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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Early Church Fathers

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drifter
Member



Joined: 2005/6/6
Posts: 660
Campbell River, B.C.

 Re:

I really opened up a can of worms, didn't I?

It was not and never is my intention to create quarrels and divisions in the body of Christ. If I have done so, please accept my sincerest apologies.

The scriptures, and only the scriptures, must be my rule of faith. If something contradicts that, even if it was written by the angel Gabriel, I have to reject it. The Pharisees would tell you, if they were around today, that they descended from an unbroken line of priests straight from Aaron. They did. Jesus still called them whitewashed tombs and told them their traditions made the word of God void. I know Catholics and Orthodox say "their" traditions are from the apostles themselves, and they always use 2 Thessalonians 2:15 like a cudgel to "prove" their point. Matthew Henry's commentary proves very helpful here:

"As yet the canon of scripture was not complete, and therefore some things were delivered by the apostles in their preaching, under the guidance of the infallible Spirit, which Christians were bound to observe as coming from God; other things were afterwards by them committed to writing, as the apostle had written a former epistle to these Thessalonians; and these epistles were written as the writers were moved by the Holy Ghost. Note, There is no argument hence for regarding oral traditions in our days, now that the canon of scripture is complete, as of equal authority with the sacred writings. Such doctrines and duties as were taught by the inspired apostles we must stedfastly adhere to; but we have no certain evidence of any thing delivered by them more than what we find contained in the holy scriptures."

I respect the writings of the people commonly called the Early Church fathers; however, they are not binding to me. Their writings are not scriptural canon. I regard them with the same amount of respect I would to a book by A. W. Tozer or some other godly writer. They can be very helpful in a believers walk and are excellent examples of faithful christians.

I have to state again, emphatically:

I accept every brother and sister in every denomination as part of the body of Christ if they are truly born again.

If they are not born again but just members of a particular denomination, I cannot accept them as true believers.

If you're Orthodox and you truly love Jesus, praise God! You're my brother or sister.

But realize, I'm born again and I am not a member of the Orthodox church. I have not been and never will be chrismated. I don't believe communion (which I take as regular grape juice from my fridge and crackers from my cupboard) is actually the body of Christ, only a symbol. But I won't let our doctrinal differences get in the way of fellowship.


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Nigel Holland

 2020/1/16 21:13Profile
Gloryandgrace
Member



Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 1162
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re:


Hi Brother Nigel:

You didn't open a can of worms brother, I thought your last post was well said and I think most folks here would agree with that.


I enjoy Basil, Athanasius, Tertullian, Athanagorus to name a few. These men as we all are are product of the times in which they live. They are affected by doctrines and practices in those centuries we haven't the faintest notion about because we are so far removed from that time and those manners. Their judgments are time specific, their words are anointed for sure but not scripture-grade testimony.
Nevertheless those aforementioned men have said so much that I learned from and was challenged by.

I have gained much from the reading of their works and I would encourage others to read them as well. But just as you said...the scriptures are the final authority and the filter through which all the words of men should pass.


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Marvin

 2020/1/30 13:30Profile
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2003
Joplin, Missouri

 Re:

I have very much enjoyed reading the writings of A.W. Tozer. I have also really enjoyed the transcribed sermons of Smith Wigglesworth and John G. Lake. I have listened to Paul Washer and really been blessed, challenged, and encouraged. But I have never patterned my life after any one of these men. I have accepted that they have had a fatherly role in the body of Christ, and I honor them for that position. But none of them have ever been, nor will ever be right about every aspect of scripture and doctrine.

I really think that is how we should also approach the early church fathers. Those apostles who were anointed by God to write what we now have as scripture were used by God to write something that is inerrant. But the early church fathers were not. We can learn a great deal from their writings. We can be blessed by them. At times, they got it wrong, just as we do. That is why, as much as we may be their students, we should much more be students of the Holy Spirit and spend the bulk of our time in intimacy with the word of God. Then we will have the wisdom to be able to discern the writings of the church fathers.


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Travis

 2020/1/31 15:37Profile
Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2093
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

brother Travis wrote:

Quote:
That is why, as much as we may be their students, we should much more be students of the Holy Spirit and spend the bulk of our time in intimacy with the word of God. Then we will have the wisdom to be able to discern the writings of the church fathers.



Vital point. We cannot fall into the same trap the Roman Catholic church has been gripped by for so many centuries, we cannot elevate the writings of any men in an unhealthy and unbiblical manner, no matter how influential they've been, and no matter how close they were to the Apostles, or how close of a walk they had with God. When we study the Scriptures themselves with diligence and a sincere and open heart and mind, there is more probability of attaining true insight into God's Word, as opposed to depending heavily on the writings of men of God as a source of authority.

That is why the Protestant Reformation was vital. It restored the ability of God's people to diligently and prayerfully search the Scriptures for themselves. And that is how certain vital doctrines were restored (e.g. salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone apart from the works of the law, and the need to forsake idolatry/aka saint veneration, etc.) on such a wide scale.


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Oracio

 2020/1/31 21:22Profile
CofG
Member



Joined: 2017/2/12
Posts: 487
Cambodia

 Re: brother Oracio

Good points Oracio.

What you said is exactly why I wondered why we call them “church Fathers.” They were men of God taught by God through the teachings of the Apostles, a few in person and some through their writings. Not even everything the Apostles had to say outside the Scriptures is authoritative. Look at Peter and his behavior toward Gentlies when the Jews were around. Calling them Fathers gives their writings and interpretations of the apostolic doctrine a presumption of authority. If you go there, then we are left to either adopt all their interpretations or treat them in most instances as similar to other Godly and faithful theological men who may be right and sometimes wrong like Spurgeon, Edwards, Ryle, etc. The apostolic doctrine should be our devotion and men’s interpretation not our guides but only helpers. Some give the Fathers a mystique that draws too many into a presumption of high if not outright interpretive authority.


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Robert

 2020/2/1 1:55Profile
Gloryandgrace
Member



Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 1162
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re:


The Early Fathers who guided the Church in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries were 'fathers' in the sense that is how God started his Church. God sent 12 apostles into the world at the very start, the Church copying this very same 'authoritative personage' were not put off by the position and title of 'father'. Paul speaking to the Corinthians...1cor4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

Paul is not in this passage denoting a special group of men called 'fathers' but he is denoting himself as the man who brought them the authoritative word of God by which under his preaching they were born of God. In this sense Paul is a father to the Corinthians.

The early Church didn't have denominations, bible internet study groups, non-denominational leaders, it had Churches in the various cities and in those cities were bishops overseeing the Church there. Even those bishops gave place to men of God who's teachings and authority in Church matters were evident by their piety. The writings of many of the fathers are polemical, some treatise, some apologetic some theological. But those writing were directed to needs and difficulties they faced, which the Church by God's grace anointed them to address.

I hope you can see a shift, a paradigm shift from Pauls usage of 'father' to how the early Church used that title. Pauls claim to it was by his own Evangelistic efforts and mentoring/teaching over a period of time. The Early Fathers retained that title because among their flock it was due them. Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Early Church knew they had only one heavenly father as Jesus taught, but they knew too they had early fathers given to the Church as gifts for the perfecting of the saints.

Over time we know that term was horribly misused and taken by men who were no evangelists and who came with no authoritative word of God, they came with their own authority.
Remember, that title was originally offered to men who God used to birth believers in the pagan world. After time and error passed, misuses and heresies increased; that which was given by honor to those men whom God anointed was now
a sought after title by power hungry men. The visage of having your name listed with great and godly men fed their equally hungry egos and satisfied their thirst for the praises of men.

Since the protestant reformation that term 'father' was corrected and it's usage began to die a quick death among the truly born of God believers. Nevertheless, over time, in a great many places the term 'pastor' has replaced 'father' and that title and position is sought after by men who do not deserve such a title.


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Marvin

 2020/2/3 10:28Profile
CofG
Member



Joined: 2017/2/12
Posts: 487
Cambodia

 Re:

Hi Marvin. As I read Paul’s use of the term,and John’s, they considered themselves “Fathers” to certain congregations or individuals because they gave spiritual birth under their preaching or brought the local body to maturity through discipling (teaching and modeling) so if that is what you are saying, then I agree with you. Thus, can there can be “Fathers” in many llocal bodies. I sincerely don’t think that is what the RomanCatholic Church defines these particular fathers to be nor their interpretive writings and the weight of authority given those writings.


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Robert

 2020/2/3 16:18Profile
Gloryandgrace
Member



Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 1162
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re:

Hi Brother Robert: "they considered themselves “Fathers” to certain congregations or individuals because they gave spiritual birth under their preaching or brought the local body to maturity through discipling (teaching and modeling)"

I believe a good exegesis is (your above quote)and is the original intent of Pauls usage of 'father' and if we used it again within such a context we would be biblical.

But as I remarked further, the Church didn't continue to use 'father' in the restricted sense Paul gave, unfortunately it morphed after the early fathers into RCC definitions and was corrupted.

When the original intent is used, it is quite proper to express honor to whom honor is due.
I believe the early 'fathers' were on good ground in most cases, but as time moved forward 'father' was used for someone in high ecclesiastical authority whether or not they evangelized the lost or discipled anyone.

Our 21st century thinking is quite the opposite, even the most ignorant of opinions carries equal weight with a Church Father regardless of doctrine. I believe secular humanism which instills as the basis of knowledge the approval of theological skepticism in everything. In short, every Church Father and their writings is now second guessed despite the absences of a fair comparison with scripture.

I am by no means rubber stamping everything written by a Church Father, I am saying I have read many opinions where what has been said by an early father has not been fairly considered or even set alongside scripture for review. Carte blanc dismissal is easier than diligent study for some who bad mouth the early fathers.

I just read yesterday some who disliked and disapproved of various men of God simply because those men didn't run in the same theological clothing as themselves.

In my mind, this kind of arrogance has much more stench than the loose and improper use of the term father.

rants over, thanks for the response.


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Marvin

 2020/2/3 17:03Profile
CofG
Member



Joined: 2017/2/12
Posts: 487
Cambodia

 Re:

Thanks Marvin.

Didn’t perceive a “rant”.

You are right. We should not in the least dismiss their writings. We don’t even know though, whether these Godly men were, under Paul’s definition, “fathers” of any local assemblies. It is much wiser to just say “ the writings of Tertullian”. Then, everyone will give them their proper weight based on the content of those writings compared with Scripture and
not on the basis of ecclesiastical adoption.


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Robert

 2020/2/3 17:35Profile





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