Chapter II:46: Sources on the Dispute over the Use of the Fathers

On this controversy read HEINRICH ALTING’S Theologiam Elencticam novam, locus II, controversy IV with the Papists, pages 73-84; TURRETIN’S Theologiæ Elencticæ, locus II, question XXI, pages 179-184; JOHANN HEINRICH HOTTINGER’S Analecta historico-theologica, Dissertations VII, VIII, in which he supplies an Introduction to the Reading of the Fathers, and discusses the Use of the Fathers:  and his Dissertationum miscellanearum Πεντάδα, where in Dissertation I he treats of the Abuse of the Fathers, in Dissertation II he sets forth a Catalogue of Spurious Ecclesiastical Writings.  JEAN DAILLÈ’S libros duos de Usu Patrum ad ea definienda Religionis capita, quæ sunt hodie controversa:  and especially RIVET’S tractate de Patrum Auctoritate, which is set before Critici Sacri libris quattuor, opera, tome 2, pages 1047-1067, where in chapter I he teaches, What ar the Fathers? What is the authority of the Fathers and for what?; in chapter II, Of what sort and extent according to the opinion of Orthodox is the authority of the Fathers in matters of faith and manners?; in chapter III, Of what sort and extend according to the opinion of the Papists is the authority of the Fathers?; in chapters IV and V the opinions of the Papists are assessed and brought to nothing; in chapter VI by arguments and examples is shown the infirmity of such a consent, of which sort the Papists boast, in the understanding of the Scriptures and in Theological disputations; in chapter VII, by examples it is proven with refutation that the Papists think little of the Fathers even when agreeing completely, cast aside the interpretations of the Fathers, set the Pope before all the Fathers; in chapter VIII it is shown, How the authority of the Fathers is to be used in disputation with heretics; in chapter IX there is an admonition concerning the errors and blemishes of the Ancients; in chapter X it is taught that those Papists often note the errors and blemishes in the Fathers, and hence are unjustly angry with us for this; in chapter XI, are indicated the Reasons why the Fathers sometimes speak incommodiously, and Cautions for reading the Ancients, from observations of various ones; in chapter XII it is observed that the Records of the ancient Fathers have been corrupted and adulterated in many ways formerly and at the present time; in chapter XIII it is taught that already of old, and also recently, spurious books have been ascribed to the Fathers, and various reasons for these frauds are treated; as are also in chapter XIV the indications and notes of spurious writings.  In like manner, consult BUDDEUS, Isagoge ad Theologiam universam, tome 1, book II, chapter III, where he indicates who then should be understood by the name of Fathers, § 2, pages 535-537; who is able to be consulted concerning their writings, § 2, pages 537-546; what is to be embraced concerning their authority, § 9-11, 13, 14, pages 569- 601, 604-610.  While in Isagoge ad Theologiam universam, tome 2, book II, chapter VII, § 4, pages 1062-1065, he additionally warns that in this cause the Papists incorrectly appeal to VINCENT OF LERINS,[1] who in his Commonitorio commends the constant, more ancient Tradition of the Fathers as the best Rule of the Interpretation of Scripture and Controversies of Faith:  since he was more addicted to the Semi-Pelagians, in the writings of the Fathers of the previous age he sought whatever patronage he could plausibly gather for their error.

[1] Vincent of Lerins (died c. 445) was a Gaulish monk.  He is most remembered for his rule in separating orthodox truth from error (namely, what is believed “everywhere, always, by all,” is to be embrace), and his Semi-Pelagianism.

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