Chapter II:46: Diverse Perspectives on the Fathers within Roman Catholicism

The Papists here are divided into three parties.  There are those that equate the writings of the Fathers with Scripture, and bestow upon them almost the same faith and authority, as the Glossator Decreti on Distinction IX, chapter III, asserts that the Writings of the Fathers are authenical, both of each and of all, writing in column 29, “He speaks according to those times, when the writings of Augustine and of the other holy Fathers were not as yet authentical:  but today all are commanded to be embraced unto the last jot:”  which sentence others among the Papists expressly refute.  That is, others, on the other hand, acknowledge that their writings are merely human, which as such are not able to be the norm of truth, or the rule of the interpretation of Scripture, with Cajetan, in his preface to Quinque libros Mosis, whose words are in RIVET, opera, tome 2, page 1050.  Others, holding a middle position, concede that the individual Fathers separately have a human and fallible authority:  but either what the greater part of the Fathers understand thence from the Apostles, or especially in what there is a universal consent of all the Fathers, that they judge to be infallible and divine in the doctrines of faith and Interpretation of the Scriptures:  thus a great many of the Papists, siding with the Council of Trent, which states, Session IV, decree I, page 31b, “Traditions pertaining both to faith and to manners are to be received with an equal affection of piety as the books of the Old and New Testaments:”  and it forbids, decree II, page 33, “the interpretation of Scripture contrary to the Unanimous consent of the Fathers.”  PETRUS SUAVIS POLANUS, Historia Concilii Tridentini, book II, pages 177-180, 182, 183, records contentions of the Tridentine Fathers concerning this matter.

The Scope/Goal of the Papists, when they appeal to the unanimous consent of the Fathers in the interpretation of Scripture, our AUTHOR observes to be this, that they might decline the tribunal of Scripture, better protect their errors, and control interpretation themselves.

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