TONIGHT, Catholic Answers Live: Protestantism & Early Church History

Tonight (July 7th), from 6-7 pm Central, I’m going to be on Catholic Answers Live talking about Protestantism and the early Church. The conversation was sparked by a post I wrote a while back called 6 Early Christian Controversies That Protestantism Can’t Explain. In it, I talk about the desire of many Protestants to return to what they imagine was the simpler, purer faith of the early Church, but that this only reveals Protestantism’s

radical disconnect from the early Christianity that it wants to emulate. In virtually every dispute in early Christianity, Evangelicals believe that (a) the Catholic party, the party in communion with and headed by the Bishop of Rome, was right; or (b) nobody was right. The way that (a) points towards Catholicism is clear enough: how likely is it that it was just a string of good luck that Catholics got all of these right? And if this points to the protection of the Holy Spirit, why would we assume that the Spirit suddenly switched teams in the 16th century?

I then looked at six issues:

  1. The Easter dating controversy;
  2. The Diocletian Persecution;
  3. Fasting and the Eucharist;
  4. Donatism and the Sacraments;
  5. Gnosticism and the Eucharist; and
  6. The Donatist Anti-Popes

These were some of the biggest issues within the early Christian Church. And in every case, we see a clear “Catholic” side — that is, the Catholic Church can look at these moments and history and say “this side was right” (at the time, who was right was sometimes unclear, so you would often get good Catholics on both sides while the issue was still unsettled). But what you don’t see is a “Protestant” side. The Protestant is forced to either side with the Bishop of Rome and the Christians in communion with him, or to say that nobody was right, or that they can’t even understand the issue (the whole theology controversy between Catholicism and Donatism only makes sense if you understand that the Sacraments are efficacious — that they actually cause grace to be made present — and aren’t just signs).

So I’d encourage you to tune in tonight and if you haven’t read it before, revisit 6 Early Christian Controversies That Protestantism Can’t Explain.

101 Comments

    1. Except that he made about 50 great points about Church history that most Christians are hardly aware of. Of course, for non-Christians, many things regarding the Church are boring. It’s to be expected. But, these are Christian conversations…if you haven’t figured that out yet. For gnostic minded folk, there are probably multitdudes of sites on the web that are very interesting. But for Catholics, this was a great interview and show.

      “The Joe Heschmeyer Show” has a nice ring to it. Hope it happens some day!

  1. Great show! I’m sure glad you came back for the second half. I think you had a lot of us in some suspense there. They should give you your own hour. 🙂

  2. As s Catholic, please help me respond to my non Catholic Friend. It reads:
    I’m not sure I really get the article on the 6 points. It could be that it’s not written well or not written as well as I would like lol. For example, it’s not always clear what the author is trying to point out at each point he brings up. Consider his statement prefacing the points: “In each case, the Evangelical is left without a side — either the whole debate is alien to his belief system, or he’s left concluding that everybody is wrong.” Now, looking at his first point, is the author’s suggestion that Protestants are left without a side in regards to some debate surrounding the use of a liturgical calendar because it is either alien to their Protestantism or else heir Protestantism would conclude in everybody being wrong? If not I don’t know what else he could be suggesting. If so, I’m not sure it’s valid: mainline Protestants (Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc.) typically follow a liturgical calendar; meanwhile, mainstream protestants (Baptists, Pentecostals, etc.) don’t typically have any issue with the use of a liturgical calendar. Ive never heard Protestants really take any issue with the liturgical calendar and most, from my experience, enjoy following the calendar. Certainly, they each celebrate Easter on Sunday–pointing back to the author’s article. So, I’m not sure what he’s getting at there. I’m not sure what I would disagree with in those regards with his 6 points because I’m not sure, logically, what his points actually are. But there are other things I would take issue with. The author’s inconsistency with language. And for an article which purports to take so seriously history, it seems quite anachronistic. To point, are Catholics to be considered “Christians” in his article? In his first point it would seem so in the light of his comment that, “this is a second-century pope who feels comfortable intervening in Asia Minor to tell the Christians there to stop using a liturgical calendar set up by an Apostle.” And in his second point he refers to the Diocletian persecution as “the bloodiest of Christians in Roman history.” But he continues, “What we don’t hear: Christians siding with the pagans in denouncing Catholics for using the Sign of the Cross.” At the surface, it appears to be making some distinction between Catholics and Christians? I would like to think that is not what he is doing but it something that re-surfaces in the article (e.g. at point 5 he writes, “What we don’t see: Christians siding with the Catholics on the Incarnation, and with the Gnostics against the Eucharist.”). He either misunderstands or misuses the terms (I’m sure “misuses” not “misunderstands”) so clarification would be helpful. Consider his inconsistent and possibly inaccurate use of the term, “Evangelicals”–at times he appears to be inconsistently equating the term “evangelical” with Protestantism or variously to be referring to all Protestants as “evangelicals.” The term is not synonymous with Protestantism. Few in theologically or politically liberal circles would identify as “evangelical”!even if they identified as “Protestant”, Brian McLaren recently wrote about how ‘broke up with evangelicals’.’ And ‘Gospel-centered’ Catholics following the “New Evangelization” proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It’s a term that, “entered American Catholic historiography in 1983 when David O’Brien applied to Isaac Hecker” (Scott Hahn’s website links an paper titled, “Here Come the Evangelical Catholics,” by William L. Portier). And it’s something about which George Weigel has written an entire book entitled, “Evangelical Catholicism.” Certainly the author of the article is aware that Protestantism doesn’t own a copyright on the term, “Evangelical.” It appears to be another case of lumping together all non-Roman Catholics together under an umbrella of Protestantism even while many lumped together as such do not so identify. His article would be more on point in his points, I would think, if he would clarify his audience. I’m assuming his real issue would be Reformed and fundamentalist Protestants. Not all non-Catholics even prefer the term “Protestant” much less “Reformed” or “Fundamentalist.” But I’m thinking that might be who he the author is referring to. Im any case, I can’t imagine that many whom the author would identify as either “evangelical” or “protestant” would take great issue with much of what he has written except in what they may perceive to be implied in his writing that would appear to invalidate their faith and relationship with God in Christ.

    1. This is a good response!

      To add to it, it seems a little bit like Joe makes the same error in the article with which he originally charges Stephen Button: he takes a number of cases where we have at times extremely spotty records, and declares that any opinions we don’t hear clearly announced must not have existed.

      But there are larger problems. Joe says – there, and repeated in his article here – that in many of these disputes:

      … Evangelicals believe that (a) the Catholic party, the party in communion with and headed by the Bishop of Rome, was right; or (b) nobody was right. The way that (a) points towards Catholicism is clear enough: how likely is it that it was just a string of good luck that Catholics got all of these right? And if this points to the protection of the Holy Spirit, why would we assume that the Spirit suddenly switched teams in the 16th century?

      But that’s a little bit silly. For all my differences with modern Catholicism, I think it gets more right than it does wrong; is the Protestant supposed to expect that the Roman bishop is in the wrong on all – or even a majority of – issues, just because they think he’s wrong on some fairly important ones? If agreeing with the mainstream position on some questions is sufficient to say, “See, this must be the truth of God throughout!” then we might as well convert back to Judaism – or Islam!

      As is sometimes the case when Joe writes about Protestants, I don’t recognize the mindset he expects them to take. (I’m particularly baffled by the argument in #3 that Protestants can’t explain why we hear no one arguing against fasting. Are Protestants meant to be opposed to fasting?) It sometimes feels, perhaps understandably, as though he expects them to think about the world as Catholics do.

      But Protestants don’t generally expect the early church to think exactly the way we do now; I’m comfortable with the idea that, while Christians can see and agree upon the core salvific truths of Scripture (as the vast majority of Protestants do today!) there’s plenty of room for quibbling over details. I don’t expect the second century church – a church whose rituals and practices are in many ways still derived from its Jewish cultural and religious background – to look like American Southern Baptists. If that includes their extreme concern over liturgical calendars, when that issue elicits a resounding “Meh” from me today – well, what of it? The pressing concerns of their day – which at the time seem to have taken “What calendar do we use?” to be a reflection of the question “How much are we bound to Jewish law?” – are not all mine; I am relatively confident that not too many people are trying to require kosher food at our potlucks, at this point.

      But then, my denomination doesn’t ground its practice on the claim that this practice is the ancient and universal teaching of the church; Roman Catholicism does. I don’t need these folks to look like Southern Baptists – but it seems to me that you do need them to look like contemporary Catholicism.

      And there we get into details that are omitted from the six controversies listed. It may be true, regarding calendars, that no one said, “Well, we shouldn’t have a liturgical calendar.” But there are other unexpected things here that we do see. We see, for instance, that the apostolic traditions conflict on the issue; that the west claims to follow Peter and Paul, while the east follows John. We also see that when Victor, bishop of Rome, tries to excommunicate the eastern church, he gets told to hush. No less than Irenaeus rebukes him for sinning in this matter, and Victor indeed does yield to his peers. (Would we expect that the bishop of Rome could be said to sin in the matter of the excommunication of a whole half of the church?)

      We see, moreover, that the church broadly ignores the opinion of the bishop of Rome on the subject for another hundred and fifty years; thus, fifty years later, Firmilian can write (in Cyprian 66) “that they who are at Rome do not observe those things in all cases which are handed down from the beginning, and vainly pretend the authority of the apostles; any one may know also from the fact, that concerning the celebration of Easter, and concerning many other sacraments of divine matters, he may see that there are some diversities among them, and that all things are not observed among them alike, which are observed at Jerusalem, just as in very many other provinces also many things are varied because of the difference of the places and names.”

      Would we expect that an edict of the bishop of Rome would be so ineffectual that its utter failure to change behavior – and its inconsistency with church tradition – would be held up as evidence that those bishops held no real apostolic authority? Does that fit with the modern Catholic view of these early centuries?

      Other claims here seem to me to be simply untrue. Consider the Donatist controversy, #6 – the eventual outgrowth, in many ways, of the split between bishops Cyprian of Carthage and Stephen of Rome regarding the rebaptism of Christians under persecution. Joe’s article says that in this controversy, we don’t hear “Anyone treating the papacy as itself heretical, or even unnecessary.” But, as we were discussing a couple of blog posts ago, we do! In addition to the quote from Firmilian above – made in derision of Stephen during that same controversy, and which says among other things that he only “pretend[s] the authority of the apostles” – we have Cyprian himself. Folks may be getting tired of me trotting out this quote at this point, but it directly contradicts the relevant assertion; as he led a council in direct contravention of Stephen’s ruling in this matter, Cyprian said, “For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. But let us all wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one that has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct there.”

      That simply is a denial of the modern doctrine of the papacy as heretical – no bishop of bishops, no authority of any one bishop to judge another, no person in the church of higher authority save Christ himself. More, it seems to be an echo of Tertullian’s On Modesty, which likewise ridicules the pretensions of the Roman bishop. There, Tertullian contrasts proper modest behavior with the excesses of what he derides as “the Pontifex Maximus – that is, the bishop of bishops,” mocking the Roman bishop with the title of the chief priest of Roman paganism!

      If Protestantism (so it’s argued) would expect to see what, in fact, we do see in this controversy… what then?

      1. Fair enough points, particularly on Cyprian. Though, with the Reformers saying their view on soteriology is necessary in order to be saved, its absence among the Fathers should be a cause of concern.

        God bless,
        Craig

        1. Hey Craig,

          Sure, there are reasonable follow-ups from there. (I actually tend to think the Reformers were rather too restrictive in what was required for salvation, in that regard.) I’d certainly be open to a conversation that started from, “Okay, so some of the fathers may reasonably be taken to have thought these things, and yet modern Catholicism denies them. So what?”

          We still ought to do that Skype sometime!

          1. Irked,

            Yes, definitely, I have not forgot. I am hoping to finish a project soon. I am a little more Facebook friendly as I can double task with that whenever someone is on. Let’s make a time sometime next week.

            God bless,
            Craig

    2. Hi James,

      Your friend should first understand that Joe’s article is merely that.. a short article, and not a PHD thesis. And being so, a little understanding of ‘common’ terminology is necessary. Everyone already knows that both Catholics, and Protestants are Christians, this is a ‘no brainer’. For Catholics, though, it is easy to define the faith, as it is found currently in the Catholic Catechism. For Protestants, there are so many groups as to make it impossible to categorize easily, and so, a generalization is necessary. To solve the terminology difficulty, maybe we can generalize Protestant s belief both past and present as something like ‘Sola’s believers’..or some other suitable general creedal definition.

      The question for your friend should be: Can you show me any historical people in the 2nd century- 10th centuries who wrote concerning any of your ‘sola’ doctrines that you believe? What are their names, what are they writings, and when did they write? Were they bishops? Were their doctrines described in friendly correspondence with other bishops of their generation…such as Ignatius and Polycarp, or Augustine and Jerome,or Basil and Gregory? And is there anything regarding the ‘solas’ doctrines found in Eusebius Church History, on of the first comprehensive Christian histories…written in about 310 AD? And lastly, if it cannot be found anywhere in Church history, that the ‘sola’s’ beliefs were both defined and practiced in the Church, then it could be said that a ‘sola’s believer’ back then…if there actually were any, as Joe describes, “…is an outsider, an alien party for whom the dispute doesn’t make sense, or who views all parties as wrong.” The ‘sola’s’ believer is a hidden believer, with almost no trace in early Church History.

      On the other hand, Joe brings up the example of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and ‘Apostolic Father’ who gave explicit Church teachings via epistles, before 110 AD, and he was also a disciple of St. John the Apostle, so his writings have both the weight of authority and historical authenticity. For instance, he wrote:

      “Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.” (-Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.)

      AND

      “Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.”(-“Letter to the Ephesians”, paragraph 20, c. 80-110 A.D.)

      So, with these examples, we see ‘Church Unity’ both taught and detailed as to how it was to be maintained in the early Church, and written clearly for all to understand. We find elements of Church authority, and hierarchy…that of Bishops, priests and deacons, and also common understanding of the Eucharist. Moreover, we have St. Ignatius warning the members of the Church: ” Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion”. Did ‘sola believers’ back then…if there actually were any…have a problem with ‘schismatics’ as St. Ignatius did? If so, where is it written? Or, were the hypothetical ancient ‘sola’s believers’ actually a type of ‘schismatics’ that Ignatius is describing when he writes? For instance, do ‘sola’s believers’, either now or back then, believe in a ‘priesthood’ and ‘an altar’ for priests to use in the Church?

      And so, this is why I think Joe describes that they , ‘sola believers’ (ancient Protestants) hypothetically are “… an outsider, an alien party for whom the dispute doesn’t make sense, or who views all parties as wrong.” If they don’t believe in the priesthood, how can they believe in a liturgy as the ancient Church believed…wherein priests, and what St. Ignatius describes as ‘one altar’….were used for the same ancient liturgy? But, what did the ‘sola’s believers’ practice?” ( …Is there an Emoji for crickets?)

      And this is just one small example of many, but I hope you get the picture.

      Maybe you can ask some of these questions to your ‘sola’s believer’ friend.

      1. Al,

        The question for your friend should be: Can you show me any historical people in the 2nd century- 10th centuries who wrote concerning any of your ‘sola’ doctrines that you believe? What are their names, what are they writings, and when did they write? Were they bishops? Were their doctrines described in friendly correspondence with other bishops of their generation…such as Ignatius and Polycarp, or Augustine and Jerome,or Basil and Gregory?

        Suppose his friend answers with names such as Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem in 350 AD (“For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures,” Catechetical Lectures 4:17)?

        Or with Gregory, bishop of Nyssa in 372 AD (“We are not entitled to such licence [as the nonbelievers have], I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings… but as for ourselves, we were agreed that there is something more trustworthy than any of these artificial conclusions, namely, that which the teachings of Holy Scripture point to: and so I deem that it is necessary to inquire, in addition to what has been said, whether this inspired teaching harmonizes with it all.”)?

        Or Clement and the other elders of Rome, ca. 100 AD (“And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever.”)?

        Or what of “Ambrosiaster’s” commentary on Romans in 372 (“How can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law, but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law, when the ungodly person is justified before God by faith alone… Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone… He says that grace is given by God in Christ Jesus, because God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works; by faith alone he receives the forgiveness of his sins,” etc.)?

        Or might we consider John Chrysostom, ca. 400 (“Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only,” Homilies on Romans, on verse 3:27; ” Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but [Paul] shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed,” Commentary on Galatians, on verse 3:8)?

        If a Protestant mentions some of these names, and others besides… what then?

        1. Hi Irked,

          Regarding Cyril and holy scriptures, he already agreed, as all orthodox Catholic bishops did, with the Council of Nicaea, held in 325 AD. And the faith they pledged themselves to was the one found in the Nicaean creed… the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic faith. There were plenty of apostates and heretics who were well aware of the scriptures, and tried to use them to their advantage…even as Satan did with Jesus in the desert. That’s not the problem. It is the interpretation of the scriptures that is essential. And, it is the Church, and the Councils that they convoke occasionally, to decide on important matters ( Using BOTH scripture and the opinion of the apostolic tradition) to try to resolve ecclesiastical problems.

          So, to get an idea of the overall Church, and how it functioned back then, it’s important to read Eusebius’ Church History. And to get an idea of how all of these bishops catechized their flocks, its good to read the Canons of the Synod of Alvira, and the canons of Nicaea I, and the ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ and the ‘Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus’. It’s all online. all these will teach on elements of the orthodox Catholic Faith that you will not find in the scriptures, though most of it is based on scripture, in one way or another.

          But, if you only want to pick one quote here and one quote there, and avoid the overall picture found in these important councils, Early Church history, catechism and liturgical documents…you will never have a comprehensive view of the Early Church…and will make all kinds of errors regarding it.

          I take this comprehensive view, first getting the entire overview of Church history, and then interpreting individual texts with this in mind. Because it is the ‘living Church’, under the guidance of bishops, that produced the scriptures, councils, canon laws, liturgies, etc… and not the scriptures who produced the bishops, canon laws, councils, etc… It is the compilation of everything, with God;s grace and Providence, that produces the bishops and other leaders of the Church. So, it is the ‘living faith’, handed down by the Apostles and Bishops that made up the living Church of the early centuries, and the scriptures were created to help them spread that same faith. But the bishops, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, came into council occasionally, to guide the Church as it saw fit. And the Universal Church, the entire flock of Christ’s flock…followed it (..and even some schismatics and heretics also).

          1. One small benefit of taking the comprehensive view of the early Church first, before studying particulars, is that you come up with events that help in the overall understanding of both the Church and the pope. For instance, in about 170 AD, very early in Church history we have a story of how the pagan Britons first received the Catholic faith. Bede relates:

            “Eleutherus became Pope between 171 and 177. In their time, whilst the holy Eleutherus presided over the Roman Church, Lucius, king of Britain, sent a letter to him, entreating that by a mandate from him he might be made a Christian. He soon obtained his pious request, and the Britons preserved the faith, which they had received, uncorrupted and entire, in peace and tranquillity until the time of the Emperor Diocletian.”

            In this little statement, we might ask ourselves, “Why did Lucius, king of Briton, write to Rome, and not to bishoprics in France, to the bishop of Tours, or of Burgundy, or maybe some place in Spain? Why Rome? Why to Pope Eleutheus? And, later, it was Pope Gregory that actually sent a group of monks, led by Augustine, to help convert the rest of the British Isles. So, again, it was a Pope of Rome effecting the conversion of an entire nation, and which conversion has greatly affected world civilization ever since.

            So, the conversion of Briton is just another proof that back in 170 AD the Church at Rome was considered an authoritative Church to appeal to regarding the holy faith. This is just one simple example as to how History can add insight into many elements of the Christian Church of the time. And this history includes wars, persecutions, martyrdoms, conversions of new nations….etc… which give a more detailed picture of what the ancient Church was like back then. And, mostly we see that it was Catholic, universal in nature and custom…and led by the See of Rome.

          2. Al,

            Regarding Cyril and holy scriptures, he already agreed, as all orthodox Catholic bishops did, with the Council of Nicaea, held in 325 AD. And the faith they pledged themselves to was the one found in the Nicaean creed… the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic faith. There were plenty of apostates and heretics who were well aware of the scriptures, and tried to use them to their advantage…even as Satan did with Jesus in the desert. That’s not the problem. It is the interpretation of the scriptures that is essential.

            Sure. But the fact remains that they said – Cyril especially clearly – that the only things that could be held were those proven from Scripture. Not from Scripture and something else; Cyril is explicit in ruling that out. That’s Sola Scriptura: Scripture as the sole infallible rule of faith.

            Now, would Cyril disagree with me in the application of Scripture elsewhere? Sure, but that wasn’t your challenge.

            So, to get an idea of the overall Church, and how it functioned back then,

            Respectfully, that’s a different subject. I am not interested in disintegrating specific men, with specific beliefs, back into a general background noise of “Well, but the church overall has always thought what I thought.”

            You asked for specific examples of men who taught the solas. Here they are. If the specific teaching of specific men is insufficient proof, I’d ask you what evidence could possibly suffice.

            I mean that sincerely. It seems to me that your “comprehensive” view is a quite effective way to ignore any particulars you don’t like, without even having to make an effort at explaining them. What could I present – even theoretically – that you would except as evidence of someone teaching the sola doctrines?

            Because if the answer is “nothing” – if the claim that there were no such men is unfalsifiable – then we’re wasting our time here.

          3. Hi Irked,

            I say a ‘comprehensive view’ is important because the Church is both Catholic (universal) as well as apostolic…based on apostolic teaching and ordination. The ‘universal’ and comprehensive view of ecclesiology view considers not only words, statements and theological opinions of individual bishops (as that would include heretical bishops, also) but councils and synods as well. To use Cyril as an example, we note that he is writing in 350 AD, and so he needs to be understood in the context of ‘his particular era’ of Church history. This means that he can’t be easily compared to someone such as St. Ignatius of Antioch in 100 AD, because at Ignatius’ time Cyrils canon was only vaguely recognized as scripture back then, and it was the apostolic ‘tradition’ of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that was the dominant authority for all ecclesial matters. So, the idea of ‘sola scriptura’ to someone such as Ignatius of Antioch would be absurd…as it was bishops, taught by the apostles, that were the authority back then. the bishops could choose literature as they thought fit, to be used in their weekly liturgies, and in the future some of this literature became holy scripture.

            Regarding this, St. Cyril, could have easily promoted the canon of scriptures that he had back then as an ESSENTIAL..not ONLY… part of Christian teaching, but he could never teach “Sola Scriptura” because if he did so he would need to deny the Nicaean Creed which professes “I believe in ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC CHURCH”. Each word has it’s own significance and particular meaning, and needs Catholic catechesis to understand it. Cyril, if he was proposing ‘sola scripture’ as you claim, would be apostatizing from this same creed on the points of Apostolicity, and which all of his catechumens were expected to understand before being baptized.

            Here is a, introductory catechesis as to what apostolicity in the Nicaean Creed signifies, something of which the catechumens of Cyril wood have been forced to agree with before being baptized:

            ” … “Apostle” is one sent, sent by authority of Jesus Christ to continue His Mission upon earth, especially a member of the original band of teachers known as the Twelve Apostles. Therefore the Church is called Apostolic, because it was founded by Jesus Christ upon the Apostles. Apostolicity of doctrine and mission is necessary. Apostolicity of doctrine requires that the deposit of faith committed to the Apostles shall remain unchanged. Since the Church is infallible in its teaching, it follows that if the Church of Christ still exists it must be teaching His doctrine. Hence Apostolicity of mission is a guarantee of Apostolicity of doctrine. St. Irenæus (Adv. Haeres, IV, xxvi, n. 2) says: “Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles, as we have shown, who, together with succession in the episcopate, have received the certain mark of truth according to the will of the Father; all others, however, are to be suspected, who separated themselves from the principal succession”, etc. In explaining the concept of Apostolicity, then, special attention must be given to Apostolicity of mission, or Apostolic succession. Apostolicity of mission means that the Church is one moral body, possessing the mission entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Apostles, and transmitted through them and their lawful successors in an unbroken chain to the present representatives of Christ upon earth. This authoritative transmission of power in the Church constitutes Apostolic succession. This Apostolic succession must be both material and formal; the material consisting in the actual succession in the Church, through a series of persons from the Apostolic age to the present; the formal adding the element of authority in the transmission of power. It consists in the legitimate transmission of the ministerial power conferred by Christ upon His Apostles. No one can give a power which he does not possess. Hence in tracing the mission of the Church back to the Apostles, no lacuna can be allowed, no new mission can arise; but the mission conferred by Christ must pass from generation to generation through an uninterrupted lawful succession. The Apostles received it from Christ and gave it in turn to those legitimately appointed by them, and these again selected others to continue the work of the ministry. Any break in this succession destroys Apostolicity, because the break means the beginning of a new series which is not Apostolic. “How shall they preach unless they be sent?” (Romans 10:15). An authoritative mission to teach is absolutely necessary, a man-given mission is not authoritative. Hence any concept of Apostolicity that excludes authoritative union with the Apostolic mission robs the ministry of its Divine character. Apostolicity, or Apostolic succession, then, means that the mission conferred by Jesus Christ upon the Apostles must pass from then to their legitimate successors, in an unbroken line, until the end of the world. This notion of Apostolicity is evolved from the words of Christ Himself, the practice of the Apostles, and the teaching of the Fathers and theologians of the Church.”

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

            Derived from the Catholic Encyclopedia…here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01648b.htm

          4. Al,

            I say a ‘comprehensive view’ is important

            Sure, it is. But that wasn’t your challenge; you asked, “Who are the people who taught this?” I provided them. I’d like to talk about the thing you asked, and not something else.

            This means that he can’t be easily compared to someone such as St. Ignatius of Antioch in 100 AD

            Perhaps not, but that wasn’t your challenge. You asked for someone teaching these doctrines between the second and tenth centuries; Cyril fits that requirement, as do Gregory, Clement, John Chrysostom, and the rest. Let’s talk about that, and not something else.

            Regarding this, St. Cyril, could have easily promoted the canon of scriptures that he had back then as an ESSENTIAL..not ONLY… part of Christian teaching, but he could never teach “Sola Scriptura” because if he did so he would need to deny the Nicaean Creed which professes “I believe in ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC CHURCH”.

            You’re aware that the phrase you cite was not actually present in the 325 Creed – that it was added in the 381 Creed, i.e., later than Cyril is writing here? You’re aware as well that many Protestants continue to affirm the Nicene Creed – that it’s not clear that these words must mean what modern Roman Catholicism asserts they do?

            But it doesn’t really matter what I think they mean, because the question before us is what Cyril thought. And Cyril thought that no one should be permitted to teach theology except where it could be proved from Scripture. We know this. Because he said it.

            Let’s talk about that.

          5. Good afternoon Irked. Long time since we “apologized.” Let’s indeed talk about this:

            “But as for those who say, There was when He was not,
            and, Before being born He was not,
            and that He came into existence out of nothing,
            or who assert that the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance, or created, or is subject to alteration or change
            – these the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes..”

            The wording of the 325 AD version. I’d say this establishes the (implied single, hierarchical) authority of the Catholic Church for Cyril as well as the 381 Constantinople wording. Moving right along….

            Irked, you have been at this long enough to know that Protestants and Catholics hold different meanings of the word ‘works’ as it’s used in Scripture. Good works (Matt 25: 31-46) vs.’works of the law (i.e., minutial, Pharisaical adherence to Old Covenant rules such as circumcision – Abraham – and dietary – Mosaic/Levitical). Catholics discern that Protestants incorrectly conflate the two disparate meanings. In the case of Cyril, the idea that good works would have been non-sequitur to salvation would gotten a laugh from him. He was an ordained Catholic Bishop. Where is his – or any of the other bishops you referenced – proto-Lutheran “sola” rebuke of Church doctrine on the salvific need for good works of charity and mercy, AND faith?

            How I’d love to get all of you over to my house for apologetics and ribs…I just bought a Pit Barrel Cooker and it’s the best $300 I ever spent. It would be a night to remember.

          6. Al,

            The wording of the 325 AD version. I’d say this establishes the (implied single, hierarchical) authority of the Catholic Church for Cyril as well as the 381 Constantinople wording.

            Perhaps it does, and perhaps (in light of Canon 6) it doesn’t, but the hierarchical structure of the church is not our topic. Set it aside.

            In the case of Cyril, the idea that good works would have been non-sequitur to salvation would gotten a laugh from him. He was an ordained Catholic Bishop.

            Must every one of the men I suggest affirm every single one of the solas? That was not your challenge. Here are your exact words:

            “Can you show me any historical people in the 2nd century- 10th centuries who wrote concerning any of your ‘sola’ doctrines that you believe?”

            And the answer is: yes, I can. Maybe Cyril would hold to sola fide, and maybe he wouldn’t – but he teaches sola Scriptura. That’s a historical person from the designated period, of significance and standing within the church, who wrote prominently in affirmation of one of the sola doctrines. That’s what you asked for, and I provided it. Now what?

            How I’d love to get all of you over to my house for apologetics and ribs…I just bought a Pit Barrel Cooker and it’s the best $300 I ever spent. It would be a night to remember.

            No doubt! Don’t suppose you’re native to western Pennsylvania? I rarely say no to apologetics and ribs.

          7. That’s a historical person from the designated period, of significance and standing within the church, who wrote prominently in affirmation of one of the sola doctrines. That’s what you asked for, and I provided it. Now what?

            Actually, before this goes any further, let’s get an answer to that, even just as a hypothetical.

            Your original challenge was written on the assumption that the Protestant could suggest no such individuals. I imagine many Protestants concede that fight in ignorance. But let’s say there is such a man – whether Cyril or one of the others.

            You took the absence of such people as evidence for Catholicism. Will you admit that the existence of such people would be evidence for Protestantism?

          8. Irked – business first.

            You completely ignored my point about the definition of works. Sola fide in regards to Old Covenant rulesets.There are scholars better equipped out there to make the point with Latin and Greek contextual apologetics.What I have read in my poor Ingles-only scholarship seems to back up this idea. In any case, I don’t see any of the early Church Fathers challenging the authority of the Church on this issue.The fact the Church didn’t push back – and you KNOW the hierarchy were primed and loaded for bear against even the smallest apparent heresy – is a big fat Greek clue that context and definition, in this case, is everything.

            Well, damn…I am from New Jersey originally, and my family were eastern Pennsy dairy farmers. I got to escape summers hanging out in front of the drugstore, and spent them scraping and spread manure, swimming in spring-fed creeks, and shooting woodchucks. I am in Colorado now. I suppose it’ll have to wait, maybe a big heavenly BBQ after ‘the roll is called up yonder…’

          9. Al,

            You completely ignored my point about the definition of works.

            Well, so two things. One, I took that to be part of your commentary on Cyril – and I don’t really care, for the purposes of this argument, what Cyril thought about works. In that regard, it seemed like a distraction.

            If you mean it to respond to the others: then sure, I grant you that modern Catholicism distinguishes between two categories of works. But the question we’re debating – broadly speaking – is one little piece of the question of whether the early Christian church shared the modern Catholic framework on all these points. I obviously don’t concede that it does; as such, I’m not willing to grant that all these fathers would have taught that same “two kinds of works” viewpoint. When they give universal negations on the inclusion of anything other than faith, it seems to me that the burden is on you to show that they were using these same categories – that their universal negation, in fact, isn’t.

            By that same token, I’m not willing to grant without proof that the church at the time would have slapped them down for heresy, because I don’t grant that these beliefs were taken as heresy by the preponderance of the church of the time. Again, whether these were in fact normal views at the time is the question we’re trying to answer; you can’t assume your answer to it in establishing your answer.

            This is what I was complaining about earlier; it seems to me that your claim is unfalsifiable. You say, “Show me a prominent teacher in the early church who taught X. You can’t, and that’s the argument against Protestantism.”

            I say to you, “Here’s Bob, a prominent teacher in the early church, who says X.”

            You reply to me, “No, Bob can’t have said X, because he’s a prominent teacher in the early church, and prominent teachers in the early church couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t say X.”

            Do you see the problem there? It doesn’t really matter what Bob does or doesn’t say, because you can always reply that he can’t have said X, because the church would have slapped him down, or because you know the early church just didn’t believe X, or etc.

            And when the actual words of the fathers don’t matter to our determination of what they did or didn’t teach, we have rather a problem. I’ve asked the same question a couple of times now; while we’re talking about ignoring things, maybe you can answer it. What could I possibly produce, even hypothetically, that you couldn’t dismiss with the arguments you’ve used so far? Is there any level of evidence that could possibly count?

        2. “I took that to be part of your commentary on Cyril…”

          OK…got that…lots of names being bandied about here tonight. Ambrosiaster seems to be the main locus of discussion.

          I know there was a lot of debate going on at this time, within the Church, and a lot of apparent interpretation of Scripture especially if one takes the discussions out of historical context. But…and this is a big But….if Ambrosiaster did indeed mean sola fide, it was contra James, Matthew, several of Paul’s letters and the Church as an authoritative source. The fact that the Church did not push back after being hair-triggered over Arianism, other Gnostic variations, Pelagianism, etc etc…..then I hold to my assertion that context is key and the implication is the words of the Fathers like Ambrosiaster were not viewed as a threat, NOT because those views were generally held, but because they were known to be in a larger acceptable context of faith and (non-old-Covenant) works.

          “No, Bob can’t have said X, because he’s a prominent teacher in the early church, and prominent teachers in the early church couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t say X.”

          NO, no, no…my point was, as I said above, not that some early clerics were theoretically incapable of error, but that the Church would have publicly squashed it, and for the record (and I know you noted that). Thus I don’t think any of those you mentioned were publicly in error.

          Whether or not I could or could not dismiss all assertions with that line of reasoning remains to be seen. It is not my intention, I take each case as it comes….. but it wouldn’t bother me if it did, if that’s the way it works out. I’d call it the Holy spirit guiding me.You might think otherwise 😈

          I suppose we’ll know for sure when we’re all savoring baby-backs in Heaven….

          1. And I also believe, that while error might at some time have been/be introduced, the Church is protected from promulgating dogma in error, and such ideas eventually die out within the Catholic context.

            I KNOW we’re not gonna agree on that….but I’d have you over anyway 😊

          2. Al,

            But…and this is a big But….if Ambrosiaster did indeed mean sola fide, it was contra James, Matthew, several of Paul’s letters and the Church as an authoritative source.

            Of course, I see any alternative to sola fide as running contra to the New Testament – to Romans and Galatians in particular. I think we have to evaluate the fathers on what they actually did say, though, and not on what we think they should have said to be consistent with Scripture, or with other fathers.

            In general, if you want to take the fathers off the table and just talk about Scripture, I’m your huckleberry! But that’s kind of an odd place for the conversation to go, given that you’re the one who brought the fathers into it in the first place.

            NO, no, no…my point was, as I said above, not that some early clerics were theoretically incapable of error, but that the Church would have publicly squashed it, and for the record (and I know you noted that). Thus I don’t think any of those you mentioned were publicly in error.

            No, you’re missing my point. I’m not saying that you think they were incapable of error. I’m saying that “Well, the church wouldn’t have let them mean that, so they must not have meant it” is a defense that cares nothing for the evidence to which it’s replying.

            Whether or not I could or could not dismiss all assertions with that line of reasoning remains to be seen.

            So let’s see it. What’s the line? What would it take? What’s the minimum standard I’d have to meet for you to admit that, yes, there exists such a father?

            Because look, we all have obligations outside the internet. I don’t like leaving questions unanswered, but I’m not going to waste both our time throwing evidence at a wall.

            It is not my intention, I take each case as it comes….. but it wouldn’t bother me if it did, if that’s the way it works out.

            Let me just offer two thoughts, then.

            One, from my perspective, it seems rather in bad faith to say, “I challenge you to show me such-and-such. Also, no matter what you show me, I will never agree that it is such-and-such.” If no statement, however strong, could qualify – which you seem to be saying may well be true for you – then this isn’t really a conversation about evidence. I think that’s something you should be upfront about that.

            Two, I think maybe it should bother you. I believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but Paul is pretty clear in evidential arguments for Christianity. We’re called to faith, but not to blind faith; if there’s literally no evidence that could affect your views on the history of the church, that seems like it might be a reason to re-evaluate how you arrived at those views.

            Suppose that you and I were joined in rough alliance in discussing apologetics with, say, a Muslim, or an atheist. If that person said to us, “There is no evidence you could present, even theoretically, that would persuade me you’re correct on anything,” I hope that you and I together would argue that this is an unhealthy position to take. I would gently suggest, in as much humility as I can towards my own blind spots, that it’s equally unhealthy in a Christian.

            Best wishes; God grant we see each other at the buffet line.

          3. Irked:

            Hey, I hear you, and like you, have other stuff to do…..but like you, think we are just crossing purposes. If my argument that “the Church is silent” is a royal flush compared with apologetic full-houses, I can’t help what is. Relatively minor prelates even today to stray off the reservation in say, gay marriage or ordaining women or married priests always garner at least some of written response – often a storm – from doctrinal quarters. Please find me somewhere where the Church in the days of the Fathers opposed an supposed apologetic advocating sola fide, contra Matt 25, etc., a’la Trent…so far, no one has. “Unopposed” is a huge indicator that the interpretation of that particular apologetic was acceptable within the doctrinal paradigm of faith and works….and as have both awlms (Al) and I have shown, context is everything. Old Covenant vs Matthew 25.

            Reconstructing context seems to be where I spend 90% of my apologetic discourse with Protestants. The other 10% is debating clear language. Both John 6 and Ambrosiaster seem to be clear language….in both cases, context is the key to deciphering the true message.

            I prefer applewood-smoked meat to anything else….

    3. I’m not totally sure what a “non Catholic” is, but I too am a Catholic but an Evangelical Catholic seems wholly Christian to me. I would respond differently than awlms above. In fact, I think awlms’ response only further demonstrates your friend’s concern. The fact is not all “non Catholics” are “Reformed.” I even know some who will insist they are not actually “protesting” anything. I don’t know, but I’m sure not all non Reformed Protestants (some Arminians, charismatics) understand or accept the five solas as Reformed Protestants define them. Awlm seems to be “lumping” all Protestants together. It’s an apparently popular trend among some Catholics. James’ friend didn’t even mention the Solae to justify the “solas believer” name-calling (maybe he is, maybe he isn’t but he should decide that not someone overreacting over no disagreement from a “non catholic” who apparently doesn’t identify as a Reformed Protestant) or any disagreement with anything from the Church Fathers. Why connect that to him? That isn’t fair.

      I don’t want to be so broadly lumped in with Catholics like Fr. Richard Rohr, Sr. Margaret Farley, and others. I don’t care the current political milieu, I won’t advocate for LGBT weddings; I don’t care how trending it is online to be catholic and prochoice, I won’t support dismiss the fetus; I don’t care how acceptable it is, I won’t encourage masturbation; I don’t care if it is popular, I won’t give in to superstitions and bury a statue of St. Joseph to sell my house. I do not affirm homosexual behavior (in or apart marriage), masturbation, contraception, or remarriage after divorce. But there are other Catholics who disagree with me. I don’t want be lumped in with them just because we each claim to be Catholic. I understand your friend not wanting to be lumped in with some others. But that happens sometimes. We should practice Christian charity with one another. I hope your friend is fair with your Catholic faith.

      A beauty of our Catholic faith is it’s unity and it’s diversity. We acknowledge differences and still embrace one another. And post-Vatican II, we should be particularly gracious in our ecumenism. So you friend is a “non Catholic.” Does that mean he isn’t a Protestant? If not why? Maybe he doesn’t find our way of frequently “lumping” appealing. Maybe he isn’t Reformed. Maybe he isn’t an Protestant protesting. Maybe he is trying to find his way in. Maybe you can appeal to him by loving and not lumping.

      I think you’re friend makes a good point. Why not acknowledge that? Besides, I originally thought Joe’s issues were directed at anti-Catholic, Reformed Protestants like the Baptist Steve Button mentioned in the article, not “non Catholics” like your friend. Encourage him, educate him, be a good example to him, and follow the Lord as He leads.

    1. James,

      That’s interesting, and I appreciate that it actually addresses specific people – but Marshall doesn’t actually deal with any of the quotes I cited. He says, “The problem isn’t with those two words per se, but the heretical Lutheran doctrine that excludes works absolutely from justification.”

      But Ambrosiaster does exclude works absolutely: “those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified… God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works,” emphasis mine. Ditto Chrysostom: ” He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only,” again emphasis mine. I struggle to see how they could express this point any more emphatically.

      Or if this is a misread, Marshall has to actually explain how these quotes don’t exclude our actions from our salvation, and not merely assert that they do. These do not merely use the words “faith alone,” as he alleges; they are explicit in their denial of any salvific role or necessity of our actions in addition to faith.

      1. I think it’s key to note what Ambrosiaster (and the other Church Fathers) means by justification by “faith alone”. He means the salvation is received in Holy Baptism, which is by faith without any keeping of the law or works (which is the same as modern Catholic theology), as is evidenced by his later words:

        “How can these words apply to a penitent, when we know that penitents obtain the forgiveness of sin with much struggle and groaning? How can they be applied to a martyr, when we know that the glory of martyrdom is obtained by sufferings and pressures? But the prophet, forseeing a happy time when the Savior comes, calls them blessed, because their sins are forgiven, covered and not reckoned to them, and this without labor or work of any kind.

        Yet because of the fullness of the times and because there is more grace in the apostles than there was in the prophets, the apostle brings out the greater things, which we receive by the gift of baptism. He states that not only do we receive the forgiveness of sins, but we are also justified and made children of God, so that this blessedness may have perfect assurance and glory.” (Ambrosiaster Commentary on Romans, emph. mine)

        He also later clarifies that a believer can lose this justification by means of sin (which starkly contradicts Luther), commenting on Romans 6:

        “Therefore, having died to sin, let us not go back to our earlier evils, lest be living once again to sin and dying to God, we should incur the penalty from which we have escaped.” (Ambrosiaster Commentary on Romans, emph. mine)

        Do you believe that justification comes by the sacrament of Baptism, and can be lost by returning to a former life of sin?

        1. Good quotes, ACF. It shows how important ‘context’ is in judging the writings of the ‘Fathers’. One sentence from any one Father cannot give an adequate understanding of that saints position or belief. A comprehensive review of what he wrote and practiced is necessary. Thanks for finding these.

        2. Alexander,

          I don’t, and in any event I disagree with your reading of his commentary on Romans 6 – but I don’t think it much matters. Sola fide is separate from the persistence of salvation, as it’s separate from doctrines of baptism. I’m not trying to argue that Ambrosiaster had exactly the same theology as me (or even the same as Luther). He didn’t.

          But that wasn’t Al’s challenge. And I think the relevant bit of Ambrosiaster’s theology is present even his commentary on 4:7, which you cite part of: “Obviously they are blessed, whose iniquities are forgiven without labor or work of any kind, and whose sins are covered without any work of penitence being required of them, as long as they believe.”

          That is sola fide: their salvation is not a matter of work of any kind (though it must naturally produce such works once possessed, as Luther certainly argued), nor of any other aspect of their selves. To affirm these statements of Ambrosiaster is to affirm salvation by faith alone.

          I do not see any way to say that this fits within the realm of Trent’s decrees:

          “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification… let him be anathema.

          “If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

          “If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.”

          It seems to me that Ambrosiaster affirms all three of the things condemned: a faith requiring nothing else (“without labor or work of any kind… without any work of penitence… as long as they believe”), solely by the work of Christ without their offering anything (“They are justified freely, because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God. Paul testifies that the grace of God is in Christ, because we have been redeemed by Christ according to the will of God, so that once set free we may be justified,” Commentary on Galatians 3:13), and that by this confidence alone men are justified (basically all of the quotes).

          Again, I don’t know what more would need to be said here. Al, what is this lacking to satisfy your challenge? I’d really like a concrete answer to this: what would it take for a father to count as satisfying your requirements?

          1. Irked,

            I think a lot of the problems in discussing doctrine begins with definitions, for instance, what actually IS faith, and what actually is considered ‘works’, because there are obvious conflicting statements regarding these both, in scripture and in Early Church catechesis and doctrine. So, to state something as absolute just because one passage implies it, but not to consider another passage that says the exact opposite, is to ignore one half of the argument, or one essential point of view. It is to simplify something that is actually complex. And this is wrong to do. We are to look at various conflicting statements both in scripture and in the Church Fathers, and try to figure them out in all wisdom, and with the help of both the Church and the Holy Spirit.

            And where does the definition and understanding of the meaning of ‘faith’ and ‘works’ come to be confused? Probably in the person who claims an absolute and personal view on the subject, one who defines it himself without proper catechesis. And we know this because of the way that the Church formulates her doctrines, and that is by extensive theological study and the use of synods of bishops and Church councils. And after the councils have reached a conclusion, the results of their study and decisions needto be disseminated to the whole body of the Church, even as was done at the Council of Jerusalem regarding the Judaisers. And when the Church draws a conclusion on an important matter, such as defining and teaching on the nature of ‘faith and works’, then this teaching detailed in the catechetical instruction that is given to catechumens…new initiates into the holy faith, to be agreed to before they are accepted to be baptized. Thus, in this manner, AUTHENTIC and CHURCH APPROVED doctrines are taught to new Christians, and THIS is what constitutes ‘THE FAITH’ that they need for salvation. And the summation of that faith results in baptism into the Church, the mystical Body of Christ.

            What’s more, is that faith also is acquired by a method of instruction….which is what catechesis actually is. And the method itself is important, not only the content. Moreover there are elements of the method such as ‘exorcisms’ that take place in the catechumenate that are part of the catechetical program that also is essential. Go back and read a little more deeply of Cyril whom you frequently cite. Here’s what he says about exorcisms:

            “Let thy feet hasten to the catechisings; receive with earnestness the exorcisms: whether thou be breathed upon or exorcised, the act is to thee salvation. Suppose thou hast gold unwrought and alloyed, mixed with various substances, copper, and tin, and iron, and lead: we seek to have the gold alone; can gold be purified from the foreign substances without fire? Even so without exorcisms the soul cannot be purified…”

            So, is this ‘sola fide’ being taught here? Is exorcism a ‘work’? Or, is Cyril teaching heresy?

            Moreover, Cyril also discusses other important points regarding the method of ‘acquiring faith’ through the catechumenical program, demanded by the early Church (and the modern Church as well). Here is how he describes the importance of the method necessary for acquiring a competent understanding of the Christian faith:

            “11. Let me give thee this charge also. Study our teachings and keep them for ever. Think not that they are the ordinary homilies; for though they also are good and trustworthy, yet if we should neglect them to-day we may study them to-morrow. But if the teaching concerning the laver of regeneration delivered in a consecutive course be neglected to-day, when shall it be made right? Suppose it is the season for planting trees: if we do not dig, and dig deep, when else can that be planted rightly which has once been planted ill? Suppose, pray, that the Catechising is a kind of building: if we do not bind the house together by regular bonds in the building, lest some gap be found, and the building become unsound, even our former labour is of no use. But stone must follow stone by course, and corner match with corner, and by our smoothing off inequalities the building must thus rise evenly. In like manner we are bringing to thee stones, as it were, of knowledge. Thou must hear concerning the living God, thou must hear of Judgment, must hear of Christ, and of the Resurrection. And many things there are to be discussed in succession, which though now dropped one by one are afterwards to be presented in harmonious connexion. But unless thou fit them together in the one whole, and remember what is first, and what is second, the builder may build, but thou wilt find the building unsound.” (From the Prologue 11.)

            So, you see Irked, that the definition of ‘faith that saves’ might not be as simple as you make it out to be. Cyril certainly has a different opinion on this, and as is seen clearly in such a statement as the the one provided above.

          2. Al,

            There are several comments here; let me make one reply to stand for all. For one, again, I don’t think it’s much worth our time to discuss Cyril and faith; I haven’t made any argument on that front. (I argued, instead, regarding Cyril and Scripture, and regarding other men and faith.)

            For two, as I say above, I think this is going to be a waste of our time unless you can tell me what standard I’d have to meet here – or unless you’re willing to say straight-out that there is no such standard, and that nothing I present could even in theory qualify for you.

            So I see you, and I hear you, but I don’t think this is going to profit us without that question being answered.

          3. Hi Irked,

            I really don’t understand what you mean by ‘standard’. You are claiming that Cyril supports a Protestant type of ‘Sola Scriptura’ doctrine, and you support it by a kind of ‘off the cuff’ comment of his in a chapter that is titled “On the Holy Spirit”. If he really wanted to teach substantially on a ‘sola scripture’ type octrine he would have at least given a few chapters to discuss such a topic, and not put it at the tail end of a discussion on the Holy Spirit. So, you give this statement the weight of an entire mountain of evidence when really it is merely a feather.

            And this is NOT to say that Cyril wasn’t a fanatic for the witness of Holy Scripture. It was, as you know , the Catholics who created it. It was the Catholic Church from the Apostles onwards. So it is highly orthodox to defend the Catholic scriptures. But to add the word “ONLY” into the argument is the same error that Luther made when adding “ONLY” to his bible translation. Because the addition of the word ONLY gives the connotation that the scriptures by themselves can be used to solve all doctrinal issues and heresies, without the interpretation of apostolic teaching, synods, councils and catechesis. Cyril, in his prologue says, on the other hand, that Catechesis is needed to interpret the Scriptures, and this is exactly why he is writing this extensive collection of catechetical lectures. In Cyril’s world a person who was not baptized, would not receive salvation. And there was no baptism, without proper catechesis from the Catholic Church.

            In the introduction to Cyril’s work, regarding the nature of catechesis it says:

            “Persons who had been thus admitted to the class of Catechumens were usually regarded as Christians, but only in a lower degree, being still clearly distinguished from the Faithful. “Ask a man, Art thou a Christian? If he is a Pagan or a Jew, he answers, I am not. But if he say, I am, you ask him further, Catechumen or Faithful? If he answer, Catechumen, he has been anointed, but not yet baptized.” Augustine, like Tertullian, complains that among heretics there was no sure distinction between the Catechumen and the Faithful: and according to the second General Council, Canon 7, converts from certain heresies to the orthodox Faith were to be received only as heathen: “On the first day we make them Christians, on the second Catechumens, on the third we exorcise them by three times breathing on them on the face and on the ears; and so we instruct them (κατηχοῦμεν), and make them frequent the Church for a long time, and listen to the Holy Scriptures, and then we baptize them.”

            So, here you can understand better how it is the catechesis provided by the Church, and then the reception of the sacraments of the same Catholic Church…that leads a soul to salvation.

            Is that too hard of a ‘standard’ for you to consider?

          4. Al,

            Combining replies from above, here, because I think they’re both talking about the same thing.

            Hey, I hear you, and like you, have other stuff to do…..but like you, think we are just crossing purposes. If my argument that “the Church is silent” is a royal flush compared with apologetic full-houses

            See, here’s the thing. You’ve walked right up to the edge of saying, “The church is silent, and I will continue to say this regardless of what the fathers say.” You said outright that you don’t know whether there is any combination of words that you would count as a father teaching a sola. That’s not a better hand; it’s a declaration that you win no matter what the cards are.

            That’s a conversation stopper. It’s a flat refusal to let the actual words of the fathers matter to the conversation.

            Please find me somewhere where the Church in the days of the Fathers

            This is a goalpost shift. You asked a question regarding the fathers; now that I’ve answered it, you’re replacing it with another. Why should I chase that?

            ***

            If he really wanted to teach substantially on a ‘sola scripture’ type octrine he would have at least given a few chapters to discuss such a topic, and not put it at the tail end of a discussion on the Holy Spirit.

            This is exactly what I mean by a lack of evidentiary standards. If I gave you a chapter, you could ask for a book; if I gave you a book, you could ask for a library. This is chasing after the wind. There is no doctrine, no teaching so clear or expansive that can’t be dismissed as, “Well, if that was really important to him, he would have said more about it.”

            I think it’s flatly disrespectful to Cyril to dismiss his explicit words on a subject as, “Well, clearly that was just an off-the-cuff comment and not something he’d really thought about.”

            And I can’t really see the point in continuing the conversation as long as the questions I’ve been asking go unanswered. (Stop me if you’ve heard that one!)

            1) What would it take? What would a father have to say, before you’d grant that, yes, he was teaching a sola doctrine? Or is there no such line?

            2) What if I do find such fathers? Would that be evidence for the truth of Protestantism, in the same way as the lack of such fathers would be evidence for Catholicism? What’s actually on the line with this discussion?

          5. Irked said – 1) What would it take? What would a father have to say, before you’d grant that, yes, he was teaching a sola doctrine? Or is there no such line?

            2) What if I do find such fathers? Would that be evidence for the truth of Protestantism, in the same way as the lack of such fathers would be evidence for Catholicism? What’s actually on the line with this discussion?

            Me – Irked another way to approach this is we can identify more or less when the Church started teaching the need for Sacred Tradition. What you won’t find (that I’m aware of) any discourse on this subject from the west or east. This is very telling. It’s also telling that no ancient Christian church teaches Sola Scriptura.

            Frankly this is the same approach I took when researching the Eucharist. Some would point to a sentence that seemingly showed Augustine did not believe in the real presence ignoring the entirety of his work that showed otherwise. Sounds familiar? And again it’s very telling that the ancient Christian churches believe this.

          6. Irked, my bad. I did not realize you guys were discussing Sola Fide not Scriptura. Please disregard my hasty post.

          7. Hi Irked,

            I guess you are responding to both mine, and AK’s posts above? We are two different commenters, but you have mistaken our identities before on july 10th @10:47. and so you might be thinking that it is I who am arguing with you about Ambrosiaster, but that’s AK’s comments that you are reading.

            Just for your information.

            Anyway, thanks for making me study St. Cyril of Jerusalem. I really enjoy his catechetical lectures. He is not someone that I have focused on in the past, but now am really liking his teaching style. The Church was very serious about teaching the faith back then. I wish it was the same today. The Church, I think, is much too lenient with it’s catechumens, and doesn’t prepare them with a good dose of Church history.

            Best to you.

          8. My response to your original rebuttal is simply that I don’t think you’re correctly understanding the Council of Trent, and the way I read it doesn’t cause a contradiction with Ambrosiaster. As a Roman Catholic, I’ll give a stab on what the council is condemning (opinions of a layman here, so probably not going to be perfect):

            “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification… let him be anathema.”

            My take: Consent of free will (in repentance of sin), and the sacrament of baptism are also required for Justification.

            “If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.”

            My take: Justification also sanctifies the inner soul, and it is this sanctification that is the formal cause of Justification, such that, the distinction between Justification and Sanctification is formal, not in actual reality. In truth, they are two aspects of the same act. Also, the infusion of Charity is part of Justification, not only the forgiveness of sins. There is positive grace given in addition to negatively stamping out sin.

            “If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.”

            My take: Justifying Faith consists in a belief of all things taught by Christ, and not His mercy only, and also must be united to Charity, or else it is dead faith that cannot Justify. Also the condemnation is here reiterated of anything that would exclude the sacraments, or consent of the will, or necessity of good works after Justification.

            Anyone else feel free to add their thoughts on Trent, especially if I made a mistake in explaining it, I am not a teacher, nor a theologian.

            I think the difference in our reading of Ambrosiaster here is in whether maintaining good works are necessary after Justification, which I already opined and attempted to prove, he believes.

          9. Alex,

            St. Cyril of Jerusalem backs up yours and Trent’s ‘works’ analysis when he says in the comment I provide below from his catechetical lectures:

            “For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice: and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines.”

  3. Hi Irked,

    Cyril of Jerusalem, in the same Catechetical Lecture 4, states that Scriptures are NOT sufficient of themselves, and this is why the Church is needed to give catechetical instruction….which is what the entire work he wrote actually is. So, what Cyril writes in your quote regarding ‘not even allowing casual statements to be made without scripture’…needs to take into account his other statements on scripture, such as this below..(which also addresses good works, by the way.) :

    “4.2. For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice: and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines. For what profit is it, to know well the doctrines concerning God, and yet to be a vile fornicator? And again, what profit is it, to be nobly temperate, and an impious blasphemer? A most precious possession therefore is the knowledge of doctrines: also there is need of a wakeful soul, since there are many that make spoil through philosophy and vain deceit. Colossians 2:8 The Greeks on the one hand draw men away by their smooth tongue, for honey drops from a harlot’s lips Proverbs 5:3: whereas they of the Circumcision deceive those who come to them by means of the Divine Scriptures, which they miserably misinterpret though studying them from childhood to old age , and growing old in ignorance. But the children of heretics, by their good words and smooth tongue, deceive the hearts of the innocent , disguising with the name of Christ as it were with honey the poisoned arrows of their impious doctrines: concerning all of whom together the Lord says, Take heed lest any man mislead you. Matthew 24:4 This is the reason for the teaching of the Creed and for expositions upon it.”

    So you see Irked, that it is not scripture ALONE that is being promoted by Cyril, but the Nicaean Creed as well. It is the Church itself and it’s teachings….and not the heretics or the Jews, that are capable of expounding on Church doctrine or scripture, and mind you, that the Creed he is talking about was the result of an ecumenical council. So, no where here does Cyril indicate a doctrine such as SCRIPTURE ALONE, but that the Church is the one that both creates the scripture and then to give it it’s proper interpretation through catechesis, which is what he is doing with this literary work of his. This is to say, that multitudes of heretics have the scripture too, but both don’t understand which books are authentic and also don’t know how to interpret what they read in the scriptures that indeed are authentic. And, by the way, Cyril himself did not have the canon that both Protestants and Catholics have today. He rejected the Book of Revelation as scripture. And this also demonstrates that the Church that he loved, the Church that produced the Nicaean Creed and rebuked heretics, was the one Church to judge and interpret scripture as it is suppose to be read. As he said above: “….This is the reason for the teaching of the Creed and for expositions upon it.”

    So, even here we see that ‘sola scriptura’ is not a plausible doctrine, but needs the Catholic Church, it’s hierarchy and councils to create and interpret scripture, and then decide which books are suitable to be included into the authentic canonical list. Cyril did not have all the wisdom or answers regarding scripture or doctrine. For that, for a comprehensive understanding and teaching of Church doctrine, there would need to be MANY synods and councils. And their decisions, doctrines and teachings have been left to us through multitudes of catechetical writings very similar to the one that Cyril himself wrote in the above work. Read the entire work and you will see how truly CATHOLIC it really is!

    Here is a Link for any interested in reading it:

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3101.htm

    1. One other quote from the same work of Cyril above. It comes from the Prologue. Note how the catechumens are being exposed to many elements of Catholic life and teaching. Scriptures are only ONE part of the catechesis. Scripture ALONE is not indicated here in any sense to be sufficient for teaching the faith. Addressing the diversity of new catechumens in his diocese, Cyril says to them:

      “For we, the ministers of Christ, have admitted every one, and occupying, as it were, the place of door-keepers we left the door open: and possibly thou entered with your soul bemired with sins, and with a will defiled. You entered, and were allowed: your name was inscribed. Tell me, do you behold this venerable constitution of the Church? Do you view her order and discipline , the reading of Scriptures , the presence of the ordained , the course of instruction ? Be abashed at the place, and be taught by what you see. Go out opportunely now, and enter most opportunely tomorrow.”

      Note the reference to 1. ‘the venerable constitution of the Church’, and 2. ‘her order and discipline’, then 3. ‘reading of scriptures’, and the importance of 4. ‘the presence of the ordained’ and then 5. ‘the course of (catechetical) instruction’ which Cyril is giving. This is to say, ALL of these elements are necessary for the teaching of doctrine. They ALL work together harmonizing and instructing even as a symphony creates beautiful, sophisticated and delightful music. ‘Scripture ALONE’ is not sufficient for perfectly teaching or catechizing anyone. What is needed is the entirety of the Catholic Church and faith….summarised by the 5 elements that Cyril describes above.

  4. Starting a fresh comment here, because I’ve muddied the waters pretty badly upthread.

    ***

    CK – No worries! Conversation’s gotten pretty muddled at this point, and both have come up at different points.

    ***

    Al (and AK),

    Herpity derp. My apologies, guys.

    Well, that both explains why I was finding some of this conversation confusing, and probably means it’s been much more confusing for everyone else. Apparently my brain has a “one person whose name starts with A” limit, and here we have three! (And that’s not even counting Ambrosiaster!)

    AK in particular: hello, and it’s nice to hear from you again, now that I’m not too dense to realize it’s you! It looks like I was attributing some of awlm’s arguments to you, and that’s obviously unfair to both of you; if you’d like to revisit anything, or repost any questions from above, please feel free. Again, my apologies to both of you.

    (I would, however, eat ribs with either of you gentlemen, if the opportunity arose.)

    ***

    Alex,

    Let me try to unwind the stack here a little bit, because “Trent is WRONG” is not actually a point I’m interested in making, and one where I may well be judging it more harshly than it deserves; to the degree that it’s correct, so much the better.

    The thing I’m more interested in establishing is whether or not sola fide does appear in Ambrosiaster. So I guess perhaps a better question would be, do you – does anyone – see anything required by this Protestant doctrine that’s not taught by Ambrosiaster? (You may have answered this already, but in the interests of making a clean start, a fresh reply would be appreciated.)

    ***

    But more even than that, I really do think we aren’t going to make any headway until my evidentiary questions are answered. AK, you said

    Whether or not I could or could not dismiss all assertions with that line of reasoning remains to be seen. It is not my intention, I take each case as it comes….. but it wouldn’t bother me if it did, if that’s the way it works out.

    awlms, you said

    Regarding this, St. Cyril, could have easily promoted the canon of scriptures that he had back then as an ESSENTIAL..not ONLY… part of Christian teaching, but he could never teach “Sola Scriptura” because if he did so he would need to deny the Nicaean Creed which professes “I believe in ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC CHURCH”

    You are claiming that Cyril supports a Protestant type of ‘Sola Scriptura’ doctrine, and you support it by a kind of ‘off the cuff’ comment of his in a chapter that is titled “On the Holy Spirit”. If he really wanted to teach substantially on a ‘sola scripture’ type octrine he would have at least given a few chapters to discuss such a topic, and not put it at the tail end of a discussion on the Holy Spirit.

    Without making excuses for my thickness, I think part of what threw me above is that these seem to be, at heart, very similar sentiments: “Yes, fine, there may be a quote there, but it doesn’t count.” It doesn’t count because, in order to count, it would need to be multiple chapters(!) long, or it would need to be followed by condemnation from the church as a whole, or because Cyril “could never teach” that(!!).

    And, in particular: the reasons it doesn’t count have nothing to do with Cyril said. He could have said anything (as long as it wasn’t two chapters long, I guess), and these critiques would still apply.

    And, like… I can’t do anything with that, guys. I’m not sure it’s actually possible for there to be any citation that passes all those qualifications; I think Luther himself barely clears them, and obviously I’m not going to produce a word-for-word transcript of Luther’s writings from the fourth century.

    If the target isn’t reachable even in principle, then what are we doing here?

    1. “If the target isn’t reachable even in principle, then what are we doing here?”

      Telling the truth as we know it for the benefit of all. And enjoying good conversation on holy topics… all the while studying deeper the history and doctrines of the holy Faith …so as to know and grow closer to Jesus Christ, our most Loving Friend and Lord.

      Want me to continue?? 🙂

      1. I’d love it if we could have a conversation, Al. That was my hope when I responded to you initially. But a conversation requires that, if I ask you a question (like “What standard of evidence would I have to meet to count?” or “And what if I do find such a father?”), that you eventually answer it. Otherwise, it’s just competing monologues.

        And I’d love to dig into the truth with you, and to come to a deeper understanding of the Word and the fathers, and of our respective religious traditions. But telling the truth requires that if I offer something for consideration, that you don’t dismiss it as obviously unimportant and off-the-cuff, and anyway Cyprian would never say what I think he says, regardless of what words he uses. That’s not about truth – it’s about asserting a conclusion, and declaring that any evidence that doesn’t fit with it just doesn’t count.

        What do I learn about Catholicism when your response to a clear statement by a church father is “Well, no matter what he said, he couldn’t have meant that?”

        1. Hi Irked,

          I think I mentioned this before, but in reading Church Fathers there is a wisdom that needs to be applied for proper comprehension. Augustine for example thought that maybe the Sun had a soul, was a living creature. Gregory of Nyssa also had some wacky ideas (compared to modern science)regarding the natural world. Eusebius wrote that half human and have goat creatures existed and were brought to Rome on exhibition. So, when reading, Wisdom is needed to allocate for misunderstandings due to their culture and their understanding of science, psychology, medicine and spirituality also.

          So, we can never take a mere sentence, or phrase, and make an absolute judgement on it without trying to understand as much as possible about who is saying it, who he is saying it to, what attention does he give to what he is saying ( ..is it a treatise or a casual statement), what are the consequences of his words ( Is there criticism from others, and is this criticism from an institution? Like Martin Luther, is he teaching something that i new?). So, these are all things to understand, in all wisdom, before making an assessment on a statement from history.

          In the case of Cyril, we note that he spends 5 paragraphs on what is titled the “The Divine Scriptures”, but nowhere does he write anything about ‘sola scriptura’. Almost all of it concerns the canon, and he is adamant that only the 22 book canon of the Old Testament be used for study. In this, we can say that he is against other Catholic opinion, as the Church canonized the entire 27 book list of the OT a few decades later (according to St. Augustine). But this doesn’t discredit Cyril in any way, it was just his personal opinion and that he is only one Church Father, and it is a Council that makes decisions on great matters such as the canonical list of authentic sacred scripture. And I have no problem with Cyril’s opinion what-so-ever, as we need to be a little flexible with individual opinions of Church Fathers.

          So, when Cyril makes a comment in an entirely different chapter, titled “On the Holy Spirit”, and the comment seems to be off the ‘top of his head’, so-to-say, we can’t really give it the same weight as if he gave it an entire chapter like he did regarding the canon list of 22 books of the OT. And this is why I mentioned before that we need to assess the gravity of Church Fathers’ statements before making grand assumptions about them.

          1. “…that half human and half goat creatures existed..”

            I dated some of them in college. Matter of fact, I think I was one.

          2. Al,

            I think we’re winding down here, in part because I don’t see any way past the point of irreconcilable difference on the matter of what does/doesn’t count as evidence.

            But I’d ask you – and I’d ask anyone else still reading this – to look back over our comments on Cyril in this thread. Do you notice something interesting that’s missing?

            There’s no attempt, by anyone other than me, to explain what Cyril actually means in the passage I cite.

            It seems to me that, if we wanted to fairly make sense of Cyril, that would be the place we’d want to start. We’d want to look at this quote – yes, in the context of the book as a whole, and of his life, and of all reality since the beginning of time! – and we’d want to answer the question, “Okay, so what is Cyril saying here? What’s his point? What is he trying to convey to his audience?”

            Right? That’s really the goal, here: we want to better understand the man’s beliefs, and then we want that to shape our view of the beliefs of the early church – and not the other way around.

            Now, for me – for the Protestant side – I think that’s pretty straightforward. When Cyril says that no theology should be taught, and no one should be believed, unless they can prove their case from Scripture – that not even the most trivial things should be accepted unless the case is made from the Word – I tend to think that means… well, exactly what it says. It happens, rather pleasantly, that what it says aligns pretty neatly with the idea of Scripture as the sole infallible rule of the faith.

            But from your side of the table, in terms of actual explanation of the meaning of this passage, as far as I can see in this thread there is…

            … nothing.

            To be sure, I see quite a lot of argument that if Cyril really meant this, he should have talked about it somewhere else – so he must not have really meant it. And I see a lot of discussion about how it would be impossible for someone in Cyril’s position to teach a sola doctrine, because everyone knows those were invented a thousand years later and have no part in the early church. And I see a lot of talk about what Cyril said about other doctrines, or about what Martin Luther supposedly did wrong, or about other things that are not our topic.

            But on the thing that, as near as I can see, should be the first and most pressing question for us to answer, if we want to treat this passage fairly – the question of “So what’s he saying here, anyway?” – well, I certainly may have overlooked something, but I don’t think you’ve even tried.

            Something of an interesting omission, don’t you think?

            I think – I hope – that’s about all I have to say for this thread.

        2. Irked, et al..

          Hey, I have a very ethnic first name that has been pronounced in innumerable permutations, so I am pretty inoculated to this kind of name-confusion. I felt like we were communicating in any case, and really enjoying it.

          I am being inundated at work and in a few other things so I am going to have to drop out of this one. Just want to leave you and the rest with my final, not my intent to bring up essentially what is an baseless royal flush to stifle debate. To me, this is like the old ‘when did you stop beating your wife? question. “Just answer the question with the date” doesn’t work when there’s context of ‘I never beat my wife.’ In this case, there’s critical historical and linguistic context of Old Covenant vs. New (and tacit Church acceptance of same) that I feel invalidates the assertion that even this one Father advocated sola fide…which back to basics, was the question. I know we’re going to disagree on this, and especially appreciate the peaceful, scholarly disagreement.

          Here’s my bottom line on the issue, outside this ‘one father’s words’ debate: If you have true faith, you have love. If you have love, it manifests in what you **do.** If you’re not **doing,** you probably have neither faith nor love, and you’re missing the salvific “final exam” of Matt 25:31-46. On this issue, Protestants and Catholics are, IMHO, closer than many of them may allow themselves to know.

          See you at a future debate, my friends.

          1. ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’

            I never did stop beating her! And it’s still fun to beat her, as she just happens to be a very lousy tennis player. Never won even one time!

            See…context is very important for understanding and communication. And fishing out the context can be difficult sometimes when dealing with statements made 1600 years ago.

          2. You’re too modest AK. You’re the one with the brain. I just have enthusiasm for the faith. Not to say I might get a brain some day? But kinda doubt it. 🙂

          3. Hey AK,

            I appreciate the civility, too, and I do enjoy our exchanges. I also totally understand having work that you really should be doing instead of this. *shifty eyes*

            I’m trying to figure out the wording on this, and I guess here’s what it comes to, for me. If someone wanted to say, “Look, I’m not interested in debating the fathers; I think their words are irrelevant to figuring out the truth of the situation, here” – then fine! I can understand that viewpoint. Heck, I’ve been that guy, and I probably will say similar things again in the future; I don’t think we look to the fathers as the primary way we understand theology.

            All of which just makes it funny to me that it’s the Protestant in this conversation yelling, “Look at this quote from the fathers! Deal with it! Work it into your theology!” – and the Catholics saying, “Eh, what some father said in one place can’t change my view on anything.” Little bit of role reversal from the stereotypes, yeah?

            But much more pressingly: I think if someone wants to say, “Look, quotes from the fathers aren’t going to change my mind on anything,” it behooves that person not to start a conversation by asking for quotes from the fathers. Which you didn’t! You joined a conversation already in progress, which is fine – but such remarks are the start of this conversation.

            I get what you’re saying about the “Have you stopped…?” question – but I didn’t open the question here. And I think it’s fair for me to bring up quotes from the fathers, when challenged to bring up quotes from the fathers, and expect those quotes to be the subject of conversation – and not to be told that it’s impossible on the face of it that any such quotes could exist.

            Does that make sense?

            ***

            Let me close with one last thought here, and then we can each head our separate ways. I hear you on the idea of, “Look, you can’t expect one quote to stand against this entire context.”

            But you know that we as Protestants don’t just challenge Catholicism regarding Cyril. We challenge the whole thesis of the historical context, ultimately – its universality, its commonality of acceptance, and in many cases its content. It’s certainly not our claim that the men of the fourth century believed as we do – but we don’t think they believed as you do, either.

            The trouble, it seems to me, is that any conversation about what that context is would have to be grounded on historical citations, yeah? But it sounds like your understanding of the context denies the possibility of any historical quote supporting a different viewpoint.

            I’d ask, with respect, that you think about how that looks from the outside. What should I, as someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, make of a position that denies even the need to consider apparently contradictory evidence?

    2. Hi Irked,

      I’m currently going to go through the entire series of lectures of St. Cyril, not for apologetics reasons, but for my own personal spiritual benefit. He is a superb teacher. I have rarely heard any Catholic teach as he does, and have never encountered a Protestant with a similar spirituality, and I’ve known and talked to many. If you haven’t already, maybe you should start at the prologue and see how far you can get… through the lectures. I think any Christian who reads such great Christian writing will undoubtably come out the better for reading it.

      I think all others on this site should also do the same.

      Best to you,

      – Al

  5. K.O., the Worshiper of the Morning Winter Moon, the Honey-Drinker Adorer of Tanit, the Bard of Molten Statues and Liquid Dreams, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree Groves says:

    Oh, another one trying to make (some of) the Early Church Fathers “look” like supporting sola scriptura, when even Keith Mathison doesn’t have the galls to support that position, and as Joe here in some of his articles argues, there can be no Protestant Patristics without apologetics (or either it is secular Patristics). And picking and choosing quotations again… You Protestants might as well reject all Patristics, or else turn into academic historical-secular “theology”. But hey they’ll reply, “No one is perfect, I just accept what they got right”. As I’ve said before, Protestant Patristic Apologetics is schizophrenic a-historical anti-statistical cherry-picking. You don’t have to believe that to know that historically, they’re dead wrong. Picking, say, a 5% opinion and making it right just because those 5% are bent backwards to fit into the remaining 95% feels just like a nice historical approach to me! Keep it going, Irked!

  6. Hi Irked,

    One last example on why we need to take a Father of the Church such as Cyril in context to understand him. your quote you provided regarding Cyril and ‘sola scriptura’ in Chapter 4 of the Catechetical Letures, said this:

    “For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures;”

    And you put very much weight into this saying of his. However, Cyril contradicts his own saying in countless ways in the same catechetical lectures. Read this ‘not so casual’ passage below and tell me where you find what he is teaching directly in the scriptures. And it is on a very serious ecclesiastical topic as well:

    ” Trust not the judgment to thy bodily palate no, but to faith unfaltering; for they who taste are bidden to taste, not bread and wine, but the anti-typical Body and Blood of Christ.

    21. In approaching therefore, come not with thy wrists extended, or thy fingers spread; but make thy left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying over it, Amen. So then after having carefully hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake of it; giving heed lest thou lose any portion thereof; for whatever thou losest, is evidently a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members. For tell me, if any one gave thee grains of gold, wouldest thou not hold them with all carefulness, being on thy guard against losing any of them, and suffering loss? Wilt thou not then much more carefully keep watch, that not a crumb fall from thee of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?

    22. Then after thou hast partaken of the Body of Christ, draw near also to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending, and saying with an air of worship and reverence, Amen2521, hallow thyself by partaking also of the Blood of Christ. And while the moisture is still upon thy lips, touch it with thine hands, and hallow thine eyes and brow and the other organs of sense. Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks unto God, who hath accounted thee worthy of so great mysteries.

    23. Hold fast these traditions undefiled and, keep yourselves free from offence. Sever not yourselves from the Communion; deprive not yourselves, through the pollution of sins, of these Holy and Spiritual Mysteries. (Lecture XXIII)

    So Irked, do you see how he contradicts his own statement on basing everything on scripture? Rather, regarding the above quote on the Eucharist he says to “Hold fast these traditions undefiled”. Almost none of this quote can be found explicitly in scripture. This is just one example of how his statement on the authority of scripture must be read in a general sense, because in practice he ignores scripture in very many occasions, and rather, teaches from other catechetical works such as the Didache, the Apostolic Constitutions and other holy literature common to his era.

    This is why we can’t take a saying like this as ABSOLUTE unless we have plenty of other references to back it up. Now, Luther, of course, taught ‘sola scriptura’ absolutely, as he has major treatises regarding it. Cyril of Jerusalem, just some ‘of the cuff’ observations that he himself did not put into practice.

    Best to you.

    1. Alwms – great point.

      Your comment made me go back to a great blog post I read some time ago making the same point. Dr. White,like Irked, was attempting to show that Cyril believed in SS by focusing like a laser on the same paragraph.

      I have not read all the comments here, so my apologies if this post has already been shared. Also, I did not actually read Cyril myself so I don’t know for sure Scott’s take on all his points 100% correct.

      Below was Scott Eric Alt’s partial response.

      YES, VIRGINIA, CYRIL WAS CATHOLIC

      Now, I am going to return to this idea that St. Cyril taught sola scriptura (since he did not) but first I must point out all the other things that he says in the Catechetical Lectures, which Dr.* White must think too trivial to mention.
      The worthy apologist says that Cyril is speaking to “new believers”: which he is, though it must also be said that the Lectures comprise the very first RCIA catechesis we have. Cyril is preparing catechumens to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil. And if the instruction of new believers is such a source of authority for Dr.* White, he might want to be reminded of what else (apart from the passage quoted) Cyril taught them.

      I. He taught that we have free will. Christ is a fisherman, “angling for you,” but “He waits for each man’s genuine will” (Procatechesis, 1, 5). Cyril was no Calvinist; he believed in—dare we say it, Dr.* White?—synergism. We must cooperate with grace (3:3). Sin, Cyril says, is “an offspring of the will”; and he quotes Ephesians 2:10 to show that sin may be overcome by good works (2:1; cf. 4:19-22). Satan “does not get the mastery by force over those who do not consent” (2:3); “the will also is required” (2:5). For the soul “has free power to do what it wills,” and any other belief—pay attention, Dr.* White—is mere astrology (4:18).

      II. He taught that the Church is liturgical and sacramental. He refers to the Rite of Exorcism for the unbaptized (Pro. 9).

      III. He taught that baptism is salvific. Baptism is “the laver of regeneration” (Pro. 11; 18:20); “the soul henceforth is cleansed from sins and has salvation.” (Pro. 9). It is a “remission of offenses,” “a death of sin,” “a holy indissoluble seal,” and “fellowship in holy mysteries” (Pro. 16). It is “the spiritual new birth of the soul” (1:2). The water of baptism gives “spiritual grace” and “acquires a new power of holiness” (3:3; cf. 13:21). “If any man receive not baptism,” Cyril says, “he has not salvation” (3:10). Baptism forgives sins: “All things whatsoever you have done will be forgiven you” (3:15). As authority for this teaching, Cyril cites Ezek. 36:25. Baptism, Cyril says, replaces circumcision (5:6).

      IV. He taught that the Church is our “Mother” (Pro. 13), into which we must be “planted” (Pro. 17).

      V. He taught the Catholic tradition of taking a new name at confirmation. (1:4).

      VI. He taught that Lent is a “season of confession” (1:5), and that the forgiveness of sin comes through baptism and the Church (1:6). “You see that it is good,” he says, “to make confession” (2:13); “for confession has power to quench even fire, power to tame even lions” (2:15).

      VII. He taught that “the Bridegroom invites all without distinction” (3:2). Cyril did not believe in any such heresy as Limited Atonement.

      VIII. He taught that we must do good works: “Neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works” (4:2). He interprets “let your light so shine before men” (Matt. 5:16) as a reference to good works (6:20; 15:26).

      IX. He taught that God took His flesh from Mary (4:9).

      X. He taught respect for relics. “The whole world,” he says, “has … been filled with pieces of the wood of the Cross” (4:10). Later, he says that even “the handkerchiefs and aprons bear witness [to Christ], as in like manner by Christ’s power they wrought cures of old through Paul” (6:19).

      XI. He taught that the Church has authority to define what the faith is.
      But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acqure and keep that only, which is now delivered to you by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures. For [Pay attention, now.] since all cannot read the Scriptures … we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines.
      That is to say, the Creed is a rule of faith and a tradition.

      XII. He taught that schism from the Church is a heresy (6:36; 15:18).

      XIII. He taught that Mary is an example for consecrated Virgins, that they should “acknowledge the crown of their own state.” Note that well, now: The virginity of Mary was a “state”; that is to say, it was—oh, what is the word I am looking for?—perpetual and avowed, rather than a mere temporary condition prior to marriage. “The Virgins have their portion,” he says, “with Mary the Virgin.” In the same section of his catechesis, Cyril speaks of an “order of solitaries” (i.e., hermits) and “the glory of” “men who live in chastity.” (11:33-34).

      XIV. He taught that Christians should make the signum crucis.
      For when you are going to dispute with unbelievers concerning the Cross of Christ, first make with your hand the sign of Christ’s cross, and the gainsayer will be silenced. … Be the cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow, and on everything; over the brow we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we rise up; when we are in the way, and when we are still. … It is the Sign of the faithful, and the dread of devils … for when they see the cross they are reminded of the crucified. … Despise not the Seal. (13:22, 26)

      And he taught that chant “imitate[s] the angel hosts.” The Mass, that is, is an imitation of Heaven and of those who “continually sing praises to God: who are thought worthy to chant Psalms in this Golgotha” (13:26).

      XV. He taught that the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles when Christ breathed on them, and that the Holy Spirit is a “guardian” and “sanctifier” of the Church (17:12-13).

      XVI. He taught that the Catholic Church contains the fulness of truth: “[I]t teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men’s knowledge.” Moreover, it “universally treats and heals the whole class of sins” (18:23).

      XVII. He taught that the Church is built on the rock of Peter and that, as Paul wrote to Timothy, it is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (18:25). When one is traveling, he must ask “Where is the Catholic Church?”—in order that the true Church may be distinguished from the (wait for it, Dr.* White) “dens” that others call the House of the Lord (18:26).
      (By the way, there are now 49,640 such “dens.” But I digress.)
      Through the Church, says Cyril, “we shall attain the kingdom of heaven and inherit eternal life” (18:28).

      XVIII. He taught, down to the last detail, the Order of the Mass: The priest’s washing of his hands as “a symbol of immunity from sin”; the kiss of peace; the sursum corda; the prayers of consecration; the prayers of intercession; the efficacy of prayers for the dead; the chant of “Holy Holy Holy”; the reference to the “holy Mysteries”; the practice of making a throne of your left hand to receive the Body of Christ and to say “Amen” when the priest pronounces it so; and instructions for how to approach “the cup of His blood.”
      Finally, St. Cyril taught his catechumens to “hold fast these traditions undefiled [and] sever not yourselves from the communion” (23:23).

      You know, dear reader, if I did not know any better, I would think that Cyril (who only wrote the earliest catechesis we have) was—Catholic! It is good that I have Dr.* White (Th.D., D.Min., etc., etc.) to tell me otherwise.

      STRANGLING CYRIL BY SLEIGHT OR BY HAND

      But, you ask, along with all these other things, did not Cyril also teach sola scriptura?

      In fact, why should it matter if he did? If all these other things that he taught are heresies—and Dr.* White would say that they are—why is Cyril somehow credible on the topic of sola scriptura?

      Or, if Cyril did teach sola scriptura, it raises the unanswered question of how he found all these Catholic doctrines there, and why Dr.* White doesn’t accept them too. How is it that Cyril goes to the Bible alone and fails to find Calvinism? Do not the Scriptures speak plainly, as Dr.* White insists?
      And if Cyril taught sola scriptura, then how is it that the Catechetical Lectures contain all these other passages about the teaching authority of the Church and the duty to remain in communion with her? Cyril has strong words to say on this point.

      But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to you by the Church. (5:12)

      Cyril does not say, Go, read the Scriptures, and judge the Church by your own interpretation of them; and if you find the Church lacking, separate from her, and form your own, as Calvin did, a good man and true. No; he finds that a horror, and such churches “dens.”

      So Cyril must have something else in mind, when he writes the words quoted by Dr.* White, than to declare the Scriptures alone the sole infallible rule of faith.
      The answer to that problem is found in the distinction between the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture. This is a distinction which I will treat in greater length as I proceed through this debate (as well as the debates on the same topic with Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Patrick Madrid). But it may be defined simply as follows:

      The material sufficiency of Scripture means that all true doctrines are present in Scripture, even if only implicit or embryonic. Catholics can safely affirm the material sufficiency of Scripture.

      The formal sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible also contains what the Westminster Confession of Faith calls “perspicuity.” That is to say, “Scripture interprets Scripture”; it is its own key to its own meaning. The Bible is sufficiently clear that anyone may pick it up and know what it says and means.

      Sola scriptura requires formal sufficiency. And this, Catholics deny. For it is ridiculous on its face. If that were true, why so many dens exploding like exponential stars across an apostate galaxy? Even St. Peter himself, in 2 Pet. 3:16, denies formal sufficiency. In the epistles of St. Paul alone, he says, “are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

      Indeed, the Catholic view is that the Scriptures contain all true doctrines, but that the Scriptures must be read consistently with the teaching of the Church. It affirms its material sufficiency, but denies its formal sufficiency. That is the only reading of St. Cyril that is consistent with both the passage cited by Dr.* White, and the other passages which affirm the teaching authority of the Church, as given by the Holy Spirit (17:12-13).

      Thus, from the very start of this debate, before Mr. Matatics has spoken his first word, Dr.* White has already stumbled in taking a passage from Cyril that speaks of the material sufficiency of Scripture, and treating it as though it were an argument for formal sufficiency. If Dr.* White had read the whole of Cyril, and not merely a single passage taken out of context, he would not have made this error.

      Or he has read all of Cyril, and—but no; I will not engage in vain speculation.

      Howbeit the case, already he is on dubious ground. And he’s not five minutes into his opening statement. … [Find part 2 here.]

      1. CK,

        So, again, I feel rather underequipped (being only one human being) to argue with multiple page copy-pastes, except by replying to them with similarly long quotes – and that sounds pretty uninteresting. I’d ask that we stick to writing to each other, and not simply copy rebuttals made of other parties.

        ***

        Let me see if I can break this down into a couple of components.

        Your article asserts basically three things:

        1) Cyril taught many things Protestants do not.

        2) If Cyril taught many things Protestants do not, Protestants should not consider him a reliable guide on sola Scriptura either.

        3) Cyril denies formal sufficiency.

        Of these, I concede (1) – but it’s irrelevant. Perhaps it mattered to his discussion with White – but I’m not claiming Cyril was a Baptist. (Nor, I imagine, was White.) But “He taught X, which I believe, so he must have taught Y, which I also believe,” is pretty thin soup.

        (2) is likewise irrelevant. We aren’t debating what my view of Cyril is or should be; it is sufficient, for the purposes of this discussion, to imagine that I spend my free hours burning the works of Cyril wherever I find them. We’re debating whether Cyril taught sola Scriptura.

        (3) argues that, because I disagree with the conclusions Cyril reached, I must also differ with him in this element of his process – and that likewise seems to me pretty thin. Suppose a math teacher says, “Only accept answers that are derived from proper algebra, and do not permit errors,” and yet I disagree with him on some of his answers. Perhaps he (or I) have made errors in how we traced proper algebra, but that does not change his teaching on how these answers are to be derived – and that’s the subject of our discussion.

        Or to put it another way: it is not much of a shock to a Protestant (particularly a Protestant who believes that our reason, along with the rest of us, is corrupt!) that two people might both set out to discern truth by the Scriptures alone, and yet might reach different conclusions. That’s not a lack of sufficiency in the Scriptures, or even a defect in our view of how we are to arrive at truth – it’s simply a defect in us. And it is not an argument that either of those people does not believe sola Scriptura is true, however imperfect their application.

        The remainder of the article seems to suggest that sola Scriptura is the same as “Me and my Bible under a tree,” or that in its ideal form it sets the Christian entirely apart from the thought of all preceding Christians. It does not, and many a sola Scriptura advocate would echo Cyril’s words in warning against false teachers and false churches.

        We should listen to the church. It does have authority to teach. But that authority derives from its wealth of wise argument from Scripture, and Cyril flatly says not to trust the church – not to trust anyone! – where they cannot provide such proof. As I said to awlms, I still have not seen any explanation of what Cyril actually is saying in 4:17.

        1. Ireked said – The remainder of the article seems to suggest that sola Scriptura is the same as “Me and my Bible under a tree,” or that in its ideal form it sets the Christian entirely apart from the thought of all preceding Christians. It does not, and many a sola Scriptura advocate would echo Cyril’s words in warning against false teachers and false churches.

          We should listen to the church. It does have authority to teach. But that authority derives from its wealth of wise argument from Scripture, and Cyril flatly says not to trust the church – not to trust anyone! – where they cannot provide such proof.

          Me – trust no one. Ultimately it comes down to your own interpretation of the bible…how is that not “me and my bible under the tree”? Every denomination has verses supporting opposite doctrines from the same bible.

          I’ll have more later…at work 🙂

          1. “But that authority derives from its wealth of wise argument from Scripture, and Cyril flatly says not to trust the church – not to trust anyone! ”

            Does he say not to trust the Church’s teachings to the catechumens, below; many of which are from tradition and not scripture? Or, are you taking again this text out of context? Here he says, if you do NOT TRUST THE CHURCH when it catechises you, you will be like an incompetent builder…” the builder may build, but thou wilt find the building unsound.” :

            “10. Attend closely to the catechisings, and though we should prolong our discourse, let not thy mind be wearied out. For thou art receiving armour against the adverse power, armour against heresies, against Jews, and Samaritans, and Gentiles. Thou hast many enemies; take to thee many darts, for thou hast many to hurl them at: and thou hast need to learn how to strike down the Greek, how to contend against heretic, against Jew and Samaritan. And the armour is ready, and most ready the sword of the Spirit: but thou also must stretch forth thy right hand with good resolution, that thou mayest war the Lord’s warfare, and overcome adverse powers, and become invincible against every heretical attempt.
            11. Let me give thee this charge also. Study our teachings and keep them for ever. Think not that they are the ordinary homilies; for though they also are good and trustworthy, yet if we should neglect them to-day we may study them to-morrow. But if the teaching concerning the laver of regeneration delivered in a consecutive course be neglected to-day, when shall it be made right? Suppose it is the season for planting trees: if we do not dig, and dig deep, when else can that be planted rightly which has once been planted ill? Suppose, pray, that the Catechising is a kind of building: if we do not bind the house together by regular bonds in the building, lest some gap be found, and the building become unsound, even our former labour is of no use. But stone must follow stone by course, and corner match with corner, and by our smoothing off inequalities the building must thus rise evenly. In like manner we are bringing to thee stones, as it were, of knowledge. Thou must hear concerning the living God, thou must hear of Judgment, must hear of Christ, and of the Resurrection. And many things there are to be discussed in succession, which though now dropped one by one are afterwards to be presented in harmonious connexion. But unless thou fit them together in the one whole, and remember what is first, and what is second, the builder may build, but thou wilt find the building unsound.”

          2. CK,

            We all have to decide whether (and how much) to trust various sources that claim to be authoritative. But these are not binary switches; that Scripture is our sole infallible rule does not make it our sole important guide – and the church is a (fallible!) guide which we ignore at our peril.

            (Running with the earlier metaphor, the actual laws of mathematics are the sole infallible guides to reaching correct answers. Math teachers are fallible – and yet someone who is utterly uninterested in what anyone else has to teach from those laws will probably not make a very great career in mathematics.)

            This is a foundational part of sola Scriptura, and has been throughout its history, as we see in Cyril. I’d prefer not to sidetrack into debating what Protestants do and don’t mean by the term.

          3. Al,

            Is it your contention that Cyril believed the catechumens were not proved from Scripture? Because if he thought they were, there’s no conflict here: believe these things, because they’re proved.

        2. K.O. the Worshiper of the Morning Winter Moon, the Honey-Drinker Adorer of Tanit, the Bard of Molten Statues and Liquid Dreams, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree Groves says:

          “it is not much of a shock to a Protestant (particularly a Protestant who believes that our reason, along with the rest of us, is corrupt!) that two people might both set out to discern truth by the Scriptures alone, and yet might reach different conclusions. That’s not a lack of sufficiency in the Scriptures, or even a defect in our view of how we are to arrive at truth – it’s simply a defect in us.”

          If two conclusions are at odds (excludent, i.e., one implies the negation of the other), one of them is false. If one cannot tell which of them is false (because “reason is corrupt”), there is no way to arrive at truth. To each one his own opinion, his own private-Bible-hermeneutics-under-a-tree, his own followers on 1 point only, disagreeing with him in another 100 points. Sociologically, the “Scriptures” are not sufficient for arriving at “the truth” or at a consensus. If it is not “a defect in our view of how we are to arrive at truth”, then you have to define truth and you also have to posit an a priori common view to arrive at truth (if you tell me there is only one Protestant Biblical hermeneutics, then prove it).

          The failure to being even able to tell which view of the Bible is wrong and each is true is imputed to human frailty, excluding any responsibility. If there is no truth in sight, and if we’ll never know, it’s all human frailty. [Well, I believe there is no truth in sight in many ways, but I have no lame excuse like that, I simply have a method and an argument.]

          What Irked does not consider here is that the status of the Bible is also part of hermeneutics. The status of the Bible (what is it? what is it for? how to know?) is defined a priori in both Protestant and Catholic/Orthodox/all-the-rest camps. Protestants think the status of the Bible is self-attested and intrinsecal, for the most part. All the others think otherwise.

          Last but not least:

          “But that authority derives from its wealth of wise argument from Scripture, and Cyril flatly says not to trust the church – not to trust anyone! – where they cannot provide such proof.”

          Catholics believe that there are wise arguments from scripture for everything, including for believing in the Catholic Church. The essence of the matter is “how do we trust such and such proof, and what constitutes a proof, and what is a wise argument. If the Bible is interpreted to impart authority to the Catholic/Orthodox church and its practices (including its authority to interpret and to determine the status of the texts), how does one argue that it is not so, specially when you, Irked, hold the view that “reason is corrupt”? After all, Protestant reason is corrupt, Catholic Reason is corrupt too, and so on…

      2. Hi CK,
        I joined this article only now, having time only to skim, but this SE Alt’s argument with style has stopped me like a lightning strike (to this Catholic), so of course it makes sense that Irked has been feeling overwhelmed and underequipped. “Yes, Virginia, Cyril was Catholic” represents what Awlms sees as a ‘comprehensive’ case which does not comprise the ‘standard’ which Irked seeks. This is my view “as the crow flies” over the battlefield, observing the dead and the wounded, scenting the big BBQ. Thanks for pasting Alt.

        1. Margo,

          Ouch!

          It’s not really the article in specific that’s overwhelming, to clarify – it’s that this is the second or third time just in this thread that I’ve been presented with a page or more of someone else’s writings, either linked or copy-pasted into the conversation. The same thing happened in the last thread.

          I cannot, as a matter of physical limitation, write responses to even really bad arguments in that kind of volume – let alone ones that take some thought and consideration, as Alt’s seem to. That leaves me a couple of really bad options:

          1) Ignore big copy/pastes, and look like I don’t have an answer.

          2) Copy/paste Some Other Guy’s response to this post or something like this post, in which case none of us here are actually talking to each other anymore.

          3) Do nothing else with my day; lose my job and become a vagabond who wanders into public libraries, publishes missives about the early church, and disappears.

          Cool as (3) sounds, I don’t really like any of these options! Hope that makes sense.

          1. Hi Irked,

            I thought you already were No. 3! You already write more than most (maybe Awlms closely competes). You debate three or more people at once. You are nimble, quick, and civil–southernly so. And you are still alive on the battlefield (maybe wounded but just a little–so says Nurse Clara B.) No one faults your efforts. It’s just that Alt’s arguments and style are, well, solid and massive.

            Best. Until the next thread and/or when I surface from beneath my tedious and angst-filled involvement in a contentious legal case involving what else? Church and State. Political wrangling now defines my unfortunate fate.

    2. Al,

      So, I’m going to have to point back to my last post, here. I pointed out that it’s a major flaw in your argument that you offer no positive interpretation of what Cyril is saying in the passage I cited. In response, you… offer no positive interpretation of Cyril in this passage.

      That seems like a problem. And it leaves me curious what you think Cyril is saying in the passage I quote. Did he just… forget, by the time he came to Chapter 23? Is he being blatantly inconsistent? What is it you think is happening here?

      But let me try to offer a positive interpretation of what you present here. Yes, absolutely, Cyril argues for people to follow something he calls “tradition.” But I’d ask that we look at the content of that tradition.

      It’s a description of liturgical practice. Some of it is purely descriptive, explaining why the practice is what it is (i.e., ‘The priest says such-and-such, to remind us of God’s love.”). Some of it is instructional, but it’s instructional in “Here’s what you should do as part of the liturgy.”

      And I want to note the distinction, there – because the things he discusses as tradition are not doctrinal. They are not teachings of “This is true,” or “This is how God works,” or “This is what we believe regarding such-and-such” – except in those cases where he pretty immediately backstops them with Scriptural citations (to, for instance, the Lord’s prayer). They’re just statements of “Here’s how to run/participate in a worship service. Here’s how to behave, to show reverence. Here are the things you ought to think about.”

      That’s his use of “tradition,” here. I’m hardly the first to point this out – so, for instance, J.N.D. Kelly writes, “Indeed, all the instances of unwritten tradition lacking Scriptural support which the early theologians mention will be found, on examination to refer to matters of observance and practice (e.g. triple immersion in baptism; turning East for prayer) rather than of doctrine as such, although sometimes they are matters (e.g. infant baptism; prayers for the dead) in which doctrine is involved).” In other words, infant baptism is a doctrinal matter, teaching “Here’s how you do an infant baptism,” is a traditional one, because the performance of that baptism is just a matter of liturgical practice.

      And what’s nice about this division is that it gels entirely with what Cyril said before: that on matters of doctrine, “the divine and holy mysteries of the faith,” “this salvation which we believe,” nothing is to be believed unless it’s proved from the Scriptures. For matters of liturgical practice – of infinitely lesser importance than the truth of God, however important they might be – no such backstop is required.

      That gives us a harmonious reading of both quotations, and doesn’t require Cyril to be an idiot, or to have written things in his Catechisms that he doesn’t actually believe. It also fits very nicely with Protestant doctrine. We have traditions! We teach traditions – any mother who has ever said to her child, “There’s no running in the sanctuary,” is passing on a tradition regarding the proper way to show reverence, as surely as anything in Cyril’s Catechism 23. But in our better moments, we recognize that tradition, liturgical practice, etc. is not in the same category as doctrine – and that doctrine, as Cyril says, is only to be taught where it can be proved from Scripture.

      But it’s totally incompatible with Rome’s modern use of tradition as a ground for doctrine, because it declares there to be only one such ground. That’s sola Scriptura.

      I’ve made positive explanation of your passage, without denying its meaning; can you do the same?

      1. Irked, you say:

        “But in our better moments, we recognize that tradition, liturgical practice, etc. is not in the same category as doctrine – and that doctrine, as Cyril says, is only to be taught where it can be proved from Scripture.

        Maybe in your ‘better moments’ you say that. Tradition is actually the teaching of the Church before the New Testament scriptures ever existed, and then it is also the continuation of that preaching, teaching, miracles, exorcisms, liturgical practice, etc… with scripture aiding in the teaching activities of the Church. Moreover, Jesus never wrote anything down, and never told his disciples to write anything down, either. It was not an explicit teaching of Christ during His teaching in Israel for His Apostles to write anything down, but rather He told them to preach and to “…teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to OBSERVE all things whatsoever I have commanded you” So, what Jesus teaches his apostles to do is now termed TRADITION… the observance and the teaching of observance of all that Christ had commanded His Apostles…and not one of Christ’s Commandments told the Apostles to write scripture. Scripture, then, is an action inspired by TRADITION, and guided by the Holy Spirit.

        So, I don’t think it good for you to claim that Cyril, even though he acknowledges the ‘traditional’ benefits scripture provides for teaching the faith, that it could be the SOLE AUTHORITY that Protestants make it out to be. So it is your definition of ‘sola scriptura’ that is the main problem. You want to introduce a concept that was only really possible to be implemented after the invention of the printing press, on a 4th Century archbishop in Jerusalem. But, the Protestant definition could NEVER work back then. And so it is ridiculous to try to fit that Protestant definition of theological authority called ‘sola scripture’ into the theological understanding of St. Cyril during his time.

        For ‘sola scriptura’ to be practiced by every Christian it presupposes the following, that didn’t exist at the time of St. Cyril: The existence of the printing press; the mass distribution of Bibles; universal literacy as well as multitudes of translations; the universal possession of biblical concordances and other scholarly materials; the universal possession of adequate time for study; And, worldwide education such as to attain necessary critical thinking skills. None of this was available in Cyril’s time and still not available in some parts of the world in our present day…1600 years later.

        So, just because Cyril exalted the use of scripture that he had on hand…which wasn’t even the canon that we presently follow, does not mean he was an adherent of the Protestant concept of ‘sola scriptura’ that could only be implemented in the 16th century. So, why make the comparison? And even if it was conceded that Cyril indeed was promoting ‘sola scriptura’,…which he wasn’t…he still contradicts other Protestant doctrines in probably 90 percent of the content of those same Catechetical Lectures; that is, concerning the Eucharist, Baptism, Forgiveness of Sins, Grace, Faith, etc…
        That’s to say he was an eminently CATHOLIC saint and Father of the Church.

        But it’s totally incompatible with Rome’s modern use of tradition as a ground for doctrine, because it declares there to be only one such ground. That’s sola Scriptura.

        1. Al,

          Maybe in your ‘better moments’ you say that. Tradition is actually the teaching of the Church before the New Testament scriptures ever existed, and then it is also the continuation of that preaching, teaching, miracles, exorcisms, liturgical practice, etc… with scripture aiding in the teaching activities of the Church.

          Sola Scriptura is a doctrine regarding the post-revelatory period of the writing of the New Testament, and not a truth for all times, yes. It is not, for instance, an accurate description of affairs while Christ was still alive, because at that point his followers could receive direct teaching from a different infallible rule of the faith – namely, y’know, Christ. It will, likewise, not be our sole rule of faith once he returns.

          But that’s not our subject.

          So, I don’t think it good for you to claim that Cyril, even though he acknowledges the ‘traditional’ benefits scripture provides for teaching the faith, that it could be the SOLE AUTHORITY that Protestants make it out to be.

          Why? Cyril says it is.

          We will not make headway as long as you only interpret his words by asserting that he doesn’t really mean them.

          But, the Protestant definition could NEVER work back then.

          Cyril apparently disagreed.

          It seems like there’s a lot of assertion happening here.

          And even if it was conceded that Cyril indeed was promoting ‘sola scriptura’,…which he wasn’t…he still contradicts other Protestant doctrines in probably 90 percent of the content of those same Catechetical Lectures;

          Maybe so! That’s not our topic.

        2. “he still contradicts other Protestant doctrines in probably 90 percent of the content of those same Catechetical Lectures; that is, concerning the Eucharist, Baptism, Forgiveness of Sins, Grace, Faith, etc…
          That’s to say he was an eminently CATHOLIC saint and Father of the Church.”

          Nailed down. Protestant patristics apologetics doesn’t like statistics. Or facts. Or history. It’s time for Protestant apologetics to admit that, “despite being true [according to them], nobody held to the doctrines modern Protestants do”. Well, Keith Mathison does it, it’s time for sincere Protestants to come up. It’s time for them to admit that 1500+ years of thought were useless. Well, some sects do that — the JW and the mongrel alient-worshiping sect called the Latter-Day Saints.

  7. Hi Irked,

    I said: “But, the Protestant definition could NEVER work back then.”

    And you said: “Cyril apparently disagreed.”

    The Protestant definition of Sola Scriptura is: “The Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety is the sole rule of faith for the Christian”.

    The Catholic position, which Cyril practiced in his ministry and catechetical teachings, is: “The direct rule of faith is the teaching of the Church; the Church in turn takes her teaching from the divine Revelation – both the written Word, called Sacred Scripture, and the oral or unwritten Word, known as “Tradition.” The teaching authority of the Catholic Church, although not itself a source of divine Revelation, nevertheless has a God-given mission to interpret and teach both Scripture and Tradition. Scripture and Tradition, therefore, are the sources of Christian doctrine, the Christian’s remote or indirect rule of faith.

    Martin Luther, the inventor of the ‘sola scriptura’ Protestant doctrine, accused the Catholic Church of corrupting Christian doctrine and distorting Biblical truths. So he proclaimed that the Bible, as interpreted by the INDIVIDUAL believer, was the ONLY true religious authority for a Christian. What Martin Luther was complaining about was that Catholic catechetical teachings based on the Catholic interpretations of scripture, by people such as Cyril of Jerusalem, was filled with errors, and that the individual could sufficiently find the truth of Christian doctrine by interpreting the Bible himself.

    But CK, above, gave the answer to this dilemma between the Protestant and Catholic positions on the role of sacred scripture, with a quote that he posted yesterday, which detailed the differences between ‘material’ and ‘forma’l sufficiency. His quote said :

    “The material sufficiency of Scripture means that all true doctrines are present in Scripture, even if only implicit or embryonic. Catholics can safely affirm the material sufficiency of Scripture.

    The formal sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible also contains what the Westminster Confession of Faith calls “perspicuity.” That is to say, “Scripture interprets Scripture”; it is its own key to its own meaning. The Bible is sufficiently clear that anyone may pick it up and know what it says and means.

    Sola scriptura requires formal sufficiency. And this, Catholics deny. For it is ridiculous on its face. If that were true, why so many dens exploding like exponential stars across an apostate galaxy? Even St. Peter himself, in 2 Pet. 3:16, denies formal sufficiency. In the epistles of St. Paul alone, he says, “are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

    Indeed, the Catholic view is that the Scriptures contain all true doctrines, but that the Scriptures must be read consistently with the teaching of the Church. It affirms its material sufficiency, but denies its formal sufficiency. That is the only reading of St. Cyril that is consistent with both the passage cited by Dr.* White, and the other passages which affirm the teaching authority of the Church, as given by the Holy Spirit (17:12-13).”

    So, Catholics can believe that Cyril would be correct in his statement regarding scripture with the definition the Church provides regarding ‘material sufficiency’. But, in no way could Cyril hold a position via ‘formal sufficiency’ as this would contradict a large portion of his same catechetical teachings that he wrote, and which I already provided various citations from.

    So, CK provided the best solution to this debate. Cyril, to make his lectures sensible needed to reject formal sufficiency, but could still hold a position of ‘material sufficiency’ of scripture.

    1. For those interested, here is a more detailed description of the differences between ‘Material’ and ‘Formal’ Sufficiency regarding the scriptures:

      “Scripture itself states that it is insufficient of itself as a teacher, but rather needs an interpreter.

      The Bible says in 2 Tim. 3:17 that the man of God is “perfect, furnished to every good work.” As we noted above, this verse means only that the man of God is fully supplied with Scripture; it is not a guarantee that he automatically knows how to interpret it properly. This verse at most argues only for the material sufficiency of Scripture, a position which is held by some Catholic thinkers today.

      “Material sufficiency” would mean that the Bible in some way contains all the truths that are necessary for the believer to know; in other words, the “materials” would thus be all present or at least implied. “Formal sufficiency,” on the other hand, would mean that the Bible would not only contain all the truths that are necessary, but that it would also present those truths in a perfectly clear and complete and readily understandable fashion. In other words, these truths would be in a useable form,” and consequently there would be no need for Sacred Tradition to clarify and complete them or for an infallible teaching authority to interpret them correctly or “rightly divide” God’s word.

      Since the Catholic Church holds that the Bible is not sufficient in itself, it naturally teaches that the Bible needs an interpreter. The reason the Catholic Church so teaches is twofold: first, because Christ established a living Church to teach with His authority. He did not simply give His disciples a Bible, whole and entire, and tell them to go out and make copies of it for mass distribution and allow people to come to whatever interpretation they may. Second, the Bible itself states that it needs an interpreter.

      Regarding the second point, we read in 2 Peter 3:16 that in St. Paul’s epistles there are “certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest [distort], as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.”

      In this one verse we note three very important things about the Bible and its interpretation: a) the Bible contains passages which are not readily understandable or clear, a fact which demonstrates the need for an authoritative and infallible teacher to make the passages clear and understandable; (8) b) it is not only possible that people could “wrest” or distort the meaning of Scripture, but this was, in fact, being done from the very earliest days of the Church; and c) to distort the meaning of Scripture can result in one’s “destruction,” a disastrous fate indeed. It is obvious from these considerations that St. Peter did not believe the Bible to be the sole rule of faith. But there is more.

      In Acts 8:26-40 we read the account of the deacon St. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. In this scenario, the Holy Spirit leads Philip to approach the Ethiopian when Philip learns that the Ethiopian is reading from the prophet Isaias, he asks him a very telling question: “Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest?” Even more telling is the answer given by the Ethiopian: “And how can I, unless some man show me?”

      Whereas this St. Philip (known as “the Evangelist”) is not one of the twelve Apostles, he was nonetheless someone who was commissioned by the Apostles (cf. Acts 6:6) and who preached the Gospel with authority (cf. Acts 8:4-8). Consequently, his preaching would reflect legitimate Apostolic teaching. The point here is that the Ethiopian’s statement verifies the fact that the Bible is not sufficient in itself as a teacher of Christian doctrine, and people who hear the Word do need an authority to instruct them properly so that they may understand what the Bible says. If the Bible were indeed sufficient of itself, then the eunuch would not have been ignorant of the meaning of the passage from Isaias.

      There is also 2 Peter 1:20, which states that “no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation.” Here we see the Bible itself stating in no uncertain terms that its prophecies are not a matter for which the individual is to arrive at his own interpretation. It is also most telling that this verse is preceded by a section on the Apostolic witness (verses 12-18) and followed by a section on false teachers (chapter 2, verses 1-10). St. Peter is obviously contrasting genuine, Apostolic teaching with false prophets and false teachers, and he makes reference to private interpretation as the pivotal point between the two. The clear implication is that private interpretation is one pathway whereby an individual turns from authentic teaching and begins to follow erroneous teaching.”

      (citation found here: http://catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/protestantism/sola.htm)

    2. Al,

      The Protestant definition of Sola Scriptura is: “The Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety is the sole rule of faith for the Christian”.

      The sole infallible rule of faith. The extra word is important; there are fallible statements derived from its infallible teaching.

      The Catholic position, which Cyril practiced in his ministry and catechetical teachings, is: “The direct rule of faith is the teaching of the Church; the Church in turn takes her teaching from the divine Revelation – both the written Word, called Sacred Scripture, and the oral or unwritten Word, known as “Tradition.”

      Is this a quote from something extant in Cyril’s time, or a paraphrase from a document extant today, or something else?

      Because, of course, the question we’re trying to answer today is part of the broader question, “Is the modern Catholic Church’s teaching today the same as the universal Christian understanding of Cyril’s time?” We can’t very well use the assertion that it was to prove that assertion.

      Which takes us back to Cyril, and to the statement of his that you have yet to exegete.

      But CK, above, gave the answer

      As I have before, I question the helpfulness of reposting something I’ve already responded to, without even acknowledging the existence of that response.

      But, in no way could Cyril hold a position via ‘formal sufficiency’ as this would contradict a large portion of his same catechetical teachings that he wrote, and which I already provided various citations from.

      Yes, and I addressed those when you brought them up. There is no contradiction in saying, “Cyril thought every doctrine had to be proved from Scripture; Cyril also thought his doctrinal catechetical teachings were proved from Scripture; Cyril also taught non-doctrinal things without recourse to Scripture.”

      Or if there is such a contradiction, you have to prove it! You cannot win a debate on whether Luther invented sola Scriptura by claiming Luther invented it, nor can you by the sheer assertion that the doctrine is impossible without the printing press, nor can you by simply declaring that Cyril must have rejected formal sufficiency. You have to demonstrate that these claims are true.

      Deal with the passage. Explain its argument to me. Show me what Cyril says in it.

      1. Again, Irked, I believe the 3 sentence statement of Cyril on the scriptures was a spontaneous opinion at the tail end of his chapter on the Holy Spirit. In his real chapter on the ‘Divine Scriptures’, paragraphs 33-37, he mentions nothing relating to ‘sola scriptura’, and he devotes 36 sentences to this chapter…not a mere 3 to his ‘off the cuff’ comment he injects into his Holy spirit chapter. So, if it were important to him he surely would have given it ample attention in this chapter on the “Divine Scriptures’. And in consideration of this I regard his statement similar to one of Donald Trumps ‘tweets’; or to one of our present Pope Francis’ frequent comments to reporters when he travels abroad. Some things are highly surprising to orthodox Catholics, but his context is given later in more formal explanations. So, I consider it with the gravity of a casual statement and therefor give it the weight of Cyril considering it in the degree of material sufficiency and not formal sufficiency as you might want to claim it to be. And I make this judgement also in view of his many contradictions of this same 3 sentence quote in various parts of his Lectures, some of which I cited, but many more that I could still give.

        I’ll just have to reiterate that I agree with the opinion of CK’s cited Catholic apologist, Scott Eric Alt’s, who argued the same points regarding Cyril with Dr. White, above. I think he summed it up pretty well. Here’ a reminder:

        “if Cyril taught sola scriptura, then how is it that the Catechetical Lectures contain all these other passages about the teaching authority of the Church and the duty to remain in communion with her? Cyril has strong words to say on this point.

        But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to you by the Church. (5:12)

        Cyril does not say, Go, read the Scriptures, and judge the Church by your own interpretation of them; and if you find the Church lacking, separate from her, and form your own, as Calvin did, a good man and true. No; he finds that a horror, and such churches “dens.”

        So Cyril must have something else in mind, when he writes the words quoted by Dr.* White, than to declare the Scriptures alone the sole infallible rule of faith.
        The answer to that problem is found in the distinction between the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture.”…

        This will be my final statement on this subject, as I have repeated many of these things multiple times in one form or another. And Scott Eric Alt backs my position up…and I never heard of this apologist before CK cited him.

        Best to you int he Lord. And, may St. Cyril intercede for you (and myself also) to the Lord, that he may give us the gift of understanding well what St. Cyril he taught in those excellent catechetical lectures (…which I’m still studying).

        – Al

        1. Al,

          Again, Irked, I believe the 3 sentence statement of Cyril on the scriptures was a spontaneous opinion at the tail end of his chapter on the Holy Spirit.

          Okay. So your response to Cyril describing the thing that “this salvation which we believe depends upon” is to say that he’s probably never thought about this topic before.

          Which means… what? That we should pretend the quote isn’t there? That Cyril doesn’t actually mean it? What?

          Are there other teachings of the fathers we should dismiss as, “Eh, he probably didn’t mean what he said?”

          In his real chapter on the ‘Divine Scriptures’, paragraphs 33-37, he mentions nothing relating to ‘sola scriptura’

          And as I asked you: how many places does he have to teach a doctrine before we believe he means it? There’s no standard here. You would, rightly, never accept this kind of argumentation on any doctrine you support.

          And I make this judgement also in view of his many contradictions of this same 3 sentence quote in various parts of his Lectures, some of which I cited, but many more that I could still give.

          If you want to claim contradictions, you have to actually show them, or respond to my arguments that the things you’ve brought out so far are not contradictions. You can’t just assert they’re out there somewhere!

          think he summed it up pretty well. Here’ a reminder:

          My response to that has not changed from the time it was originally posted. If you want to talk about what I said there, by all means.

          Cyril does not say, Go, read the Scriptures, and judge the Church by your own interpretation of them

          Except for that time when he says exactly that thing.

          This will be my final statement on this subject, as I have repeated many of these things multiple times in one form or another.

          Yes! You do repeat them. What you do not do is engage arguments with them.

          1. Okay, having written at length in haste, let me try to be a little bit more compact at leisure.

            I’ve asked for an exegesis of the passage – an explanation of what Cyril means by it. What you’ve said is: Ignore it. He probably didn’t mean it. Don’t let it shape your understanding of the early church.

            You have made no attempt – none – to extract any kind of meaning from the passage, or to glean any spiritual truth from it, or even to look at what the words of the passage say. As nearly as I can tell, you don’t contest that as written Cyril’s words teach sola Scriptura; instead, you deny that Cyril believed his own words!

            No Catholic would stand for a Protestant dismissing a citation from the fathers in such way. Nor should they.

            If you want to end the conversation there, so be it; I can’t imagine any argument I could offer against the denial that the fathers believed their own words.

          2. Irked I believe this was Alwms answer.

            The answer to that problem is found in the distinction between the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture.”…

            Me – the point you seem to missing is if Cyril believed in SS then he would be contradicting himself with some of his other beliefs which came from Sacred Tradition and the section where the discussion of SS should of been prominent is not mentioned. This is also evidence.

            Even if the paragraph couldn’t be explained I can still look at Ancient history and see not one Christian religion taught/teaches SS. Greek Orthodox? Nope. Roman Catholic? Nope. Coptic? Nope.

            A major doctrine just faded away without a fight from anyone and was rediscovered by Luther in a verse that says no such thing.

            Your asking us to suspend reason.

            And the biggest irony of all is that an extra biblical authority (in your view fallible Catholic men) identified the very Canon which you are sure only contains books with the infallible/inerrant word of God.

          3. Jumping back in for a bit, since I have not turned off the responses.

            The contextual question has arisen again and again and again; the response seems to be ‘look at the wording of that specific writing and just answer the question yes-or-no.’

            Irked pointed out, wryly, that this seems to put Catholics in the positions of Protestants who are dinged on their “non-literal” Scriptural interpretations. I am going to surmise John 6 would be the implied example – if I am wrong, Irked will let me know that he had something else in mind. All one has to do to debunk that particular comparison is to discern that Johh 6 adjuration to ‘eat My flesh’ was not one statement in isolation, but multiple repetitions, each more emphatic than the last. As well, backed up by the Last Supper passages in Mark, Luke, and John. And supported by multiple references in the rest of non-Gospel Scripture, and multiple Church fathers.

            That, friends, is statement backed by irrefutable context. And in answer to Irked’ question ‘well then, what DID Cyril mean?’ I’d say, again, that Catholic apologists put this in a context of a discussion of Mosaic law with catechumens, and how it was meant to inculcate in them first, an understanding of holy Scripture and then, how that one source of holy inspiration fits into the larger context of the Church. Cyril’s other writings bear this out.

            KO put it bluntly, not very kindly as has otherwise been the tenor of this discourse, but in the terms of trying to make 5% outweigh the other 95% of evidence because of the way the original question was asked.

            All just my 2 cents….

          4. Irked,

            Life is not only reason and intellect, but intuition and wisdom as well. And so intuition is to be used also to form a correct understanding. I look at all the evidence as one would a crimes scene, and then make a calculation. After reading many comments and many pages of text and quotes I have no problem drawing my conclusion. And that is that Cyril indeed wanted everybody to love and use the scriptures, but this does not mean that they should reject tradition. There is too much evidence in his writings the proved he loved tradition. So, this is how I conclude that he was v ry far f rom being a Protestant.

            Best to you in the Lord.

          5. Al,

            One could, perhaps uncharitably, reword that as, “It doesn’t matter what the facts or arguments are, because my intuition tells me Catholicism is correct on this matter.”

            What would you say to a Mormon or atheist (or Protestant!) who offered that as a defense of their faith?

          6. “One could, perhaps uncharitably, reword that as, “It doesn’t matter what the facts or arguments are, because my intuition tells me Catholicism is correct on this matter.”

            Or…”it doesn’t matter the work and writings of a man’s life in its entirety, just take one statement he made, in isolation, and ignore all else to prove my point.”

            In this case, the facts and arguments are being ignored for a vise-like grip on one single set of words taken, so to speak, sola. Not only sola in this man’s work, but in the context of the Church in which he was highly placed.

          7. Hey AK,

            I apologize, I missed your post before Al. Let me hit both of yours.

            The contextual question has arisen again and again and again; the response seems to be ‘look at the wording of that specific writing and just answer the question yes-or-no.’

            I don’t think that’s completely fair; I’ve tried to engage every other passage raised as well. But I do think any response to Cyril has to include looking at the wording of this passage, doesn’t it? Context is great, but we can’t just look at the context and ignore the words said in them.

            Irked pointed out, wryly, that this seems to put Catholics in the positions of Protestants who are dinged on their “non-literal” Scriptural interpretations.

            Less that Protestants are dinged for non-literality, and more that they’re dinged for ignoring/disrespecting the fathers. In this case, it’s the Catholics telling me, “Look, you can’t pay attention to what that father said there – his remark that proof from Scripture is the thing on which our salvation depends is just him spouting off without thinking about it.”

            I keep trying to picture what would happen if I said that in response to a father asserting something similar about tradition, and it’s a pretty funny mental image. I don’t think any of you would let me get away with it, and you’d be right not to.

            So no intended John 6 reference, at least.

            Cyril’s other writings bear this out.

            If anyone would like to introduce a place where Cyril makes it clear that doctrine – and not merely ritual practice – can be decided without proof from the Scriptures, I’m certainly open to that. I don’t think it’s happened yet.

            Or…”it doesn’t matter the work and writings of a man’s life in its entirety, just take one statement he made, in isolation, and ignore all else to prove my point.”

            In this case, the facts and arguments are being ignored for a vise-like grip on one single set of words taken, so to speak, sola.

            Sure, in the abstract I think that would be a fair interpretation. But I’ve done my level best to reply to every single argument presented here. I don’t think it can fairly be charged that I’ve ignored anything actually presented – but if it has been, by all means, point it out to me!

            By contrast, I don’t think I’ve seen any response to several of my arguments: that quotes where Cyril uses tradition are exclusively non-doctrinal, for instance, or that there is no inconsistency in Cyril promoting a catechism that he believes to be proved from Scripture. And most pressingly: I haven’t seen any attempt to actually go through the text of the passage I’ve raised, aside from asserting what it must say or can’t say.

            Again, how would you respond to someone of another faith who said, “Logic and argument are all well and good, but my intuition tells me you’re wrong?”

          8. “If anyone would like to introduce a place where Cyril makes it clear that doctrine – and not merely ritual practice – can be decided without proof from the Scriptures, I’m certainly open to that. I don’t think it’s happened yet.”

            Irked, I think it has. Awlms has presented reams of transcriptions of Patristic writings that make the case. Several times you’ve said, basically, that posting “reams of material” is something you can’t talk to for basically logistic/time reasons. Understand that, nonetheless the postings Al has made seem to me -and to him and others here – make our case that the purported “sola” remark has a context that is being completely ignored to make the “literal” case.

            And I know we’re not going to agree, either on the principle or on the apologetic. That’s what makes horse races – and denominations….

            I need some ribs….

          9. CK,

            I also overlooked you in this chain – lotta replies happened pretty quick there, I’m afraid. Apologies, and let me amend:

            Me – the point you seem to missing is if Cyril believed in SS then he would be contradicting himself with some of his other beliefs which came from Sacred Tradition and the section where the discussion of SS should of been prominent is not mentioned. This is also evidence.

            I haven’t missed the argument, but I don’t think anyone has introduced any doctrines Cyril held that he didn’t believe were proved from Scripture. Can you give me one?

            As Matthewp has often noted to me, argument from silence is a fallacy; “He may have defended sola Scriptura over here, but he didn’t also defend it over there,” is not persuasive.

            Even if the paragraph couldn’t be explained I can still look at Ancient history and see not one Christian religion taught/teaches SS.

            I don’t think we can use “No one taught sola Scriptura” as an argument to prove that this guy didn’t teach sola Scriptura.

            Your asking us to suspend reason.

            If I may indulge in a bit of snark: if I said my intuition told me Cyril was a sola Scriptura guy, where would that leave us?

          10. “If I may indulge in a bit of snark: if I said my intuition told me Cyril was a sola Scriptura guy, where would that leave us?”

            You a Protestant and the rest of us, Catholics? Kinda the way we started….

          11. AK,

            Irked, I think it has. Awlms has presented reams of transcriptions of Patristic writings that make the case. Several times you’ve said, basically, that posting “reams of material” is something you can’t talk to for basically logistic/time reasons. Understand that, nonetheless the postings Al has made seem to me -and to him and others here – make our case that the purported “sola” remark has a context that is being completely ignored to make the “literal” case.

            Hm, I may have miscommunicated, then. I don’t mind dealing with quotes from Cyril, when Cyril is our topic; I just think it’s hard for me to have a conversation with long reposts from some other Catholic blog.

            Can you give me something concrete where Cyril teaches a doctrine that he doesn’t think is proved from Scripture? If Al has given me something meeting those criteria, I’ve overlooked it, so feel free to repeat.

          12. You a Protestant and the rest of us, Catholics? Kinda the way we started….

            Yes, exactly. Except with no hope of understanding each other better through reasoned discussion.

          13. I disagree. I believe I understand your position and why you have arrived there. I would hope you understand the same about us.

            I am hoping you don’t conflate understanding with agreement, as in, “if you only could “get” what I am saying, you’ll of necessity agree with me..”

            A wise fellow close to me once said that, apologetics convince no one, only spiritual experiences do that. Having said, i come here to learn…and Irked, from you and discourse with you and others, I do just that….

          14. Hey AK,

            I am hoping you don’t conflate understanding with agreement, as in, “if you only could “get” what I am saying, you’ll of necessity agree with me..”

            No, definitely not – we all have viewpoints we “get” and still think are wrong. My point is more that, when we can’t appeal to reason and argument, we lose the chance to improve either; it’s a wall beyond which there can be no further exchange of ideas.

            A wise fellow close to me once said that, apologetics convince no one, only spiritual experiences do that.

            I’m not sure I agree with that – Lee Strobel would probably disagree, at least. I’ve never changed religions, but apologetics have drastically altered my theology at different points. But I think it may be true, from some conversations with Catholic friends, that our two denominations weight, hm, “experiential evidence” differently relative to other sources.

            Having said, i come here to learn…and Irked, from you and discourse with you and others, I do just that….

            Thanks, likewise!

          15. Good day, Irked,

            You said, “…when we can’t appeal to reason and argument, we lose the chance to improve either;”

            So J.H. Newman says, “…I don’t want to be converted by a smart syllogism; if I am asked to convert others by it, I say plainly I do not care to overcome their reason without touching their hearts. I wish to deal, not with controversialists, but with inquirers.” (A Grammar of Assent, p. 330).

            Even though I see myself grossly deficient in logic and the ability to debate, I drop my two-cent rhetoric here. The point is, I honestly like some of your traits, Irked. I just envision a more full flowering when heartstrings wrap around the logic. So I’m curious: Are you in love with your beliefs?

          16. Hi Margo,

            So J.H. Newman says, “…I don’t want to be converted by a smart syllogism; if I am asked to convert others by it, I say plainly I do not care to overcome their reason without touching their hearts. I wish to deal, not with controversialists, but with inquirers.” (A Grammar of Assent, p. 330).

            With respect to Newman, I think these are not exhaustive categories – that there are men for whom smart syllogisms are the means by which you touch their hearts; that some are neither controversialists nor perhaps what he would consider inquirers.

            Other people are not this way, and that’s also okay!

            Even though I see myself grossly deficient in logic and the ability to debate, I drop my two-cent rhetoric here. The point is, I honestly like some of your traits, Irked. I just envision a more full flowering when heartstrings wrap around the logic. So I’m curious: Are you in love with your beliefs?

            From what I’ve seen, I think you underrate yourself.

            That’s not language I would use, at least. I love Jesus. I love truth. I love the process of iron sharpening iron, of people working with each other to better understand the truth and each other.

            But I hope I’m not in love with my beliefs; I hope that, when God leads me to abandon one of them for another that’s closer to His truth, I’m not too tightly attached to “But this belief is MINE” to hear Him.

            I’m not sure whether that’s at all what you mean by the question, though!

            (Some people are big fans of the Myers-Briggs typing system, which is one way of describing the default ways we all see the world; for those folks, it’s sometimes useful to clarify that I’m a pretty hard INTP. Other folks are not, in which case that’s not really useful information at all – but it might help give context for your question?)

          17. Hi Irked,

            You say, ” But I hope I’m not in love with my beliefs; I hope that, when God leads me to abandon one of them for another that’s closer to His truth, I’m not too tightly attached to “But this belief is MINE” to hear Him.
            I’m not sure whether that’s at all what you mean by the question, though!”

            That is exactly what I mean!

            Sometimes it seems as if you grasp so tightly what you think about a quote from Scripture that a virtual wall seems built around it, so I ask whether you see that as an act of love. I’m glad to hear that you’re open to God leading you….

            Of COURSE you are an INTP by Myers-Briggs. Of course!

            God bless.

      2. The problem for a Christian who puts a lot of trust in logic, is that the sacred scriptures themselves are not logical. Rather, they’re ‘analogical’.

        So, women are not disadvantaged in this sense.

  8. Joe, during the show you said that those who can take the Catholic eucharist are in communion with Rome. What does that make Orthodox, who I hear are extended the opportunity to partake in the Catholic eucharist?

    For the record, I would not simply because my bishop would never allow such a thing.

    God bless,
    Craig

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *