Some thoughts on converts and church fathers

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Puritanboard Clerk
Observations I've been reflecting on for about fifteen years. This should help in talking to wannabe converts on the question.


The church fathers spoke highly of tradition. The key question, however, is the nature of the content. When they spoke of tradition, is it logically possible to read later specific traditions (veneration of relics, which John of Damascus admitted Athanasius rejected; specific prayers to Mary, the iconostasis, etc) back into earlier uses of the term "tradition?" Of course not, even if that is true, it is still a logical fallacy. When the church fathers spoke of tradition, they meant either the baptismal creed (loosely known as the Apostles' Creed), a Trinitarian manner of worship (Basil's On the Holy Spirit), an emerging list of acceptable NT books, and an identifiable church structure.


Going by Justin Martyr's comments, we really cannot say that much beyond singing "songs" (whether hymns or psalms, I leave that aside; although the hymn Phos Hilarion was increasing in daily usage), reading of Scripture, and celebrating the Supper.

Church Government

Jerome admitted, at least in theory, that presbyter and bishop were interchangeable. That said, Ignatius of Antioch saw the need for a bishop early on.

Bottom line: it is inadmissible to read later traditions back into earlier usages of the word.
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