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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Roman Catholicism and Early Church Leaders?

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Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 1994
Whittier CA USA

 Roman Catholicism and Early Church Leaders?

At the outset of this thread I'd like to make a sincere disclaimer. I am not starting this thread to start a debate full of strife or discord among the brethren. I simply thought it would be good for us to think through this issue a bit and respectfully discuss it amongst us.

These are some thoughts that came to mind, some of my current views or leanings on this:

The RCC, as an official system of religion, is seriously heretical and a cult by definition. This is clearly seen in reading the Catholic Catechism, the official RCC statement of faith.

That being said, I believe there are some true believers within that system, like there are true believers within other heretical systems such as the Word of Faith prosperity gospel movement. As such I would never recommend for any true believers to remain within such a cultish system but to immediately come out of it. I would lovingly try to warn them regarding it.

Regarding the Early Church Fathers, I understand that the earlier the better. However, it seems clear that it didn't take that long for early church leaders to come up with serious aberrations from the faith once for all delivered to the saints. For example, this article shows how some of the apostolic fathers believed and taught on purgatory:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Purgatory#Purification_after_death

I would not question the salvation of some of these church fathers solely based on their embrace of certain heretical RCC views. But I would also not recommend nor see it as necessary or that beneficial to read their writings. And I would be willing to respectfully agree to disagree with brethren who feel otherwise on some of those writings. I would only be seriously concerned if it is implied we can embrace the current RCC system as a true church within the Body of Christ.

All that being said, a good point has been made about how we got the canon of Scripture. And I also thought about all the essential doctrines that were defended by the early church fathers in the councils. My response regarding that would be that God used those leaders and councils to preserve His Word IN SPITE OF the serious errors within the RCC system.


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Oracio

 2014/7/17 22:15Profile
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 Re: Roman Catholicism and the Early Church Fathers? Cultish or Not?


I disagree with your wording of cult. A major emphasis of a cult is doing something to force against one's will.

Quote:
Specific examples of belief in purification after death and of the communion of the living with the dead through prayer are found in many of the Church Fathers.[14] Irenaeus (c. 130-202) mentioned an abode where the souls of the dead remained until the universal judgment, a process that has been described as one which "contains the concept of... purgatory."[15] Both St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215) and his pupil, Origen of Alexandria (c. 185-254), developed a view of purification after death;[16] this view drew upon the notion that fire is a divine instrument from the Old Testament, and understood this in the context of New Testament teachings such as baptism by fire, from the Gospels, and a purificatory trial after death, from St. Paul.[17] Origen, in arguing against soul sleep, stated that the souls of the elect immediately entered paradise unless not yet purified, in which case they passed into a state of punishment, a penal fire, which is to be conceived as a place of purification.[18] For both Clement and Origen, the fire was neither a material thing nor a metaphor, but a "spiritual fire".[19] An early Latin author, Tertullian (c. 160-225), also articulated a view of purification after death.[20] In Tertullian's understanding of the afterlife, the souls of martyrs entered directly into eternal blessedness,[21] whereas the rest entered a generic realm of the dead. There the wicked suffered a foretaste of their eternal punishments,[21] whilst the good experienced various stages and places of bliss wherein "the idea of a kind of purgatory… is quite plainly found," an idea that is representative of a view widely dispersed in antiquity.[22] Later examples, wherein further elaborations are articulated, include St. Cyprian (d. 258),[23] St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407),[24] and St. Augustine (354-430),[25] among others.



I do not see one direct quote of any of these early church fathers. And Tertuallian's view seems very much like what some evangelicals interpret as Abraham's bosom. Which people interrupt as "paradise" and not heaven itself because one could see the damned suffering with the gulf between.

Also I would say again you use the RCC as something that always existed since AD 100 or something early which is just not true. It would be good for you to research and guesstimate a later date of when potentially it became more of an unhealthy state.

The first actual Pope in Rome was probably Leo I (440-461 A.D.), although some claim that Gregory I was the first (590-604 A.D.).

So before that it seems there was much more health in the Church and it was the One Church where many godly bishops tended God's flock.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2014/7/17 22:25Profile
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 Re:

I wonder just how dispensable RC Sproul would say Augustine is.

It does make one wonder why those saints much closer in time to the apostles would believe in a place of purging.

Why would that be? Sure would be nice to be able to trace back to the first person that taught this.


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Todd

 2014/7/17 22:34Profile
Oracio
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 Re:

Quote:
I disagree with your wording of cult. A major emphasis of a cult is doing something to force against one's will.


This is a definition of a cult from websters online encyclopedia:

“Collective veneration or worship (e.g., the cult of the saints—meaning collective veneration of the saints—in Roman Catholicism). In the West, the term has come to be used for groups that are perceived to have deviated from normative religions in belief and practice. They typically have a charismatic leader and attract followers who are in some way disenfranchised from the mainstream of society. Cults as thus defined are often viewed as foreign or dangerous.”

Since the RCC teaches the veneration of Mary and the saints I think it falls under that definition. Here is an entry on the cult of the saints from Brittanica:

“The cult (system of religious beliefs and rituals) of the saints emerged in the 3rd century and gained momentum from the 4th to the 6th century. The bones of martyrs were believed to provide evidence of God’s power at work in the world, producing miracles and spectacles of the effectiveness of faith. The martyrs had imitated Christ even unto death, and the remains of their holy bodies were...”

The RCC also has the pope as its charismatic leader whom multitudes follow blindly and almost worship.

Quote:
I do not see one direct quote of any of these early church fathers. And Tertuallian's view seems very much like what some evangelicals interpret as Abraham's bosom. Which people interrupt as "paradise" and not heaven itself because one could see the damned suffering with the gulf between.


I do not have much time right now to do much research on that so I’d have to get back on that. If anyone has any direct quotes feel free to share, not just on purgatory but any other RCC errors.

Quote:
Also I would say again you use the RCC as something that always existed since AD 100 or something early which is just not true. It would be good for you to research and guesstimate a later date of when potentially it became more of an unhealthy state.

The first actual Pope in Rome was probably Leo I (440-461 A.D.), although some claim that Gregory I was the first (590-604 A.D.).

So before that it seems there was much more health in the Church and it was the One Church where many godly bishops tended God's flock



My point was that some official RCC heresies can be traced way back even to the time of the apostolic fathers. It seems that very early on they deviated from sound doctrine and created traditions of men that nullified the Word of God. As such it became a system of beliefs known as the RCC. Yes there were true believers and leaders but that does not justify their serious errors which we must renounce if we are to be obedient to God's Word.

Another point I want to make is that when the Scriptures speak of receiving traditions handed down it refers to traditions that are taught in the Word of God, such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Not man-made erroneous traditions which the RCC holds to be equal in authority with Scripture.


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Oracio

 2014/7/17 23:48Profile









 Re:

I think we massively over simplify the claim to a heretical all encompassing Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand we may over complicate what the meaning of the True Catholic Church is. Most really well written and substantial works on the Roman Catholic Church from the Protestant genre date the real start of the RCC as a system of error to about the 6th Century and then go on to conclude that this RCC system came into its fullness in the 13th Century.

The fact that some erroneous doctrines are said to have their roots in a particular individual or at a particular time and place is mostly intellectual subjectivism based on extant manuscripts and reading between the lines. It may be a case of take it or leave it with most things. Perhaps the best approach to error is to exercise discernment here and now and spend less time worrying about how things got stared.

Augustine contributed to the present Canon of Scripture from Jerusalem, which he called an "out of the way place". It is a comment of course which he wrote in a personal letter explaining what he had done in gathering a list of and copies of as many ecclesiastical writings he could find and accepting or else rejecting the obvious truth from the obvious error. Is Jerusalem an out of the way place? It was in the 4th Century and it still is if you happen to be writing with Rome in mind. Yet the Rome of Augustine's day is not the Rome of today. Not politically and not spiritually!

Everything is relative until you apply discernment, then it is either true or false according to God.

 2014/7/18 1:23









 Re:

I agree with Andrew Kelly.

Within the Catholic Church, there have always been a section of deeply spiritual men and women who follow(ed) the traditional mystical teaching of via triplex, which is Purgation, Illumination and Union. Notice that Purgation or purgatory, is at the beginning and not the end. St John of the Cross (16th C) is amongst those. Although he was classed as a doctor of the church at a much later date, I have found that some of his teachings are at odds with the official dogma, such as when perfection comes. The official teaching is after death but John clearly taught it to be in this life. I can only assume that his writings were not studied closely or misunderstood when they were read. He was also imprisoned during his lifetime for 9 months due to his teaching.

 2014/7/18 5:01
Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 1994
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Quote:
I think we massively over simplify the claim to a heretical all encompassing Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand we may over complicate what the meaning of the True Catholic Church is. Most really well written and substantial works on the Roman Catholic Church from the Protestant genre date the real start of the RCC as a system of error to about the 6th Century and then go on to conclude that this RCC system came into its fullness in the 13th Century.

The fact that some erroneous doctrines are said to have their roots in a particular individual or at a particular time and place is mostly intellectual subjectivism based on extant manuscripts and reading between the lines. It may be a case of take it or leave it with most things. Perhaps the best approach to error is to exercise discernment here and now and spend less time worrying about how things got stared.

Augustine contributed to the present Canon of Scripture from Jerusalem, which he called an "out of the way place". It is a comment of course which he wrote in a personal letter explaining what he had done in gathering a list of and copies of as many ecclesiastical writings he could find and accepting or else rejecting the obvious truth from the obvious error. Is Jerusalem an out of the way place? It was in the 4th Century and it still is if you happen to be writing with Rome in mind. Yet the Rome of Augustine's day is not the Rome of today. Not politically and not spiritually!

Everything is relative until you apply discernment, then it is either true or false according to God.



Good points brother, I’ll give you that. I am trying to sincerely sort this issue out a bit within my mind as one who has not studied church history that much or the early church writings. I have read very little and some of it has been very much in accordance with Scripture while other parts have been seriously concerning. The RCC tries to claim all the church fathers and their writings as part of their history and system and venerates and prays to them, while some Protestant theologians also try to claim them. This can cause confusion, especially for new Christians. My concern is that if a new Christians starts reading some of those writings and comes across RCC error, it can be a huge stumbling block to them. We’ve heard of situations where some Protestants, even pastors, have joined the RCC after studying some of these writings. My reasoning here is that these writings are not equal with Scripture and should not be elevated too much, especially in light of the fact that some contain RCC error.

So far I was looking into the apostolic fathers a bit, namely Polycarp of Smyrna (65-155 AD), Clement of Rome(died 99 AD), and Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 or 50 – 98 to 117 AD). So far I didn’t find much to be concerned about, other than this quote from Ignatius on the literal body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist:

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God… They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes. —Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch 6”

I felt that quote was worthy of consideration because the RCC teaching on transubstantiation is closely linked to their teaching on the mass-sacrifice of Christ. Here is an article that explains the seriousness of this error: http://carm.org/transubstantiation

In posting that quote and bringing that up I do not mean to completely write off Ignatius as a heretic or devalue his contribution to the Church. Again, my point is simply to say we must be very careful with these writings that are extra-biblical.

So so far it seems to me that at least the writings of Polycarp of Smyrna and Clement of Rome are very solid in sound doctrine and without any serious concern or error. I’ll continue to research.


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Oracio

 2014/7/18 14:31Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God… They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes. —Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch 6”



This is a worthy consideration because many of the early reformers considered the eucharist (Lord's supper) something more then a symbol. Luther's view was much closer to the Catholic viewpoint. Zwingli was one of the only major teachers who denied any spiritual substance and claimed it was merely a symbol and did not put as much importance on it. So should we consider that it is biblical that there is more to the Lord's Supper then a symbol ritual that we do and that there is benefit or determent to the taking of the Lord's supper depending in what way we partake?

I personally have always taken the Lord's Supper very seriously and treated it more then just a piece of bread, it becomes sanctified when used in holy communion and I have always felt a spiritual benefit to it when treating the time with reverence.


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 2014/7/18 15:11Profile
Oracio
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 Re:

Quote:
This is a worthy consideration because many of the early reformers considered the eucharist (Lord's supper) something more then a symbol. Luther's view was much closer to the Catholic viewpoint. Zwingli was one of the only major teachers who denied any spiritual substance and claimed it was merely a symbol and did not put as much importance on it. So should we consider that it is biblical that there is more to the Lord's Supper then a symbol ritual that we do and that there is benefit or determent to the taking of the Lord's supper depending in what way we partake?

I personally have always taken the Lord's Supper very seriously and treated it more then just a piece of bread, it becomes sanctified when used in holy communion and I have always felt a spiritual benefit to it when treating the time with reverence.



While Luther did believe and teach the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, he opposed the doctrine of Transubstantiation. He wrote:

"Therefore it is an absurd and unheard-of juggling with words, to understand "bread" to mean "the form, or accidents of bread," and "wine" to mean "the form, or accidents of wine." Why do they not also understand all other things to mean their forms, or accidents? Even if this might be done with all other things, it would yet not be right thus to emasculate the words of God and arbitrarily to empty them of their meaning. Moreover, the Church had the true faith for more than twelve hundred years, during which time the holy Fathers never once mentioned this transubstantiation — certainly, a monstrous word for a monstrous idea — until the pseudo-philosophy of Aristotle became rampant in the Church these last three hundred years. During these centuries many other things have been wrongly defined, for example, that the Divine essence neither is begotten nor begets, that the soul is the substantial form of the human body, and the like assertions, which are made without reason or sense, as the Cardinal of Cambray himself admits."

Believing that Christ is really present with us in the Lord's Supper, and believing that that His literal body and blood are present as an on-going sacrifice during the RCC mass are two completely different things.


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Oracio

 2014/7/18 15:26Profile









 Re:

Mathew 24:9
Do not call anyone on earth your father, for One is your Father, He who us in heaven.

Brethren this is a very, very serious admonition of Jesus. I am seeing some disturbing elements coming out in these threads. When I hear men ascribed as "church fathers" or "holy fathers" I get disturbed. And I see Ronan Catholicism.

Men are not to be elevated in place of Christ. Their works are not to be elevated in place of the Bible.

There is only one authority over the church. It is Jesus Christ and Him alone. His Word is all that is needed.

Believers in persecuted lands only need Jesus and His Word. Indeed those that during the Reformation who stood for this were put to death by the institution who claimed to walk in the legacy of the so called church fathers.

From the limited selections I have read of these men I find no edification. I find much more edification in Christ and His Word.

Those in the emergent church movement are calling Francis their pope. Will this be the next step in this forum.

When I see discussions of Apostolic succession and purgatory opened up. Brethren I get worried. It makes me wonder what the Reformation was all about.

Before this forum begins an infatuation with the RCC talk to Mary Jane or Br. Frank. Their testimonies of being converted out of Ronan Csthocism will be very enlightening.

My thoughts.

Blaine

 2014/7/18 17:54





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