TITLE: HOW RELIABLE ARE ROME’S “CHURCH FATHERS”?
We receive so many letters from Catholics that feel the writings of the early “church fathers” are a reliable source for what should be practiced in the church. Of course, my response is always the same, go back to the word of God and read what Jesus and His apostles said. This is the “more sure foundation” that Peter told us we could trust! Nonetheless, they argue vehemently for their cause.
For a Catholic, their “sacred tradition” is equal to the word of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #82:
"...Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence."
The Question Box Column, Brooklyn Tablet, Nov. 8, 1958, even went so far as to say:
“Tradition as a source of Faith would suffice without Scripture”.
For tradition to be equal to Scripture, it would be necessary for it to live up to the standards that the Bible dictates for itself. If tradition fails to live up to those standards, then it cannot claim equality. Let's take a look at what the Bible says about itself. The Word of God is “pure...perfect...inerrant...infallible...sure...and truth”. Let’s examine Rome’s tradition and see if it is indeed pure or perfect, truthful and sure.
The most influential book ever written by a Catholic, the Code of Canon Law known as the Decretum, was written in the mid-1100’s by a Benedictine monk named Gratian. He quoted from popes 324 times, but only eleven of those are genuine. He not only depended on 3rd century forgeries and his own faulty conclusions from them, but he also used the 9th century forgeries known as the Isidorian and Cyril Decretals, which contained hundreds of supposed quotes from early church fathers and popes, none of which were legitimate. Now...we go to Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. He writes his Summa Theologica, the second most renown work by a Catholic. He bases all his conclusions on the work of Gratian. This doesn’t include all the other authors, who throughout the centuries, quoted from both these men’s works. All of them based on lies.
Recently I purchased a book by Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, The Lamb’s Supper. Mr. Hahn claims that one cannot understand the book of Revelation unless they understand the Catholic Mass. According to Scott, one who partakes in the Catholic Mass has entered “heaven on earth”. As I sat reading, I noticed that Scott was quoting from known forged works. I had to wonder if he was aware of these facts and didn’t care or if he had truly been deceived himself. I prefer to believe the latter. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to alert anyone who reads Mr. Hahn’s material to beware of his sources. Let me give you a few examples. On page 37, we read:
“From the beginning of the third century onward, the papyrus trail shows a greater concern with preserving the precise words of the liturgies attributed to the Apostles. In the early 300’s A.D., in northern Syria, surfaces another compilation of the received tradition: the Didascalia Apostolorum (“Teaching of the Apostles”). The Didascalia includes pages of texts of prayers as well as detailed instructions for liturgical roles and etiquette of bishops, priests, deacons, women children, young adults, widows, orphans and travelers.”
Had Scott Hahn read the Catholic Encyclopedia, IV, page 782, he‘d have known that the Didascalia is a “treatise which PRETENDS to have been written by the Apostles at the time of the Council of Jerusalem, but is really a composition of the third century”. This forgery was also “incorporated into the Apostolic Constitutions in the fifth century” (781). If someone pretends something is written by the apostles, and it is not, then they are liars. Satan is the father of lies, not God.
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
The persons responsible for these forgeries are liars! Are they going to teach us about God using the very thing they lied about? I John 2:27 teaches otherwise.
“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
My next question would have to be, “Why is Rome depending on forgeries and lies rather than on the word of God?” Does it matter to the Catholic that the writings they so depend on are forgeries? If it matters, then why do they continue to use them? Why don’t they admit that the only foundation for the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical government are the forged Clementines (20 books supposedly quoting the early “popes”)? Because it is their desire to dupe the world into accepting their blasphemous priest-craft wherein they rule over men’s souls.
So, what could these forgeries known as the Clementines claim? In the Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV, page 41, we read:
“A letter from Clement to James forms an epilogue to H. In it Clement relates how Peter before his death gave his last instructions and set Clement in his own chair as his successor in the See of Rome...The writer knows a complete system of ecclesiastical organization. Peter sets a bishop over each city, with priests and deacons under him; the office of bishop is well defined”
Catholic authorities NOW ADMIT that no such an arrangement prevailed in Apostolic times, and, for a few hundred years afterwards. Speaking of the Clementines , the Catholic Encyclopedia (pg.67) says that “they were very popular in the Middle Ages.” Though they are now admitted, since the sixteenth century, to have been a huge forgery, the “infallible Church” and their “infallible popes” used them continually, and still do! Like most of the forgeries, they were re-forged, occasionally, to bring them up to date. That’s why the Catholic Encyclopedia speaks of “the earliest form of the Clementines”, (Vol. IV, 42) and again, “the date of the original is therefore fixed as after Nicaea, 325, probably c.330; that of H may be anywhere in the second half of the fourth century” (Vol. IV, 44). This reveals the continual amending, and the use that was being made of the forgeries. Rome even admits this on page 41 of the Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV:
“To show how it is necessary for them to be constantly re-forging these forgeries we learn that the earlier editions of these works made James and not Peter head of the Church.”
The Bible is clear on who the head of the church is, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” (Eph.1:22)
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Eph 4:15) (Also see Col 1:18 Col 2:10 Col 2:19)
The scriptures teach us that we are “not to think of men above that which is written”. (1Cor.4:6) The office of “pope” cannot be found in the scriptures, nor the title. Peter would have been appalled that “Christianity” took the title “Pontifex Maximus” and applied it to him. That was the title of the pagan high priest of Rome during his lifetime. Peter never claimed to be “head” of the church, nor bishop of Rome. The early church knew of no ecclesiastical system of government as evident from scripture, yet Rome will use forgeries to bring men under bondage to their priesthood. It has always been her method! Just as she used the Donation of Constantine, another known forgery, to take possession of the Roman empire. It’s evident that we can’t trust the writings of the so-called early church fathers of Rome as a sure foundation. They have lies mixed in with the truth, and 1 John 2:21 says “no lie is of the truth”. The standards that the Bible dictates for itself depends on its being “pure, perfect, sure and truth”. If anything claims equality, then it must also be “pure, perfect, sure and truth”. Rome’s tradition and her so-called church father’s teaching do not line up! They readily admit this themselves. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, page 10, we read:
“When the Church studies the ancient monuments of her faith she casts over the past the reflection of her living and present thought and by some sympathy of the truth, today with that of yesterday she succeeds in recognizing through THE OBSCURITIES AND INACCURACIES of ancient formulas and portion of traditional truth, even though they are MIXED WITH ERROR” (Emphasis mine).
This next quote makes me seriously wonder if Rome thought no one would ever read their encyclopedia and realize how ridiculous they sound:
“Even though it must be admitted that the popes benefited by the forgeries, their good faith is beyond question.” (Ibid., V., 788)
For 1500 years, Augustine was considered one of the greatest teachers of the Catholic church. His influence was so great that about 200 years after his death at least three works were forged in his name. These works justified practices that were unknown in Augustine’s time. It was these forgeries that Thomas Aquinas quoted from (along with the forgeries of Gratian). Since Thomas Aquinas is considered the greatest teacher of Catholic history, these forgeries are still exerting their influence. These works are named De Condition Cordis (Summa, Part III, Fourth Number, 119), De Penitentia (Summa, Part III, Third number, 57) and Hypognosticon (Summa, Part III, Third Number, 77).
Seeing then that Rome admits her tradition is not pure, sure, perfect or truth, we would do well to take heed to the pure, perfect, truthful, and “more sure word” of God. The Bible warns us about trusting in man. Israel’s “fathers” often led God’s people into idolatry. So have the church fathers of Roman Catholicism led their people into idolatry.
When Jesus was tempted of Satan, He came back with these words, “It is written”. This is the example our Lord Jesus set before us. Jesus did not combat lies with the traditions of the fathers. Actually, He warned Israel that the traditions of their fathers was making the word of God of none effect.
The leaders of Israel often caused her people to go into apostasy. Jeremiah 9:13-15 says,
“And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, WHICH THEIR FATHERS TAUGHT THEM: Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.”
Notice how the Lord says that it was the fathers that taught them to commit idolatry. Israel’s fathers taught them to serve Ashteroth, the “queen of heaven”. Rome has done the same thing, they just call their “queen of heaven” by another name. One of the fathers of Israel, Jeroboam, the king of Israel, set up golden calves in Bethel and Dan and had the people go up to worship there instead of Jerusalem. Israel fell into great apostasy by obeying their fathers who led them away from the God’s word. God sent a prophet to Jeroboam.
“And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.” (I Kings 13:1-3)
God named Josiah by name long before he came. God wants men to know that He is in control. He wants men to know that His word stands and you can trust it. 2 Kings 22 tells us that Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and the Bible says that he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of David. In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, it was on his heart to repair the breaches in the house of the Lord, but it was the heart of God to repair the hearts of His people. God knows that there is only one way to do this. The people needed to hear His word.
“And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.” (2 Kings 22:8-11)
Notice the heart of Josiah. He heard the words of the book of the law and rent his clothes. He didn’t hear the words and question if God really said that or not! He knew they were the words of the living God. They pierced him to the heart. Verse 13, Josiah say:
“Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, BECAUSE [Now notice this}because OUR FATHERS HAVE NOT HEARKENED UNTO THE WORDS OF THIS BOOK, TO DO ACCORDING UNTO ALL THAT WHICH IS WRITTEN concerning us.”
Notice it was the Israel’s fathers that led their children into sin. They didn’t hearken unto the written word. “THAT WHICH IS WRITTEN”. Let’s continue, they went to Huldah the prophetess, who dwelt in Jerusalem and they communed with her. Starting in verse 15,
“And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.”
When Josiah heard the word of the Lord and repented, the Lord heard him. Do you know what Josiah did? This man who’s heart was tender when he heard the word of God?
“And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.” (2Ki.23:1-3)
Josiah went on to destroy and tear down the idolatry in Israel, and he did mighty works simply because he believed God’s word. Don’t be deceived by so called “church fathers” and all the forgeries of Rome. God did not promise to preserve the words of men, He promised to preserve His words. And even though Israel fell into apostasy many times, not one promise of the Lord failed. Our God promised, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
The center of the Bible is Psalms 118:8. The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalms 117 and the longest chapter in the Bible is Psalms 119. There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118 and 594 chapters after. These numbers add up to 1188. Psalms 118:8, the center of the Bible, is the best way to end this article:
By Rebecca A. Sexton
Director's Note: God also warned repeatedly that no one was ever to "add to" or "take away from" His Scripture. Listen:
"Every word of God is tried and purified; He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him. Add not to His words, lest he reprove you and you be found a liar." [Proverbs 30:5-6]
Thus, God calls any person who "adds to" His Word, His Bible, a liar. Roman Catholic teaching has added truckloads of additional words to God's Holy Bible, to the point where Catholics are taught that these man-made creations are equal to Holy Scripture!
What does God call these men who made these additions? According to Proverbs 30:5-6, He calls them "liars".
God repeated this warning in other Scriptures, just so man would get the word: Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 20:18-19.
Adding to God's Word is a huge offense in the sight of God, and a spiritual snare to anyone who believes this lie.
If you would like to become Born Again, and come to know this wonderful heart peace, turn to our Salvation Page now.
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