North vs. South: Does It Matter?

north-and-south-galatia-100x100pxSUNDAY The assortment of questions that tend to congregate under the heading of “biblical introduction” impinge upon an issue that most Bible-believing Christians consider rather crucial: “Are these writings authentic?”

Is Moses actually the author of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible)? Did the Apostle Paul really write the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus)? Did Peter really write 2 Peter (or 1 Peter, for that matter)?
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Two kinds of faith

Martin Luther, portrayed by Lucas Cranach the ElderI have often said that there are two kinds of faith. First, a faith in which you indeed believe that Christ is such a man as he is described and proclaimed here and in all the Gospels, but do not believe that he is such a man for you, and are in doubt whether you have any part in him and think: Yes, he is such a man to others, to Peter, Paul, and the blessed saints; but who knows that he is such to me and that I may expect the same from him and may confide in it, as these saints did?

Behold, this faith is nothing, it does not receive Christ nor enjoy him, neither can it feel any love and affection for him or from him. It is a faith about Christ and not in or of Christ, a faith which the devils also have as well as evil men….

Such a faith will work in you love for Christ and joy in him, and good works will naturally follow. If they do not, faith is surely not present; for where faith is, there the Holy Ghost is and must work love and good works.

[Martin Luther, sermon, “First Sunday in Advent,” on Matthew 21:1-9, in John Nicholas Lenker, ed., Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume 1, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Book House, reprinted n.d.), 21-22.]

The Sola Scriptura of Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo by BotticelliFor I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the MS. [manuscript] is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine. I do not need to say that I do not suppose you to wish your books to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error. Far be such arrogance from that humble piety and just estimate of yourself which I know you to have, and without which assuredly you would not have said, “Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning!”

[Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), Letter LXXXII (82) to Jerome, “Letters of St. Augustin,” translated by J.G. Cunningham, in Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Volume 1, (Peabody, MA, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., reprinted 2004), 350.]

June 15 is the feast day for St. Augustine of Hippo on the Eastern Orthodox church calendar. On the Roman Catholic church calendar, Augustine is commemorated on the anniversary of his death, August 28.

The Sola Scriptura of Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril of Jerusalem iconHave thou ever in thy mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. 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 thee 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 (c. 315-387), Lecture IV.17, “The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem,” translated by Edwin Hamilton Gifford, in Philip Schaff., ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 7, (Peabody, MA, USA: Hendrickson Publishiers, Inc., reprinted 2004), 23.]

March 18 is the feast day of St. Cyril of Jerusalem on Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican church calendars.

Bruce Manning Metzger (1914-2007)

Bruce M. Metzger (1914-2007)Today the world of New Testament scholarship mourns the passing of a true giant in that field, Dr. Bruce Metzger. He died yesterday at the age of 93. He was a translator of Scripture and a prolific author of significant scholarly texts. He made important contributions to our understandings of the canon of Scripture, its content, and its background. But he will go down in history for his vast labors in the unglamorous but essential field of the textual criticism of the New Testament.

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The Sola Scriptura of Thomas Aquinas

“The Glory of Thomas Aquinas,” by Benozzo GozzoliNevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities [i.e., philosophers who are able to know the truth by natural reason] as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron.)1: “Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning.”

[Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), Summa Theologica, First Part, Treatise on God, Question 1, “The Nature and Extent of Sacred Doctrine,” Article 8, “Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Matter of Argument?”, Reply to Objection 2, in Robert Maynard Hutchins, ed., Great Books of the Western World, Volume 19, (Chicago, IL, USA: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1988), 8.]

ˆ 1There is a discrepancy in my sources for the precise reference of Epis. ad Hieron. (abbreviated Latin for “Epistle to Jerome”). The texts provided by both the Encylopædia Britannica and the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (to which the above bibliographic reference is linked) are based on the translation of the Summa by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Britannica’s revision (by Daniel J. Sullivan), however, has properly corrected the reference from Augustine’s 19th (xix) letter (which was not written to Jerome but to Gaius) to his 82nd (lxxxii). Cf. “Letters of St. Augustin,” translated by J.G. Cunningham, in Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Volume 1, (Peabody, MA, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., reprinted 2004), 350. ˆ

Reading Romans with John Chrysostom

Title Page, Chrystostom’s Homlies on RomansThere is something about the printed page that computer text files have not been able to replace for me. Even though I can take my laptop most places, including to bed, so far I haven’t found anything like the convenience of being able to gently close a book and lay it on a nightstand just as I begin to sink into an unconscious stupor. There’s nothing to turn off, and if I accidentally drop it the consequences are usually slight. Continue reading