What They Wrote

Some of those who have submitted to worldly leaders in matters of religion often cite the writings of church fathers in support of their heretical doctrines. Not surprisingly, those who are so quick to call upon the fathers for support tend to ignore the writings of the same fathers when those writings argue against heresy. Following are a few examples:

Thomas Aquinas: “Only Holy Scripture, and not the patristic exposition of Scripture, is a compelling norm of faith for us.” Latin text: “dicta expositorum necessitatem non inducunt quod necesse sit eis credere, sed solum Scriptura canonica.” (Quodlibeta Disputata 12, q. 17, a. 1. [Quoted in E. Schillebeeckx, O.P., Revelation and Theology, Vol. I, trans. N.D. Smith (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967), p. 229].)

Augustine: "What we assert let us prove from Scripture." (Augustine, The City of God, Book XIV, Chapter 7)

Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): Rule Twenty-six: That every word and deed should be ratified by the testimony of the Holy Scripture to confirm the good and cause shame to the wicked. (Fathers of the Church, Vol. 9, Ascetical Works, The Morals, Rule 26 (New York: 1950)  p. 106.)

Augustine (354-430): In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, etc. (Jn 1:1). To save you from wasting your time seeking an understanding of these words from me, I told you that you can only understand them when you are inspired by the one whose inspiration was the cause of an uneducated fisherman proclaiming them.  (John  E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Newly Discovered Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 341  (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), p. 286.)

Hilary of Poiters (c    315-67): For he is the best student who does not read his thoughts into the book, but lets it reveal its own; who draws from it its sense, and does not import his own into it, nor force upon its words a meaning which he had determined was the right one before he opened its pages. Since then we are to discourse of the things of God, let us assume that God has full knowledge of Himself, and bow with humble reverence to His words. For He Whom we can only know through His own utterances is the fitting witness concerning Himself. (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume IX, On the Trinity, Book I, Section 18)

Hilary of Poiters (c 315-67): 3. For there have risen many who have given to the plain words of Holy Writ some arbitrary interpretation of their own, instead of its true and only sense, and this in defiance of the clear meaning    of words. Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not in the word written; the guilt is that of the expositor, not of the text. Is not truth indestructible? When we hear the name Father, is not sonship involved in that Name? The Holy Ghost is mentioned by name; must He not exist? We can no more separate fatherhood from the Father or sonship from the Son than we can deny the existence in the Holy Ghost of that gift which we receive. Yet men of distorted mind plunge the whole matter in doubt and difficulty, fatuously reversing the clear meaning of words, and depriving the Father of His fatherhood because they wish to strip the Son of His sonship. They take away the fatherhood by asserting that the Son is not a Son by nature; for a son is not of the nature of his father when begetter and begotten have not the same properties, and he is no son whose being is different from that of the father, and unlike it. Yet in what sense is God a Father (as He is), if He have not begotten in His Son that same substance and nature which are His own? (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume IX, On the    Trinity, Book II, Section 3)

John Cassian (360-430s?): And indeed we will prove this not only by discussion and argument, but by the voice of Divinity Itself: for nothing testifies of God better than things divine. And because nothing knows itself better than the very glory of God, we believe nothing on the subject of God with greater right than those writings in which God Himself is His own witness. (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Vol. 11, On the Incarnation of Christ Against Nestorius, Book 7, Chapter 17)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.--Hebrews 4:12

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