October 27, 2015

A Quiz for Reformation Day

by Nathan Busenitz

Martin_LutherWith Reformation Day just around the corner, I thought it might be fun to give our readers an opportunity to take a quick Reformation-related quiz. It’s pretty simple. (Just don’t peek at the answers until after you’ve completed the entire quiz.)

For each of the following 10 quotes, identify whether the statement was written by someone during the Reformation or prior to the Reformation:

1. When was this written?

It is well known that You [O Lord] give to all freely and ungrudgingly. As for Your righteousness, so great is the fragrance it diffuses that You are called not only righteous but even righteousness itself, the righteousness that makes men righteous. Your power to make men righteous is measured by Your generosity in forgiving. Therefore the man who through sorrow for sin hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he will let him trust in the One who changes the sinner into a just man, and, judged righteous in terms of faith alone, have peace with God.

2. When was this written?

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 forever and ever. Amen.

3. When was this written?

He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!

4. When was this written?

Trust wholly in Christ, rely altogether on His sufferings, beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by His righteousness. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation, and that without faith it is impossible to please God; that the merit of Christ is able, by itself, to redeem all mankind from hell, and that this sufficiency is to be understood without any other cause concurring.

5. When was this written?

A person is saved by grace, not by works but by faith. There should be no doubt but that faith saves and then lives by doing its own works, so that the works which are added to salvation by faith are not those of the law but a different kind of thing altogether.

6. When was this written?

But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. 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.

7. When was this written?

To have brought humanity, more senseless than stones, to the dignity of angels simply through bare words, and faith alone, without any hard work, is indeed a rich and glorious mystery. It is just as if one were to take a dog, quite consumed with hunger and the mange, foul and loathsome to see, and not so much as able to move but lying passed out, and make him all at once into a human being and to display him upon the royal throne.

8. When was this written?

Now, having duly considered and weighed all these circumstances and testimonies, we conclude that a man is not justified by the precepts of a holy life, but by faith in Jesus Christ—in a word, not by the law of works, but by the law of faith; not by the letter, but by the spirit; not by the merits of deeds, but by free grace.

9. When was this written?

It is determined by God that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved and have forgiveness of sins, not through works but through faith alone, without merit.

10. When was this written?

All we bring to grace is our faith. But even in this faith, divine grace itself has become our enabler. For [Paul] adds, “And this is not of yourselves but it is a gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). It is not of our own accord that we have believed, but we have come to belief after having been called; and even when we had come to believe, He did not require of us purity of life, but approving mere faith, God bestowed on us forgiveness of sins.

Congratulations. You made it to the end of the quiz.

Now the moment of truth . . .

The Answers

The reality is the all 10 of the above statements were written prior to the Reformation. None of them come from the Reformers, even though the Reformers would have wholeheartedly agreed with everything that is stated above.

That is because the Reformers weren’t trying to invent new doctrine. Rather, they were committed to the recovery of gospel themes that had been championed by prior generations of believers.

For those of you looking for more specific citations, here is where each of the above ten quotes can be found:

1. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century), On the Song of Songs, II, Sermon 22, 8.

2. Clement of Rome. (Late 1st century), First Epistle to the Corinthians, 32.4.

3. Anonymous (2nd century), Epistle to Digonetus 9, 2–5; ANF 1:28; cited from Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader, 65.

4. John Wycliffe (14th century), The Writings of the Reverend and Learned John Wycliff (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1847), 41.

5. Didymus the Blind (4th century), Commentary on James, 2:26b.

6. John Chrysostom (4th/5th century), Homilies on Romans, Homily 7 on Romans 3:27.

7. John Chrysostom (4th/5th century), Homilies on Colossians 1:26–28; Cited from Joel C. Elowsky, We Believe in the Holy Spirit, 98.

8. Augustine (4th/5th century), On the Spirit and the Letter, 22.

9. Amrosiaster (4th century), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1.4; cited from Joel C. Elowsky, We Believe in the Holy Spirit, 97.

10. Theodoret,of Cyrus (5th century), Interpretation of the Fourteen Epistles of Paul; FEF 3:248–49, sec. 2163; cited from Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader, 44.

 So how’d you do? Were you surprised?

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • Richard Peskett

    Very smart Dr Busenitz – it is my birthday on Reformation Day, so I may just use the quiz…

  • Great job! Why would anyone be surprised by this. This is what the Catholic Church teaches and was teaching since Christ started the church. We are saved by grace alone. Reformers did not re-discover anything. Most of the quotes are from Catholic Bishops in a Catholic Church teaching Catholic teaching. Three of them are even named Doctors of the Church a very rare honor! Now if only the Protestants believed every thing else these good Bishops taught. 🙂

    • Jordan Standridge

      Matthew all these men believed in Faith Alone, they all believed salvation was instantaneous, and that it did not involve a process. I know you don’t believe that and I know that the Catholic Church does not teach that. Based on the dozens of comments you posted on here over the past few days you know this as well. If it is not by faith alone then it must be faith plus works.

      • You are right the Catholic Church following the clear teaching of the bible teaches that salvation is a process. Also don’t majority of Protestants teach that too? As well as all the Eastern Churches?

        Also are you saying that the Saints of the Catholic Church, who are also the Doctors of the Catholic Church a title that has been applied to a saint only 36 times in the whole history of the church. Whose teaching has been studied over the long centuries, whose writings we have and love and read. You are saying that these men tough your 1500’s invented doctrine of instantaneous salvation without any process involved contrary to the bible?

        St. Bernard of Clairvaux abbot of the Cistercian order in the Catholic Church, whose devotion to Mary is almost unmatched in the Catholic world.

        St. Clement of Rome the 3rd Pope! I love his letter to the Corinthians who were still causing problems even after all the letters from St. Paul. This letter is clearly showing that he a bishop of Rome is exercising a universal authority over another local Church.

        St. John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the most famous of all saints the Church has ever known, in both East and West. Who is as Orthodox as Orthodox gets! Please provide proof that he taught what you believe, please provide proof that any of them did.

        Are you seriously saying these men were anything other then Catholic??? That is a bold statement, I would love to see how you justify your statement.

        • Adam

          Matthew, the problem with RC theology is HOW the Grace of God is appropriated by each individual sinner. That is the crux of the issue. RC theology teaches that the grace of God is ACHEIVED through a blend of faith, sacraments, and good works. True Biblical theology as taught by Paul in Ephesians 2:8-9 is that God’s grace is freely given as a gift and appropriated by faith. I challenge you to show anywhere from the Bible where God says He will bestow SAVING grace, not sanctifying grace, to sinners because of good works. Do you believe a sinner can be saved apart from participating in the sacraments or doing charitable works? If not, stop trying to blend RC theology and Biblical theology as if they are one and the same. If I am required to do something in order for God’s grace to become effectual for me, it is not grace but a debt God owes me as “payment” for work performed both by me and for me. And this essentially destroys the whole essence of what God’s grace is!

          • Hi Adam, thank you for your comment. I must first clarify that Catholics in spite of what you have been tough do not believe that grace of God can be ACHIEVED. That’s silly. Grace is grace, like you said free gift. We agree.

            Ephesians 2:8-9 is what the Church believes. We don’t even stop at verse 9 but keep going till the end of verse 10. We are saved by grace through faith for good works. Do you disagree with this?

            As for your challenge, not sure what you want me to prove. There are tons of scriptures where God rewards us for our works after the initial grace of justification. Rom 2:6 as one of many examples. Bible also teaches that Baptism saves us 1 Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16, In the gospel of Matthew our judgement is clearly tied to works of mercy (Matthew 25:31-46) is this what you are looking for?

            “Do you believe a sinner can be saved apart from participating in the sacraments or doing charitable works?” Yes, God can do what ever he wants but he also gave us a clear command to baptize. (Matthew 28:19) Do you believe a sinner can be saved without repentance?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            “Do you believe a sinner can be saved apart from participating in the sacraments or doing charitable works?” Yes, God can do what ever he wants.”

            Well that’s not what catholic.com says…

            “Since the sacraments are the ordinary means through which Christ offers the grace ‘necessary’ for salvation, and the Catholic Church that Christ established is the ordinary minister of those sacraments, it is appropriate to state that salvation comes through the Church. In a similar fashion, now that the Messiah has established his Church, Jesus might say, “salvation is from the Catholics”! Since Jesus established the Catholic Church as necessary for salvation, those who knowingly and willingly reject him or his Church cannot be saved.”

          • Hello Jane, I don’t see the contradiction between what I said and your partial quotes from somewhere on Catholic . Com. Sacraments are the ordinary means God established. God is not bound by the sacraments, we are.
            Baptism is necessary for us. God can save without it.

            So do you believe a sinner can be saved without repentance?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            No Matthew, that is where we divide. We do not believe we are bound by the sacraments, nor are they ‘necessary’ for our salvation as the catholic church teaches. Please reread Adam and Mike’s comments again and really try to understand what they’re saying.

            And no, a sinner cannot be saved without repentance, but it is God who grants us that repentance. (Acts 5:31, 2 Timothy 2:25) It is not a work you can take credit for.

          • Jane I know we disagree. I know what you and Adam and Mike are saying. I disagree with you.

            I agree that neither faith or repentance is a work we can take credit for. Both are gifts from God.

            Can a sinner be saved by faith without repentance? (Obviously no right?) If yes then that’s not biblical. If no then that’s not faith alone.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Well thank you for admitting we disagree! This entire time you have tried to convince us that we somehow misconstrued what the catholic church teaches. So let me tell you what I’ve taken away from all of this.

            Aside from clever wordplay, you have tried to convince us that that our salvation is only assured if we remain in “a state of grace” (which is a nice way the catholic church defines as being obedient to the sacraments and Eucharist). You have tried to educate us that we can lose our salvation by committing some mortal sin, that God forbid went unconfessed before the ambulance got us to the hospital. And lastly, we should never assume that we are truly saved. We can only hope that at the judgement we will receive mercy based upon…remaining a good catholic. (just admit it)

            Sorry Matthew, but the things you are trying to convince us of are so foreign to the Bible and the gospel of Christ that there is no common ground. But thank you for opening my eyes to what you believe. I now feel better equipped to share the “good news” of Christ with catholics.

          • Thank you Jane. Your understanding of the Catholic faith has improved. You still ignore all the passages that support that understanding but since you only rely on your unbiblical doctrine of sola scriptura which just means what ever you yourself interpret from the bible I guess you are free to pick and chose.

            You know what your make your case stronger against a Catholic? It would be unity of faith with other Protestants. If the things you listed are so foreign to the bible (meaning your interpretation of the bible) why do other Protestants agree with Catholics on a lot of it and think your groups teaching are unbiblical. Protestsntism is a house devided against itself, and it will fall.

            Please pray for me. God bless.

        • Are you seriously saying these men were anything other then Catholic? That is a bold statement, I would love to see how you justify your statement. . . . Please provide proof that he taught what you believe, please provide proof that any of them did.

          Matthew, did you read the quotes in the original post?

          The Sixth Session of Trent, Canon 9, says, “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, . . . let him be anathema.”

          These men say different.

          #1 Bernard of Clairvaux: “. . . judged righteous in terms of faith alone . . .”

          #2 Clement of Rome: “And we . . . 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.” If we are justified not by all these things — especially by works (note, not just “not by works of the Mosaic ceremonies;” just works in general) — but instead by faith, we are justified by faith alone.

          #4 John Wycliffe: “Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation . . . ” If faith is sufficient for salvation, it is faith alone that saves. (Though, of course, as Protestantism has always taught, that faith is never alone, but evidences itself in good works.)

          #6 John 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.” Faith only = faith alone.

          #7 John Chrysostom: “To have brought humanity, more senseless than stones, to the dignity of angels simply through bare words, and faith alone . . .”

          #9 Ambrosiaster: “It is determined by God that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved and have forgiveness of sins, not through works but through faith alone, without merit.”

          #10 Theodoret: “He did not require of us purity of life, but approving mere faith, God bestowed on us forgiveness of sins.” Mere faith = faith alone.

          Each of the quotes Nathan posted above affirms that faith alone is the instrument of justification. The seven I reproduced here affirm sola fide explicitly. The Council of Trent just as explicitly anathematizes faith alone.

          It simply cannot be said that these men taught what the Catholic Church teaches.

          • Mike, how do you define “faith” does faith in your understanding includes the virtues of hope and charity? Catholic understanding of faith is inseparable from hope and charity, hence the Trent canon. All these Catholic saints understand faith in a Catholic sense, and in that sense faith alone is perfectly fine. I encourage you to read a General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI from Wednesday, 19 November 2008, where he goes into detail about Luther and faith alone and what we understand it to mean.

            Also I have read the Catholic writers in the quotes. I’ve read a lot of them. And they are Catholic in every sense as is the bible. But of course we disagree on that.

          • Adam

            Matthew, no, I don’t believe we do agree as to what grace is in its application to salvation. You are arguing for a grace that is imparted upon works and faith. Faith does not stand alone, independent from any other means for our justification in RC theology. You cannot argue for grace being a free gift and then at the same time impose a requirement on it; i.e., “God freely bestows His free gift of grace upon us through participation in the sacraments.” That is an absolute contradiction. What if I do not have access to these various “means of grace?” You will argue that “God can do whatever He wants” but that cannot be applied in relation to a revelation He has already given. In other words, if God has declared that faith and works are both needed for salvation, then He cannot turn around and make some “exception to the rule” for those who do not have access, for instance, to the Eucharist or baptismal fount. If He were to do such a thing, then the logical end of such reasoning is that everyone will be justified because God can do whatever He wants – God will provide a way for any and all. Once He has given a revelation concerning a particular matter it cannot be changed or altered unless He has done so Himself and then subsequently given further revelation that He has done so. The Book of Hebrews is a prime example of such a thought in which the New Covenant is explained as to why it has replaced the Old. Bringing this back to the point, either God has declared in His Word that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone or He has not. Which ever it is, and we will disagree as to which is correct, He does not make an exception to the rule contrary to His revealed word. This would bring into question the trustworthy nature of the entire Bible for it would raise so many other questions as to where else God has made “exceptions” to what He has revealed. Where else has God “changed His mind?” Secondly, if the blood of Christ cleanses me from my sin and redeems me from its penalty – Ephesians 1:7 – what more do I need other than Christ alone? By faith I receive His personal work on my behalf and rest in His finished work of the cross? What more can I do to add to that?

          • How is God bestowing his grace in any way he wants a contradiction? Did not Jesus specifically told his apostles to go out and baptize? Mark 16:16 and tied up salvation to baptism? Did he not say one must be born again through water and spirit. Did not Peter say baptism now saves you.
            Did Jesus not at the same time save the repentant sinner on the cross without baptism?
            Where is the contradiction here???? He binds us. He does not bind himself.

            The rest of the comment I didn’t follow.

            You still didn’t answer my question. Can a sinner be saved without repentanc? It’s not a trick question.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            “Can a sinner be saved without repentance?” No, he can’t. But repentance is hardly a “work”–it’s the evidence that God has changed the sinner’s heart. How many times did Jesus say, “Go your way; your faith has saved you” to someone who did nothing but express a willingness to believe Him? The woman with a blood flow wasn’t baptized prior to being declared saved; she was healed and saved in a moment.

            If salvation is a “process”, that implies a change over time and a definitive point of completion. If one is NOT saved on Jan 1, but IS saved by June 1, what is his state on April 1? Or March 12? Or May 6? If he dies on May 30, is he saved? The “process” wouldn’t be complete, if “process” salvation is true.

            The thief went to the cross unsaved. He was taken down from the cross a couple hours later, dead, as a saved man. That didn’t leave a lot of time for any “process.”

          • “Can a sinner be saved without repentance?” No, he can’t. But repentance is hardly a “work”–it’s the evidence that God has changed the sinner’s heart. How many times did Jesus say, “Go your way; your faith has saved you” to someone who did nothing but express a willingness to believe Him? The woman with a blood flow wasn’t baptized prior to being declared saved; she was healed and saved in a moment.
            – I agree. Jesus even healed people without requiring faith like in Mark 3:5. We are saved only by his Grace.

            As for the salvation as process, you are not fighting with me, you are fighting against your fellow protestants and the bible itself.

            The bible is clear on this point:
            I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8)
            ​I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12)
            I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15, Matthew 10:22)

            Past, present and future.Which makes perfect sense. Once we are justified we are in Christ and as we live in Christ we grow in holiness, doing good works Eph 2:8-10 for which we are made.

            The work of salvation belongs entirely to God. From the beginning to the end. All is grace, all we can do is to accept it or reject it.

            Pray for me and God bless.

          • Adam

            As far as how RC theology defines repentance and how I believe the Bible defines it, I am sure we will disagree once again on this so I will not open that subject up. And Yes, BIBLICAL repentance is needed for salvation.
            We can debate verses all day long and not get anywhere so my point is to simplify the debate by asking these three questions: What more is needed for my redemption other than the sacrifice of Christ? And then: Why is it needed? And finally: If the thief on the cross was redeemed apart from sacraments, why then can it not be the same today “if God can do anything He wants?”
            As far as God binding Himself – He most certainly does bind Himself and is the reason we can trust the Bible and say it is truth. If God did not bind Himself and was constantly changing His mind on matters of faith we could have no assurance how to be saved today because it might have changed since the days of Christ. We further could not know His will concerning living a holy life because maybe He has “lightened up” a little over the years and has become just a little more liberal and tolerant concerning issues of morality. God binds Himself to His Word, and His word is His revelation which is the Bible. Jesus spoke of this very principle of “binding” Himself when He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35)
            So the argument that God “can do whatever He wants” concerning salvation is untrue once He has given the decree as to His chosen means concerning how we are to be saved. Once the revelation is given, the principle of Matt.24:35 above applies and God has “bound” Himself to HIs word to save sinners in the manner He has revealed.

          • Alex

            Matthew, how do you reconcile your assertion that each of the men listed above ascribe a “Catholic sense” of faith, with the fairly explicit language of the quotes presented?

            If nothing else, Clement of Rome (the Third Pope!) and John Chrysostom (one of the most famous saints of all time) present a description of saving faith as a separate entity from any subsequent, demonstrating works. I do not see a way to reconcile the idea of progressive justification necessitating works with their own words describing saving faith.

          • I justify it by the fact that these are Catholic men speaking in Catholic language to a Catholic audience, describing a Catholic doctrine. These men did not just write this one quote but whole volumes of works all Catholic in its content. They were bishops of the Catholic Church preaching the Catholic faith to their catholic flock. For this they were named Catholic Saints and Catholic Doctors of the Church. I greatly encourage anyone to go and read their writings. They are wonderful and greatly enriching. For the non Catholics in the list, well they are heretics condemned by this same Church, so their works are nothing to me.

            I can find a quote from Calvin or Luther or who ever started your denomination, take it out of its context and the rest of his/her works and say that they are clearly Catholic! But that would be false, I would be doing what Protestants are doing, selectively looking at the Fathers and picking and choosing what appears to match with what they think the Gospel is ignoring everything else.

            See here as an example by the words of Calvin himself:

            “[B]eyond the pale of the Church no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, can be hoped for, . . .” (Calvin IV, 1:4) How very Catholic of him!

            [T]he sacrament might be celebrated in the most becoming manner, if it were dispensed to the Church very frequently, at least once a-week.” (Calvin IV, 17:43) – How very Catholic of him.

            There is no senate without a consul, no bench of judges without a president or chancellor, no college without a provost, no company without a master. Thus there would be no absurdity were we to confess that the apostles had conferred such a primacy on Peter.” (Calvin IV, 6:8) – See Calvin confirms Catholic doctrine!

            Nay, the very flesh in which he resides he makes vivifying to us, that by partaking of it we may feed for immortality. . . . by this food believers are reared to eternal life.” (Calvin IV, 17:8) / “[T]he true and substantial communication of the body and blood of the Lord, . . . are received not by the imagination or intellect merely, but are enjoyed in reality as the food of eternal life.” (Calvin IV, 17:19) / “[I]t not only gives our minds undoubted assurance of eternal life, but also secures the immortality of our flesh, . . .” (Calvin IV, 17:32) – Holy Molly that’s Catholic!

            Is John Calvin Catholic?

            Please read the fathers, for themselves. The works are available online and can be easily found.

          • Alex

            Thanks for the response! I appreciate the thoroughness with which you approach the discussion.

            I am forced to mention, however, that you cannot explain away the apparent contradiction between your definition of faith and the quote’s definition of faith simply by “retconning” the label “Catholic” to Clement’s words, and assuming that the full weight of current Catholic teaching is appropriately in view for Clement. That would be akin to me saying that Abraham Lincoln affirmed the current Republican Party’s political platform simply because he was elected as a Republican. If indeed Clement intended to say that justification was accomplished by faith plus works, his quote would affirm that position. In fact, his quote does the exact opposite.

            Per your request, I did read the totality of Clement’s first epistle to the Corinthians. It was an excellent document. At no point in the letter does Clement argue that justification is accomplished by faith plus works. In fact, Clement presents the same argument as the Apostle Paul in Romans 4, that Abraham was considered righteous through faith – a faith which was evidenced in his acts of obedience to God. The closest Clement comes to affirming anything like the current Catholic teaching of faith + works is in his description of Rahab (Ch. 12.1, “her faith and hospitality”). But even there it is unclear/unlikely that Clement is describing Rahab’s justification vice her salvation from the destruction of Jericho.

            Where Clement explicitly discusses justification, he explicitly refutes the inclusion of good works from the process. This is Clement’s own position on the issue, and is confirmed throughout the letter. Where Clement discusses good works (in Ch. 13), they are seen as the evidence and product of faith; the same position held by Paul (Rom 5:1; 6:15), James (Jas 2:18), and Jesus (Luke 6:44).

            Note especially, that Jesus, in Luke’s gospel, declares that a tree is “known by its own fruit.” The fruit becomes a visible demonstration of the tree’s intrinsic reality. Because an apple tree IS ALREADY an apple tree, it produces apples. By seeing the apples, we can know the tree ALREADY IS an apple tree. It does not BECOME an apple tree by virtue of producing apples. So also, by seeing the good works which are produced in the lives of the justified, regenerate believer, we can know saving faith has already accomplished its work in them.

            To me, this seems the most reasonable, simplest resolution of the apparent contradiction between the current Catholic understanding of faith and Clement’s understanding of faith, as espoused in his first epistle to the Corinthians. If I were taking Clement’s and Scripture’s words at face value, this is the logical conclusion. It is only when I feel compelled to reconcile their words with a perceived necessity of the sacraments for salvation that I begin to engage in hermaneutical gymnastics.

          • Why would Clement argue for faith plus works? That is not the catholic teaching. The Catholic teaching is that we are saved by the Grace of God, through faith. Eph 2:8-10.

            Keep on reading the early Church, and I’m very glad you read Clement. Read the rest of the fathers to get a clear view of the early Church.

          • Alex

            I apologize for the inaccurate nomenclature. I think that Clement was arguing for salvation through faith alone; as that is what he said.

            When I use the phrase faith + works, I am using it as shorthand for the belief system which expresses that salvation is achieved through faith combined with grace-infusing sacraments/piety. Or, to say it another way, that the grace from God which saves us, is imparted to us through the mediated work of the church by participation in religious activity. This would include any belief system which argues that we are justified by faith, but maintain and progress in that justification through sacramental observances.

            I believe that the teaching of Scripture is that faith is best defined as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). I tend to express the idea of faith as the combination of belief in something to be true and trusting in that true thing. The second half of that sentence would rightly be understood in the context of repentance – turning from the false to the truth. Faith in Christ alone would therefore include both believing to be true what Jesus has revealed about Himself, and turning from the lies of the world to trust in Jesus, as He has made known.

            Justification by faith (Rom 5:1) would mean that we have believed that reconciliation between sinful men and a holy God can only be accomplished through the mediating work of Jesus Christ on the cross (1 Tim 2:5; 2 Cor 5:19), and then turning from any other attempt to achieve reconciliation with God through our own efforts (Rom 3:28).

          • Clement argues for faith alone in the sense that you have described, I would agree with that, that is the catholic position.

            Clement of Rome being a bishop of Rome would also baptize and confirm his people. He would also celebrate the Holy Eucharist and perform all the other Catholic sacraments. He would also believe in salvation as progress as did his contemporaries. Can you tell that from his letters. Nope. Can you tell that from the whole Early Church history, yep. The Catholic faith was the common faith of the whole Church.

          • ScottG

            Matthew said: “The Catholic faith was the common faith of the whole Church.”

            This is true in the general sense of the word catholic, meaning universal or “according to the whole.” I am sure you are familiar with that definition. But your argument that the early fathers preached modern-day Roman Catholicism is patently false.

            The Roman sacraments were added over time, with many not defined until the latter stages of Trent in the 16th century… the most famous, perhaps, was transubstantiation defined in 1551. I will not go into great detail here as I suspect you know the history, albeit from a “Roman” catholic perspective.

            From the invention of the papacy to the evolution of the sacraments, the RC position is untenable given the amount of evidence to the contrary. Rome can no longer make such spurious claims and demand they go unchallenged. That may have worked during the dark ages, but not any more.

          • KaraB

            Scott, the sacraments were not added over time. If you had read the early Church fathers, you would see that they speak quite plainly on the topic. You might disagree with them, but what they believed and taught is pretty clear. I’m currently at work and do not have my books with me, but I would be happy to provide you with some references. Of course, reading them in their entirety is preferable. I would encourage you to do that. I would also encourage you to look into those times you’re calling the “dark ages” where a lot of the best books of the Christian tradition came out of. The dark ages were anything but dark. No serious student of history could think otherwise.

          • ScottG

            Kara, the argument that RC doctrine and/or practices have not changed over time is one that not even Rome any longer dares to claim. The same is true for the Roman sacraments. Rather than reinvent the wheel I will post a link that notes their respective dates of adoption. (You might have to copy and paste into your browser.)

            https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/824-what-about-the-sacraments

            And don’t try to tell me these all existed during the early church but were only codified at Trent (or whenever), those of us who have taken the time to do independent (of Rome) research will not be hoodwinked. I have read the early fathers and there is scant evidence to support your position. I’m sure you are aware of earlier pope(s) who paved the way for what is often referred to as the doctrine of development–the name of the pope escapes me but I can find it for you if you’d like.

            The mistake PC apologists often make is to read the early fathers *into* Romanist theology. Sadly, and even more egregious, they do the same thing with scripture. It’s no wonder they have such a hard time explaining their biblical hermeneutics–scant evidence, paradoxical and completely nonsensical.

            And finally, the dark ages were “dark” for a number of reasons, not the least of which was Rome’s sinister penchant for violence and oppression. You can call it whatever you want (as you will), but you can’t change the facts of history.

            God bless and I hope this information is helpful to you!

          • KaraB

            Since you are clearly not interested in hearing what the church fathers had to say, I will not bother pulling out my notes on the fathers. I will say that I did read the early church fathers without “Rome” it’s what convinced me to be Catholic. As for your horrendous ignorance of the Middle Ages… I can’t help you. Even secular historians no longer refer to that era as the dark ages. That’s laughable. As for your understanding of church councils, all I can say is wow. Was the trinity not a truth before the council or did they just make it up? That’s what the atheists claim, after all. The councils exist to correct heresy, not invent new truths. If you cannot even muster an pice of historical credibility, I feel no need to read your false sources.

          • ScottG

            Sorry Kara, you’re not catholic in the mold of the apostles and early fathers, you are clearly Roman Catholic which began to take shape in the 4th century after Constantine married church with state. Are you going to tell me the early Roman church was not modeled after imperial Rome? Now that would be laughable.

            I told you I had read the church fathers and I am well aware of Rome’s never ending quest to read its theology into the early fathers, as well as scripture. It is the sad reality that leaves us having useless discussions such as this (useless only in the sense that what I have to say will do nothing but further inflame your hatred of reformed theology).

            Let me remind you, you exercised your freewill to to visit this obviously “protestant” site. If you’re not here to engage in an honest discussion and maybe learn a thing or two about reformed Christian thought, I can only assume you have ulterior motives. All that aside, I will be glad to give you an example to show how Rome reads its version of history into Patristic writings. Since I mentioned the papacy let’s tackle that one first.

            I’m sure you are familiar with Cyprian who was overseer (“bishop” in Greek, episkopos, literally means overseer or supervisor) of Carthage from A.D. 249 to 258. He belongs to a period 200 years after the apostles, and he was one of the first to refer to elders as priests. RC apologists frequently point to his writings to support various RC positions. However, what your RC sources fail to mention is that when Stephen, bishop of Rome, made unsupported claims to be supreme bishop or “bishop of bishops,” Cyprian called a council of 87 North African bishops specifically to deny his bogus claim of supremacy. What your RC sources neglect to tell you is that Cyprian believed all bishops were the successor of Peter together, representing one united “episcopal throne” (On the Unity of the Church 4-5). Instead, they quote his comments about Peter as though he meant the bishop of Rome. Is the weight of 87 catholic bishops not enough to convince you? If they were “Roman Catholic” there would have been no argument about this!

            What is really interesting, as a former RC myself, for the longest time I too believed that the early church was Roman Catholic. I mistaken believed that the apostles and early fathers were entirely within the RC domain, supported by numerous veiled references which *SORT OF* support the Roman position. As I noticed more and more discrepancies and started researching on my own (beyond the unnecessary limitation of RC sources alone), I discovered a much different reality. I thank God for that with my whole heart as I no longer feel the need to contort my mind around such disconcerted thought.

            I know you think differently so we will likely have to agree to disagree, just be aware that my claims are not from “false sources” as you have alleged. Ironically they are (for the most part) the same sources that you use, the only difference is that fortunately I am not limited to the Roman point of view. As my former parish priest used to say, and much to his credit, “God is bigger than that!”

          • KaraB

            The source you gave me was a protestant biased website, sorry, I’m not interested. If you want me to read an early church father, I’ll gladly do it. I have most of them on my bookshelf. I studied early Church history at a Protestant university under Protestant teachers. I’m not sure how I could have possibly been influenced by some RC theologians. I was a reformed Protestant at the time, and believe me, I had no desire to be Catholic. So, yes, we will come to different conclusions, and we have come from opposing backgrounds. Everyone takes their presuppositions to the texts they read, it’s true. I’ll not deny that one.

            Of course orthopraxy changed over time. That’s not a bad thing and it would be silly to claim otherwise. Orthodoxy, however, is a different matter entirely. How the Church understands and explains orthodox theology will change, but the beliefs themselves go back to Jesus. I’m sure you believe the same.

            You have to deny the position of Peter to be a reformed protestant. I’m glad you recognize that. Unfortunately, the Bible and early church history refute your claim. Jesus very clearly separated Peter from the other apostles. Even as a protestant I saw that. Before becoming Catholic, I had asked multiple pastors to explain the meaning of that passage, but nothing satisfied quite as much as the plain truths of Scripture.

            So, I suppose that you’re suggesting that the idea of for a Pope arose sometime after St. Cyprian. Interesting. I’ll pull out my copy of St. Cyprian’s works. Let’s see what Cyprian himself has to say:

            “And though to all His Apostles He gave an equal power yet did He set up one chair, and disposed the origin and manner of unity by his authority. The other Apostles were indeed what Peter was, but the primacy is given to Peter, and the Church and the chair is shown to be one…He who deserts the chair of Peter, upon whom the Church is founded, is he confident that he is in the Church?” (The Complete Works of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, On the Unity of the Church, 4)

            I will ask you the same question that St. Cyprian asked: how can you be confident you are in the right Chruch? You have deserted the authority of Peter and so have deserted the Chruch.

            Clearly you’re reading something into the history books. What’s funny is that by invoking a historical instance involving the bishops you actually prove that a Chruch structure was in order and you prove that it was maintained by an organized church! That’s the Catholic claim. I’m sorry you left Christ’s Chuch for a schism with weak theology and an even weaker claim to history, but you cannot claim the early church fathers sent you there. That’s nonsense.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Kara, you offered a partial quote. After your … it says,

            So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to THIS unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?”
            ~Cyprian of Carthage [A.D. 251]

            This had nothing to do with papal supremacy because later St. Cyprian said to Pope Stephen:

            “No one among us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or by tyranny and terror forces his colleagues to compulsory obedience, seeing that every bishop in the freedom of his liberty and power possesses the right to his own mind and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. We must all await the judgment of our Lord Jesus Chirst, who singly and alone has power both to appoint us to the government of his Church and to judge our acts therein’ (CSEL 3, 1, 436).

            Cyprian also said,

            “Even Peter, whom the Lord first chose and upon whom He built His Church, when Paul later disputed with him over circumcision, did not claim insolently any prerogative for himself, nor make any arrogant assumptions nor say that he had the primacy and ought to be obeyed’ (Cyprian Epist. 71, 3).”

          • KaraB

            Thank you for filling in the quote for me. I didn’t feel like typing it all out. So take these things together and look at what Cyprian is saying: The Pope is supreme among the bishops, we are to live in unity, the Pope is not to abuse his power, and the Pope is to listen to the other bishops. All things Catholics believe. You cannot look at these statements and say that Cyprian doesn’t believe it a pope. He very obviously does.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Kara, I’m sorry, but I don’t see how Cyprian is even mentioning a supreme authority or primacy other than Christ. In fact he is speaking against it. When he speaks of sharing the unity of Peter he was referring to the Bishop’s charge to feed the sheep as Peter was given. If they were to abandon this by claiming primacy in any way they were in fact to question if they were even in the church.

          • KaraB

            Seriously? You can disagree with St. Cyprian, but it’s hard to take the words “The other Apostles were indeed what Peter was, but the primacy is given to Peter…” and read anything else. Denying the role of Peter according to St. Cyprian is impossible to do. Especially with what he says in the rest of the work. If you can’t see this, then you’re deluding yourself. Cyprian argued strongly for unity.

            Another quote from St. Cyprian you might enjoy:

            “The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ.” (The Complete Works of Saint Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, 6)

          • Jane Hildebrand

            But wasn’t Cyprian himself given the title of pope?

            “Shortly after his baptism in 246, he was set apart to the priesthood by Bishop Donatus, his predecessor in Carthage. In early 249, Cyprian was consecrated as bishop and became the “pope” of Carthage—a title signifying the bishop’s fatherly and spiritual care for the flock entrusted to him. Not reserved uniquely for the bishop of Rome, this distinction was also used to address bishops in Asia Minor and Alexandria. Cyprian
            was called pope not only by his congregation, but also by some Roman clergy.”

          • KaraB

            I have no idea where you copy and pasted this from, but yes, word pope was a development. Doesn’t change the fact that there is clearly apostolic succession going on. It does not change the fact that Cyprian believed that Peter was set apart from the other apostles.

            The part of not declaring oneself “bishop among bishops” is about setting up false popes. This has happened historically, and actually still happens (google Pope Michael). All popes are elected, one could not declare themselves pope. Hope this helps.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            But doesn’t that contradict the “one seat” assertion you claim from scripture? Who was the first real pope then (as in one supreme authority, vicar, head of the catholic church)?

          • KaraB

            Peter was the first Pope, but the word itself is a development.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            A development? Well when did it start? Because it wasn’t around 250 years after Christ and that’s not concerning to you?

          • KaraB

            The word? Nope, doesn’t concern me. Why would it exactly? The position is the same no matter what it’s called. I’ve read about when and how the word came about, but I’m afraid I cannot remember the details. I’ll pull out my books later if you’d like, but for now I have to go to an event with my husband. Sorry.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            So you’re saying there was ONE position of pope before Cyprian?

          • By your definition Christians didn’t believe in Trinity until the 4th century when it was defined.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            What? What does that have to do with the pope? Listen, I was raised not to believe in the trinity and I came to believe it by reading the Bible, specifically John 14. I didn’t need a creed to do that, just God’s Spirit illuminating the scriptures.

          • Thats great. I am sincerely very happy that you left that cult. Praise God. But the poor souls that are still there also claim they know what the bible says. That was also the case in 4th century. Arians used clever bible only arguments and almost succeeded in destroying Christianity. The doctrine had to develop, to safeguard the true teaching. The things we take as obvious now. Trinity. Hypostatic Union. Two natures of Christ. These were all challenged by bible only heretics. Even today with the cult you left Jehovah witnesses they are rehashing old bible only heresies in a Protestant setting. Only this time there is no unified Protestant church to stop them.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            If you’re trying to start a ‘Bible only’ argument, how do you think those early church fathers refuted those heretics? They went back to the scriptures. See this article for their own words.

            http://thecripplegate.com/the-church-fathers-sola-scriptura/

            Also protestants are continually confronting false teachers, false prophets and false doctrine! We expose them and hang them out to dry. We’re not afraid to put pastors out of work if they stray from the course. So that is an unfair accusation.

          • I’m sorry but I stand by my accusation. All the new heretics are a result of Protestantism and its doctrine of sola scriptura. Just because you are in a Protestant community that hasn’t abandoned the basic tenants of christianity doesn’t meant that the rest of the Protestant world is not creating tons of new Jesuses to fit any lifestyle you want. I just read about Protestant pastors blessing an abortion clinic. Somehow they felt inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so. (I know I’m dumping all Protestants into one bag and that’s not fair to “good” Protestants but you all use the same justification for your belives) Also having just read the complete account from the council of Nicea it is silly to say that the fathers only used scriptures. They realized that scriptures are not enough to stop the Arian misreading of the bible. The whole point of the creed at the end of the council with its new unbiblical terms specifically chosen and fought over was to clarify the scriptures so no one misinterprets them in the same way as Arians did. (Until Protestantism freed you from submitting to the councils and herecy returns)

          • Jane Hildebrand

            So tell me, was the papacy inspired by the Holy Spirit when they murdered and burned those 50+ million heretics? Were they being guided by scripture or by their tradition? Were your priests inspired by the Holy Spirit when they molested over 3400 children?

            So before you accuse us of our disloyalty to God’s one true church, you might want to take a peek into your beloved papacy’s history from unbiased sources.

            You see, the difference is that protestants have not pledged their allegiance to fallible men, but to an infallible God.

          • The church of Alexandria has always called their bishop Pope we call him Coptic Pope. The successor of Peter is the Bishop of Rome. We call him Pope. His actual title is the Bishop of Rome. The patriarchs or popes were simply bishops in charge of major Christian Churches. The word pope simply means Papa.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            So you’re saying the early church had several bishops, a.k.a popes? Okay, so when did the catholic church transition to having just one pope, a.k.a. head of the church?

          • The head of the Church is Christ. The successor of Peter. (The bishop of Rome) was and is and always will be the source of unity among the bishops and all Catholic Churches. . As established by Christ. The word Pope was attached to the bishop of Rome as well as bishop of Alexandria. Other bishops in major seas are called Patriarchs (means Father) The word Pope has nothing to do with the office of the Bishop of Rome. It simply means Papa. You realize that there are more Churches in union with Rome right? The Roman Catholic Church is just one of 21 churches united under 1 faith. Under the leadership of the Bishop of Rome as first amongs equals.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Kara, I find it interesting you would quote Cyprian on how “the spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure,” and yet believe the catholic church fits that definition.

            I know you have done extensive study, so you have read the bloody history of the catholic church, right? How millions have been killed, burned or buried alive for opposing the papacy? The fierce opposition the papacy raised regarding the Bible being given to the common man. You have read about the corruptions of indulgences and personal sins of past popes, cardinals, as well as the molestations of over 3400 children by priests? This information is well documented on non-protestant sights. How can you reconcile in your mind that this is a God ordained succession?

            Now of course protestants are by no means innocent, but the difference is that we have never claimed to place our faith and loyalty in an institution of fallible men.

            I guess the question I would ask you to consider is to really ask yourself if you have fallen in love with a belief system about Christ or have truly fallen in love with Christ Himself. Because there is a difference.

          • KaraB

            I had a feeling you would say something about that quote and I’m glad you did. Here’s my problem with your thinking: you draw false dichotomies. Either I must love the Church or I love Christ. Wrong. I love Christ’s Bride and I love Christ Himself. Love is not a zero-sum game.

            Corruption has, sadly, always been a part of the church. Saints like Cyprian fought against it. It’s our job to constantly fight it, not to abandon the church in her time of need. I think the fact that corruption exists is a solid argument for staying in the church rather than leaving it. I believe there is a reason Jesus chose Judas. Jesus knew he would betray him, yet it was in his providence to have him as an apostle anyway. There are still Judas’ among us. Let us fight with solidarity!

            Look at the context of that quote! He’s talking about the importance and beauty of the unity of the church. It’s not as if there were no corrupt people in the Church during St. Cyprian’s day, so clearly he talks about purity in spite of the corruption. Unity is worth fighting for.

            I believe in the promises of Christ. I believe that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. You’re right about one thing: there is a difference between the two, and the difference is that your tradition slanders Christ’s bride and broke away from her. We all have traditions, Jane. Deny it if you will.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Kara, I think what it comes down to is that your definition of church is so different than mine. While you identify true believers as those who are obedient to the catholic church, we identify them as those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. Peter described them as “those whom God has called out of the world and “into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) That light being Christ. This is what unites us.

            Are all protestants born of God’s Spirit? Of course not. Just as you were borderline atheist in a protestant upbringing, so church attendance does not always lead to being born again.

            In past posts you have asked how do we really know that we belong to God. The Biblical answer is by His Spirit. “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us, it is because He has given us His Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

            Are we scattered physically? Yes. Do we know one another when we meet? Absolutely! We share and recognize the same beautiful spirit of Christ and testify to the same grace we’ve received.

            I’m sorry to say that I don’t find that in my catholic relatives and friends. Oh, they’re devoted to going to mass and some are scholars of doctrine, but if you speak of Christ in tender terms, they glaze over and change the subject. They’ve been to church, punched the clock and are good for the week.

            My point is that unity is by the Spirit, not the pew. I for one am grateful that God has revealed salvation, “not to the wise and learned, but to little children, for yes that was God’s good pleasure.”

          • KaraB

            Even if you have this view of apostolic succession: when did the Pope ever use his primacy to declare dogma that bothers you outside of the 19th and 20th century? Even if you don’t believe in the primacy of Peter, you should be in an orthodox church.

            The part of not declaring himself “bishop among bishops” is about setting up false popes. All popes are elected, one could not declare themselves pope. Hope this helps.

          • ScottG

            Thank you Jane, I was at work when I responded to Kara earlier today and did not have the full quote before me. The one you cited is precisely the one I had in mind. Rest assured, however, it will not convince those who have been subjected to Rome’s carnal but ever so intoxicating theological strongholds.

            It is interesting that Kara has employed the very same tactic that her Roman predecessors have done–selective quoting and the like. Don’t they realize we can no longer be hoodwinked by this strategy? And when you call her on it… “oh well, sorry I didn’t feel like typing it all out…” Hmmm, why does this sound so familiar to me?

            The beauty of debunking RC mythology is that it’s really quite simple to do. In light of their lofty claims and incessant theological overreach (I’m being as nice as I can here), we really only have to cite one instance of this disjointed thinking and behavior to prove our point. “We shall know them by their fruits” and we have over 1500 years of RC fruit to examine… I’m sorry to say that for the most part it stinks to high heaven!

          • KaraB

            Read the whole quote in context. In fact, read the whole work. I took nothing out that changes the meaning of my selections. Shorting a quote is valid and I’ve done it many times on many different academic papers. Your sad attempt to discredit the quote and your sad attempt to rewrite history will not work. Sorry. Like you said, history speaks for itself. We know what St. Cyprian believed.

          • ScottG

            Selective quoting is fine Kara when you are writing a position paper, not so much when you are discussing biblical truth and the issue at hand pivots on your omission of this very salient point. Here is the difference between our disparate interpretations. The part you quoted does not prove that Peter’s primacy gives him full authority to lead the universal catholic church. Peter’s confession of “Thou art the Christ” is of such significance that it elevates his standing to one of primacy, and rightfully so because his example of faith becomes the gold standard for all Christians who would follow suit and make this same confession for him or herself.

            That is the protestant perspective, as I’m sure you are aware. I can’t prove this interpretation definitively, any more than you can prove that Christ intended the church to be built on the person of Peter (despite how odd this sounds when you take into account the entire body of scriptures). You at least have to agree that there is room for interpretation here, as well as with Cyprian’s work.

            With respect to the quote that Jane and I referenced, there is no ambiguity there whatsoever. Go back and read it and see if you can make this distinction. If you have studied church history as you say you have, I’m sure you know that Luther was not the first to question Rome’s interpretation of Matthew 16.

            RC apologists have the unenviable position of having to defend so many convoluted and spurious claims, it’s no wonder you (and they) have to resort to selective quoting, restricting access, torture, punishment, even human inferno back in the day. This is the fate that dissenters of Rome deserve to meet, all in the name of Christ so they say (wink, wink). Sorry it just does not compute, “we shall know them by their fruits” and neither Christ nor His Holy Spirit would act in such an insidious manner. Please don’t be fooled, it’s really as simple as that!

          • KaraB

            But that’s what we’re doing, Scott. This is essentially a position paper. Only shorter. I am selectively quoting: I’m writing a post, not a book. What do you expect? You’re selectively quoting too. I will repeat myself: the quote I chose accurately reflected the whole and took nothing out of context. Please, anyone, go read it. You might not like it, you might disagree with the all the early church fathers if you so choose, but what they are saying is not unclear.

            Of course Luther didn’t invent schisms and new interpretations of the scriptures. Satan did, and the church has been fighting them since the first generation of Christians. Of course Christ is the authority that all popes submit to. He is God; the object of our worship.

            Your dismal knowledge of history does you no credit. Have bad people done bad things in the name of Christ and his church? Sadly, yes. Will people continue to bad things in the name of Christ and his church? Sadly, yes. Do things diminish the extraordinary good that has come from the church in the last 2,000 years? Definitely not. Any fair examination of history proves this.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Kara, I can’t help but notice that you speak as if the early church fathers were all authoritative and inspired. They were not, no more than Luther was. Early writings can be beneficial, but even then they must be carefully weighed against the whole of scripture.

          • KaraB

            I do believe that the early church father’s were inspired. Infallible? No, but they were men of God inspired by the truth. They also teach us what the historical church believed. You can be a protestant, but you cannot take the early church fathers with you. They don’t agree with you.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Kara, but isn’t it worth noting that the early church fathers wrote according to the truth they had at the time? In other words, they did not have all the NT writings at their disposal at their respective times.

            Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Irenaeus and Hippolytus referred to having anywhere from 8-22 NT writings over their period of time from 95-235 A.D. One of the books receiving the most controversy was Hebrews which wasn’t even included as authoritative until 170 A.D (the Muratorian Canon). I’m thinking that Hebrews would have corrected a lot of their thinking towards their effort to reestablish the priestly order!

            My point is to not discredit the early church fathers, but to point out that without all the NT writings, there would room for error. One of the gifts of having the Bible is that we now have the means to correct any errors made by human transmission. The catholic church however chose not to correct those errors, but to manipulate scripture to retain them. And that is a tragedy.

          • ScottG

            Kara, you have to be careful here as the same “satanic” force can be applied to Romanism. You say that “Luther didn’t invent schisms and new interpretations of the scriptures. Satan did…” Rome’s doctrine of development has done precisely that–invent new interpretations. This is especially concerning when you consider their *apparent* motives in light of the particulars involved.

            You are also proving my point as you continue to employ to same tired Roman tactics. Attempts to shame, blame and outright insult me do nothing but reflect on your desperation to push the Roman agenda. Let’s just agree to disagree here and move on. One thing we can agree on (I sincerely hope), is that as Christians our primary objective should be to bring the light of Christ out into the world–not to insult one another in cyberspace. Peace be with you and may God shine light for your path on your daily walk with Him.

          • That is laughable since Constantine moved his court to um Constantine. So if anything the east church was affected by the emperors meddling. As can be seen by the Arian controversy. The western church was ignored by Constantine as the west was not important to him. In fact if it wasn’t for Rome and Alexandria the whole Christian church would turn Arian as most of the east fell into herecy. It was Alexandria and Rome which saved Christianity from bible only Arians.

          • ScottG

            Not quite Matthew (or is it Mary??). The imperial palace was quite far from Rome in a city called Nicomedia, not very far from Nicea, in modern Turkey. Later, Constantine would build the city of Constantinople and live there. There is nor ever was a city know as “Constantine” (to my knowledge at least). Nonetheless, Constantine was… well, he was emperor of the entire “Holy Roman Empire.” He was dead before the barbarians sacked the western half of the empire in the 5th century which is when things ran even further amok… shall I go on or do you think you can connect the dots from here?

          • KaraB

            Pope Benedict XVI “Luther’s expression sola fide is true if faith is not opposed to charity, to love” (Wednesday Audience, Nov. 19, 2008).

      • KaraB

        I’m wondering where exactly you find the doctrine of sola fide in these men’s writings? Because I’ve read most of them and I cannot find them.

        You would also think that Luther would refer to them in order to validate his position, but so far as I know, he does not. Now, I have not read everything Luther has written, but I have read most of what he wrote pre and immediately post-conversion, so I would be curious to find out if I am wrong on this point.

        Luther did not think that Augustine of Hippo taught sola fide, in fact regarding Augustine he says, “It was Augustine’s view that…if the Holy Spirit assists, the works of the law do justify…I reply by saying “No”. (Luther’s Works 54, 10).

        • Calvin quotes St. Bernard but as often is the case he does so very selectively. St. Bernard’s wiki page has a link to Calvin’s quotes.

  • tovlogos

    Thanks, Nathan — that was excellent. Where I didn’t know the writer, I thought it too good to be true that you would actually add a Scripture and verse example.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    What beautiful and encouraging quotes. I couldn’t help but notice how many of them included the word “justified,” and I was reminded of Romans 5:1 that says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    I then looked up the Greek word for justified and it meant, “To render innocent, free, holy and righteous.” What an incredible gift and an incredible God we serve!

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