Archive for the ‘Patristics’ Category

John Calvin on the Church Fathers

April 6, 2017

It is a calumny to represent us as opposed to the Fathers (I mean the ancient writers of a purer age), as if the Fathers were supporters of their impiety. Were the contest to be decided by such authority (to speak in the most moderate terms), the better part of the victory would be ours. While there is much that is admirable and wise in the writings of those Fathers, and while in some things it has fared with them as with ordinary men; these pious sons, forsooth, with the peculiar acuteness of intellect, and judgment, and soul, which belongs to them, adore only their slips and errors, while those things which are well said they either overlook, or disguise, or corrupt; so that it may be truly said their only care has been to gather dross among gold. Then, with dishonest clamour, they assail us as enemies and despisers of the Fathers. So far are we from despising them, that if this were the proper place, it would give us no trouble to support the greater part of the doctrines which we now hold by their suffrages. Still, in studying their writings, we have endeavoured to remember (1 Cor. 3:21-23; see also Augustin. Ep. 28), that all things are ours, to serve, not lord it over us, but that we axe Christ’s only, and must obey him in all things without exception. He who does not draw this distinction will not have any fixed principles in religion; for those holy men were ignorant of many things, are often opposed to each other, and are sometimes at variance with themselves.

It is not without cause (remark our opponents) we are thus warned by Solomon, “Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set” (Prov. 22:28). But the same rule applies not to the measuring of fields and the obedience of faith. The rule applicable to the latter is, “Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house” (Ps. 45:10). But if they are so fond of allegory, why do they not understand the apostles, rather than any other class of Fathers, to be meant by those whose landmarks it is unlawful to remove? This is the interpretation of Jerome, whose words they have quoted in their canons. But as regards those to whom they apply the passage, if they wish the landmarks to be fixed, why do they, whenever it suits their purpose, so freely overleap them?

Among the Fathers there were two, the one of whom said,(FN: i. Acatius in lib. 11 cap 16, F. Triport. Hist.) “Our God neither eats nor drinks, and therefore has no need of chalices and salvers;” and the other (FN: ii. Ambr. lib. 2. De Officiis, cap. 28.) “Sacred rites do not require gold, and things which are not bought with gold, please not by gold.” They step beyond the boundary, therefore, when in sacred matters they are so much delighted with gold, driver, ivory, marble, gems, and silks, that unless everything is overlaid with costly show, or rather insane luxury, they think God is not duly worshipped.

It was a Father who said,(FN: iii. Spiridion. Trip. Hist. lib. 1 cap. 10.) “He ate flesh freely on the day on which others abstained from it, because he was a Christian.” They overleap the boundaries, therefore, when they doom to perdition every soul that, during Lent, shall have tasted flesh.

There were two Fathers, the one of whom said,(FN: 20 iv. Trip. Hist. lib. 8 cap 1) “A monk not labouring with his own hands is no better than a violent man and a robber;” and the other,(FN: August. De Opere Monach cap 7) “Monks, however assiduous they may be in study, meditation, and prayer, must not live by others.” This boundary, too, they transgressed, when they placed lazy gormandising monks in dens and stews, to gorge themselves on other men’s substance.

It was a Father who said,(FN: vi. Epiph. Epist. ab Hieron. versa) “It is a horrid abomination to see in Christian temples a painted image either of Christ or of any saint.” Nor was this pronounced by the voice era single individual; but an Ecclesiastical Council also decreed,(FN: vii. Conc. Elibert. can. 36.) “Let nought that is worshipped be depicted on walls.”24 Very far are they from keeping within these boundaries when they leave not a corner without images.

Another Father counselled,(FN: viii. Ambr de Abraha. lib. i c. 7) “That after performing the office of humanity to the dead in their burial, we should leave them at rest.” These limits they burst through when they keep up a perpetual anxiety about the dead.

It is a Father who testifies,(FN: ix. Gelasius Papa in Conc. Rom.) “That the substance of bread and wine in the Eucharist does not cease but remains, just as the nature and substance of man remains united to the Godhead in the Lord Jesus Christ.” This boundary they pass in pretending that, as soon as the words of our Lord are pronounced, the substance of bread and wine ceases, and is transubstantiated into body and blood.

They were Fathers, who, as they exhibited only one Eucharist to the whole Church,(FN: x. Chrys. in 1. cap. Ephes.) and kept back from it the profane and flagitious; so they, in the severest terms, censured all those (FN: xi. Calixt. Papa, De Consecrat. dist. 2) who, being present, did not communicate How far have they removed these landmarks, in filling not churches only, but also private houses, with their masses, admitting all and sundry to be present, each the more willingly the more largely he pays, however wicked and impure he may be,—not inviting any one to faith in Christ and faithful communion in the sacraments, but rather vending their own work for the grace and merits of Christ!

There were two Fathers, the one of whom decided that those were to be excluded altogether from partaking of Christ’s sacred supper,(FN: xii. Gelas. can. Comperimus, De Consec. dist. 2.) who, contented with communion in one kind, abstained from the other; while the other Father strongly contends (FN: xiii. Cypr. Epist. 2, lib. 1. De Lapsis.) that the blood of the Lord ought not to be denied to the Christian people, who, in confessing him, are enjoined to shed their own blood. These landmarks, also, they removed, when, by an unalterable law, they ordered the very thing which the former Father punished with excommunication, and the latter condemned for a valid reason.

It was a Father who pronounced it rashness, (FN: xiv. August. lib. 2 De Peccat. Mer. cap. uit.) in an obscure question, to decide in either way without clear and evident authority from Scripture. They forgot this landmark when they enacted so many constitutions, so many canons, and so many dogmatical decisions, without sanction from the word of God.

It was a Father who reproved Montanus, among other heresies, (FN: xv. Apollon. De quo Eccles. Hist. lib 5 cap. 12.) for being the first who imposed laws of fasting. They have gone far beyond this landmark also in enjoining fasting under the strictest laws.

It was a Father who denied (FN: xvi. Paphnut. Tripart. Hist. lib. 2 cap. 14.) that the ministers of the Church should be interdicted from marrying, and pronounced married life to be a state of chastity; and there were other Fathers who assented to his decision. These boundaries they overstepped in rigidly binding their priests to celibacy.

It was a Father who thought (FN: xvii. Cypr. Epist. 2, lib. 2) that Christ only should be listened to, from its being said, “hear him;” and that regard is due not to what others before us have said or done, but only to what Christ, the head of all, has commanded. This landmark they neither observe themselves nor allow to be observed by others, while they subject themselves and others to any master whatever, rather than Christ.

There is a Father who contends (FN: xviii. Aug. cap. 2, Cont. Cresconium Grammat.) that the Church ought not to prefer herself to Christ, who always judges truly, whereas ecclesiastical judges, who are but men, are generally deceived. Having burst through this barrier also, they hesitate not to suspend the whole authority of Scripture on the judgment of the Church.

All the Fathers with one heart execrated, and with one mouth protested (FN: xix. Calv. De Scholast. Doctor. Judicium. Vid. Book II. cap. 2 sec. 6; Book III. cap. 4 sec. 1, 2, 7, 13, 14, 26-29; Book III. cap. 11 sec. 14, 15; Book IV. cap. 18 sec. 1; and cap. 19 sec. 10, 11, 22, 23.) against, contaminating the word of God with the subtleties sophists, and involving it in the brawls of dialecticians. Do they keep within these limits when the sole occupation of their lives is to entwine and entangle the simplicity of Scripture with endless disputes, and worse than sophistical jargon? So much so, that were the Fathers to rise from their graves, and listen to the brawling art which bears the name of speculative theology, there is nothing they would suppose it less to be than a discussion of a religious nature.

But my discourse would far exceed its just limits were I to show, in detail, how petulantly those men shake off the yoke of the Fathers, while they wish to be thought their most obedient sons. Months, nay, years would fail me; and yet so deplorable and desperate is their effrontery, that they presume to chastise us for overstepping the ancient landmarks!

(Institutes, Prefatory Address, 4th point)

Miscellaneous Free Translations

April 11, 2013

Some of these works may be of greater interest to some of my audience than to others, but I’m thankful that each of the following currently available for free. Thanks to Roger Pearse for pointing me in the right direction:

Armistead, Mary Allyson – The Middle English Physiologus: A Critical Translation and Commentary (link) (127 pp.)

Bennett, Byard John – The Origin of Evil: Didymus the Blind’s Contra Manichaeos and its Debt to Origen’s Theology and Exegesis (link) (404 pp.)

Croft, Alice Thomspon – Didymus the Blind on 1 Corinthians 15 (link) (146 pp.)

Haase, Barbara S. – Ennodius’ panegyric to Theoderic to Great: A translation and commentary. (link) (110 pp.)

Hegedus, Timothy Michael – Jerome’s commentary on Jonah: Translation with introduction and critical notes (link) (pp. 163)

Heisler, Jeanne Marie – Gnat or Apostolic Bee: A Translation and Commentary on Theodoret’s Commentary on Jonah (link) (242 pp.)

Pettipiece, Timothy James – Heracleon: Fragments of early Valentinian exegesis. Text, translation, and commentary (link) (189 pp.)

Pratelli, Simone Isacco Maria – Gregory Barhebraeus’ Commentary on the Twelve Prophets in the “Storehouse of Mysteries”. Introduction, Critical Text, and Translation. (link) (164 pp. + 44 pp.)

Shute, Dan – Peter Martyr and the Rabbinic Bible in the Interpretation of Lamentations (link) (908 pp.)

Smith, Yancy Warren – Hippolytus’ Commentary on the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Context (link) (578 pp.)


Review of "The Fathers Know Best" by Jimmy Akin

June 9, 2011

“Catholic Answers” recently published a book attributed to Jimmy Akin entitled “The Fathers Know Best.” It purports to be “Your essential guide to the teachings of the Early Church.” The book does not provide any meaningful contribution to the study of patristics and little to the Roman-Reformed dialog.

Content in General
Part one of the book (pp. 15-93) contains an introduction to the book itself, some discussion of “the World of the Fathers,” and some brief discussion of the authors, councils, and works cited in part two, as well as an identification of heresies.

Part two of the book (pp. 97-418) is the obvious focus of the book. It provides a series of topics, with a brief introduction (sometimes as short as a single paragraph, sometimes as much as about two pages) and then a collection of quotations allegedly on the topic.

Quality of the Content
The book has no significant interaction with viewpoints opposed to Rome’s. There is virtually no interaction with respect to non-Roman understandings of the Fathers and there is little interaction with theological disagreements with Rome. The most significant interactions with non-Roman positions are found in the sections on reincarnation and the Anti-Christ, but even they are not particularly in depth.

There is almost no analysis of the fathers’ writings. In general, the quotations from the fathers are simply presented without any individual explanation. There is an occasional footnote, but there is no detailed explanation provided as to why particular quotations should be understood to support the Roman position.

The selections from the early writings that are selected for the purpose of promoting the idea that the fathers and Rome taught the same thing. The result is not a representative picture of the fathers’ writings. Odd patterns emerge when one reviews the quotations cited: St. Sechnall of Ireland gets quoted four times, but Gregory the Great gets cited only once.

Originality of the Content
Apparently there were no original translations provided in this work. The book acknowledges that part two is mostly a rehash of a column from This Rock magazine. Moreover, the content of that magazine has already been amalgamated on-line. Based on a cursory review, it appears that the on-line version may have slightly more quotations. In some cases, however, the translation selected for the book differs. In some cases, the exact end-points of the quotation differs, even if the translation is the same. The introductions to the material are expanded, and – of course – part one of the book is apparently new material.

Scholarly Character of the Content
In part one of the book, aside from an initial burst of citations to Scripture, citations in general are rare. The content of part one may or may not be accurate, but you only have Akin’s word for it, in general.

In part two of the book, Scripture is sometimes cited and the Catechism of the Catholic Church is also sometimes cited. Occasionally a papal work, such as an encyclical, or similar source of Catholic dogma is cited and at least once or twice an encyclopedia, such as the New Catholic Encyclopedia is cited. Aside from those citations, citations to scholarly works are relatively rare.

Almost all of the citations (leaving aside Scripture and magisterial sources) are to J.N.D. Kelly. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines, is cited on pp. 160, 175, 183 (2x), 256, p. 292-3 (3x), and 299, sometimes at considerable length. As with the quotations from the fathers, the quotations are selected based on what Akin believes is helpful, with the inconvenient comments from Kelly omitted.

Second to Kelley is Luther, whose Large Catechism is cited on p. 267 and whose Smalcaid Articles are cited on p. 412 (alongside the Westminster Standards in that instance). The few other cited authors are one-offs. Shirley MacLaine is cited on p. 399 and Geddes MacGregor is cited on that page as well. Ramsay MacMullen is cited on p. 359, and Timothy “Kallistos” Ware is cited at p. 138.

In all or almost all of these cases, the citation is provided with a quotation rather than simply being a citation to support an assertion allegedly grounded in the author cited. In fairness to Akin, I should point out that he provides citations to every one of his “More than 900 quotations” (I did not verify this claim) from ancient writings.

Merit of the Quotations
Whether the quotations support the point for which they are used is something of a mixed bag. Previously, we discussed an example of a misused quotation in this book. Perhaps in other posts, we will discuss other issues with other quotations.

It should also be pointed out that a lot of the quotations are not from fathers at all. Some of the quotations are from folks like “Pseudo-Ignatius,” “Pseudo-Melito,” and “Pseudo-John” as well as to anonymous works.

It’s not surprising that I don’t recommend this book. Although a significant amount of effort was doubtless put into improving the introductions and providing part one of the book, the effort didn’t yield something particularly worthwhile. Instead, by and large the book is simply a collection of quotations that Akin seems to think are helpful to Rome’s view of history.

Akin’s approach is neither scholarly nor apologetic. He does not interact in a significant way with the Reformed objections to Rome’s historical claims, and his collection of quotations is not accompanied by any serious in-depth examination of what the quotations say.

If one is looking for some new and interesting contribution to the field of patristics or Roman-Reformed dialog, one will be very disappointed by Akin’s work. On the other hand, if what you want is a propagandizing quote book, you cannot shell out the money for the much better done Jurgens’ set, and you don’t wish to use the web site indicated above, then perhaps this book is for you.

Here’s one quotation from Gregory the Great that you won’t get in “The Fathers Know Best”:

Gregory the Great commenting on Job 15:10:

But that those things which they [i.e., heretics] maintain they recommend to the weak minds of their fellow-creatures as on the ground of antiquity, they testify that they have ancient fathers, and the very Doctors of the Church themselves they declare are the masters of their school; and whilst they look down upon present preachers, they pride themselves with unfounded presumption on the tutorage of the ancient fathers, so that they avouch that the things they themselves assert the old fathers held as well, in order that what they are not able to build up in truth and right, they may strengthen as by the authority of those. See Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Gregory the Great, Morals on the Book of Job, vol. II, Parts III and IV, Book XII, Chapter 28, §33 (Oxford: Parker, 1845), p. 66.

Latin text: Sed ut ea quae asserunt commendare stultis mentibus hominum quasi de antiquitate possint, antiquos patres se habere testantur, atque ipsos doctores Ecclesiae suae professionis magistros dicunt. Cumque praesentes praedicatores despiciunt de antiquorum Patrum magisterio falsa praesumptione gloriantur, ut ea quae ipsi dicunt, etiam antiquos patres tenuisse fateantur, quatenus hoc quod rectitudine astruere non valent quasi ex illorum auctoritate confirment. Moralium Libri, Sive Expositio In Librum B. Job, Liber XII, Caput XXVIII, §33, PL 75:1002A-B.


P.S. Quote books have their place. However, quote books should provide something better than what is out there.

Church Fathers on Jesus’ Status as "Without Mother"

May 22, 2010

Ambrose (A.D. 337 – 397) writes: “He it is Who is without mother according to His Godhead …” (On the Mysteries, Chapter 8, Section 4

Theodoret (A.D. 393 – 457) writes: “On account of this difference of term He is said by the divine Paul to be “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” He is without father as touching His humanity; for as man He was born of a mother alone. And He is without mother as God, for He was begotten from everlasting of the Father alone. And again He is without descent as God while as man He has descent.” (Letter 151)

Gregory Nazianzen (A.D. 329 – 389) writes: “These names however are still common to Him Who is above us, and to Him Who came for our sake. But others are peculiarly our own, and belong to that nature which He assumed. So He is called Man, not only that through His Body He may be apprehended by embodied creatures, whereas otherwise this would be impossible because of His incomprehensible nature; but also that by Himself He may sanctify humanity, and be as it were a leaven to the whole lump; and by uniting to Himself that which was condemned may release it from all condemnation, becoming for all men all things that we are, except sin;-body, soul, mind and all through which death reaches-and thus He became Man, who is the combination of all these; God in visible form, because He retained that which is perceived by mind alone. He is Son of Man, both on account of Adam, and of the Virgin from Whom He came; from the one as a forefather, from the other as His Mother, both in accordance with the law of generation, and apart from it. He is Christ, because of His Godhead. For this is the Anointing of His Manhood, and does not, as is the case with all other Anointed Ones, sanctify by its action, but by the Presence in His Fullness of the Anointing One; the effect of which is that That which anoints is called Man, and makes that which is anointed God. He is The Way, because He leads us through Himself; The Door, as letting us in; the Shepherd, as making us dwell in a place of green pastures, and bringing us up by waters of rest, and leading us there, and protecting us from wild beasts, converting the erring, bringing back that which was lost, binding up that which was broken, guarding the strong, and bringing them together in the Fold beyond, with words of pastoral knowledge. The Sheep, as the Victim: The Lamb, as being perfect: the Highpriest, as the Offerer; Melchisedec, as without Mother in that Nature which is above us, and without Father in ours; and without genealogy above (for who, it says, shall declare His generation?) and moreover, as King of Salem, which means Peace, and King of Righteousness, and as receiving tithes from Patriarchs, when they prevail over powers of evil. They are the titles of the Son.” (Fourth Theological Oration (Oration 30), Section 21)

John Cassian (A.D. 360 – 435) writes: “For as He was begotten in His Divine nature “without mother,” so He is in the body “without father:” and so though He is neither without father nor without mother, we must believe in Him “without father and without mother.” For if you regard Him as He is begotten of the Father, He is without mother: if, as born of His mother, He is without father. And so in each of these births He has one: in both together He is without each: for the birth of Divinity had no need of mother, and for the birth of His body, He was Himself sufficient, without a father. Therefore says the Apostle “Without mother, without genealogy.”” (On the Incarnation, Book 7, Chapter 14)

Augustine (A.D. 354 – 430) writes: “For the Lord was said to be a Galilean, because His parents were from the city of Nazareth. I have said “His parents” in regard to Mary, not as regards the seed of man; for on earth He sought but a mother, He had already a Father on high. For His nativity on both sides was marvellous: divine without mother, human without father.” (Tractates on John, Tractate 33, Section 2)

And Augustine again writes: “And He goes on: “And no man has ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” Behold, He was here, and was also in heaven; was here in His flesh, in heaven by His divinity; yea, everywhere by His divinity. Born of a mother, not quitting the Father. Two nativities of Christ are understood: one divine, the other human: one, that by which we were to be made; the other, that by which we were to be made anew: both marvellous; that without mother, this without father.” (Tractates on John, Tractate 12, Section 8)



Augustine (354-430): At that time, therefore, when about to engage in divine acts, He repelled, as one unknown, her who was the mother, not of His divinity, but of His [human] infirmity. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate CXIX, §1, John 19:24-30.

Augustine (354-430): Why, then, said the Son to the mother, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come ?” Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as He was God, He had not a mother; according as He was man, He had. She was the mother, then, of His flesh, of His humanity, of the weakness which for our sakes He took upon Him. But the miracle which He was about to do, He was about to do according to His divine nature, not according to His weakness; according to that wherein He was God not according to that wherein He was born weak. But the weakness of God is stronger than men. His mother then demanded a miracle of Him; but He, about to perform divine works, so far did not recognize a human womb; saying in effect, “That in me which works a miracle was not born of thee, thou gavest not birth to my divine nature; but because my weakness was born of thee, I will recognize thee at the time when that same weakness shall hang upon the cross.” This, indeed, is the meaning of “Mine hour is not yet come.” For then it was that He recognized, who, in truth, always did know. He knew His mother in predestination, even before He was born of her; even before, as God, He created her of whom, as man, He was to be created, He knew her as His mother: but at a certain hour in a mystery He did not recognize her; and at a certain hour which had not yet come, again in a mystery, He does recognize her. For then did He recognize her, when that to which she gave birth was a-dying. That by which Mary was made did not die, but that which was made of Mary; not the eternity of the divine nature, but the weakness of the flesh, was dying. He made that answer therefore, making a distinction in the faith of believers, between the who; and the how, He came. For while He was God and the Lord of heaven and earth, He came by a mother who was a woman. In that He was Lord of the world, Lord of heaven and earth, He was, of course, the Lord of Mary also; but in that wherein it is said, “Made of a woman, made under the law,” He was Mary’s son. The same both the Lord of Mary and the son of Mary; the same both the Creator of Mary and created from Mary. Marvel not that He was both son and Lord. For just as He is called the son of Mary, so likewise is He called the son of David; and son of David because son of Mary. Hear the apostle openly declaring, “Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Hear Him also declared the Lord of David; let David himself declare this: “ The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand. “ And this passage Jesus Himself brought forward to the Jews, and refuted them from it. How then was He both David’s son and David’s Lord? David’s son according to the flesh, David’s Lord according to His divinity; so also Mary’s son after the flesh, and Mary’s Lord after His majesty. Now as she was not the mother of His divine nature, whilst it was by His divinity the miracle she asked for would be wrought, therefore He answered her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee ?” NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate VIII, §9, John 2:1-4.

Augustine (354-430): Each birth of his, you see, must be considered wonderful, both that of his divinity and that of his humanity. The first is from the Father without mother, the second from mother without father; the first apart from all time, the second at the acceptable time (2 Cor 6:2); the first eternal, the second at the right moment; the first without a body in the bosom of the Father (Jn 1:18), the second with a body, which did not violate the virginity of his mother; the first without either sex, the second without a man’s embrace. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 6, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 214.6 (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), p. 153.

Augustine (354-430): While hanging upon the cross, at the will and command of the Father, he also abandoned into the hands of men the human flesh which he assumed from the holy virgin, Mary, and commended his divinity into the hands of his Father, saying, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Lk 23:46). For Mary gave birth to the body which was destined to die, but the immortal God begot the immortal Son. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, The Arian Sermon §7, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 133.

Augustine (354-430): Because of his eternal birth scripture says, In the beginning was the Word. Look, I say that God the Son was born from God the Father apart from time. I have shown how he who is his Father is also his God on account of the human nature which he has assumed and in which he was born from the womb of his mother without intercourse with a human father. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Answer to Maximinus the Arian, Book 2, XVIII, 2, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 297.

Joseph Ratzinger (aka Benedict XVI) and David T. King

March 4, 2010

I’m not sure Pastor King will be entirely pleased by comparison, but it is interesting to note that Joseph Ratzinger has confirmed something that Pastor King has been saying for a long time.

Ratzinger writes:

We are fairly certain today that, while the Fathers were not Roman Catholic as the thirteenth or nineteenth century would have understood the term, they were, nonetheless, “Catholic”, and their Catholicism extended to the very canon of the New Testament itself.

– Benedict XVI (then Joseph Ratzinger), Principles of Catholic theology: building stones for a fundamental theology (2:1:D), p. 141 (English edition, 1987 – Originally published in German in 1982)(see more context here)

Pastor King has said:

We, as Protestants, are very content to let the ECFs be what they were. But it is the Roman apologist who, on the contrary, must read back into the ECFs the notions of modern day Rome and papal primacy that were never recognized by the eastern church. Again, for all this insistence on the ECFs being “catholic” I am in great agreement!


What is also interesting is that Ratzinger’s comment stands opposed to lay Roman apologists who claim things like “The Church Fathers Were Catholic” (meaning, of course, “Roman Catholic”) (Dave Armstrong, who has a book by that title, comes to mind, though he is not alone in making this sort of ignorant assertion).

Ratzinger goes on, of course, to insist that “only one side can consider them its own Fathers” but the admission that Ratzinger has made exposes one of the central weaknesses to much of the patristically-directed Roman apologetic effort in the English-speaking world today. We can agree with Ratzinger that the Fathers were “catholic” as that term is properly understood, and we can also agree with him that they would not be considered “Roman Catholic” by modern (or even medieval) standards. We too willingly acknowledge that the Fathers were not distinctly “Protestant” – they were who they were, often differing in significant ways from one another. As Pastor King explained it, we “are very content to let the [early church fathers] be what they were.”

These facts ought, however, to point us to the need for an even earlier source of authority – the written Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. By such an established authority we can evaluate the claims of apostolicity of the various competing claimants to the catholic and apostolic faith.

– TurretinFan

Some Patristic Views of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

January 21, 2010

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.


Ver. 3, 4. “Let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.”

Here he discourses concerning the Antichrist, and reveals great mysteries. What is “the falling away?” He calls him Apostasy, as being about to destroy many, and make them fall away. So that if it were possible, He says, the very Elect should be offended. From Matthew 24:24 And he calls him “the man of sin.” For he shall do numberless mischiefs, and shall cause others to do them. But he calls him “the son of perdition,” because he is also to be destroyed. But who is he? Is it then Satan? By no means; but some man, that admits his fully working in him. For he is a man. “And exalts himself against all that is called God or is worshipped.” For he will not introduce idolatry, but will be a kind of opponent to God; he will abolish all the gods, and will order men to worship him instead of God, and he will be seated in the temple of God, not that in Jerusalem only, but also in every Church. “Setting himself forth,” he says; he does not say, saying it, but endeavoring to show it. For he will perform great works, and will show wonderful signs.

– Chrysostom, Homilies on 2 Thessalonians, Homily 3, at 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Jerome explains:

Let us not follow the opinion of some commentators and suppose him to be either the Devil or some demon, but rather, one of the human race, in whom Satan will wholly take up his residence in bodily form. “. . .and a mouth uttering overweening boasts…” (cf. II Thess. 2). For this is the man of sin, the son of perdition, and that too to such a degree that he dares to sit in the temple of God, making himself out to be like God.

– Jerome, Commentary on Daniel, at Daniel 7:8

Cyril of Jerusalem:

And what comes to pass after this? He says next, When therefore you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, standing in the Holy Place, let him that reads understand. And again, Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Lo, there; believe it not. Hatred of the brethren makes room next for Antichrist; for the devil prepares beforehand the divisions among the people, that he who is to come may be acceptable to them. But God forbid that any of Christ’s servants here, or elsewhere, should run over to the enemy! Writing concerning this matter, the Apostle Paul gave a manifest sign, saying, For that day shall not come, except there came first the falling away, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know that which restrains, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of iniquity does already work, only there is one that restrains now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall the lawless one be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that are perishing. [2 Thessalonians 2:3-10] Thus wrote Paul, and now is the falling away. For men have fallen away from the right faith; and some preach the identity of the Son with the Father, and others dare to say that Christ was brought into being out of nothing. And formerly the heretics were manifest; but now the Church is filled with heretics in disguise. For men have fallen away from the truth, and have itching ears. [2 Timothy 4:3] Is it a plausible discourse? All listen to it gladly. Is it a word of correction? All turn away from it. Most have departed from right words, and rather choose the evil, than desire the good. This therefore is the falling away, and the enemy is soon to be looked for: and meanwhile he has in part begun to send forth his own forerunners, that he may then come prepared upon the prey. Look therefore to yourself, O man, and make safe your soul. The Church now charges you before the Living God; she declares to you the things concerning Antichrist before they arrive. Whether they will happen in your time we know not, or whether they will happen after you we know not; but it is well that, knowing these things, you should make yourself secure beforehand.

– Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 15, Section 9

Some Early Christian Writings on Justification

December 5, 2009

Clement of Rome on Justification:

And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever.

– Clement of Rome, (his, not Paul’s) 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 32

Ignatius on Justification:

But to me Jesus Christ is in the place of all that is ancient: His cross, and death, and resurrection, and the faith which is by Him, are undefiled monuments of antiquity; by which I desire, through your prayers, to be justified.

– Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians, Chapter VIII (Short Version)

To such persons I say that my archives are Jesus Christ, to disobey whom is manifest destruction. My authentic archives are His cross, and death, and resurrection, and the faith which bears on these things, by which I desire, through your prayers, to be justified.

– Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians, Chapter VIII (Long Version)

Mathetes on Justification:

But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!

– Mathetes, Letter to Diognetus, Chapter 9

Justin Martyr on Justification:

For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham. For when Abraham himself was in uncircumcision, he was justified and blessed by reason of the faith which he reposed in God, as the Scripture tells. Moreover, the Scriptures and the facts themselves compel us to admit that He received circumcision for a sign, and not for righteousness.

– Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 23

Irenaeus on Justification:

And again, confirming his former words, he says, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore, that they which are of faith are the children of Abraham. But the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, declared to Abraham beforehand, That in thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham.”47304730 Gal. iii. 6, etc. Thus, then, they who are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham, and these are the children of Abraham. Now God made promise of the earth to Abraham and his seed; yet neither Abraham nor his seed, that is, those who are justified by faith, do now receive any 562 inheritance in it; but they shall receive it at the resurrection of the just. For God is true and faithful; and on this account He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 5, Chapter 32, Section 2

For the Lord is the good man of the house, who rules the entire house of His Father; and who delivers a law suited both for slaves and those who are as yet undisciplined; and gives fitting precepts to those that are free, and have been justified by faith, as well as throws His own inheritance open to those that are sons.

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 9, Section 1

And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows,— that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” Then, again, Lot, without circumcision, was brought out from Sodom, receiving salvation from God. So also did Noah, pleasing God, although he was uncircumcised, receive the dimensions [of the ark], of the world of the second race [of men]. Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God’s legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation. Moreover, all the rest of the multitude of those righteous men who lived before Abraham, and of those patriarchs who preceded Moses, were justified independently of the things above mentioned, and without the law of Moses. As also Moses himself says to the people in Deuteronomy: “The Lord thy God formed a covenant in Horeb. The Lord formed not this covenant with your fathers, but for you.”

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 2

The Lord, therefore, was not unknown to Abraham, whose day he desired to see; nor, again, was the Lord’s Father, for he had learned from the Word of the Lord, and believed Him; wherefore it was accounted to him by the Lord for righteousness. For faith towards God justifies a man; and therefore he said, “I will stretch forth my hand to the most high God, who made the heaven and the earth.”

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 5, Section 5

For “all men come short of the glory of God,”41834183 Rom. iii. 23. [Another testimony to the mercy of God in the judgment of the unevangelized. There must have been some reason for the secrecy with which “that presbyter’s” name is guarded. Irenæus may have scrupled to draw the wrath of the Gnostics upon any name but his own.] and are not justified of themselves, but by the advent of the Lord,—they who earnestly direct their eyes towards His light.

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 27, Section 2

And that the Lord did not abrogate the natural [precepts] of the law, by which man [Editor’s footnote: That is, as Harvey observes, the natural man, as described in Rom. ii. 27.] is justified, which also those who were justified by faith, and who pleased God, did observe previous to the giving of the law, but that He extended and fulfilled them, is shown from His words. “For,” He remarks, “it has been said to them of old time, Do not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That every one who hath looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 13, Section 1


Analogical Argument on the Object of Prayer

August 30, 2009

There are many great arguments that are presented as to why we should not pray to anyone besides God. One underused argument, however, is the analogical or typological argument. The Old Testament worship of God employed incense. That incense is a symbol and picture of our prayers. We can see its connection to prayer in the New Testament:

Luke 1:9-11
According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Revelation 8:3-4
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

It was, indeed, prophesied in the Old Testament that incense would be offered unto the name of the Lord throughout the world.

Malachi 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

Furthermore, Scripture informs us of the fact that prayer corresponds to incense and sacrifice:

Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Thus, today we do not offer literal incense to God but instead offer prayers.

This understanding, of course, is not unique to me.

We see it in Justin Martyr (lived about A.D. 100-165):

What sober-minded man, then, will not acknowledge that we are not atheists, worshipping as we do the Maker of this universe, and declaring, as we have been taught, that He has no need of streams of blood and libations and incense; whom we praise to the utmost of our power by the exercise of prayer and thanksgiving for all things wherewith we are supplied, as we have been taught that the only honour that is worthy of Him is not to consume by fire what He has brought into being for our sustenance, but to use it for ourselves and those who need, and with gratitude to Him to offer thanks by invocations and hymns for our creation, and for all the means of health, and for the various qualities of the different kinds of things, and for the changes of the seasons; and to present before Him petitions for our existing again in incorruption through faith in Him.

– Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 13

We see it in Irenaeus (lived about A.D. 115 – 202):

But what other name is there which is glorified among the Gentiles than that of our Lord, by whom the Father is glorified, and man also? And because it is [the name] of His own Son, who was made man by Him, He calls it His own. Just as a king, if he himself paints a likeness of his son, is right in calling this likeness his own, for both these reasons, because it is [the likeness] of his son, and because it is his own production; so also does the Father confess the name of Jesus Christ, which is throughout all the world glorified in the Church, to be His own, both because it is that of His Son, and because He who thus describes it gave Him for the salvation of men. Since, therefore, the name of the Son belongs to the Father, and since in the omnipotent God the Church makes offerings through Jesus Christ, He says well on both these grounds, “And in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice.” Now John, in the Apocalypse, declares that the “incense” is “the prayers of the saints.”

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 6

We see it in Clement of Alexandria (lived about A.D. 150 – 215):

Now breathing together is properly said of the Church. For the sacrifice of the Church is the word breathing as incense from holy souls, the sacrifice and the whole mind being at the same time unveiled to God. Now the very ancient altar in Delos they celebrated as holy; which alone, being undefiled by slaughter and death, they say Pythagoras approached. And will they not believe us when we say that the righteous soul is the truly sacred altar, and that incense arising from it is holy prayer? But I believe sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext for eating flesh. But without such idolatry he who wished might have partaken of flesh.

– Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Book 7, Chapter 6

We see it in Origen (lived about A.D. 185 – 254):

Celsus then proceeds to say that “we shrink from raising altars, statues, and temples; and this,” he thinks, “has been agreed upon among us as the badge or distinctive mark of a secret and forbidden society.” He does not perceive that we regard the spirit of every good man as an altar from which arises an incense which is truly and spiritually sweet-smelling, namely, the prayers ascending from a pure conscience. Therefore it is said by John in the Revelation, “The odours are the prayers of saints;” and by the Psalmist, “Let my prayer come up before You as incense.”

– Origen, Contra Celsus, Book 8, Chapter 17

We see it in Cyprian of Carthage (died about A.D. 258):

That the ancient sacrifice should be made void, and a new one should be celebrated

In Isaiah: “For what purpose to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? Says the Lord: I am full; I will not have the burnt sacrifices of rams, and fat of lambs, and blood of bulls and goats. For who has required these things from your hands? ” Isaiah 1:11-12 Also in the forty-ninth Psalm: “I will not eat the flesh of bulls, nor drink the blood of goats. Offer to God the sacrifice of praise, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you: and you shall glorify me.” In the same Psalm, moreover: “The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me: therein is the way in which I will show him the salvation of God.” In the fourth Psalm too: “Sacrifice the sacrifice of righteousness, and hope in the Lord.” Likewise in Malachi: “I have no pleasure concerning you, says the Lord, and I will not have an accepted offering from your hands. Because from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name is glorified among the Gentiles; and in every place odours of incense are offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice, because great is my name among the nations, says the Lord.”

– Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise 12, Book 1, Section 16

We see it in Methodius (died about A.D. 311):

Therefore, also, it stands nearer to God within the Holy of holies, and before the veil, with undefiled hands, like incense, offering up prayers to the Lord, acceptable as a sweet savour; as also John indicated, saying that the incense in the vials of the four-and-twenty elders were the prayers of the saints.

– Methodius of Olympus, Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse 5, Chapter 8

We see it in Lactantius (lived about A.D. 250 – 325):

But the worship of God consists of one thing, not to be wicked. Also in that perfect discourse, when he heard Asclepius inquiring from his son whether it pleased him that incense and other odours for divine sacrifice were offered to his father, exclaimed: “Speak words of good omen, O Asclepius. For it is the greatest impiety to entertain any such thought concerning that being of pre-eminent goodness. For these things, and things resembling these, are not adapted to Him. For He is full of all things, as many as exist, and He has need of nothing at all. But let us give Him thanks, and adore Him. For His sacrifice consists only of blessing.” And he spoke rightly. For we ought to sacrifice to God in word; inasmuch as God is the Word, as He Himself confessed. Therefore the chief ceremonial in the worship of God is praise from the mouth of a just man directed towards God.

– Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Book 6, Chapter 25

We see it in Athanasius (lived about A.D. 293 – 373):

For such meditation and exercise in godliness, being at all times the habit of the saints, is urgent on us at the present time, when the divine word desires us to keep the feast with them if we are in this disposition. For what else is the feast, but the constant worship of God, and the recognition of godliness, and unceasing prayers from the whole heart with agreement? So Paul wishing us to be ever in this disposition, commands, saying, “Rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks.” Not therefore separately, but unitedly and collectively, let us all keep the feast together, as the prophet exhorts, saying, “O come, let us rejoice in the Lord; let us make a joyful noise unto God our Saviour.” Who then is so negligent, or who so disobedient to the divine voice, as not to leave everything, and run to the general and common assembly of the feast? Which is not in one place only, for not one place alone keeps the feast; but “into all the earth their song has gone forth, and to the ends of the world their words.” And the sacrifice is not offered in one place, but “in every nation, incense and a pure sacrifice is offered unto God.” So when in like manner from all in every place, praise and prayer shall ascend to the gracious and good Father, when the whole Catholic Church which is in every place, with gladness and rejoicing, celebrates together the same worship to God, when all men in common send up a song of praise and say, Amen; how blessed will it not be, my brethren! who will not, at that time, be engaged, praying rightly? For the walls of every adverse power, yea even of Jericho especially, falling down, and the gift of the Holy Spirit being then richly poured upon all men, every man perceiving the coming of the Spirit shall say, “We are all filled in the morning with Your favour, and we rejoice and are made glad in our days.”

– Athanasius, Letter 11, Section 11

We see it in Ephraim the Syrian (lived about A.D. 306 – 373):

Glory be to You Who clothed Yourself in the body of mortal Adam, and made it a fountain of life for all mortals. You are He that livest, for Your slayers were as husbandmen to Your life, for that they sowed it as wheat in the depth [of the earth], that it may rise and raise up many with it. Come, let us make our love the great censer of the community, and offer on it as incense our hymns and our prayers to Him Who made His cross a censer for the Godhead, and offered from it on behalf of us all. He that was above stooped down to those who were beneath, to distribute His treasures to them. Accordingly, though the needy drew near to His manhood, yet they used to receive the gift from His Godhead. Therefore He made the body which He put on, the treasurer of His riches, that He, O Lord, might bring them out of Your storehouse, and distribute them to the needy, the sons of His kindred.

– Ephraim the Syrian, Homily on Our Lord, Section 9

We see it in John Chrysostom (lived about A.D. 347 – 407):

The psalmist therefore asks for his prayer to become like that sacrifice defiled by no blemish of the offerer, like that pure and holy incense. Now, by his asking he also teaches us to offer prayers that are pure and fragrant. Hence he is also the one who touched on the stench of prayer in saying, “Because my iniquities rose up over my head, they weighed me down like a heavy load. My wounds were putrid and foul-smelling.” As, then, the incense even of itself is fine and sweet-smelling, but gives particular evidence of its fragrance at the time when it is mixed with the fire, so too is prayer fine of itself but becomes finer and more sweet-smelling when offered with ardor and a glowing spirit, when the soul becomes a censer and lights a burning fire. I mean, the incense would not be added unless the brazier had previously been lit, or the coals set alight. Do likewise in the case of your own mind: first light it with enthusiasm, and then offer your prayer.

– John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, at Psalm 141:2

We see it in Augustine (lived about A.D. 354 – 430):

“Let my prayer be set forth in Your sight as incense, and the lifting up of my hands an evening sacrifice” Psalm 140:2. That this is wont to be understood of the Head Himself, every Christian acknowledges. For when the day was now sinking towards evening, the Lord upon the Cross “laid down His life to take it again,” John 10:17 did not lose it against His will. Still we too are figured there. For what of Him hung upon the tree, save what He took of us? And how can it be that the Father should leave and abandon His only begotten Son, especially when He is one God with Him? Yet, fixing our weakness upon the Cross, where, as the Apostle says, “our old man is crucified with Him,” Romans 6:6 He cried out in the voice of that our “old man,” “Why have You forsaken Me?” That then is the “evening sacrifice,” the Passion of the Lord, the Cross of the Lord, the offering of a salutary Victim, the whole burnt offering acceptable to God. That “evening sacrifice” produced, in His Resurrection, a morning offering. Prayer then, purely directed from a faithful heart, rises like incense from a hallowed altar. Nought is more delightful than the odour of the Lord: such odour let all have who believe.

– Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 141 at verse 2.

We see it in John Cassian (lived about A.D. 360 – 435):

Wherefore we ought to pray often but briefly, lest if we are long about it our crafty foe may succeed in implanting something in our heart. For that is the true sacrifice, as “the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.” This is the salutary offering, these are pure drink offerings, that is the “sacrifice of righteousness,” the “sacrifice of praise,” these are true and fat victims, “holocausts full of marrow,” which are offered by contrite and humble hearts, and which those who practise this control and fervour of spirit, of which we have spoken, with effectual power can sing: “Let my prayer be set forth in Your sight as the incense: let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.”

– John Cassian, Conference 9, Chapter 36

Doubtless many more could be added to these. The point is that Scripture is fairly clear in making the association between Old Testament incense and prayer. In the New Testament we no longer use incense. I realize that there are churches today who use incense, but that was not the practice of the ancient churches. Arnobius (flourished about A.D. 284-305) tells us:

Having shown briefly how impious and infamous are the opinions which you have formed about your gods, we have now to speak of their temples, their images also, and sacrifices, and of the other things which are nailed and closely related to them. For you are here in the habit of fastening upon us a very serious charge of impiety because we do not rear temples for the ceremonies of worship, do not set up statues and images of any god, do not build altars, do not offer the blood of creatures slain in sacrifices, incense, nor sacrificial meal, and finally, do not bring wine flowing in libations from sacred bowls; which, indeed, we neglect to build and do, not as though we cherish impious and wicked dispositions, or have conceived any madly desperate feeling of contempt for the gods, but because we think and believe that they — if only they are true gods, and are called by this exalted name — either scorn such honours, if they give way to scorn, or endure them with anger, if they are roused by feelings of rage.

– Arnobius, Against the Heathen, Book 6, Section 1

Similarly, John Chrysostom explains: “You must worship ‘in truth’; as former things were types, such as circumcision, and whole burnt offerings, and victims, and incense, they now no longer exist, but all is ‘truth.’” (John Chrysostom, Homily 33 on the Gospel of John, at John 4:24)

But how does this tell us that we should not pray to saints? Let us look closely at the institution and formula of incense:

Exodus 30:34-38
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight: and thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy: and thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.

Notice that the incense is reserved for Jehovah: “it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.” Furthermore, God threatens with death those who used it for any other purpose: “Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.” By analogy, prayer is reserved for Jehovah as well.

Thus, as we saw above, the prophet Malachi declares that incense will be offered “unto my name … saith the LORD of hosts.” It is to God and God alone that we make our prayers. Prayers to anyone but God is an abuse of the incense of prayer. We are not free to pray to whomever we want to, but instead we are to pray to God alone by the merits of Christ alone, since he is the only mediator between God and man.


Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (CSEL) – Index Page

August 15, 2009

The following is a list of the volumes of the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (CSEL) that I was able to locate at Google Books and/or I wish to express my appreciation for the work I found at “Pr. Stefan”‘s blog (link). There were a few issues with his list, and I have attempted to improve upon it, to the extent that I am able.

As you will note there is no obvious pattern to the order of the books. If you are looking for a particular father’s work, therefore, you may have to a word search on his Latin name to find whether his works are included. I have not attempted to track down every Google copy for each volume. If you find that any of the links are not to versions that are still “full view,” please let me know.

Vol. 1 SULPICIUS SEVERUS, Opera – ed. C. Halm 1866; PSEUDO-SULPICIUS SEVERUS, Epistulae – ed. C. Halm 1866
Vol. 2 FIRMICUS MATERNUS, De errore profanarum religionum – ed. C. Halm 1869; MINUCIUS FELIX – ed. C. Halm 1867
Vol. 3/1, 3/2, 3/3 CYPRIANUS, Opera – ed. W. Hartel 1868/71
Vol. 4 ARNOBIUS, Adversus nationes – ed. A. Reifferscheid 1875
Vol. 5 OROSIUS, Historiae adversus paganos, Apologeticus – ed. C. Zangemeister 1882
Vol. 6 ENNODIUS, Opera – ed. W. Hartel 1882
Vol. 7 VICTOR VITENSIS, Historia persecutionis Africanae provinciae, PSEUDO-VICTOR VITENSIS, Passio septem monachorum, Notitia provinciarum et civitatum Africae – ed. M. Petschenig 1881
Vol. 8 SALVIANUS, De gubernatione dei, Epistulae, Ad ecclesiam – ed. F. Pauly 1883
Vol. 9/1 EUGIPPIUS, Excerpta ex operibus S. Augustini – ed. P. Knöll 1886
Vol. 9/2 EUGIPPIUS, (Epistula ad Probam virginem??), Vita S. Severini – ed. P. Knöll 1885
Vol. 10 SEDULIUS, Carmen paschale, Opus paschale, Epistulae – ed. J. Huemer 1885; (editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. V. Panagl 2007)
Vol. 11 CLAUDIANUS MAMERTUS, De statu animae, Epistula ad Sapaudum – ed. A. Engelbrecht 1885
Vol. 12 AUGUSTINUS, Speculum, Liber de divinis scripturis – ed. F. Weihrich 1887
Vol. 13 Iohannes CASSIANUS, Conlationes – ed. M. Petschenig 1886; (editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. G. Kreuz 2004)
Vol. 14 LUCIFER CALARITANUS, De non conveniendo cum haereticis, De regibus apostaticis, De sancto Athanasio, De non parcendo in deum delinquentibus, Moriendum esse pro dei filio, Epistulae – ed. W. Hartel 1886
Vol. 15 COMMODIANUS, Carmen apologeticum, Instructiones – ed. B. Dombart 1887
Vol. 16/1-2 Poetae Christiani Minores: PAULINUS PETRICORDIAE, Carmina – ed. M. Petschenig; ORIENTIUS, Carmina – ed. R. Ellis; PAULINUS PELLAEUS, Eucharisticos – ed. W. Brandes; CLAUDIUS MARIUS VICTOR, Alethia – ed. C. Schenkl; PROBA, Cento – ed. C. Schenkl; ANONYMUS, Sancti Paulini epigramma, Versus ad gratiam domini, De verbi incarnatione, De ecclesia – ed. C. Schenkl; 1888
Vol. 17 Iohannes CASSIANUS, De institutis coenobiorum et de octo principalium vitiorum remediis, De incarnatione Domini contra Nestorium – ed. M. Petschenig 1888; (editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. G. Kreuz 2004)
Vol. 18 PRISCILLIANUS, Tractatus, Canones; OROSIUS, Commonitorium de errore Priscillianistarum et Origenistarum – ed. G. Schepss 1889
Vol. 19 LACTANTIUS, Divinae institutiones, Epitome divinarum institutionum – ed. S. Brandt 1890
Vol. 20 TERTULLIANUS, De spectaculis, De idololatria, Ad nationes, De testimonio animae, Scorpiace, De oratione, De baptismo, De ieiunio, De anima, De pudicitia – ed. A. Reifferscheid, G. Wissowa 1890
Vol. 21 FAUSTUS REIENSIS, Opera – ed. A. Engelbrecht 1891
Vol. 22 HILARIUS PICTAVIENSIS, Tractatus super psalmos – ed. A. Zingerle 1891
Vol. 23 CYPRIANUS GALLUS, Heptateuchos, Fragmenta, De Sodoma, De Iona propheta; PSEUDO-HILARIUS, In Genesin ad Leonem papam, De martyrio Maccabaeorum, De evangelio – ed. R. Peiper 1891 (ANONYMUS, (Cypriani) Carmen ad quendam senatorem – ed. R. Peiper 1881); bound with (same link) Vol. 24 IUVENCUS, Evangeliorum libri – ed. J. Huemer 1891
Vol. 25/1, 25/2 AUGUSTINUS, De utilitate credendi, De duabus animabus, Contra Fortunatum Manichaeum, Contra Adimantum, Contra epistulam fundamenti, Contra Faustum Manichaeum, Contra Felicem Manichaeum, De natura boni, Epistula Secundini, Contra Secundinum Manichaeum – ed. J. Zycha 1891/92
Vol. 26 OPTATUS MILEVITANUS, Contra Parmenianum Donatistam, Appendix decem monumentorum veterum – ed. C. Ziwsa 1893
Vol. 27/1 LACTANTIUS, De opificio dei, De ira dei, Carmina, Fragmenta – ed. S. Brandt 1893; bound with (same link) Vol. 27/2 LACTANTIUS, De mortibus persecutorum – ed. S. Brandt, G. Laubmann 1897
Vol. 28/1 AUGUSTINUS, De Genesi ad litteram liber imperfectus, De Genesi ad litteram, Locutiones in Heptateuchum – ed. J. Zycha 1894
Vol. 28/2 AUGUSTINUS, Quaestiones in Heptateuchum, Adnotationes in Iob – ed. J. Zycha 1895
Vol. 29 PAULINUS NOLANUS, Epistulae – ed. W. Hartel 1894; (editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Kamptner 1999)
Vol. 30 PAULINUS NOLANUS, Carmina; PAULINUS PELLAEUS, Oratio – ed. W. Hartel 1894; (editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Kamptner 1999)
Vol. 31 EUCHERIUS, Opera – ed. C. Wotke 1894
Vol. 32/1 AMBROSIUS, Hexameron, De paradiso, De Cain, De Noe, De Abraham, De Isaac, De bono mortis – ed. C. Schenkl 1896 (other edition)
Vol. 32/2 AMBROSIUS, De Iacob, De Ioseph, De patriarchis, De fuga saeculi, De interpellatione Iob et David, De apologia prophetae David, De Helia, De Nabuthae, De Tobia – ed. C. Schenkl 1897
Vol. 32/3 ???
Vol. 32/4 AMBROSIUS, Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam – ed. C. Schenkl 1902
Vol. 33 AUGUSTINUS, Confessiones – ed. P. Knöll 1896
Vol. 34/1 AUGUSTINUS, Epistulae 1-30 – ed. A. Goldbacher 1895
Vol. 34/2 AUGUSTINUS, Epistulae 31-123 – ed. A. Goldbacher 1898
Vol. 35/1 COLLECTIO AVELLANA, Epistulae 1-104 – ed. O. Günther 1895, 1898
Vol. 35/2 COLLECTIO AVELLANA, Epistulae 105-244 – ed. O. Günther 1895, 1898
Vol. 36 AUGUSTINUS, Retractationes – ed. P. Knöll 1902
Vol. 37 CASSIODORUS, Contra Apionem – ed. C. Boysen 1898
Vol. 38 FILASTRIUS, Diversarum hereseon liber – ed. F. Marx 1898
Vol. 40/1 AUGUSTINUS, De civitate Dei (libri i-xiii) – ed. E. Hoffmann 1899/1900
Vol. 40/2 AUGUSTINUS, De civitate Dei (libri xiv-xxii) – ed. E. Hoffmann 1899/1900
Vol. 41 AUGUSTINUS, De fide et symbolo, De fide et operibus, De agone christiano, De continentia, De bono coniugali, De virginitate, De bono viduitatis, De adulterinis coniugiis, De mendacio, Contra mendacium, De opere monachorum, De divinatione daemonum, De cura pro mortuis gerenda, De patientia – ed. J. Zycha 1900
Vol. 42 AUGUSTINUS, De perfectione iustitiae hominis, De gestis Pelagii, De gratia Christi, De nuptiis et concupiscentia – ed. C. F. Vrba, J. Zycha 1902
Vol. 43 AUGUSTINUS, De consensu evangelistarum – ed. F. Weihrich 1904
Vol. 44 AUGUSTINUS, Epistulae 124-184 – ed. A. Goldbacher 1904
Vol. 45 EVAGRIUS, Altercatio legis inter Simonem Iudaeum et Theophilum Christianum – ed. E. Bratke 1904
Vol. 46 RUFINUS, Interpretatio orationum Gregorii Nazianzeni – ed. A. Engelbrecht 1910
Vol. 47 TERTULLIANUS, De patientia, De carnis resurrectione, Adversus Hermogenem, Adversus Valentinianos, Adversus omnes haereses, Adversus Praxean, Adversus Marcionem – ed. E. Kroymann 1906
Vol. 48 BOETHIUS, In Prophyrii isagogen commenta – ed. S. Brandt 1906
Vol. 49 VICTORINUS PETAVIONENSIS, Opera – ed. J. Haussleiter 1916
Vol. 50 [AMBROSIASTER] PSEUDO-AUGUSTINUS, Quaestiones veteris et novi testamenti – ed. A. Souter 1908
Vol. 51 AUGUSTINUS, Psalmus contra partem Donati, Contra epistulam Parmeniani, De baptismo – ed. M. Petschenig 1908
Vol. 52 AUGUSTINUS, Contra litteras Petiliani, Epistula ad catholicos de secta Donatistarum, Contra Cresconium grammaticum et Donatistam – ed. M. Petschenig 1909
Vol. 53 AUGUSTINUS, De unico baptismo, Breviculus collationis cum Donatistis, Contra partem Donati post gesta, Sermo ad Caesariensis ecclesiae plebem, Gesta cum Emerito Donatistarum episcopo, Contra Gaudentium Donatistarum episcopum – ed. M. Petschenig 1910
Vol. 54 HIERONYMUS, Epistulae 1-70 – ed. I. Hilberg 1910/1918; (editio altera supplementis aucta 1996)
Vol. 55 HIERONYMUS, Epistulae 71-120 – ed. I. Hilberg 1910/1918; (editio altera supplementis aucta 1996)
Vol. 56/1 HIERONYMUS, Epistulae 121-154 – ed. I. Hilberg 1910/1918; (editio altera supplementis aucta 1996)
Vol. 56/2 HIERONYMUS, Epistularum Indices – comp. M. Kamptner 1996
Vol. 57 AUGUSTINUS, Epistulae 185-270 – ed. A. Goldbacher 1911
Vol. 58 AUGUSTINUS, Epistulae: Praefatio et indices – ed. A. Goldbacher 1923
Vol. 59 HIERONYMUS, In Hieremiam prophetam – ed. S. Reiter 1913
Vol. 60 AUGUSTINUS, De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo parvulorum, De spiritu et littera, De natura et gratia, De natura et origine animae, Contra duas epistulas Pelagianorum – ed. C. F. Vrba, J. Zycha 1913
Vol. 61 PRUDENTIUS, Carmina – ed. J. Bergman 1926
Vol. 62 AMBROSIUS, Expositio de psalmo CXVIII – ed. M. Petschenig 1913, (editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Zelzer 1999)
Vol. 63 AUGUSTINUS, Contra Academicos, De beata vita, De ordine – ed. P. Knöll 1922
Vol. 64 AMBROSIUS, Explanatio super psalmos XII – ed. M. Petschenig 1919; (editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Zelzer 1999)
Vol. 65 HILARIUS PICTAVIENSIS, Tractatus mysteriorum, Fragmenta, Ad Constantium Imperatorem, Hymni; PSEUDO-HILARIUS, Epistula ad Abram filiam, Hymni – ed. A. Feder 1916
Vol. 66/1 HEGESIPPUS, Historiae – ed. V. Ussani 1932
Vol. 66/2 HEGESIPPUS, Historiae: Praefatio et indices – comp. C. Mras 1960
Vol. 67 BOETHIUS, De consolatione philosophiae – ed. W. Weinberger 1934
Vol. 68 GAUDENTIUS BRIXIENSIS, Tractatus – ed. A. Glück 1936
Vol. 69 TERTULLIANUS, Apologeticum – ed. H. Hoppe 1939
Vol. 70 TERTULLIANUS, De praescriptione haereticorum, De cultu feminarum, Ad uxorem, De exhortatione castitatis, De corona, De carne Christi, Adversus Iudaeos – ed. E. Kroymann 1942
Vol. 71 CASSIODORUS, Historia tripartita – ed. W. Jacob, R. Hanslik 1952
Vol. 72 ARATOR SUBDIACONUS, De actibus apostolorum (Historia apostolica) – ed. McKinlay 1951
Vol. 73 AMBROSIUS, Explanatio symboli, De sacramentis, De mysteriis, De paenitentia, De excessu fratris Satyri, De obitu Valentiniani, De obitu Theodosii – ed. O. Faller 1955
Vol. 74 AUGUSTINUS, De libero arbitrio – ed. W. M. Green 1956
Vol. 75 BENEDICTUS NURSINUS, Regula – ed. R. Hanslik 1960 (editio altera et correcta 1977)
Vol. 76 TERTULLIANUS, Ad martyras, Ad Scapulam, De fuga in persecutione, De monogamia, De virginibus velandis, De pallio – ed. V. Bulhart 1957
Vol. 76 TERTULLIANUS, De paenitentia – ed. Ph. Borleffs 1957
Vol. 77 AUGUSTINUS, De magistro – ed. G. Weigel 1961
Vol. 77 AUGUSTINUS, De vera religione – ed. W. M. Green 1961
Vol. 78 AMBROSIUS, De fide ad Gratianum Augustum – ed. O. Faller 1962
Vol. 79 AMBROSIUS, De spiritu sancto, De incarnationis dominicae sacramento – ed. O. Faller 1964
Vol. 80 AUGUSTINUS, De doctrina christiana – ed. W. M. Green 1963
Vol. 81/1-3 AMBROSIASTER, Commentarius in epistulas Paulinas – ed. H. J. Vogels
Vol. 82/1-4 AMBROSIUS, Epistulae et acta – ed. O. Faller, M. Zelzer 1968-1996
Vol. 83/1 MARIUS VICTORINUS, Ad Candidum Arrianum, Adversus Arium, De homoousio recipiendo, Hymni – ed. P. Henry, P. Hadot 1971
Vol. 83/2 MARIUS VICTORINUS, In epistulam Pauli ad Ephesios, In epistulam Pauli ad Galatas, In epistulam Pauli ad Philippenses – ed. F. Gori 1986
Vol. 84 AUGUSTINUS, Expositio quarumdam propositionum ex epistula ad Romanos, Epistulae ad Galatas expositio, Epistulae ad Romanos inchoata expositio – ed. J. Divjak 1971
Vol. 85/1-2 AUGUSTINUS, Contra secundam Iuliani responsionem opus imperfectum, lib. 1-3; 4-6 – ed. M. Zelzer 1974; (editio altera 2004?)
Vol. 86 RUFINUS, Basili regula – ed. K. Zelzer 1986
Vol. 87 EUGIPPIUS, Regula – ed. F. Villegas, A. De Vogüé 1976
Vol. 88 AUGUSTINUS, Epistulae nuper in lucem prolatae (Epistulae Divjak) – ed. J. Divjak 1981
Vol. 89 AUGUSTINUS, Soliloquia, De inmortalitate animae, De quantitate animae – ed. W. Hörmann 1986
Vol. 90 AUGUSTINUS, De moribus ecclesiae catholicae et de moribus Manichaeorum – ed. J. B. Bauer 1992
Vol. 91 AUGUSTINUS, De Genesi contra Manichaeos – ed. D. Weber 1998
Vol. 92 AUGUSTINUS, Contra sermonem Arrianorum (praecedit Sermo Arrianorum) – ed. M. J. Suda, De correptione et gratia – ed. G. Folliet 2000
Vol. 93/1 AUGUSTINUS, Enarrationes in Psalmos 1-32 (expos.) – ed. C. Weidmann 2003
Vol. 94/1 AUGUSTINUS, Enarrationes in Psalmos 51-60 (expos.) – ed. H. Müller 2004
Vol. 95/3 AUGUSTINUS, Enarrationes in Psalmos 119-133 – ed. F. Gori 2001
Vol. 95/4 AUGUSTINUS, Enarrationes in Psalmos 134-140 – ed. F. Gori adiuvante F. Recanatini 2002
Vol. 95/5 AUGUSTINUS, Enarrationes in Psalmos 141-150 – ed. F. Gori adiuvante I. Spaccia 2005
Vol. 96 ANONYMUS, In Iob commentarius – ed. K. B. Steinhauser adiuvantibus H. Müller et D. Weber 2006

Transubstantiation, Metaphor, and Common Sense

June 27, 2009

Over at Beggars All Reformation, one of the commenters had provided a quotation derived from the Westminster Confession of Faith, as follow:

The doctrine which maintains the change…transubstantiation.. is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason…overthroweth..cause manifold superstitions..gross idolatries.

Mr. Bellisario responded (in two separate comments that I have joined:

What is repugnant is that you reject Our Lord’s words which tell us otherwise. Not you or your false confession will ever change His words. Common sense does not give us the Gospel. Our lord did. You and your “confession” reject Our lord and His words. Common sense tells me to listen to his words.

I answered Bellisario:

Our Lord isn’t the one who invented this concept of transubstantiation. He used a metaphor, but that’s too common sense for some folks.

Bellisario responded (again, in two comments that I have joined):

Prove He used a metaphor. That is a lie from the devil. Our Lord never said it was a metaphor. I find it funny that there is only 1 interpretation of this passage of Scripture in the Catholic Church, while the great Saint Robert Bellarmine, writing in the sixteen hundreds, counted over two hundred interpretations of our Lord’s words at the Last Supper, “This is my Body…this is my Blood.” This is the result of everyone trying to interpret Our Lord’s words for themselves outside the Church. Who says your interpretation is right?

I now answer, at greater length:

Even leaving aside the bizarre statistical claim, there are numerous problems with this kind of argument from Bellisario.

(1) Jesus never used the word “metaphor” in the pages of Holy Scripture – not just about this metaphor, but about any of them. (2) Normally what distinguishes metaphor from simile is the absence of a signal – if it said “this represents my body” we would have simile, not metaphor. (3) Jesus didn’t say that the cup was a figure of speech for the contents of the cup, but folks use their common sense to recognize this. (4) Finally, some of the early church fathers confirm that Jesus used metaphors, including the metaphor identification of his body with bread and of wine with his blood.

What mean, then, the words, “I am the true vine”? Was it to the literal vine, from which that metaphor was drawn, that He intended to point them by the addition of “true”? For it is by similitude, and not by any personal propriety, that He is thus called a vine; just as He is also termed a sheep, a lamb, a lion, a rock, a corner-stone, and other names of a like kind, which are themselves rather the true ones, from which these are drawn as similitudes, not as realities.

– Augustine, Tractate 80 on John’s Gospel, Section 1

Maybe Bellisario would claim that Augustine was deceived because he made these claims without Jesus ever saying that “I am the true vine” is a metaphor (nor the other examples that Augustine listed).

And when He says, “The Lord looked down from Heaven:” [Psalm 14:2] it describes His perfect knowledge by a metaphor taken from men. So also here He says, “Now I know,” to declare this to be greater than all which had preceded it.

– Chrysostom, Homily 3 on Second Corinthians, Section 6

Again, the text does not explicitly say that this is a metaphor. Did someone trick Chrysostom into thinking it was a metaphor?

But let’s hit a little closer to home. We are frequently told by those who use Rome as the substitute for reason, that John 6 employs the same transubstantial language as in the words of institution. But Augustine says:

Now the rule in regard to this variation has two forms. For things that signify now one thing and now another, signify either things that are contrary, or things that are only different. They signify contraries, for example, when they are used metaphorically at one time in a good sense, at another in a bad, as in the case of the leaven mentioned above. Another example of the same is that a lion stands for Christ in the place where it is said, “The lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed;” (Revelation 5:5) and again, stands for the devil where it is written, “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) In the same way the serpent is used in a good sense, “Be wise as serpents;” (Matthew 10:16) and again, in a bad sense, “The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) Bread is used in a good sense, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven;” (John 6:51) in a bad, “Bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” (Proverbs 9:17) And so in a great many other cases. The examples I have adduced are indeed by no means doubtful in their signification, because only plain instances ought to be used as examples.

– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 25, Section 36

Augustine didn’t just think that “I am the living bread which came down from heaven;” was a metaphor – he thought it was an obvious metaphor. But our Lord never said it was a metaphor.

And Augustine was not alone:

And entertaining this view, we may regard the proclamation of the Gospel, which is universally diffused, as milk; and as meat, faith, which from instruction is compacted into a foundation, which, being more substantial than hearing, is likened to meat, and assimilates to the soul itself nourishment of this kind. Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: “Eat my flesh, and drink my blood;” [John 6:34] describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both—of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood.

– Clement of Alexandria, The Paedogogus, Chapter 6

The Scripture, accordingly, has named wine the symbol of the sacred blood; but reproving the base tippling with the dregs of wine, it says: “Intemperate is wine, and insolent is drunkenness.” [Proverbs 20:1] It is agreeable, therefore, to right reason, to drink on account of the cold of winter, till the numbness is dispelled from those who are subject to feel it; and on other occasions as a medicine for the intestines.

– Clement of Alexandria, The Paedogogus, Chapter 2

And of course, it’s not just those two guys, but Theodoret declares:

Moreover the Lord Himself promised to give on behalf of the life of the world, not His invisible nature, but His body. “For,” He says, “the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world,” and when He took the symbol of divine mysteries, He said, “This is my body which is given for you.“”

– Theodoret, Letter 130

And again Chrysostom:

And He Himself drank of it. For lest on hearing this, they should say, What then? Do we drink blood, and eat flesh? And then be perplexed (for when He began to discourse concerning these things, even at the very sayings many were offended),therefore lest they should be troubled then likewise, He first did this Himself, leading them to the calm participation of the mysteries. Therefore He Himself drank His own blood. What then must we observe that other ancient rite also? Some one may say. By no means. For on this account He said, “Do this,” that He might withdraw them from the other. For if this works remission of sins, as it surely does work it, the other is now superfluous.

As then in the case of the Jews, so here also He has bound up the memorial of the benefit with the mystery, by this again stopping the mouths of heretics. For when they say, Whence is it manifest that Christ was sacrificed? Together with the other arguments we stop their mouths from the mysteries also. For if Jesus did not die, of what are the rites the symbols?

– Chrysostom, Homily 82 on Matthew, Section 1

Those who have become acquainted with the secondary (i.e., under Christ) constitutions of the apostles, are aware that the Lord instituted a new oblation in the new covenant, according to [the declaration of] Malachi the prophet. For, “from the rising of the sun even to the setting my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice;” [Malachi 1:11] as John also declares in the Apocalypse: “The incense is the prayers of the saints.” Then again, Paul exhorts us “to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” [Romans 12:1] And again, “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of the lips.” [Hebrews 13:15] Now those oblations are not according to the law, the handwriting of which the Lord took away from the midst by cancelling it; [Colossians 2:14] but they are according to the Spirit, for we must worship God “in spirit and in truth.” [John 4:24] And therefore the oblation of the Eucharist is not a carnal one, but a spiritual; and in this respect it is pure. For we make an oblation to God of the bread and the cup of blessing, giving Him thanks in that He has commanded the earth to bring forth these fruits for our nourishment. And then, when we have perfected theoblation, we invoke the Holy Spirit, that He may exhibit this sacrifice, both the bread the body of Christ, and the cup the blood of Christ, in order that the receivers of these antitypes may obtain remission of sins and life eternal. Those persons, then, who perform these oblations in remembrance of the Lord, do not fall in with Jewish views, but, performing the service after a spiritual manner, they shall be called sons of wisdom.

– Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenæus, Section 37 (I should point out that I’m not sure about the legitimacy of the authorship of this quotation.)

So, in conclusion, yes – the Westminster Confession of Faith is right in saying that the error of transubstantiation is repugnant to common sense and reason. The reasons for folks to accept it have to do not with respecting the word of God, but in following the traditions of men – traditions which (in this case) were not followed by the early churches.


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