Resources on the Early Church Fathers?

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Jason J. Stellman

Puritan Board Freshman
I am looking for some help with resources on the early church fathers. More specifically, I am looking for an analysis of their teaching on the big topics (such as ecclesiastical authority, Mary, Scripture, justification, sacraments, &c) that seeks to refute the Catholic claim that "all the early fathers were Catholics."

What I'm not looking for are books of quotations arranged topically. I really want some analysis, as in, "While Augustine appears to teach baptismal regeneration here, when we look at what he says there, it becomes clear that he did not collapse the sign and thing signified the way Rome does."

Thanks in advance.
 

SolaGratia

Puritan Board Junior
Here is a start:

Christian Resources

http://www.christiantruth.com/products/product_view.pl?item_view=Holy_Scripture_-_Volume_1 (There are three volumes).

http://www.puritanboard.com/f34/resources-roman-catholicism-44692/


http://www.puritanboard.com/f18/baptismal-regeneration-ecf-9228/ (Post on Augustine and BR)

For primary sources, I highly recommend you talk to Rev. David T. King, who is also here in the PB.

PS - I hope this matures to a new book from you, besides your newest one:

http://www.ligonier.org/publishing_reformationtrust_catalog_dualcitizens.php
 
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Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, you could start by reading Calvin and Luther. I'm not saying that to be funny either. They knew the patristic Fathers very well. Calvin could quote them at length from memory. And much of their polemic against Rome was based on the early Church.

J.N.D. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines is very helpful, and is a good introduction. An older but still useful work is William Cunningham's Historical Theology. Thomas Oden's A Justification Reader works through the doctrine of justification in the early church.

And again in all honesty, if you want to refute the claims of Rome, just read the early Church Fathers themselves. For example, read Cyprian's "The Unity of the Church" and you will see the ecclesiology portrayed there is clearly not Roman Catholic at all. Anglican or a kind of High "Presbyterian" maybe, but not Roman.

I second the recommendation to talk to David King (aka DTK)
:2cents:
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
There are an abundance of resources in this regard beginning (as others have noted) in the Reformation era.

William Goode, The divine rule of faith and practice

Hugh Stuard Boyd, The fathers not papists

John Harrison, Whose are the fathers

William Whitaker, A disputation on Holy Scripture: against the papists

Thomas Becon, The catechism of Thomas Becon

Johann Gerhard, Loci Theologici

Martin Chemnitz, Examinis Concilii Tridentini

Heinrich Bullinger, Decades

William Cunningham, Historical Theology

John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth

And many more could be listed. Most of the above are available through Google books or similar on-line sources. There are also relatively modern works like the Webster/King series on Sola Scriptura.

If you have only time for one such book, start with John Harrison's "Whose are the Fathers" or William Whitaker's "A Disputation on Holy Scripture."
 

puritanpilgrim

Puritan Board Junior
Thomas Oden is nice, because he tries to use them in his systematic theology and commentary. He is not reformed. You need to pay attention when you read him. Don't just read him like calvin.

Robert Culvers systematic theology is closer to reformed, and he uses many church fathers. This is my favorite right now.
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Abelard's Sic et Non is a good work for demonstrating that the early church fathers were not monolithic, but it tends not to address the specific claims of Tridentine and post-Tridentine Romanism as thoroughly as one might like (largely because he died around 1142).
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
I am looking for some help with resources on the early church fathers. More specifically, I am looking for an analysis of their teaching on the big topics (such as ecclesiastical authority, Mary, Scripture, justification, sacraments, &c) that seeks to refute the Catholic claim that \"all the early fathers were Catholics.\"

What I'm not looking for are books of quotations arranged topically. I really want some analysis, as in, \"While Augustine appears to teach baptismal regeneration here, when we look at what he says there, it becomes clear that he did not collapse the sign and thing signified the way Rome does.\"

Thanks in advance.

Hi Jason -- You may want to simply flip through Schaff's history. For example, in Vol 2 Section 69 he's got an analysis of "The Eucharist as Sacrament," in which you will find stuff like this:

The doctrine concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, not coming into special discussion, remained indefinite and obscure. The ancient church made more account of the worthy participation of the ordinance than of the logical apprehension of it. She looked upon it as the holiest mystery of the Christian worship, and accordingly celebrated it with the deepest devotion, without inquiring into the mode of Christ’s presence, nor into the relation of the sensible signs to his flesh and blood. It is unhistorical to carry any of the later theories back into this age; although it has been done frequently in the apologetic and polemic discussion of this subject.

Ignatius speaks of this sacrament in two passages, only by way of allusion, but in very strong, mystical terms, calling it the flesh of our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, and the consecrated bread a medicine of immortality and an antidote of spiritual death. This view, closely connected with his high-churchly tendency in general, no doubt involves belief in the real presence, and ascribes to the holy Supper an effect on spirit and body at once, with reference to the future resurrection, but is still somewhat obscure, and rather an expression of elevated feeling than a logical definition.

See also here James White's analysis of [video=youtube;G7OgLavv-w4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7OgLavv-w4&feature=PlayList&p=A344ABA14541A479&index=6[/video]. It is very, very important to understand how Catholics ARE NOT experts on the early fathers. They see the word "Peter" somewhere, and they impute the whole histor of the papacy on it, for example.

A different view, approaching nearer the Calvinistic or Reformed, we meet with among the African fathers. Tertullian makes the words of institution: Hoc est corpus meum, equivalent to: figura corporis mei, to prove, in opposition to Marcion’s docetism, the reality of the body of Jesus—a mere phantom being capable of no emblematic representation. This involves, at all events, an essential distinction between the consecrated elements and the body and blood of Christ in the Supper. Yet Tertullian must not be understood as teaching a merely symbolical presence of Christ; for in other places he speaks, according to his general realistic turn, in almost materialistic language of an eating of the body of Christ, and extends the participation even to the body of the receiver.

The Alexandrians are here, as usual, decidedly spiritualistic. Clement twice expressly calls the wine a symbol or an allegory of the blood of Christ, and says, that the communicant receives not the physical, but the spiritual blood, the life, of Christ; as, indeed, the blood is the life of the body. Origen distinguishes still more definitely the earthly elements from the heavenly bread of life, and makes it the whole design of the supper to feed the soul with the divine word.

-----Added 10/9/2009 at 05:18:13 EST-----

The James White video that I linked to above is actually a part of a five part series. All the URLs are here:

1. [video=youtube;G7OgLavv-w4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7OgLavv-w4&feature=related[/video]

2. [video=youtube;VMNYuxI7W5w]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMNYuxI7W5w&feature=related[/video]

3. [video=youtube;MNRNBM50Jbg]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNRNBM50Jbg[/video]

4. [video=youtube;gblGyavsC80]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gblGyavsC80&NR=1[/video]

5. [video=youtube;6OdOJeHTrHA]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OdOJeHTrHA&NR=1[/video]

There is probably about 30 minutes of video here, but it is very instructive, giving the entire context of the Ignatius letter, and not merely snipping out the "body and blood" part. As it becomes clear, Ignatius is HIGHLY concerned about Docetism, and the quote about "body and blood" is more to address the Docetists, who were denying the physical reality of the Resurrection, more than anything else.
 
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jambo

Puritan Board Senior
As has already been noted JND Kelly and W Cunningham are very good

I would also recommend Henry Bettensen's "The Early Christian Fathers" as well as his "Later Christian Fathers"

Louis Berkhof's "The History of Christian Doctrines" is a another useful book.
 
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