            But, again, I don’t see the point about arguing about this as we can go back to the example of Job, where God had less revelation accessible at that time (to the point we are not sure what kind of revelation Job had access to.) So, let me state succinctly: Whatever revelation God has available at a given point in time for His people is sufficient as an authority.

            “An Israelite couldn’t decide to follow the Old Testament alone, and reject the oral teachings of a prophet… right?”

            Yes, but we already covered the “yes and no” issue above, so I don’t want to rehash it, we would be gong backwards in this conversation.

            “By definition, unwritten Tradition wasn’t initially transmitted in writing, even if it has long since been written.”

            Yes, the main point of contention here is this: What guarantee do we have that the unwritten tradition, now in writing, is word-for-word accurately representing that unwritten tradition?

            “But is it plausible that the earliest Christians reliably recorded none of that body of orally-proclaimed Gospel?”

            Sure! If you study history, a lot of stuff is lost to collective memory. For example, what did the love feasts exactly look like and why don’t we still practice them? So, if we have things that are written which were forgotten, of course unwritten things are forgotten.

            So, what Sola Scriptura states is not that every revelation ever spoken has been recorded in the Scriptures. Rather, we argue that the Scriptures are sufficient above all else and what they have is enough to accurately present Apostolic doctrine, which comes from Christ and the Holy Spirit.

            ” I haven’t closely followed your claims about Irenaeus, or why you claim he “appeals to no other authority” than Scripture, but he explicitly appeals to both Scripture and Tradition in Book III, Chapter 2:…”

            It appears you are missing the fact that Irenaeus generally (though not always) is conflating Scripture with Tradition, especially in Chapter 2. You, in your block quote, ironically (though I presume not purposely) cut out the most important part which completely disproves your whole contention:

            When, however, they [the Gnostics] are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce : wherefore also Paul declared, But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world. 1 Corinthians 2:6And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

            2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth….It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition. .

            The Gnostics claimed that the Scriptures were insufficient because, among other things, they claimed that “they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce.”

            Clearly, Irenaeus denounces both “viva voce” (ie oral tradition) as an authority and the idea some tradition or authority is needed to interpret the Scriptures, as they are too ambiguous to understand. This completely contradicts modern Catholic claims. He then also points to “tradition” (which is revealed to be the Epistles of the Apostles) as an authority which would likewise affirm the clear meaning of the Gospels against Gnostic doctrines. Irenaeus sums up the issue at length in AH 3.4.1:

          8. 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. Revelation 22:17 For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. 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 intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings?

            The tradition of the Apostles are “writings.” Irenaeus writes incredulously “how should it be” that if “there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches” in “writings?”

            Book III makes clear these writings are the Epistles, and he spends all of Book III making his arguments from the Epistles, though he goes into a ton of tangents of course.

            But, then Irenaeus anticipates the Gnostic objection that the Gnostics would reject “tradition” (the Apostolic epistles) in favor of their own personal revelation or the claim that they received a better tradition (Apostolic writings and teachings) secretly conveyed to them by a chain of succession going back to the Apostles. To this, Irenaeus responds that there is no doubt that the Catholic Church has the correct tradition, because all of the churches which received letters from the apostles can prove that they are led by people with succession going back to the letters’ recipients.

            So, the way you have quoted Irenaeus, thinking he was speaking of a tradition exclusive and alongside the Scripture, shows that you misunderstand explicit statements from Irenaeus. It appears by not quoting them, you do not understand or appreciate* Irenaeus point.

            *I don’t mean “appreciate” in the send you are unthankful, but rather the force of Irenaeus words on this point may have not been of importance in your mind.

            “You might assume that the content of Tradition is identical to the content of Scripture, but that’d be assuming your conclusion”.

            …no, that would be restating what Irenaeus literally says.

            “And in any case, claiming that sola Scriptura… is “historically grounded” is more than a little ironic, right?”

            Not really, in fact Scripture alone is the only authority which is ascribed to and appealed to in the ancient Church.

            “And by that I mean, isn’t it inherently contradictory to reject Scripture alone to affirm it?”

            I would agree, but the Scripture attests to itself that we must look to it to deal with disputes of doctrine (2 Tim 3-4, 2 Peter 1-2), so if you and I have a dispute over doctrine, it would make sense for me to follow what the Apostles told me to actually do. Being that the ancient church followed this model, this gives me comfort that I have read the Apostles correctly.

            God bless,

            Craig

          9. Joe,

            It is also worth adding this one citation from Irenaeus I just randomly came across:

            Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions (AH 1.8.1).

        2. Except for that you’re assuming that everything they taught is written in the Bible. We believe the Apostolic deposit too. We disagree with your interpretation of Ireneus’s writings and believe that there were additional oral teachings of the Apostles (which comport with, and are identical to what they taught in scripture).

          You quoted him below:

          “Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others [i.e. other churches]…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 intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches (AH 3.4.1)?”

          All he’s saying here is that if the Apostles hadn’t written down their teachings, than we would have only Tradition (which is true in the Catholic sense as well as the Protestant understanding). I believe you’re reading into his text that he believes that the Scriptures = Apostolic Tradition, seeing as his writings make just as much sense if you assume he believes that the Scriptures and Tradition teach the same basic truths, but come from different sources, and manifest the teachings of Christ differently in details — i.e. that there are details in Tradition that aren’t in the Scriptures.

          1. “Except for that you’re assuming that everything they taught is written in the Bible.”

            No, that’s what Irenaeus is saying.

            “All he’s saying here is that if the Apostles hadn’t written down their teachings, than we would have only Tradition…”

            No, that’s not what he is saying. Do you have a quote that shows your contention? I don’t think you actually have read Irenaeus.

            Irenaeus said on the topic, “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith” (AH 3.1.1).

            Irenaeus was aware of Papias and oral traditions, but he never considers them the source of doctrine. He spends all of Books III, IV, and V arguing from the Scriptures, because they are the “ground and pillar of our faith.” The reason he even speaks of APostolic Succession is to prove that the Scriptures orthodox churches have are correct.

            I think a lot of people quote Irenaeus, but not a lot of people actually read him. Hence, the confusion.

          2. Craig, You can’t quote Irenaeus out of context like that. Lets look at the whole section of AH 3.1.1:

            “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed perfect knowledge, as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God. Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.”

            As we can see, his focus is on the 4 Gospels written by the evangelists as a summary of their preaching related to Jesus and it is that information that is to be the “pillar and ground of our faith.” The context is clear on this. To read in a “sola scriptura” message here from Irenaeus would actually reduce to “sola Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” Of course, only 2 of those are actually apostles (the other to being close associates fair enough). Only 3, possibly 4 of the twelve apostles present in the upper room on Pentecost wrote any scripture at all. If they had planned to commit the entirety of the deposit of faith to writing, they dropped the ball. It’s also not the “scriptures” that Irenaeus identifies as the “pillar and ground of our faith” but rather the Gospel. Now is the Gospel contained in the Scriptures? Of course! Who would ever deny it? But it also comes to us through the Apostles divinely inspired oral preaching as well. As a side note, it’s also interesting how Irenaeus says that the “foundation of the Church” was laid at Rome by Peter and Paul…;)

            And to further the point that Irenaeus believed the Apostolic oral tradition to be of equal authority with scripture here is AH 3.2.2

            “But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.”

            Again, the tradition is “preserved by the successors of the presbyters in the Churches.” This is not compatible with sola scriptura. And basically all of AH 3.3 does not bode well for the protestant position. It’s usually then that Irenaeus’s credibility is attacked by interpreting him to make Jesus over 50 years old or something. Thank you for at least not doing that.

            In response to Alex saying that in AH 3.4.1, Irenaeus is merely stating that in absence of Scripture, Tradition suffices. To which you said:

            “No, that’s not what he is saying. Do you have a quote that shows your contention? I don’t think you actually have read Irenaeus.”

            Dude, read the next paragraph Irenaeus writes AH 3.4.2:

            “To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent. Those who, in the absence of written documents, have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but as regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in all righteousness, chastity, and wisdom. If any one were to preach to these men the inventions of the heretics, speaking to them in their own language, they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far off as possible, not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established.”

            Irenaeus clearly states here that there are people who “without paper and ink” are “carefully preserving the ancient tradition” and are doing so in “absence of written documents.” Not only are these people orthodox in their faith but their faith is vibrant and they could recognize Gnosticism for the sham that it is, all purely from Oral Tradition!

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          3. Matt, you are really misreading Irenaeus. Irenaeus makes clear he is speaking not just of the Gospels (which he actually in his own mind focuses on only in Book IV), but all the writings of the Apostles to the churches (which is, thematically, the entire topic of Book III.)

            I cannot help but think you are commenting on something you do not thoroughly understand, so you misread Irenaeus. I already quoted where Irenaeus spoke of the writings between the Apostles and the churches, and this prefaces the entire discussion on Apostolic Succession. I linked to you two articles where I go into more detail.

            If necessary, my commentary on Book III is actually done on Google Docs, and I go over point-by-point Irenaeus’ argument from the Preface to Chap 5.

            I need to go on another computer to post it, give me a sec…

        3. Craig: I don’t think you actually have read Irenaeus.

          Fair enough, made a closer read, paying close attention to Book III. The reason why I disagree with your interpretation of 3.1.1 is because he proceeds to spend Chapters II and III asserting again and again that the Tradition is passed down through the succession of presbyters/bishops, and once speaks of the necessity of doctrinal agreement with Rome. He even explains what this Tradition is, paraphrasing what we know today as the Apostle’s creed.

          Heres an excerpt from 3.3.1:

          “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.”

          You don’t need a succession of Bishops to preserve the scriptures. Existing manuscripts, or otherwise, a scribe suffices. You do need Bishops to preserve Tradition.

          I contend that the pillar and ground of faith in 3.1.1 in light of what he says repeatedly in chapters 2 and 3, is the Church itself. Here’s my interpretation italicized interspersed with the text:

          We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those [i.e. the Church] through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public [Tradition, handed down by the presbyters, as mentioned in chapters 2 and 3], and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures [handed down later, i.e. tradition came first, but then there was an additional, supplemental, deposit: the Scriptures], to be the ground and pillar of our faith. [i.e. the Church, whose teaching is manifest in the two sources mentioned above as a united but separated deposit]

          1. Alex and Matt,

            again, I commend you guys to read the whole section on Irenaeus. My articles give a fuller defense but in short irenaeus is speaking of apostolic tradition as the scripture and ulhe uses the examples of apostolic succession and the barbarians to authenticate that the orthodox scriptures are true. To miss this is to miss irenaeus whole argument and his next 3 books.

            this is why I am so insistent that it is obvious you guys have not read the whole section. If you have and understood it you couldn’t say what you are saying.

            God bless
            Craig

          2. Alex, he just wants you to read and interpret it as he does. I don’t know, maybe it’s time to read some interpretations of Irenaeus by more knowledgeable people, to see whether a host of traditional scholarship on him agrees with Craig’s interpretation or not.

        4. I don’t wish to comment on Craig Truglia’s assertion that St Irenaeus supported the doctrine of sola scriptura but I would like to make two points. The first is that by referring to St Irenaeus, Craig is presumably making him some kind of authority – or why quote him. But if Craig really wishes to appeal to St Irenaeus then he will have to agree with all the other things which St Irenaeus said, such as, “Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.”
          And:
          “But the path of those belonging to the Church circumscribes the whole world, as possessing the sure tradition from the apostles, and gives unto us to see that the faith of all is one and the same, since all receive one and the same God the Father, and believe in the same dispensation regarding the incarnation of the Son of God, and are cognizant of the same gift of the Spirit, and are conversant with the same commandments, and preserve the same form of ecclesiastical constitution, and expect the same advent of the Lord, and await the same salvation of the complete man, that is, of the soul and body. And undoubtedly the preaching of the Church is true and steadfast, in which one and the same way of salvation is shown throughout the whole world. For to her is entrusted the light of God; and therefore the wisdom of God, by means of which she saves all men, is declared in [its] going forth; it utters [its voice] faithfully in the streets, is preached on the tops of the walls, and speaks continually in the gates of the city. Proverbs 1:20-21 For the Church preaches the truth everywhere, and she is the seven-branched candlestick which bears the light of Christ.”
          Notes the reference to ‘the sure tradition from the apostles’ and the references to ‘the Church’ as being a clearly single, visible institution.
          The second point is that it is not an uncommon technique of Protestant apologists to quote a single statement from one Church Father and assert that it supports their doctrine while completely ignoring anything that same Father said supporting Catholic doctrine. It is also not an uncommon technique to quote a single Church Father on one point and ignore all the other Church Fathers on that same point.

          1. The second point is that it is not an uncommon technique of Protestant apologists…

            You’re right: as I said, “Irenaeus is useful [for Craig] only insofar as he agrees with Craig.” That is, Irenaeus (and any other thinker) is just a tool for Craig’s apologetics. We’d better treat Craig’s Irenaeus quotes as if it were Craig speaking.

            completely ignoring anything that same Father said supporting Catholic doctrine.

            Yes, he wants us to interact with him on his own terms (Irenaeus is a proto-Protestant, the Bible is the source of all wisdom, and must be interpreted according to Craig’s doctrines).

            For all it’s worth, Craig’s verborrhagy is more obtuse than a 1st-century CE bunch of illiterate peasants from Palestine.

    9. -does the first point contain a logical fallacy?
      -did the second point miss the gift of the living apostolic succession?
      Please consider the Sacred Tradition as a gift, not as a burden. By the way, Greek and Russian bibles contain the Deuterocanonical books. Blessings!

  2. St. Iraenaaeus:

    A refutation of the heretics, from the fact that, in the various Churches, a perpetual succession of bishops was kept up.

    1. 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 if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to the perfect apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. 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.

    2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere….

    +++++++++++++++ end of quotes+++++++++++

    Mr. T. You know I can post scores of other examples proving your implication can easily be shown to be inaccurate

    1. Alex and Mick,

      Being that both of your responses relate to Irenaeus, I would point you guys to AH Book 3, Preface through Chap 5 and also Chap 25. In order to read the above quotation and actually understand Irenaeus’ point, you have to read Irenaeus from the beginning on this one (it does not take long.)

      If I can pull one quote which I think sums it up, let me choose this:

      Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others [i.e. other churches]…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 intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches (AH 3.4.1)?

      Now, while I am sure people expect me to quote more proof texts, it is hard to point to a single “smoking gun” for me to prove that Irenaeus specifically conflated Apostolic Tradition and their teachings with the New Testament itself. I think the above, relatively succinctly, makes Irenaeus’ point. In order to get a better idea, you have to read preface through 5. Why? Because Irenaeus himself spent essentially five chapters (Preface through Four) proving that point and after having done so writes:

      Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles [SPECIFICALLY THE SCRIPTURES!!!] does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth (AH 3.5.1).

      This is no short topic. I wrote two articles on it:

      https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/07/24/irenaeus-view-of-scripture-and-apostolic-succession-part-i/
      https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/07/28/irenaeus-view-of-scripture-and-apostolic-succession-part-ii/

      So yes Mick, Irenaeus specifically was a Bible only Catholic and actually criticized Gnostics for having a nebulous oral tradition.

      __

      Let me address another point from Alex:

      This points to (potentially) the sufficiency of the Old Testament Scriptures, not their exclusivicity with regard to infallibility. Sola Scriptura requires both criteria.

      I agree. It is worth pointing out that the Old Testament alone is not the only infallible source of revelation, for every word breathed out by Christ was revelation, and every spoken word and stroke of the pen specifically inspired by the Spirit through the Apostles likewise was infallible.

      With the passing of the Apostles, however, we have no new Apostles. Hence, with the Apostles’ writings, when taken together with the Old Testament, we have exclusivity in regards to infallibility and this is the historical Church position (and not the modern Catholic one.) Augustine doubted the infallibility of Councils and writing of any Bishop, no matter how saintly. He specifically ascribed such authority to Scripture alone.

      We also have historical examples of the Pope playing second fiddle, for example with Nestorius. Long story short the Pope gave Nestorius 10 days to recant after receiving a letter through Cyril. Nestorius appealed to the Eastern Roman Emperor. The 10 day deadline was ignored and an Ecumenical Council was held, in defiance of the Pope’s decision.

      Now, I know saying this is like throwing a rock at a hornet’s nest, so please forgive me for defending my position for I am not a Roman Catholic.

      This is why, when people posit the infallible 1. “oral tradition” and 2. “teaching authority” of the Catholic Church, I cry shennanigans because 1. was historically understood by men like Irenaeus to not be fully reliable and so he deferred to written Scriptures and 2. no ancient Christian wrote of the Pope, or councils being infallible. Of course they wrote that you cannot interpret the Scripture outside of the traditions of the Church, but historical Reformed Protestants believe the same thing. The real point of difference is the supposed infallibility of Ecumenical Councils and Papal doctrinal rulings–the problem for Catholics is they cannot point to any ancient evidence of either of these.

      In this thread, if people want to discuss more of the finer details of Irenaeus’ thinking, I will respond to that. As for everything else, I opened too many cans of worms. If I write any responses to that, if at all, they will be very short. Time constraints 🙁

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. KO - Son of Odin, the Lord of the Worlds, Smasher of Worlds, Lord of Asgard, the Old, the Wise Worshipper of Sacred Trees and Stones says:

        “Of course they wrote that you cannot interpret the Scripture outside of the traditions of the Church, but historical Reformed Protestants believe the same thing.”

        “believe the same thing” but they don’t believe in traditions or a [united, visible, authoritative] Church. So they don’t believe in the same thing. Protestant ultimately believe in the personal interpretation of the sacred books, just as you arguing with your pastor that some books should be considered sacred, and he deeming you a heretic proto-crypto-Catholic.

        Except that “historical Reformed Protestants” splintered into as many “traditions of the Church” as there are interpretations. I doubt that contemporary Baptists are “historical Reformed Protestants”, though.

      2. Craig: With the passing of the Apostles, however, we have no new Apostles. Hence, with the Apostles’ writings, when taken together with the Old Testament, we have exclusivity in regards to infallibility and this is the historical Church position (and not the modern Catholic one.) Augustine doubted the infallibility of Councils and writing of any Bishop, no matter how saintly. He specifically ascribed such authority to Scripture alone.

        Me: I would agree, if the only certain teachings of the Apostles were written in scripture alone. We’ve been over Augustine before, no need to retread. We have demonstrated in the past strong evidence that he believed the authority of Tradition.

        As for the writings of Bishops and Councils: we’ve also treated that before with regard to Augustine. This topic is different from the subject of Holy Tradition, because the authority of Tradition, as I explained before, rests on the principle of sensus fidelium, which is a principle derived from Scripture, namely, Matthew 16:18 among others.

        Tradition and Scripture are the two sources of authority, while Plenary Councils and Popes clarify doctrines and work out the implications of doctrines (i.e. derived doctrines) authoritatively. The Church isn’t a third source of new teachings.

        Listen to St. Basil the Great on this one:

        “Of the dogmas and messages preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety, both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the gospel in its vitals; or rather, we would reduce [Christian] message to a mere term” (The Holy Spirit 27:66 [A.D. 375]).

        And St. Epiphanius of Salamis:

        “It is needful also to make use of tradition, for not everything can be gotten from sacred Scripture. The holy apostles handed down some things in the scriptures, other things in tradition” (Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 61:6 [A.D. 375]).

        And St. Augustine:

        “[T]he custom [of not rebaptizing converts] . . . may be supposed to have had its origin in apostolic tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:23[31] [A.D. 400]).

        And St. John Chrysostom:

        “[Paul commands,] ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter’ [2 Thess. 2:15]. From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there is much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further” (Homilies on Second Thessalonians [A.D. 402]).

        Seeing as so many eminent, worthy, and holy men of the late fourth and early third century (including ☺ St. Augustine! ) believed that Tradition was distinct from Scripture, and no less authoritative, why not believe the same?

        Pax Domini

          1. “Half-self-learned (from Reformed theology), half-Baptist/Presbyterian-church-learned Reformed teachings”, then. Better?

          2. Cardinal Newman says “to be steeped in history is to cease being Protestant”. Craig, I am asking you please pray for the people who are in conversation with you. I am praying for you and for Joe. Please pray for me. Thank you.

          3. You must know that by claiming we must abide by sola scriptura means we Catholic ought to mark you as a heretic and avoid you.

            Now, this is not my blog and Father-to-be can do as he pleases with it but I will post a bit from St John Chrysostom, a Dr, of the Church, having to do with this:

            Romans XVI. 17, 18

            Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

            (Exegesis by the Dr.)

            Again an exhortation, and prayer after the exhortation. For after telling them to mark them which cause divisions, and not to listen to them, he proceeds, And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly: and, The grace of our Lord be with you. And notice how gently too he exhorts them: doing it not in the character of a counsellor, but that of a servant, and with much respect. For he calls them brethren, and supplicates them likewise. For, I beseech you, brethren, (he says). Then he also puts them on the defensive by showing the deceitfulness of those who abused them. For as though they were not at once to be discerned, he says, I beseech you to mark, that is, to be exceedingly particular about, and to get acquainted with, and to search out thoroughly— whom, pray? Why, those that cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned. For this is, if anything the subversion of the Church, the being in divisions. This is the devil’s weapon, this turns all things upside-down. For so long as the body is joined into one, he has no power to get an entrance, but it is from division that the offense comes. And whence is division? From opinions contrary to the teaching of the Apostles. And whence come opinions of this sort? From men’s being slaves to the belly, and the other passions. For such, he says, serve not the Lord, but their own belly. And so there would be no offense, there would be no division, unless some opinion were thought of contrary to the doctrine of the Apostles. And this he here points out by saying, contrary to the doctrine. And he does not say which we have taught, but which you have learned, so anticipating them, and showing that they were persuaded of and had heard them and received them. And what are we to do to those who make mischief in this way? He does not say have a meeting and come to blows, but avoid them. For if it was from ignorance or error that they did this, one ought to set them right. But if they sin willingly, spring away from them. And in another place too he says this. For he says, Withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly 2 Thessalonians 3:6: and in speaking to Timothy about the coppersmith, he gives him the like advice, and says, Of whom also beware. 2 Timothy 4:15 Then also to lash (κωμῳδὥν) those who dare to do such things, he mentions also the reason of their devising this division. For they that are such, he says, serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly. And this he said too when he wrote to the Philippians, Whose god is their belly. Philippians 3:19 But here he appears to me to intimate those of the Jews, whom he ever uses particularly to find fault with as gluttonous. For in writing to Titus too, he said of them, Evil beasts, slow bellies. Titus 1:12, see 5:10 And Christ also blames them on this head: You devour widows’ houses Matthew 23:14, He says. And the Prophets accuse them of things of the kind. For, My beloved, He says, has waxen fat and gross, and has kicked Deuteronomy 32:15. Wherefore also Moses exhorted them, and said, When you have eaten and drunken and are full, remember the Lord your God. (ib. 6:11, 12.) And in the Gospels, they who say to Christ, What sign do you show unto us? John 6:30 pass over everything else, and remember the manna. So do they everywhere appear to be possessed with this affection. How then do you come not to be ashamed at having slaves of the belly for your teachers, when you are a brother of Christ? Now the ground of the error is this, but the mode of attack is again a different disorder, viz. flattery. For it is by fair speeches, he says, that they deceive the hearts of the simple. For their attention reaches only to words; but their meaning is not such, for it is full of fraud. And he does not say that they deceive you, but the hearts of the simple. And even with this he was not satisfied, but with a view to making this statement less grating…

            ++++++++++ end of quotes+++++++

            It seems to me that you take delight in pointing out what you believe are the errors of the Church and I understand that Father-to-be is exceedingly patient with you (prolly because you are intelligent and, thus likely to be open to the fullness of the truth) but you are constrained to urge us to mark you out and avoid you -if you truly are a sola scriptura adherent.

            O, and you also know there are other similar passages abut avoiding men like you

            Titus 3:10
            Mat 7:15
            2 John 10,11
            Phil 3:2

            Sola Scriptura warrior, meet petard 🙂

          4. Mick, thank you for your thoughts. I think the discipline is applicable to the members of the Church, and not to those outside, like Craig. We are to pray for them and to seek understanding. “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world”. This blog is a spiritual work of mercy, lead by our good seminarian, and an important part of his training. It seems that most of us here try to support Joe. But in the end, it is MARY and the Holy Spirit who bring souls to Jesus.

  3. If ‘sola scriptura’ was in any way a valid doctrine in the Early Church I wonder how it’s possible that the very first canon from the 1st Ecumenical Council of Nicaea was something that promulgated something such as the following:

    Canon 1

    “If any one in sickness has been subjected by physicians to a surgical operation, or if he has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain among the clergy; but, if any one in sound health has castrated himself, it behooves that such an one, if [already] enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who wilfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men the Canon admits to the clergy.”

    This canon most certainly pertains to the bad example that Church Father Origin gave the Church by willfully being castrated. It was an example the Church did not want to promote. Yet, there WAS some scriptural support to cite in favor of it:

    For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’ s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it. (Matthew 19:12)

    So, the question is, if the early Church supported the doctrine of ‘sola scriptura’, then how could the First Ecumenical Council enact a canon such as this, considering the above Gospel quote and which is so explicit that some will make themselves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of God?

    It is clear that the Council ITSELF WAS the authority, and NOT scripture. And, this little proof is just one amongst many others like it.

  4. Why does just about every Catholic blog I go to have a Protestant (or whatever some of them call themselves now) as the first responders? I for one am not interested in listening to herecies. Ever since my wife and I really got into our Catholic faith we have had Protestants yapping at our heels. They are truly a bad distraction.

    1. David,

      The faith is meant to be shared: otherwise, it just becomes a closed circle. I mean, imagine if the Apostles had considered all of the non-believers around them as “distractions.” Where would the faith be?

      1. Joe, even your short comment here is a proof against sola scripture in the early Church. When you say the ‘faith is meant to be shared’ it is not ONLY scripture that effects faith and converts, but is also the faith in it’s entirety. This includes the witness of all of the virtues and examples of holy examples of love. It includes the gifts of the Holy Spirit, prayer, miracles, etc… all of which is the application of and the fulfilling of the Gospel message in our lives, and it is very impressive for those who encounter such Christian witness in the lives of other Christians. Scripture alone cannot convey the special character of this witness, it is really the tangible experience of the Holy spirit working in the lives of others.

        When the early Israelites saw the face of Moses glowing with holiness, this was a witness to them of the truth of his faith. This witness still exists today, it is in the depths of other Christian souls. So, in my opinion ‘sola scripture’ is also refuted by this type of Christian example and holiness, which also has power to convert and teach souls, in addition to the scriptures.

  5. Craig,
    It seems that when you refer to St. Irenaeus or other Ante-Nicene fathers, you refer to and rely upon a documented Tradition to argue against the reliability of Tradition.

    The Arguments Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus is focused primarily on explaining how the Valentinians twist and distort Scripture to prove their version of the truth. So it is natural that he would focus on the same Scriptures in refutation of that heresy. But he does not seem to abandon Tradition at all in these discourses, and speaks very strongly of the role of oral teaching and Tradition.

    In book I, chapter X, paragraph 2, St. Irenaeus writes:
    ‘2. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions(1) of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.

    Given the premise of Irenaeus that many heresies derive from a twisted but compelling interpretation of the Sciptures, which can lead believers astray, his quote above seems to underline the protective and interpretative role that Tradition has in addressing those who use Scripture alone to pervert the Truth.

    It is almost as though the Valentinian heretics were the ones using Scripture alone to support their distortion of the Truth. These heretics, “by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take them captive,..” (AH, book I, preface, para. 1.)

    1. Again you are reading irenaeus with presuppositions. He makes clear in book 3 that tradition is not oral, rather, it is the written intercourse of apostolic churches with the apostles. When reading irenaeus it is important to let the man define his own terms.

      further in book 3 he accuses the gnostics of depending upon a nebulous oral tradition. The gnostics were not solanscriptura nor does he ever present them as such. I don’t know where you got the idea seems made up.

      1. Craig,

        Are you forgetting about the institution of the early Church catechumenate? This is actually where Church Doctrine was taught in the early centuries. It should not be ignored in this discussion. In the early Church one might indeed have various of the scriptures at hand, but a convert wouldn’t be baptized unless he were first tested and approved by the early Church’s appointed catechists. I presume you are familiar with this? Here’s some more history from the New Advent.org Catholic Encyclopedia:

        “As the acceptance of Christianity involved belief in a body of doctrine and the observance of the Divine law (“teach, make disciples, scholars of them”; “teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you”, Matthew 28:20), it is clear that some sort of preliminary instruction must have been given to the converts. In Apostolic times this would vary according as these were Jews or pagans, and was naturally simple in character and short in duration. When, however, the churches came to be organized, the instruction and probation would be longer and more elaborate. Thus, as early as the date of the Epistle to the Galatians (56-57?) we meet with the mention of catechist and catechumen; but we cannot infer from this that the full regulations were already in force. It was rather the danger of apostasy, or even betrayal in time of persecution which gave rise to special precautions as to admission into the Church. To avert this danger a careful intellectual and moral preparation was needed: intellectual to guard against the arguments of the pagan philosophers; moral, to give strength against the torments of the persecutors. This is the “trial of faith more precious than gold which is tried by the fire” of which St. Peter speaks (1 Peter 1:7). Hence we find in St. Justin’s first Apology (c. lxi, P.G, VI, 420), distinct reference to the twofold preparation and also to the more elaborate rites of initiation: “Those who are persuaded and believe in the truth of our teachings (didaskomena) and sayings undertake to live accordingly; they are taught to ask, with fasting, the remission of their sins; we also praying and fasting with them. Then they are led by us to a place where there is water, and they are regenerated in the same way that we have been regenerated”, etc. By the end of the second century we find the catechumenate in force in all its main lines. Tertullian reproaches the heretics with disregarding it; among them, he says “one does not know which is the catechumen and which the faithful, all alike come [to the mysteries], all hear the same discourses and say the same prayers” (quis catechumenus, quis fidelis incertum est; pariter adeunt, pariter audiunt, pariter orant), “Catechumens are initiated before they are instructed” (ante sunt perfecti catechumeni quam edocti.–“De Praeser.”xli, P.L., II, 56) A little later we read of Origen being in charge of the catechetical school (tou tes katecheseos didaskaleiou) at Alexandria (Euseb., Hist., Eccl., VI, iii). It is not necessary to quote further authorities for the third and fourth centuries, the age in which the catechumenate flourished in its full form. During the years of persecution the necessity of the institution was realized, and in the intervals of peace the arrangements were more and more elaborated. When, however, Christianity finally triumphed over paganism, the reasons for retaining the catechumenate became less urgent. The majority were born of Christian families, and so were brought up in the Faith, and were in no danger of falling into paganism. Moreover, with the increasing development of the doctrine of grace, and original sin the practice of early baptism became the rule. Further, the conversion of the barbarians precluded the possibility of submitting them to any prolonged period of preparation. Hence the catechumenate gradually fell into disuse, and has merely left traces in the existing rites of baptism and reception in the Church. Still, even now, an informal species of the old regulations should be observed in the case of grown up converts.

        II. The catechumens were divided into mere inquirers (audientes, akromeni) and catechumens properly so-called; and in each stage there was a three-fold preparation — catechetical, ascetical, and liturgical.

        (1) If a pagan wished to become a Christian he was given some elementary instruction in the fundamental doctrines and practices of the Church (see CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE). He had to show by his conduct that he was in earnest about the step he was about to take. So far, he was only in the stage of inquiry, and was not counted as a Christian at all. He was allowed to be present at the first part of the Mass, but he was dismissed immediately after the sermon.

        (2) As soon as his instructors were satisfied that he was likely to persevere, the inquirer was promoted to the rank of catechumen. He was now entitled to be called a Christian, though he was not looked upon as one of the “faithful”. “Ask a man, ‘Are you a Christian?’ He answers, ‘No’, if he is a pagan or a Jew. But if he says ‘Yes’, ask him again, ‘Are you a catechumen or one of the faithful?'” (St. Augustine, Tractate 44 on the Gospel of John, no. 2).”

          1. It seems to me that an understanding of the ‘catechumenate’ is vital for a proper understanding of Irenaus, so as to interpret him correctly. And you cannot do that without a proper understanding of how he himself was formed and baptized to be a Christian in the early Church. For Irenaus that was specifically through the catecumenate system, as it was for all other Christians of the Church at his time. And this catechumenate system only allowed certain Christian beliefs to be advanced and promoted. They were the ‘doors’, so to say, that you needed to use to enter into the faith and sacraments of the Church. This is all an ecclesiastical reality that cannot be divorced from early Christian History, and has everything to do with a proper understanding of Church tradition.

            As you read above, the Christian faith was not taught simply with Scripture, which is only one part of the Holy Faith, but rather, was taught in the stated ” three-fold preparation — catechetical, ascetical, and liturgical.” These are all practical elements of the Church’s faith without which a convert would not be allowed to become a Christian.

            Considering this, the Protestant ecclesiastical model(s) we see today, would never be acceptable back then. Protestant minded folks would not have even been allowed to pass through the very first parts of the catechumenate. It was like a filter for guaranteeing orthodoxy and unity in the Early church.

            This was how the orthodox faith of the Holy Church was spread throughout the world, and you cannot understand fully any ECF without knowing this.

        1. “Again, did Irenaeus explicitly ascribe to that paradigm?”

          Yes, Craig, if you were a catechumen in the year 200AD during Irenaus’ time (125-202 AD) wherein he was about 75 years old, you would be subject to a very rigorous examination of your life by catechists under the leadership of St. Irenaus. We know this because St. Hippolytus wrote the “The Apostolic Tradition” at about the same time, Hippolytus being about 35years old in 200AD. This work gives many fine details of what it meant to be a Christian at about 200 AD, the same time as St. Irenaus lived. And, this work of Hippolytus was widely spread over the entire Roman Empire, and even as far as Ethiopia and Arabia. So, the rigors training and ‘scrutiny of life’ needed before baptism, was definitely something that applied to St. Irenaus, since they lived at the Same time, and probably knew each other.

          Here is a selection from the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, to give you an idea of how detailed the scrutiny and catechesis was at that time. Its just a short sample, but you can get the gist:

          “If a catechumen should be arrested for the name of the Lord, let him not hesitate about bearing his testimony; for if it should happen that they treat him shamefully and kill him, he will be justified, for he has been baptized in his own blood.
          20. They who are to be set apart for baptism shall be chosen after their lives have been examined: whether they have lived soberly, whether they have honoured
          the widows, whether they have visited the sick, whether they have been active in well-doing. When their sponsors have testified that they have done these things, then let them hear the Gospel. Then from the time that they are separated from the other catechumens, hands shall be laid upon them daily in exorcism and, as the day oftheir baptism draws near, the bishop himself shall exorcise each one of them that he may be personally assured of their purity. Then, if there is any of them who is not good or pure, he shall be put aside as not having heard the word in faith; for it is never possible for the alien to be concealed.

          Then those who are set apart for baptism shall be instructed to bathe and free themselves from impurity and wash themselves on Thursday. If a woman is menstruous, she shall be set aside and baptized on some other day.
          They who are to be baptized shall fast on Friday, and on Saturday the bishop shall assemble them and command them to kneel in prayer. And, laying his hand upon them, he shall exorcise all evil spirits to flee away and never to return; when he has done this he shall breathe in their faces, seal their foreheads, ears and
          noses, and then raise them up. They shall spend all that night in vigil, listening to reading and instruction.

          They who are to be baptized shall bring with them no other vessels than the one each will bring for the eucharist; for it is fitting that he who is counted worthy of
          baptism should bring his offering at that time.

          21. At cockcrow prayer shall be made over the water. The stream shall flow through the baptismal tank or pour into it from above when there is no scarcity of
          water; but if there is a scarcity, whether constant or sudden, then use whatever water you can find. They shall remove their clothing. And first baptize the little ones; if they can speak for themselves, they shall do so; if not, their parents or other relatives shall speak for them. Then baptize the men, and last of all the women; they must first loosen their hair and put aside any gold or silver ornaments that they were wearing : let no one take any alien thing down to the water with them.

          At the hour set for the baptism the bishop shall give thanks over oil and put it into a vessel: this is called the “oil of thanksgiving”. And he shall take other oil and exorcise it: this is called “the oil of exorcism”. A deacon shall bring the oil of exorcism, and shall stand at the presbyter’s left hand; and another deacon shall take the oil of thanksgiving, and shall stand at the presbyter’s right hand. Then the presbyter, taking hold of each of those about to be baptized, shall command him to renounce, saying: I renounce thee, Satan, and all thy servants and all thy works.

          And when he has renounced all these, the presbyter shall anoint him with the oil of exorcism, saying: Let all spirits depart far from thee. Then, after these things, let him give him over to the presbyter who baptizes…”

          ********************************

          This is just a very short sample of the many rites and customs practiced in the Church in about 200 AD. Hippolytus was not the inventor of these rites, He just organized them and gave them a form that was very suitable for use in the Universal (Catholic) Church throughout the known world at that time. And yes, Irenaus would have to ascribe to a ‘paradigm’ such as this. this was how things were done in the Church of 200AD.

          I can’t copy the entire book from Hippolytus’ work, but this gives an idea of the detail involved regarding catechumens. Google this address to find the entirety of Hippolytus’ “The Apostolic Tradition” in PDF form:

          http://www.rore-sanctifica.org/bibilotheque_rore_sanctifica/12-pretendue_tradition_apostolique_d_hippolyte/1934-burton_scott_easton-tradition_apostolique_d_hippolyte/Burton_Scott_Easton_-_The_Apostolic_Tradition_of_Hippolytus_(1934).pdf

          Best to you.

          1. Al,

            Your argument, as I understand it, is that when catechizing a convert they are taught the teaching of the Church and, you infer, this teaching is both Scriptural and extra-Scriptural.

            This is why I responded, do you know if Irenaeus ascribed to this paradigm? As, it appears very clear to me in Book III, he felt that
            the teaching of the Apostles was solely accessible in the New Testament Scriptures, and not in any sort of additional tradition.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. Craig,

            This is why I included specifically the work titled “The Apostolic Tradition” by St. Hippolytus. This ‘Tradition’ is filled with extra scriptural Church teachings derived from the Apostles. Much of this is liturgical, such as methods of baptism, exorcisms, Eucharistic prayers, items relating to fasting, and many other disciplinary and doctrinal items.

            And if it didn’t extend back to the Apostles, then it certainly wouldn’t be titled “The Apostolic Tradition”. And that it was written at the same time(or very close to it) of Irenaeus, and was so widespread throughout the ancient world, I consider it highly relevant to the argument against ‘sola scriptura’.

            The Early Church Fathers operated to a large extent in harmony with one another regarding apologetics and written teachings. If one Father wrote a treatise on a certain topic, it was not likely to be duplicated by another ECF very quickly. This is the case with S. Cyprian’s treatise on ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, which neither S. Augustine nor S. Ambrose wrote on, because they considered this treatise very suitable for their own particular catechetical teaching purposes. So, we really need to examine the ECF’s as working as a ‘group effort’, and which is why we cannot expect every ECF to write on every theological subject. Many were satisfied with their brother Bishops treaties and exegetical works. So, it’s good to view the Bishops as working as a ‘body’ of believers, as we witness in the early synods and Councils. This is why it’s not wise to just ‘cherry pick’ quotes from one Father, or the other, all the while neglecting the happenings of the Church as a whole at the time that the particular ECF lived. Everything must be considered, including martyrdoms, new movements such as monasticism, effects of heretics on the Church, growth of synods and councils, etc… Everything is linked together, and so must be considered together. That’s why I sent the link to Hippolytus…to add another piece to the puzzle for the better understanding of Early Church history, theology and scripture around Ireneaus’ time at about 200AD.

            The problem with ‘sola scripture’ is not the ‘scriptura’ part…it’s the ‘sola’ part; even as the Church argued to Luther back in the early 1500’s.

          3. Al,

            I would be careful in jumping to the conclusion that all someone has to write is that something is an “apostolic tradition” and that must mean this is a historical truism. Irenaeus was insistent that tradition corroborated his interpretation of John 8, that Jesus was about 50 years old.

            Clearly, Irenaeus’ tradition was wrong or he misinterpreted both the tradition and Scripture, and relayed to us a false evaluation.

            God bless,
            Craig

          4. Craig,

            I think I view the Church much different than you. And maybe this is because of the way that I was reverted back to the Catholic faith. By some providence I went to a library and went to the saints section, never reading anything about them before. I scanned the big shelf and came across the ‘Everyman’s edition of the Life of St. Francis, containing 3 entire books, including St. Bonaventures account. I took this to a park and read it completely, even skipping school until it was finished. I was a philosophy major at that time, but immediately changed majors, thinking that I would now be a Franciscan Friar. that’s how much that book impressed me. I was reverted in 2 days, and full of joy. I was beginning to be depressed by the Philosophy courses, and Francis reignited my love for true philosophy, which needed Jesus to perfect.
            So, first read the life of St. Francis, even before I read the Bible. I also read the ‘Confessions of St. Augustine before I read the Bible. And then, even after reading the Bible straight through, I read the Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’Kempis, a Christian Classic of the 15th century. And after this I cleaned out all the book stores in Berkeley CA of their best books on the ‘lives of the saints’. I also took a course in the History of Christianity at UC Berkeley and was introduced to the Desert Fathers, the Irish saints such as Patrick and Columba, St. Bede, St. Anselm, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and many other excellent Christian resources.

            So, my understanding of Christianity is like a Mone’ painting. It is made up of very many small points if you look from a close distance, But if you back up, everything makes sense. So, I never look at one saint in isolation, because good as they were, there is no saint that was a perfect person. However, many were shockingly holy. And if you look at the totality of them, and read their writings also, you can step back and see the common thread that ties them all together. And in this I can see the ‘orthodox’ Catholic faith…even without a concern for doctrine.

            Their actions, love, virtues, trials, piety, prayers…all preach Jesus Christ.

            If one only seeks out quotes from the saints that meet an intellectual need, it is as if you value these saints not for their own beautiful persons and souls, but rather, what they can do for you intellectually, or practically. I’m not actually saying that you do this, because I don’t really know, but I think there are people who actually do this, whether they be Catholic or Protestant.

            I look at the saints as we will know them in Heaven one day (God willing) and that is, they are like beautiful flowers, souls filled with divine charity and sublime virtues, and are seen as having been great friends of Jesus Christ our Lord in their lifetimes, here in this world. So, I marvel at their persons, and the great deeds and writings that they performed and composed, and thank God for these most wonderful servants of Christ, that He has given us for our own edification.

            So, I always look at the totality of the Church, and all of the great people that have made Her up, since the beginning of Christianity. I don’t have a pixel eye view of these great personages, and I always allow a little possibility for error in my assessment of them, as is only human. But one thing stands out amongst them that is a common thread: Almost all of them were like ‘coals burning through and through with the fire of Divine Love’ as St. Bonaventure quotes St.Francis as saying.

            So, I think everyone should read as many of these biographies of the saints as they can lay their hands on. In their totality, they paint a supremely beautiful picture of the true nature of the Church, which reveals also the beauty of Our beloved Master and Savior Jesus Christ.

            So, this is how I came to faith. Not through logic and doctrine, but through holy biography. And, in Heaven there will be no more need for logic and doctrine. But the lives and deeds of all of us will then be manifest, as the Lord says. And these saints will shine like the Sun with glory, due to the love and truth that they lived here in this life while they had the chance. And may we all do the same.

  6. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/cyril.html

    http://www.catholicfidelity.com/did-the-church-fathers-believe-in-sola-scriptura-by-joseph-gallegos/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/04/chrysostom-irenaeus-sola-scripturists.html

    Those are just a few of the many links where the Ireneaus-is-a-sola-scripturist claim have hashed out that which is being rehashed here.

    O, and Mr. T. of course Catholics read the Early Church Fathers with presuppositions and that is because they are Catholic – that is, humble enough to accept that which has been long accepted Tradition.

    We are not so arrogant as to think that we are the first man to read scripture a certain way in opposition to Tradition.

  7. Hi Craig,

    I can truly say I have never read someone who makes so many logical fallacies as you. I will address your link about St. Augustine later in this comment. Let us just say you make several false assumptions, and a statement you made about St. Augustine, the good saint flat out contradicts you in a different writing, which leads me to believe you are not as well read on Augustine as you would have others believe.

    You said:

    -Sola Scriptura was true because the Old Testament Scripture, correctly understood, taught of the resurrection. Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 attests to this fact. He expected that his audience would be convinced by the authority of the Scriptures that what he purported about the resurrection would be true.

    Expecting one’s audience to have knowledge of the Old Testament Scripture, and expecting one’s audience to be convinced by the authority of Scripture, in no way bears on whether sola scriptura is true or not. Catholics agree, Scripture has authority, but Paul is not saying here it is the only authority, or his words would not be authoritative, since they were not yet Scripture.

    That was your horrible logic fallacy #1, with no basis in Scripture.

    You said:

    “– sola Scriptura is false (Christ’s earthly ministry)”

    Yes, as everything Christ said was infallible, so the Scripture could not be the sole infallible authority.

    “– ???? (Apostolic period)”

    Similar yes and no answer that I gave about BC.

    “– sola Scriptura is true (post-Apostolic period)”

    Yes, no more continuing prophecy that is infallible.

    I know the way you phrased the questions was meant to be incredulous, but the questions are good and the answers to them are relatively simple.

    Craig, since Jesus and the Apostles never teach sola scriptura, how would a simple person who was listening to Jesus, even if they believed in sola scriptura, know that while Jesus and the Apostles walked the earth, that it had been suspended? Where is that teaching, in Scripture?

    Horrible logic fallacy #2, with no basis in Scripture.

    You said:

    Tradition, however, can be fallible in points.

    Can Sacred Tradition be fallible?

    You said:

    Pertaining to Augustine: https://christianreformedtheology.com/2015/06/19/augustine-on-the-superiority-of-scripture-over-councils/

    1.) You base a good part of your argument on this quote of Augustine:

    and that even of the plenary Councils, the earlier are often corrected by those which follow them, when, by some actual experiment, things are brought to light which were before concealed,

    Now I ask you, since only one plenary (ecumenical) Council had been held when Augustine lived, how could he say the earlier plenary councils are often corrected by the ones which follow, if another one had not been held at the time he lived? Unless he is not using plenary in the ecumenical sense.

    2.) Now in an earlier post you said this:

    First, let’s reiterate what Sola Scriptura even means. It means the Scripture is the sole religious authority for doctrine.

    On Care to be Had for the Dead Augustine clearly says two things: One that Maccabees is part of the Old Testament. Two, even if something were not to be found in Scripture, in this case Purgatory (he is not saying Purgatory is not found in Scripture, he is saying even if it were not), the authority of the Catholic Church is enough to make it doctrine.

    You do see the dichotomy you offer Catholics of course? You say “hey hold Scripture more authoritative than the Magisterium, because the Magisterium is fallible.” The obvious reply for a Catholic is, “if the Magisterium is fallible, how do we know they didn’t get it wrong when they said Scripture is inerrant?”

    1. Duane,

      Yikes! I am not going to go way into everything you said. I would just caution you to not write with such forcefulness when you are making obvious errors.

      For example, you write:

      “Now I ask you, since only one plenary (ecumenical) Council had been held when Augustine lived, how could he say the earlier plenary councils are often corrected by the ones which follow, if another one had not been held at the time he lived? ”

      For one, I am sure you are are both Nicea and Constantinople had occurred by the time Augustine wrote his second book against the Donatists. That’s two, not one as you claim.

      Second, it is very likely that Augustine would have considered the semi-Arian councils as properly ecumenical as they were called by the Emperor, attended by Bishops, and had their decrees signed off by the Emperor. For example, the semi-Arian Council of Milan (355 AD) was signed of by the Papal legates, the Emperor, and Pope Liberius itself–through torture. It was in every historical sense a true ecumenical council, something Augustine would have been aware of and being orthodox, would have not affirmed its Canons.

      So, could I get stuff wrong? Of course, I am only human. But remove the log from your own eye before you nit pick the speck.

      1. Mr. T. You should read, “Not by scripture alone” by Robert A. Sungenis for the book (several former prots were editors/contributors) answer your false claims about Saint Ireneaus calmly and completely on pages

        79,193,198,296,309,310,372,390,394,403,404,405,406,408,409,410,411,412,414,415,416,444,448,490,501,526,527, and 528.

  8. Craig,

    When was Constantinople elevated to ecumenical status? I know this, at the time of Augustine, and afterwards, it’s canons were not known in the West, nor were they ever considered binding on the West. In fact no Western bishops were present at the council, and it was not elevated to ecumenical status for almost two centuries after it was convened. So we know that it is not this council he is talking about. But no other councils when he wrote what you linked to had ever been considered binding on the whole Church, except Nicaea.

    Two things Craig. Can you give me a link showing Liberius signed off on the council of Milan? Actually, it is highly unlikely that Augustine would have found any council that was not ratified by the pope freely, to be ecumenical, in the way we use the term today.

    1. Duane, thank you for your amiable reply.

      “When was Constantinople elevated to ecumenical status?”

      Probably right away, though typical of ancient history there are conflicting accounts. We all know that Damasus asked Theodosius to call the Council, so he is responsible in part for it convening. Photius claims that Pope Damasus approved of the Council. We also have an extant copy of a letter, from the Pope, that “approves the idea of a Council to settle the disputed succession in Constantinople” (http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt29.html). Gregory the Great, also recognized it though I am unsure if he passed comment on Pope Damasus’ role. The Council was mentioned during Chalcedon (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04308a.htm), so this shows that Rome, by approving Chalcedon, recognized Constantinople. There were no Papal legates there, however. Further, the third Canon was under dispute between Eastern Orthodox and Catholics, but I am not here to debate this.

      However, whether or not the Council met the modern Roman Catholic definition of “ecumenical” (called by the Pope, Canons subsequently approved by the Pope) is not entirely relevant, though it is entirely possible that both of these criteria were met anyway. What is more important, in our immediate discussion, is whether Augustine would have recognized the Council, among others, as relevant.

      Thankfully, for both of us, this is an easy question to answer. Augustine wrote, in the passage in question, of “plenary councils,” which according to Catholic Encyclopedia was an euphemism that AUgustine used to speak of Ecumenical Councils. So, you would be in fundamental disagreement with Catholic scholars’ view of how Augustine understood the term.

      With this aside, let’s move onto the other question:

      “Can you give me a link showing Liberius signed off on the council of Milan? ”

      This is what I read yesterday:

    2. The imperial reply was to summon the bishops of Gaul to a council at Arles in 353-354, where, under threat of exile, they agreed to a condemnation of Athanasius. Even Liberius’s legates yielded. When the pope continued to press for a council more widely representative, it was assembled by Constantius at Milan in 355. It was threatened by a violent mob and the emperor’s personal intimidation: “My will,” he exclaimed “is canon law”. He prevailed with all save three of the bishops. Athanasius was once more condemned and Arians admitted to communion. Once more papal legates surrendered and Liberius himself was ordered to sign.
      https://books.google.com/books?id=shkiCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA479&lpg=PA479&dq=The+imperial+reply+was+to+summon+the+bishops+of+Gaul+to+a+council+at+Arles+in+353-354,+where,+under+threat+of+exile,+they+agreed+to+a+condemnation+of+Athanasius.+Even+Liberius%E2%80%99s+legates+yielded.+When+the+pope+continued+to+press+for+a+council+more+widely+representative,+it+was+assembled+by+Constantius+at+Milan+in+355.+It+was+threatened+by+a+violent+mob+and+the+emperor%E2%80%99s+personal+intimidation:+%E2%80%9CMy+will,%E2%80%9D+he+exclaimed+%E2%80%9Cis+canon+law%E2%80%9D.+He+prevailed+with+all+save+three+of+the+bishops.+Athanasius+was+once+more+condemned+and+Arians+admitted+to+communion.+Once+more+papal+legates+surrendered+and+Liberius+himself+was+ordered+to+sign.&source=bl&ots=wPbH9dArjt&sig=9vq2Lj8pJAwh-FSCUHWMXBNkPNU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjjgpWs-K3PAhVMND4KHUajDaQQ6AEIIDAA#v=onepage&q=The%20imperial%20reply%20was%20to%20summon%20the%20bishops%20of%20Gaul%20to%20a%20council%20at%20Arles%20in%20353-354%2C%20where%2C%20under%20threat%20of%20exile%2C%20they%20agreed%20to%20a%20condemnation%20of%20Athanasius.%20Even%20Liberius%E2%80%99s%20legates%20yielded.%20When%20the%20pope%20continued%20to%20press%20for%20a%20council%20more%20widely%20representative%2C%20it%20was%20assembled%20by%20Constantius%20at%20Milan%20in%20355.%20It%20was%20threatened%20by%20a%20violent%20mob%20and%20the%20emperor%E2%80%99s%20personal%20intimidation%3A%20%E2%80%9CMy%20will%2C%E2%80%9D%20he%20exclaimed%20%E2%80%9Cis%20canon%20law%E2%80%9D.%20He%20prevailed%20with%20all%20save%20three%20of%20the%20bishops.%20Athanasius%20was%20once%20more%20condemned%20and%20Arians%20admitted%20to%20communion.%20Once%20more%20papal%20legates%20surrendered%20and%20Liberius%20himself%20was%20ordered%20to%20sign.&f=false

      It is written by Catholic scholar Michael Davies.

      Regarding Michael Davies, Cardinal Ratzinger once said: “I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church.” (Nov. 9th, 2004, personal message to Michael’s family upon hearing of his passing)
      http://angeluspress.org/SET-3-Apologia-Pro-Marcel-Lefebvre

      Athanasius himself wrote of Liberius: “[T]he many insults and stripes inflicted upon him, proved that it was not because he gave up my cause, but through the weakness of old age, being unable to bear the stripes, that he yielded to them for a season” (Apologia Contra Arianos, Part II, Par 90).

      So, while obviously these guys (the legates and Pope Liberius) were strong armed into signing onto the Council, God did not prevent the events from occurring.

      I do wonder who these legates that signed onto the council according to Davies were, as according to Wiki amongst the legates were Lucifer, Hilary, and Dionysus who all went into exile for refusing to sign the creed. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Milan#Synod_of_355) We have some indication from Jerome (Against the Luciferians) that Lucifer never capitulated. But, I leave this to more able minds to settle.

      God bless,
      Craig

    3. The imperial reply was to summon the bishops of Gaul to a council at Arles in 353-354, where, under threat of exile, they agreed to a condemnation of Athanasius. Even Liberius’s legates yielded. When the pope continued to press for a council more widely representative, it was assembled by Constantius at Milan in 355. It was threatened by a violent mob and the emperor’s personal intimidation: “My will,” he exclaimed “is canon law”. He prevailed with all save three of the bishops. Athanasius was once more condemned and Arians admitted to communion. Once more papal legates surrendered and Liberius himself was ordered to sign.
      https://books.google.com/books?id=shkiCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA479&lpg=PA479&dq=The+imperial+reply+was+to+summon+the+bishops+of+Gaul+to+a+council+at+Arles+in+353-354,+where,+under+threat+of+exile,+they+agreed+to+a+condemnation+of+Athanasius.+Even+Liberius%E2%80%99s+legates+yielded.+When+the+pope+continued+to+press+for+a+council+more+widely+representative,+it+was+assembled+by+Constantius+at+Milan+in+355.+It+was+threatened+by+a+violent+mob+and+the+emperor%E2%80%99s+personal+intimidation:+%E2%80%9CMy+will,%E2%80%9D+he+exclaimed+%E2%80%9Cis+canon+law%E2%80%9D.+He+prevailed+with+all+save+three+of+the+bishops.+Athanasius+was+once+more+condemned+and+Arians+admitted+to+communion.+Once+more+papal+legates+surrendered+and+Liberius+himself+was+ordered+to+sign.&source=bl&ots=wPbH9dArjt&sig=9vq2Lj8pJAwh-FSCUHWMXBNkPNU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjjgpWs-K3PAhVMND4KHUajDaQQ6AEIIDAA#v=onepage&q=The%20imperial%20reply%20was%20to%20summon%20the%20bishops%20of%20Gaul%20to%20a%20council%20at%20Arles%20in%20353-354%2C%20where%2C%20under%20threat%20of%20exile%2C%20they%20agreed%20to%20a%20condemnation%20of%20Athanasius.%20Even%20Liberius%E2%80%99s%20legates%20yielded.%20When%20the%20pope%20continued%20to%20press%20for%20a%20council%20more%20widely%20representative%2C%20it%20was%20assembled%20by%20Constantius%20at%20Milan%20in%20355.%20It%20was%20threatened%20by%20a%20violent%20mob%20and%20the%20emperor%E2%80%99s%20personal%20intimidation%3A%20%E2%80%9CMy%20will%2C%E2%80%9D%20he%20exclaimed%20%E2%80%9Cis%20canon%20law%E2%80%9D.%20He%20prevailed%20with%20all%20save%20three%20of%20the%20bishops.%20Athanasius%20was%20once%20more%20condemned%20and%20Arians%20admitted%20to%20communion.%20Once%20more%20papal%20legates%20surrendered%20and%20Liberius%20himself%20was%20ordered%20to%20sign.&f=false

    4. It is written by Catholic scholar Michael Davies.

      Regarding Michael Davies, Cardinal Ratzinger once said: “I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church.” (Nov. 9th, 2004, personal message to Michael’s family upon hearing of his passing)
      http://angeluspress.org/SET-3-Apologia-Pro-Marcel-Lefebvre

      Athanasius himself wrote of Liberius: “[T]he many insults and stripes inflicted upon him, proved that it was not because he gave up my cause, but through the weakness of old age, being unable to bear the stripes, that he yielded to them for a season” (Apologia Contra Arianos, Part II, Par 90).

      So, while obviously these guys (the legates and Pope Liberius) were strong armed into signing onto the Council, God did not prevent the events from occurring.

      I do wonder who these legates that signed onto the council according to Davies were, as according to Wiki amongst the legates were Lucifer, Hilary, and Dionysus who all went into exile for refusing to sign the creed. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Milan#Synod_of_355) We have some indication from Jerome (Against the Luciferians) that Lucifer never capitulated. But, I leave this to more able minds to settle.

      God bless,
      Craig

  9. Mick, thank you for your thoughts. I think the discipline is applicable to the members of the Church, and not to those outside, like Craig.

    When he was Baptised, he became a Catholic until he attained unto maturity (roughly 7 y.o.) and then he became a heretic if he denied the authority of the Church/Pope and its his teaching but he remains under the authority of the Church/Pope.

    1. Roman Catechism:

      Those Who Are Not Members Of The Church

      Hence there are but three classes of persons excluded from the Church’s pale: infidels, heretics and schismatics, and excommunicated persons. Infidels are outside the Church because they never belonged to, and never knew the Church, and were never made partakers of any of her Sacraments. Heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Church, because they have separated from her and belong to her only as deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted. It is not, however, to be denied that they are still subject to the jurisdiction of the Church, inasmuch as they may be called before her tribunals, punished and anathematized. Finally, excommunicated persons are not members of the Church, because they have been cut off by her sentence from the number of her children and belong not to her communion until they repent.

      But with regard to the rest, however wicked and evil they may be, it is certain that they still belong to the Church: Of this the faithful are frequently to be reminded, in order to be convinced that, were even the lives of her ministers debased by crime, they are still within the Church, and therefore lose nothing of their power.

  10. Ireneaus Against Heresies 3:4

    The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of apostolic doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles.

    1. 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. Revelation 22:17 For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. 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 intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?

    Now, Mr. T will likely claim the writings became scripture but I don’t recall all the Apostles writing what later was canonized as scripture.

    (One interesting thing about The Apostles was that each was infallible and each had universal jurisdiction but that ceased with the death of Saint John).

  11. Ireneaus against heresies 4, 26:2 Wherefore it 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 certain gift 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, [looking upon them] 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. And the heretics, indeed, who bring strange fire to the altar of God— namely, strange doctrines— shall be burned up by the fire from heaven, as were Nadab and Abiud. Leviticus 10:1-2 But such as rise up in opposition to the truth, and exhort others against the Church of God, [shall] remain among those in hell (apud inferos), being swallowed up by an earthquake, even as those who were with Chore, Dathan, and Abiron. Numbers 16:33 But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did. 1 Kings 14:10

    ++ end of quotes +++++++++

    Although I could continue to roll these quotes out illustrating the claims of Mr. T are inaccurate, I do not expect him to abandon his own opinion, what little I had posted from Saint Ireneaus clearly revelas he is no sola scriptura saint even though the reformed have tried to claim that he is.

    O, and that is not to mention that what Mr. T has taken out of context is entirely divorced from the entire corps of what Saint Ireneaus believed and taught publicly which is, quite simply the Faith of the Catholic Church including Roman Primacy prayers to his Mariology, real presence in the Eucharist etc.

    1. You have not seriously interacted with what Irenaeus wrote in Against Heresies Book III Preface to Chap 5, so when you write how I “entirely divorced from the entire corps of what Saint Ireneaus believed and taught,” it rings hallow.

      1. Hey Craig, commenting down here because the comments are getting a little unwieldy up there.

        You said you wanted me to read chapters 1-5 and the preface of Book III, or Books I-V including preface? I’m assuming the former?

      2. If you wanted me to read chapters 1-5 and the preface of Book III, I have. Here’s my summary:

        Preface: He states that he will show proofs from the scriptures to refute the Marcionites and other heretics and defend the faith of the Apostolic Church.

        Ch 1: The Apostles did not preach a secret knowledge, but recorded their teachings in the gospels, and this plan for Salvation founded on Apostolic teaching is the ground and pillar of our faith.

        Ch 2: They don’t accept the teaching of scriptures from the Church because they believe them to be unclear, needing their esoteric tradition to understand the scriptures, instead of the simple and univeral Tradition of the Apostles (3.2.2). This is where the confusion I think lies, because here Iraneus switches gears from what he said he was going to do (show the scriptures), and talks about Tradition for a bit first so that the reader understands what the real, simple Apostolic Tradition is, congruent with the Scriptures.

        Ch 3: Lists out the succession of the Apostles and the early witnesses to the Apostolic Tradition passed down by word-of-mouth from the Apostles (this in and of itself doesn’t refute Sola Scriptura).

        Ch 4: We don’t need to look to other churches, but to the ancient Churches that bear the Tradition of the Apostles. The Barbarians learned the simple, plain Tradition of the Apostles and allow that to suffice to avoid heretical doctrine. We know when Valentinus and Marcion invented their doctrine, and their followers didn’t exist before them — therefore, we know they are wrong.

        Ch 5: Now that Tradition has been proven not to be what Valentinus or Marcion claim it to be, now Ireneus goes back to the scriptures to show that there is one God, and one Lord, and one Faith, etc. preached to the Jews and bringing in the Gentiles.

        In the preface he seems to be assuming sola scriptura, but then sidelines that momentarily to point to the Tradition of the Apostles in chapters 2-4, and explicitly says that’s what he’s doing at the beginning of chapter 2. 3.1.1 seems to support sola scriptura, but I contest that the pillar and ground of faith that he is asserting is the simple, and universally accessible plan of salvation found in tradition and the same plan in the scriptures, primarily the Gospels.

        Your quote from 1.8.1 is a pretty good one, but Catholics can accuse someone who got their doctrines from other than the Scriptures too. Tradition and Scripture in their core doctrines teach the same doctrine, and the Gospels are simple (historically, a Catholic who was interested in reading the scriptures was encouraged to start with the Gospels), so a Catholic actually can say that a doctrine is “unscriptural” without denying the infallible authority of Tradition, since Tradition teaches the same thing.

        I believe the clincher that proves that Ireneus accepts that Sacred Tradition is infallible itself is 3.4.2. Otherwise, he wouldn’t commend the barbarians who “who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendor, shall come in glory, the Savior of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent.” I don’t think Ireneus would accept something that didn’t have scriptural backup, but he accepts the faith handed down through Tradition as well.

        Where Tradition usually comes up more prevalently is with regard to practice, and theological details, and even then, a doctrine probably could not be defined in the modern Roman Catholic Church without reference to the Holy Scriptures. This is where Ireneus is not helpful. He in this book is talking about the authority of the Church in general, the authority of the Scriptures in general, but Tradition he only briefly treats with regard to the Gospel itself, and then only to prove that it’s simple, comports with the scriptures, and doesn’t teach what Valentinus or Marcion claims it to teach.

        Thank you for the reading recommendation!
        Pax Domini

        1. Whoops…missed the more important part of 3.4.2:

          “If any one were to preach to these men the inventions of the heretics, speaking to them in their own language, they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far off as possible, not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established.”

          Pax Domini

        2. Thank you for interacting with Irenaeus. I think where we differ is this: “That he said he was going to do (show the scriptures), and talks about Tradition for a bit first so that the reader understands what the real, simple Apostolic Tradition is, congruent with the Scriptures.”

          I think your presupps lead you to believe that tradition and Scripture are two different things. Irenaeus makes it clear in 3.4.1 that this is not so:

          On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. 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 intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings?

          To postulate that Irenaeus “switches gears from what he said he was going to do (show the scriptures), and talks about Tradition for a bit first” to only sum up his short “for a bit” discussion by saying “how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings?” allows for tradition to be separate from writings is not tenable in my view.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. I think at this point, we’ll simply have to agree to disagree here. We’ve both made our case as best we could.

          2. That’s specifically what I disagree about. I don’t agree that Ireneus explicitly teaches Sola Scriptura. I said the reasons why I disagree, and you explained your reasons for asserting it. At this point, let’s stop asserting past each other.

      3. O, so you are the one who says what we must write and respond to? That is just silly. You cited the entire Against Heresies and so I responded with what you did not want to deal with.

        What I wrote rings true for I was not specifically citing what he taught about Tradition in what you claim is his sola scripture spirituality in Against Heresies.

        I was writing about EVERYTHING he taught as regards Eucharist and Mariology, etc which is entirely Catholic and which excludes the fabricated sola scriptura claims.

        What you claim about Against Heresies I have already shown to be a false claim but because you read Ireneaus with your prot preconceptions you think you see what is not there.

        As I said earlier, no matter what I or anybody else cites in Against Heresies, you are incapable of changing your mind as it has seized on a false claim that an entire book ( and many many blogs) have proved a false claim.

        C’est la vie.

        You have free will and you choose to think you understand correctly what countless men – far more intelligent and holier than you – have never seen.

        As the man says; been there, done that 🙂

  12. Hi Craig,

    Thanks for your response. One must wonder if you bother to read the links you post. Your first link says Damasus approves of the idea of having a council called for the East to settle matters in Constantinople, not whether this council was to be a “great council” like Nicaea, nor that he ever called the council.

    Your link also rejects your view that it was perceived as an ecumenical council during Augustine’s lifetime. Look at this key passage in the first link you gave, which shows that this council was not viewed as an ecumenical council:

    In fact, it was not recognized as “Ecumenical” by the Council of Ephesus half a century later, and it was left to Pope Gregory the Great to elevate it papally to that status. 27

    And further in the link:

    These words were probably written with Constantinople I in mind, since, as we have seen, it was not accorded the status of an “Ecumenical” council until a much later date.

    Your other link says Damasus only approved the creed of this council, and nothing else. It also casts doubt on whether he called the council. Furthermore, the council of Constantinople’s canons were virtually unknown in the West for over a hundred years. It is impossible that Augustine was talking about this council correcting other plenary councils, because this council was not viewed as plenary in the West for over a hundred years after it was over. This council clearly could not have been relevant to Augustine. Your own links that you provided prove this to be true.

    By the way, your comment that because Rome recognized Chalcedon, and Chalcedon recognized Constantinople…is very poor reasoning. Even if by Rome approving of Chalcedon suddenly makes Constantinople ecumenical in your eyes, it still would be 21 years after the death of Augustine. 21 years too late for this to be the plenary council that corrects the other council.

    By the way, if you remove your presuppositions that you bring to the table when you read Augustine, you would see this: Augustine only says Scripture is in a superior position to letters of bishops and councils, if they stray from the truth, or something was previously hidden. He qualifies the Scripture superiority statement. He never says that a council, of for that matter a bishop, cannot teach infallibly. Which is exactly what the Catholic Church says.

    Craig, earlier you said Liberius signed the acts of the Council of Milan. You do realize that the passage you posted says Liberius refused to sign the acts of that council? You tried to say earlier that this was a council that Augustine would have perceived as ecumenical. There is no way that Augustine would ever consider a council that the pope refused to sign, as ecumenical. Nor would he recognize a council where legates signed under duress. Legates are to faithfully represent the pope. Even if they were to affirm actions of a council, if their actions went against the wishes that the pontiff had expressed to them, then their affirmation would be null and void.

    1. Duane,

      One of us suffers from some really bad reader’s comprehension. Hopefully not me, but let’s see.

      “Your first link says Damasus approves of the idea of having a council called for the East to settle matters in Constantinople, not whether this council was to be a “great council” like Nicaea, nor that he ever called the council.”

      I don’t quite understand this. Who says that to be ecumenical a council must be “great” (whatever that is supposed to mean). The Council of Trent was originally convened by only 30 Bishops. The main issue is, historically, for me to disprove your notion that there was only one ecumenical council recognized by Augustine’s time, is to show that he and his contemporaries recognized the existence of more councils.

      Pertaining the existence of other councils, we have Augustine using the term “plenary councils” (plural) which Catholic sources admit meant to Augustine “ecumenical councils.” That should really stop the argument right there. The fact you see some need to continue from here, when the issue is already settled, is confusing to me. But let’s go on.

      Concerning the Council of Constantinople, we know that the first requirement of an Ecumenical Council, by the modern RCC definition was met: “We all know that Damasus asked Theodosius to call the Council.”

      According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are claims by some made that Damasus originally approved of it: “Photius claims that Pope Damasus approved of the Council.”

      We know that the Council was quoted as an authority during Chalcedon (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04308a.htm),which is independent verification that the Council was universally recognized as Ecumenical by 453 AD. While this is 3 decades or so after the time Augustine was writing surely the Council was not recognized as Ecumenical only a few days before Chalcedon. Much more likely, it was accepted long before (which lends credibility to Photius’ claim).

      Lastly, I concluded my analysis by saying “whether or not the Council met the modern Roman Catholic definition of “ecumenical”…is not entirely relevant, though it is entirely possible that both of these criteria were met anyway.”

      You write that I do not how to read what I am linking, but it appears that you do not know what the point of citations are. I cited the first link to refer to Damasus’ letter. That does not mean I agree with the entire analysis of that link (I am linking a Catholic source.) I am building a historical case based upon the facts which we all may agree to, not a Catholic’s analysis of those facts. So, I take issue with your claim I am not reading the link, I properly cited a fact from it and it is a common scholarly practice to cite sources, even if they disagree with you, if they can corroborate certain, specific facts.

      You write that the link says “it was not recognized as “Ecumenical” by the Council of Ephesus half a century later.”

      But, surely you are aware this is an evaluation of the writer, correct? Ephesus did not have a Canon that said, “We do not recognize Constantinople.” I presume they simply did not mention Constantinople, which is an argument from silence. Further, the fact that Chalcedon cites Constantinople actually disproves the claim of the link that Constantinople was only recognized by Gregory the Great. Clearly, it was recognized before then, and the fact that Pope Leo (i think) recognized Chalcedon means, by consequence, he recognized Constantinople.

      You also write, “Your other link says Damasus only approved the creed of this council, and nothing else.”

      Actually, it says, “Pope Damasus approved it, but if any part of the council were approved by this pope it could have been only the aforesaid creed.”

      Why would this be? Because, Rome disputes with the East over Canon III. The fact of the matter is we historically do not know whether Damasus approved of just the creed, or all of it, or none of it. We simply have the claim b Photius that he approved of it. Catholics simply postulate it could only be the creed because of the dispute over Canon III. And, just because a Pope rejects a single Canon, that does not undo the whole council, otherwise Chalcedon would have been undone by its similar Canon which named COnstantinople as second in preeminence behind Rome.

      The Pope I suppose figured he had a line item veto.

    2. “It also casts doubt on whether he called the council.”

      Sure, that’s what that specific Catholic source says. Wiki said otherwise citing the following source from an Anglican scholar that says otherwise:

      See page 313
      https://books.google.com/books?id=i-ICAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA312#v=onepage&q&f=false

      If you read his footnote he is citing ancient works in Latin (“Collectio Veterum aliquot Hist. Eccles. Romanae Monumentorum”).

      “It is impossible that Augustine was talking about this council correcting other plenary councils, because this council was not viewed as plenary in the West for over a hundred years after it was over.”

      Well, that’s according to you as we don’t have any smoking gun evidence that people in the west never heard about it. Further, it would appear to me, that Augustine viewed as ecumenical all of the councils of the east, as they were properly called by the emperor and a few (like Milan) explicitly had Papal legates as well.

      “He qualifies the Scripture superiority statement. He never says that a council, of for that matter a bishop, cannot teach infallibly. Which is exactly what the Catholic Church says.”

      I think the context of what is written in the second book against the Donatists is sufficient to say that Augustine would have rejected what you said. But, if he was not clear enough in saying that Scripture “stands absolutely in a superior position to all the letters of Bishops,” let me quote Augustine in Letter 82:

      “For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error.”

      How can a Bishop teach infallibly if only the Scripture alone is completely free from error?

      “Craig, earlier you said Liberius signed the acts of the Council of Milan. You do realize that the passage you posted says Liberius refused to sign the acts of that council?”

      I apologize that what I linked did not tell the full story. It makes mention that “Even Liberius’s legates yielded.” Liberius initially did not and was forced into exile and tortured, which even Athanasius records he relented (as I cited).

      Davies writes a little later:

      “Pope Liberius showed lamentable weakness in the face of the Arian heresy. He signed an ambiguous semi-Arian creed and excommunicated Saint Athanasius” (p. 482, same link).

      The creed he signed was from the Council of Sirmium, the same creed that was presented at Milan. Being that Damasus signed this, and Athanasius’ exile while he himself was still in exile before the later Councils of Sirmium shows that he signed onto the Council of Milan under duress.

      There’s also the issue that a Pope is infallible and cannot teach false doctrines, but signing onto a creed that is being promulgated as what should be taught into the churches would seem to undo this. But, that’s a different discussion I suppose.

      So in short, I think you misunderstand how citations are used. However, I would agree with you about my citation of Davies’ which was not complete enough. I have shown, now, that during exile he did indeed sign onto the creed presented to him at Milan.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. Craig,

        Do you ever consider that you are looking for needles of ‘sola scripture proofs’ in a haystack of ‘tradition + scripture proofs’? That is, you found very few quotes even remotely supporting ‘sola scriptura’, and these are being debated down to the microscopic or molecular level…given everything, and every writing that occurred, or was penned, in the Early Church. And even after a consideration of the Early Church, you don’t even consider the church of the next 1700 years, which basically did a pretty good job of converting countless pagan nations, and giving some Christian moral structure to the entire world…even countries such as China that hasn’t even been converted yet. The truth of Christianity, passed on through the Catholic Church, has influenced the entire world in a monumental way for the better.

        The historical reality, if you really think about the ‘big picture’ of Church history (the haystack), is that Christianity never had the time to wait around for scripture to lead it. From its first inception it was in a hurry, with people like St. Paul running around trying not to be killed for his preaching. And actually, that Paul was not even one of the 12 Apostles who had learned directly from the unresurrected Christ, and whose letters were included in scripture anyway (however, they are not the Gospel), seems like a proof for the truth of ‘TRADITION’ being the essential model of the Kingdom of God on this Earth.

        More simply, the Church came into being through the physical teaching of Christ, and then through the physical sacraments that He commanded the Apostles to perform, i.e.. Baptism, Eucharist, forgiving of sins, exorcisms,etc.. This is how Jesus built the foundation of His holy Church, as a living organization filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide it. That Jesus wrote NOTHING is a glaring proof against ‘sola scripture’. That he formed an organized body of leaders, ‘shepherds’, to carry on His Earthly mission is a glaring proof for ‘Tradition’ (and scripture as part of that Tradition).

        Again, the early Church could not wait around for scripture to lead them. The world was not intellectually developed enough for it back then. They needed to do things in the traditional way that they knew, and mainly through verbal teachings and memorization.

        That it took the Apostles so long to write anything down is also a glaring proof against ‘sola scriptura’. All the while they were ‘living tradition and making tradition’ by everything they did…teaching the world to follow Jesus’ command “to carry out all that I have commanded you’. And the Holy Spirit is also a part of this Tradition, as He is what Christ promised to”remind you of all that I said to you”. The Holy Spirit helps the Church to remember, but also helps The Church to interpret everything that Jesus said and taught..both by His words and His examples.

        So, the Apostles could not wait for scripture, they were in a rush to spread the Kingdom of God on Earth. And then, finally, scripture started to be written, even though much of it wasn’t considered scripture at the time of writing. And by the time that scripture was actually written, the ‘tradition’ consisting of liturgy, sacraments, bishoprics, calendars for pascal celebrations, methods of catechesis, ‘liturgy of the hours’ prayer schedules, etc… were fully operational and in practice. And even the scripture that was written doesn’t include almost any of this…as it would take a book the size of Mount Everest. And last of all, Scripture needs to be interpreted. And it is the Holy Spirit inspiring Tradition, that aids in the interpretation of Scritpture.

        So, if you find a quote here or there in the Early Church Fathers, such as from St. Ireanaus, you really need to balance it against the mountain of quotes, actions, institutions, synods, customs, etc… that make up the ‘tradition’ passed on to both St. Irenaeus and all of the other Fathers. And again, even the few quotes that you cite are highly debatable when examined in their full context.

        All of this points to the real truth that it is ‘Tradition’ WITH ‘Scripture’ that the Church is founded upon. Not ‘SOLA’ scriptura.

        1. It’s ironic, because I literally think the church fathers are drenched with sola scriptura and you have to look for “needles” of extra-biblical tradition and references to Roman infallibility in interpretation.

          This was my first impression from reading the fathers and remains to be. What I cannot understand is how people can seriously think the opposite.

          1. It’s ironic, because I literally think the church fathers are drenched with CATHOLICISM and you have to look for “needles” of SOLA SCRIPTURA and references to Roman fallibility in interpretation.

            This was my first impression from reading the fathers and remains to be. What I cannot understand is how people can seriously think the opposite.

          2. Where is there found in the ECF’s an entire treatise written on ‘sola scriptura’ if it was so important back then?

            And, it isn’t that ‘scripture’ is not inspirational, or something that doctrine isn’t MOSTLY based on. It’s the ‘SOLA’ part that is the problem, the limiting part, which teaches ONLY scripture is authoritative for determing infallible doctrine. This neglects the authority of Tradition in the church via her Christ given institutions: and which promises of Christ to tHis Church that are actually ‘found in scripture’. He also gave the Holy Spirit to guide and work in the Church, which is the primary source where Tradition comes from.

            So, the early Church thrived on Tradition, because there was very little scripture to go around, and very few people to even read or understand it. But ‘liturgy’ and catechesis thrived, and was augmented by any scripture that might be found. This is why I included the reference to Hippolytus….because he writes an entire book on ‘Apostolic Tradition’, and that is it’s very title. But why didn’t a Church Father such as Hippolytus write a treatise on ‘sola scriptura’? Why did it take another 1200 years to come to light with Martin Luther?

            But for an argument for the authority of Church TRADITION, there are ecumenical councils, entire institutions such as the ‘catechumenate’ (described in Hippolytus’ works), and so many examples from Origin, Justin and other fathers that relate the traditions and customs practiced in early Christianity. Compare this witness to some offhand quotes of very few ECF’s in history, and the same quotes which as still very debatable…as is proved by the comments here.

            And even later, in the 500-600’s, problems dealing with iconoclasm needed to be settled by the Church. And almost nothing in scripture could be used to settle such a controversy. But the Church in it’s wisdom pronounced judgement, that icons were to be venerated and not destroyed as promoting idolatry. So, this is an example of the Church relying on, and even making tradition and doctrine, and largely without the use of scripture.

            And another example I wrote about earlier, was the fact that the 1st Ecumenical Council of Nicaea had as it’s first canon, something as mundane as ‘a priest is not permitted to castrate himself’. Yet scripture teaches the opposite, and Jesus said “some will make themselves Eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom”. I gave the exact quotes from scripture. So, the Council was teaching something different from scripture, proving that the Council was given the power and ability to interpret scripture in it’s correct context.

            And the same can be said of the ‘rebaptism’ controversy and heresy of Novatian. This is a good case study of something that was not described anywhere in scripture but needed to be dealt with… as are a multitude of other controversies in the Church. And we see how Pope Steven resisted the entire Council of African Bishops under St. Cyprian, and they went along with his argument…that rebaptism was never done before in the Tradition of the Church. Never was it seen in the past even though there were many such heretics that probably could have used it.
            So, this is how the Church operated. It was guided by the Holy Spirit. And still is.

            So, there are multitudes of examples that happened in Church history which point to the validity of the authority of tradition. There are institutions which were built around it such as the catechumenate and canon law. But very scarce are quotes on anything even remotely similar to ‘sola’ scripture. And you have given most of them in your various posts over the months and years. And, again, even these references you site are highly debatable regarding their interpretation. So we seem to have the whole history of the Church, filled with canon law, councils, ordinations, sacraments, treatises (i.e.. Hippolytus), etc…versus a very small number of ECF quotes, that are still highly debatable as to the context of those quotes. And even if those quotes were indeed valid opinions, how could one Father of the Church be given more attention than the multitudes of synods and councils, histories and treatises’ promoting the sacred Tradition in the Church?

            Best to you,

            – Al

          3. Craig: What I cannot understand is how people can seriously think the opposite.

            Me: Then why not try entertaining presupposition of Sacred Tradition and try to see why we understand it the way we do? I don’t think it’s a good thing to accuse each other and say that “I don’t understand how someone could possibly believe this.” (this is to the others as well) It assumes the worst of the other. I do understand why you interpret the fathers as believing sola scriptura, I just disagree, and stated why. The benefits of this alternative approach: understanding your own position better, understanding your opponents position better, understanding your opponents psychology better, and being able to answer your opponents more subtly and effectively.

        2. For me it’s mind-boggling or mind-numbing how some protestants today claim to have the fathers on their side. Luther didn’t. Calvin didn’t. They despised Irenaeus & Co. — when they didn’t agree with them. Just like Mr. T here despises Irenaeus and all other Catholic thinkers who don’t agree with him.

          Take again the oft-repeated quote, which Craig dutifully ignores:

          “we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops.”

          “assemble in unauthorized meetings” — all heretics, schismatics & Co., which today include all Protestant denominations.

          “self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion”
          Pick your choice.

          that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles

          Tradition derived from Rome!??? NO!!! Let’s gloss over this quote. Craig ignores it, or distorts it.

          which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops

          What??? Craig doesn’t believe in bishops, for God’s sake!!! He’s a Baptist/Presbyterian! Let him ignore also this.

          Oh, let us not forget: Irenaeus is useful only insofar as he agrees with Craig. Craig ignores and ditches all the quotes from hundreds of Catholic thinkers and considers them junk, because Craig has established a 300-year threshold for true Christian doctrine (of course that 300-year-frontier is not valid after 1517, just before!). For all the other things Irenaeus disagrees with Craig, Craig is right, no doubt about it. And maybe Craig’s church is also right sometimes, but not as right as Craig.

  13. For lurkers;

    Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 2)

    The heretics follow neither Scripture nor tradition.

    1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world. 1 Corinthians 2:6 And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

    2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

    3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Where-fore they must be opposed at all points, if per-chance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.

    +++++++++ end of quote+++++++++++++

    As to how anyone reading the bolded parts can conclude that Saint Ireneaus is a sola Scripturist is a mystery even more unfathomable than why Glenn Beck thinks God speaks directly to him

    1. Its called you keep reading. Scripture in Chapter 2 is a reference to the gospels and tradition refers to the epistles. We can see this is how he defines both terms throughout chapters 2 to 4. Show me where I’m wrong!

      1. “Its [sic] called you keep reading.”

        It’s called “you see the world through your own [American Protestant Baptist/Presbyterian] glasses”

      2. Mr. T. Its called you keep reading. Scripture in Chapter 2 is a reference to the gospels and tradition refers to the epistles. We can see this is how he defines both terms throughout chapters 2 to 4. Show me where I’m wrong

        Heresies 3:3

        Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things</I?

        Lord have Mercy!!!

        You think the Epistle of Clement is part of the Bible.

        I don't care if you try and claim you do not think that for that is what you wrote in black and white.

        Mr. T. Just stop. You are so far down inside the sola scriptura rabbit hole you have been digging for yourself that an expert spiritual spelunker could not locate you.

        Convert and you will then discover that Faith will lead you to understanding. You now have it ass-backwards thinking that understanding will lead you to Faith

        1. Mr. T. Its called you keep reading. Scripture in Chapter 2 is a reference to the gospels and tradition refers to the epistles. We can see this is how he defines both terms throughout chapters 2 to 4. Show me where I’m wrong

          Heresies 3:3

          Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things

          Lord have Mercy!!!

          You think the Epistle of Clement is part of the Bible.

          I don’t care if you try and claim you do not think that for that is what you wrote in black and white.

          Mr. T. Just stop. You are so far down inside the sola scriptura rabbit hole you have been digging for yourself that an expert spiritual spelunker could not locate you.

          Convert and you will then discover that Faith will lead you to understanding. You now have it ass-backwards thinking that understanding will lead you to Faith

          http://www.ewtn.com/library/patristc/anf1-1.htm

      3. Craig,
        Chapter II of Book III is titled by Irenaeus “THE HERETICS FOLLOW NEITHER SCRIPTURE NOR TRADITION”, an a prioi recognition that Scripture and Tradition are separate things. In this chapter, Irenaeus states that when the Gnostics are refuted by the Scriptures, they turn around and claim the Scriptures are ambiguous and that the real truth “was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared ‘but we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.’ ”
        In response to the Gnostic reliance on oral history from Valentinus, Marcion, et al, Irenaeus refers then to “that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the churches” ,at which point the Gnostics object to that tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth.”
        You have stated that Irenaeus in Book III, Chpt III is referring to not to the gospels but rather to the epistles when he references tradition. Yet here he refers to “that tradition which originates from the apostles” in response to the Gnostic reliance upon oral tradition. Irenaeus doesn’t define this tradition as the writings of either the apostles or the evangelists, but describes it as being “preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the churches…”
        In responding to a comment from Joe on September 25 at 408, you made the following statement from Book III, Chpt IV, para 1, “The tradition of th++ve to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches’ in ‘writings?’ ”.

        Irenaeus answers his own question (which you have described as an incredulous) of “how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings?” Irenaeus’ answer was simply “would it not be necessary [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches?”
        So Irenaeus’ answer to the question of how should it be if no writings had been left by the apostles, was simply to “follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches”. And just to make sure there was no doubt, Irenaeus gives an example of such a course in paragraph 2, where he describes the barbarians who believe in Christ, even though they do not have paper or ink, but hold fast to all the teachings of the church which was handed down to them “by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles…”

        1. I’m not sure how this post got all hinky with formatting,etc, and since i yet to find the edit button, I’ll repost it:
          Craig,
          Chapter II of Book III is titled by Irenaeus “THE HERETICS FOLLOW NEITHER SCRIPTURE NOR TRADITION”, an a prioi recognition that Scripture and Tradition are separate things. In this chapter, Irenaeus states that when the Gnostics are refuted by the Scriptures, they turn around and claim the Scriptures are ambiguous and that the real truth “was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared ‘but we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.’ ”

          In response to the Gnostic reliance on oral history from Valentinus, Marcion, et al, Irenaeus refers then to “that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the churches” ,at which point the Gnostics object to that tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth.”

          You have stated that Irenaeus in Book III, Chpt III is referring to not to the gospels but rather to the epistles when he references tradition. Yet here he refers to “that tradition which originates from the apostles” in response to the Gnostic reliance upon oral tradition. Irenaeus doesn’t define this tradition as the writings of either the apostles or the evangelists, but describes it as being “preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the churches…”

          In responding to a comment from Joe on September 25 at 408, you made the following statement from Book III, Chpt IV, para 1, ”The tradition of the Apostles are “writings.” Irenaeus writes incredulously ‘how should it be’ that if ‘there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches’ in ‘writings?’

          Irenaeus answers his own question (which you have described as an incredulous) of “how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings?” Irenaeus’ answer was simply “would it not be necessary [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches?”
          So Irenaeus’ answer to the question of how should it be if no writings had been left by the apostles, was simply to “follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches”. And just to make sure there was no doubt, Irenaeus gives an example of such a course in paragraph 2, where he describes the barbarians who believe in Christ, even though they do not have paper or ink, but hold fast to all the teachings of the church which was handed down to them “by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles…”

          You have also stated in the post on September 27 at 9:12 PM that “Scripture in Chapter 2 is a reference to the gospels and tradition refers to the epistles. We can see this is how he defines both terms throughout chapters 2 to 4. Show me where I’m wrong!

          This is what I read in the very first book of Irenaeus “Against Heresies.”
          In Book I, chapter III, a chapter which Irenaeus entitles “TEXTS OF HOLY SCRIPTURE USED BY THESE HERETICS TO SUPPORT THEIR OPINIONS,” Irenaeus gives numerous examples of how the Gnostics use “Holy Scripture” to attempt to prove their case. In describing these attempts, Irenaeus cites Ephesians 3:21, paragraph 1; Exodus 13:2, paragraph 4; Colossians 3:11 paragraph 4; Romans 11:36, paragraph 4; Colossians 2:9 paragraph 4,; I Corinthians 1:18, paragraph 5; and Galatians 6:14, paragraph 5. These are Irenaeus’ identification of those parts of “Holy Scriptures” offered by the Gnostics in support of their beliefs. Of course he also cites all of the Gospels except John, and he references verses in Exodus as well.

          So Irenaeus clearly refers to the epistles and the gospels and Exodus as “Holy Scripture” in Book I.

    1. FYI, not saying the source is wrong in its analysis, but nobusordowatch is a schismatic website anti-vatican II stuff. It’s ironic when I am quoting a Catholic scholar who is commended by a former and still living Pope and you’re citing mr. anti-vatican II. Not that you’re wrong, it’s just ironic.

  14. No two general councils follow the same historical pattern–not even when a bare fifty years separates them, and when the matter of their discussions is the same. In this council Rome, the West, was not represented at all– was not so much as invited. The same problems had for years now vexed the churches of the West. The same political revolution–the appearance of sovereigns who were wholeheartedly Catholic–was to be their salvation also. And they, too, demanded a council, and it took place, at Aquileia some weeks after the council we are dealing with. And why the council which met at Constantinople came, in after years, to be regarded as a General Council is something that may puzzle the legists and the theologians.

    http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/coun3.html

    1. Thanks for the link Mick! I’ll be finished it shortly. It’s an excellent introduction to the historical reality of ecclesiastical authority bequeathed to the Church by Jesus Christ. Fun reading. I’ll pass it on to others who might be interested.

  15. Hi Craig,

    You said: Pertaining the existence of other councils, we have Augustine using the term “plenary councils” (plural) which Catholic sources admit meant to Augustine “ecumenical councils.” That should really stop the argument right there. The fact you see some need to continue from here, when the issue is already settled, is confusing to me. But let’s go on.

    That same Catholic source also says Augustine used the term to refer to synods. So all the synods that were held in North Africa he would have termed as plenary. That source is saying that Augustine calls both ecumenical and synods plenary. That is where you seem to be having a problem understanding. Every time Augustine uses the term plenary, you believe he means ecumenical, but that is because you misunderstand what that source is saying. Are you saying he viewed all those synods also as ecumenical councils? Because that Catholic source never says that.

    You said: According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are claims by some made that Damasus originally approved of it: “Photius claims that Pope Damasus approved of the Council.”

    Lol!!!! Some? This is what people mean when they say you take liberties with your quotes. The Catholic Encyclopedia never says some. It says one person, Photius. And again that source says if any part of the council was approved by Damasus, it would only have been the creed.

    Since Damasus, if anything, only accepted one part of the council, it could not possibly have met the criteria for an ecumenical council by any standards of the Catholic Church at that time. So the beginning of the council met the criteria, but the end sure didn’t.

    You said: We know that the Council was quoted as an authority during Chalcedon (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04308a.htm),which is independent verification that the Council was universally recognized as Ecumenical by 453 AD. While this is 3 decades or so after the time Augustine was writing surely the Council was not recognized as Ecumenical only a few days before Chalcedon. Much more likely, it was accepted long before (which lends credibility to Photius’ claim).

    What does that link specifically say Craig? It says the council was viewed as ecumenical among the Greeks, not the West though. That same source elsewhere says that council was never viewed as ecumenical in the West until Gregory the Great. We do know that Ephesus some years earlier did not view it as ecumenical, from the source you linked to earlier. So the East may have viewed it as ecumenical, but the West sure didn’t.

    You said: Lastly, I concluded my analysis by saying “whether or not the Council met the modern Roman Catholic definition of “ecumenical”…is not entirely relevant, though it is entirely possible that both of these criteria were met anyway.”

    But historians flat out contradict you, from the links you yourself have posted.

    You said: But, surely you are aware this is an evaluation of the writer, correct? Ephesus did not have a Canon that said, “We do not recognize Constantinople.” I presume they simply did not mention Constantinople, which is an argument from silence. Further, the fact that Chalcedon cites Constantinople actually disproves the claim of the link that Constantinople was only recognized by Gregory the Great. Clearly, it was recognized before then, and the fact that Pope Leo (i think) recognized Chalcedon means, by consequence, he recognized Constantinople.

    But Leo, and others never made Constantinople binding on the West, which would have then made it ecumenical. Gregory the Great is the one who made it binding on the West. When he did that, he made it ecumenical, because then it became binding on the whole Church. But notice, he only made the four canons that were known in the West binding on the West. The East recognized seven canons during the time of Leo and Damasus and Gregory. So in actuality, Gregory only elevated part of the council to ecumenical status.

    You said: Well, that’s according to you as we don’t have any smoking gun evidence that people in the west never heard about it. Further, it would appear to me, that Augustine viewed as ecumenical all of the councils of the east, as they were properly called by the emperor and a few (like Milan) explicitly had Papal legates as well.

    Just because a council has papal legates there, does not mean a council will be, or is intended to be ecumenical.

    You said: I think the context of what is written in the second book against the Donatists is sufficient to say that Augustine would have rejected what you said. But, if he was not clear enough in saying that Scripture “stands absolutely in a superior position to all the letters of Bishops,” let me quote Augustine in Letter 82:

    “For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error.”

    How can a Bishop teach infallibly if only the Scripture alone is completely free from error?

    Context Craig. What had the Donatists brought forth? A book called Acts,from which they were using Cyprian’s writings to defend their views. So he is comparing other books, probably the Apocryphal books and Gnostic writings, which others have tried to say are Scripture, to the canon that the Catholic Church accepts. You do realize how hypocritical it would be for him to tell the people of Carthage to accept the canon of Scripture that the council had formulated, and at the same time tell them, we as a council, could easily be erring in this formulation? Why would anyone listen to someone who said that? But that basically is what you are having him say.

    I found this interesting, from Dr. Kenneth Howell:

    Advocates of sola Scriptura like to point out that Augustine even uses the Protestant phrase in the first sentence (solis eis Scripturarum libris “to the books of Scripture alone”) which supports their contention that the great Bishop of Hippo embraced sola Scriptura.

    This is a case where careful reading of documents is of paramount importance. The contexts of Augustine’s comments and those of Reformers in the sixteenth century are quite different, not only in time, but in substance. Protestants contrasted the absolute authority of Scripture and what they considered the unjust authority of tradition or the magisterium of the Church. For them, the Scriptures alone were the proper source from which Christian doctrine and morals should be extracted. To add the authority of the Church was to undermine God’s authority by adding human authority to it. But in Augustine’s arguments with Jerome ten centuries earlier, the issue was not about the authority of the canonical Scriptures taken as a whole — Jerome himself affirmed that — but whether one should allow historical mistakes within Scripture. When Paul writes of Peter in Galatians 2:14 he did not act in accord with “the truth of the gospel,” Jerome had supposed that Paul had made a mistake in his writing. Augustine, in the quotations above, is affirming that the Scriptures are inerrant, not that they are the sole authority. Other writings may err but not the Scriptures.

    You said: Davies writes a little later:

    “Pope Liberius showed lamentable weakness in the face of the Arian heresy. He signed an ambiguous semi-Arian creed and excommunicated Saint Athanasius” (p. 482, same link).

    The creed he signed was from the Council of Sirmium, the same creed that was presented at Milan. Being that Damasus signed this, and Athanasius’ exile while he himself was still in exile before the later Councils of Sirmium shows that he signed onto the Council of Milan under duress.

    There’s also the issue that a Pope is infallible and cannot teach false doctrines, but signing onto a creed that is being promulgated as what should be taught into the churches would seem to undo this. But, that’s a different discussion I suppose.

    So in short, I think you misunderstand how citations are used. However, I would agree with you about my citation of Davies’ which was not complete enough. I have shown, now, that during exile he did indeed sign onto the creed presented to him at Milan.

    Craig I understand how citations are used. It is never good to post a citation that in one part supports your argument, but in another rejects what you are trying to argue. This is what you did with several of your links, and you often twist, or try to flat out ignore what the author is really trying to say.

    But you did not address that the Church has always viewed a pope affirming something under duress, such as a creed, or excommunication of someone, or confirming a council, as his actions being null and void since they were done under duress. Which by the way, papal infallibility clearly states. So Milan and Sirmium would not have been recognized because of forced signings. And you already admitted that he signed these things under duress.

  16. Craig,
    Before I reply in greater detail, can you tell me whether the writings of Irenaeus are part of the Tradition of the Catholic Church?

    1. Oliver, and you push and squeeze some Protestant to answer that question, there are only 3 alternatives:

      1) Yes, and I don’t like X.

      2) No, there was no Catholic Church then.

      3) No, the “Catholic Church” (yes, with quotation marks) at the time is not the same as today/afterwards.

      I have never seen, though, they concede the hidden clause, which is compatible with 1 to 3:

      4) Your question doesn’t matter, because I only take from him what I agree with, based on my own interpretations, the doctrine of my church, and the individual guidance of the Holy Spirit, who guides me to the truth.

      For the Orthodox (Catholic included), Irenaeus is an authority. For Craig, he is a historical source. At least that’s what he presents Irenaeus and other Church Fathers to be. Yet he is hiding the truth. They are not historical sources for him: they are apologetical tools. They only serve insofar as they agree with his presuppositions. Notice how he has been silent when presented with arguments that go against his faith? He cannot answer them, unless he concedes that X is no authority for him; but if X is no authority why is he useful at all? The truth is, he is only useful because one can retroactively impute on him some doctrine only held 1300+ years after he was dead, no matter how obtuse one has to be, no matter how winding and twisted one’s logic must be: just because Catholics revere the ECF’s, were it not for that fact, no Protestant would waste time on them. How many Protestants really believe the ECF’s are worth studying? A tiny fraction.

      Therefore, I dare him to admit 4:

      Your question doesn’t matter, because I only take from him what I agree with, based on my own interpretations, the doctrine of my church, and the individual guidance of the Holy Spirit, who guides me to the truth.

      He either has to show that this part is not true:

      a) “I only take from him what I agree with”

      Or this one:

      b) “based on my own interpretations, the doctrine of my church, and the individual guidance of the Holy Spirit, who guides me to the truth.”

      He must show:

      a1) that he deals with parts with go against his doctrines, or those of his Church (no hiding and saying: “I don’t believe in the doctrines of my Church”: if you don’t, you are an idiot for still going to that Church).

      a2) that his interpretations pass the test of academic integrity, or else they are just: 1) opinions; 2) apologetics; 3) preaching; 4) legend; 5) myth; 6) delusion; 7) ideology; 8) (fill in the blanks)

      Craig will never, ever, ever admit a1 or be subjected to a2.

      Regardless, from what I’ve been reading, even agnostic or downright atheist scholars seem to have a pretty clear view that Protestant doctrines are not perspicuously found either in the holy books or in the early Church. As Ehrman said, the early Christians didn’t “believe” in the Bible, and the Bible never appears in the Creeds. Even an unbeliever can clearly see that Jesus asks his followers to do things to be saved, which undermines both sola scriptura and sola fide: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/saved.html

      So, as far as I can see (despite his “good intentions”, and not taking into consideration his habit of taking to his blog what he cannot answer here, so as to enable him to censor comments as he sees fit and feel good with himself), Craig doesn’t have one iota of intellectual credibility, as per the above premises. He’s just a Baptist/Presbyterian/Whatever American preacher fan of James White aka Jacobus Alvus. So if he can follow Calvin and James White, I can follow Odin, and I’ll surely be happier.

      1. KO – well said.

        I see Craig taking #4. Example, Early Jerome is the go to guy for the cannon because he had reservations about the deuterocanonical books. The Jerome that eventually agreed with the Church is ignored or explained away. 1500 hundred years from now Craig’s clone will be arguing that Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation is not inspired because the Early Protestant Father Luther said so. He will wave away other EPF that disagree with him.

        Craig uses the early father’s like most Protestants use Scripture. Take verses out of context, ignore or wave away texts that go against their go to verses.

        I mean you have early Christians say thing things that he considers unbiblical, praying to the saints, veneration of Mary, Catholic view of the Eucharist, Baptism saves, etc…

        I mean, literally thinking that the Eucharist is Jesus! If that is not true it is the classic definition of idolatry! Bishops of the Church were pushing this, not some layman. You would think someone would have stepped up and denounced this! No nothing… Why? Because it was as controversial as saying Jesus rose from the dead.

        Someone denounced every other heresy but not Eucharist is Jesus, which incidentally goes against the first commandment if not true.

        Believing and accepting that the Eucharist is literally the body the blood, soul and divinity of Jesus requires faith. Knowing that that early Church beleived that the Eucharist is literally the body the blood, soul and divinity of Jesus only requires humility.

  17. Just to show the vast diversity in supposed “protestantism”…. for your reading enjoyment, an excerpt from a Lutheran parish website dealing with the concept of “Scripture Alone” and what it meant to [most importantly] those who used the term first (the Lutheran confessional writers):

    “Will the Real “Sola Scriptura” Please Stand Up!
    AUGUST 8, 2012 BY PASTORRICH
    This is an excursus that our pastor wrote for a study on the New Testament epistle of Jude.

    Excursus: Will the Real “Sola Scriptura” Please Stand Up!
    To make his theological points, Jude liberally referred to parts of the Old Testament, which his readers viewed as authoritative. He called on such authority to show that he was not simply asserting his own opinion, but the teachings of the Church, that which “was once for all delivered to the saints.”
    However, what makes us uncomfortable about Jude’s references are those he includes from the Assumption of Moses and 1 Enoch, both of which are not Scripture. Yet, Jude quoted and referenced them as if they were Scripture–for he made no distinction between his biblical quotes and his non-biblical quotes! So, what are we to make of them?
    First, we must not deny that Jude, in some way, saw the Assumption of Moses and 1 Enoch as authoritative, for that’s how he referenced those works. The question is why were they authoritative?
    Perhaps, this may help. The New Testament writers referenced other works in three ways.
    They referenced the Old Testament, including the Apocrypha, simply as the authoritative sources they were.
    They referenced other, non-biblical writings that had some authority in the Church, based on Church tradition, even though those books were not Scripture. That is what Jude did when he referenced the Assumption of Moses and 1 Enoch.
    New Testament writers also referenced secular works simply to help make a point. Those works had no authority outside the point being made. That is what Paul does when he preaches at the Areopagus, in Acts 17.
    Jude simply acted from a worldview that did not see Scripture as the “only” authority. That’s why he could reference the Assumption of Moses and 1 Enoch as he did. But Jude was not the only New Testament writer with such a worldview. The Apostle Paul also saw a role for tradition as authoritative in some way.
    – 1 Corinthians 11:2: Paul writing to the church in Corinth, “I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold to the traditions just as I delivered [“traditioned”] them to you.”
    – 2 Thessalonians 2:15: Paul writing to the church in Thessalonica, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by our spoken word or by our letter.”
    So, what then are we to make of our Lutheran principle of “sola scriptura”? Today, a different version of “sola scriptura” has taken hold, which asserts that Scripture alone is the only authority in the Church. Although, at first blush, that sounds fine, a problem exists with such a view–that view contradicts Scripture and is itself unscriptural! In other words, that distortion of “sola scriptura” is a man-made tradition that goes against the Scriptures it is meant to uphold.
    Yet, no problem exists if we understand “sola scriptura” in its original context–that Scripture alone is the “final authority”. That worldview does not contradict Scripture. That is also the worldview in our Lutheran Confessions. Our Formula of Concord reads:
    We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and norm [note: it doesn’t say “only source”] according to which all teachings, together with all teachers, should be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone. (Ep, Summary, 1)
    Because Scripture is “the only rule and norm” that we are to use to evaluate and judge all teachings, our Confessions can assert that a teaching that originated from within the Church (such are the Nicene Creed) can be authoritative. Our Confessions could only do that because they viewed the traditions of the Church passed down to us as authoritative–in a secondary way–which Scripture is still to evaluate and judge.
    Since nothing in the Creed contradicts Scripture, the Creeds, based on Church tradition, become authoritative for us. Nonetheless, no Church tradition may ever override Scripture. That is the difference between the real “sola scriptura” and the caricature of it that exists today.
    Seeing Scripture as the final authority instead of the only authority is what our Lutheran Confessions teach. It also allows a role for the Church that Scriptures teaches. The Apostle Paul, writing to Pastor Timothy, told him that “the Church of the living God, [is] the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Note that the Scriptures do not say that Scripture is the pillar and foundation of the truth. Yet, if Scripture taught that Scripture was the only authority, then Paul could not make such a statement about the Church.
    When we see the roles God has given to His Church and to His Scriptures, we see a divine balance. The Church has a teaching and preaching role to be the foundation of the truth. This prevents each person from inventing his own truth and interpretations from the Scriptures. The Apostle Peter wrote, “You should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). This also keeps a “me and Jesus” approach from dominating one’s own faith life at the expense of the Communion of the Saints.
    Yet, by having such a prominent judging and evaluating role for the Scriptures, they then can serve as a correcting rod when the Church errs. Those within the Church then act as “the Berean Jews … for they received the word with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).”

    Original link: http://sothl.com/2012/08/08/will-the-real-sola-scriptura-please-stand-up/

    Again, this is coming from the website of a Lutheran parish (LCMS); not all Protestants have the same definition of “Sola Scriptura”, and I think on this point we of the Lutheran confession would have to take a more “Catholic” view on doctrinal authority.

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