23 October, 2009

The Authority of Scripture

We have known the method of our salvation by no other means than those by whom the gospel came to us; which gospel they truly preached; but afterward, by the will of God, they delivered to us in the Scriptures, to be for the future the foundation and pillar of our faith.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1

We know Jesus Christ is God, and we seek to expound the words which are spoken, according to the dignity of the person. Wherefore it is necessary for us to call the Scriptures into testimony; for our meanings and enarrations, without these witnesses, have no credibility.
Origen, Tractatus 5 on Matthew

No man ought, for the confirmation of doctrines, use books which are not canonized Scriptures.
Origen, Tractatus 26 on Matthew

There is one God, whom we do not otherwise acknowledge, brethren, but out of the Holy Scriptures. For as he that would possess the wisdom of this world cannot otherwise obtain it than to read the doctrines of the philosophers; so whosoever of us will exercise piety toward God cannot learn this elsewhere but out of the Holy Scriptures. Whatsoever, therefore, the Holy Scriptures do preach, that let us know, and whatsoever they teach, that let us understand.
Hippolytus, Tome 3, Bibliotheque Patrium, ed. Colonna)

Regarding the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so that the matter will remain certain and steadfast.
St. John Chrysostom, Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church, p. 118, vol. 96 TFOTC

Let the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words.
Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Trinity, NPNF, p. 327.

We are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonise with the intention of those writings.
Gregory of Nyssa, On the Soul and the Resurrection NPNF II, V:439

What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if ‘all that is not of faith is sin’ as the Apostle says, and ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,’ everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin.
Basil the Great, The Morals, p. 204, vol 9 TFOTC.

It is impossible either to say or fully to understand anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New Testaments.
John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Chapter 2

Not even the least of the divine and holy mysteries of the faith ought to be handed down without the divine Scriptures. Do not simply give faith to me speaking these things to you except you have the proof of what I say from the divine Scriptures. For the security and preservation of our faith are not supported by ingenuity of speech, but by the proofs of the divine Scriptures.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures Number 4

The Catholic Christians will neither speak nor endure to hear any thing in religion that is a stranger to Scripture; it being an evil heart of immodesty to speak those things which are not written.
Athanasius, Exhort. ad Monachas



Whence comes this tradition? Does it descend from the Lord’s authority, or from the commands and epistles of the apostles? For those things are to be done which are there written. ... If it be commanded in the gospels or the epistles and Acts of the Apostles, then let this holy tradition be observed.
Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle Number 74 to Pompei

Yet holy teaching employs such authorities (e.g. human reason, philosophy) only in order to provide, as it were, extraneous arguments from probability. Its own proper authorities are those of canonical scripture, and these it applied with convincing force. It has other proper authorities, the doctors of the church, and these it looks to as its own, but for arguments that carry no more than probability. For our faith rests on the revelation made to the prophets and apostles who wrote the canonical books, not on a revelation, if such there be, made to any other teacher.
Thomas Aquinas, ST, 2.2, Question 1 Article 8.

Objection: It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of faith to be embodied in a creed. Because Holy Writ is the rule of faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made, since it is written (Deut. 4:2): “You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it.” Therefore it was unlawful to make a creed as a rule of faith, after Holy Writ had once been published.
Reply: The truth of faith is contained in Holy Writ, diffusely, under various modes of expression, and sometimes obscurely, so that, in order to gather the truth of faith from Holy Writ, one needs long study and practice, which are unattainable by all those who require to know the truth of faith, many of whom have no time for study, being busy with other affairs. And so it was necessary to gather together a clear summary from the sayings of Holy Writ, to be proposed to the belief of all. This indeed was no addition to Holy Writ, but something gathered from it.
Thomas Aquinas, ST, 2.2, Question 1, Article 9

It should be noted that though many might write concerning Catholic truth, there is this difference, and those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and others of this kind, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt; that is his meaning when he says 'we know his testimony is true.' Galatians 1:9, "If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!" The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a measure of faith. Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things."
Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on John's Gospel, Super Evangelium S. Ioannis Lectura, ed. P. Raphaelis Cai, O.P., Editio V revisa (Romae: Marietti E ditori Ltd., 1952) n. 2656, p. 488.
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