Chapter II:46: Critique of the Roman Catholic Position on the Authority of the Fathers, Part 1

Our AUTHOR observes that here the Papists imitate, both the Pharisees, who were κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων, holding the tradition of the elders, Mark 7:3, and who were wont to say, ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις, that it was said by them of old time, Matthew 5:21, etc.; and many ancient Heretics, wont to appeal to the Father, among whom were the Donatists, concerning whom AUGUSTINE on Psalm 57 (more correctly, Psalm 58), opera, tome 4, column 407, says, “But those, turning a deaf ear to the Gospel, and not permitting us to read the Words of God, which they boast that they have preserved from the flame and desire to remove from the tongue, speak their own things, speak vanities:  This one said this, and that one said that.  Indeed, I also say, And this one said this, and that one said that:  and I speak the truth.  But what is that to me?  You do not read to me out of the Gospel those that you have named, and I do not read out of the Gospel those that I have named.  Let our books be removed from the midst, and let the codex of God proceed into the midst:  Hear Christ speaking, hear the truth speaking.”  Concerning the similar manner of the acting of the Pelagians see SPANHEIM’S Historiam Ecclesiasticam, Century V, chapter VII, § 2, number 4, column 991.

In a word, we say with our AUTHOR, 1. that the Papists are refuted out of Matthew 5:21, 22, etc.  That is, what norm and criterion of truth Moses, the Prophets, Christ, and the Apostles set forth and commended in the Old and New Testaments, that alone is to be credited with this name.  But they do not commend the writings of the ancients in addition to or beside the Scripture, or of the Fathers past, present, or future; but constantly the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments alone.  The Minor is able to be proven by a length induction of the passages already quite frequently cited.  It only remains to be said that Scripture does send us away to the Unanimous Consent of the Fathers in searching out its sense and matters of faith, or much commends Traditions πατροπαραδότους, handed down from the Fathers, so that, on the other hand, it might manifestly reject and condemn the ancient Fathers departing from the truth of Scripture unto false comments and worship, Ezekiel 20:18, 19; Matthew 5:21, 22; Mark 7:5, 8-13:  therefore, the Exegetical Traditions of the Fathers are not always true and are not always to be followed.

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