Archive for the ‘Necessity of Scripture Reading’ Category

Augustine: Scripture Can Thoroughly Equip the Man of God – Response to Taylor Marshall

February 5, 2010
Psalm 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Augustine believed that Scripture itself is able to thoroughly equip a man to the point where Scripture itself would no longer be necessary for that man, except to teach less mature Christians. Taylor Marshall (a Roman Catholic contributor to the Called to Communion blog) has posted and commented upon the following passage from Augustine (link to Taylor’s post):

And thus a man who is resting upon faith, hope and love, and who keeps a firm hold upon these, does not need the Scriptures except for the purpose of instructing others. Accordingly, many live without copies of the Scriptures, even in solitude, on the strength of these three graces. So that in their case, I think, the saying is already fulfilled: “Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” [1 Cor. xiii. 8.] Yet by means of these instruments (as they may be called), so great an edifice of faith and love has been built up in them, that, holding to what is perfect, they do not seek for what is only in part perfect—of course, I mean, so far as is possible in this life; for, in comparison with the future life, the life of no just and holy man is perfect here. Therefore the apostle says: “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity:” [1 Cor. xiii. 13.] because, when a man shall have reached the eternal world, while the other two graces will fail, love will remain greater and more assured.

– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Chapter 39 (section 43)

Taylor comments: “In the very least, it shows that Augustine was not a “religion of the book” sort of a Christian.”

Taylor is dead wrong: the passage shows just the opposite – it shows that Augustine is very much a “religion of the book” sort of a Christian. For the purposes of instructing others, Augustine views Scripture as absolutely essential. Even the highly spiritual man cannot instruct others without Scripture in Augustine’s view.

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Taylor continues: “Scripture instructs in the faith, but it is not the object of our faith.”

Augustine doesn’t address this topic in the passage above. But Augustine did teach that men are to believe the Bible:

There was, however, undoubtedly marriage, even when sin had no prior existence; and for no other reason was it that woman, and not a second man, was created as a help for the man. Moreover, those words of God, “Be fruitful and multiply,” [Gen. i. 28.] are not prophetic of sins to be condemned, but a benediction upon the fertility of marriage. For by these ineffable words of His, I mean by the divine methods which are inherent in the truth of His wisdom by which all things were made, God endowed the primeval pair with their seminal power. Suppose, however, that nature had not been dishonoured by sin, God forbid that we should think that marriages in Paradise must have been such, that in them the procreative members would be excited by the mere ardour of lust, and not by the command of the will for producing offspring,—as the foot is for walking, the hand for labour, and the tongue for speech. Nor, as now happens, would the chastity of virginity be corrupted to the conception of offspring by the force of a turbid heat, but it would rather be submissive to the power of the gentlest love; and thus there 251would be no pain, no blood-effusion of the concumbent virgin, as there would also be no groan of the parturient mother. This, however, men refuse to believe, because it has not been verified in the actual condition of our mortal state. Nature, having been vitiated by sin, has never experienced an instance of that primeval purity. But we speak to faithful men, who have learnt to believe the inspired Scriptures, even though no examples are adduced of actual reality. For how could I now possibly prove that a man was made of the dust, without any parents, and a wife formed for him out of his own side? [Gen. ii. 7, 22.] And yet faith takes on trust what the eye no longer discovers.

– Augustine, Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin, Chapter 40 (Section 35)

I provided the whole chapter for context, though of course I was not primarily interested in Augustine’s special Creationism (as opposed to the heresy of evolutionism) or Augustine’s attitude towards sexual intercourse, but specifically his comment: “But we speak to faithful men, who have learnt to believe the inspired Scriptures” which shows that he did view the inspired Scriptures as an object of faith.

Psalm 119:42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

And lest that one passage be thought anomalous:

If, however, I am asked the second question which I have suggested,—whether there be a sinless man,—I believe there is not. For I rather believe the Scripture, which says: “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.” [Ps. cxliii. 2.] There is therefore need of the mercy of God, which “exceedingly rejoiceth against judgment,” [Jas. ii. 13.] and which that man shall not obtain who does not show mercy. [Jas. ii. 13.] And whereas the prophet says, “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my heart,” [Ps. xxxii. 5.] he yet immediately adds, “For this shall every saint pray unto Thee in an acceptable time.” [Ps. xxxii. 6.] Not indeed every sinner, but “every saint;” for it is the voice of saints which says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” [1 John i. 8.] Accordingly we read, in the Apocalypse of the same Apostle, of “the hundred and forty and four thousand” saints, “which were not defiled with women; for they continued virgins: and in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault.” [Rev. xiv. 3–5.] “Without fault,” indeed, they no doubt are for this reason,—because they truly found fault with themselves; and for this reason, “in their mouth was discovered no guile,”—“because if they said they had no sin, they deceived themselves, and the truth was not in them.” [1 John i. 8.] Of course, where the truth was not, there would be guile; and when a righteous man begins a statement by accusing himself, he verily utters no falsehood.

– Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, Book II, Chapter 8 (Section 7)

Again, I’ve included the entire chapter for context, not simply to make the tangential point that Augustine denied the sinlessness of the saints including (though he does not specify here) that of Mary, the blessed mother of my Lord. Rather the point is to note that Augustine refers specifically to his belief in the Scriptures.

Psalm 119:148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Of course, we believe in them because they are the very word of God, not somehow independently of that fact.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Taylor further commented:

Now when I was at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, we were taught that 1 Cor 13 taught “cessationism” – the doctrine that prophecy and tongues ceased with the arrival of “the perfect” which was assumed to be the canonized text of Scripture.

Not the canonized text of Scripture, but the complete canon of Scripture (the difference being, of course, the difference between the objective reality that the canon was complete and the recognition of that objective reality). When public revelation was finished there was no longer the same need for prophets.

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Taylor continued:

Saint Augustine turns this on its head. Augustine lumps “Scripture” under “prophecies” and thus concludes that when the perfect comes (that is, faith, hope and charity), then Scripture is no longer needed.

That’s not “on its head” of the Reformed explanation – rather it is another application of the same principle. When an edifice is built, the tools for building the edifice are normally laid aside. We see a very similar description of the church:

Ephesians 4:11-13
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ …

Taylor remarks further: “Wow. The assumption is that you believe and act perfectly, you don’t need a Bible…”

It’s more of a conclusion than an assumption – and even then you still need a Bible to teach others. But what is interesting is this: Scripture (for Augustine) is especially for those who are not spiritually mature! What more inverted view of perspicuity than the modern Roman view could Augustine have!

Psalm 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Before requesting comments (which this post provides) Taylor concludes:

Just for the record, I’m far from giving away my Bible, since I’m a rather poor exemplar of faith, hope, and charity. But still, I’m rather blown away by these words of Augustine.

If that blew Taylor away, this may similarly shock him:

If believers are to throw away all the books which have led them to believe, I see no reason why they should continue reading the Gospel itself. The Gospel, too, must be worthless to this inquirer, who, according to Faustus’ pitiful supposition, rejects with ridicule the authority of Christ. And to the believer it must be superfluous, if true notices of Christ are superfluous to believers. And if the Gospel should be read by the believer, that he may not forget what he has believed, so should the prophets, that he may not forget why he believed. For if he forgets this his faith cannot be firm.

– Augustine, Against Faustus, Book 13, Section 18

Notice how Augustine views the books of Scripture as though books “which have led [Christians] to believe” and how the Gospels remind the believer what he believes, while the prophets remind him why he believes. Of course, for Taylor, reading the Scripture will only remind him of some of what believes, for he will not find papal infallibility, or the Marian dogmas, or Indulgences, in the text of Holy Scripture. Those articles of his faith are not among the articles of Augustine’s faith, for the faith that Augustine held was one that Augustine believed was derived from Scripture.

Which is why Augustine’s words above (which Taylor had quoted) are followed immediately by these in Augustine’s work:

And, therefore, if a man fully understands that “the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,” and is bent upon making all his understanding of Scripture to bear upon these three graces, he may come to the interpretation of these books with an easy mind. For while the apostle says “love,” he adds “out of a pure heart,” to provide against anything being loved but that which is worthy of love. And he joins with this “a good conscience,” in reference to hope; for, if a man has the burden of a bad conscience, he despairs of ever reaching that which he believes in and loves. And in the third place he says: “and of faith unfeigned.” For if our faith is free from all hypocrisy, then we both abstain from loving what is unworthy of our love, and by living uprightly we are able to indulge the hope that our hope shall not be in vain. For these reasons I have been anxious to speak about the objects of faith, as far as I thought it necessary for my present purpose; for much has already been said on this subject in other volumes, either by others or by myself. And so let this be the end of the present book. In the next I shall discuss, as far as God shall give me light, the subject of signs.

– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Chapter 40 (section 44)

Note especially Augustine’s comment: “if a man fully understands that “the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,” and is bent upon making all his understanding of Scripture to bear upon these three graces, he may come to the interpretation of these books with an easy mind.”

But if the words above blew away Taylor (and his apparent hope to one discard his Bible), consider what reaction the following will produce:

As for the books of the apostles and prophets, we read them as a record of our faith, to encourage our hope and animate our love. These books are in perfect harmony with one another; and their harmony, like the music of a heavenly trumpet, wakens us from the torpor of worldliness, and urges us on to the prize of our high calling. The apostle, after quoting from the prophets the words, “The reproaches of them that reproached You fell on me,” goes on to speak of the benefit of reading the prophets: “For whatsoever things were written beforetime were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.” [Romans 15:4 If Faustus denies this, we can only say with Paul, “If any one shall preach to you another doctrine than that you have received, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:9]

– Augustine, Against Faustus, Book 13, Section 18

Notice that Augustine places the importance of Scripture in such a central place that he is ready to place Faustus under an anathema (that’s what “accursed” there means) for suggesting that the Scriptures are not written for our learning. And with the same stroke of his pen he also deflates the Roman denial of the perspicuity of the Scriptures: they are written for our learning! They are, therefore, written for the unlearned so that he might become learned – for the simple, that he may become wise, as it is written:

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

For more on the Reformers and the Necessity of Reading the Scriptures click here.


This is part two a two-part series in response to Mr. Marshall. The first part can be found here (link).

The Recent Squirm of Mr. Marshall (by Pastor King)

February 4, 2010

(Post by Pastor David T. King)

Mr. Marshall’s having suddenly “bumped into a zinger” from the language of Augustine in De doctrina Christiana (Book I, 39, 34) indicates to us his own unfamiliarity with this ancient African theologian, especially in terms of the development of Augustine’s mature convictions regarding the necessity of Holy Scripture. A. D. R. Polman, who has written at length on Augustine’s view of Scripture, and how it developed, commented…

St. Augustine has discussed the necessity of Scripture on many occasions, and his discussions are an excellent illustration of what we have called his first and second stages. In the first stage he held that Scripture is needed constantly by the uneducated masses, but temporarily by the spiritual elite. In the second stage, however, he emphasized the need for Scripture of all believers on their pilgrimage. God’s Word has become a kind of bond with God, in which He has deliberately set down His promises to all generations, so that all mortals can read them and keep them (See Enarr. In Ps. 144, 17). This necessity is, however, restricted to mortal life. In the new heaven and on the new earth, God’s people will no longer need any writings, for here faith will have become the direct contemplation of the Divine Countenance. [FN1]

The passage from Augustine referenced by Polman is as follows…

Augustine (A.D. 354-430) commenting on Psalm 145:13: The Lord is faithful in all his words, and holy in all his deeds. We might well have believed him if he had chosen only to speak to us, but he wanted us to have his scriptures to hold onto; it is like promising something to a friend and saying to him, “Don’t rely on word of mouth; I’ll put it in writing for you.” It was necessary for God’s written guarantee to endure as each generation comes and goes, as the centuries roll by and mortals give way to their successors. God’s own handwriting would be there for all the passers-by to read, so that they would keep the way of his promise. [FN2]

Other Romanists have likewise sought to exploit this passage from Augustine for apologetic “zingers,” such as G. Van Noort in his Dogmatic Theology: Vol. III, The Sources of Revelation, trans. & rev. John J. Castelot, S.S., S.T.D. S.S.L. and William R. Murphy, S.S., S.T.D. (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1961), p. 115. While ignoring a plethora of passages from many ECFs, who emphasized repeatedly the need for Christians to read Holy Scripture (minimizing, for example, this emphasis found in Chrysostom), Van Noort “cherry-picked” the same passage from Augustine (which Mr. Marshall himself has “bumped into” in recent days) and attempted to represent Augustine’s view in a manner as to suggest that this ancient witness agrees with the modern day Romanist’s emphasis against the necessity of reading Holy Scripture. Roman Catholic Theologians such as Van Noort held Bible Societies in contempt, noting that, historically speaking, this has been the standard posture of the Roman Catholic Church: “It is hardly necessary to point out that Protestant Bible Societies have been condemned over and over again by the [Roman] Church in no uncertain terms.” [FN3] Examples can be found in the encyclicals of various popes, who refer to the translation and publishing work of Bible Societies (Whose efforts it has been to disseminate the Scriptures in the vernacular of the people) as “a pernicious plan,” “wickedness,” and thus “condemned.” [FN4] Having reflected on the history of the Roman Church’s interaction with the Latin Vulgate, the late patristic scholar, Jaroslav Pelikan noted,

That twentieth-century affirmation of the prime authority of “the original texts of the sacred books” by Pope Pius XII [Divino afflante Spiritu] and then by the Second Vatican Council [Dei Verbum 6.22] may be seen as an ultimate vindication, more than four centuries later, of the sacred philology of the Renaissance and the Reformation. For although the humanists did urge that the corruptions of the Vulgate text, which had occurred through its transmission from one medieval copyist to another, made the production of a critical edition of the Latin text mandatory, their chief criticism was directed against the inadequacies, indeed the inaccuracies, of the Vulgate as such, which no collation of Latin manuscripts, however thorough, could be expected to set straight. [FN5]

But if this isolated reference of Augustine proves anything, as suggested by Van Noort (and now in recent days by Mr. Marshall), it proves too much. For if this indeed reflects the mature thought of Augustine, namely that these three virtues are all one needs, it would likewise, strictly speaking, effectively rule out the necessity of ‘unwritten traditions,’ any creed but ‘faith, hope, and love’ (which themselves have been normed by none other than Holy Scripture, 1 Cor. 13:13), as well as the Roman magisterium and the pope himself. Indeed, these three virtues would suffice for people out in the desert to the exclusion of the Church, her ministry of the sacraments, and the King of the Church himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! Augustine never intended his words to be construed with such a meaning, and especially with respect to his mature view of Holy Scripture. Thus the meaning which Mr. Marshall suggests to have gleaned from Augustine can by the same logic be pressed into service to misrepresent him in other ways, as demonstrated above. So, we cannot help but wonder if this consideration likewise registers “a zinger that [causes] even his own [Romanist] soul to squirm.”

FN1 A. D. R. Polman, The Word of God according to St. Augustine (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1961), p. 74.

FN2 John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 20, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 121-150, Exposition of Psalm 144.17 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2004), pp. 393-394.

FN3 G. Van Noort, S.T.D., Dogmatic Theology: Vol. III, The Sources of Revelation, trans. & rev. John J. Castelot, S.S., S.T.D. S.S.L. and William R. Murphy, S.S., S.T.D. (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1961), p. 119. See also Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed., trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), pp. 25-26, which indicates that Bible Societies were still under official Catholic proscription as late as 1977.

FN4 See the following papal encyclicals: Pius VII’s epistle Magno et acerbo, Leo XII’s Ubi primum, and Gregory XVI’s Inter praecipuas in Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, pp. 398-401, 409-410. Interestingly enough, Leo II repeats the prohibition of Trent against the distribution of Bibles in the common vernacular of the people in his encyclical Ubi primum. In his book Catholicism and Fundamentalism (p. 45), Keating is very misleading with respect to history when he suggests that “The Church had no complaint about mere translations of the Bible . . .” Certainly the Council of Trent was of another mind, as was Pius VII.

FN5 Jaroslav Pelikan, The Reformation of the Bible/The Bible of the Reformation, p. 15. The pertinent section in Dei Verbum 6.22 reads: “But since the Word of God must be readily available at all times, the Church, with motherly concern, sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into various languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. If it should happen that, when the opportunity presents itself and the authorities of the Church agree, these translations are made in a joint effort with the separated brethren, they may be used by all Christians.” See Austin Flannery, O.P., general editor, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar And Post Conciliar Documents (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1980), Vol. 1, p. 763.

As noted above, this post is by Pastor David T. King. This is part one of a two-part series in response to Mr. Marshall. The other part (by TurretinFan) will be posted, Lord Willing, tomorrow.

Necessity of Scripture Reading – Whitaker and the Fathers

January 18, 2010

William Whitaker:

Nay, the fathers also confess, that a knowledge of, and acquaintance with, the scriptures is necessary for all Christians. Jerome in his commentary upon the Colossians, iii. 16, says: ” Hence we see that the laity ought to have not only a sufficient, but an abundant knowledge of the scriptures, and also to instruct each other [FN2].” Chrysostom, in his ninth homily upon the Colossians, writing upon the same passage, remarks that the apostle requires the people to know the word of God, not simply, but in great abundance, οὐχ απλῶς, ἀλλὰ μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς περιουσίας; and adds: “Attend, all ye that are secular (κοσμικοὶ), and have wives and families depending upon you, how he (the apostle) specially commands you to read the scripture; and not merely to read it in a perfunctory manner, but with great diligence,” ἀλλὰ μετὰ πολλῆς σπουδῆς. Chrysostom observes in that same place, that the apostle does not say, let the word of God be in you; but, let it dwell in you; and that, πλουσίως, richly [FN3].

OEcumenius too observes upon the same passage, that the doctrine of Christ should dwell in us ὐν πολλῆ δαψιλεία, most abundantly. Now, how are we to obtain so full a knowledge of it as this implies? OEcumenius informs us by subjoining, διὰ τῆς τῶν γραφῶν ἐρεύνης, by searching the scriptures. So Thomas Aquinas in his third lecture upon this chapter: “Some,” says he, ” are satisfied with a very small portion of the word of God; but the apostle desires we should have much of it [FN1].”

[FN2 Hinc perspicimus non tantum sufficienter, sed etiam abundantur debere lacios scripturarum cognitionem habere, et se invicem docere.—T. xi. 1029. But this Commentary is not Jerome’s.]

[FN3 T. xi. p. 391.]

[FN1 Quibusdam sufficit modicum quid de verbo Dei: sed apostolus vult quod habeamus multum, p. 164. 2. T. xvi. Opp. Venet. 1593.]

– William Whitaker, A disputation on Holy Scripture: against the papists, especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, First Controversy, Second Question, Chapter 15 (pp. 239-40 in the Parker 1849 edition)

William Whitaker provides this brief reference to the teachings of fathers after his main argument. I don’t want anyone to get the idea that he was trying to argue for the necessity of reading Scripture simply because he thought the church fathers taught it.

As to the necessity of Scripture (not simply of reading it, but of Scripture in general) recall that Whitaker carefully qualified the kind of necessity involved:

Our opponent disputes thus: Scripture is not absolutely necessary; therefore it is not necessary at all. But here lies the Jesuit’s error: for it is not every necessity that is absolute; some is only Hypothetical. God could teach us without the holy scriptures, and lead us to eternal life; but he chose to propound his teaching to us in the scriptures. This, therefore, being supposed, it is necessary that we learn and derive the will and doctrine of God from the scriptures. Thus, not even food is simply necessary, because God could easily nourish us without food; but only hypothetically. God indeed formerly shewed himself familiarly to our fathers, and, in a manner, conversed constantly with some distinguished men, to whom he immediately disclosed his will; and then I confess that the scriptures were not necessary: but afterwards he changed this method of teaching his church, and chose that his will should be committed to writing; and then scripture began to be necessary.

– William Whitaker, A disputation on Holy Scripture: against the papists, especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, First Controversy, Sixth Question, Chapter 7 (p. 517 in the Parker 1849 edition)

We see similar sentiments from Caesarius of Arles:

Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543):

Similarly, one who refuses to read the sacred writings which have been transmitted from the eternal country should fear that he perhaps will not receive eternal rewards and even not escape endless punishment. So dangerous is it not to read the divine precepts that the Prophet mournfully exclaims: ‘Therefore is my people led away captive, because they had not knowledge.’ ‘If anyone ignores this, he shall be ignored.’ Doubtless, if a man fails to seek God in this world through the sacred lessons, God will refuse to recognize him in eternal bliss. . . . A man should first be willing to listen to God, if he wants to be heard by Him. Indeed, with what boldness does he want God to hear him when he despises God so much that he refuses to read His precepts?

Citation: FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 7.3 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), pp. 47-48.

Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543):

I beseech you, beloved brethren, be eager to engage in divine reading whatever hours you can. Moreover, since what a man procures in this life by reading or good works will be food of his soul forever, let no one try to excuse himself by saying he has not learned letters at all. If those who are illiterate love God in truth, they look for learned people who can read the sacred Scriptures to them.

Citation: FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 8.1 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), p. 49.

Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543):

Therefore consider at once, brethren, and carefully notice that the man who frequently reads or listens to sacred Scripture speaks with God. See, then, whether the Devil can overtake him when he perceives him in constant conversation with God. However, if a man neglects to do this, with what boldness or with what feelings does he believe God will grant him an eternal reward, when he refuses to speak with Him in this world through the divine text?

Citation: FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 8.3 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), p. 52.

Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543):

For this reason I beseech you with fatherly solicitude, equally admonishing and exhorting you, as was already said, to endeavor continually to read the sacred lessons yourselves or willingly to listen to others read them. By thus always thinking over in the treasury of your heart what is just and holy, you may prepare for your souls an eternal spiritual food that will bring you endless bliss.

Citation: FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 8.4 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), p. 54.

And from Chrysostom.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):

Never deem it an unnecessary thing that he should be a diligent hearer of the divine Scriptures. For there the first thing he hears will be this, “Honor thy father and thy mother”; so that this makes for thee. Never say, this is the business of monks. Am I making a monk of him? No. There is no need he should become a monk. Why be so afraid of a thing so replete with so much advantage? Make him a Christian. For it is of all things necessary for laymen to be acquainted with the lessons derived from this source; but especially for children. For theirs is an age full of folly; and to this folly are super added the bad examples derived from the heathen tales, where they are made acquainted with those heroes so admired amongst them, slaves of their passions, and cowards with regard to death; as, for example, Achilles, when he relents, when he dies for his concubine, when another gets drunk, and many other things of the sort. He requires therefore the remedies against these things. How is it not absurd to send children out to trades, and to school, and to do all you can for these objects, and yet, not to “bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord”? And for this reason truly we are the first to reap the fruits, because we bring up our children to be insolent and profligate, disobedient, and mere vulgar fellows. Let us not then do this; no, let us listen to this blessed Apostle’s admonition. “Let us bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” Let us give them a pattern. Let us make them from the earliest age apply themselves to the reading of the Scriptures. Alas, that so constantly as I repeat this, I am looked upon as trifling! Still, I shall not cease to do my duty.

– Chrysostom, NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Homily 21.

Notice that here even young children are being commended to the reading of Scripture. Jerome also similarly exhorts a woman, Demetrias, to make reading the Scripture her first priority.

Jerome (about A.D. 347–420):

In what remains of my letter I shall direct all my words to Demetrias herself, whose holiness ennobles her as much as her rank, and of whom it may be said that the higher she climbs the more terrible will be her fall. For the rest, this one thing, child of God, I lay on thee; yea before all, and urge it many times: love to occupy your mind with the reading of scripture.

– Jerome, Letter 130 (to Demetrias), Section 7

– TurretinFan

%d bloggers like this: