May 16, 2013

The Church Fathers & Sola Scriptura

by Nathan Busenitz

Gregory_of_NyssaArius was arguably the most notorious heretic of the early church.

Though Arius’ heretical views were soundly condemned by the Council of Nicaea (in A.D. 325), the controversy he sparked raged for another fifty years throughout the Roman Empire. During those tumultuous decades, the defenders of Trinitarian orthodoxy often found themselves outnumbered and out of favor with the imperial court. Yet they refused to compromise.

Among them, most famously, stood Athanasius of Alexandria—exiled on five different occasions for his unwavering commitment to the truth. He was joined by the Cappadocian Fathers: Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzas, and Gregory of Nyssa.

But how did these early Christian leaders know that the doctrine they were defending was, in fact, a truth worth fighting for? How did they know that they were right and the Arians were wrong? Was it on the basis of oral tradition, a previous church council, or an edict from the bishop of Rome?

No.

They defended the truth by appealing to the Scriptures.

Gregory of Nyssa makes that point explicit in a letter to Eustathius. The Arians claimed that their tradition (or “custom”) did not allow for the Trinitarian position. Gregory responded with the following:

What then is our reply? We do not think that it is right to make their prevailing custom the law and rule of sound doctrine. For if custom is to avail for proof of soundness, we too, surely, may advance our prevailing custom; and if they reject this, we are surely not bound to follow theirs. Let the inspired Scripture, then, be our umpire, and the vote of truth will surely be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words. (Dogmatic Treatises, Book 12. On the Trinity, To Eustathius.)

When Arian custom ran contrary to Trinitarian custom, to what authority did Gregory appeal? The Scriptures.

As Gregory rightly understood, Scripture is a higher authority than tradition. That is why he appealed to the Word of God as the final arbiter in the debate over Arianism.

In so doing, Gregory provides a vivid illustration of the principle of sola Scriptura, twelve centuries before the Reformation. Of course, Gregory was not the only church father who shared in that conviction.

Here is a short list of eight other church fathers who shared Gregory’s perspective on the authority of Scripture. (Many more similar citations could be added to this list, but this is more than enough for a single blog post.)

1. Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202)

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

2. Tertullian of Carthage (c. 160–235) [in defending the truth of the Trinity against the heretic Praxeas:]

It will be your duty, however, to adduce your proofs out of the Scriptures as plainly as we do, when we prove that He made His Word a Son to Himself. . . . All the Scriptures attest the clear existence of, and distinction in (the Persons of) the Trinity, and indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith. (Against Praxeas, 11)

3. Hippolytus (d. 235)

There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source. For just as a man if he wishes to be skilled in the wisdom of this world will find himself unable to get at it in any other way than by mastering the dogmas of philosophers, so all of us who wish to practice piety will be unable to learn its practice from any quarter than the oracles of God. Whatever things then the Holy Scriptures declare, at these let us look; and whatsoever things they teach these let us learn. (Against Heresies, 9)

4. Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339)

What they [the heretics] say might be plausible, if first of all the Divine Scriptures did not contradict them. . . . They have treated the Divine Scriptures recklessly and without fear. They have set aside the rule of ancient faith; and Christ they have not known. They do not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scriptures declare, but strive laboriously after any form of syllogism which may be devised to sustain their impiety. And if any one brings before them a passage of Divine Scripture, they see whether a conjunctive or disjunctive form of syllogism can be made from it. And as being of the earth and speaking of the earth, and as ignorant of him who cometh from above, they forsake the holy writings of God to devote themselves to geometry. Euclid is laboriously measured by some of them; and Aristotle and Theophrastus are admired; and Galen, perhaps, by some is even worshiped. But that those who use the arts of unbelievers for their heretical opinions and adulterate the simple faith of the Divine Scriptures by the craft of the godless are far from the faith, what need is there to say? (Church History, 5.28.4, 13–15)

5. Athanasius of Alexandria (296–373) [After outlining the books of the Bible, Athanasius wrote:]

These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.’ (Festal Letter 39, 6–7)

6. Cyril of Jerusalem (315–386) [After defending the doctrine of the Holy Spirit]:

We ought not to deliver even the most casual remark without the Holy Scriptures: nor be drawn aside by mere probabilities and the artifices of argument. Do not then believe me because I tell thee these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures…Let us then speak nothing concerning the Holy Ghost but what is written; and if anything be not written, let us not busy ourselves about it. The Holy Ghost Himself spoke the Scriptures; He has also spoken concerning Himself as much as He pleased, or as much as we could receive. Be those things therefore spoken, which He has said; for whatsoever He has not said, we dare not say. (Catechetical Lectures, 4.17ff)

7. John Chrysostom (344–407)

Let us not therefore carry about the notions of the many, but examine into the facts. For how is it not absurd that in respect to money, indeed, we do not trust to others, but refer this to figures and calculation; but in calculating upon facts we are lightly drawn aside by the notions of others; and that too, though we possess an exact balance, and square and rule for all things, the declaration of the divine laws? Wherefore I exhort and entreat you all, disregard what this man and that man thinks about these things, and inquire from the Scriptures all these things; and having learnt what are the true riches, let us pursue after them that we may obtain also the eternal good things; which may we all obtain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.” (Homily on 2 Corinthians, 13.4)

8. Augustine of Hippo (354–430)

Whereas, therefore, in every question, which relates to life and conduct, not only teaching, but exhortation also is necessary; in order that by teaching we may know what is to be done, and by exhortation may be incited not to think it irksome to do what we already know is to be done; what more can I teach you, than what we read in the Apostle? For holy Scripture establishes a rule to our teaching, that we dare not “be wiser than we ought;” but be wise, as he himself says, “unto soberness, according as unto each God hath allotted the measure of faith.” Be it not therefore for me to teach you any other thing, save to expound to you the words of the Teacher, and to treat of them as the Lord shall have given to me. (The Good of Widowhood, 2)

Augustine (again) [Noting that Scripture ought to be interpreted through the lens of other Scripture]

In all these books those who fear God and are of a meek and pious disposition seek the will of God. And in pursuing this search the first rule to be observed is, as I said, to know these books, if not yet with the understanding, still to read them so as to commit them to memory, or at least so as not to remain wholly ignorant of them. Next, those matters that are plainly laid down in them, whether rules of life or rules of faith, are to be searched into more carefully and more diligently; and the more of these a man discovers, the more capacious does his understanding become. For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life, —to wit, hope and love, of which I have spoken in the previous book. After this, when we have made ourselves to a certain extent familiar with the language of Scripture, we may proceed to open up and investigate the obscure passages, and in doing so draw examples from the plainer expressions to throw light upon the more obscure, and use the evidence of passages about which there is no doubt to remove all hesitation in regard to the doubtful passages. (On Christian Doctrine, 2.9)

Clearly, the doctrine of sola Scriptura was championed by Christian leaders long before the Reformation.

Those interested in studying this topic in more detail will benefit from William Webster’s in-depth treatment, found here.

 

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.
  • http://www.facebook.com/mattng110 Matthew Daniel Ng

    I would read this more closely, but I think I’ll wait for full version in your lecture tomorrow/friday! ha!

    But seriously, great material as always.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mjtarr Matt Tarr

    “Scripture is a higher authority than tradition.” Absolutely!!! Thanks for the really helpful post Nathan!

  • Caleb

    However, we cannot deny that oral tradition is still important and binding. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 shows Paul commending churches for obeying both written and oral teaching. And without Church tradition, we wouldn’t know upon what Scriptura we are bound to. However, I agree that all teachings must fall in line with the Bible (which I trust the church correctly formulated).

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      Hey Caleb. Thanks for your comment. I hope Nate will offer a response a bit later, but I just wanted to respond to you initially.

      First, 2 Thess 2:15 says, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” The “letter” was obviously referring to the teachings/traditions handed down in Scripture. But the traditions that the Thessalonians were taught by spoken word were apostolic instructions — authoritative declarations given from the Lord’s particular representatives. When the Apostle John died, “oral tradition” died with him, as there are no Apostles after that point. At the close of the first century, “Apostolic tradition” is limited to what is found in Scripture.

      The second part of your comment raises The Question of Canonicity. Put simply, the church did not establish the canon. The church merely recognized the canon based upon whether it was written under the authority of Christ’s apostolic representatives. As Mark Dever says, “God’s people have never created God’s Word. From the very beginning God’s Word has always created His people.”

      I hope that’s helpful to you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tony.jiang.37 Tony Jiang

        Hold on a minute how do I know this guy isn’t taking all these quotes out of context? Because I’ve seen Catholics and Orthodoxes say that you are taken these quotes out of context, and if these men did really believe in sola scripta why did the Catholic Church make then “doctors of the church” and as well saints that you pray to? Shouldn’t the RC have repressed the writings of those men

      • gerald

        So before John died the Apostles didn’t practice what they preached? How did everyone know that when John died there would be no more oral transmission of the truth? I am afraid your answer is just a protestant bias and does not really delve in to the question of this major flaw of sola scriptura. The scriptures were not readily available in AD 70, were not bound in to a book until around 350, and were not readily available for another 1500 years really. Your understanding of Catholic teaching on the matter is quite flawed. It fits history far better than the explanation of sola scriptura. Sorry. No offense I hope.

        • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

          Hi Gerald. Thanks for stopping by.

          So before John died the Apostles didn’t practice what they preached?

          I’m not sure I follow you here, but it seems like you’re saying since the Apostles practiced “oral tradition,” they weren’t practicing “Sola Scriptura.” Is that right?

          If so, I would just say that the Apostles understood the time of transition they were living in. With the coming of Israel’s Messiah, they had broken in to the last days (Ac 2:17). The Old Covenant had passed away and become obsolete (Heb 8:13), and a New Covenant, with a new, Melchizedekian preisthood was coming into force (Heb 7:11-12), and with that new priesthood New Covenant revelation was being given (Heb 7:12). The new spiritual house that was Christ’s church (Eph 2:19) was just beginning to be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20). When that foundation was laid after God had disclosed His final revelation through His Apostles, that authoritative, apostolic revelation became the sole infallible authority for the Christian’s faith and practice.

          How did everyone know that when John died there would be no more oral transmission of the truth?

          Well, let’s be careful here. Of course there was and is oral transmission of the truth, insofar as anyone ever accurately handles and proclaims the Scriptures.

          What I’m saying is that when there were no more Apostles, there was no one who could repeat Paul’s words about “spoken-word tradition” in 2 Thess 2:15, because Apostolic authority (apart from what is contained in Scripture) ceased with the Apostles. So, people knew that there would be no more Apostolic oral tradition (again, apart from what had been contained in the Scriptures) because there were no more Apostles.

          The scriptures were not readily available in AD 70, were not bound in to a book until around 350, and were not readily available for another 1500 years really.

          Certainly some Scriptures were available in AD 70, as Paul can identify Luke’s gospel as Scripture (1 Tim 5:18) and Peter can identify Paul’s letters as Scripture (2 Pet 3:16). Both of those letters were written in the early- to mid-60s, and John doesn’t go to heaven until the mid- to late-90s.

          Whether or not the Scriptures were bound in a book is irrelevant to their canonicity and authority. And whether they were or were not readily available throughout the years of the Roman Catholic Church’s dominance (incidentally, partly because the RCC decided only the priests should be allowed to interpret the Scriptures and considered it a crime to have God’s Word translated into the language of the people), while a tragic crime on the part of those who would have called themselves Christians, also has nothing to do with the canonicity and authority of those 66 books. They were authoritative as soon as the “men moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21) put their pen to papyrus.

          On this issue, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Nate’s post: The Question of Canonicity.”

          Given all this, I would say the “Protestant” understanding of sola Scriptura actually fits history, and the Bible, quite well.

          • gerald

            You only partially get my point about the apostles practicing what they preach. Maybe I should have said “praciticed what they wrote”. Your words actually betray sola scriptura if you are saying what I think you are saying. You are not taking a hard line sola scripturist viewpoint but your view is just as problematic. What you are telling me is that the Apostles practiced oral tradition and that went away when John died. My point then is how could the scriptures say “sola scriptura” while the apostles were practicing oral apostolic tradition. I.e. If the Bible said Sola Scriptura and they were preaching Sola Scriptura while practicing Apostolic tradition they were violating scripture. If the Bible does not say Sola Scriptura, then they were being consistent with what they were preaching. But if you go with this, it is problematic because you are saying that scripture contains every doctrine except the doctrine of sola scriptura. You do see a problem here I hope? I’ve read Nate’s post as well and it is lacking.

          • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

            I don’t think that I’m betraying sola Scriptura with my comment. Perhaps your understanding of the doctrine is lacking, and you think it to be something that it isn’t.

            Your explanation of the Apostles “contradicting” themselves leads me to believe that I understood you in the first place. That’s what I thought you were saying. Given that, I think my comments about the transition period in which God was giving new revelation consonant with the ushering in of the New Covenant and the new spiritual house that is the Church, were the way that I’d respond to such an objection.

            My point then is how could the scriptures say “sola scriptura” while the apostles were practicing oral apostolic tradition.

            The Scriptures could make a provision that when the Apostles die, the only infallible source of authority for the Church is now in Scripture. They could say that when the foundation of the church was laid upon the Apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20), new revelation from God had ceased and the finality of God’s Word in the 66 books He’d revealed through His servants were utterly sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4).

  • http://nateoliver.wordpress.com/ Nate Oliver

    As usual, great post.

  • Caleb

    Yes. I understand that and I wouldn’t advocate for the Catholic understanding of the fact that they can add extra stuff because of apostolic succession. However, the mention that not all of John’s teachings were contained in his epistles but were authoritative gives credence to continuing of Apostolic teaching. I realize that this is rough because the books we have (again good point on my poor word choice, that the Church recognized their canonicity) are in the Bible. But early church fathers who were able to teach the trinity defended apostolic teaching through the grid of Scripture, although the oral teaching of the trinity was probably more concise or at least addressed more pointedly than scripture. But I agree since we do not have apostles we must filter everything through scripture but we cannot deny the role of historical church teaching (tradition not as something we just do all the time but to doctrine). Thanks for helping me balance out a bit

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      Thanks for clarifying.

      But I’m still having a hard time understanding how to distinguish your view from what Nate presented in the post. How does your understanding of the relationship of Scripture and tradition (and their respective authority) work out in practice? Are you simply advocating for “Tradition I” over against
      “Tradition 0″?

      • Caleb Boston

        I think that is a nice way to sum it up :) we must give some credence to tradition because if we don’t, then we won’t have an agreed upon Bible. So yes tradition 1 vs. tradition 0.

        • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

          I would definitely agree with the fact that we must give some credence to tradition, but I would just want to emphasize that tradition has a ministerial role while Scripture has a magisterial role. Scripture is the sole infallible authority for the Christian’s faith and practice, and while tradition should surely act as a guide and as a check, we should never even approach thinking of the two as “equally ultimate” authorities.

          But if I were you, I wouldn’t make that argument from the 2 Thess 2:15 and 3:6, and the existence of Apostolic oral tradition before the closing of the canon, primarily because the canon is closed now and we’d be comparing apples to oranges. Instead, I would make that argument simply from the priesthood of all believers (cf. 1 Pet 2:9), and the fact that the Spirit has indwelt and guided and used all believers throughout history (cf., e.g., Rom 8:9). We want to be sensitive to history and tradition because we’re aware of the fact that we’re not the first generation of Christians to whom the Spirit has illumined the Word, and so 21st century American Evangelicals can learn from 200 year-old Anglicans like J. C. Ryle and 450 year-old Presbyterians like John Knox, and 1500+ year-old church fathers like Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Iranaeus, Ignatius, and others, insofar as they agree with Scripture.

  • Gerald

    I am afraid that arguing from scripture does not disprove that tradition or Roman Primacy. The Arians believed in arguing from scripture also. As a Catholic I fully believe in defending truth with scripture. But not scripture alone. To understand the Church Fathers you have to look at ALL of their statements. For example you use Irenaus as an example of Sola Scriptura. But he also says:

    “But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord”

    Thus he makes it clear that there is a tradition that goes hand in hand with scripture just as St. Paul makes clear in his letter to the thessalonians “Hold fast to the Traditions you have received whether BY WORD OF MOUTH or in writing from us”. It is to be noted that scripture itself is a tradition. Also in 2 Tim 2:2 Paul speaks of this handing on of the correct teachings and the handoff is clearly oral. “What you have HEARD….” teach to others who will teach to others is the paraphrase.

    I could go through each of your attempts at having the fathers support your belief and maybe will later. But you are incorrect in your assessment that they placed scripture over tradition. Nor did they place tradition over scripture. It is not either or.

    I will make one point which I would like you to address. In the years 33-50 or so NO NT scripture was written. And it was not complete until 40-60 years later. So how could the apostles have practiced what they preached at least in that 33-50 year range. Was John 3:16 not necessary for salvation in those years? Or did everyone have a pocket apostle with them? Was there a moment when Sola Scriptura came in to effect so that everyone new, well the Apostles were spreading things by word of mouth but now we go by scripture alone. I really think the doctrine of sola scriptura does not stand up at all to a true analysis of the times.

    • Nate_Busenitz

      Hi Gerald,

      Thanks for your comment. Regrettably, I don’t have time today to interact much in the comments section of this article. However, William Webster’s article addresses Irenaeus’s use of “tradition.” I think you will find it helpful. Here is that link:

      http://www.christiantruth.com/scriptureandchurchfathers.html

      Also, in Against Heresies (3.4.2), Irenaeus identified the content of apostolic tradtion:

      “[T]he ancient tradition [is] believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent.”
      That is what Irenaeus meant when he spoke of “tradition.” It consists of biblical truths.
      Hope that helps,
      Nathan

      • Gerald

        I am quite familiar with William Webster and at some point in the past have read that article. Maybe I will reread it later. If I had a bit more time I would search for an article by a Catholic who understands Catholic teaching (Webster is a very poor source) who refutes him quite throughly. Webster is not a good source of Catholic teaching.

        Where does Irenaus use the word Bible or scripture in this passage? Did Paul also mean “biblical truths” in 2 Thes 2:16 when he said “WORD OF MOUTH” or does Irenaus go by a different tradition than Paul? If he does then it is not a biblical truth. The fact is that I can defend ALL Catholic traditional teaching from scripture. It is at least implicit in scripture. Tradition makes what is implicit in scripture explicit. So I agree that tradition does not conflict with the Bible if that is what you mean by “biblical truths”.

        I know you are busy. I thank you for the time you have given my posts.

  • gerald

    Here are some quotes from Augustine that show that this article is flawed as well. Also that he appealed to Rome in his dispute with the Pelagians and on the Canon with Jerome is problematic for this article’s claims about him.

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

    “But the admonition that he [Cyprian] gives us, ‘that we should go back to the fountain, that is, to Apostolic Tradition, and thence turn the channel of truth to our times,’ is most excellent, and should be followed without hesitation” (ibid., 5:26[37]).

    “But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the Apostles themselves or by plenary [ecumenical] councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church” (Letter to Januarius [A.D. 400]).

    • Nate_Busenitz

      Hi Gerald,

      Thanks for these quotes from Augustine. Regretably, I don’t have time today to interact with you in great detail on these things. However, I believe William Webster’s article (linked to in my post) will sufficiently answer your objects. Here is that link again:

      http://www.christiantruth.com/scriptureandchurchfathers.html

      Augustine taught that councils can err, and that all of the church’s teachings that originated after the apostolic period were subject to the authority of Scripture.
      Thanks!
      Nathan

  • http://www.facebook.com/allan.altschuler Allan B Altschuler

    general question??The Gospel of John 1:12 states that “we become-Sons of God- some early church fathers,ie: St Athanasius spoke of becoming divine…contradiction? as we become Children of God..

  • Pingback: Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That (Week in review) 17 May 2013 | Truth2Freedom's Blog

  • DelawareMom

    Regarding sola scriptura, I will quote Jennifer Fulwiler, who says it well: “… it seemed that the notion that the Bible was the main way to know
    God would be fundamentally unfair to people who were illiterate or had
    poor reading-comprehension skills—a concerning proposition considering
    that the printing press and widespread literacy are relatively recent
    phenomena.” Not everyone owned a Bible, nor could most people read it until the last few hundred years.

    Ireneaus also said:
    “The tradition of the Apostles has been made manifest throughout the
    world, and can be found in every Church by those who wish to know the
    truth.”~ Irenaeus,writing about A.D. 189, on how the unity of
    the Church was based on the Apostolic Tradition everywhere handed down.

    And I will quote Patrick Madrid here concerning St. Cyril:
    Catholic patristic scholars would point out that such language as Cyril uses here is consistent with his and the other Fathers’ high view of Scripture’s authority and
    with what is sometimes called its material sufficiency (more on
    that shortly). This language, while perhaps more rigorously
    biblical than some modern Catholics are used to, nonetheless
    conveys an accurate sense of Catholic teaching on the importance
    of Scripture. Even taken at face value, Cyril’s admonition poses
    no problem for the Catholic. But it does, ironically, for the
    Protestant.

    The proponent of is faced with a dilemma when he
    attempts to use Cyril’s quote. Option One: If Cyril was in fact
    teaching , Protestants have a big problem. Cyril’s
    are filled with his forceful teachings on
    the infallible teaching office of the Catholic Church (18:23), the
    Mass as a sacrifice (23:6-8), the concept of purgatory and the
    efficacy of expiatory prayers for the dead (23:10), the Real
    Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (19:7; 21:3; 22:1-9), the
    theology of sacraments (1:3), the intercession of the saints
    (23:9), holy orders (23:2), the importance of frequent Communion
    (23:23), baptismal regeneration (1:1-3; 3:10-12; 21:3-4), indeed a
    staggering array of specifically “Catholic” doctrines.
    Basil of Cesarea also said:
    “Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or
    enjoined which are preserved in the Church, some we possess
    derived from written teaching; others we have delivered to us in a
    mystery by the apostles by the tradition of the apostles; and both
    of these in relation to true religion have the same force” (, 27).http://www.ewtn.com/library/scriptur/solascri.txt

    One must take all of the writing in context to understand the truth the author had in mind.

  • DelawareMom

    It seems to me that if you are going to quote the early Church fathers on one topic, you must agree with them on everything else, such as the Real Presence, purgatory, intercession of the saints, etc. It isn’t right to just pick and choose. Either all in or all out.

    Here are a couple of things you may have never read:
    Cyril of Jerusalem:
    “Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep:
    first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through
    their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we
    make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already
    fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already
    fallen asleep, for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to
    the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy
    and most solemn sacrifice is laid out” (Catechetical Lectures 23:5:9 [A.D. 350]).
    And:
    “Therefore with fullest assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of
    Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to thee His Body, and in the figure of Wine
    His Blood; that thou by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, mightest be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are diffused through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, (we become partaker of the divine nature.) [2 Peter 1:4]-”Catechetical Lectures [22 (Mystagogic 4), 3]

    Gregory of Nyssa:
    “If a man distinguish in himself what is peculiarly human from that
    which is irrational, and if he be on the watch for a life of greater
    urbanity for himself, in this present life he will purify himself of any
    evil contracted, overcoming the irrational by reason. If he has
    inclined to the irrational pressure of the passions, using for the
    passions the cooperating hide of things irrational, he may afterward in a
    quite different manner be very much interested in what is better, when,
    after his departure out of the body, he gains knowledge of the
    difference between virtue and vice and finds that he is not able to
    partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in
    his soul by the purifying fire” (Sermon on the Dead [A.D. 3

    ST. ATHANASIUS :
    St. Athanasius was born in Alexandria ca. 295 A.D. He was ordained a deacon
    in 319 A.D. He accompanied his bishop, Alexander, to the Council of Nicaea,
    where he served as his secretary. Eventually he succeeded Alexander as Bishop
    of Alexandria. He is most known for defending Nicene doctrine against Arian
    disputes.,

    “‘The great Athanasius in his sermon to the newly baptized says this:’
    You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them
    on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not
    been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers
    have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood,
    of our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘And again:’ Let us approach the celebration of the
    mysteries. This bread and this wine, so long as the prayers and supplications
    have not taken place, remain simply what they are. But after the great prayers
    and holy supplications have been sent forth, the Word comes down into the bread
    and wine – and thus His Body is confected.”,
    -”Sermon to the Newly Baptized” ante 373
    A.D.
    http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/father/a5.html#cyril

    But back to sola scriptura, let’s not forget that Jesus did many other things not written in the Scriptures. (John 20:30; 21:25 )
    These have been preserved through the oral apostolic tradition and they are
    equally a part of the Deposit of Faith.

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