Sola Scriptura: Apostolic Fathers Catechism Class for Catholics and Orthodox.
Apostolic Fathers used scripture as the primary defense against false doctrine.
Sola Scriptura home page
Apostolic Fathers: Dates they lived and other information.
Apostolic Fathers: Five kinds of Tradition.
Mandatory: Apostolic Fathers Catechism Class for Catholics and Orthodox.
Introduction to the Catechism:
In order for our truth to shine through, it is important that Catholic and Orthodox believers understand exactly why their objections to sola Scriptura are invalid when applied to us. So we have created a special catechism class especially for youso that you will not make the mistake of ever using these invalid objections as you read the information below regarding the apostolic Fathers view of using "scripture only" as the only source of doctrinal authority.
Catechism Question #1:
When you see the word "tradition" used by the fathers, why is often of no power in refuting sola Scriptura?
Answer: When the fathers would refer to "tradition" often they referred to scripture itself! This should not surprise us since the Bible calls scripture "tradition" in 2 Thess 2:15! Furthermore, Athanasius, for example, call scripture tradition: "the Apostolic tradition teaches in the words of blessed Peter, 'Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the Flesh" Athanasius then quotes: 1 Peter 4:1; Titus 2:13; Heb 2:1 (Athanasius, To Adelphius, Letter 60, 6)? So you need not make irresponsible conclusions because of your superficial approach to how the fathers used the word "tradition". Yes, the word "tradition" is used by the Fathers to refer to things distinct from scripture, but as you will see, Catholics and Orthodox defenders don't even practice them today!
Catechism Question #2:
Why is merely pointing out the fact that some of the apostolic fathers mention "oral tradition" in distinction from the Bible, of no power in refuting sola Scriptura?
Answer: Because the apostolic fathers believed in five different kinds of tradition: 1. The fathers speak of the scriptures themselves as being apostolic tradition. 2. Inspired oral tradition that came from the mouth of the apostles and prophets that, although never differs from, or adds to scripture, may be a unique way of expressing the same thoughts. 3. Expedient man-made tradition that is optional and not a matter of faith, since the apostles were silent about such matter. These include giving a person a cup of milk mixed with honey immediately following baptism and then not bathing for a week. (Tertullian, The crown or De Corona, ch 3-4) This 3rd category of tradition is spoken of as not recorded in scripture, but even your own leaders do not follow it today. 4. "Rule of faith" tradition where the Christians made short uninspired summaries of the faith based directly upon the inspired written and oral traditions of the apostles and prophets. These would have the same type of origin, as a sermon outline based upon the scripture.
Catechism Question #3:
Why is merely pointing out the fact that both Irenaeus and Tertullian had extra-biblical creeds that were "oral traditions" in distinction from the Bible, of no power in refuting sola Scriptura?
Answer: The only traditions that the apostolic fathers said were distinct from scripture were "Expedient tradition" that is optional and not a matter of faith. The specific doctrines that are mentioned by the fathers are: giving a person a cup of milk mixed with honey immediately following baptism and then not bathing for a week. Of course if Orthodox and Catholic defenders argue that this is apostolic oral tradition, we would ask, "Then why don't you do the same today?"
Catechism Question #4:
Why is pointing out the fact that many of the Fathers whom we use as examples of sola Scriptura, then go on and discuss a number of "catholic type" doctrines, of no power in refuting sola Scriptura?
Answer: All Roman Catholic or Orthodox priests think their doctrine is taught in scripture, even though many clearly are not. Do you really expect these leaders to come out and say, "The bible doesn't talk about these doctrines, they are only found in oral traditions." Name one doctrine that Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders claim is not taught in scripture! Why they have Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist doing "hail Mary's" on her rosary. So the fact that Fathers believed and practiced many false doctrines not found in scripture, even contradicting scripture, THEN CLAIMING it all came from the Bible, is truly about as Catholic as it gets! We agree! The Fathers and modern Catholics and Orthodox leaders believe all their false doctrines are found in the Bible! But now for the devastating blow to these traditionalist defenders. (And this is way more profound than they will initially comprehend.) Notice that although the church Fathers clearly taught things that were not in the Bible, they still upheld the principle of sola Scriptura because they truly (but mistakenly) thought that the doctrines had scriptural support. Had they said the doctrines of transubstantiation, the Mass, apostolic succession of bishops, the papacy, Mariolatry were not taught in the Bible, but oral tradition alone, only then would their argument even be worth considering. But since all the Fathers believed their doctrines all came from scripture, this actually proves they used sola Scriptura, and not oral traditions. Until Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders are prepared to admit in writing which "Catholic doctrines" (ie mass, real presence, praying to Mary as the co-mediatrix), we suggest they never use this argument again. But of course these Catholic defenders shoot themselves in the foot every time they go to scripture to prove their doctrines! It would be better to say, "hey none of this stuff is found in the Bible, it is oral tradition alone!"
Catechism Question #5:
Why is saying,"if the apostolic fathers believed in using the Bible alone for doctrine, they did a rather poor job of it, since they practiced many things that were not in the Bible!" of no power in refuting TRUE sola Scriptura? Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders continue: "The Church Fathers believed things that are diametrically opposed to what sola Scriptura advocates believe today?" (Catholics and Orthodox will supply a list of doctrines like: Baptism for the remission of sins, Transubstantiation, the Mass as a necessary sacrifice, apostolic succession of bishops, the papacy, all the nuances of Mariolatry etc.) They continue: "Therefore, if sola Scriptura Protestants claim that the apostolic fathers used the "Tradition of the Church" and creeds to interpret Scripture, then they must also conclude that the Fathers did a lousy job of applying tradition to Scripture. These sola Scriptura Protestants are trapped in a major dilemma."
Answer: Foremost, while scripture clearly teaches baptism for the remission of sins, none of the other doctrines mentioned above can be traced back to the apostles, but are clearly man made doctrines that had their origin no earlier than 150 - 400 AD. (click for proof these doctrines are not in the Bible: Transubstantiation (real presence in eucharist), the Mass as a necessary sacrifice, apostolic succession of bishops, the papacy, all the nuances of Mariolatry etc.) Having said this, the Catholic/Orthodox argument still only defeats pseudo-sola Scriptura (Calvinists, Reformed, Protestants, Lutherans) and not us. (true sola Scriptura) Pseudo-sola Scriptura teaches that the early creeds and councils are to be followed today as a "rule of faith". Since we reject the authority all creeds and councils, and abide by the scripture alone, extra-biblical doctrines taught by the Fathers only reinforces are central point: All creeds are dangerous! In other words, our thesis is founded upon 1 Tim 4:1-4 and 2 Tim 4:1-5: The Holy Spirit predicted a gradual falling away from faith. Having said this, the fact remains that the apostolic fathers did believe in using the Bible alone in determining doctrine! Since Calvinists, Reformed, Protestants, Lutherans accept the authority of the early creeds, they simply cannot explain away the dilemma posed by Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders. We suggest that these Pseudo-sola Scriptura churches either join us by giving up on all creeds or disband and join the either the Catholic or Orthodox church. But this argument affects us none! And we would counter by supplying a list of doctrines that the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches practice that contradict scripture or are changes from the first century.
Catechism Question #6:
Why is this often used Roman Catholic/Orthodox argument against our use of the Fathers to prove they used sola Scriptura completely invalid: "Using quotes from Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Basil and Cyril etc. that appear to prove they used the Bible only, are rendered irrelevant when you observe the fact that they also taught many "Catholic type" doctrines which sola Scriptura advocates reject as not taught in the Bible."
Answer: The fathers, like modern Catholics and Orthodox, were deceived in thinking these doctrines are actually taught in scripture. They are not scriptural, they merely thought they were found in the Bible. But the fact they thought all their key doctrines were found in the Bible actually proves they used the Bible only! So you see, it matters not if the doctrines were in the Bible or not, they were under the impression that the Bible, and not oral tradition were the source of the doctrines. We suggest a little catechism school exercise for all Catholics and Orthodox to complete: Get a paper and draw this chart:
Doctrines the Fathers thought were in the Bible
Doctrines the Fathers said were not in the Bible, but from oral tradition.
baptism for the remission of sins
Renouncing the devil before baptism
Catholics and Orthodox will get the shock of their life when they complete this chart and learn that the Fathers used sola Scriptura to defend all the doctrines on the left which are still practiced today. Conversely, the doctrines on the right, which they say came from oral tradition and not from the Bible, they no longer practice. This proves once for all that the Fathers used sola Scriptura, even if the doctrines were not found in scripture! Finally, while "oral tradition defenders" claim to follow extra-biblical oral traditions of the Fathers, they, in the height of their own self-deception, actually reject the specific doctrines the Fathers specifically listed as non-biblical oral traditions!
By Steve Rudd
Go To Start: WWW.BIBLE.CA