Friday, July 27, 2007

Early Church Father on Sola Scriptura

'God alone swears securely, because He alone is infallible.'
Augustine, Exp on Psalm 89

'[H]e will find there in much greater abundance things that are to be found nowhere else, but can be learnt only in the wonderful sublimity and wonderful simplicity of the Scriptures'
Augustine, De Doctr. Christ. 2,42,63

'Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth'
Basil, Ep. Ad Eustathius

'For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.' Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 4


Gojira said...

Hi Carrie,

Just wanted to let you know the new link

The other one no longer works. :~(


Excellent quotes!

Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie - it is simply not true that Augustine believed in sola scriptura.

"[I]f you acknowledge the supreme authority of Scripture, you should recognise that authority which from the time of Christ Himself, through the ministry of His apostles, and through a regular succession of bishops in the seats of the apostles, has been preserved to our own day throughout the whole world, with a reputation known to all" (Augustine, Contra Faustus, 33:9).

"As to those other things which we hold on the authority, not of Scripture, but of tradition, and which are observed throughout the whole world, it may be understood that they are held as approved and instituted either by the apostles themselves, or by plenary Councils, whose authority in the Church is most useful, ...

For often have I perceived, with extreme sorrow, many disquietudes caused to weak brethren by the contentious pertinacity or superstitious vacillation of some who, in matters of this kind, which do not admit of final decision by the authority of Holy Scripture, or by the tradition of the universal Church"
(Augustine, Letter to Januarius, 54:1).

"And this custom, coming, I suppose, from apostolical tradition (like many other things which are held to have been handed down under their actual sanction, because they are preserved throughout the whole Church, though they are not found either in their letters, or in the Councils of their successors)..." (Augustine, On Baptism, 2:7:12).

Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie -

Basil the Great did not believe in sola scriptura.

"Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture concerning It as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of the Fathers" (On the Holy Spirit, 9:22).

"Time will fail me if I attempt to recount the unwritten mysteries of the Church. Of the rest I say nothing; but of the very confession of our faith in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what is the written source? If it be granted that, as we are baptized, so also under the obligation to believe, we make our confession in like terms as our baptism, in accordance with the tradition of our baptism and in conformity with the principles of true religion, let our opponents grant us too the right to be as consistent in our ascription of glory as in our confession of faith. If they deprecate our doxology on the ground that it lacks written authority, let them give us the written evidence for the confession of our faith and the other matters which we have enumerated. While the unwritten traditions are so many, and their bearing on "the mystery of godliness is so important, can they refuse to allow us a single word which has come down to us from the Fathers; - which we found, derived from untutored custom, abiding in unperverted churches; - a word for which the arguments are strong, and which contributes in no small degree to the completeness of the force of the mystery?" (ibid., 27:67)

"I hold it apostolic to abide also by the unwritten traditions" (ibid., 29:71).

Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie - Cyril did not believe in sola scriptura.

"Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench thou not upon its statutes" (Catehetical Lecture 4:35).

Clearly he is resting the authority of the Scriptures here upon the authority of the Church and apostolic succession.

Carrie said...


I don't see how your quotes say that tradition is considered equally authoritative to scripture. I also don't see how your quotes trump my quotes.

Reginald de Piperno said...

If you're going to say that someone believed in sola scriptura, quotations that show that they didn't believe in "Scripture alone" most certainly do trump you. :-)