The Early Church Fathers

dberrie2020

Well-known member
Lutherans and the Early Church Fathers---https://lutheranreformation.org/history/lutherans-early-church-fathers/

"These men taught and wrote throughout the Roman Empire: from Judea to England; from northern Africa to Italy and Asia Minor. They are the leading teachers of the whole Church throughout the first eight centuries of Christian history, and the Lutherans claim them as their fathers in the faith.

One of the main reasons a child turns to his father is to find help and guidance. When the Lutherans quoted an Early Church father they were not merely staying connected to the past. They were in a fight over pure doctrine. So, as they drew their teaching from Scripture, they also turned to their fathers for help in the arguments with the Roman Church and with the radical protestants."

How significant do Lutherans feel the Early Church Fathers were in reinforcing their theology?
 

dberrie2020

Well-known member
Lutherans and the Early Church Fathers---https://lutheranreformation.org/history/lutherans-early-church-fathers/

"These men taught and wrote throughout the Roman Empire: from Judea to England; from northern Africa to Italy and Asia Minor. They are the leading teachers of the whole Church throughout the first eight centuries of Christian history, and the Lutherans claim them as their fathers in the faith.

One of the main reasons a child turns to his father is to find help and guidance. When the Lutherans quoted an Early Church father they were not merely staying connected to the past. They were in a fight over pure doctrine. So, as they drew their teaching from Scripture, they also turned to their fathers for help in the arguments with the Roman Church and with the radical protestants."

How significant do Lutherans feel the Early Church Fathers were in reinforcing their theology?
Bump for Lutherans
 

BJ Bear

Active member
Lutherans and the Early Church Fathers---https://lutheranreformation.org/history/lutherans-early-church-fathers/

"These men taught and wrote throughout the Roman Empire: from Judea to England; from northern Africa to Italy and Asia Minor. They are the leading teachers of the whole Church throughout the first eight centuries of Christian history, and the Lutherans claim them as their fathers in the faith.

One of the main reasons a child turns to his father is to find help and guidance. When the Lutherans quoted an Early Church father they were not merely staying connected to the past. They were in a fight over pure doctrine. So, as they drew their teaching from Scripture, they also turned to their fathers for help in the arguments with the Roman Church and with the radical protestants."

How significant do Lutherans feel the Early Church Fathers were in reinforcing their theology?
The question doesn't reflect the quote. They were of secondary use, that is, they were employed in argument with the papacy and others.
 

dberrie2020

Well-known member
They were of secondary use, that is, they were employed in argument with the papacy and others.

Then--how reliable do did the Lutherans feel their testimonies were?

-https://lutheranreformation.org/history/lutherans-early-church-fathers/

"These men taught and wrote throughout the Roman Empire: from Judea to England; from northern Africa to Italy and Asia Minor. They are the leading teachers of the whole Church throughout the first eight centuries of Christian history, and the Lutherans claim them as their fathers in the faith.

One of the main reasons a child turns to his father is to find help and guidance. When the Lutherans quoted an Early Church father they were not merely staying connected to the past. They were in a fight over pure doctrine. So, as they drew their teaching from Scripture, they also turned to their fathers for help in the arguments with the Roman Church and with the radical protestants."
 

BJ Bear

Active member
Then--how reliable do did the Lutherans feel their testimonies were?

-https://lutheranreformation.org/history/lutherans-early-church-fathers/

"These men taught and wrote throughout the Roman Empire: from Judea to England; from northern Africa to Italy and Asia Minor. They are the leading teachers of the whole Church throughout the first eight centuries of Christian history, and the Lutherans claim them as their fathers in the faith.

One of the main reasons a child turns to his father is to find help and guidance. When the Lutherans quoted an Early Church father they were not merely staying connected to the past. They were in a fight over pure doctrine. So, as they drew their teaching from Scripture, they also turned to their fathers for help in the arguments with the Roman Church and with the radical protestants."
The argument with Rome and others was often framed both ways in terms of novelty. Novelty at one time in church history was an indicator of heresy. The ecf were used to demonstrate that there was no novelty involved.
 

rakovsky

Active member
Then--how reliable do did the Lutherans feel their testimonies were?
The EO, RC, Anglican, and Methodist churches openly consider Tradition to be a major source of doctrine and of Biblical interpretation. AFAIK, Those churches would probably all rank the Bible as the highest in terms of authority. Maybe many RCs would rank the Bible and the Papacy or Councils as equal to the Bible, but I am not sure because I'm not an RC.

With Lutherans, there is respect for the views of the Church fathers. But Luther had this emphasis on taking the Bible's meaning alone as opposed to taking the meaning that theologians before him had interpreted in the Bible. And this had advantages and IMO disadvantages. The advantage was that IMO the Catholic Church was teaching certain mistakes (eg. papal supremacy) and the Bible did not really teach those mistakes.

The disadvantage of Luther's "Sola Scriptura" approach was that the Bible was not "perspicacious" or "self-evident" in its meaning. It should be noted that Luther himself did not claim that the Bible was always obvious in its meaning AFAIK, even though some later non-Lutheran Protestants have made claims that sound like this. The result of this disadvantage is that sometimes Luther seemed to recommend putting aside Biblical Commentaries like those of the Church Fathers, but other times he said to use them. (I am an ex-Lutheran with a fondness for Lutheranism).

The Lutherans as a result, like most Protestants, did not really have a clear place for the role of the Fathers when it came to teaching doctrines. Luther did repeatedly use the Church fathers as proof of his correctness when he argued with others as BJ Bear has noted. So for example, when arguing against Calvin on Christ's objective Presence in the Eucharist, Luther asked rhetorically what Church Father ever said that the food on the table was not Christ's body. Luther's point was that the Fathers for many centuries emphasized that the Eucharist on the table was Christ's body, and that those fathers were not making Calvin's modern teaching that the bread was not actually Christ's body.

Certainly in practice the Fathers are pretty important historically in the development of Catholicism and classical Protestantism. Tradition is a major practical reason why those churches teach Trinitarianism and Christ's bodily resurrection.

But Lutheranism I think typically does not feel a need to follow the Church fathers to the same extent that the RCs and EOs do. If the Church fathers came across as having a strong teaching on the bishops' role in the church or the priesthood that disagreed with Lutheranism on the topic, Lutheranism would feel less need to grapple with that contradiction between the Fathers' doctrines and their own. The EOs don't consider the Church Fathers "infallible", but the EOs identify themselves as having the teaching of the Church Fathers, and they do so to a degree that I sense the Lutherans don't.
 

BJ Bear

Active member
The EO, RC, Anglican, and Methodist churches openly consider Tradition to be a major source of doctrine and of Biblical interpretation. AFAIK, Those churches would probably all rank the Bible as the highest in terms of authority. Maybe many RCs would rank the Bible and the Papacy or Councils as equal to the Bible, but I am not sure because I'm not an RC.

With Lutherans, there is respect for the views of the Church fathers. But Luther had this emphasis on taking the Bible's meaning alone as opposed to taking the meaning that theologians before him had interpreted in the Bible. And this had advantages and IMO disadvantages. The advantage was that IMO the Catholic Church was teaching certain mistakes (eg. papal supremacy) and the Bible did not really teach those mistakes.

The disadvantage of Luther's "Sola Scriptura" approach was that the Bible was not "perspicacious" or "self-evident" in its meaning. It should be noted that Luther himself did not claim that the Bible was always obvious in its meaning AFAIK, even though some later non-Lutheran Protestants have made claims that sound like this. The result of this disadvantage is that sometimes Luther seemed to recommend putting aside Biblical Commentaries like those of the Church Fathers, but other times he said to use them. (I am an ex-Lutheran with a fondness for Lutheranism).

The Lutherans as a result, like most Protestants, did not really have a clear place for the role of the Fathers when it came to teaching doctrines. Luther did repeatedly use the Church fathers as proof of his correctness when he argued with others as BJ Bear has noted. So for example, when arguing against Calvin on Christ's objective Presence in the Eucharist, Luther asked rhetorically what Church Father ever said that the food on the table was not Christ's body. Luther's point was that the Fathers for many centuries emphasized that the Eucharist on the table was Christ's body, and that those fathers were not making Calvin's modern teaching that the bread was not actually Christ's body.

Certainly in practice the Fathers are pretty important historically in the development of Catholicism and classical Protestantism. Tradition is a major practical reason why those churches teach Trinitarianism and Christ's bodily resurrection.

But Lutheranism I think typically does not feel a need to follow the Church fathers to the same extent that the RCs and EOs do. If the Church fathers came across as having a strong teaching on the bishops' role in the church or the priesthood that disagreed with Lutheranism on the topic, Lutheranism would feel less need to grapple with that contradiction between the Fathers' doctrines and their own. The EOs don't consider the Church Fathers "infallible", but the EOs identify themselves as having the teaching of the Church Fathers, and they do so to a degree that I sense the Lutherans don't.
It seems to me that Luther "s path to the best reform was to stand on the sure word of God. It was in that sense that speculation and reasonable doctrines (doctrines resting primarily or solely on reason) rwere omitted from our doctrine regardless of its pedigree among the fathers.

It is that practice which continues to distinguish our doctrine from Rome and others.
 
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dberrie2020

Well-known member
The EO, RC, Anglican, and Methodist churches openly consider Tradition to be a major source of doctrine and of Biblical interpretation. AFAIK, Those churches would probably all rank the Bible as the highest in terms of authority. Maybe many RCs would rank the Bible and the Papacy or Councils as equal to the Bible, but I am not sure because I'm not an RC.

With Lutherans, there is respect for the views of the Church fathers. But Luther had this emphasis on taking the Bible's meaning alone as opposed to taking the meaning that theologians before him had interpreted in the Bible. And this had advantages and IMO disadvantages. The advantage was that IMO the Catholic Church was teaching certain mistakes (eg. papal supremacy) and the Bible did not really teach those mistakes.

The disadvantage of Luther's "Sola Scriptura" approach was that the Bible was not "perspicacious" or "self-evident" in its meaning. It should be noted that Luther himself did not claim that the Bible was always obvious in its meaning AFAIK, even though some later non-Lutheran Protestants have made claims that sound like this. The result of this disadvantage is that sometimes Luther seemed to recommend putting aside Biblical Commentaries like those of the Church Fathers, but other times he said to use them. (I am an ex-Lutheran with a fondness for Lutheranism).

The Lutherans as a result, like most Protestants, did not really have a clear place for the role of the Fathers when it came to teaching doctrines. Luther did repeatedly use the Church fathers as proof of his correctness when he argued with others as BJ Bear has noted. So for example, when arguing against Calvin on Christ's objective Presence in the Eucharist, Luther asked rhetorically what Church Father ever said that the food on the table was not Christ's body. Luther's point was that the Fathers for many centuries emphasized that the Eucharist on the table was Christ's body, and that those fathers were not making Calvin's modern teaching that the bread was not actually Christ's body.

Certainly in practice the Fathers are pretty important historically in the development of Catholicism and classical Protestantism. Tradition is a major practical reason why those churches teach Trinitarianism and Christ's bodily resurrection.

But Lutheranism I think typically does not feel a need to follow the Church fathers to the same extent that the RCs and EOs do. If the Church fathers came across as having a strong teaching on the bishops' role in the church or the priesthood that disagreed with Lutheranism on the topic, Lutheranism would feel less need to grapple with that contradiction between the Fathers' doctrines and their own. The EOs don't consider the Church Fathers "infallible", but the EOs identify themselves as having the teaching of the Church Fathers, and they do so to a degree that I sense the Lutherans don't.

Thanks for the input, Rakovshy. I believe the point the Lutherans--and others--follow the ECF when they agree with their theology--not so much, when they don't--is a true reflection.

I believe a terminal problem occurs, when a denomination adopts an Early Church Father Creed as their confession--which has doctrines which conflicts with their theology, as the Lutherans do.
 

dberrie2020

Well-known member
It seems to me that Luther "s path to the best reform was to stand on the sure word of God. It was in that sense that speculation and reasonable doctrines were omitted from our doctrine regardless of its pedigree among the fathers.

It is that practice which continues to distinguish our doctrine from Rome and others.

That's quite the admission. I wonder if you might want to take a look at that, notwithstanding the fact, I believe that is the truth.
 

rakovsky

Active member
Thanks for the input, Rakovshy. I believe the point the Lutherans--and others--follow the ECF when they agree with their theology--not so much, when they don't--is a true reflection.
That is not clear enough because certainly the ECF influenced the Lutherans in making Lutheran theology. Imagine- if the ECF had NO position on the Real Presence, Luther might have been less likely to teach the real presence.

I believe a terminal problem occurs, when a denomination adopts an Early Church Father Creed as their confession--which has doctrines which conflicts with their theology, as the Lutherans do.
What you are saying is not clear. The Lutherans adopted the Nicene Creed. I don't know offhand how that conflicts with their theology.
 

rakovsky

Active member
It seems to me that Luther "s path to the best reform was to stand on the sure word of God. It was in that sense that speculation and reasonable doctrines were omitted from our doctrine regardless of its pedigree among the fathers.

It is that practice which continues to distinguish our doctrine from Rome and others.
I think that you are alluding to the issue that I noted "The Lutherans as a result, like most Protestants, did not really have a clear place for the role of the Fathers when it came to teaching doctrines."
If you clearly identified with the Church fathers, you would have generally included reasonable doctrines that had pedigree among the Fathers. But if you actually didn't care about them and used the Bible, you probably would not have the 7 sacraments and ordinances that happen to be the same as our number of sacraments.

Your statement though needs more explanation, because "standing on the sure word of God" is far too vague. Obviously it's typical that Christians of most opposing denominations will sincerely reply that they are "standing on the sure word of God." RCs will say that the "sure word of God" teaches Peter getting the keys and Baptists will say that the "sure word of God" rejects Lutheran infant baptism.

What your statement needs is to add what your relationship is to Tradition. And Luther did not have a very clear, concise position as to how far exactly they were important in terms of saying what that "sure word of God" actually said in the first place. My impression is that Protestants, including Lutherans, could go in infinite circles on that topic like a giant whirlpool trying to assert whether and how scripture can speak for itself. Luther was conflicted on the topic of whether to use Church fathers to understand the Bible. The reality was that Luther wanted to treat the Bible as a self-explanatory, self-evident document, what some non-Lutheran Protestants call "perspicacious." But Luther must have realized that the Bible is not actually fully self-evident, and that "standing on the sure word of God" alone is at times in fact a wishful statement.

As a result of the Bible's occasional lack of clarity on important issues, saying that your doctrine is distinguished from Rome and others (eg. other "Bible-only" Protestants) by "standing on the sure word of the Bible" alone is what is called "puffing".
 

rakovsky

Active member
It would be nice if you could just open the Bible and read its verses on a given topic and Christians understood easily what the direct Bible writer or God thought about the topic. At times Luther wrote about the Bible as if that was the case. His Sola Scriptura (Bible-alone) idea seems premised on this idea.

But unfortunately as Luther must have realized, that is not actually the case and he ended up in many arguments with other Protestants on Biblical meanings.
 

BJ Bear

Active member

I think that you are alluding to the issue that I noted "The Lutherans as a result, like most Protestants, did not really have a clear place for the role of the Fathers when it came to teaching doctrines."
If you clearly identified with the Church fathers, you would have generally included reasonable doctrines that had pedigree among the Fathers. But if you actually didn't care about them and used the Bible, you probably would not have the 7 sacraments and ordinances that happen to be the same as our number of sacraments.

Your statement though needs more explanation, because "standing on the sure word of God" is far too vague. Obviously it's typical that Christians of most opposing denominations will sincerely reply that they are "standing on the sure word of God." RCs will say that the "sure word of God" teaches Peter getting the keys and Baptists will say that the "sure word of God" rejects Lutheran infant baptism.

What your statement needs is to add what your relationship is to Tradition. And Luther did not have a very clear, concise position as to how far exactly they were important in terms of saying what that "sure word of God" actually said in the first place. My impression is that Protestants, including Lutherans, could go in infinite circles on that topic like a giant whirlpool trying to assert whether and how scripture can speak for itself. Luther was conflicted on the topic of whether to use Church fathers to understand the Bible. The reality was that Luther wanted to treat the Bible as a self-explanatory, self-evident document, what some non-Lutheran Protestants call "perspicacious." But Luther must have realized that the Bible is not actually fully self-evident, and that "standing on the sure word of God" alone is at times in fact a wishful statement.

As a result of the Bible's occasional lack today clarity on important issues, saying that your doctrine is distinguished from Rome and others (eg. other "Bible-only" Protestants) by "standing on the sure word of the Bible" alone is what is called "puffing".
Yes, I have difficulty typing so my posts are sometimes vague and too short.

Making some distinctions, yes almost everyone claims to stand on the sure word of God but their method of interpretation doesn't allow it to be true in the same sense. For example, some use an inductive method of study and interpretation, others through a filter like this or that set of fathers, or a particular philosophical bent. Whichever the carse may be they will often reach different understandings and conclusions from those bound to the immediate context and the necessary conclusions from that context.

Luther's scripture alone that caused the hubbub was that it alone is Lord and master over all other writings on earth. It wasn't just me and my Bible.

Also, the perspicacity of scripture refers to the person and work of Christ for us. Luther would be among the first to say that some passages are unclear.

When you capitalize tradition I understand it to refer to Roman tradition. Yes, there are some distinctions but it was and largely remains the one Roman church in doctrine. We don't have a problem with any tradition which doesn't obscure the person and work of Christ for all men, the gospel.
 

BJ Bear

Active member
It would be nice if you could just open the Bible and read its verses on a given topic and Christians understood easily what the direct Bible writer or God thought about the topic. At times Luther wrote about the Bible as if that was the case. His Sola Scriptura (Bible-alone) idea seems premised on this idea.

But unfortunately as Luther must have realized, that is not actually the case and he ended up in many arguments with other Protestants on Biblical meanings.
Luther was always aware that some parts of scripture were unclear. But the fault does not lie with scripture itself.
 

dberrie2020

Well-known member
What you are saying is not clear. The Lutherans adopted the Nicene Creed. I don't know offhand how that conflicts with their theology.

The Athanasian creed is also a Lutheran confession: (I'll shorten it to the portion I refer to)

Athanasian Creed
..........
39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
42. and shall give account of their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

That defies faith alone theology.
 

rakovsky

Active member
When you capitalize tradition I understand it to refer to Roman tradition. Yes, there are some distinctions but it was and largely remains the one Roman church in doctrine. We don't have a problem with any tradition which doesn't obscure the person and work of Christ for all men, the gospel.
When I capitalize Tradition, I mean Holy Tradition such as the Early Church Fathers. It doesn't necessarily mean Roman Catholic Tradition. I am EO, not Roman Catholic.
 

dberrie2020

Well-known member
Luther was always aware that some parts of scripture were unclear. But the fault does not lie with scripture itself.

Morning, BJ:

I agree--so how do the Lutherans adopt their theology to both the tradition--and the scriptures here?

Athanasian Creed
..........
39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
42. and shall give account of their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

John 5:28-29---King James Version

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

BJ--how do Lutherans apply their theology to that testimony?
 

BJ Bear

Active member
W
Morning, BJ:

I agree--so how do the Lutherans adopt their theology to both the tradition--and the scriptures here?

Athanasian Creed
..........
39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
42. and shall give account of their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

John 5:28-29---King James Version

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

BJ--how do Lutherans apply their theology to that testimony?
What is there that you think needs adopting or adapting to scripture or the creed? Or are you asking us to adopt or adapt Evanvelical Theology to your interpretation of scripture and the creed?
 
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