Monday, January 25, 2010

The Fathers & Sola Scriptura

(I originally began this series at my regular blog, Pious Fabrications; I've decided, because of its apologetics-oriented nature, to take it over here. I'll start by re-posting on each of the Fathers I've covered so far.)

Protestant apologists have been claiming for a long time that the Church Fathers believed in Sola Scriptura. They often present very persuasive evidence in this regard, including some rather strongly-worded quotes from the Fathers which seem to support this perspective. This seems like a death-stroke for the claims of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox claim to maintain the ancient Apostolic Faith -- if we don't, then there's a serious problem.

So, the question I'm going to examine in this series of posts is did the Fathers really believe in Sola Scriptura? I will be going more or less chronologically, from earliest to latest, through the Fathers of the early Church. I will examine one Father at a time, presenting quotes relevant to that Father's position on Tradition, Scripture, and where authority lies in the Christian Church. I will also present the proof-texts from the writings of the Fathers most commonly used by Protestant apologists like James White and William Webster in their attempts to show that the Fathers believed in Sola Scriptura, looking at each in its historical and textual context.

What I'm not going to do is just do the inverse of what Protestants do; I'm not going to simply proof-text and quote mine for sentences which support Tradition, although we will look at those in the process. What I'm going to do here is to actually look at that individual, their life and writings as a whole, and really, finally answer the question: did he believe in the authority of Scripture alone?

The usual followup claim of a Protestant who presents these proof-texts and then is shown that this same Father elsewhere writes of the authority of the Church's Traditions and Councils is that this Father was inconsistent in what he taught. So, we'll also examine that question as we look at the context of the Protestant proof-texts: is this Father being inconsistent or is the Protestant simply misunderstanding (or intentionally twisting!) the Father's words to make him sound inconsistent.

This will be a lot of work for me, but I think it's worth it for finally putting this myth to rest, and it will be very interesting. My hypothesis: we won't find a single one of the Fathers who held to Sola Scriptura or anything even remotely resembling it.

(slightly edited from original posting at Pious Fabrications on November 27, 2009)


Looking for God said...

Looking forward to the series.





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