Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review of the Father’s Know Best on the Pope

Jimmy Akin’s book the Father’s Know Best provides hundreds of quotations from the Church Fathers on various topics allegedly showing the link between the early church and modern Roman Catholicism. Of greatest interest to me were the 143 quotations from the Fathers in support of the Papacy. Reading the book gave me an opportunity to learn more about the Fathers.


Below is a matrix of the results of my review. However, given my review I will risk providing some overall conclusions.

I didn’t find anything in the Fathers that explicitly taught Papal infallibly or got into ex cathedra vs. non-ex cathedra statements by Popes. So right off the bat I would say the Fathers were not Roman Catholic. However, that doesn’t mean they were Southern Baptists either. Many times they were somewhere in-between. As such, I categorized each quotation from the Fathers Know Best on the Papacy in degrees of agreement. My categories were:

1. No objection
2. No biggie
3. Don’t like the wording, but OK
4. I disagree
5. I strongly disagree
6. Roman Catholic

Please note, I never had to use category six but out of the 143 quotes I disagreed nine times and strongly disagreed another nine times. Wherever I didn’t like the wording or disagreed, I looked for the quotes online and read them in their broader contexts.

Two areas of disagreements with the Fathers stood out. First, Leo, around 450, was acting like the boss of the church. That doesn’t mean he thought he was infallible, but he certainly wasn’t a Congregationalist or Presbyterian. Second, in 251 Cyprian of Carthage’s Treaties on the Unity of the Church says the Chair of Peter is the intrinsic reason for unity in the Church. Interestingly there are two versions of the treaties - one of which is fine. Since there’s nothing before Cyprian that I disagree with and nothing after until about 312, Cyprian becomes fairly important. Time permitting, I would like to dig into that work by Cyprian further.

Before getting into the review, I must qualify the ongoing by saying I am only reviewing arguments that the Father’s supported the Papacy. So this review is consciously one sided and can present an unbalanced picture. To get a broader picture one would have to look at arguments from the Fathers against the Papacy – but I will leave that for another day. Here’s the analysis. (link)

11 comments:

Jnorm said...

We don't see anything wrong with the primacy of the bishop of Rome. What we always disagreed with is the newer idea of the supremacy of the bishop of Rome.

Godismyjudge said...

Jnorm,

I also agree Rome would have been an important church, policitally and historically. But that didn't give them authority over other churches, or make them infallable.

God be with you,
Dan

De Maria said...

Hi Dan,

I'm not sure what your point is in this article? Is it that you will believe no one else?

We hold the Church Fathers in high regard because their teachings make up the foundation of the faith which we inherited. Scripture says:
Hebrews 13:7
King James Version (KJV)
7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Here's our logic.

The Church teaches the Pope is infallible. Did the Church Fathers teach the Pope is infallible? Yes.
Did they point to certain Scriptures? Yes.

Therefore, the Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium agree that the Pope is infallible.

We don't rely upon our own understanding. We accept the teaching of the Church through the centuries, from the time of Christ.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Godismyjudge said...

Hi De Maria,

Well, this is moreso my just going over what the Fathers had to say in favor of the Pope. But they never did teach Papal infalability. So I guess my point in this post was this statement:

"I didn’t find anything in the Fathers that explicitly taught Papal infallibly or got into ex cathedra vs. non-ex cathedra statements by Popes. So right off the bat I would say the Fathers were not Roman Catholic. "

At least, one Roman Catholic apologist wasn't able to produce such evidence from the Fathers.

God be with you,
Dan

De Maria said...

Well, let's start with Scripture, if you don't mind.

Matthew 16:18-19
King James Version (KJV)
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

To me, that sounds as though Christ has just assured St. Peter, that when the Church begins its ministry, Christ will give him the charism of infallibility.

1. Tell me why you think this is a wrong interpretation.
2. If you still disagree with my interpretation, please explain why your interpretation should carry more weight than mine.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Godismyjudge said...

De Maria,

I have been hestiant to dig into scripture with you because I am unclear on what you are doing with scripture. I suspect you aren't really interpreting scripture at all, since interpretation is an inherently personal judgement. Rather I am concerned you cannot think the scriptures say anything other than what your Church tells you to think about them. So my first question is why you trust your Church in this way?

God be with you,
Dan

De Maria said...

Hi Dan,

You said:
De Maria,

I have been hestiant to dig into scripture with you because I am unclear on what you are doing with scripture. I suspect you aren't really interpreting scripture at all, since interpretation is an inherently personal judgement. Rather I am concerned you cannot think the scriptures say anything other than what your Church tells you to think about them. So my first question is why you trust your Church in this way?


1. You're wrong. Long ago I rejected the idea of God and therefore rejected the Church. When God brought me back, I attempted to find the doctrines of Protestant theology in the Scriptures. I couldn't find them there. All I could find were the opposite of what Luther and Calvin taught.

2. My interpretations of Scripture were and remain in agreement with the Doctrines of the Catholic Church.

3. 2 major cases in point.

Sola Scriptura contradicts 2 Thess 2:15.
Sola Fide contreadicts James 2:24

Every single Protestant doctrine which disagrees with Catholic Teaching also disagrees with Scripture.

4. As a result, I realized that it is Protestants who are not interpreting Scripture but reading into Scripture the doctrines of the Reformers. Otherwise, how do you get doctrines that so blatantly contradict Scripture?

5. After I realized that the Catholic Church is the True Church, I had to do what Scripture tells us all to do:
Proverbs 3:5
King James Version (KJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Hebrews 13:17
King James Version (KJV)
17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Matthew 18:17
King James Version (KJV)
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Protestants call that "checking in your brain at the door." I call it "being obedient to the Word of God."

What do you call it?

God be with you,
Dan


Sincerely,

De Maria

Godismyjudge said...

Hi De Maria,

Sounds like you have had quite the journey. For what it's worth, I believe you when you say you looked for Protestant theology in scripture ( though perhaps as a Catholic revert you may not have had the clearest of views on what SS means and how it works). On sola fide, did you find nothing in scripture that at least made you question if the scriptures in some places denied works lead to justification?

God be with you,
Dan


God be with you,
Dan

De Maria said...

Hi Dan,

Are you changing the subject? I asked a question which remains unanswered.

Godismyjudge said...
Hi De Maria,

Sounds like you have had quite the journey. For what it's worth, I believe you when you say you looked for Protestant theology in scripture ( though perhaps as a Catholic revert you may not have had the clearest of views on what SS means and how it works).


Will you tell me what it means and how it works? Then, as good Bereans, we can look for that explanation in Scripture.

On sola fide, did you find nothing in scripture that at least made you question if the scriptures in some places denied works lead to justification?

In some places? Do you mean that Scripture can in some places teach that works lead to justification:
James 2:24
King James Version (KJV)
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

And in other places deny it?

God be with you,
Dan


And with you,

Sincerely,

De Maria

Godismyjudge said...

Hi De Maria,

Not changing the subject. I brought up the idea that works are denied as the basis for justification in some scriptures to at least show the James passage has to be reconciled with other passages.

But I stand by what I said. It doesn't make sense to dig into scripture until we have some common ground as to the church's role in understanding scripture. In other words, you asked me two questions, but there's no point in addressing the first until we at least understand each other on the second.

God be with you,
Dan


De Maria said...

Hi Dan,

you said:
Godismyjudge said...
Hi De Maria,

Not changing the subject.


Ok.

I brought up the idea that works are denied as the basis for justification in some scriptures to at least show the James passage has to be reconciled with other passages.

Let's compare them.

But I stand by what I said. It doesn't make sense to dig into scripture until we have some common ground as to the church's role in understanding scripture.

I've been talking to Protestants for approx 20 years. And I can count on one hand those who come to a common understanding of Scripture with me.

The difference is obvious even in our discussion. You interpret Scripture according to your personal views.

Whereas, I interpret Scripture according to the Traditions which are their basis.

In other words, you asked me two questions, but there's no point in addressing the first until we at least understand each other on the second.

I'm pretty sure I understand you. What is it that you have not yet understood about me. I'm a devout Catholic who follows the teaching of the Church.

113 2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church"81).

God be with you,
Dan


and with you,

Sincerely,

De Maria